You can find the opening snippet Here…
I am currently still working on the book. I am very close to sending it to beta readers – I hope to wrap it all up with a bow this weekend. It’s been an interesting week so far, as the first days of a semester always are, and of course, Organic Chemistry needs to steal my brain. As always, please keep in mind that this is a work in progress. Feel free to point out errata in the comments, but expect that by publication, changes will have happened. It still has two rounds of editing to go through, after all.
The End in the Beginning (cont.)
She was pale, but composed, her eyes locked onto mine as she started toward me. In my peripheral vision, I could see that I had picked up an honor guard, of sorts. Men in uniform were moving quickly into position around me, not looking at me, but the crowd which seemed to be having a collective breakdown. I could see King Trytion standing on the dais behind Bella, making hand motions, no doubt giving them silent guidance. I was no threat to him, that he knew of.
“Lom… what happened?” She held out her hands and I felt Margot’s weight lift. Bella was supporting her, magically, and I wondered why it hadn’t occurred to me to do that. Some errant sense of duty, I thought dully, looking at my sister’s cloudy eyes.
“I don’t know. I came to you to see if you could tell me. Or,” I looked over her shoulder at the king, who was coming nearer. “If he could tell us, since this is likely related to the work she was doing for the Crown.”
He flinched a little at my words, but his blue eyes were unwavering. “Yes, it is. Lom…”
Bella closed her eyes, and drew herself very upright. I knew what she was doing. My wife was far stronger than I was, and I was probably the strongest man, magically, in this room. I couldn’t hold a candle to her, and she had a tool beyond her full understanding at her disposal, Alger’s Library. I stopped talking. Margot hovered between us, flickers of visible energy tracing over her, licking at the edges of her wounds. I could see details I hadn’t seen before, like how clean her clothing was, and how unlike Margot that long archaic dress was. From the way the magical light was acting, there were unseen wounds under it, too.
I could feel my rage building, and I clenched my fists, not wanting to disturb Bella. If there were others in the room besides the King, Bella, and I, I was beyond being aware of them. I trusted Joe, the majordomo and my friend, to keep them away from us. I met Corwin’s eyes. As King Trition, he had to remain objective, above the emotions that he could feel as the man named Corwin. But now, I could see the sorrow in his eyes, the tears that would not fall. He could no more cry for her than I could.
I would avenge her. He would have to remain here, in safety. For that, I could almost pity him. Bella opened her eyes, and the fey light died away.
“I don’t know where she died, Lom, but I would know her killer if I saw it.”
“It?” I parroted, a little disappointed that I wouldn’t have a location to begin with. She nodded, and swayed a little, raising a hand… not to her forehead, but her belly.
“I don’t feel well.” She gasped. Corwin caught her from behind as she sagged. “It’s ok… I’m not going to faint.”
He must not have believed her, as he didn’t let go. He looked at me. “Lom.” His voice was gentle. “Will you allow Joe to take over with Margot? I think we need privacy, and a healer.”
Which meant Melcar, and he would want to examine Margot’s body, and there were some things even I could not stomach. I nodded, feeling everything drain out of me at once. Bella regained her footing and came around the floating body. I felt her arms, and held her close, burying my face in her hair. I’d like to think this was a bad dream and I’d open my eyes to our dark bedroom and warm sheets, but I knew better. Margot had been savagely murdered, and I still had to tell my mother.
Bella was shaking. I opened my eyes, reluctantly, to see Joe draping a white silk shroud over my sister’s body. I was shocked when he looked up, and I could see the tears streaming down his cheeks.
“Joe?” I didn’t know what to say.
He shook his head, unspeaking, and made a gesture. I looked toward the ruined doors – I had made a mess – and saw Melcar hurrying toward us, the leaves in his hair rustling audibly. Wood elves wear their tree’s leaves to remind them when they must return to the tree for renewal, and Melcar’s time was coming soon. He was, however, the most powerful healer in the kingdom, and the only one who had ever added human medical training to his repertoire. I trusted him with my life. Literally, and several times over. He looked from me, to Margot’s shrouded body, and then to Bella, who was leaning heavily on me.
“Bella.” He’d made a decision that quickly, which one of us needed him most. “Can you walk, my dear?”
She nodded, and tried to stand upright. I supported her, feeling a sudden pang of alarm. Bella was the independent type, and had seen death – had dealt death at my side, with a laugh – many times. What was wrong? Well, yes, her new sister-in-law was dead, but she had faced down an angry goddess and stolen away her pet dragon. Bella was no shrinking violet. Something else was going on.
We followed Melcar toward the smaller room behind the Great Hall, where I had so often met the king for mission briefings in the century I’d been working for him. I didn’t look back at Margot’s body. Joe, who had never let on how he’d felt about her, was standing guard now. Melcar got Bella settled on the couch, and cupped his hands over her belly.
“Nothing is badly wrong,” he told her. “It is simply your body reacting to the sudden stress.” Melcar twisted around and glared at me. “Would it be too much to ask you to control your temper? There was no need of this.”
I looked down at him, tamping down my sudden wave of anger. I really hadn’t lost my temper. This had been very much in aid of something, whether he understood it yet, or not. The appearance of rage in their midst had been a message to the Court. I would find whoever had done this, and they would pay.
“There was need.” I told him simply. “What is wrong with Bella?”
“There’s nothing wrong with her. She’s pregnant.”
I felt my mouth drop open as it hit me like a punch in the gut. “Bella?”
She looked like I felt. “I’m what?”
Melcar looked faintly smug. “I’d call it about two months gone, m’lady. Oh, and…”
He took my hand and dragged me toward my wife, bringing my palm gently down over her belly. “Look. Look with an dan shealladh and see.”
I dropped to my knees and closed my eyes. Below the shimmering veil of Bella’s magic, I could see two… two? Tiny pearls of light. I opened my eyes and looked into hers.
“Dear one,” she said, her lower lip trembling a little. I folded her into my arms and held on tight. Death, into life, and the cycle unending was bittersweet today.