Returning you to your regularly scheduled Sunday Snippets, here is another section of the novel. Thank you to all of you who popped over and bought a copy of The Eternity Symbiote, and I hope that reviews will be kind when they appear in time!
I have gotten a few beta reports back on Trickster, and I am hoping this means life is interfering with my beta readers, not that they don’t like the story. Sadly, a writer’s ego is fragile, even if her skin is not. I will keep waiting, but I can’t delay long, I have a schedule to maintain. It’s a balance. I have said things that I want to make happen, like a May 1 release date for Trickster, but I am also committed to bringing you my readers the best possible product. We will have to wait and see.
With this snippet, I will have released 11,500 words of Trickster Noir, which is currently only 95K words in length. I won’t release more than one half of it, for free (Writers gotta eat, too. Not to mention the kids of writers!) so I can’t delay too long on publication if I keep doing snippet Sundays! Projected, I see 8 more days of snippets, with 1500-2000 words in each snip. I think that’s a good amount?
Bella tucked that thought away and went on to the final stages of her experiments with magic. She held out her hand and ‘called’ for her MGL. It landed in her hand with an audible clunk, and she almost dropped it. She hadn’t been prepared for the wight, fully expecting that part to fail, and it was really cold. She wrapped the corner of her jacket around her other hand and held the weapon with that, blowing on the fingers of the other one, and watching the ice form, then sublimate off the weapon in steam, leaving it soaked. So it had been someplace really damn cold, and dry, or there would have been ice when it got to her.
Very interesting. Also, some weapons would not perform well under those stresses, she would have to be careful what she called for from Underhill to above. Last thing. Bella set her shoulders and sent the weapon back, before trying to create a transport bubble. It felt stiff, and she closed her eyes and visualized Lom’s great room. The bubble jerked sideways and stopped hard, knocking her off her feet.
She didn’t bother to get up, just thinned the bubble enough to see out. She was still in Oregon, maybe twenty feet from where she had started. She dropped the bubble and compared where she was to where she had been, and the door. So… transport bubbles didn’t go through the veil between worlds. Bella rubbed her sore rump and tried the last thing. The bubble took an effort, and she decided to make this a short test. She visualized the pull-out where Lom had left the car on their trip in, and went there.
This time it worked. But she found that she was staggeringly tired when she dropped the bubble. Looking up the hill to where she had come from, she realized two things. One, she was going to have to hike back up there, and two, she had no idea what a bubble looked like from the outside on earth. Underhill it was invisible, or at least, moved too fast to see. Here, she didn’t know. It was really lucky no-one had been parked here.
Bella pulled a water bottle out of her little knapsack, the bug-out bag she had carried from Alaska, and took a drink, then munched a protein bar. She was shivering, time to get herself home and more food. Something else to plan, magic worked here, but it took a lot more power. She remembered how Lom had eaten after the snowmachine, and winced. At least she didn’t have to worry about getting fat.
The hike up the hill to the glen was uneventful, if wet, and the door didn’t seem to take as much of an effort to open as the other things had. On the other side, she felt the same crazy itching she seemed to get with each eruption of her wings, and she also felt lighter, which gave her a bit more energy. She pulled open a bubble, and stepped in. Underhill, magic was almost effortless, now that she had a comparison. Returning home wet, cold, and hungry, on the other hand…
Ellie fussed over her as she drooped in a kitchen chair. Bella peeled out of as many layers as she decently could, and went to stand by the fireplace, grateful for that warmth soaking into her. She was facing the fire, thinking she really ought to sit down again, when a cleared throat behind her made her jump. She turned to face a fairy man who was oddly familiar.
“Hello?” she offered tentatively.
“I’m Dean,” he informed her. “You messaged me.”
“Yeah. Sorry, it’s been a long day.” She gestured to the table. “Please, sit.. would you like anything? I’m about to eat.”
He eyed her from head to toe, reminding Bella strongly of the way Lom had scrutinized her on their first meeting. “Been hitting the magic a bit hard?”
“I was above, testing my limits.” She admitted, sitting in her chair with more a controlled fall. Ellie shoved a pate in front of her and a steaming mug of something at her elbow. Bella started to eat, helplessly needing the food.
“Aye, ‘tis a bit different up there. Lom is…?” he looked up.
Ellie interrupted. “He’s not awake.”
Bella shook her head. “He had a bad turn this morning. He’s not out of the woods, and he can’t access magic at all. The king tasked me for a clean-up mission above, but the Council is being… difficult.”
He snorted. “What else is new. So you’re hunting monsters, eh?”
He eyed her again, and Bella felt herself blush. “I am Lom’s partner,” she told him evenly. “I don’t know what your arrangement is with him, and frankly, this is the first time I’ve done this. I need someone I can trust and Lom sent me to you. He also told me to ask about the sprites.”
He nodded. “You cover expenses. I’ll settle up for pay after the completion, with hazard bonus as needed. What’re we going after?”
Bella almost snorted the very good stroganoff that Ellie had fed her. He wasn’t even going to ask that first? He really did owe Lom. Or he had a deathwish. She took a minute to respond, gathering her composure.
“Nest of ogres in the Mount St. Helens area, do you know where that is?” When he nodded, she went on, “Lom and I tangled with them a few months back, which may be why they showed up on the radar now. The Low King had some ties with them, and with his death they may be running wild.” She shrugged. “All I know is that we need to clean them out and make it go away.”
“So what’s the plan?” He sipped from the mug, and she wondered if that was to hide his emotions. He had a very good poker face.
“I’m working on it. I am forbidden to put a team together here Underhill. So I’m calling in family, and you.”
“The council took care of him, he’s off on some super-secret assignment.” She sighed. “I know it sounds crazy…”
“Nah, I’ve seen worse. Deck’s stacked against you.”
He leaned back in his chair and lit a cigarette. As he was blowing smoke at the ceiling, Bella watched in fascination. She was fairly sure most people couldn’t blow smoke rings from a cigarette like that. This was going to be… interesting.
“I don’t know yet what my family will be able to offer. I’m hoping for my cousin Dan, he’s a big-game guide.”
Dean nodded with a glint of approval.
“Sprites are good reconnaissance,” he offered. “Vicious little bastards, too.”
“I know I killed one ogre last time, and what it took. So I have a pretty good idea that there won’t be such a thing as overkill on this job.”
He let out a short chuckle. “There is no overkill, only open fire and reload. Wise man said that once.”
“I am still trying to figure out how best to do this. I only know the answer is not full-frontal assault.” She suppressed a yawn. “And I have got to sleep before we get this show on the road. If you make up a list of what you want for equipment while I do that, I want to leave first thing in the morning.”
She pushed back from the table and he nodded. “Rest while you can,” he offered.
She left him sitting at the table, looking off into the distance, pencil and paper in front of him. Here, where she could use magic, she wanted to get everything they could think of. Shopping above was more limited, and her magic was only going to go so far, she knew now.
Here, she could modify what they needed. It was…
Bella fell into bed, half wondering how she had gotten up the stairs, and fell deeply asleep.