Trickster Noir: Snippet 9

I’m at Millennicon in Cincinnati today, and I will be signing in the lobby from 11:oo am to noon… so come see me! It’s been an interesting, hectic weekend, trying to fit this into my usual busy schedule, but there have been rewards. I got to meet Mike Resnick and shake his hand. My First Reader got to meet one of his favorite authors (more on that tomorrow!) and we have spent a lot of time together due to all the driving and eating out. So even inconveniences have their rewards. And yes, I know, I find the silver lining in everything.

So here is a snippet for you who are reading along. I can’t believe how far we are into March, time is flying by. (Earlier snippets are here)


I awakened to see Devon dozing on the chair. I croaked and he woke up.

“Water?” he mumbled sleepily and I nodded.

After a few sips I could manage real words again. “Bella?”

“She, Dean, and the sprites went above this morning. I think she’ll be fine.” He was trying his best to be reassuring, but I could see the concern in his eyes. Not all of it was for her.

“Help me get up.” I asked him abruptly. I needed to move, lying here wasn’t going to help her if she needed me.

“I’m not sure…” Devon glanced toward the door and I could read his thoughts clear as if they were written on his face.

“No, you don’t need to check with someone. Just give me your shoulder to lean on.”

He helped me out of bed, and I could feel my muscles trembling just from the effort of standing. Moving my feet in steps was a monumental act of will. I lost count when I had to stop, but we weren’t half way across the room and I was panting.

“Back t’ bed,” I gasped. He more carried me than I walked, this direction. I realized I must weigh next to nothing with all the time not eating. Maybe eating more would help.

Back on the bed, I had him put pillows behind me so I was sitting and sent him for food. I was worn out, but not sleepy for a change. Maybe I was getting a bit better. Ellie came back in with him.

“I’m fine.” I told her. She raised an eyebrow and I realized I must be coming across grouchy, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t happy, and didn’t have enough energy to pretend for social reasons.

“I can see that. Do you need…” she gestured at the bowl of soup.

“I can feed myself.”

I did, too, but it was an effort, and when I had finished the savoury lentil stew I was ready to sleep again. I let the tide of darkness wash over me, wanting to rest for once, because I knew I’d be stronger when I woke up.

I was. We made it all the way across the room, and back to the chair, where I got to sit up and eat my breakfast.

“Any news?” I asked Devon when he came in as Ellie left with the tray.

He shook his head. “I know she had her cell all charged, and we’d talked about her renting a car so she could get to Longview, and she planned to meet her cousins there.”

I nodded. “Let’s walk.”

He patiently let me drape an arm on him. I took a painful step, and then another.

I wanted to rush this. I really didn’t want to take the weeks I knew I was going to need to recover, and I especially didn’t want to face the loss of all magical power. I’d lived with little for a long time, but that wasn’t the same as not having any. I really wanted to just curl up into a ball and make it all go away, but she might need me. Not the kind of princess who needed rescuing, not my Bella. However, we all need back-up from time to time.

“Devon, can you have Melcar come see me? I know Alger’s off on some Secret Squirrel mission.”

The boy actually giggled at the squirrel crack, and I made a mental note to tell him to look it up on youtube. But he let me back down into bed, and when I woke up some time later, Melcar was bending over me.

“I want..” I started to tell him, and he grimaced at me.

“I know full well what you want. Let me finish my examination.” He pressed a hand in the center of my chest heavily enough to make me say “oof.”

He poked and prodded and I realized that there was someone standing behind him. My situational awareness was sadly lacking, and I couldn’t get that back soon enough to make me happy.

“Eh… Do I call you My Liege, or Corwin today?” I asked the cloaked king when I got a better glimpse. Melcar had moved downward, and had my legs uncovered. At least I was wearing a nightshirt of decent length.

“Corwin ought to suffice since you are unable to give me obeisance.”

I stuck my tongue out at him. Childish, but… I felt a rush of relief that he had come to check on me. I wasn’t in the doghouse with him, even if the Council was out for my head.

Melcar shook his head.

“I can boost your recovery time.” He interrupted my attempt at witty repartee with good news.

“Terrific. How fast?”

“It’s not an instant fix. That kind of power drain could kill you, and it might kill me. We haven’t been using any magic in your vicinity, out of concern for the effects, you know?”

“Yeah. I’m no delicate flower, and I want you to stop pussy-footing around.”

“We’ll try. But it’s still going to take weeks.” He sat on the edge of the bed, and Corwin sat in the chair. He looked gravely concerned.

“Weeks?” I blurted. I needed to be up and out of this house in days.

“Lom, left to progress naturally, it would take you months, up to a year, to regain your muscle mass and strength. I haven’t been willing to try this before, you were so weak I was sure it would kill you. But I’m seeing you come back from the edge, and I’m willing to try. But,” he held up a cautioning finger. “A very small start, and we stop if there are any ill effects. Got it?”

I subsided back onto the pillows. “Got it,” I growled at him. Corwin put a hand to his face to try and hide his smile.

“Can we do it now?” I ignored my king’s amusement at my attitude. Sure, I might be acting like a kid, but Bella needed me.

Melcar nodded. I braced, and watched as he gathered a spell in the palms of his hands, like a ball of glowing honey. He laid it on my chest, and I expected to feel something, but it slowly soaked into me, vanishing, and all I felt was sleepy.

“Ish no… not workin’” I informed him, trying to keep my eyes open.

He chuckled. “Stop fighting and get some sleep, I’ll check back in the morning.”

I wanted to say goodbye to Corwin, but my eyelids won their battle to fall like rocks.

I did awaken in the morning, still vaguely disappointed the spell hadn’t worked. I could only console myself with the knowledge that it didn’t seem to have hurt, either, and I could smell coffee. I swung my legs out of bed and stood up before I thought about it.

“Holy mother…” I caught myself on the bedside chair as my brain kicked in and reminded me that my body wasn’t up to snuff yet.

Melcar walked in the door a minute later holding the tray of coffee and implements. “Ah, you’re awake.”

“It worked! I didn’t think it had, I couldn’t feel it.”

He eyed me, standing there clinging to the chair and swaying like a tree in the wind. “Would you like coffee?”

“I need to sit for that. Um…”

He set the tray down and helped me balance and step around so I could sit. “It will be a while until you have all your facilities again. Yes, you can push, but you must respect your body when it says enough.”

“Got it. Why didn’t I feel it working?”

He perched on the edge of my bed. “I don’t know yet. You might have… When Bella pulled the elfshot out of you, she may have stripped out the paths magic takes through you.”

“Um…” I thought about this. It would make sense, the reaction I had had when I tried to reach for magic. “Permanently?”

He shook his head. “I have no idea, I’m sorry. Let’s give it time, and see what happens.”

I knew that saying from him. It meant probably, and he wasn’t going to make a judgement just yet on whether I was crippled for life. No magic… I drank the coffee, and life proceeded.

I slept and walked, and in between there were meals Ellie prepared to be heavy on fats and proteins as soon as I could keep them down. I lost track of time again, as I had no schedule other than the demands of my body for sleep. I tried not to think too much about her, as I knew she would be focusing on the mission at hand, not on me. She was a sensible girl, my Bella.