It’s a little early this week, but I’m putting up my blog now before I lose the energy. After not having caffeine for 18 hours for a stress test (my heart is normal, no such worries about the rest of me), I made up for it and now I am too wired to sleep. Not that I’d me sleeping yet anyway on a Friday night. Nope, I’m usually staring at my computer screen, editing or writing, tweeting, Facebooking, usually watching a movie or catching up on a TV series . . . hmmm, maybe there’s a reason it takes me forever to get my books typed up.
Yeah, I hate typing. Love the writing, love the editing, but when it’s just typing . . . ngk. Perhaps someday I shall stop being such a luddite and use something besides a notebook. I don’t know. I seem to think better with a pen in my hand.
Anyway, back on subject. Yeah, that one, the one I haven’t mentioned yet. Still sticking with my intention of posting excerpts of my work. I still stand by the theory that my fictional lives are far more interesting than my real one. And no, Fate, that wasn’t a complaint. I am also trying a slightly different method of copy and pasting, so maybe the formatting will make it into the blog. Fingers crossed. And toes, legs, arms, eyes . . .
Yeah, yeah. I know. I don’t do humor.
This scene is a little later in the story. Terra has just met Flyght, a Faeriesteed. Here they find out that she’s not exactly a typical mortal, though no one guesses who she really is, least of all her.
Warning: This part of the story includes an adult scene that some might find graphic, so if you are easily offended, stop reading here, please. Thank you.
Flyght nudged her shoulder. Terra looked into the huge laughing eyes; the steed tossed her head, giving a single high-pitched whinny. With a whoop, Terra hauled herself onto the wide back and they took off at a wild gallop.
Looking back over her shoulder, Terra laughed. Puck and Maclyn both sprinted for their steeds, yelling at them to catch the disappearing pair. The brown faerie paused only to snatch Rosebud from the king. Thistledown had no choice but to follow, but it was with an indulgent smile.
Heartbeat pounding in her ears, Terra leaned over her mount’s neck. Hearing more hooves rumbling close behind them, she leaned closer, her arms and legs moving with the steed’s rhythm. Flyght flattened her ears, increasing her speed. She did not speak, but Terra could feel a twinkling in her head that felt like delighted, girlish giggles that effervesced and tickled, bringing an echo of it from between Terra’s lips.
Flyght kept just ahead of her nearest pursuer until their progress was finally halted by a lake, but the faeriesteed didn’t stop until she was plunging chest-deep in cool, fresh water so clear that Terra could see every grain of silt that the steed’s charge kicked up. Flyght reared, splashing with her front hooves, striking at the glittering light that reflected from the small waves that lapped leisurely towards shore.
Trumpeting, Maclyn’s black stallion followed her in and crashed into the mare, flinging her off her feet and sending her underwater with Terra still clinging to her back. Sputtering to the surface, Terra glared up at Maclyn, lunged, and grabbed his leg, pulling him in before he could react. Puck, Thistledown, and Rosebud arrived moments later, just in time to be doused in a water fight between a faerie, a human, and two steeds. They joined with relish.
“You could have woken me up when you left this morning, you know,” Terra grunted, shoving Maclyn and kicking his legs out from under him.
He sat down hard, the water coming up to his neck. “I couldn’t do that,” he protested, surging at her. “You looked so sweet and peaceful.” He set his shoulder into her middle and lifted her in a fireman’s carry. “How appearances do deceive!” Laughing at her outraged squawk, he tossed her into deeper water.
Puck laughed at that. Rosebud performed a nimble side-kick to the back of one knee, collapsing his leg and turning the laugh to a gurgle.
Spitting, Terra rose to the surface and attacked, dunking him thoroughly. Catching her wrists, Maclyn planted a firm kiss on her mouth, then his hand on top of her head, pushing her under.
Hours passed before they realized it. The sun was starting to dip on the evening side of the sky when, soaked and mud-covered, they all climbed out of the water and all but collapsed. Lounging on the shore, they let sunlight warm the chill out of their skin. “How big is the Faerie Circle?” Terra asked lazily. “I know there aren’t any lakes near where I was camping.”
“It’s as big as it needs to be,” Thistledown answered, her voice dozy. “And this isn’t really the Circle, but the lands past it. Some called it Underhill, others called it the Faerie Mound. The Circle is the place where our world meets yours. If you had but come out from behind a different tree, you never would have passed through and found us.”
“There wasn’t much chance of missing you noisy lot,” Terra chuckled. “Lights, music . . . I have to admit I was a little annoyed when you woke me up.”
“You saw the Circle? You heard us from your side?” Puck exclaimed, sitting up to stare.
“Of course,” Terra said, propping herself up to aim a perplexed frown in his direction. “It wasn’t exactly subtle.”
Puck looked confused, gazing at her with a peculiar twist to his features. “But . . . you’re mortal . . .”
Maclyn cut his friend off with the sharp wave of a hand. “What does it matter? She’s here.” He smiled, the warm look in his eyes for Terra alone.
Terra smiled back, warmed by the real fondness on his face even more than by the sun. It was muted by a vague chill when she noticed Thistledown frowning in their direction, her expression puzzled, maybe even a little sad. She took a breath to ask what it meant, but the sadness kept her silent.
Puck cleared his throat, brushing wet hair out of his face. Strangely, his expression matched Thistledown’s almost exactly. “You know, we haven’t sparred in a while,” he remarked a little hastily. “It’s a good time.” He smirked. “It would give me a chance to show off.”
Terra’s pulse stuttered at Puck’s change of topic. Maclyn only snorted. “You just want a rematch.”
“I can’t let a boy two hundred years younger win, can I?” Puck said with a shrug and an utterly wicked grin.
“Just because I actually use my sword outside of your games once in a while . . .”
“Wait a minute,” Terra interrupted, her eyes wide with disbelief. “Swords? Why swords? You all seem so . . . I don’t know, weapons just don’t seem to go with this place.”
“We have enemies,” Thistledown said, momentarily grim-faced. “We cannot afford to become complacent and vulnerable.”
“Oh.” A violent note in the pretty woman’s voice kept Terra from asking her to elaborate, but she wondered who could be the enemy of these mischievous but happy people. Judging from the usually gentle Healer’s reaction, Terra would be happier and probably healthier if she never found out.
The others scrambled up onto their steeds. Terra followed, exchanging glances with Flyght as she mounted. The mare’s gaze was cool and amused as though she was laughing at everyone behind her deep spring eyes. It was not a comforting expression.
Their trek through the hot, drying sun back to the gathering of shelters was longer than Terra remembered, even accounting for their slow pace. Once they found their way back to the ring of shelters, she stayed on Flyght’s surprisingly comfortable back as she waited for her new friends to gather what they needed. The three adult faeries found their swords, each with a beautifully wrought, unique design, double-edged yet slender pieces with narrow furrows running from hilt to tip on each side. Maclyn even grabbed a sword for Rosebud, a tiny, knife-sized blade with a very real edge. Terra waited for Thistledown to punch him, or at least put up a protest, but she only examined it with appreciative approval as the tiny girl waved it over her head.
The elves wrapped sturdy leather belts around their waists and sheathed their swords in attached scabbards that were embossed with realistic images of the surrounding forest. Their steeds stamped in anticipation as they mounted, taking off before they were securely aboard. Her own curious excitement growing, Terra hung on while Flyght followed, content this time to keep in the center of the pack.
They found an open spot in the trees where Maclyn and Puck squared off while Thistledown knelt by her daughter, showing the girl how to hold a sword in her doll-sized fist. Terra settled under the largest tree. The steeds grazed around her, cropping mossy grass and paying little attention to her, wagering with each other in quick thoughts as sharp as the flashing blades.
Terra was enthralled, especially by the way muscles in Maclyn’s shoulders and arms flexed when he hefted his sword. She watched, fascinated, as he and Puck circled each other, blades clashing, each swing and parry becoming more concentrated, more in earnest. She winced when Puck slashed Maclyn across the thigh, slicing his pant leg with razor precision and leaving a thin trail of blood that widened, soaking into the leather. There was an odd tinge to the fluid; she wondered hazily if it had anything to do with the term “blue blood.”
All laughter had drained from Puck’s face and Maclyn looked truly vicious. It was enough to make Terra glance towards Thistledown, but the woman only shook her head with a faintly pained look on her face.
Despite the Healer’s lack of concern, Terra’s interest was tainted by a little fear when Puck finally caught Maclyn with his sword in an awkward, indefensible position. The point of the shorter man’s weapon stayed pressed against Maclyn’s throat for so long that Terra was afraid the blade would actually pierce flesh. Then Puck lowered his sword and was suddenly Puck again. “Gotcha,” he said cheekily.
“This time,” answered a disgruntled Maclyn, pushing Puck’s sword away with the tip of a slender finger.
“Always.” Puck motioned to a wide-eyed Terra. “You look whiter than your own hair. You didn’t think we meant it, did you?”
“You made it look good,” Terra admitted. Her achingly tense shoulders loosened and she aimed slit eyes at Maclyn. “Very good.”
Pink actually spread across the prince’s high cheekbones and his expression was both pleased and boyishly sheepish.
Puck laughed. “Come on, give it a try.”
“But . . .”
“Come on,” he coaxed. “I know you’re not afraid.”
The teasing challenge would not let her decline. Swallowing her misgivings, Terra trotted across the glade to join the men, stopping for a moment to watch Thistledown cross her blade with Rosebud’s to explain something about grip in quiet, motherly tones. Listening with a hungry gleam in her bright eyes, Rosebud shifted her hand, paused, and corrected herself again before Thistledown could say anything, nodding as she flexed her fingers around her blade’s haft, a look of thoughtful concentration on her face.
Puck handed Terra his sword, stepping behind her with a smirk she didn’t entirely like. He positioned her grip on the hilt and guided her hand as she swung it experimentally. Rosebud, halting her own lesson, giggled at Terra’s clumsy attempts, which were more hampered than helped by Puck’s hand planted over hers. Maclyn rolled his eyes in disgust. “The only thing you’re teaching her is how to let herself be gutted,” he snorted.
Puck’s face twisted sourly. He backed away, motioning for Maclyn to continue in his place, his arm swinging wide in sarcastic invitation. Maclyn pushed the elf out of his way and took a stance opposite Terra, lifting his sword and giving it a little encouraging wave. Copying his pose, she held Puck’s sword at a forty-five degree angle to her body, waiting for confirmation. Maclyn studied her critically, then nodded acceptance of her certainly amateurish attempt. “Like this,” he said, swinging his sword so it tapped hers smartly.
Stepping back, Terra swung the sword once, then again, harder, paying attention to the way it balanced almost by itself. When her mock swipes looked easy and mostly under control, he motioned for her to take position.
Terra obediently shifted into the ready stance he had taught her. She was careful at first, brandishing the sword with slow, gentle thrusts, her blade hitting his with soft tics when Maclyn blocked her nervous blows. “Ready?” he asked after a minute or two of the simple action.
“Yeah, I guess,” Terra replied, tightening her grip.
When Maclyn finally swung at her with a half-speed blow, it created a shockwave that traveled up her arm, twisting the sword out of her hand. Every head in the glade turned to watch it fly several feet and not even have the dignity to land gracefully point-down in the ground, instead tumbling clumsily flat in the grass. Terra flushed.
“Grip,” Maclyn commanded.
Retrieving the weapon with a frown, Terra took position again. Rosebud’s lesson flashed in her mind, and she adjusted her hold to match the way the little girl’s tiny fist had twined around her dagger-sized blade. Almost immediately something felt right; Puck’s sword fit her hand perfectly and was light enough for her to handle with one arm, the reach and balance ideal for someone of her height. Swinging back at Maclyn, the blade caught his with a satisfying clang. Maclyn nodded, pleased, and showed her a number of different moves, the block and parry as well as the attack.
Terra practiced each one for a time, becoming more confident with every swing. When Maclyn made a surprise swipe, she blocked it neatly. Maclyn backed off. “Not bad,” he encouraged. “Here, try to block the higher strokes, too.”
Terra blocked each swing with fair accuracy. “You’ve done this before, haven’t you?” accused Thistledown. “You’ve taken fencing at least.”
“Never,” Terra said while trying a series of swings and jabs.
Maclyn attacked with sudden swift ferocity and Terra jumped back, blocking a powerful overhand swing, bringing her blade up at an angle to his to knock the blow away. Maclyn’s next swipe nearly caught her across the face and he winced, his own face a grimace of chagrin. “Sorry.”
Growling, Terra lunged with a fresh jab. Her sword slipped off Maclyn’s as he blocked, and the very tip of his blade bit into her wrist. It was only a scratch, but Maclyn looked abashed, stuttering an apology. The girl didn’t even pause; her teeth were bared and her return swing ferocious. Maclyn was taken aback for a moment, but returned the swipe with equal determination.
Terra, however, was beyond determination. She could feel everything, the breeze, the sun, even the surrounding stares. She could smell her own blood, a sweetish-salty, copper odor that coated her mouth and nose, and the headier, spicier sent of Maclyn’s.
A strange feeling fell over her, a sensation of being bound, but she didn’t know what was holding her or how to release it. Rage built, rage at her inability to escape whatever it was that held her, and she needed it, needed it so bad she would die of it. She glanced down at the tiny wound on her wrist and the blood filled her eyes until she saw through a film of red. The world around her faded to the one bright spot that was the focus of her battle, a figure she no longer recognized as anything more than an enemy. Her swings became wilder and she whirled with every strike, using the whole weight of her body to add force to her attacks. That feeling built in her, a feeling of . . . power, of something wanting to escape, a trapped feeling that frustrated her beyond any influence of sanity, that took over everything and left room for nothing else, nothing . . . human.
It took Maclyn a moment to see that something was wrong. His eyes widened at the sight of true madness in the girl’s expression and he backed away from her. “Terra!” he called, lowering his sword in an attempt to submit, but she didn’t seem to recognize him, or even really see him.
Terra leaped toward him and knocked the blade out of his hand with a wild slash that left a deep gash in his forearm, then sent him to the ground with a lunge and lifted Puck’s sword over her head, point-down and aimed straight for his heart.
“Terraceleste!” Maclyn cried the girl’s name again with a cracked voice, closing his eyes.
The three watching faeries screamed, Puck stumbling towards the battling pair; Flyght acted more quickly. She jumped for the combatants, rearing and kicking Terra’s blade away just before it cut into Maclyn’s unprotected chest. Terra was thrown off her feet, most of her wind knocked out by a hoof to her gut. She hit the ground with a hard thud and Maclyn winced for her even through the burning of his own arm.
Rosebud squirmed out of her mother’s restraining hold and was the first to reach the pair of downed opponents. Miniature arms enfolded Terra’s neck as Thistledown shrieked, trying to tear her away. The tiny creature clung like a vine, wailing. “No! No! No!”
Thistledown relaxed when Terra made no move but to pat Rosebud’s back. Her face was blank and slack, but it was shock, not the terrifying madness. Disentangling her daughter, the Healer whispered assurances in one pink pointed ear while she watched sharp-eyed for signs of injury or a resurgence of violence. Terra sat gasping for breath, reason slowly returning to her green-tinged face. Her skin turned chalk-white, ghastly under the nauseated flush on her cheeks, as she looked at Maclyn who was now sitting next to her, a dark look in his silvery eyes. Blood ran heavily down his arm to drip off his fingers. “Berserk,” he said to Puck.
Puck nodded solemnly. “Rarer in humans, but it happens. She must have some warrior blood, Viking perhaps. Are you all right?” he asked both of them.
“I’ll heal,” Maclyn grunted. His arm twinged and he shivered, staring at the ripped sleeve of his shirt, and the blood soaking into it. “I was almost anything but all right. She surprised me at first, then I didn’t want to hurt her, then . . . Flyght, I don’t know what would have happened if you hadn’t acted.” He faced Terra, laying his good hand on her shoulder. “Terra? Are you all right?”
Terra’s white-ringed eyes stared forward. “I would have killed you,” she whispered, tears rising to gather at the corner of each moss-green eye. “I didn’t even know who you were.”
Though it was a grim expression, Maclyn smiled. “I noticed. I’m sorry, it was my fault. If I had any idea . . . But that wasn’t what I meant.” His hand brushed through her hair, the back of his fingers grazing across her cheekbone in an affectionate, tender gesture that only made her flinch. “I want to know if Flyght hurt you.”
Terra shook her head, her breath already coming easier. “Flyght didn’t hurt me. She saved me. But I don’t know what happened . . . it was awful! I don’t ever want to feel like that again.” Her eyes lifted, grazing past his shoulder to Thistledown. “What’s wrong with me? Am I crazy?”
Thistledown knelt beside her. “No, dear. You’re not crazy. There’s not really anything wrong with you, just . . . inappropriate for the times. A Berserk has an extreme reaction to battle. Has nothing like this happened to you before?”
Terra blinked, still slow to react. “Once,” she finally answered. “There was a boy in school, an older boy. He called me names, snow freak and polar bear and more. One day he pushed my best friend Chad and tried to steal his lunch. I was too small to really hurt him, but . . . I scared him. He left us alone. And I got detention for a week.”
“I suggest you stay out of any kind of combat,” Thistledown said, nodding. “Even pretend. But you didn’t do any permanent damage.” She winked at Maclyn. “He doesn’t damage very easily, anyway.” Tapping the side of his head with one knuckle, she smirked. “Rock, you know.”
Maclyn laughed, pushing her hand away, then frowned in worry when Terra didn’t even smile.
Puck helped the girl to her feet. “I suggest we clean up so we don’t kill Maclyn’s parents when we return. Or be killed by them. This shirt was a gift from Oberon.”
“Yes, I think that’s a good idea. It’s been a long day,” Thistledown agreed. “Here Maclyn, let me see your arm. I can ease your pain and slow the bleeding, even if I can’t heal it entirely.” Glancing at Terra, she sighed. “Unfortunately, I can’t completely heal injuries caused by iron. Something in the metal stifles our magic,” she explained. Still, it was only the work of a moment to help Maclyn’s wounds along their way. Thistledown reached for Terra’s scratched wrist next, but the girl shook her head, leaning away and hugging herself.
Quietly, much more solemn than on their first visit, they returned to the lake, where even Rosebud came out a shade or two lighter after a quick but thorough scrub. Terra was silent the entire time, refusing to talk to or even look at any of the others. She didn’t know what to think of herself. What they were thinking she didn’t want to know.
After being unable to draw a response, Flyght nudged Thistledown’s shoulder.
The woman nodded and hefted Rosebud onto her violet stallion’s wide back. She collected Puck and his mount; they retreated quietly, leaving Terra and Maclyn alone with Flyght and Tempest.
Terra desperately wanted to call them all back, but remained silent, suffering the vague idea that she deserved whatever he did or said.
Maclyn splashed through the ankle-deep water, boots in hand. She kept her eyes down, dabbling in the warm water while he waited for her attention. When she didn’t give it to him, he sighed, bending to scoop her into his arms. She squeaked, helpless as he hefted her as though she were no more than an extra-large pillow. He lifted her onto Flyght’s back and climbed up behind her, one strong arm around her middle, holding her tight.
Without asking for direction, Flyght started to walk, following the shoreline, Tempest following at a short distance. Terra stayed lax, watching the mare’s ears swivel and flick, tilted back towards her riders.
Their slow pace along the water reflected Terra’s mood, but the motion began to ease the stiffness from her shoulders. “I’m sorry,” she finally said.
“It wasn’t your fault,” Maclyn answered. “If anything, it was mine, and maybe Puck’s. Everything has been a bit much.” He reached up to ruffle her hair then stroke it back into place. “I’ve never met a human who could even see us as we are, and it’s been a long time for those who have. And you don’t just see us, it’s almost like you’re one of us. We all forget this is new to you. And you’ve had to deal with much stranger things than most.”
His light, ironic tone did nothing to alleviate Terra’s mood. “I could have hurt you,” she murmured, keeping her voice low and controlled.
“But you didn’t.” Glancing at his gashed arm, Maclyn amended his statement. “At least not much.” He nuzzled the back of Terra’s neck. “Certainly no more than Puck did. Nothing’s different. I just won’t let you hold a sword ever again. Or a club, or spears, or knives, and I think I’ll be careful when it comes to spoons, too.”
Terra’s mouth trembled into a small, wavering smile. It brightened quickly at the warm glow his casual words caused and the tingle of pleasure his touch left wherever it strayed. But when Maclyn’s hand drifted upward from her waist, she gasped and stiffened. “There are witnesses!” she cried.
Maclyn laughed. Flyght and Tempest joined him, their whinnying chuckles ringing out over the lake. “In some ways,” Maclyn said, slowly untying Terra’s top, “the faeriesteeds are much like any mortal animal. This is totally natural to them, and they don’t understand our obsession with privacy, human or faerie.”
To prove Maclyn’s point, Flyght looked over her shoulder at Tempest, nickering quietly. Maclyn slid himself and Terra off the mare’s back. The steed’s posture shifted slowly, muscle by muscle, into something undeniably provocative, her haunches bunched and her tail flagged. Tempest arched his neck, prancing over and using his outthrust chest to push gently at the mare. Flyght laughed, but her eyes took in only the beautiful black form. /Males,/ she said, /are the same in any species. We shall leave you to your comfort./ She trotted slowly away, her tail raised and swinging loosely behind her. The stallion followed as if hypnotized, his ears stretched so far forward it looked painful.
Maclyn turned his attention to Terra, his mouth dropping hard over hers. Guilt melted away under the gentle ministrations, passion taking its place until she was afraid the lake would boil from the heat radiating between them. They slipped under the gentle waves, but Terra’s fear was of drowning in sensation, not liquid.
Blood from their still-leaking wounds mixed in the water, the crimson and purplish drops swirling together unheeded, blending more intimately than their bodies as it was swept away into the sunlight that played and sparkled on the deeply blue water. Maclyn laid Terra on the bank, half in and half out of the waves. He unfastened her trousers with one hand, stripping off the wet leather with a growl. Terra helped him with his ties, her fingers craving the feel of his flesh as much as deeper things. She nearly wept when he thrust into her, arching her back so high that he was lifted off the ground. She made desperate sounds, frustrated that she couldn’t take more of him, all of him, every cell and fiber of his body to mingle with hers. She clutched him angrily, her nails digging painfully into his back, growling and nipping in her aggravation.
Smirking, Maclyn rolled them over, grasping her hips to keep her sheathed over him. Terra stilled in surprise and a little uncertainty until the new position sent sparks racing up and down her nerves along different paths. Maclyn groaned and took her hips in both hands, encouraging her; gasping, she spread her legs wider and shifted in his grip, crying out when he was pushed even deeper, so deep it felt like it was bruising her inside. Her cries came louder and faster when he rolled her hips for her, showing her how to move until she followed his rhythm on her own.
And it doesn’t end there, but it’s a place to stop. I was hesitant about publishing Magic’s Guardian as my first “official” book, as it was the first novel I actually wrote. It’s gone through numerous edits and rewrites and tearing-apart-and-putting-back-together-ings, so it is definitely improved over the first draft. So much was changed it’s probably its own second cousin by now, though the basic plot stayed the same. Still, it’s a scary step, calling it finished and throwing your work out there to the sharks, hoping they bite, but not too hard.
So I hope somebody enjoys the words I threw together and mixed up, brought to a boil, froze, thawed, kneaded, beat, and mixed up again. And I hope all of you writers out there luck in getting your own words into the world.
Good night, sweet writers, and the best of wishes.