22 February 2010

Another excerpt...

yeah, another one; I don't really have time for anything else due to a family issue that came up last week. I will tell you, though, that this is an out-dated draft. I'm going to be making a lot of changes - cleaning up the prose, adding some characters, etc. Enjoy.

I wasn’t concentrating on what I was doing; that’s how they got me so easily. If it hadn’t been for Flint sounding off inside my head, I would have gotten the ice knife between my shoulder blades instead of in my side. And still, all I could think of as I lay bleeding between two cars in the parking lot of the University is how fitting an end it would be, and how I wouldn’t have to worry about Rafe’s letter any more. I wouldn’t have to care that he had bought a farm on the west coast and wanted me to come there with him to be his wife, and that if I didn’t accept that option, I might have to accept that he would leave. Forever. It really would have been a fitting end; an enchanted blade of ice from my ‘homeland’ putting a stop to the organic functions of the enchanted lump of ice that lived in my chest and served purpose as a heart.
It would have fitted but it didn’t end, because, right on queue, Rafe was striding toward me across the lot, the sun shining on his pure silver hair that stuck up in front no matter what he did with it and was getting too long in the back because he hated going to the barber. He knelt down and touched the blade sticking out of my side. It fizzled and sank deeper in. Chewing on the collar of my jacket to keep from screaming, I showed my teeth at him in the universal signal for displeasure. “Careless,” he muttered.
I know; that’s what I told her. Said Flint.
“Can you get rid of it here or do you need to get to your apartment?” he asked, trying as gently as he could to ease the ragged tear in my shirt away from the knife.
“Vaking Shoda,” I tried to growl, but it came out as an indistinct mumble. Pulling my teeth out of the cloth, I tried again. “I need some baking soda.”
With his help, I inched onto my feet, and he tugged at the flap of my jacket so that it covered the blood. We made a slow and painful way across the parking lot and through the hedge that was the shortcut from my university to my apartment building. I was in pretty bad shape when we finally got there; the two curses seemed to be feeding off of each other, and I was beginning to think I was going to freeze to death right there in the mid-seventies degree weather. Even my lips felt numb. The only part of me that was unaffected, as always, by my discomfort, was Flint. Baking soda! And you call yourself a sorceress. What can you possibly do with baking soda?
With great effort, fueled by great irritation, I formed the thoughts that would shut him up. Obsidian, be quiet or I’ll stop fighting it and just black out.
You wouldn’t do that; you’d die because Rafe doesn’t know what to do.
My physical body couldn’t quite manage it, but my mind’s eye of myself smiled grimly. Oh, you think I wouldn’t? Flint must have felt the ripples of my expression, because he stayed quiet and watched – he was always watching.
Rafe came hurrying out of the kitchen with a pack of baking soda in his hand and a doubtful expression on his face, as if he wasn’t sure if he had the right thing. Or maybe he doubted my sorceress abilities too. Maybe it was excusable for him to do so; after all, in over four years I hadn’t been able to break or lift the bleak magic ice-curse that resided in my chest. He knew that, he just didn’t know what the curse was about: him.
“Pour some into my hand, and then sprinkle the rest over the flat side of the knife.” I clutched my handful of baking soda and tried to breath. When the warm wetness on my side was replaced with cold moisture I knew it was time. Blowing a little into the air for good luck, I slammed my hand, full of powder, down onto the wound in my side. Although the baking soda had eroded what part of the blade was outside my body, there was still an un-melted shard squirming further away from the surface and toward my heart. After a while, I did black out, but not until I was sure the baking soda had done its job and I could feel the wound beginning to knit itself together again.
When I came to, I was on the couch and Rafe was sitting opposite me, staring off into space. He had a smear of baking soda on his chin and it was all over his hands and clothes. There was even a fine dusting in his hair. “What did you do, bathe in it?”
“You’re quite welcome; I’ll be happy to save your life any time, my lady,” he said evenly. I threw a pillow at him. It wasn’t that he caught it that annoyed me; it was the absent minded way he did it that got to me. But the curse that was still with me, the one that even baking soda couldn’t cure, wouldn’t even let me feel that little twinge of fury that showed I cared without seizing up and freezing a few more degrees.
I started to snap that it was all his fault for sending me that stupid letter, but stopped just in time. The farm in Oregon was the last thing I wanted to discuss right now. Instead I decided to instruct him in the arts of sorcery and household paraphernalia. “You know, Americans always swear by duct tape, but baking soda is really, really underrated. I mean, it’s white and powdery like snow, it absorbs bad smells, and it’s an excellent scrubbing agent. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.”
“It has symbolic purity, as well as the practical ability to render things clean,” I said, just to make it harder for him. Although actually, baking soda would probably only work for me, and not any other sorceress, because I was the only one who saw magic in it – the magic of the Trolling Wood Sorceresses worked that way; different for every one practitioner. It was something even non magical women could accept easily, but men, even Trolling Wood men, just didn’t seem to get it. The lack of structure and rules bothered them.
Rafe changed the subject before I could continue my lecture. “Is it getting easier for them to get to you? This is the third attempt in a month; before it was only one every couple of months.”
I sighed and rubbed my face. “We always knew, or at least I told all of you that the shield of breath and mirrors would only be a temporary solution. Yes, my continued life makes it harder for them to enter the Utherverse from the real world, but conversely, it becomes easier with my every breath.”
“Yeah, you told us, but all I remember is that it didn’t make any sense.” He grumbled morosely.
“It doesn’t have to,” I said in the patient tone of voice that is only used by people with very little patience.
“You sound just like your father when you talk that way.” Rafe looked at me unblinkingly. The flat tone of his voice was his equivalent of my pretending-to-be-patient one.
Ignoring the disapproving frigidity in my chest, I reached out and took his hand. “Do you think he’s still alive?”
Rafe squeezed my hand in response. “I don’t think even Srevnad could get away with killing him,” he said reasonably. I could tell he meant it.
I knew I shouldn’t be smiling, but I couldn’t stop the wry little twist that played havoc with the already odd proportions of my face. “Do you suppose he’s had enough magic by now?”
Rafe’s shocked expression dissolved as he choked on a breath of air and started laughing. It wasn’t the best kind of laughter, relaxed and happy, but with a hint of frayed nerves around the edges. It felt good anyway, and it eased the tension.
My father’s hunger for the magic he couldn’t have was what started this whole mess. Actually it’s what started the whole mess of my life; not to mention my sister and brother. My half-Nereid mother was at the peak of her promise as a young sorceress in the Trolling Wood when the king of Castle Sea – all the monarchs of which, down through the ages, had seemed unable to grasp that the Trolling Wood was something different and apart – had ordered her to become his concubine. He hoped thereby to instill some magic into the royal line. How unfortunate for him that he could drag the sorceress to the castle, but he couldn’t make her practice sorcery, and how stupid of him not to realize that my older sister, in his exact image, was the least likely to have any magic, whereas I, not only in the image of my mother, but also sheltering in my own mind the life of my twin brother whose body at birth had been too weak to live, was much more likely to be a sorceress. And lastly, how very lucky for my mother and me (with my brother in tow) that he ‘banished’ us back to the Trolling Wood.
“I think we should go up to New York and talk to Chip and Ja––Astor.” Rafe interrupted my thoughts with an unpleasant suggestion. Of course, I thought my sister’s alternate personality ‘Astor’ was a vast improvement on the ‘Jade’ personality she’d been born with, but I still couldn’t quite forget…

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