cat / childhood / family / fantasy

The God’s Wolfling: Snippet 6

The end is near… I can’t believe how fast time is flying, and this book’s launch date is looming ever nearer. I’m so not ready. But I will be, I promise. Even if print editions are a week late (I say that with every launch, don’t I?).

Vulcan’s Kittens, book one in the Children of Myth Duology, just got a very nice review over on Cat Rotator’s Quarterly blog. “Cedar Sanderson weaves a tightly-paced, readable story. Adults familiar with mythology will recognize old friends (and enemies), while younger readers will enjoy discovering the great stories along with Linn. Although not a YA novel per se, the book is quite suitable for younger readers. Most of the battles and gore occur “off-stage,” and teenagers will sympathize with Linn’s frustrations when the adults tell her “You’ll find out later.” Although tense, the story is never depressing or hopeless. Sanderson has dropped easter eggs for fans of classic science fiction and fantasy, with winks and nods to a number of authors and works. She never quite breaks the “fourth wall,” but older sci-fi fans will appreciate the tidbits.”

What’s really funny is that I had not yet told Alma I will be reviewing her books tomorrow! It was a treat to read her work, so I’m tickled to hear she liked mine.

As always, this is still raw manuscript. I hear my editor is in the throes of new-parenthood, and I’m giving him as much time to bask in the glow of that as he needs. Some things are just more important than any trifling matters like work 😀

As always, this is a good place to start if you haven’t been reading along.

***************

G cocked her head suddenly. “I hear a car.”

Linn stood up, certain this was her ride. The three of them went into the front hall, where Linn flinched from her clammy boots but resolutely forced her feet into them. Before shrugging into the wet coat, she held out her hand to Granda.

“Thank you.” Linn pitched her voice a little high and enunciated clearly. He beamed at her again, revealing his gums in that baby-sweet smile.

“Welcome, child.”

Linn turned to G as someone knocked at the door. “And thank you.”

G ducked a shoulder gruffly and turned to the door. Instead of Bes, whom Linn was expecting, a boy no older than she was stood there. He looked straight at her. “I was sent t’ fetch you.”

Linn hoped her mouth didn’t drop open and show the dismay she felt. She had no idea who this was. Where were Bes, and Dierdre, and Spot? She thought for a fleeting second of appealing to G and the Granda, but they were nothing more than normal humans, who were to be kept out of conflicts at all costs. The slight accent of the boy meant he was likely a local, and thus linked to Manannan Mac’Lir… she stepped toward him, coat in hand.

“I’m ready. Goodbye.” she said over her shoulder as she followed him down the path. Once the door was shut behind her, she hissed at him. “Who are you?”

“No time, get in the car,” he pointed at the gate, where she could hear the engine still running. “I was told there were two of you?”

He looked around, and she went to the gate and let out a low whistle, then waited. He was just closing the gate when Blackie trotted out of the dark into the headlights, and Linn had the satisfaction of watching his jaw drop. She opened the passenger door, and the big cat flowed into the car, then she got in. Their chauffeur finally gathered his wits and climbed in his own door.

“I’m Merrick,” he offered grudgingly.

“And I am Linnea, but I expect you knew that already?” She responded with a feeling of impatience. Where was Bes, and just who was this?

“I’m of Manannan Mac’Lir’s Court. I was sent to fetch you.”

Linn sighed and looked at his profile. He was paying close attention to the road, which she supposed she ought to be grateful for, as it was now pitch black, the road seemed to be mostly mud and ruts, and he was really young to be driving at all. His brown hair, longer than most American boys had been wearing theirs last time she paid attention, was very curly. His eyes had been blue, she remembered from that look in the hallway, and he was, she decided judiciously, cute. The accent was definitely nice, if she could get him to talk more.

“Why didn’t Bes come? Are they ok?”

“Your guardian is speaking with the King. He was concerned about you, but there was much to be done, and little time.”

Maybe it was because she had just been thinking about what happened that summer with the cabin, and Mars threatening her grandfather, but this gave Linn an uneasy feeling, like she was being rushed into the dark. Which she was. She gave up talking to him and stared out the window, wondering where they were going.

The place names G had given her hadn’t helped a whole lot. They were supposed to be traveling to the Isle of Man, but the google view of that tiny island hadn’t included a forest as large as the one they had explored that afternoon. Which meant either Ireland or Scotland, and burn meant creek, didn’t it?

Merrick steered the car off the dirt road onto a proper paved road, and Linn caught the flicker of lights from a few buildings as they passed them. Now that it was smoother, and he turned up the heat, the day caught up with her, and she fell asleep watching the night slip by outside her window.

She was awakened by the jolting of the wheels hitting yet another rutted road. Linn sat up, rubbing her eyes. Merrick glanced at her. “We’ll be there in a few moments.”

“Thanks. Where is there?” Linn still couldn’t see anything but the rutted path… this wasn’t even a road! in front of them in the headlights.

“I canna tell ye that.” Merrick’s accent was stronger suddenly. She looked at him in suspicion. What was he worried about?

“I don’t see any lights…” Linn started to say, and then let her words trail off, because now she did see lights. They looked a lot like torches and campfires. Merrick pulled up near a low rock wall, and cut the engine.

Chapter 5 

 

There was music, when Linn climbed out of the car stiffly. High and reedy, it didn’t sound quite like bagpipes, but it swirled around her and lifted the hair on the back of her neck and made her feel… she didn’t know what she was feeling, other than totally jiittery and nervous. Even Blackie felt it, as he nudged his head under her hand and walked close by her while they followed Merrick toward the ring of fire.

It was, she saw as they got closer, a ring of torches stuck into ruined walls of what had been a castle keep. There was one big fire in the middle, throwing up sparks in a very messy, showy way. Linn wrinkled her nose at this display. Proper campfires didn’t behave like that. It was a good way to start a forest fire, or to give away your position.

There were a lot of people around the fire, and she walked slowly toward them, assessing the situation, while her fingers tightened on Blackie’s soft fur. They seemed to be having a party. There was no sign of the musician, but the wild pipes played clearly, the music both sad and joyful at once. Linn didn’t think she had ever heard anything like it before. As she got closer, she could see that while there were a few women dancing, most of the people, perhaps three dozen of them crowded into the grassy hollow that would have been a Great Hall, were talking and milling around one man. He was seated on a rough-hewn bench, and talking to Bes. Bes had his back to her, his hands squarely on his hips and elbows akimbo.

Linn suppressed a smile, although no-one was looking at her even while they pushed through the crowd around Manannan Mac’Lir. Bes was not happy. He wasn’t yelling, which only meant he hadn’t been pushed that far yet. Mac’Lir, on the other hand, looked half asleep, his eyes hooded under bushy white eyebrows. What was it with the old gods, that they felt like they had to look so old? Was it that they felt old, worn out?

With that on her mind, she arrived next to Bes to meet the ancient god-king. Merrick swept his liege a low and surprisingly elegant bow. “I have brought her,” he announced simply.

Linn didn’t know what to say. Bes saved her with the introductions, “Linnea Vulkane, granddaughter of Haephestus. Blackie, son of Sekhmet.”

Blackie sat up straight and wrapped his tail around his feet, slitting his great golden eyes at the king, who nodded gravely, then lifted his gaze to Linn. His eyes, stormy as the sea he’d ruled, held hers, and she felt oddly detached from herself.

“Hello,” Linn said. She was fairly sure that wasn’t correct and proper, but he wasn’t her king.

Mac’Lir smiled, and stroked his silver beard. “Hello, daughter of fire. I hear you have had an adventure.”

Linn shook her head, embarrassed. “I was only separated from my traveling party.”

He raised his bushy eyebrows, looking much more awake. “Not an adventure, is that?”

“I could have gone home were I truly lost. But I was given a mission to complete.”

He looked at Bes, who was doing his stone statue impersonation. Black granite, of course, Linn thought with fond amusement, doing her best to keep her thoughts from affecting her expression. Everyone was waiting for the king to speak again.

“Something makes me think you would have kept on, even had we not come to your rescue.”

Linn felt a surge of indignation. She hadn’t been rescued. She hadn’t needed to be rescued. She pushed it down, not wanting to argue.

“I would have kept trying, yes.”

“Are you willing to have a fair and true adventure, Daughter of Fire?” He tilted his head to one side, looking steadily at her. Linn felt a little awkward as everyone was quiet, waiting for her answer, and it seemed that they were all expecting something…

“I was sent by my grandfather to find out what you needed, and to provide assistance if we could.” Linn knew that wasn’t really an answer, but why hadn’t he talked with Bes about this? Bes was the adult. She was only along as Heff’s granddaughter.

“True. But amuse an old, tired man. Are you willing?” His accent was odd, she realized, listening to him. But he spoke English very well. Hadn’t Grampa said he’d been asleep for centuries?

Linn thought of the last two years, and the conversations coming to a halt with her arrival. She did want more.

“Yes.”

 

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