Only one more snippet before you can buy The God’s Wolfling and read it all in one gulp. Because I know some of you will! Release date is officially August 1, and a week from today is July 31, but I’m going to see about making it available that day earlier to my blog readers. You all have been so patient with me teasing you this far…
The God’s Wolfling will be my fifth novel. It’s a little hard to believe I’ve managed all this in a little over two years now. I don’t know if I can keep that schedule up with school to balance, but I have begun work on the next book (which is unrelated to this one).
As always, the snippets are from unedited manuscript and there are almost certainly errors. If you want to begin at the beginning, click here.
Linn woke up to a pounding headache. For a fleeting moment she thought she was still hearing the drums from the night before, but then she finished waking up and realized it was her own heartbeat. She stared at the low ceiling, embossed with smoky patterns in the once-white plaster between wooden beams that looked black with age. Black with age… the door they had come through. She sat up and looked around.
Deirdre sat next to her bed, in a battered chair, reading an equally battered book. She looked up from it at Linn’s movement.
Linn clutched her head. This headache was going to kill her. “Ow, ow, my head hurts.”
Deirdre made a tsking sound, and produced a glass of water. “This ought to help, and these…” She handed two pills over. Linn looked dubiously at them. “Aspirin,” her friend supplied. “Bes thought you would be needing it.”
“How did he know?”
The water felt good, and then her stomach growled loudly, reminding her that she had eaten a handful of gorp, two cookies—biscuits—and nothing else since breakfast yesterday. Deirdre giggled. “Come on, let’s find you breakfast and I’ll explain.”
“So last night was the first time Manannan’s Court has seen him in, oh, hundreds of years.” Deirdre was walking quickly, and Linn was grateful for her longer legs to keep up with the diminutive coblyn.
“Okay, so it was a party? I didn’t drink anything, why do I feel like I have a hangover?” Linn wondered where Deirdre had been. She vaguely remembered seeing the big cats, perched on walls, and had she seen a wolf in the shadows, too?
“At a feis like this, there is a lot of magic in the air, and you weren’t prepared for it. Bes said to tell you that you were drunk on Power.”
“Why isn’t Bes telling me this himself? Is he still asleep?” Linn’s stomach rumbled harder as they found their way into a kitchen. A little woman with a face like a dried apple turned away from the big fire. Linn didn’t think she had ever seen a bigger fireplace. The woman smiled and came to meet them.
“Welcome, Linnea Fire Daughter.”
Linn decided she wasn’t going to argue her name with the person who might feed her if she asked nicely. “Good morning.”
“I am Bronwyn, welcome to my kitchen. Sit and eat, child.”
Linn, gently herded in the direction of a table and chair, sat thankfully and watched as Bronwyn brought a tray. A bowl of oats, different than what oatmeal ought to look like, but smelling the same. A handful of dried apples and nuts, a little bowl with sugar, and a pitcher of cream. Along with the ubiquitous tea. Linn resigned herself to learning to enjoy the hot amber liquid.
Deirdre sat too, but didn’t get a bowl, so Linn guessed she had already eaten. Linn stirred sugar, cream, and the fruit-nut mixture into her oats. It tasted delicious. Deirdre started talking again. “So Bes had to leave…”
“What?” Linn was just happy she had swallowed right before Dee told her that. Otherwise she might have sprayed food everywhere. “Where did he go, and why did he leave us?”
“He didn’t say.”
And Dee hadn’t asked hard, Linn guessed. She loved the little coblyn, but the girl had been trained out of curiosity early. It couldn’t be that she was born without it… Little Feagle, her baby cousin, couldn’t be kept out of trouble, and Daffyd said he was just like Dee had been as a baby.
“Great.” Food was most important at this second, so Linn kept eating.
“We’re staying with Mac’Lir’s Court until he returns.” Deirdre went on, unaware of her friend’s traitorous thoughts. She was pleased with her decorous behavior. “Spot and Blackie went off someplace with Merrick this morning, hunting, I think.”
Linn, who liked to hunt, too, snorted with disgust at the boys cutting her out of that activity. “That means Bes will be back soon, because Mac’Lir told me I’d be leaving on my adventure today.”
Deirdre got a little wide-eyed. “Leaving? Adventure?”
Linn nodded. “Evidently he’s having me stand in for Grandpa. He can’t leave here, so he’s sending us.”
Linn nodded. “Aren’t we a team? So that means Bes will be back soon.”
“Okay.” Deirdre looked dubious.
Linn finished eating. “That was really good.” She looked at the empty bowl with a faint sense of surprise.
“Well, like I was trying to say before, you took part in what was practically a magical orgy last night. You burned a lot of Power.”
“Er, what?” Linn was fairly sure she’d been fully dressed the whole night. She blushed again, remembering how she’d danced… and with Bes and Merrick, not just the naiads.
“Okay, maybe orgy isn’t the right word.”
“I hope not!” Linn made a face at her friend.
“But anyway, that’s why you’re hungry and all out of sorts.” Deirdre wrinkled her nose. The coblyn’s face was very expressive.
“I’m grumpy because I got lost, and wet, and I need a shower. Which seems unlikely in this place. I don’t see running water…”
“There isn’t any. I’m not sure where we are, and something makes me think we aren’t on Earth.”
“That would explain a lot, actually. So no shower.” Linn tried not to scratch her scalp. Just thinking about how dirty she was made her itch all over.
“We can have a bath drawn for you, child.” Bronwyn was gathering her dishes, which made Linn uncomfortable. The Sanctuary ate cafeteria-style, with everyone taking their dishes to the kitchen, and the teens took turns doing assigned chores along with many adults. She was being waited on, which was an odd sensation when not at a restaurant.
“I’d appreciate that, thank you.” Linn told her. “Is it something I can help with?”
Bronwyn looked amused. “No, you can just relax and it will be ready soon.”
She left the dishes in the dry sink, and left the kitchen. Linn hadn’t seen anyone else, and was stricken with the sudden thought that maybe Bronwyn would be doing the bath by herself. She said that out loud, and Dee shook her head.
“No, there are others serving. I think the court is slowly gathering. Mary said they were scattered to the winds, and the word of the King’s return is bringing them. Merrick’s family was first, of course.”
“Why of course?”
Other than his grumpiness toward her in the car, Linn didn’t see anything special about the boy. Well, that, and he was the youngest person of Mac’Lir’s court she had seen. If there were children, they hadn’t been at the… what did Deirdre call it? The feis last night.
“His family was the closest to the king’s family, their sworn retainers. They have been awaiting his return since the last day of his rule.”
“Oh, ok.” Deirdre led the way back to the room they had come from. Linn thought she would just get lost, the twists and turns and narrow halls were confusing.
“Where are we?”
“Mac’Lir’s castle, on the High Plane.” Dee said over her shoulder. “Part of the feis last night was to gather the Power to open the door to Earth. This has been partially abandoned since he abdicated rule.”
“And how do you know all this?” Linn finished asking as they arrived back at the room.
Deirdre looked at her in surprise. “I used to live here.”
Linn felt her mouth drop open. She thought the little coblyn girl had been born in Sanctuary. Dee grinned suddenly, her eyes twinkling. She gave Linn a little push. “Wash your stinky self, and I’ll tell you all about it.”
Linn emerged quite a bit later, pink from the hot water and her hair hanging wet and loose. She had brushed it, but wanted to let it dry before she braided it again. If she braided it wet the waves when she unbraided were ridiculous. Between her mother’s long, straight black hair inherited from Pele, and her father’s curls, Linn’s hair had a mind of its own at times. She had on her clean outfit from her backpack, and no idea what she was going to do about making the clothes she had been wearing clean again. For now, being clean was deliciously good.
Dee was, as usual, reading.
“What did you find?” Linn loved to read, too, but not quite as much as the little green girl.
“Tales of Gael and Loch. It’s a collection of myths and legends from Scotland and Ireland.”
She showed Linn the illustration of a banshee. “Recognize her?”
Linn peered at the old woodcut. “I don’t think so, should I? She kills with her cry?” that was the caption given in the book.
“You were dancing with her last night.” Dee giggled. “Good thing she wasn’t singing.”
“Oh.” Linn remembered Ban, and her huge, empty black eyes, and shuddered. “She gave me the creeps.”
“The banshee aren’t evil, just… sad. Mostly.”
“Mostly?” Linn echoed in disbelief. Then she stopped and stared. They had been walking down a hall while they chatted, and she had been letting Dee steer where they were going. Now, they stood in a huge hall. Overhead, flags hung out at an angle from the walls, so they were high overhead, but all the colors she could imagine in exotic fabrics. The tall, narrow windows with a point at the top she recognized as being gothic, and the stone floor was set into intricate patterns of different stones. The room shimmered.
“Wow…” She kept looking up, turning in place to try and take it all in.
“Come on, I want to show you the gardens.” Dee headed toward a small side door.
The sunshine outside was brilliant, and it took Linn a couple of minutes to adjust to it after the relative dim of the castle. The flowers smelled wonderful, but it was the trio of approaching figures which caught her attention as soon as she could see them well enough to recognize them.
“Boys.” She growled in disgust.
Blackie and Merrick flanked Spot, who looked rather misshapen. She blinked.
“What did they catch?”
Deirdre shaded her eyes. “Oh, goody, a stag!”
The three boys, two in cat-shape, had certainly caught something. Now that they were close, Linn decided some of that was trouble. Merrick sported a purpling shiner, and one of Blackie’s eyes was swollen almost shut. Spot, on the other hand, the small deer slung over his back, neck in his mouth, was practically prancing with joy, in contrast to the two surly ones. His whiskers were spread wide, and he was grinning catlike around his mouthful.
Deirdre pointed. “Bronwyn will want that. Thank you!”
Linn addressed Blackie. “What happened to you?”
He looked away, then sat gingerly and started washing his face carefully with a paw. Merrick just glared at her.
“What?!” Linn didn’t know what his problem was, either.
Linn decided to follow Spot. Maybe she could help with butchering. She somehow didn’t think she was going to get an answer from them. Linn was aware the boys were following her, but she wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction. Mac’Lir, however, appeared from a side path and took in the situation at a glance. With a grin and pleased tone, he exclaimed. “Boys! Good hunt!”
He was dressed in archaic clothing, a flowing white shirt and loose brown pants that had been rolled up to his knees. He was barefoot and had his hands full of green leaves. Linn eyed him with surprise. He looked nothing like the grand and mystic king of the night before. He didn’t even look like the lord of the castle, but the gardener.
“Good morning.” He smiled at her and held out the leaves. “Would you take these to Bronwyn?”
Linn stammered back, “Morning, and yes.” She was handed an armful of wet… spinach?
“There are few enough of us, we all must do our share.” Mac’Lir answered her unspoken question. “And it gives me a little quiet time to collect my thoughts.”
Linn nodded, thinking about that. He’d been gone a long time, and many changes had happened. She wondered what he thought of the car.
“Go on, now.” He turned back into the garden, and she kept going toward the kitchen door. It opened to Merrick’s knocking, and Bronwyn appeared on the step as she opened the door. She flung up her apron with a little scream.
“Boys! You are not bringing all that mud and blood into my clean kitchen!”
Linn bit back a giggle. “I can help with butchering if there is an outside place…”
Bronwyn was surprised, she saw, at the offer. “No, no… I have kitchen helpers. But thank you.”
Linn handed off her greenery. “This is from the king… he was picking it, I mean.”
Bronwyn shook her head, and for some reason Linn thought that she was thinking “boys” again, in much the same way she had just spoken to the cats and Merrick. But she didn’t say anything out loud, just took the greens into her apron, folded up at the bottom to make a pocket.
“Be off with you all now… Leave the deer.” She pointed, and Spot laid it on the grassy patch with a last sniff of pleasure. Bronwyn shut the door on them, and the young people looked at one another.
Deirdre spoke first. “Want to see the library?”