Excerpt for Garnet and Silver: A Faerie Tale

4 Oct

I started G&S in December of 2007 – basically, I was in a much happier, hopeful place then I was when I wrote Tower of Obsidian. I wrote the bulk of it July 2009, and originally it was much shorter and I dropped the main characters off in what I can only describe for now as a dark place. Cream of Nobody liked it (why y’all think you deserve likeable characters and happy endings is beyond me), so about a year later, after workshopping it I ‘finished’ it so I didn’t make your kitten cry.

At a quick glance, you might think this is a take on Paranormal Romance and the trend that is still technically huge, and you’d only be half right.

I became an auntie in December of 2007, and while I was Christmas shopping for my little cousin for the first time in the girl’s section, I got really disgusted in a Bratz figurine that was ‘inspired’ by a child who sent in the outfit design. Use your imagination – this was I think the early Hannah Montana years (I really don’t know but I never watched much tv even back then), so I suppose it was bad but not as bad as it could have been.

Now, I’m the sort who thinks they’re better than most media – I played more video games and read comic books, and I was able to more or less ignore portrayal of women in science fiction and fantasy because I was special and writing my own – but as images get more explicit, (basically, you go from blurry pixel asscheeks to HD jiggling) you can only deny so much. Anyway, I went from the toy section to the book store and started to really look at the sort of media as to pertained to little boys and how it was marketed to little girls. I suppose I could rant about new Lego for girls and the Rebelle Line of toy guns (I was playing with stuff for boys all this time…) but it got me thinking about what sort of stories my niece was going to see growing up.

Basically, I consider G&S to be criticism of what is accepted for girls in media and at its base, it’s a story about friendship. You won’t get the references here, however in the first chapter (the one following the epilogue below) mocks Twilight a bit because it was the only YA book I’d read that year and I had no idea how popular it was.

Yes, this is a story about a mysterious boy who arrives to change a young, naive high schooler’s life as she falls in love with him. He is more than he appears. Fortunately, I have more of a plot than anything else I’ve read in this trend, so if you’re rolling your eyes and gagging on your drool, seriously, go see a doctor about that.

Believe me, if I was going to go after Twilight or the PR movement, it would be so incredibly meanspirited it would spiral downwards into unintelligibility within a few pages and wouldn’t be a complete novel. (And my target would probably be Hush,Hush).

I guess that’s enough context. Here’s the prologue from Garnet and Silver: A Faerie Tale. Written for my niece, who will be seven years old this winter. My guess is she’ll be another five years before she reads it (she was very happy to announce she finished her first chapter book last year), and I hope by then she can decide for herself that it’s okay to be any kind of girl she wants to be, so long as she has a good heart, and that if someone strange, mysterious and beautiful tries to sweep you off your feet, do a bit of a background check before you go running off with them.

The court of the eldest surviving prince of the realm had been stagnant for the past two centuries. When the youngest prince and his men approached from a distance, the castle was spectacular: a white gem gleaming against the blue-grey mountains reflecting the crystal waters. As they neared, Prince Altroine’s dormant palace revealed quiet ruin. The prince’s party rode past crumbling statues, and what little remained of the vegetation in the area was harsh brown and brittle, breaking under the silver hooves of the riders’ mounts.

Prince Nyveo had his company halt before the main bridge leading into his uncle’s fortress. There were no guards on the high walls or the gates, and no one appeared to announce them. The young prince dismounted and had only his personal guard Moaz follow him across the long, stone bridge, to the open gate that held no bars. Moaz hesitated at the main arch leading to the white marble castle, but mostly kept to his lord’s wake. They advanced on foot through the stone gardens, which were devoid of plants or animals, save for those made of rock, now mostly shattered. They heard the sound of harps, small drums, and flutes; songs that were old centuries before the youngest prince was born. They followed the music inside.

Prince Altroine’s servants were not bound as their master, but they too lived in squalor. Smashed shards of the castle’s walls littered the floor. Perhaps Altroine liked it better this way, but Moaz and the young prince remembered when the castle was the most beautiful place in all the worlds that existed. Some things didn’t change, though—light flooded the old halls, memories of better times echoing, despite the ruin. To eyes that had not seen the young prince’s castle, perhaps they would still think this prison magnificent.

The dancers were varied in looks and talent, not even changing their costumes in the past two decades. Prince Altroine didn’t seem to notice them spinning before him. He lounged on his throne, his brow in his left hand and his eyes downcast, as if the beautiful music and performance was an annoyance. He remained still when his nephew and servant entered the ivory, vaulted-ceiling throne room.

Moaz and the younger prince watched the dancers for a moment. A handful of small pixies flittered from their hiding places, from sills and ripples in the aged curtains and cracks in the marble walls, flying toward the younger prince, though upon realizing who he was, they flit away, out of the old, shabby throne room. When the pixies fled, the other servants of Prince Altroine acknowledged Moaz and his master, bowing, seemingly reinvigorated by new eyes and ears. The music became more lively, and the dancers, both human and of the immortal races, began a much more intricate display of their abilities.

The younger prince kept his eyes on his uncle’s throne. Altroine’s silver gaze finally moved and acknowledged the younger prince, though Altroine remained as a statue on his shining throne.

Nyveo motioned for Moaz to remain behind, and descended the slight decline of steps onto the dance floor. Once his boot passed from the stone steps to the pale marble floor of his uncle’s court, the lighting in the castle changed, and at once the music and dancing stopped. Moaz halted, though his lord did not hesitate, and his uncle’s servants parted before Nyveo. Finally, Altroine stood.

“You are bold, son of Kylreas,” Altroine said. Altroine looked like a beggar, his dark beard unkempt, his red and gold clothes fringed and baggy on his form. While his toys watched anxiously, they still appeared clean in comparison, and however stagnant in costume, theirs appeared tailored.

“It is your cage, uncle, not mine,” said Nyveo. “I trust you are well?”

Prince Altroine motioned with a quick raise of his chin, and his servants left the throne room; most did not even cast a hazarding glance at Moaz. When the elder prince stepped down, the throne’s rust lifted. Though he was the oldest-lived of their race, he was smooth-cheeked and appeared no older than forty. “Has it been ten years already?” he asked.

“I’ve not visited you in more than twenty,” said Nyveo, never catching his uncle’s gaze for more than an instant. “Your castle appears in ill repair. Have you need of more servants?”

“A cage remains a cage even if it is the finest one in all the world. Do not bore me with small talk. Why are you here?”

“I brought you a present. Allow my men inside, and they shall bring her.”

“How very kind of you to ask permission, this time,” Altroine said.

Moaz stumbled backwards as the castle suddenly shifted. Loose stones fell from the ceiling, and Altroine’s toys squealed and ran for cover. Neither of the princes appeared upset by the falling rocks. The only one the spell was designed to imprison was Altroine. After his nephew failed to back down, Altroine relented; the castle became still and the prince and allowed his nephew’s men to enter. After a moment of hesitation, Nyveo’s men came into Altroine’s court and bowed, though kept their distance, as if suspecting treachery, and remained on the far side of the room, far away from where the two princes of the sidhe stood.

Ten years Nyveo’s princess, ten years his prisoner, she was physically seventeen and still the girl struggled against the two guardsmen who held her arms. They needn’t tie her hands together; although the humans grew taller in some parts of the world in the past century, physically they were weak. Despite spending more time in this kingdom than her own world, the scent of her mortality was evident, like a fresh breeze in a tomb.

“I don’t like humans from this last century,” said Altroine, hardly casting a glance at her. “They are too feisty and think themselves learned.”

“You consider yourself wiser than I,” said Nyveo. “At the very least, you can use her to help with the local vegetation. Your mortals can’t even make the grasses grow.”

“What care I for grasses if I cannot walk upon them?” Altroine asked before moving towards the girl. This one only had rage in her eyes, but not aimed at him. “Marry one of your mortals, and return to their world,” he told his nephew. “You will be free to come and go as you please.”

“I will not do that while you and Bulgorio have claim to the throne,” the younger prince said, before adding quietly, “in addition to my half-brother.”

“Sylavanos could never claim the throne,” Altroine said with a laugh, before looking again at the girl. “What is your name?”

The girl hesitated. He took her chin, forcing her to look at him. “Wyvarre,” she snapped.

“Not the one he gave you,” Altroine said. She tried to look away, but Altroine knew how to handle mortals, and dug one finger under the angle of her jaw. “Who were you?”

“Consuela Dorez,” she held his gaze firmly. She’d forgotten fear.

“And where were you from?”

“Hamilton, Ontario.”

“What were you going to be,” Altroine asked, “before you were stolen?”

She broke free from the hands of one of the sidhe guardsmen that held her and struck Altroine. Altroine almost flinched but he didn’t seize her arm. He raised his hands at his nephew’s guards to stay back.

“Consuela, I am not a young prince,” he said quietly. “My time was old when your world was new. I have destroyed greater worlds than yours over less. Consider yourself lucky that I am bored and bound; my brother Bulgorio would turn you into a bovine for sport and if he was feeling kindly, he’d kill and eat you afterwards. What were you going to be, before you were stolen?”

She looked distant, and for a moment, her defence broke. Her eyes watered, before she drew on her hate once again. “I’m going back.”

“Did anyone come for her?” Altroine asked his nephew, not breaking her gaze.

“None,” Nyveo said.

“You’re a liar,” Consuela said lowly.

“We have a difficult time not telling the truth.”

“You twist words,” Consuela said. “Same thing. They looked. Just because they couldn’t find this place didn’t mean they didn’t look. You hide away things that are not yours. If you had an ounce of courage, you’d let mortals walk this realm. You may be physically stronger than us, but we defeated your kind before.”

For a moment there was an eerie silence. Finally, Nyveo cocked his head. “If we were to send you back, you’d not belong to your world.”

She moved suddenly, and taking Altroine’s sword, trained it at the youngest prince’s neck. Feisty was too weak a word. “You deserve to die, but I’m not convinced this will do it.” She looked to the older prince. “What magic binds you?”

“You would release me?” the older prince asked with a muted chuckle. “Interesting.”

“Altroine,” Nyveo said, no fear in his tone, but it was betrayed by his eyes.

“I’m so very tempted,” said Altroine, “however, you see, dear girl, I need my wretched nephew alive for the time being.”

The sword burned white suddenly. Consuela screamed. Dropping to her knees, she tried to release it, but the hilt remained in her grip. She fell forwards, and the younger prince stepped back, his fear still apparent as his uncle stepped over the girl, who laid still, pain etched onto her brow. The sword stopped, and it slipped from her grasp.

“She lives?” Nyveo asked.

“Not for my love of you, nephew,” Altroine said, taking his sword. He stooped, picked her up and cradled her, not unkindly. “I could have killed you a hundred times by now.
I will not have a mortal deny me the pleasure.”

He turned from his nephew, and walked up his steps, placing Consuela gently on his throne.

“Does she please you?” his nephew asked.

“You gave her to me. If I wish to curse her or crown her that is no longer your concern. Or have you attachments to your mortals?”

“It is my kingdom, Uncle. I am the only one fit to rule. I have the blood of the one responsible for your ruin in my veins. ”

“If you are king, let me see your proof,” Altroine said.

“You live. Renounce all claim to the throne and I will release you in an instant,” said his nephew. “You would be the second most powerful in the land.”

“I already am that, and more,” Altroine said. “Release me, and take me with you to the world of the mortals. You need me or I would not still be here. I will find a mortal who can wield Silver. We will take back the kingdom. I will give you half to do with as you please.”

“So you might marry the human and then crown yourself?” his nephew asked with a laugh. “What will you do with this girl?”

“I shall send her to find the staff,” Altroine said.

“And when she fails? She cannot wield the staff.”

“So I let the dragon kill her. Perhaps instead I shall train her to kill your men. Did you think I would so easily revoke my claim?” Altroine smiled at his nephew. “I fear that you are more my son than Kylreas’—pity your mother slew him before you were born. Let it be as it was. I will not hold your prideful youth against you.”

His nephew smiled. “Yes you will. I would not prefer you to Bulgorio if you did not.”

“Imagine if Bulgorio had his way,” Altroine said mostly to himself. “The Empress would prefer him on the throne to either of us. We need one another, nephew. Don’t let me send her back to you with knowledge to use that sword.”

“Who would free you, once I am slain? You need me more than I need you. You would not be so kind towards my . . . insolence. I know you, Uncle. Yours is the old way, with the old weaknesses. It has been defeated. I am new, and part of that world. It is only right that I assume the throne of both worlds.”

“How much longer, nephew?” Altroine said. “You’ve been at this for two centuries without my help. You’ll never find one who can wield Silver. Is it not better to share power with me?”

“So that I may bow before you?” Nyveo asked, not masking the laughter in his tone. “My dame’s birthright draws close, uncle. You’ve a choice, and it seems you need ten years more to consider it. It would be a shame if the next mortal made me king, and you were unable to join me.”

Altroine grabbed his nephew’s arm when he turned to go. “You’ll never wake the kingdom. You play these games, but there are too few real princesses left. You’ll never be king. Not without my help.”

“Our kind are all but spent because of the foolishness of my father,” said the younger prince. “Were it not his brothers that led to his downfall, and the slumber of our race? You would cling to that remnant—that legacy. I will bring us into a new age, into new glory. When you walked into the world of mortal men, they were mostly savages. You think she is learned?” He gestured to the sleeping Consuela. “Every ten years I return, they have changed a hundred times. Feisty.”

Altroine gave his nephew a mocking laugh. “They are mostly savages still,” he said, letting go of his nephew. “Be gone from this place—I lack the power to bind you, but not your men. If you find a mortal who could wield Silver, the Empress will tear out her throat before she comes near the staff. You are as much a prisoner as I. We need one another to escape the shackles, else you would have slain me centuries ago.”

The younger prince strode out of the court of his uncle, his servant Moaz following quickly behind him in silence, not glancing back at the small eyes of the pixies or the dancers and musicians waiting in the hallways.

“He seems in a better mood than when last we saw him, my lord,” Moaz offered as they made their way across the long bridge, to their mounts. The once-horned unicorns bowed their heads when the prince and his servant walked past them. “He will never revoke his claim now the girl’s gone and shown she knows how to use that sword.”

“She will keep him occupied and out of our hair,” his prince replied.

“You should have both of your uncles destroyed.”

“And what happens when the Empress learns that I am without allies?” asked the prince. “They have their uses, however limited. Are you ready to return to the human world, Moaz?” Nyveo mounted his brilliant white charger, who went to speak, but the prince pulled back on the unicorn’s bit. “Hurry beasts—to the castle. You’d like to go the land of mortals, and have one of them remember you, wouldn’t you?” he asked. “You’ll see some live ones, I promise, but they’ll be in no position to restore you—or you them.”

/End Prologue

That’s it from me for now, folks. I’ll give you more of an update when I’m a little further along with the editing and I figure out how/when it’ll be out. Until then – enjoy your weekend, and try to stay warm if you’re in MB. It’s that time of year again.


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