Monday, May 30, 2016

Albion Academy Snippets

Several of my blogging writer friends do what they call "snippet posts" which include short excerpts from whatever they happen to be working on at the moment. In my attempt to get myself more regular in my blogging (and my writing), I decided that sharing some short snatches of Albion Academy, the first in my Albion/Merlin series, would be a good thing to try. Without further ado, here they are, divided by narrator:


Mortimer, the Djinni
Normally he's a bit more ... bluish.

Wishes are curious things, capable of great wonder, yet so easily twisted by those who grant them.

"I wish to become human," I said to the Elders, the twelve oldest Djinn who had any desire to rule and weren't in the bottle. They sat, reclined, or floated around the perimeter of the small chamber, encircling me, each close enough to touch.

*****

"By the crotchety Elders," Brutus swore. Then he started laughing and I wondered if I'd made a mistake in calling out. I hadn't thought about doing it. I had wanted to prove Spork right. Brutus's attitude toward her and the other young Djinn was dishonorable to all the Djinn at Albion. I hadn't realized how much disdain Brutus had for others, not just humans and those who associated with them.

When Brutus recovered from his laughing fit, he said, "Morty, you got yourself trapped by a card-carrying human? I thought older Djinn were supposed to be better at eluding capture."

I decided to play a game with Brutus by mixing a little truth into my response. "When it suits us."

I smiled, envisioning the expression on his face as my words sank in.

"What do you mean 'when it suits you'?"

"I mean if I didn't want to be in here, I wouldn't be."

Brutus considered the implications of my words and said, "That's crazy talk."

"Perhaps," I said. "But I've learned madness can be a matter of perspective. Just look at Don Quixote."

"What about Don Quixote?"

"Well," I said, "he was a brave man who fought giants and knaves for the sake of his lady love."

Brutus scoffed. "That's not the story, Mortimer. Don Quixote was a mad old man with a stick."

"According to whom?"

"Cervantes," said Brutus.

"How do you know Cervantes wasn't mad himself and covering his tracks?" I asked. 

******

There wouldn't have been a stronger reaction if I'd said Principal Reese was in the room playing the national anthem on the tuba while juggling flaming batons and riding a unicycle. Well, maybe there would have been a little more reaction to the unicycle.



Merlin, the wizard
Well, not THAT Merlin.
Five years before, a stranger with pale hair appeared on our street and struck up conversation with me. When I told Mom about the strange man who asked my name, whose voice echoed as though he were in a cave not on the street, we packed up and moved from Oregon to Alabama overnight. The first day in Ilium, I chose Harry as my Knower. The first night, the stranger appeared in our new backyard, this time with a different appearance. In the night, he stood taller than the fence, his once-pale hair now divided into four shades – red, gold, silver, and black – and writhing like a nest of snakes above his head. His eyes followed the same color scheme – above each pupil, the iris was golden and below, red. The whites were silver, the pupils deep as shadow, but his face was the same.

******

At last, I opened my eyes. The log floated three inches above my palm with no hint of the oscillating motion I'd expected. My success with the spell fascinated me to the point I didn't notice the neighbor boy staring over the fence until he spoke.

"Hi."

Not the most original way of introducing yourself to the new neighbors, but it got my attention. I let the log drop and turned to look at the boy on the fence. He fell to the ground. Otherwise, he probably would have said more.

*****

Mortimer wisely took us to the park behind the hospital, so we didn't just appear in Gabriel's room without any notice. As he guided me through the paths, I closed my eyes more often than not. Total darkness disoriented me less than darkness disturbed by random splashes of color.

"I'm going to need a stick at some point," I said as we entered the hospital.

"Or a dog," Mortimer suggested.

"You volunteering?" I asked.

"I haven't yet learned that shape, so no."



Bryn, the Valkyrie

You wouldn't like her when she's angry.


My brother, Thor, nudged me through the Knower's bond. Focus on your teacher, lillesøster, not your classmates. You didn't use a favor from the All-Father to criticize humans.

I twisted the gold ring on my right hand that signified the All-Father's favor. Thor was right, of course, but I didn't have to be happy about it. I'd have liked to see Thor try focusing on reversed curses with a classmate like Merlin Pendragon.

I'd be up to the task, Thor said.

*****

The dead boy from earlier that week waited inside the door, his skin covered once more in the raven's mark.

"Go away," I said. "Rest in peace already."

I drew my knife and brandished it at the dead boy. All-Father help me if a mortal came by just now. Was it a ghost or something worse that I faced?

Someone spoke just to my left, but the words made no sense. My eyes never left the dead boy. His eyes, filled with a strange curiosity tempered with hunger, locked with mine. He did not flinch when I brandished the knife at him. I prepared to strike, hoping that might at least drive off the spirit long enough for me to reach Asgard and ask Heimdall or Mother what could follow me even into Buckley. I had never heard of a Valkyrie being haunted, but Heimdall saw all that happened across the nine realms and Mother had begun the Valkyries. Surely one of them would know.

Before I could launch my attack, someone caught my arm.

"Bryn, stop! What are you doing?"

It was Merlin. Where had he come from and why was he holding me back? Didn't he realize there was something dangerous in the halls? I shrugged off his grasp and turned my attention back to the dead boy's ghost, but it was gone. In its place stood a tall black mortal dressed in dark clothes. I had seen him around the Buckley halls before. Merlin and Mortimer had mentioned his name, but it escaped me. He looked from my face to Merlin's and back, the hungry-curious gleam never leaving his eyes. Then he turned and walked away as though a Valkyrie brandishing a knife in his face was a customary event.

*****

Elaborately carved likenesses of the wolves Geri and Freki and the ravens Huginn and Muninn adorned the throne, each serving as a gateway to one of the All-Father's private retreats for those who knew the passwords, and only the eyes of Huginn were illuminated, which meant the All-Father had gone to his watchtower, where no one ever disturbed him except the Lady Frigga, and her only in times of war. I laid my hand on the carved Huginn's head and muttered the words that, even as they were taught, I was instructed never to use, except in dire emergency.

"Forgive me, Mother," I said as I passed through the gateway.

"It is not your mother's forgiveness you need," said the All-Father.





If you liked these snippets, let me know in the comments! The images in this post came from Pinterest; if you want to check out more Albion-related pictures, head to the Pinterest board for the series.

2 comments:

  1. WELL SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. OR WHATEVER WE'RE BARGAINING WITH THESE DAYS. I MUST HAVE IT IN PHYSICAL FORM.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww. Thanks! I will do my best to negotiate the transition from digital to physical document posthaste.

      Delete

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