Here’s today’s Friday Snippet for you! As always, this is draft material and things are subject to editing (and possibly deletion), so please don’t share.
Hope you enjoy!
(Chapter Two Cont’d)
The tension in the meeting hall struck like a blow to the chest as soon as she took her first step inside, and it wasn’t just emotional tension. Power prickled through the air from magics raised but not unleashed.
Ooooh-kay then. Squaring her shoulders, she strode toward the group that had congregated in the middle of the expansive floor. As she approached she took in details.
There were three clusters, each one standing far enough away from the others to set itself apart.
The first cluster was a party of two, stationed squarely between the other groups. One of them was Dragos who stood with his arms crossed as he surveyed the others. He was large and lethal, with midnight black hair, bronze features and gold eyes.
The Wyr gryphon Rune stood beside him. Kathryn hesitated, looking between the two males. Almost as tall as Dragos but not nearly as broad, Rune’s golden hair and handsome features were a familiar sight, but at the same time it was also a strange one.
For centuries, Rune had acted as Dragos’s First sentinel, and he was a force to be reckoned with in his own right… but he and Dragos had argued while Rune had been in the middle of mating with the Vampyre elder Carling Severan. The strain of that argument had broken the relationship.
Since that time, the men had gradually been repairing it, and when Carling had been kidnapped along with Dragos’s mate Pia, they had been thrown into working together. Apparently, the crisis had eradicated any strain that had lingered between them.
Kathyrn smiled. It was good to see them together again, acting as a team, for however long that might last.
Her gaze traveled to the second cluster, which was also a party of two. A handsome dark-haired man stood beside a woman. Their scents revealed immediately that they were both lycanthropes, but as soon as she laid eyes on them Kathryn already knew who they were.
The infamous sorcerer Morgan le Fae was in attendance, along with his companion, popular musician Sidonie Martel. Kathryn had heard of the pair, but she hadn’t met them yet. The grapevine in the Wyr demesne was lively and thriving, so she already knew that Dragos had offered asylum to Morgan, along with a select band of lycanthropes that immigrated with him.
In other circumstances, her gaze might have been tempted to linger on the pair, but the open hostility in the third cluster of people pulled at her attention.
The third cluster of people was also the largest. Four individuals stood in postures of leashed aggression, their expressions tight. One was a mixed Fae female who was spotted like a cheetah, with russet hair streaked with white, and a strong, lean body.
The mixed-Fae woman stared at Morgan and his companion with undisguised hatred. A powerfully built mixed-Fae male stood beside her, while another male with menacing, intense good looks stood by a woman whom Kathryn recognized.
Immediately, she threw aside any further examination of the various individuals at the meeting.
“Sophie!” she exclaimed, in equal parts surprise and delight.
Sophie Ross was a mostly human witch with long, curly black hair, pale gray-blue eyes, and freckled skin. Earlier that year, Kathryn had met Sophie in LA and offered her the quixotic stipulations set out by Kathryn’s late father, the Earl of Weston, in his will.
Sophie had been given the opportunity to stay for ninety days at one of Kathryn’s historical family holdings in the UK. If, during Sophie’s stay, she was able to break into the magic puzzle box of a house that the Shaw family had owned for many generations, she would inherit the property and an annual stipend that went along with it.
Sophie had not only managed to break into the house. She had also fallen in love with a prominent member of the Dark Court and gotten embroiled in the centuries-long struggle between Oberon’s people and the Light Court.
If Sophie was here, that meant the dark, brooding male standing so protectively beside her would be Nikolas Sevigny, one of Oberon’s senior knights. And that meant their companions were probably also of the Dark Court…
No wonder the tensions in the hall were so high. Morgan le Fae had, for many centuries, had acted as an agent on behalf of Isabeau, Queen of the Light Court—and the Light Court and the Dark Court were mortal enemies.
Then came the news that had run like wildfire through the Elder Races in recent months: Morgan had not been working for the Light Fae Queen of his own free will. He had been enslaved by a geas.
That one fact could possibly be how Morgan and various members of Oberon’s Court could stand together under the same roof without breaking into battle… but Kathryn could see the strain was vibrating through among all of them. Even Sophie’s bright smile of greeting was brief. They would have to catch up in private another time.
Now than Kathryn’s sweep of the hall was complete, she focused her attention on Dragos again as she moved forward. Telepathically, she said to him, Surely you haven’t all been standing here for almost four hours while I finished surgery?
The Wyr Lord didn’t appear to appreciate her small spark of humor. His gold gaze flashed with irritation. I sent them to opposite parts of the building to wait it out. They’ve only been back in the hall for a few minutes. We’ve got to conduct this meeting and get it over with before somebody snaps.
Aloud, he said to the russet-haired female, “This is Dr. Kathryn Shaw, as I promised. Kathryn, this is Annwyn Mathonwy, King Oberon’s cousin and general of the Dark Court armed force, and her escorts Gawain Blackwater, Nikolas Sevigny, and Sophie Ross.” He swiveled on one booted heel and indicated the other cluster. “And over here, we have Morgan le Fae and his fiance Sidonie Martel. I’ve summoned you all here at Annwyn’s request.”
“If I may,” Morgan murmured. “My last name is Garanhir. I have no desire to be connected to the Fae in any way whatsoever.”
“Of course,” Dragos told him. “My apologies.”
Oh… dear. With a sinking heart, Kathryn watched as Annwyn prowled toward her. Nobody wore any visible weapons, but Annwyn appeared to be a weapon all on her own. She moved like danger personified, in one racy, effortless flow.
“Dr Shaw,” Annwyn said shortly.
“General,” Kathryn replied, taking the hand she was offered and shaking it. “It’s an honor to make your acquaintance in person.”
“When I approached you in the summer to ask for a consultation on my cousin the King’s condition, you turned me down,” Annwyn told her. “I’m here to ask you again, in person. Oberon remains in a deeply unconscious state, but meanwhile his Power continues to rage unchecked. Without his will to control it, it’s damaging our city and land, causing floods and forcing evacuations. We need to break through to him somehow, or we may end up with no liveable homeland left. Our physicians and mages have had no luck, either in healing or in halting what has been happening. All they can say is that the reason for his affliction is magical in nature.” Swiveling to face Morgan, her voice chilled as she said, “And that led me to ask for you.”
Morgan had put his hands in his pockets. He looked more relaxed than the raised magics snapping in the air might otherwise indicate. When he spoke, his voice was deep and pleasant. “If you intend to confirm whether or not I had anything to do with Oberon’s present condition, the answer is yes. I did.”
Annwyn hissed at him, and across the room, both Gawain and Nikolas grabbed for their waists. It was an instinctive move, Kathryn thought, as they reached for weapons they didn’t wear.
“Ease up, gentlemen,” Rune said in an aside to them. “Remember, this is a parley that you asked for, not a battlefield.”
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