So a long time ago, I shared some excerpts from my thesis novel, The Road of the Lost, and since it is NanoWriMo (not that I’m participating), I figured I’d share an excerpt from its sequel, The Glory of the Dead, which is my current WIP. It’s non-spoilery (not that you need to worry about that). Here it is:
The night burns electric.
Whispers travel in threes and fours; speculation gives voices furtive edges. The rustle of spider-silk, dyed the hues of Talamh, comes from shadowy corners as the kin of the Caislean try, and fail, to weave pockets of silence so they can discuss treason to their hearts’ content. The failed magick leaves their words trapped. The silence is bladed.
Irial stands on a darkened balcony beside the hallway that leads to the dining hall or at least it did the last time he checked. The Caislean is mercurial and prone to change. He didn’t intend to hide but now that he is hidden, he finds that he has no desire to return to the light and the life that converges in the dining hall. Dinner is when Glamour is at its strongest; everyone puts on masks. Kin imbibe flower dew and cling tighter to their inhibitions because to do otherwise is to risk the wrath of the Robber Queen—she is not forgiving of slipped tongues–and no one wants to do that.
Irial is not thinking about the Robber Queen though; his mother is a subject he avoids even when he has the misfortune to be in the same room as her. He is not even thinking about his impending heartbreak—no doubt orchestrated by his mother. No, what occupies his mind at the moment and alleviates the weight of the night pressing down on his shoulders is the Tine handmaid who eluded his grasp this morning. The last time he touched the handmaid, he saw a face that none of the remaining annals of Talamh contain. It is a face that haunts his mother and steals the sleep, the warmth and any hope of peace she may have ever had. It is the face of the dead earth princess. The dead earth princess who perished along with her entire family. The dead earth princess and her family who were all killed by his grandfather.
The railing is cool underneath his gloved fingers and Irial wonders if the Caislean remembers the dead earth princess. If he were to take his gloves off and press his hands on a wall, would the Caislean show him the images of the last family who ruled Talamh? Would the Caislean speak to him this time or would she persist, as she has been doing for the past seventeen years, on not recognizing him as the heir to Talamh?
But these are old questions and they do not occupy Irial as much as the “why” that is attached to the Tine handmaid, Croi she said her name was. Why did he see Maebh’s face when he touched her? Why did he want to touch her again immediately after he had touched her once? Her face is ugly—a relief from the Glamoured perfection around him. He likes looking at her.
The air changes slightly, alerting Irial that he is no longer alone. He schools his features to reflect none of his thoughts and turns to face the latest offering of the night.
And immediately wishes he hadn’t.
His reprieve is over. Brianna has arrived dressed in a dress the colour of moonbeams, a headpiece made of moon-flowers and a smile so tremulous that it’s practically nonexistent. Her eyes are lustrous with tears and Irial glances away, thinking that perhaps he ought to feel something more at this moment than he does.
She beseeches him with her eyes to make the first advance. If he breaks the silence, then she can parry. Irial raises an eyebrow; he doesn’t much feel like making things easier for her.
“Irial.” His name on her lips is a plea.