A consequence of having a mentally challenging full-time day job is that I'm a slow writer. But I do have works in progress--and one of those is Book 3 of the Free Court of Seattle series, currently with the working title Warder Soul!
I'm a few thousand words in on it so far, and can tell you that the story starts when my heroine Kendis Thompson's housemates and dear friends, Jake Tanaka and Carson Saunders, get married. All is well at their wedding until Kendis and the more magically-inclined of her friends sense... well, something. Which is disquieting when you're trying to hold a wedding!
Here now is an excerpt from this work in progress, as Kendis, her beloved Christopher, and Millicent Merriweather all try to make sense of what just happened.
It took a while, ultimately, before any of us could slip away safely to compare notes on what we’d just sensed. With the ceremony done, it was time for the reception, and therefore time for Elessir to take over musical duties. Thanks to the retro Elvis look he favored, including a practiced sneer and a faux Tennessee accent he could turn on and off at will, Elessir a’Natharion was easily mistaken for an Elvis impersonator. If you couldn’t see past Sidhe glamour, that is. If you could, his pointed ears and eyes like evening stars clearly proclaimed him something other than human. So did the singing he sent wafting out through the gathering, a clarion baritone that needed no amplification. To my surprise, he didn’t break out a single Presley song. Instead he kept singing in flawless Japanese, in a range of styles from rock to quieter traditional melodies, none of which I recognized. They did, however, go over splendidly with the Tanakas.
(And with me, though I wasn’t about to admit that to anyone. More of me than I generally wanted to acknowledge—the part of me that in the last six months had developed a deep, fierce pleasure in the breath of living trees and the purity of starlight—stirred every time I heard Elessir sing.)
The music kept everyone occupied for much of the night. Carson and Jake, once they opened the dancing themselves, each insisted on a dance with Millicent. And since Christopher and I had nominated ourselves in charge of making sure refreshments got to everyone that needed refreshing, we couldn’t exactly make ourselves scarce. Not to mention, for one thing, that I didn’t want to abandon the festivities. I’d lived with Carson and Jake as my housemates for years now, after all. The chance to see those boys finally get married was important beyond words.
For another thing, hello, Christopher in a tux. One sight of him dressed like that had been enough to lay down a critical side agenda for the evening: namely, dancing with my man, and if we got any moments to ourselves, find out if Jake and Carson’s change in status was giving him the same intriguing ideas it was giving me.
But that nagging sense of dislocation hadn’t entirely left me. It lingered through the distribution of wedding cake, champagne, and sake to the guests. It lurked in the back of my mind, unassuaged by the sound of Elessir’s singing, a subtle discord beneath otherwise pure and perfect melody. And it set off my nerves in a way that had no place in a celebration, for it brought back recollections of exactly how we’d kept Seattle from being destroyed. That disembodied spirit that had taken over Saeko had also tried to take me.
The reminder of what it felt like to be pulled out of my own body, here and now, was utterly unwelcome.
I tried to keep my disquiet to myself. I hoped I kept my disquiet to myself. Yet some hint of what I was feeling must have shot across the blood-forged magical link between Christopher and me. An hour and a half into the general partying, he commandeered two glasses of champagne, proclaimed to everyone in earshot that the lucky grooms weren’t the only couple who needed time alone, and whisked me outside into the night.
“Oh thank God,” I breathed as soon as we hit open air.
We found nothing to give any credence to my unease. No demons dropped out of portals to attack us. No dragons, child-sized or grown, spat lightning down from the sky. All that met us was the tang of salt in the air from the nearby Shilshole Bay, mingled with the fainter, chillier bite of snow on the Olympic Mountains to the west. There was no danger of it snowing so close to the water, or even of the rain-laden winds that were far more common than snow during a Seattle winter. Somewhere to the north of us a flock of Canadian geese honked to proclaim their presence to the night, while out across the bay, a ferry blew its whistle at a passing barge.
“Drink that, Kenna-lass,” Christopher advised, clinking his glass against my own. “Slow. You’re starting to spark through your shields.”
“The boys didn’t notice, did they?” I asked, alarmed.
“Not that they let on, but we shouldn’t risk it. Not tonight.” He looped an arm around my waist and looked down at me, hazel eyes warm with concern. “Are you all right?”
A cautious sip of the drink gave me a moment or two to think about that. The small motion of drinking gave me something to anchor on, to underscore where and when I stood. I took a moment to think of nothing but the cool glass of the champagne flute, and of the shape of my fingers around it. Of the fizz and bubble of the liquid against my tongue, and of the smells in the air around me allowing the fragrance of the blossoms in my hair into their midst.
It didn’t seem wise to take more than that moment, though.
“I’m okay, aside from wondering what we felt in there. Did something come over the Wards?”
Christopher shook his head, and then gestured with his own glass towards the solitary figure who’d come outside ahead of us, and who now stood some distance away from the bathhouse. “I don’t know any better than you, and that scares me. We’d better go talk to her.”
Millicent, of course. Everything seemed peaceful, just as it’d been when we’d all arrived at the bathhouse for the festivities at hand—save for that one unnerving moment of whatever-it-was. But the old Warder First was turning slowly about on her heel, scowling as if something had mortally offended her. When she scowled like that, chances were good someone or something was about to be shot. Never mind that we were at a wedding reception, out in public, wearing our formal best. Millie usually kept her trusty old shotgun Butch out of sight, Warded against theft or confiscation. If the look on her face was any sign, she was thinking of breaking it out.
She turned in our direction as we walked out from the bathhouse to meet her. Christopher didn’t lengthen his stride; if Millicent hadn’t armed herself already, we were in no immediate danger. Nor did he call out to her. Not until we were in close enough range for quiet speech did he finally ask, “What happened back there, Millie? Do you know?”
“Not to get all Galadriel-exposition-y at you children,” she promptly replied, “but something’s coming. I feel it in the wind. And it’s shaking me to my goddamned bones.”
My restlessness sharpened, recognizing the warning in Millie’s words somewhere below the level of conscious thought—down where my magic lived. “Me too. Whatever that was that hit us, it’s still bugging me.”
Christopher’s gaze went unfocused, while a sheen of gold flared in his hazel eyes, a sign that only Millicent and I could see of his magic. “The city feels normal. But there’s… something. An echo. A shadow.”
“So we’ve all agreed there’s a disturbance in the Force,” I said. We were mixing movie metaphors, but I wasn’t about to care. “How big a disturbance? Do we need to start checking if Alderaan just blew up?”
Millicent smirked; she’d seen A New Hope more often than Christopher and me combined. “I’m pretty sure the Death Star isn’t about to come into orbit. But I can’t nail down what this is. Nothing’s breached the Wards. Nobody in the city’s under threat from anything fey. Hmm.” The elder Warder’s attention came back to me. “Fey. Your magic’s different from mine and the boy’s. How does it register for you?”
“When it hit, it was like I was suddenly somewhere else. Like leaving my body, except I didn’t actually go anywhere.”
I grimaced. “Not as bad now. But I still feel like something’s off. You know how if the alarm clock wakes you up out of the middle of a dream, and it throws you off the entire morning because part of you is still convinced you’re still in whatever you were dreaming about?” Both the Warders gave me slight blank looks; apparently, that was just me. “Well, it’s like that.”
“None of us are dreaming,” Christopher said. “And none of us have had enough to be drunk.”
“We won’t, either, at least not tonight.” Millicent’s tone grew stern now, brooking no argument. “Finish what you’ve both got there, but no more after. Stay on your guard, but try not to be obvious about it. Don’t alarm the Tanakas or the Asakuras, and especially not the boys. Anything short of immediate flood, fire, or zombies, they do not need to care. Jake and Carson’s only priority tonight is to eat cake, drink the sake and champagne we will be leaving them out of the goodness of our hearts, and looking forward to their honeymoon.”
Given how serious her expression had become, I opted not to ask right then and there if zombies belonged on the list of Things Which Are (Surprise!) Not Actually Fictional. “And after tonight?”
“Get the singer and find out if he’s sensed anything we haven’t. Then get him and Jude to help walk the Wards as soon as Jake and Carson are safe off on their flight. I want all our eyes on the city. If something’s about to creep on us, I damn well want it found.”
If you're intrigued, more of this book is on the way! And if you haven't met Kendis and her friends yet, you can get caught up on their story in Faerie Blood and Bone Walker, on sale now wherever ebooks are sold, and in print from me!
Angela writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series as Angela Korra'ti, and the epic fantasy trilogy Rebels of Adalonia as Angela Highland, for Carina Press! Come find her at angelahighland.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
Friday, August 5, 2016
Excerpt from Warder Soul, Book Three of the Free Court of Seattle, now in progress!
Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
Hi, I'm Angela Korra'ti, Anna the Piper online and Anna to my friends. I'm a computer geek, a writer, and an amateur musician, living in Kenmore, WA with my wife Dara, our housemate Paul, our cat George, and a whole helluva lot of computers and musical instruments.
I'm a science fiction and fantasy writer, writing under the names of Angela Korra'ti (for my self-pubbed work) and Angela Highland (for Carina Press)! Come find out more about my books at my official site angelahighland.com.
Other things I am, which I'll post a lot about: liberal, agnostic, feminist, queer-friendly, a stage 0 DCIS breast cancer survivor, and a GREAT BIG NERD.
And I'm an amateur musician, and I favor carbon fiber flutes, a blackwood whistle, a piccolo, and guitars as my primary instruments. I also play a little bouzouki and a little mandolin, and I'm taking fiddle lessons too! I'm a member of the Seattle-area monthly Quebecois tunes session and am learning a lot of tunes. Tunes recs welcomed!
I'm a big fan of Atlantic Canadian folk/trad, and a huge fangirl for Great Big Sea in particular. And I'm also passionately in love with the entire genre of Quebecois traditional music--and for the groups Le Vent du Nord, De Temps Antan, Genticorum, Les Charbonniers de l'Enfer, and La Bottine Souriante in particular! All this awesome music is inspiring me to improve my French, so sometimes French will show up in my status updates.