Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Snippet, May 2, 2008

Last night, at 1:50AM, a tornado passed through the area not far from us. The pump on our air mattress beeps when the electricity goes off. The pump is directly under my ear. Imagine being jerked awake with what sounds like a siren going off in your ear and the sound of continuous thunder outside, along with the nearly continuous flashing of lightning, like a strobe light.

We made our way to the basement with flashlights and cell phones in double quick time, let me tell you. The electricity didn't stay off long, and nothing happened to us, but the devastation in our nearby neighborhood was terrible---not Greensburg, KS terrible--but bad enough for those involved.

Please don't quote or repost anywhere, thanks!

Serenity and Minna aren't getting along too well yet. This is from Chapter Five, earlier than the last snippet. Minna is also experiencing some strange events due to her connection, probably Birthright, to the land.

With a gasp, Minna came to herself. She felt strong arms holding her. She looked up to see Teo looking down at her with concern turning his hazel eyes dark.

“Minna! Are you all right?”

Minna sat up slowly, her shaking hand to her head. “I think so. What happened?”

“I was going to ask you the same question. After Nani said you had gone to Solly’s workshop, I followed and found you lying here.”

Minna’s brows drew together into a puzzled frown.

“You were in a trance.” Slowly, reluctantly, Teo released Minna and let her stand up. He stood up beside her, holding her arm to steady her. “You have Birthright, Minna. The only thing lacking is the priest’s formal ceremony. Your trance had something to do with that, I’m sure of it.”

“I had to do something—be somewhere. That’s the only thing I remember.”


Teo whirled and Minna looked over his shoulder to see a man running in their direction.

“What is it, Robins?” Teo asked.

The man stopped, leaned over with his hands on his knees, and drew in a deep, whooping breath before gasping out, “Miss Serenity’s horse… has returned to the…stables…without her, sir!”

Minna felt her spirits sink to the level of her shoes. Difficult as the girl had been, the thought of Serenity hurt or gone disturbed her.

“Good man,” Teo said. “As soon as you catch your breath, go inform Solly.”

Robins nodded, concentrating on breathing.

Minna followed Teo as he walked quickly around the house toward the stables. Before they even reached the long low building, Minna could see the seething activity concentrated in the area. A long-legged bay sidestepped and fidgeted, an outer ring of white around his eyes. A man held the reins and talked to the horse in a soothing voice. A couple of men with ropes stood nearby, nooses ready if needed.

As Teo approached, the older man turned gnarled, weathered features toward him. “I told her, Mr. Teo. I told her he was new-broke,” he said, agitated.

“I’m sure you did, Herron,” Teo said with nearly the same soothing tone as Herron had used on the horse. “Do you know what happened?”

“He’s gone down with her, sir,” Herron said in a grim voice. “See the skinned knees and how the saddle horn is damaged?”

Minna saw the twisted saddle, a sick feeling in her stomach. “She could be badly hurt, Teo,” she said in a soft voice.

Herron looked past them and a momentary look of dread crossed his face. His hand must have tightened on the reins because the horse shifted uneasily.

Minna turned her head to see Solly in the distance, running toward the stables, Robins trailing behind. She turned to look at Herron again, but his face now gave nothing away. She filed that look of dread for future reference. For some reason, Herron worried about what Solly would do or say.

Minna touched Teo on the arm and directed his attention toward Solly.

Solly’s long legs made short work of the distance. He slowed, his eyes fixed on the horse. He approached the animal slowly, hand outstretched.

“Steady, Malio,” Herron murmured. “Steady, boy.”

Malio moved restlessly, but Herron kept him under control. Solly touched the bay’s sweat-streaked neck. The horse quieted under his touch. Solly held out his other hand to Minna.

Surprised, she stepped forward and took his hand.

He turned and his gaze demanded.

“Help me,” he said.

Visible magic sparked from their joined hands and sank into the ground beneath their feet. The imprint of hooves in the ground flared to life, gleaming silver like foxlights in the marsh. The hoof prints led in a straight line toward the river. Another set led from the river to where they now stood.

Minna stared. The prints glowed softly even in the sunlight. By night, they would be like beacons. She felt suddenly tired, as if she’d done a full day’s work. She understood that Solly had just performed a transformation of some sort, but she’d never seen anything like it before.

Solly jerked his head at one of the stablehands. “Get me a horse.”

Eyes wide, the stablehand jumped to do as he asked.

“I’m going with you,” Teo said, and followed the stablehand into the dim stables. In short order, Teo and the stablehand came back with two saddled horses.

“Tell Lida,” Solly told Minna. “And get some food into your stomach. You’ll feel better.” He swung into the saddle and rode off, following the prints that still shimmered and shone.

“When you find her and bring her back, come find me,” Minna told Teo.

Teo nodded at her, and touched the horse with his heels, following after Solly.

Minna watched them as long as she could see them. She sighed, and turned toward the house. She didn’t relish telling Lida that Serenity was missing.

Lida met her on the veranda, her gray eyes dark with anxiety.

“Solly and Teo have gone for her,” Minna said, her voice quiet and as tranquil as she could make it. “They will find her and bring her back, Lida.”

Lida put a shaking hand to her mouth. “She’s as hard-headed as her father, she is,” Lida said, then looked at Minna with contrition when she realized what she’d said.

Minna gave her a wry smile. “According to my mother, that’s apparently a trait I picked up from him, too.”

Lida smiled faintly in return. She moved to the veranda railing and stared down the river road.

“Her mother should not have sent her here,” Lida muttered, evidently not realizing she had said that aloud.

“What do you mean?” Minna asked.

Lida stirred, uncomfortable. “Both of them lived in New Cordonia. Her mother did not like the company Miss Serenity was beginning to keep and sent her here to her father.”

“Why didn’t Serenity and her mother live here at Barr-Thorn?”

“You’ll have to ask Miss Serenity about that, Miss Minna,” Lida said, and set her lips.

Suspecting she’d get no more from the woman, Minna asked no more questions.

Lida’s eyes returned to the river road, searching. “I hope they find her soon. It’s the waiting I can’t stand.”

Minna nodded, and checked the sun’s position. Afternoon. They could be in for a long wait.


Jen said...

Oh, dear... I do hope nothing *really* bad happened to her!

Heh, it's ironic that someone who is difficult should be named "Serenity". :-D

Gabriele C. said...

Now that's a useful magic trick to have.

Lots of people around, but I think I'll sort them out soon.

IanT said...

I like the magic; a nice touch. I'll be interested to see what your theory of magic is in this world.

Bethanie said...

Eep! Sorry to hear about your close call. We had one last night too -- not THAT close, but others have been. Not. Fun. Glad you are OK.

Lovely snippet! Very cool magic, and I loved the older man turning "gnarled, weathered features" instead of 'his face'. Very nice!

Bethanie said...

Hi cheryl - saw your comment on joely's blog .... not sure what the problem is - can you access it now? I'm thinking it was a temporary Blogger outage maybe?? If you don't mind and you still can't access it, email me at bethaniehull at gmail dot com.

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

I agree, neat magic! I'm so glad the tornado passed you by!