BONEWYTCH will be out in just a few days! Saorsa and Alex's next adventure will be available THIS WEEK via Amazon! But you can read the prologue right here, right now...
Among the Fae
- High Council Chamber -
The High Council of the Fae had gathered to present the charges to the accused.
All of the members, that is, save one. And the empty throne from which The Morrigan usually delivered her judgment as part of the Council concerned the accused more, much more, than the occupants of all the other thrones combined.
She has recused herself.
She will not speak to defend her own son.
The Magician, known as An Draíochta among the Fae and as Thomas Michael Andrew Scott to humans he encountered when visiting their realm, could scarcely believe his eyes. After thousands of years in existence and as one of the most skilled magick users among the Fae, he was rarely surprised. And he certainly didn't appreciate being so in this context.
Where is she? What the hell is going on? He couldn't imagine what sort of charges might have made The Morrigan vacate her seat when she knew her own kin was being brought before the Council. She often didn't agree with him, but had never left him without an ally before.
"An Draíochta," came a voice from one of the thrones ringing the circle in which he now stood, "we have asked you here today in order to make known serious charges against you. We appreciate the peace with which you have entered this court, and that you came willingly."
The speaker was veiled, but Thomas knew exactly who she was. They were all robed and veiled as part of their court garb. But he'd been around the Council and its politics long enough to know the names of all of them and where each and every one of them sat. As a Fae general and the King of the Deck of Crows, he had had business with them often. And then there was the disastrous time he'd spent dealing with them after the birth of his only half-human son.
His eyes narrowed. Jiutian Xuannü wouldn't have thanked him for his quiet arrival had the Council not been expecting the opposite. What is this about?
The guards that had been sent to fetch him left him alone at the center of the Circle in a hurry. If a conflict erupted between The Magician and any of the deities surrounding him, they wanted to be well away from it.
"Of course," Thomas said in a calm voice, looking around the Circle. "I know we've had our differences at times, but I have always come before the Council wit' great faith that a wise meetin' of the minds might occur."
He thought he heard a muffled laugh from one of the thrones behind him. That would be Mohini then. He and Mohini had always gotten along; despite her place on the council she'd always found his frequent defiance of their rules rather amusing. She'd been countless other names in the pantheons of the human realm, but in each of her incarnations, she’d always displayed her enchanting sense of humor. She might be counted on to be on my side, perhaps. Whatever this nonsense is. But the fact that The Morrigan was not there deeply worried him. He'd never known her to recuse herself before.
Jiutian Xuannü continued. "An Draíochta, the Council respects your long service among the Fae and wishes to handle this delicate matter as quickly and peacefully as possible. Discord between yourself and the Council will only serve to cause more harm to those we rule."
Thomas raised an eyebrow. In other words, we're about to accuse you of something awful, and if you lose your shite and start telekinetically tossing thrones around and force us to retaliate, it's going to cause an uproar among the Fae. Play nice with us, and we'll try and play as nice as we can with you.
"Enough," he said, his gray eyes flashing. "Enough wit' the pleasantries. There's a war on, and I need to be returnin' to the front. Why exactly have you brought me here?" His Scottish accent was thickening as he started to lose his patience.
"I'll do it," came a blunt voice to his left. Athena. Thomas bristled, and turned his tall, powerful form in her direction. He and Athena had never gotten along.
"You stand accused of the destruction of the prison behind The Gate of the Black Moon, the murder of the Keepers inside, and of releasing multiple prisoners detained there by the Fae High Council," Athena said, raising her voice. "Including the leth-dia. Your son."
"What?" Thomas was flabbergasted. "What the hell are you on about?"
"The leth-dia is out," came another voice from behind him. "And missing. There's no way he could have raised enough power to escape by himself!"
"Are you out of your minds?" Thomas thundered. "This is the first I've heard about any o' this!"
"You are the only visitor he has," rasped a voice behind him. He turned. Ixchel. "You are the only one who could have carried a touchstone out. And made one powerful enough for him to use to begin with!"
All sense of formality left the room as Thomas and the members of the Council aired their true feelings. Attacks on The Magician now came from all sides.
"I think you wanted him out because you think you can control him and use him as a weapon!" blurted Isis. "But the leth-dia cannot be controlled! Just a short time ago you came before this council and admonished us for our handling of the Eastern Front! You mean to defy your orders from this Council and utilize him!"
"He will be the death of all of us!" Frigg spoke up. "The Eastern Front will be the least of our problems!"
"Or perhaps you wish to use him to wage war against us yourself, and take Faerie for your own!" snarled another voice to his right. "Perhaps you've found a way to enchant him behind our backs!"
"You think I…" Thomas was in a rage now, and the worry about what may have happened to his son only heightened his emotions and lessened his restraint. "You think I would raise arms against you? I CREATED THE DOORWAY into this world for you! There would be no Faerie if it wasnae for me!" He spun and pointed an accusatory finger at Athena. "And you," he spat, "how many times have your generals returned here from various fronts, beggin' for resources, beggin' for ye to listen to the reality o' what we see? But all you've done is brush us off, turn a deaf ear to your own commanders' pleas, an' apparently waste your time comin' up with horseshite conspiracy theories like this one! Ye cannae run a war from a damn throne eight realms away from the front, Athena! Maybe ye should get off your arse an' open your eyes once in a while, and comprehend that if ye continue to advise the Council against listenin' to me an' the others, the Fae will fall!"
Athena was on her feet now as well. "Maybe it's that sort of insubordination that led you to destroy the prison!" she screeched. "You're not going back to the front! You are relieved of your command pending further investigation! Diarmid, Knight of Hawks, will be assigned to act in your stead!"
"Diarmid? Diarmid? He's a child!" The Magician roared.
"ENOUGH!" Atahensic, who never raised her voice, did so. Hearing her pulled Athena's attention away from Thomas. Atahensic was well-respected among her peers, wise and contemplative, and her sudden involvement served to steady the high emotion in the circular chamber.
"An Draíochta," Atahensic addressed him, "these are but charges. Not a conviction. These incidents at the prison have only just occurred. We hope your absence from the front is temporary as we look into this matter." Her level, steady voice kept the energy in the room from spiraling out of control. "We ask, for the good of our people, that you comply peacefully with our wishes while the search for the leth-dhia continues. We hope to have this resolved quickly. We understand that he is your son, and that you must be concerned for him. Your incarceration will take place in the realm of Nuada of the Silver-Hand rather than in a prison, which should help to avoid scandal and place you at greater ease during this time. I will personally ensure that any information we receive on the whereabouts of the leth-dhia is shared with you at once. And if you have any idea of where he might be, we would greatly appreciate the assistance."
And Thomas realized that his only chance at preventing them from killing Alex outright when they found him was to comply with their wishes. "All right," he said quietly, as the guards came forward again to escort him away. "All right, Atahensic. I will deal peacefully wit' you."
Alexander. Where are you, my son?