I figured I would give you guys and update on what I’m working on:
I am finishing the rewrites on my novel, The Mage’s Daughter. It’s a fantasy set in a pre-industry society where magic is only available to the privileged, royal, or wealthy. The main character is a young female mage called Beryl who is fighting to make her way in a society that seems to be out to use her any way it can. With a country on the brink of war she fights to learn and prepare while hunting for the mage that attacked her as a child.
Short stories edited and ready to be submitted. Woo!
Writing new short stories and wrapping up current projects such as Fan fiction.
Gryphon made her way deeper into the Council’s complex trying not to let the oppressive white marble walls and ancient wards make her tense. She hated being walled in and the building was all but designed to put visitors off while showing off how rich and above you the Council member were. She hated even having to walk its gilded halls but when the Council called, you answered promptly. Hopefully it had something to do with the decision about her status in the Clan.
She faltered for a moment when she saw the small group waiting outside the main hall but forced her head up and back straight. She wasn’t about to give them the satisfaction of seeing her afraid. Her former brothers watched her approach with wide predatory grins.
“Sister, long time no see? Have you decided to return home to the nest?” He asked grinning as he crossed his large biceps over his muscular chest, his blonde hair falling into his eyes did nothing to disguise the anger filling his gaze.
“No, I was summoned to speak with the Council, Cael. I am not returning to the nest.” She said keeping her distance, the last thing she needed was for a fight to break out in Council Seat. Cael had always been the more physical one, lashing out in anger at the smallest provocation.
“What no hug for your brother? I feel slighted, Sister.” The other brother said giving her a winning smile that had lured many a woman to his bed while he opened his arms like she was still a child to run into his arms.
“I am not part of your clan or nest until the Council’s decision, Aedan. I cannot claim the title of sister and you well know it.” She said, fighting the urge to cross her arms over her own chest as a barrier to their gaze. Aedan had lusted after her since they were children since they were not true siblings in his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Sister, it’s just that we have missed you greatly. The house has been barren of entertainment without you around.” Aedan said with a leer looking her up and down like a piece of meat.
“I’m sorry but I have other business to attend to.” She said stiffening as they stepped forward enveloping her in the scent of their combined anger and lust.
“Of course, don’t let us keep you. We just wanted to see our missing Sister one more time. You know Mother is still rather desperately looking for you. She’s like a scent hound, nose to the ground.” Cael said watching her like a rabbit. She bit her tongue on the cutting reply that wanted to emerge forcing her face to stay in its calm mask, her lack of reaction had always angered her brothers more than any words she could’ve hurled.
“The Versus Clan Head is a formidable tracker.” She agreed pushing her way past them, “I wish her luck in her hunt.”
“We await the day you return to us, Sister; May it be soon.” Cael said his eyes promising violence as his jaw flexed; she knew he was grinding his teeth in frustration.
Gryphon had the doorman announce her presence and did her best to shake off the anger and bitterness that made her hands shake. She couldn’t do anything until the Council made its decision. Until then everyone in her family was stuck biding by the laws of the fae, unable to act out in anyway without affecting the decision.
She was shown into the Council chamber only a few moments later which set her nerves alight, the last time she had been made to wait hours while the Council members ignored her. What would make them treat her with respect? There was no reason for a high ranking Council member to show her any respect considering she under the law was not even part of a clan or house.
The Council members sat on a raised podium looking down on the single chair set before the semicircle of their gaze. Each member was dressed in fine fabrics and wore their jeweled chains of office proudly displayed. Each was the head of their Clan and generally only the heads would be put forth for ascension to the Council.
“Ah, Gryphon! Thank you for joining us so promptly.” One of the members said with a wide smile gesturing her to the seat before the semi-circle of seated members. Councilman Dragan was often chosen as the spokesperson for the Council since he was so photogenic and charismatic with his wide open smiles and fair looks.
“I am at the Counsil’s command.” She said slowly taking a seat with a forced smile.
“Would you care for any refreshments?” He asked with a winning flash of white teeth that was a hair too predatory for her comfort so soon after the confrontation with her brothers.
“No, thank you, sir.” She demurred as politely as she could with a small smile, she was too nervous to even think of eating.
“Well, to business then.” He said with a strained looking smile, “We are still deliberating on your request of the Counsel but hoped to approach you about a small matter that the community needs completed.”
“What exactly would such as task be? If I may ask.” She said when the silence continued on for several long moments with the Counsel looking at her expectantly.
“Well, the Counsel finds itself in need of someone in your unique situation. As you know one of our members will be stepping down in the next two weeks and we must name his successor. We are in need of an unaffiliated fae to judge the trials for the seat.”
“You wish me to judge the trials of ascension?” she repeated blankly in shock, no one of low rank had ever judged the trials, generally the son of an unaffiliated clan or house would be called forward to take up the task as it was seen as a great honor.
“Precisely,” He said giving her a delighted smile, “All of our ranking clans are invalidated since we have at least one member who is a relative of a competitor in some form. We will of course provide you with all the documentation and guidance you need during the competitions and you will be compensated accordingly.”
“If I agree to fill this position it will have no bearing on my request to be released from my clan, correct?”
“While the Counsel will be grateful if you do decide to assist us in this time of need, there is no legal benefit from helping us in this hour of need.” He said with a winning smile that was more teeth then Gryphon liked.
Gryphon nodded in understanding but mentally she was laughing hysterically. There was no true way to be completely without bias and if she helped the Council they probably would rule more fairly in her own petition. She scanned the seated members discretely noting that everyone was attentive to the conversation even if they weren’t participating.
The only councilman who was ignoring the proceedings was Councilman Hereford who was about to step down from his seat. He watched the proceedings with a bored air, nothing he could say about the selection process would be heeded anyway. The other Council members had written him off already and he wasn’t enjoying the early dismissal, his dark eyes skimmed over her with blatant disgust.
“I am rather busy at the moment, what commitment of time would the task need?”
“You would be required to stand judge over the three trials, one for the next three weeks. Each trial will last as most a single day, not exactly a large commitment of time however you will be compensated of course for you lost productivity.”
“How exactly?” she asked, watching as the speaker floundered for a moment at her interruption.
“How exactly would I be compensated? I am currently without a Clan or steady income while the Council makes its decision as I am sure you are all aware.”
“We could of course provide you with a meaningful sum in advance of the trials and once they are completed present you with the remainder of the amount once services are rendered.”
“I’m afraid I have been living among the humans for too long, sir, I require exact numbers if I am to give up several days of my time, in writing of course.”
“Of course,” He said with a strained smile, “Would you be willing to give us a short time to gather the necessary documentation?”
“Of course,” She agreed with a smile, “Would an hour suffice?”
“That would be most sufficient, if you would see yourself out while we debate?”
“Thank you, Councilman Dragan; I’ll await your call outside.”
The Councilman waved her away already moving to join the other members on the podium. Gryphon didn’t bother lingering as she exited the Council hall. She moved past the seating area and out into the hallway where there were several open balconies to one side.
She desperately wanted to shift and spread her wings or at least to be able to call her Grand’Mere. This could be the turning point in the council’s decision on leaving her clan but if it went badly she could be condemning herself in the process. The trials were a political mine field with Clan heirs often dying during the competition which could result in feuds that would and had lasted for centuries.
She paced in the open air until she was called back to the Council hall for their offer. The entire Council looked put out at having to nail down a solid price for the services of a lowly clanless half breed which only made Gryphon fight off the threatening grin. A table had been brought in on which a thick roll of parchment lay, the contract.
“The contract is ready for your signature with a copy prepared as well.”
“Thank you, Councilman Dragan. Would you allow me a moment to peruse the document?”
“Of course, please let us know if there are any clauses you wish changed.” He said with a sharks grin, the pleased looks to the rest of the Council simply made her determined to take her time.
As soon as she started reading she let the grin take over, they thought to lose her in flowery language and sub clauses that meant nothing. They didn’t realize that she had spent the last thirty years working for her Grand’Mere reviewing similar contracts.
“Do you mind if I make a few notations?” She asked pulling out a pen.
“Go right ahead, though we will have to review any changes before the final contract can be signed.”
“Wonderful, let me read this in full and then we can start to review the needed changes.” She said giving him a wide smile before bending her head over the document and letting her red pen start crossing things out.
Six hours later they happily kicked her out of the chambers once the documentation was finally signed and a copy quickly made for her records. Gryphon calmly walked out of the hall fighting a shark’s smile, she loved getting one over on hypocritical purebloods. She knew they might resent her in the long run for it but they had tried to trick her into signing away every right she had as a free person while she was serving as the judge for the trials.
Okay, so somehow I wrote 9000 words on Sunday. Yeah, I have no idea how I did it either but amazingly I’m still behind on my NaNoWriMo novel. Only about 2000 words behind but still, you would think after that I would be on track. Ouch.
Well, November is marching along and I seem to be perpetually behind with my NaNoWriMo novel. I have managed to catch up each weekend but I am just not as in love with my Steampunk novel as I would have liked.
I’ve been cranking out the words this week but next to nothing has been for my Nano. I’ve gotten thousands of words and almost a dozen chapters completed for my fan fiction works in progress and continue to march right along with several new chapters for them that I hope to post soon.
I’m busy all Saturday so I’m counting on a non-stop write-a-thon on Sunday to catch me up to my word count. I did 5 thousand words last Sunday, let’s see if we can beat that, lol.
Gryphon slept late, the sun had long set by the time she was up and ready to head back out. Messages covered her inbox and desk, people checking in and leaving progress notes on different projects. Most were simply lists of people they had spoken to about the murders.
She glanced at the large map that had been added to one wall with a sigh. Grabbing up the notes she started marking where each fae lived on the map, green dots marking each informant. The deceased were already marked with red dots for the body dump and blue for where they had lived.
There was no pattern that she could see. Each body had been left in a different area from where the fae lived. No one had admitted to seeing anything suspicious in any of the locations before the bodies were discovered. Pulling on her coat with a sigh Gryphon headed out, she needed to speak with John and Sparrow.
The Lantern was thankfully sparsely populated even if it was only just a bit after ten o’clock. Meg was chatting with the customers as she waitress, waving cheerfully at Gryphon when she saw her by the door. She made her way to the bar and gave a tired grin at Sparrow when he silently dropped off a scotch in front of her before going back to pouring pints.
“Something we can help with, Gryphon?” Sparrow asked softly once Meg left with a tray full of foaming pints.
“I was hoping to catch John. It’s to do with a case he’s working.”
“He’s normally a late comer. He’ll be here in another hour or so if you want to wait.”
“Sure. Think I could get a water to go with this?”
“Coming up. Looks like it’s been a rough few days, if you don’t mind me saying.”
“Just frustrating more than anything.” She said with a smile, “Have you heard about the Farris Clan?”
“The change in heirs? Aye, that’s all over. Most of the clan wasn’t happy but the Clan Head ordered compliance.”
“It stands to mess with the balance in the Counsel.”
“The Counsel’s never been balanced.” Sparrow said with a snort, “They’re willing to ignore the vices of each other maybe, but never balanced. They fight with each other more than they deal with any real issues. There’s been no real change in our ways or laws in centuries as you well know.”
“None of us can help our instincts or what our inclination is.”
“That doesn’t mean we have to embrace that nature or flaunt how it breaks both human and fae laws. We’re more than our natures.”
“I don’t disagree, Sparrow, I’m just tired of seeing those around me punished for being themselves. If a half blood embraces it’s human nature it is shunned by the fae and tormented by the humans for being different. If they embrace their fae nature they are treated like low class citizens by the fae for having human blood.”
“No one like someone who is different, Gryphon. It’s the nature of both human and fae.”
“But it makes no sense.” She said slapping the counter in frustration. “Look at how many kinds of fae there are, how many times we’ve interbreed over the centuries. No one kind is better than the other.”
“Not unless you are talking in terms of power, then there are distinct lines in the sand.”
“It depends what you count as power.”
“If you two are going to sit here and talk politics I need a drink.” Meg said dropping into a seat next to Gryphon.
“What? Are you only able to debate while drunk?” Sparrow asked giving her a look.
“I’m Irish, the only time you’re allowed to debate politics, religion, or sex is while drunk.” Meg said with a grin, “But seriously, you two are way too serious tonight. Three shots, on me, Sparrow.”
“It’s your paycheck, girly.” He said with a sigh, pouring out three shots of whiskey.
“So, how are you defining power?” Gryphon asked, tapping her shot glass against Meg’s before she downed the liquid smoothly.
“That depends if you’re asking about political power or personal power.” Sparrow said, tossing back his own shot before pouring himself a stein of mead.
“Or magic.” Meg put in, gesturing for a refill.
“Magic is universal.” Sparrow said, shaking his head. “Even you have a wee dram, lass. The only difference there is how much magic your blood allows you to hold. Those with fae blood are just able to hold more.”
“It’s true.” Gryphon said with a smile, “It’s thought to be why humans and fae can interbreed.”
“So, I could do magic?” the human asked with a delighted laugh.
“With enough practice and study, possibly.” Sparrow said giving her a stern look. “The humans I knew who managed it lived with the fae, studying our arts for most of their lives before they managed anything beyond the simplest of spells.”
“Oh, so no instant water to wine or luck spells?”
“Sorry, no. Even the fae are mostly stuck with the spells our kind is best at. It takes a lot of practice to cast something that’s not part of your in born talent.”
“Well, gryphons are known for wind and fire magic so those are very easy for me to learn and cast. It takes less effort.”
“So it would take a lot of effort to cast something based on… like water?”
“What did you mean when you asked him to define power though? I thought magic was a fae’s power.”
“There are different kinds of power.” Gryphon said with a frown, thinking about someone willing to upset the natural balance just to increase their own power, going against every law the fae held true.
“Nope, you cannot stop there. Refills, boss man. You have to explain that.”
“Well, take humans. On the scale for magic they are nonexistent in general but on political power and capital some can still play the field in both the fae world and the human. Natural charisma and sound business strategies can be just as effective as a glamor or mood altering spell.”
“With the bonus of having less potential issues if someone realizes you’ve magic-ed them.” Sparrow put in with a laugh, “Think about your great human leaders, Meg. Most of them have accomplished amazing things, all without a lick of magic.”
“But a fae can be powerful with magic alone, right?”
“Again it depends on how you define power. If by power you mean having every other fae too terrified to stop him then our histories are full of such people. Ones who used their magical might to make those around them slaves to their whims.” Sparrow said starting to top off drinks.
“But the fae aren’t allowed to do that anymore.” Meg pointed out tossing back her shot and holding out the glass for a refill.
“Not to humans, no. There are, however still very few who are willing to challenge what happens in a clan household.”
“You mean like Gryphon’s clan.” Meg sighed, slumping against the bar. “So if the Council decides to leave things as they are?”
“I go back to the care of my clan and no one I know will have the power to remove me, no matter how I’m treated. As long as they don’t outright kill me they can do as they like.” Gryphon said softly.
“I’m sorry but that’s ridiculous. If humans are protected from harm, why aren’t the fae?” Meg demanded.
“Clan on clan violence has been outlawed for centuries.” Sparrow pointed out, pouring out another shot for Gryphon and frowning when she slid it in front of Meg. “If one or more clans protest the actions of another a duel can be called but they’re generally to the death with the victor deciding the issue. The most powerful magically often wins.”
“So if we challenged the clan and lost?”
“Well, for one thing, we as a group are not a clan so we would not be able to challenge anyone. Only Lysander has a clan high enough ranking in our group to issue a challenge and that’s only if he could get the support of his Clan head. If he did and lost she would stay with the gryphon clan until someone else managed to win the challenge.”
“And most will not challenge a second time.” Gryphon pointed out, tossing back the last of her drink.
“Well, this is a sorry bunch.” John said, tugging off his tie and tucking it into his jacket. “Who died?”
“No one yet.” Gryphon said firmly, “I need to talk to you.”
“About the case?”
“If you could. You as well, Sparrow, if you have a moment?”
“Of course, come around back.” Sparrow said drying his hands on a spare towel. “Meg, will you mind the bar a moment?”
“Sure, the token human isn’t needed.” She said with a sigh but got up and grabbed a tray to start busing the remaining customers.
John raised an eyebrow but followed behind Gryphon around behind the bar and down the stairs into Sparrow’s office. She flopped onto the couch set to one side while Sparrow moved behind his desk. John closed the door behind him and leaned against the wall where he would hear anyone approaching.
“You have more information about the hidden fae?”
“Yes, and more questions.” Gryphon said with a sigh, “Sparrow, have you heard any rumors about an unbalance in the flows of natural magic in the area?”
“Well, yes. A few friends have inquired if I’d heard of anything happening that would be large enough to drain the natural magic from an area or to cause it to be repelled. I hadn’t and told them as much.”
“I don’t think the murders of the hidden fae are random. I think it’s a ritual and so far, an unbalanced one at that.” Gryphon said with a sigh, “If the pattern holds the next to die will have to be inclined to a different element then earth.”
“All the hidden fae killed were earth based races. Damn.” John snarled, the sound rumbling weirdly in his human form.
“The worst part is I don’t think the invocation is using race or the number of deaths to bind the spell. I think it’s using magical power. It took the death of five minor fae to shift the balance so that we would notice it. If they catch someone with more power it could unbalance the entire paradigm.”
“If the balance shifts too much spells will start to break down. Glamors will fail, bindings crumble. The fae world could be revealed to the world in a matter of hours.” She stretched, setting the silver box on Sparrow’s desk and curling back up in her chair.
“I take it the box factors in somehow?” Sparrow asked, picking it up and examining it for a moment.
“It probably holds the key to everything but of course, it’s locked.” She said with a huff. “I was at the market yesterday and meet with some old friends. They noticed the balance shifting and not in a good way. The darkness is growing.”
“Are you sure?”
“You can’t feel the way the shadows are lengthening? The nights grow longer when they should be shortening this time of year.” She asked, hands arching around her as she talked. “The time at the market lengthened and I almost didn’t manage to leave in time. I’d only spent maybe two hours inside yet the entire night was gone when I left.”
“The doorways haven’t shifted time that severely since the last elf wars.” Sparrow said softly, setting the box down.
“I’ve started mapping the locations of each death and where the attacks were thought to happen but I can’t see a pattern yet. Tatha has her entire network searching for information and my half-blood friends are looking where the full blooded might not go.”
“I alerted the packs when the files first hit the station but I’ll make sure they are keeping watch.” John said moving to stand closer to the fireplace. “They won’t join in fully unless one of their own is attacked but they will keep their noses to the ground and let me know if anything changes on their end.”
“The were are always more willing to accept those of mixed blood. Would they be willing to shelter people if we need it?”
“Yes, but not anything long term. A fortnight at best.”
“I can do some research on rituals that might match what we are seeing.” Sparrow said, watching the other two. “I know that stubborn look on the both of you. Don’t do anything stupid trying to draw this maniac out. Both of you are powerful enough that if you were used in the ritual it could tip the balance that much faster.”
“I can’t just stand by and watch our people get killed. John snapped, pushing off the wall and starting to pace. “Hell, I’m a cop for a reason, Sparrow.”
“If this person is dabbling in what I think they are then they have nothing left to lose. They will fight to the death and will take anyone around them down with them just because they can.” Gryphon said, watching the flames flickering behind John’s pacing form.
“Or an unbinding or resurrection of spirit who uses death magic.”
“Death magic’s been forbidden as long as any of us alive can remember. It has to be something else.”
“If you have nothing left to lose, what’s your soul when added to the balance?” Gryphon said.
“They will be the spirit’s puppet, their minds and souls completely consumed by the beast!” John snapped, teeth bared.
“True darkness always hungers.” Sparrow said, his voice soft as he watched his friend pace, growling softly.
“And light burns just as easily as darkness freezes. Dead is still dead. I don’t plan to rush into any battles, Sparrow. I wanted to ask if I can send victims through the gate if needed.” Gryphon said, watching the anger playing over the were’s form.
“Of course, though I sincerely hope that you will not be close enough to need to.”
“You and me both.” She said with a sigh, “But I’ve learned to plan for the worst.”
“What else can we do?” John asked, stopping with his back to the fire.
“Hope for the best and pray to the old gods that the balance holds. I think by the end of this we are going to need their blessings.”
I woke up this morning savoring the darkness, head full of story. I couldn’t force myself out of bed, too busy sounding out dialog and letting the scenes play behind my eyes to bother with moving. I rolled out of bed eventually and started getting myself slowly together for the day, characters still whispering in my ear.
The day is looking to be fog filled and gloomy with the faint hint of fall weather peeking through the southern heat and humidity. I am too full of words to get my mind to focus on the mundane realities of life. I hope the muse is willing to wait a few hours to get the full scenes on paper, notes will have to do for now.
Two hours later Gryphon set the last of the covered dishes on the long table. Lana was hovering in one corner making small adjustments to sauces and the desserts. The guests had already started to arrive, most seated around the large open living room area. They all knew better than to bother Lana while she was cooking, Gryphon thought with a smirk.
The creatures and half breeds that filled the flat were a mixed bag of both light and dark fae. Some of them had already shed their glamor to lounge, relaxed in their true faces. One or two were not powerful enough to cast a glamor that would stand up to close inspection so they shed layers of clothes and jackets instead.
Most races tended to lean toward light or dark in general but there were always exceptions. Those exceptions filled her family. During her years of exile from her nest she’d made many human and half-blood friends. Many had followed her to the US when she first escaped.
Terry, a half human/troll who chose light when troll clans are primarily dark and was cast out of his den. Michael, a siren who was dark, the same as his clan, but who loved a human and was an outcast in the dark community since he wasn’t with the human just to feed. Jenny, Ace, and Britt were forest fae whose families had been killed when human’s started construction on their lands.
Richard wandered in, greeting Gryphon with a soft huff before taking a place near the fireplace. The half vampire settled into a dark corner next to Eve, a goblin who’d been cast out for being too timid. She sat with her three set of arms wrapped around her nodding along to whatever Richard was saying.
“Dinner’s ready, everyone. Come get a plate and help yourselves.” Gryphon said with a smile, waving them on ahead.
This was the core of her family. There were others who were part of the traveling clans or who worked late shifts and would not be able to attend. She made a small mental note to schedule a breakfast later in the week to catch them up on any decisions they might make tonight.
She made sure Lana had a small plate of her own and cup waiting on her spot on the kitchen counter before gathering her own plate. The foods were varied to suit the tastes of the many races represented. She choose one of the blue steaks along with a few starchy sides ignoring the face that Jack gave her across the table. Too many of them were hard wired to prefer uncooked meat to ignore the craving on occasion.
Gryphon let everyone eat their fill keeping the conversation light until everyone choose a dessert to nibble. Standing she went to the kitchen for a glass of bourbon knowing every eye was on her back. She only drank when the situation was dire.
“Before everyone finishes up there is a matter we need to discuss.” She said, standing next to Lana as she sipped from her tumbler.
“Something the matter, Gryphon? Is it the Counsel?” Terry, asked pushing his cup of bread pudding away.
“Yes and no. Tatha has asked me to look into the recent murders of hidden fae in the city. The Counsel has assigned Davin to the case and she wants a second opinion.”
“Is he that bad?” Jack asked, sipping at his beer while Richard looked on with a slight look of envy, the vampire couldn’t eat or drink anything but blood.
“He’s an utter ponce.” Michael said with a grimace, “He tried to pin a murder on my clan a few decades ago. They still talk about the idiotic accusations he made, the man has no idea how the dark fae live.”
“Tatha said as much. He keeps to the light and neutral families and she doubts he will even try to contact any of the hidden, dark or light, for statements or questioning. That is where we need to come in if you’re willing.”
“You know we don’t mind asking around if you need it, Gryphon. What can we do?”
“I have the files if you want to see them but what I mostly need is to get the word out to the hidden that sanctuary is being offered if they need it. If they need some place less urban I can contact Tatha and get them moved to a safer location otherwise they are welcome at any of our safe houses. If any of knew the fae that have been killed I would like to talk to them but that is not mandatory for sanctuary.”
“Some of them won’t leave their homes no matter the danger, Gryphon. We can offer but many are not going to budge.” Britt said in her high chiming voice, her own family had died unable to leave the land they were bound to. Only Britt was found by another local fae and trained to ignore her fae instincts enough to travel about the city.
“We can at least warn them and have them pass on any rumors they hear, Britt. If they need more they can ask but we can’t force them to leave their homes.”
“Yeah.” She said with a sigh, leaning into Ace’s embrace.
“I want everyone to keep a weather eye out. We don’t know if the being doing this is human, half, or full fae. Right now it could be anyone. Don’t be stupid, travel in pairs if you go out until farther notice. So far this person’s attacking the hidden but it might not stay that way.”
“Jack, I have a list of everyone I’ve already tried to contact I’ll send you. I want to keep track of who needs what and who knows what. We need to figure out which areas are most vulnerable and get word there first.”
“Alright. I’ll set up a map on the wall here. We can tag each person and where they live as we find them.”
“Good. Anyone have anything else to discuss?” When no one said anything after a long moment she tossed back the last of her drink letting Lana float the glass to the sink. “Well, that’s it. Everyone stay safe and have a wonderful night. Thank you for coming.”
She left the residents to clean up, gathering her coat and bag. The night market was opening in an hour and she might as well head out. She said goodbye to the stragglers, nodding to Richard with a smile as she passed him by the door chatting with Jack. She hoped the two got over themselves soon, they’d make a cute couple.
The night was clear but cold making her wish for wings, she’d always enjoyed night flights over the desert. Stuffing her hands in her coat pockets she leaned into the brisk wind and headed for the subway. The last train of the night took her to a mostly deserted station with only an old man standing next to a boarded up door.
“Good afternoon, Franklin. Busy day?”
“Coppers are being annoying again but most have learned to leave me be. Heading to the market?”
“Once the clock chimes. Are you in need of anything? I know you don’t get to go through often.”
“Not at the moment, Miss, but I appreciate the offer. Maybe next time.”
“Not even a scent of tea?”
“No thank you, Miss. I need to keep me girlish figure anyway.” He pulled out a silver pocket watch and checked the time. “Any moment now.” He said straightening his grey suit and stepping away from the wall. The faint chimes of a nearby church filtered into the subway as the clock struck midnight. As the last chime faded away, the doorway morphed into a marble archway.
“Good shopping, Miss.”
“Have a good night, Franklin.” She said to the ghost with a fond smile as she walked through the archway. The British man had died on the floor of a subway train and refused to pass on, bugging the fae and sighted humans who could see him for news and a cup of tea. Eventually he’d been given the task of guarding the market entrance.
She walked steadily down the stone corridor doing her best to ignore the way the exit never seemed to be getting any closer until it was suddenly at her fingertips. Ducking through she grinned to see the bustling market that was already filling with shoppers. The underground night market had been going for centuries as the fae met to exchange goods and gossip.
Gryphon slid through the people calling out an occasional hello as she worked her way deeper. Her first stop was for one tin of smoked tea and a small bundle of rowan berries and cutting. She couldn’t resist buying a small bag of honeyed nuts to suck as she wandered looking for a certain shop that always seemed to change location each time she arrived.
“What you doing wandering the back ways, child?” A rough voice demanded from behind her.
“Looking for you, Mother Rose.” Gryphon said with a grin, spin around and giving the large woman a hug.
“Much too thin. Look at you! You could take a side job as a will-o-wisp.” She said as she guided Gryphon into her shop, gesturing her to a chair set next to a black pot belly stove. “What brings you to the market this night?”
“The same as always, rumors and troubles.”
“You and your grandmother, fingers in too many pies, child. You’re going to get burned one day and soon. You two need to learn to let the dark do as they would. Some things are not meant to be looked into.” Rose said fiercely, thrusting a brimming tea cup and a wrapped package at her violently yet somehow not spilling a drop.
“I’ve no quarrel with the dark, Rose, as you well know. I just want everyone to be able to follow their nature without hurting each other.” She said tucking the package away to investigate later before sipping at the rose hip tea.
“And what of the ones whose nature is to hurt? Huh? Some feed on the pain as much as on the flesh.” She said bustling around her shop shifting through the piles of junk and antiques that covered every surface.
“And there are always some willing to let them feed. I just don’t want them hunting the innocents.”
“Faugh, we will be talking in circles will first light. What do you need of an old woman?”
“If you’re old, I’m an egg just laid.” Gryphon said with a snort, “You know why I came. Someone is twisting the dark. I’m sure you can feel it, the shadows leaning just a bit too heavily as the night falls. Someone’s invoking and I don’t think they know what they are calling.”
“Eye, you always were sensitive to the balances.” Mother Rose said with a sigh, “How many have died?”
“Five, all hidden fae.”
“They will need more if it’s meant to be a ritual. What races?”
“Trow, brownie, and tree sprites.”
“Five of the earth. That is not a balanced invocation.”
“Be careful, child. If they do manage to complete the invocation, the summoned energy must be laid to rest as it was raised.”
“I thought as much.” Gryphon said finishing her tea and setting the cup on a small table. “I’ll be careful, Mother Rose.”
“It will take more than luck and wit this time, child. Be wary. Some darkness has nothing but hunger. They take and take until there is nothing left. No bit of rowan will shield you and no spell will cloak you from its sight once it has your scent.” She pulled a white metal broach from a pile of jewelry and fixed it on Gryphon’s coat. “It’s but a trinket but maybe it will bring you luck.”
“It’s lovely. Do you need anything, Mother?”
“Bring your new man to see me next time.” She said with a leer, “From the smell he must be a treat.”
“There’s no one new, Rose.”
“Then why do your cheeks burn so prettily?” She cackled, “Get the gone and finish your shopping. The night moves fast this turning.”
Gryphon took the warning for what it was and quickly finished her shopping. She only stopped a few times to leave messages for different fae asking them to contact her, trying to keep moving. Time has a way of moving strangely in the market if you were idle, most fully hidden fae places worked the same warping the laws of nature and physics as magic gathered and grew.
She stepped out of the market just as the warning bell started to sound. Rushing down the hall she stepped through the arch just seconds before the doorway closed with a soft sound of rushing wings in her ear. Franklin cocked an eyebrow at her as she resettled her bags.
“Cutting it a bit tight there.”
“Time got away from me.” She said with a wry twist of her lips.
“Seems to be doing that a lot the last few weeks.”
“Did it start about a moon ago?”
“Yes, now that I think about it, around the dark of the moon it was. Mean something to you?”
“Nothing good.” She said with a sigh. “Have a good morning, Franklin.”
“You as well, Miss. Take care along your way, things are stirring and I don’t like the feeling.”
Gryphon nodded and caught first train of the morning when it reached the station. She ignored the looks she was getting from the early morning shift workers shifting her bags around so she could check her phone. Yep, dead. Most electronic things didn’t last long around high concentrations of magic. She’d given up on watches after her fifth one died or started running backwards but cell phones were just too useful.
The warehouse was deserted when she got in but she left the shopping where everyone could claim their items from the piles. Separating her own things out she headed to her room. She stripped out of her smoke scented clothing and pulled on jeans and a tank top before heading to the library with Rose’s box.
Curling on the couch she picked out her horde and felt a small bit of tension leave her shoulders. Hidden in plain sight, she thought with a snort as she cut the twine with her claws. A small silver box slid out of the heavy paper wrapping.
She jiggled the lid but the box was locked. Figures, Mother Rose was an ancient power in the fae world. She often knew of things rising in the dark that could threaten those around her but her attempts to help often harmed as much as they helped. The contents of the box would probably prove invaluable but it was up to her to figure out how to open the damn thing in time.
Tugging a blanket over her lap she set the box on the floor and watched the rising sun paint red and gold lines across her horde. She let her eyes trace it and savor the moment until the sun light moved past. Closing her eyes she hummed softly to herself as she slowly slipped into sleep. Riddles and death, looks like they would be having an interesting three weeks after all.
It was late morning when she got up, stalking across her flat with her claws tapping across the bare wood. Cleaning up and dressing for the day she set her glamours using the gold collar to anchor the spell against her skin. Golden eyes faded to unremarkable hazel while red grey hair brightened to auburn as a slight tan replaced her markings.
She hit the controls to uncover the large warehouse windows, flooding the space with light. Standing in a shaft of illumination, savoring the warmth, made her wish for her full form so she could spread her wings and bask for a few hours. Shaking off the need like an itch she couldn’t scratch she forced herself away from the warmth.
Jack’s desk was dark when she passed it, the monitors showing his scrolling “Trespassers will be fed to the Pooka” message. She hit their coffee maker to start a new pot with a small smirk, he might’ve been up until five in the morning but he always seemed to wander in when the coffee started perking for the day.
She woke up her own computer with a small flourish before heading to the kitchen for her cup. Lana must’ve been around to clean up, since the normal clutter of coffee cups and take out menus had been removed. She shoved a cup of instant oatmeal in the microwave with a sigh and started hunting for her mug.
Lana was a half blood brownie that Gryphon had taken in after finding her begging for change one morning. It’d taken several days of coffee and bagels before she’d convinced the young woman to come see the warehouse. She’d chosen a small room on the bottom level and taken over the basic upkeep of the common areas.
In exchange for her services, Gryphon helped her get back in contact with her clan in Germany. She was the first of her clan to immigrate to the states and had done so without the approval of the local High Court which meant she would be deported if she went to the Court for assistance or even any of the older families since they would be rule bound to report her.
Gryphon had helped her get a part time job with several of the less influential clans who were not honor bound to the courts. Lana sent every penny she could back to her family who hoped to use the money along with their savings to convince the High Court to allow their legal immigration. The process often took years unless the family or clan had enough money or status to push the issue forward.
“Good morning, Lana. Would you like some coffee?” she asked softly waiting for the shy fae to appear. “Morning, Gryphon. Is there anything you need?” Lana asked, her voice low as she appeared suddenly seated on the counter top. “That was my question, Lana.” Gryphon said with a small smile, watching the dark skinned fae gesture with one gnarled hand at the cabinets causing flour, bowls, and other baking implements to tumble down landing in neat piles. “Would Jake object to scones?” “He seems to like everything you make.” Gryphon said, stopping the microwave before it could beep. Lana made a face at the processed food and gestured with one hand causing the cinnamon shaker to dust the top while a handful of nuts and a squirt of maple syrup followed. Gather a spoon, Gryphon moved out of the way to eat her breakfast, watching as the small brownie orchestrated each item’s movements with a flick of a finger. “Not everyone is a picky eater like some.” Lana said with a sniff. Gryphon finished off her oatmeal and the bowl and spoon were whisked from her fingers to dance their way to the sink to join the other dishes that seemed to be happily washing themselves. “You didn’t answer my question, Lana. Do you need anything? I was planning to hit the markets later once the sun goes down a bit.” “I’ll leave a list for you.” She said floating the other woman a cup of coffee in her favorite mug. “One of these days I’m going to find where you’re hiding it and make my own cup of coffee.” Gryphon groused with a small grin belaying her tone, “This is wonderful.” she said with a nod.
Most fae still took offense if you thanked them outright, even if the younger generations were more used to letting Humans get away with it. Lana just gave a quick flash of a grin before vanishing from sight even as the parade of cooking continued. Gryphon wandered over to her computer and took a seat. There were a number of messages to review for work and a few from supportive half breeds and even a few humans who were aware of her situation. Pity none of the pure bloods in power felt the same way. Without their backing in the High Court there was no way to guarantee how the Court would rule.
Jack had included her on the email to Tatha about the Farris Clan. The house had been in an uproar about the announcement and an upset teenager had texted a friend on an unsecured phone letting Jack hack the carrier and see the message. The current favorite for heir to the clan had been taken out of the running and a distant cousin who was coming to the states has been announced as heir.
The Farris Clan were set to start a civil war within their house over the sudden change. Most of the lower ranked members were siding with the previous heir while the inner circle around the current head were firmly behind the mysterious soon to arrive cousin. Considering the family owned most of the docks in town and held fae shipping rights up and down the coast, a feud could seriously effect the status quo.
Dialing her grandmother’s number with one hand she hit speaker phone while waiting for it to connect. The files Tatha had sent sounded interesting but not something her small group had the manpower to accomplish. The incidents themselves might be small and effect few fae but the overall picture wasn’t one she liked. Someone was preying on the hidden fae. “Good morning, dear. I take it you’ve checked your messages?” “Yes.” She said taking a sip of coffee, “I’m just not sure why you think we need to look into this. Shouldn’t the Courts be involved?” “The attacks have been reported and the Courts are looking into things but all the fae were low born with little status. You know how long these kinds of cases can drag out.” “So you want us out hunting murderers while I need to keep a low profile until the Court’s decisions?” “We greed you need to stay hidden but your relatives cannot touch you until the Court announces their decision. You should be safe looking into this.” “The hidden fae are not going to come out and talk to a Gryphon.” “Really, and just how did you track down Lana to help her?” Tatha asked with a sniff, “Just keep an ear out, child. I’m not asking you to hunt down a killer.” “Is the High Court looking into it at all?” “They have assigned Daven to investigate the crimes.” “He’s high born. He won’t be talking to the hidden. He’d consider them nothing more then servants!” “Which is why I want someone in the city keeping an eye on things. Something is praying on the hidden and we need to be ready to protect ourselves if need be.” “Alright, I’ll get the word out. Did you get Jack’s message about the Farris Clan?” “Yes.” Tatha said with a sigh, “The timing has me worried. The Courts only meet once a year for major decisions and now there are rumors of a member stepping down. With the next meeting in less then a month a new member will have to be announced soon.” “Will they go the traditional route?” “It depends on who is stepping down but it’s possible they will declare a hunt.” “That’s barbaric.” “It’s tradition.” “To the death?” “If one of the pure blood clan heads is stepping down, definitely with the winner taking over the clan position as well. It could upset the current truce we have between the light and dark members of the Courts.” “Balance? What balance? All the Courts do is try and get the upper hand in every decision they make. We might not have been at war with each other in centuries but we are certainly not at peace!” “And yet you have both light and dark fae living and working with you.” “They earned that right.” Gryphon said grimly, “They bled and starved for their families and were cast out for a dark orientation. They cannot help their nature. “And the Courts are not at war. They simply have a very traditional view of things.” “They hurt most of the people they claim to be protecting. The pure bloods ignore the plight of those they deem beneath then and there are no half bloods. Only a handful of the members come from families the even allow half blood members or interspecies marriages. Out dated laws and rulings that splinter clans and families and only breed more hate. Why are we doing their job for them?” “I have been fighting with the Courts for most of my life child. I built my entire empire on using the laws against the Courts and working to find ways around their outdated decisions. Replacing the current members with more like minded individuals will take centuries. For now we must do what we can to protect those we can from the idiots in power.” “And if they rule against me?” “Then we will do what we must.” Tatha said fiercely. “I will not leave you in the hands of your Clan. They are not your family, child, not any more. Now, we both have better things to do then worry over things we cannot control. Go check in with you people and let me know if you find anything interesting.” “Yes, Grandmere.” She said with a sigh. Digging out her phone she quickly set up a text message to everyone.
Family meeting, come to dinner tonight. -G
She ignored the soft pings of acknowledgment as she gathered up what she needed for the day. Pulling on her jacket a faint crinkle had her digging through the pockets with a frown. Ah, Lana’s list. She would go to the market first then. “Lana, do you have anything you want made for dinner tonight?” “No, you know everyone always brings too much food.” A soft voice pointed out from somewhere in the kitchen. “True.” Gryphon said with a sigh, snagging a pen and adding a few items of her own to the list. Jake wandered out of his room as she stuffed the last few items in her bag. “Leaving?” he asked around a yawn. “Errands to run. What are you doing up?” “Thought I smelled pancakes.” He mumbled scrubbing a hand through gel spiked bed head. “Sorry, scones.” “Lana made them?” “Who else would?” she asked with a snort, digging for her keys. “You cook sometimes.” He slurred around another yawn, “You making dinner?” “Of course, it’s a family meeting. Make sure you get cleaned up a bit by then unless you want Richard ragging you.” “The man is an ass.” He said slowly making his way into the kitchen and rattling around getting himself a cup of coffee. “You did look rather rumpled last time.” “So you’re an ass too.” He said, head in the fridge. “My sense of smell is almost as good as Richard’s, Jake. I’m just too polite to say anything.” she said trying not to wince as he drank straight from the orange juice bottle. “Really that bad?” “Yep, get cleaned up.” “Damn, okay.” He said with a huff, “After breakfast.” “More like lunch.” She said with a huff at the time, “I’m to the markets, I sent you a few messages, little things to keep an eye on.” “Okay, have fun with traffic and all that.” “Dork.” “Cryptid.” She flipped him off with a smirk, letting the door slam behind her. Her first stop was the human open air market for fresh vegetables, meats, and herbs. Filling a provided box she took it to the end stand and arranged for the lot to be delivered to her doorstop, one of the others would put everything in the kitchen.
Her next few stops were to back alley little known shops that catered to the fae for her harder to find ingredients and items. She exchanged greetings with several of the owners even as small packages and slips of paper were added to her order. Most would be requests for work that would need to be vetted by Tatha or rumors to be passed on. Along her way whenever she felt the eyes of the hidden on her she stopped to lean against the brick and would leave a note requesting a meeting or information along with a small gift of food.
By late afternoon she had dropped her things off at the warehouse and continued on her rounds. Her last two stops would have to wait until after dinner but she had one more place she had to check in with. Forcing the frown from her face she straightened her spine and forced her feet to step off the sidewalk and past the door. It wasn’t often the fae had to interact with the human police in the city but any place with a large population of fae in the area had a representative in at least one police station in town. Their contact here was a human who had married a fae and been brought into the secret world by the Courts.
She’d heard good things about the man but never had to approach him herself. Greg Sanders was a rare bird by the information she’d seen. A human man that had married a dark fae yet kept his morals intact. He was known for his gentleness in questioning the lesser fae and refusing to be bribed or brushed aside by the pure bloods. Gryphon stuttered to a stop outside his office, watching as the two men inside laughed easily with each other.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.” She said with a small smile when the men noticed her. “Well, fancy seeing you here. Things taking a turn for the worse?” John asked, facing her with a frown. “You’re actually saving me a trip. I was headed to the Lantern after dark.” “Someone you know, John?” Greg asked, standing from behind his desk. “Ah, yes. Let me get the door and I’ll fill you in.” He said moving to close the door. “One of your’s then?” “Yes, and no. Detective Greg Sanders, let me introduce Gryphon of the Versus Clan.” “Pleasure to meet you.” Gryphon said, shaking Greg’s hand with a tight smile. “Sorry, are Gryphon’s against shaking hands?” Greg asked with a small laugh. “No, it’s nothing. Technically, I have no name or clan title until the Court’s decision at the end of the month. I can’t claim Versus as my Clan.” “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize.” John said trying to smooth things over. “It’s fine. The real reason I came was a bit different anyway. There have been several murders and attacks against the hidden fae in the last two months. I wanted to make sure your office was aware of the situation.” “Who did the Court appoint to investigate?” “Daven of Goth.” “Well, that’s going to be a lot of help.” John said with a groan. “The man had his badge of rank stuffed up his arse at birth. We won’t be getting any help from him.” “Which is why I wanted to make sure you knew to keep an eye out. The hidden won’t come out to a human and now that they know they are being hunted they might not come out at all.” “If they’re that shy why are you coming to us? The human police are probably not going to find much.” “You might. Whoever is doing this displays the bodies, leaves them in the open to be found.” Gryphon said with a grimace. “So far they’ve been found by other fae but that could change.” “What can you tell me about the fae attacked so far?” “They are all lower class fae, hidden. Two brownies, one trow, and two different kinds of forest sprites have been killed and left in different parts of town. They were not found were they were attacked, had no reason to be in that area or it went against their very nature. Daven will have the official files but this is what we have access to.” “And who is we?” “My grandmother is Tatha, head of the Veritas Sphinx Clan. Her clan is known for giving sanctuary for any who ask it no matter the species or rank. She asked me to make sure the hidden are aware of the attacks and that our liaison with the human police was informed.” “Is she offering sanctuary to any fae that might be targeted?” “Officially, no. Unofficially, she would never turn anyone away who requested it.” “Miss Gryphon, I’m sorry, do you have a name you prefer?” “I can’t claim any names until the High Court’s decision.” She said with a huff, “You can call me Gryphon if you wish. It is all I can answer to right now.” “Greg, names are a bit of a sore point with the fae. We don’t hand them out easily. If she doesn’t have a name to give you beyond Gryphon then that is what you need to call her.” John said, leaning around the desk a bit to see the file Greg was flipping through. “Do you have a number you can reach you at if anything turns up?” “Here, my numbers on the back.” She said handing over a card. “And the number on the front?” “The main number for my grandmother’s business in the human world. If it’s something urgent and you can’t get a hold of me, call that.” “Very well. Thank you for bring this to my attention. We’ll call if there’s any progress on our end.” “Let me walk you out, Gryphon. I’ll be back in a bit, Greg.” Gryphon walked silently with the taller man trying to ignore the feeling that she should be dropping her glamors around him. It made her skin itch and left her stalking out of the brick and steel building faster then was really necessary. She let him open the door only because his longer stride reached it first.
“Are Gryphon’s normally against being within iron walls?” John asked once they were away from the Police Station and headed down the sidewalk hurrying to catch up with the woman. “Sorry, no. Just jittery.” Gryphon said with a sigh, running one hand through her short hair and forcing herself to slow down. “I thought your grandmother wanted you to lay low for a while?” “She seems to think the murders are more then they seem. No upper fae care about the hidden and no hidden are going to step out of the shadows to complain about abuse. Who exactly is going to investigate, Detective Sanders?” “Then what makes her think they’re going to talk to any of us?” “I’m not a member of any clan right now. I’m not declared as light or dark and hold no allegiances beyond those to my Grandmother and her clan is staunchly neutral.” “So they might talk to you.” “Maybe. I can’t guarantee anything but I am kind of outside of normal ranks right now.” “Until the High Court sides with either you or your clan. How is your clan aligned?” “The Versus Clan is neutral dark, the Veritas Clan is neutral light.” “And you never individually declared a side?” “I never saw the point.” she said with a snort, “Even if I had declared light, while I was a member of the Versus clan all decisions would have been from a dark stance no matter what my personal opinions were. The head Gryphon rule the clan with complete control over every member. Individuals have no power or control of their own lives. All major decisions are made by the clan head.” “Ouch. So, no teenage rebellions I take it.” He asked with a grin. “Considering how slowly Gryphons age, not really. I would still be bound to the nest like an infant if it wasn’t for my grandmother.” “Listen, here’s my card. Let me know if you need any help. I don’t like you being out in the open with fae already dropping dead around the city.” “Thank you, but honestly I’m a good bit harder to kill then wood sprites.” “Humor me. Send me a text.” he said sternly, settling his coat. “My own person knight in shining armor.” She said with a laugh, “I’m afraid there’re no princesses here for you to rescue, good sir.” “I’ll just have to tide myself over with rescuing the monster then.” He said giving her a courtly bow, “Will you be by the Lantern later?” “Not tonight. I’ll text you if I’m headed that way.” “Stay safe.” “You as well, Detective.” She said turning away and starting the long walk home.