Snippets from my summer writing:
Ebony and Aubergine
The dance ended and Nur leaned close to say in a low voice, “Be careful what challenges you take on, my Lord. Some mountains cannot be scaled.” She patted his arm with the familiarity of old friends and moved off through the ballroom.
He stared after her, puzzled and a little stung. She thinks I can’t win the challenge of taking on the Ice Queen. I wonder how she is so sure.... Does she think saying that will deter me? She should know me better than that....
“However, I believe them to be staring out of curiosity. Cathen society has speculated for the last three years on what would happen when the Snow King met the Ice Queen,” she spoke her nickname without any vanity or self-consciousness, simply, factually.
“And now that the momentous event has actually taken place they are wondering more than ever?” he raised his eyebrows.
“Of course. They watch closely to see who will crack first.”
“Is that a challenge, your Grace?”
She swirled gracefully as he spun her under his arm in the next step of the dance, “If you choose to regard it as such, I have not the power to prevent you.”
“I have heard it said that you possess a strange power- the power to cast a spell over men and women alike.”
She smiled, teasing glinting in her liquid eyes, “Are you not afraid to trust yourself so near me?” her eyebrows arched provocatively.
His eyes narrowed, “Should I be afraid?”
She twirled under his arm again, “That depends, my Lord, on how much you believe the reports of my power.”
Iskandar tossed restlessly on his bed. The storm air was affecting his sleep.
He dimly heard a noise and registered it as hoof beats. But it wasn’t until a thundering on the door woke him fully that he realized that it was a courier. He jumped out of bed, grabbing for the dressing gown thrown over a chair nearby. As he raced down the stairs, he heard the other young men hurrying down behind him.
The courier was still knocking, calling, “In the Name of the Capar!”
Aqil reached out and grabbed Iskandar by the shoulders, “Don’t you understand? You will be in even more danger! Everyone will be suspect! I know not what stance your uncle has taken, but I would not count on it being your protection.”
“I know,” Iskandar replied calmly. But someone has to make certain you arrive safely and I long for an adventure.”
“Is that why you are doing this?” Aqil demanded incredulously. “For adventure?!
“Among other reasons,” Iskandar smiled, maddeningly unmoved by Aqil’s remonstrances.
Aqil stared at him in horror, “Kandar you’re insane!”
They turned to face her again. “We understand what you are trying to tell us,” Bahadur said gently. “And mother, we respect it.”
“But, for the two of us, we have to know,” Zahira cut in. “No matter what we find, no matter what secrets will come to light, we need to know. And Suhayl deserves to know also.”
Satha looked from the firm brown eyes of her daughter to the gentle brown eyes of her son. The determination in the depths of both pairs of eyes scared her.
It reminded her of Ismail.
Barakat waited, tapping his foot on the floor. “Well?”
“Well, what, my cousin?”
Barakat glared at him, “If you think I’m letting you off without particulars as to her family, how you met and, how serious it is, and last but most importantly, herself, you are sadly mistaken, Kandar.”
Future Lion and Rose books
“Which will melt sooner, the ice or the snow?”
Lujayn arched her eyebrows at him, “Ice is harder than snow, Tafa.”
“True, but snow that has been well trampled takes fully as long to melt as ice does.”
They exchanged a glance pregnant with meaning.
Pale, their faces set against the pain they knew would come upon seeing their beloved in such a state, the two men entered the tent. Sharyar nodded for them to come closer.
Zahira Yasmin, darling of two courts and heroine to four lands, tossed restlessly upon the cot, eyes glazed with fever.
Zahira finally tired of their bickering. One day when she was seventeen and having dinner with both of them, they were sniping at each other as usual, or rather today Cirus was sniping at Almas and Almas was deflecting the strikes. Zahira slammed her hands down on the table and stood up.
Shocked that their cool cousin would behave so, especially in their presence, both stared at her.
Her voice low and stone hard, she enunciated clearly, “I do not care to eat with the two of you if you will always be sniping at each other and arguing. This is dinner, not a fight for power, and if you will not treat it as such, I shall leave the room.”
Pearl of Loyalty
“But, we’re The Ruling Family,” Jaci argued, “We can have all the new dresses we want.”
“That doesn’t mean we are going to,” her mother replied firmly. “You don’t need that many new dresses.”
Jyder suddenly groaned loudly, causing the whole family to pause and look at him in alarm.
“Jyder? What is wrong?” Kaduna asked quickly.
“You’re all sitting here talking dresses. Dresses!! At the table! In front of me!” he exploded.
“We thought it wise that we should keep an eye on all tourists from there in the future lest one of them is a spy and attempts to communicate with Itimburi.”
If humans could prick up their ears, Johari’s would have been standing straight up at this point. Spies?
“I agree, Minister, but do so cautiously. I will not condone infringement of personal privacy. They are here as guests and we will treat them as such, even if they should pose a threat to us.”
Johari mentally rolled her eyes. Her mother almost fanatically adhered to rules of courtesy, even when common statesmanship demanded otherwise.
Rewrite of Oath of Loyalty
“What are we going to do now?” Jyder’s voice was hushed and his eyes were still wide.
Johari and Jaris burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Jezi asked.
“Jy’s face,” Jaris choked. “Sorry, but it was hilarious.”
“The world won’t stop just because the queen has been deposed,” Johari assured her younger brother.
“Are you ready to go?” Jaris asked their siblings. They were scattered around the living room, stuffing books and papers in their backpacks, tying shoes and putting on lightweight vests. Qatana weather in early September could be slightly chilly when bike riding.
“Almost,” Jyder’s head was bent over his CHATU.
“Jyder and Jezica, shut those games off and tie your shoes,” Johari ordered them. “Hurry up or we’ll be late.”
“You always say that,” Jezi complained, grudgingly closing her game.
“Because it’s always true,” Johari retorted. “Now, let’s move.”
“But, you still attend select Royal events, don’t you? And you receive important news directly from the Palace?” Klondra still sounded confused.
“Yeah, we can’t seem to get around that. It’s some sort of clause in the Constitution, I imagine,” Jaris joked. “All born Royals receive news directly from the Palace for the balance of their days.”
“Will your family be attending the abdication?” Klondra looked from Johari to Jaris.
“Probably,” Jaris answered her. “It’s one of those events we’re constitutionally mandated to attend.”
Johari wrinkled her nose, “And every time I suggest breaking that mandate, my parents threaten to send me to stay at the palace for a visit, so I’m also pretty sure we’ll be going.”
Hiqueos was chuckling, “You two and your Constitutional mandates. I’m pretty sure there is no such mandate.”
"Your mission is to find these secret cities. We know they exist. We need to know where they are."
"And then discover what they are doing in them, I suppose?" Yolina tilted her head saucily, with the freedom of long association with her agent handler.
"Well, yes. But, first things first. Find the cities."
"Yolina, please, can I talk to you?"
" It looks to me like that is what you are doing already."
"No, I mean, will you spare me a few minutes? I have something I want to say to you."
I studied him narrowly, "I think it would be better if we didn’t. After all today is your birthday and out of common politeness, I wouldn’t want to fight with you on your birthday."
Miss Melody Muffin