Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Wednesday Snippet - Who knew what the magical penalties might be?

Here we are! The inaugural Wednesday snippet of Anti-Nano, which follows on pretty closely from the last one I posted. That's largely because I haven't done an awful lot of work on Through Fire since before I went to Iceland, because I've been busy with Common Brimstone. As Common Brimstone is now closed for the winter, I intend to get pretty damn hardcore on the writing front for the next few months. Hopefully I'll be able to make a start on Pale Queen soon. I kind of need to decide where exactly that story will start first. Quite an important decision...

In the meantime, here's your snippet!

The demon smiled, as if sensing her curiosity. "What do you call yourself?" he asked.

She opened her mouth, then bit her lip. Tristesse, she was sure, had never given her her true name. Nor had Isaiah. Neither had ever said as much, but when they met, Tristesse had casually hinted that hers was a name she'd chosen, not one she'd been given. It made sense. There was a long history behind the idea of the power of a demon's true name. With that in mind, she didn't want to give her own true name to this demon. Who knew what the magical penalties might be?

"Dolores," she said, giving her grandmother's name. She'd been named after her, albeit in the diminutive form, and she figured it was close enough to her own name that she wouldn't forget to answer to it or react strangely to it. It also meant "sorrows" in Spanish, and since "tristesse" was French for sadness, that seemed poetically apt. "What's yours?"

The demon licked his lips. "Call me Thorn," he said.

"Hello, Thorn." It sounded banal, but she couldn't think of anything else to say. She glanced at the vulture, relieved to see it preening its feathers and ignoring her, then back at Thorn. "Are you the only...person living here?"

"No," Thorn said, resting his chin in one hand and watching her with bright eyes. "Didn't you see the lakeside residents?"

Lola swallowed hard, stomach flipping. "Yes, I did."

"The Dead Lake, they call it. You look sick. It's a human invention. We just borrowed it from you."

She thought of Vlad the Impaler and the litany of cruelties he'd committed. Staking his enemies was barely the tip of the icebeg. Her heart stuttered at the thought of all the things that might be happening to Tristesse. Vlad had nailed people's hats to their heads. He'd boiled people alive. She heard a strangled whining and realised it was coming from her.

Her legs turned to rubber and she reached out to steady herself on a bookshelf, unable to stop herself sobbing. Thorn watched her, clicking his tongue in what could be sympathy just as easily as irritation.

"Are you here chasing a lover? A relative? Only great greed and great love compel humans to open the gates. Sad for us. Not many people possess both the passion and the power to cross the barriers."

She didn't want to tell him anything. The sensible course of action would be to get the hell out of here as fast as possible, taking and owing nothing. But she was keenly aware of how lost she was, how far she could be from Tristesse, or even just the next sign of civilisation. The nasty truth was she needed information. She needed help.

She forced herself to stand upright again, wondering if she had anything to offer that Thorn might want. Bargaining with demons never ended well for humans, of course. From Faust to Robert Johnson, literature and history was very clear on that. But she was already in hell. How much worse could it get? She eyed the skulls on the wall again, and the vials of blood, and decided she couldn't afford to think about it.

"A lover," she said. "I'm chasing a lover."

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