First Impressions

I’m still here, Internet.

After a brief spate of blogging in mid-November, I kind of went dark. I don’t know why. Nothing to say, I guess. And busy. Always busy.

A quick update: Beta readers still have Bloodbonded. At this point, I think it will need another round of readers before I publish, so once they get it back, I’ll integrate feedback and send it around one more time. I’m not sure when it’ll be live, but probably this spring sometime. Not by February, unfortunately. Hang in there, friends. It’s closer now than it’s ever been, and I won’t let you down.

In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy this first meeting between Queen Maeve (Connor’s mother) and her paramours, Culain Mac Niall and Edgar Wolfbrother.

Of course, she had no intention of taking either one as a consort after this meeting… But I’ll let the story tell itself. (Disclaimer: This was from very early in the development of the world, so forgive the rather primitive and occasionally stilted writing. In other words, this is draft draft quality.)

Shadows lengthened around Maeve SilverAir’s body as she stood at the edge of the Brae Sidh village. She sensed them–one tribal, one Taurin. They edged closer to the boundary between tribal and Sidh lands. If they set one toe over the boundary, I swear I’ll– She bit off the unfinished thought, folded her arms, and tried to force her jaw to unclench. Stone fragging, water filching, sons of vixens… Words went through her head that her mother should have beaten out of her years ago, but she couldn’t help it. I will not abide hunters near my village. The tribal man should know better.

She wove braids of air as she waited, testing each one as it returned, hoping to detect the odor of the men and then use the braids to guide her to them. Finally, from the west, the scent she’d been waiting for. She waited; the magic tingled through her blood just as they stepped over the boundary and through the enchantments and the sun dipped below the horizon. She adjusted the circlet on her head and steeled herself, then let the braids wrap her body.

The braids lifted her from the ground, and she landed before the two men in a breath. A stag lifted his head, his ears facing her as he appraised her with a curious eye. “Go, dear one. I’ll deal with these two,” she whispered. He twitched his tail, then bounded into the trees. Before either man could react, she had wound the braids of air around them both and hung them upside down from a stout limb of a nearby fir. “What in the name of Namha’s horns are you two bastards doing near my village?”

“Damn it, woman–you scared off the stag!” The older man twisted and writhed, trying to turn to see her. “Son of a– Let us down!”

The younger man didn’t struggle, but he had a better view of Maeve. He shot her a wicked grin, and even in the wan light of early evening she could see how beautiful his eyes were. He had long braids and was dressed in leathers and furs, and one arm held several tattoos. “Culain, when you see who captured us, you’ll wish you’d watched your tongue.”

“I don’t give a goat’s horns who captured us. I’ll be released now, or the regent will hear of this.”

Maeve tightened the braids around the man called Culain. “Your human regent has no authority here. These are my lands.”

“Son of a–”

“Culain!” The other man snapped a warning. “Shut up, idiot. It’s Queen Maeve.”

Culain stopped struggling. Maeve straightened. He twisted his head to look at her. She folded her hands with demure patience and lifted her eyebrow. “Forgive me, your majesty. We didn’t know we were so close to your village.”

“Perhaps you didn’t, but your friend here is wolf tribe. He should have known.”

Culain turned his head. “Edgar?”

The man affected as much a shrug as he could. “You followed the stag. I wasn’t going to let you be disappointed.”

“So at the bottom of this violation of my borders I am left with two overgrown boys playing hunter over a stag? You risked the lives of my people–the children in my village–for the meat of a single deer?” She folded her arms. “You should both be ashamed of yourselves. I am tempted to leave you there until spring.”

Culain laughed. “You’d have to answer to my wife for that, majesty. And I promise you, even without magic, she may be a match for you.”

Maeve stared at them, considering what to do. “Edgar, is it?” she asked the tribal man.

He twisted his head; he was lithe and thin and more well-muscled than the other man. “At your service, my lady.”

She tipped her head. “You know where the boundaries are. You know that animals are protected on Sidh lands. If I let you go, will you swear not to cross the boundary again–not even for a stag?”

“On my honor as a tribesman, lady.”

“And will you be certain your friend here stays away as well?”

“If I’m with him, he’ll never cross the boundary again.”

She nodded, satisfied. She looked at the other. “Culain?”

“Duke Mac Niall, if you don’t mind, your majesty.”

“Taurin titles don’t impress me.”

“It wasn’t meant to impress you.”

She bristled. “Son of a vixen–”

“Actually, my mother was a well-bred Eiryan woman with several generations of nobility on her family crest. She was refined and proper and would never have thought to treat a fellow noble with the kind of disrespect you’ve shown here today, you little–”

“Enough!” Maeve tightened the braids around Culain’s body until he nearly choked. She summoned the elements to her; mists rose from the ground and obscured the forest but for their small circle. The earth rumbled as she told the stones to move under their feet. All around, braids of different colors drifted to and fro between the three of them. “I am Maeve SilverAir, purebred queen of the Brae Sidh and guardian of Cuhail’s Reliquary. I can trace my lineage all the way back to the Creator himself and the first queen he breathed life into. My family has molded mountains that your family doesn’t even know exist. I am gifted in the three elements, and with a flick of my finger I can encase you in stone, drown you, or choke you to death. You will not insult me, my family, or the Brae Sidh again, and if I ever catch you inside the boundaries without my permission, Culain Mac Niall, I will see that your name is wiped from the memory of all Taura for good!”

Hard to believe they ever fell in love, eh? I may share bits and pieces of this background info now and then, if folks are interested. What do you think? If you want to see more of the backstory, let me know in the comments.

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