Today I have a special treat for you. A story for you to follow through. Now, this is only the second portion of the story, so do follow the link (listed in next Paragraph) to the first Chapter. This will give you a little taste of the Champion of the Sidhe series, one of three short story series I've been reading, by S.A. Archer. Do enjoy! AND!! Hang around at the end, there is a GIVEAWAY! If you comment on all the 6 parts of the story, you will be entered to win an eCopy of the first two stories in the Champion of the Sidhe series: End of the World and Champion of the Fey. Do jump over to the first chapter for all details and to get started into the story.
###ALERT! This is part 2 of a 6 part story. “In Whom You Trust” is a prequel to the Champion of the Sidhe series, an urban fantasy adventure. This prequel is free for you to enjoy, and has been posted on 6 websites as part of a blog hop to promote the series. Begin your journey at Fey Cast blog for part 1. Follow the links at the bottom of each section to go to the next part of the story. Check out the details posted with part 1 of the story to find out how to register for part of an awesome giveaway prize package.###
In Whom You Trust
(Prequel to the Champion of the Sidhe series)
By: S.A. Archer
Not another fey stirred in the dark courtyard outside the family wing of the castle. Lugh expected someone would attempt to scale the castle wall, perhaps even the elf he’d spied slipping something to the princess. But, it was the princess herself, clad in dark form-fitting pants and sweater like a thief, who lowered herself to the courtyard with a rope.
Saying nothing, he watched her descent with practiced ease, for he was well aware that this was not her first time slipping out without permission. Not that she truly required permission; at two-hundred-some-odd years she was well old enough to go where she pleased. Be that as it may, she was still a youngling among the long-lived Sidhe, and a princess whose safety, or the threat thereof, could serve as leverage to the unscrupulous.
Lugh slipped silently to the wall next to the trailing end of the rope. He leaned back, his arms crossed, patient for her to climb down and notice him. She was beside him, practically face to face with him, before she squeaked in surprise and dropped to her feet. “Bless it, Lugh!” She whispered with the annoyance of her fright. “You scared the spit out of me.” She smacked his arm with girlish strength that was barely noticeable.
“Sneaking off for a midnight tryst?” He teased, but highly doubting that was the truth.
“Mercy, you’re going to do that thing you do, aren’t you? You do know how utterly annoying you are when you play Champion, don’t you?” Kaitlin didn’t wait for his reply. Instead she shielded her fair face with the dark hood of her sweater and rushed off at a jog.
With his longer legs and swift stride, Lugh kept pace with just a brisk walk. “I pride myself on the knowledge that I have annoyed every single Sidhe I have ever met at least once.” When she cut him an incredulous glance, he grinned back with just enough brightness to cause her roll her eyes in that amusingly exasperated way she had.
“Only once?” She snorted rather unlady-like. “I don’t need a chaperone. Any chance I can talk you out of shadowing me?”
“Slim to none.”
She spun around to face him, to block him, her tapered finger pointing at his face. “You can’t mess this up, Lugh. This is important. I’m not going anywhere, not taking another step, until you promise me, for real Champion-of-the-Sidhe, promise me, that you will not do or say anything that will mess this up.” Even as he opened his mouth to respond she shook her finger at him again with complete seriousness in her young face. “And no fey-logic excuses to weasel out of your word.”
That closed his mouth. Her blunt rebellion was almost Unseelie in unbridled determination. Even as Lugh searched her face, the memories he possessed of her, a mischievous child with enough tomboy in her to lead her into trouble at every conceivable turn, transformed into something else. Into the young woman before him, possessed with the serious passion of youth, and lacking in caution or wisdom. “Just what manner of trouble has befallen you, Luv?” He reached to stroke her cheek, but she shied away from it.
“You have to promise me and mean it.” Kaitlin repeated. She shifted, looked past him at the castle as if just now realizing that she’d not yet made good her escape. “I would trust you, if only you didn’t trust Manannan.”
“What is this about, Kaitlin?” The dread that twisted his gut earlier in the evening when he’d spotted the elf, moving with deception and purpose, returned. Publically, Manannan and Kaitlin played cordial for the Seelie sake of decorum, but the undercurrent of dislike was easy enough to discern. Lugh knew something of the issue that divided them. Kaitlin’s father held the Seelie throne before Manannan, and though content to be a caretaker rather than a progressive ruler, Tethor had been very popular. Manannan’s attempts to ingratiate himself to the king had met with cool dismissal until the eldest princess, Leannan, became pregnant with Manannan’s child.
That changed everything. Because the Sidhe so rarely sired offspring, fertile couples were lawfully bound into marriage immediately. The fact that Leannan lost the baby early in her pregnancy didn’t dissolve the union, as Tethor had petitioned of the All-Mother. When Tethor was killed in one of the frequent goblin raids, and Manannan was raised to the throne as king, it had been the popularity of his wife that smoothed the transition. His ambition and the circumstances of his ascension spawned rumors and dissenters.
Lugh folded his arms, giving serious weight to the promise Kaitlin implored of him. He understood what she was requiring. The fey could easily ‘interpret’ agreements in a manner more suiting their preferences. The Seelie raised the practice to an art form, which was why most didn’t bother with promises anymore, but rather appealed to chivalry or pride to procure favors, for a favor was not an obligation, but a promise was.
So to make a promise, and forsake the escape route of fey-logic, was no light matter. “I cannot grant a promise as grave as you beseech without knowing the particulars.”
Kaitlin nervously glanced back at the castle, then hooked her arm in Lugh’s and began walking with him. He did not waste a glance back himself. If someone spotted them, what might have appeared to be two conspirators whispering in the dark became lovers sharing a moonlit stroll in the courtyard. “It’s about Aoife. Where she’s been imprisoned.”
Lugh rubbed his forehead to cover his exasperation at this confession. “I rather thought you were too clever to fall for the wiles of that faction, Princess.”
“Everyone ignores what I think because I’m young. What if I’m right? What if Aoife spoke of a true vision and we’re all in danger? What if Manannan had something to do with Aoife’s disappearance? Wouldn’t you want to know? You, of all people, should be investigating this stuff, not blithely taking Manannan at his word.”
That made him smirk. She appealed to his pride. Very Seelie of her. She was just beginning to learn the techniques of their court. With her tendency toward bluntness, carefree rebellion, and her interest in conspiracy theories, Lugh wondered if the princess might come to the revelation that her heart lay upon the Unseelie path. Though her future yet lay before her full of undiscovered vistas, he longed to keep her safe and innocent and shielded from the dark realities of the Unseelie as long as he might.
Lugh slung an arm around Kaitlin’s shoulder and hugged her against his side in brotherly fashion. “Fool’s errand though it maybe, I shall do my upmost not to ‘mess things up.’ I will, however, protect you from all eminent danger. Of that, you may be assured.” Even as he smiled to feel her excitedly hugging him for his affirmation, Lugh reserved his misgivings. After Aoife vanished, the movement against Manannan lost its leverage. How easy to confuse and enlist this guileless Seelie princess and use her with ill intent. That elf disguised as a waiter had been no misbegotten youth rebelling to fancy himself a man. The safety of the princess weighed upon Lugh. If he could not convince her to stay out of trouble, he would at least escort her safely through it.
##Before you move on to the next part of the story, make sure to place a comment below to enter into the giveaway! You have to comment on all 6 parts to be eligible to win. The next part of the story can be found here: Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy And THANK YOU for joining us on this blog hop!##