Chapter One, Scene 1,
Chapter One, Scene 2
Chapter One, Scene 3
Chapter One, Scene 4
Chapter One, Scene 5
Chapter Two, Scene 6
Saturday Scenes… The last chapter ended with the “Forbidden Kiss.” So now let’s see what happened…..
One kiss couldn’t hurt, right? Chalcedony thought as she kissed him, but then she lost herself.
He placed his hand in her hair and the sensation sent tingles through her body.
“Princess!” someone shouted from behind. Chalcedony leaped off Coal. A royal guard stood a few feet away with his sword drawn.
“Are you okay, Princess?” the guard asked, looking from Chalcedony to Coal.
Bren, she remembered. One of Madoc’s favorites. He had ash-blonde hair with tawny-colored skin. Disgust and anger emanated from his pitch-black eyes.
Coal stepped slowly in front of Chalcedony. She wanted to tell him to stop. Bren was more likely to hurt Coal than her, but she didn’t want to take her focus away from the guard. She placed her hand on the hilt of the second knife she wore underneath her shirt. “What are you doing here?” she asked, looking over Coal’s shoulder.
“I was sent to patrol the forest.” His hands shook, but he never lowered his sword.
“Are you going to attack me?” she asked with a haughty toss of her hair, hoping to draw his attention away from Coal. Bren flicked his gaze towards his weapon before he lowered it.
“I’m sorry, Princess. Of course, I would never hurt you.”
Chalcedony relaxed, released the knife, and stepped out from behind Coal. “Since when do we patrol the forest?” she asked.
This forest hid the door to the human realm, but it was not guarded. Only a select few were supposed to know it existed. Patrolling would only attract attention. Instead, an invisible barrier that prevented anyone from entering without permission protected the forest.
“Um,” Bren stuttered, his eyes lowered.
“Madoc sent you, didn’t he?”
“He … um, I was sent to patrol the door,” Bren answered. She closed the space between the two of them.
“Look at me,” she ordered. He met her gaze. “Are you lying to me?”
“No, Princess. I was assigned to patrol the forest today. I didn’t know you would be here.”
She studied him, searching for a lie. She was not a mind reader, but Tetrick had taught her to look past a fey’s surface to recognize emotions and truth. Chalcedony saw fear, embarrassment, and disappointment, but there was no indication of a lie. Perhaps Madoc had set him up.
“Leave my forest before I have you banished for spying on me,” Chalcedony ordered.
“Princess, I’m sorry. I swear I didn’t know you would be here,” Bren said, shaking.
He placed his sword in its sheath and stalked away. Once Bren disappeared between the trees, she walked towards the bridge.
“Are you alright?” Coal reached for her arm, but she flinched and moved away.
If she wanted Coal to live, she could never let him touch her again.
Coal followed her over the bridge. “Shouldn’t we talk about what happened?”
“No. I shouldn’t have done that.”
He was about to argue with her, but everything was different, wrong. The air became denser, making it harder for Coal to breathe. The trees, the grass, and even the sun were less vivid. It was as if he was looking through a smudged window.
“Chaley, where are we?”
Chalcedony met his gaze. “We’re in the human realm.”
“I didn’t see any door.”
She placed her hands on her hips. “If it could be seen, everyone would know where it was.”
He turned in a slow circle, drinking in all he saw. The tree’s brown bark was dull and washed out. The green leaves were watered down and muted. The grass cracked and moaned underneath his feet as if it were dying of thirst.
He had never stopped to listen to the everyday sounds of life; they’d always been in the background. But the singing and harmony of the forest had disappeared. This silence made him feel alone and lonely. As if something was missing.
The human realm, Coal decided, was a weak, lifeless version of the fey realm.
“Chalcedony, stop. I don’t understand. How did we get here?”
She looked as if she was debating over telling him the truth, before she spoke. “Few fey or humans know this. You have to keep it secret.”
“By now you know you can trust me,” Coal said.
She scanned the forest as if she was scared someone would over hear her. Satisfied they were alone, she said, “During the war, humans and fey decided to separate themselves so that we couldn’t destroy each other.”
“I’m not stupid. I know that part.” His anxiousness over the new environment was giving away to agitation.
“They also created portals to connect the two realms, because, in spite of all the war and death, complete separation seemed unfathomable. Also, giants are humans. Every now and then a giant will have a normal human child, and they wanted to be able to take those children to the human realm if they needed to.”
“Ambassador Eli said giants weren’t humans.”
“It’s just not common knowledge. Giants used to give birth to humans on a normal basis, but now that humans and giants don’t interact as much, it’s rare.”
“Why haven’t I heard of the portal before?”
“Because if everyone knew, the human realm would be overrun with rogue fey,” Chalcedony said.
He decided on another random question. “Why does the air smell so different?”
“Their technology pollutes the air.” Chalcedony walked through the forest.
The ground was littered with broken tree branches that snapped underneath her feet. Coal marveled. He was in the human realm, his birthplace. Despite his curiosity and excitement, the image of the two of them kissing kept replaying in his mind. As he followed behind her, he wondered when it would happen again.
“Wait.” She stopped so abruptly that he almost bumped into her.
She pulled a pouch from the pocket of her pants, placed her hand inside of it. Her fingers came out of the bag covered in a multihued powder. She recited a few words before she placed it in her mouth. Slowly, her long, sharp canine teeth widened and shortened. They lost their edge and became flat. Her slim pointed ears curved. Her large red eyes dimmed and turned black. She had changed into a human.
For a moment, Coal did not recognize the person standing in front of him. Then his vision adjusted as if it was adapting to the dark, and he saw past the illusion. She had swallowed glamour. Humans would look at Chalcedony and see the false image. For him, it was transparent, merely an overlay, barely hiding her true features.
“I’ll be glad when I can change my teeth and ears. Tetrick says I should be able to do it soon. Then I won’t have to use glamour every time I come here. Do I look human enough?” she asked.
“Yes,” he answered. “But it’s not as if I’ve seen many.”
“Oh, right.” Chalcedony rubbed the back of her neck. “Well, let’s go look at some humans.” She held out her hand. “We haven’t gotten to the fun part yet.”
He stared at her hand for a moment before he grabbed it and let her pull him out of the forest.
Cars. He remembered them from his childhood.
Red, yellow, blue, green, black. They sped by one after the other, leaving metallic fumes in their wake. Then he remembered other things, forgotten memories of concrete, laughing and running, and a woman’s touch—soft and tender.
“Stay close.” Chalcedony’s voice pulled him out of his thoughts. “Are you okay?” she asked, staring at him intently.
He tried to put what he saw into words, but the memories were gone just as quickly as they’d appeared. “I’m fine.” He looked around in an attempt to anchor himself. They were waiting for what he knew was a streetlight.
“Where are we going?” he asked.
“A coffee shop,” Chalcedony said. “It’s not far.”
When the cars stopped, he followed Chalcedony across the street. As they walked, Coal studied the people’s faces. Most avoided eye contact but some stared directly at him and smiled.
“We’re here.” She stopped at a building with a sign that read “Ground Beans.” “It’s a coffee shop. I figured this would be a nice place to sit and relax.”
Coal shrugged, noting the hesitation in her voice. “This is your adventure. I’m just along for the ride.”
She stood a little straighter, and he followed her into the shop. Coal sat in one of the wooden chairs next to a window while Chalcedony ordered. The noonday sun beamed through the windows and the smell of coffee and baked bread permeated the air. Chalcedony brought him coffee and a cream-filled pastry. For the second time that day, he was reminded how he hadn’t had breakfast. He ate the pastry in three quick bites. He’d expected for it to be bland like the dull colors of the human realm, but it tasted sweet and flavorful.
“I never get to do anything like this.” Chalcedony bit into her pastry, chewed, and then swallowed. “I hunt rogue fey and then we immediately go back home.” She leaned back and smiled as the sunlight danced on her face.
“Why did you bring me here?” he asked.
Chalcedony stared out of the window at the crowded street. “I wanted to show you this. Most of the people here are college students. Look at how easy they live and how happy they are. They’re a few years older than us, but they have no responsibilities. Their only job is to go to school. That’s it.”
Coal noticed half of the people in the shop had devices in front of their faces and wires connected to their ears. They didn’t look happy. They spoke in high, grating voices, a sharp contrast to the husky and almost guttural sounds he had grown used to in the fey realm.
“I dream about running away and living here—maybe just the two of us,” Chalcedony added.
“Why can’t we?” Coal asked. He liked living around magic and being in the fey realm, but if living in the human realm meant that he would be able to be with Chalcedony, then he would do it a thousand times over. He reached out to touch her hand, but she pulled away.
“Too many of my fey would die while Tetrick’s mother and Queen Isis fought over Everleaf.”
“Why can’t you just leave everything to Madoc?” Coal asked, trying to hide his embarrassment at her rejection.
“No male shall rule. You know that. The other queens have only left me alone because it’s against the law to rage war against a queenling. Besides, my mother made it clear before she died that my duty would always be to rule and protect Everleaf. I’ve never had an option and neither will my oldest daughter. I’m cursed to reign just as Madoc is cursed to serve.”
“Hi,” squeaked a small child wearing a pink dress and a tiara. Surprised, Coal and Chalcedony stared at the child, speechless.
“Hi,” Chalcedony said, the first to recover.
“Are you a fairy princess?” the girl asked.
Chalcedony laughed nervously. “Why?”
“Because you have pointy ears. I’m a princess, too.” The girl tapped her tiara and swung her waist-length jet-black hair from side to side. “I’m not a fairy, though. Are you?”
Chalcedony glanced briefly at Coal.
“What’s your name?”
“Elizabeth. I’m six.” The girl smiled, showing a large gap where her two front teeth should’ve been. “Where did you come from?”
“I am from the land of the fey,” Chalcedony said with a low mischievous tone.
“Fey like a fairy?” Elizabeth’s eyes were wide with joy. “Can I go there with you?”
“Elizabeth!” Someone shouted from across the shop. A woman, an exact copy of Elizabeth only taller and plumper, walked towards them. Behind her sat a baby strapped in a high chair banging a piece of bread against a plate.
“Momma, look. She’s a fairy. See. She has pointy ears,” Elizabeth said when the woman reached their table.
“She does not have pointy ears,” her mother said with a strained smile before she faced Chalcedony.
“I’m so sorry. She says some of the most incredible things sometimes.”
Chalcedony said, “That’s alright. She’s not bothering us.”
“Let’s go, Lizzy.” The woman pulled Elizabeth towards the table where the baby sat.
Chalcedony spun towards Coal. Her eyes glowed with elation. “I’ve been to the human realm dozens of times. I’ve never met another human besides you who saw through glamour. Never!”
How are you enjoyed Coal. Are you anxious to read the entire story? Well I’m looking for a few reviewers who are willing to post a review of COAL on its release day (July 25th). If so, you’ll get a free ecopy of the first book and the sequel due for a January 2016 release. Hit me up at conb1977 at gmail dot com if interested.