Previous: Dinnertime Drama, Part Two

 

“They’re up to something,” Holly said to the young doe grazing among the herb garden at the cottage. “But they won’t tell me what it is.” She poked a needle into a skirt lying across her lap and pulled the thread through. “I don’t know why. Either they think I’m stupid, or… or I don’t know what.”

The doe poked her head up and peered at Holly as she chewed on a mouthful of sage, her long ears twitching.

Holly waved a hand. “That’s enough of the herbs, go move on to the carrots or something.”

The deer moved away on long, thin legs over to where the vegetables grew.


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Previous: Dinnertime Drama, Part One

 

Hazel sat, stiff-backed, in a plush green armchair. Holly perused the shelves of books, running a finger along the spines and she continued to munch on her figs. Hemlock cast her nervous glances, no doubt worried she might ruin the books with her sticky fingers, but he said nothing.

He pulled on a tasseled cord dangling from the ceiling next to the fireplace and then sat down on a sofa opposite Hazel.

After a moment, a young man in livery entered the library.


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Previous: Masked Revelry, Part Two

 

Red-faced servants carried massive bowls and platters of food into the dining room from a swinging door that Hazel assumed led to the kitchen. From beyond the door came shouts and cries, a few clanging pots, and then shattering glass. A few more servants bolted into the dining room, placed their trays onto a sideboard before hurrying away in the opposite direction.

Hawthorn, once again glamored, sat at the head of a long table. He smiled to the guests sitting around it. “Do forgive the ruckus, but I assure you the meal will be worth it.” He snapped his fingers.

When nothing happened, he turned to the butler standing near one of the sideboards, and raised his eyebrows.

Merrick coughed, but remained still.


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There’s a fantasy and science fiction bookstore in Stockholm I like to visit on occasion. When I do, I usually walk out with a pile of books to add to my already towering to-be-read pile, and my last visit there was no exception.

Incidentally, that was the visit where I bought The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs, despite the fact that there was no blurb on the back cover or inside or anywhere. It was all just propaganda/hype from reviews and such, which I often ignore. I was annoyed and kept ranting, “Why is there no blurb? Do they think they don’t need one?” etc. I think I was mostly annoyed because I was curious and wanted to read it, but I didn’t want to reward that little marketing ploy. Anders, bless him, just shook his head while I ranted and took the book from me and added it to the pile. I’m actually reading it now and enjoying it, so it all worked out. Also, I will say it was kind of exciting starting that book. It was like opening an unlabeled mystery tin can, which could either contain tasty cling peaches in light syrup, or some kind of meat-like hash made with cigarette ashes and rat whiskers.


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Previous: Masked Revelry, Part One

 

Hazel and Holly walked into a grand ballroom, the painted ceiling of which arced the height of two stories. Tall windows lined one end of the room, looking out over a well-kept garden illuminated with candles in glass jars that hung among the trees. And then, of course, there were the people. Nearly the entire room was filled with women. Hazel looked around, trying to find a man or two, but saw none.

Holly gasped as she walked inside, her head craned back as she took in the motifs above. One panel showed rabbits dining with foxes over tea and cakes; another showed a porcupine leading an army of armor-clad mice towards a distant city. There was even a painting of a witch, stirring a cauldron from which a cloud of smoke rose and gave form to a surrounding forest.


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