Well look no further! Below you'll find a brand new section from my brand new book-in-progress. It's a sneaky peek into the fantasy side of the novel, to give you guys a little heads up as to how the fantasy and western elements will be mixed up!
As before, this is a work in progress, so just ignore any typos or little innacuuracies (if any) at the moment.
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In the bustling core of London, to the west of its beating heart, was Jekyll Park. It was a sprawling carpet of green fields and huddled trees, stretching from the backside of the Iron Palace, all the way up to Kensington Gardens. In fact, Jekyll Park was so vast, that if you stood at its very centre, just to the west of the Long Water, you wouldn’t have a clue you were standing in the largest city on earth. That is, if you ignored the towering spires of Knightsbridge and Westminster, and the smog.
In the southwest corner of the park, in the very centre of a square field of grass, sat a copse of old oak and elm. The trees were so tightly packed together that it was nigh on impossible to see the old well at its centre. A hundred years a go a boy had drowned in it, one of the gardener’s lads. Sad funeral it was. The father almost tore the well to pieces, but the other gardeners calmed him down, and planted a ring of saplings around so as to keep other children from meeting a similar end. Within seven years the wood had swallowed up the well and the darkness between the trees had become thick and impenetrable. A rumour spread that the copse was cursed, and it was a reputation that stuck. Even a hundred years later, it still had the power to rattle teeth. Nobody ever goes near the copse. Not even drunks sleep near it. And this, as we’re about to find out, is a wise decision to make.
Dawn was starting to claw its way across the bruised sky. Jekyll Park was empty. The air was dead and silent, and not a single breath of air stirred the trees. And yet, at the foot of one such infamous copse the grass was shivering, writhing to and fro as quick feet sought a bit of rest.
It had been a long walk. A very long walk, in fact. From the misty Bodmin Moors to London is not a jolly in the country, by any stretch of the imagination. These faerie feet were worn sore and blistered. They were tired of flitting about and using their magic. It was time for a fire and some nectar, by their master’s reckoning.
One by one the faeries reached the base of the old well, and one by one they materialised out of thin air, hooded and hollow-eyed. The tallest one waved a hand in an upwards motion and without a word they began to ascend the crumbling face of the old well. The faeries didn’t make a sound as they grabbed the old granite. Their wings didn’t even twitch beneath their cloaks.
The rope was there, as they’d been promised, hanging from an arch of wood and pointing down into a deep chasm. It was completely out of faerie reach. The tall fellow, their leader it seemed, looked about for a bucket or a platform or a lever, but there was nothing. So, he shrugged and leapt into midair.
Yet another remarkable fact about faeries, and fairies mind, is that their hands are tougher than diamond. Faeries are tough-skinned, even by dwarf standards, but for some unknown and possibly ungodly reason, this one and only part of their anatomy is near-indestructible, except to black steel. Rhin would have told you the same, had you asked him.
So it was that when this faerie’s flailing hands caught the fine, silver rope, they wrapped around it squeezed. There was a screeching sound from the rope as the faerie brought himself to a stop. He didn’t even flinch. ‘Onwards,’ he hissed, and his crew followed suit. Soon enough they were all sliding down the rope using only their bare hands. Had they paused to sniff, it might have smelled like burning rubber.
For what seemed like an age they descended. The darkness was soft at first. The rope could still be seen as well as felt. The little coin of morning light still hovered above them. But then the darkness became absolute, and all-consuming. It lasted so long they began to wonder if they had been cursed with blindness, but then the first outpost appeared.
Built straight into the walls of the well-shaft, the outpost glowed a greenish blue thanks to its myriad glow-worm lanterns. It was a fuzzy sort of light, the kind that looked as though you could stroke it if you tried hard enough. Dark eyes and grim faces peered out at them from between arrow slits and gun holes.
As soon as the first outpost had faded into the darkness, the second appeared, chased by the third. Soon the outposts encircled the whole circumference of the well shaft, so that the faeries descended through hoops and rings of glowing blue.
And then they saw it. The fortress of Shanarh, last Fae stronghold of London, glittering like a thousand burning sapphires on a thick dark carpet of stone and black faerie steel. The silver rope dangled them high over its sharp ramparts and pointed turrets. A lesser creature would have wailed and come to a scrabbling halt, but not these. The faeries silently and calmly noted their destination: a wide courtyard set deep into the twisting spire that was the Coil of Celagh Dore, home of the Fae Queen.
At this point we could discuss the strange similarities between the seemingly never-ending rule of both Queen Sift and Queen Victorious, but now is not the time for such speculation, for there was business to be done.
It was only when the thirteenth pair of feet graced the brown marble that the doors at the far end of the courtyard were flung open. Three shadows emerged from the bright blue light of the spire’s innards, becoming men as they marched into the half-dark of the courtyard. The upper world, now drenched in morning, was nothing but a speck in the darkness. Undering’s Lonely Star, for that is what the people of Shanarh had come to call it.
The lead man was shouting before he was even halfway to reaching them. ‘At long last! Finrig Everwit finally decides to answer our call. It has been almost a month since…’
Finrig, the leader of the crew, stood even taller than normal, and beneath his cloak his wings buzzed angrily. His hair was white as snow, and long, so that it curled out from underneath his hood and hung against his neck. Rinrig cut the faerie’s sentence off coldly. ‘Two-hundred and thirty-eight miles, it is, to this hole in the ground. Four days it’s taken us. Four days for your messenger to get to us. Four days for us to prepare. That’s twelve days by my count, Magistrate, just shy of two whole weeks. Nothing like a month. Hear that,’ he said, in a deep voice for a faerie. Rumours had it his Finrig Everwit had a smidgeon of dwarf running through his veins, from long ago.
The magistrate stopped so close to Finrig that their noses almost touched. He waved a sharp-clawed finger in his far. ‘Hear this! Sift is livid. She is beside herself with rage, I will have you know. The job wasn’t done right, Finrig.’
‘The job wasn’t done right, I said!’
The magistrate was brave for a short faerie. He stood over a whole head shorter than Finrig. From his height, he could stare right down at the magistrate’s bald little head, and imagine cracking it against the side of a hot pan to make an omelette. These cave-dwellers were paler than a sheet of parchment, that was for sure.
Finrig folded his arms, conveniently nudging the magistrate back a step. The shorter faerie responded by ruffling his long black coat and adjusting his tie authoritatively. He looked to each of his guards, and they took a step forward, standing at the magistrate’s shoulders. It only made him look smaller.
Finrig wasn’t one for shouting. ‘Calm down,’ he said, ‘before I lose my temper. What exactly are you accusing us of now?’
The magistrate shook his fists. ‘He’s gone, Finrig. Gone, I tell you. He did not return with the… item as you yourself assured us he would. We wanted him marched back here, not given an option! Now he’s gone, and the item with him.’
‘Oh, by the bloody roots. Gone where?’
‘Over the bloody sea is where! America.’
‘His boy took him?’
‘His father. Murdered. Human problems, by the looks of it. The boy was sent to the endless land, or so our spies tell us.’
‘So you know where he is?’
‘And you have spies?’
‘Yes, but I don’t understand why this is important!’ Finrig slowly bent forward until his eyes were perfectly level with the magistrate’s. He couldn’t help but relish the way he recoiled. ‘Then why the fuck have you summoned us?’
The magistrate bared his sharp teeth and held on tightly to the collar of his long coat. ‘Don’t you dare use those filthy human words in my presence, you hear me? You’ve spent too long on the fringes, dallying with them. You’re in danger of becoming like Rhin.’ The magistrate narrowed his eyes until it almost looked as if he was asleep, in the midst of an angry dream. ‘You are here, Finrig Everwit, because she demanded it. You are still Fae, are you not? Then you answer to Queen Sift! You and all your Fae.’
Finrig raised a hand, but one of the guards batted it away, his armour clanking. The faerie growled, and said no more.
‘Take them inside,’ ordered the magistrate, in a voice a little higher-pitched than he’d have liked. Finrig brushed past him and nearly knocked him to the floor.
Inside the halls were almost blindingly bright. There was a glow-worm lantern every five paces, and together they painted the inside of the Coil a deep, electric blue. The sort of colour that would play havoc with human eyes. The faeries didn’t even notice it. Such were the habits of an underground race. They had learnt to live with the glowing, the slithering, and the scuttling, and whatever else the dirt kept as its own.
Finrig and his crew were marched up a spiralling set of steps and ushered to the very peak of the Coil. The guards didn’t come too close. They had all heard the rumours of Finrig the White Wit and his twelve Black Fingers. They didn’t dare poke them. They didn't dare hurry them. They were more captives than they were guards; captivated by the mere reputation of this hulk of a faerie that they followed up the endless steps.
Finally they came to the Queen’s quarters, and the magistrate barged his way through the crowd to knock on Sift’s door. He did so with great ceremony, waving his hand about in a circular motion before knocking once, twice, thrice. There was a brief pause and then a shrill voice commanded them to enter. Finrig took a breath, and pulled his hood down. As did his men, and the guards gawped.
When the door was shut, and the whispering guards locked out, Queen Sift of the Fae emerged from behind a desk piled high with scrolls and walked with slow long paces to a small, but regal, chair of made of stag beetle horn. It sat very much alone, compared to the other furniture in the grand room.
As Finrig and the magistrate shuffled forward to bow, she waved a hand, and took a seat upon her thorny throne. ‘Finrig,’ she spoke his name, as if weighing it. Her voice was deep for a female, even for the husky tones of faerie women. It had an echo to it, a strange quality that Finrig, much to his annoyance, had never been able to fathom. But it was her face that never failed to made his skin prickle.
The only splash of colour to mar Sift’s brilliantly white skin were the thin veins of dark crimson that circled her ears and temples. Her frame was tall and long, yet wiry, like a coiled fangworm, always ready to strike. Her ears were devilishly pointed, and her teeth, when she smiled, were needle-like daggers. Finring, a faerie who had successfully fought and killed everything the wild had to throw at him, couldn’t help but quail slightly in her presence.
He raised his head to meet her bright golden eyes, and found some words to say. ‘Your Majesty.’
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