So I wrote this novel… and I didn’t know where to stick it in the canon of my fantasy series, The Chalam Færytales. Why? Because it’s a companion story. It’s parallel. Going on at the same time as the main story. But it’s not the main characters.
It’s delightfully feisty and…tiny (this is a pun. Read the novel and you’ll see why. But I digress…). And those who have read it say it’s their favorite in the series so far.
So I did something insane.
I’m releasing the novel a chapter at a time over on Patreon. Unedited. Raw. In the buff. You get it. I’m releasing it to the world in all its unpolished glory. A sort of peek-behind-the-curtain, if you will. In fact, if you join my Patreon at the $5 level, you’ll get access to this novel today (not to mention support the curation of all manner of færytale artisans: authors, musicians, artists and more — the people who bring a bit of magic to the world.)
But for now, I thought I’d share the first chapter with you. A little taste test. I hope you love it as much as my Patrons do. And I hope you’ll join Patreon so that you can keep reading!
Also, just FYI, there is some language ahead. You’ve been warned.
The Chalam Færytales, Lost Novel by Morgan G Farris
© 2019 Morgan G Farris. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. In other words, don’t share this without permission. I have hunting dogs. We will find you.
The attacks—they always happened in the open air—the wind in her face, the skies clear and cool, and she a target, a beacon. A fool. She banked hard left, dodging a branch as she made for the cover under the canopy.
The attacks always happen in open air, she scolded to herself. This one would be no exception.
She flew as hard as her wings could carry her, not daring to risk the time it might cost her just to look over her shoulder, to see how close they were. The forest stretched before her—a maze of shadow and moonlight, flora and rot. She could not fly hard enough, her own breath shards of ice in her lungs.
She didn’t need to look to know how close they were. She could practically taste the foul air around them as she sped through the night, cutting through the air, around trees like a human weapon—a blade, honed for killing. Four. There were four of them this time, damn it!
Maybe they were the murderers, but she was no blade. And she was certainly no human.
But tonight… maybe tonight she was a shooting star, outrunning the darkness that chased her.
The darkness that had chased her for as long as she could remember.
She picked up speed, a streak of lightning through the damning darkness.
“Holy Eloah, Meren, you look like shit!”
“Thanks, Ash,” she said, brushing past her friend. She plopped down on her dandelion fluff cushion, helping herself to a huge cup of water before so much as taking a breath.
Asher stood in the doorway with his arms crossed, furrowing his brow. No, not furrowing his brow. His brow was in a constant state of furrowed. Because he was always miffed with her for one reason or another. Like the brother she never had. Or wanted. She rolled her eyes, keeping her attention on her glorious cup of water, kissed with just the perfect amount of honeysuckle nectar, ignoring the ache in her back.
Fast. She had had to fly fast this time. Too fast. Her wings seemed to scream in protest.
She picked broken leaves from her thatch of curly hair. One of these days, those bastards were going to catch up with her.
“What happened?” Asher scowled, his legs spread shoulder-width apart, his face set in a determined grimace.
“You know what happened, Ash,” she said, not bothering to look at him. But that midnight hair of his, that skin rich and dark, those thick arms peeking out from under his sleeveless oak leaf tunic—he was hard to ignore for long. There weren’t any of the legendary warrior færies left—all of them either murdered or tortured decades ago. But Asher with his human-like weapons he had fashioned himself out of bone and stone, Asher with his short temper and feral need to prove himself—he was as close as it came. One of those weapons—a bone blade so jagged she doubted it left much that was recognizable when he was done with it—hung menacingly from his belt.
“Tell me anyway,” he said, glaring at her from across the odd-shaped room.
She picked at the vines growing around her cushion, silently reminding herself to prune soon lest her little nook in the chalam tree become overrun with the nuisance growth, still not bothering to meet his pointed stare, uninterested in another one of his lectures. When he let the silence grow long and damning between them, she finally sighed through her nose, taking another long drink before she said, “I don’t know how they always find me.”
“Here it comes,” she said, but he ignored her, pushing off of the jamb.
“You’re too brazen, Meren. You take too many risks.” He crossed the room, one step at a time. Asher always opted to walk instead of fly when he was frustrated. She lifted her gaze to his, but showed no remorse, no apology. “It’s not safe for you out there.”
“We can’t hole ourselves up in this coven forever, Asher. Jotham is wrong. We can’t keep pretending like nothing is going on. There are more of us, I know it.”
“We’re not pretending like nothing is going on.” Another step. Another. Closing the gap between them. Towering over her like he was…
“Stop acting like you’re my father, Ash.”
That comment—he didn’t like that comment one bit. He knelt before her, gripping her chin a little too firmly, his face—his entire countenance shifting to something… Something she wasn’t sure she liked.
“I’m not your father,” he said, his tone menacing, reprimanding. “But you’ll forgive me if you scare the shit out of me too often.”
She breathed a laugh, unable to move her face for his fingers still firm on her chin. But the way he was looking at her…
“Stop,” she said, jerking her chin from his grip.
She could feel his searing gaze on her for a long moment before he finally sighed, pushing on his knees as he stood again.
“You can’t keep hoping you’ll be fast enough to outfly them, Mer,” he said, taking to her hearth, stoking the flames to life.
“I’ve outflown them every time,” she said, watching him as he gathered a loaf of bread that was probably too hard to eat.
His back was still to her as he said, “That is beside the point.”
“I’m faster than you, Asher. And I’m faster than they are. They’re not going to catch me.”
He turned to face her, the knife in his hand like an extension of his arm. “And what happens when they do?”
It was the concern in his eyes—sincere and suffocating—that kept her from exploding into a fit of frustration. It had been that genuine concern that had kept her from killing him most of the time.
She stood to her feet and padded across the shiny wooden floor, putting a hand on his shoulder.
Friends, that’s what they were. What they had always been. What they would always be.
“I’ll be all right, Ash,” she said as kindly as she could.
To her surprise, he seized the moment to close the remaining distance between them, to set down the knife he was using to slice the stony loaf and put his warm hands on either side of her face. “I worry about you, Mer.”
“I know,” she said, brushing him off. “It’s annoying.”
He breathed a laugh through his nose, the small gesture changing his whole demeanor. “When are you going to let me take care of you?”
She nodded to the loaf of bread. “What do you call that?”
“Sustenance,” he said. “You seem incapable of so much as boiling water.”
“I am not,” she protested.
He laughed and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into a bone-crushing hug. His fiery wings flickered softly—a cat swishing its tail as it lazed in the sun.
She absently watched those wings over his shoulder before she pushed out of his arms, pressing a smacking kiss to his cheek and then trodding to her bed, plopping down on the fluffy feathered mattress.
He turned back to bread and set about buttering a slice.
“I’ll be much more impressed when you learn to make me toadstool soup,” she quipped.
He kept his back to her. “That will never happen.”
“Why?” she protested.
He looked over his shoulder, a sly grin on his mouth. “Because it’s disgusting.”
“It is not!” she barked, incensed. It was, in fact, her favorite. And had been since she was a youngling.
“You have terrible taste, Mer,” he said, still buttering the slices. She stuck out her tongue at his back and those formidable amber wings of his, lined in black, sliced with patterns of gold and crimson.
By no means a cook, Asher was, at least, somewhat aware of her needs. She was starving, after all. Which was why, she supposed, that she let him come in here, let him act like this was his home, his things. Let him feed her like she was a helpless færyling.
Just as he had always treated her like a helpless færyling.
She rolled her eyes and flopped onto her belly, turning the giant page of a book she had found on one of her ventures—a mortal story. Of prophecies, and kings, and wars, and epic love.
“I still can’t believe you made me lug that stupid thing in here,” he said over his shoulder.
It was true. The book was not færy-sized. No, it was a human book she had found. Found and then sweet-talked Asher into helping her heave it up the side of the tree and into her little home. Which, consequently, was hardly large enough for the book. She had turned it into a platform, a dais of sorts, on which she sat as she read it. Asher had suggested she throw a cushion on top and call it a bed. She had merely rolled her eyes and set about reading it.
And it had fascinated her. Page by page, she hadn’t been able to put it down.
“Why do the humans call these stories færytales?” she asked absently as Asher drizzled honey from the comb on a slice of the crusty bread. “They don’t even believe in færies anymore. They think we’re butterflies or moths or something.”
“Eloah knows,” he said. “Humans are strange.”
Strange, perhaps. But intriguing. And as Meren read more of her book, she couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to meet a human. To help them as the færies once had.
To be a true færy of the Light.
He turned to face her at last, bringing her a slice of honeyed bread, biting into one of his own. “Jotham wants us to meet tomorrow,” he said around the unnecessarily large bite in his mouth.
She ignored the sight of him chewing the food and took a bite of her own. She swallowed before she said, “Why? So that he can tell us to keep hiding? Keep pretending like they won’t find us as long as we stick together?” She savagely ripped another bite, frustration mounting as she chewed on the tough bread. The butter and honey did little to hide the fact that it was as hard as a rock.
“It’s a good plan, Mer.”
“It’s a coward’s plan,” she quipped.
“I suppose you have a better one,” he said, but she didn’t answer. “That’s why you went out there tonight, isn’t it?” When she still didn’t answer, he sighed. “Meren, what is it that you think you’re going to find?”
“More of us, Ash. I know there are more of us.”
“There aren’t,” he said, standing to his feet. “They’re all dead. Just like you will be if you keep going out there.”
“So this is it?” she barked, standing to her feet. “This is our life forever? Hiding here, hoping we won’t be found?”
“It’s better than dying, isn’t it?” he yelled.
“Ash, I’m tired of this! I’m tired of hiding away like a coward. I’m going to do something. I have to do something!”
He crossed the space between them, gripping her shoulders in his calloused hands. “You are one færy, Meren. One. What exactly do you think you will do?”
“Whatever it takes,” she said, and pushed out of his grip.