Since it’s been on my mind, and since several of you evinced interest… here’s the first eight pages or so of the faerie farmer novel. I note that as usual, my attempt to do urban fantasy failed on all levels: instead of a snarky human woman narrator with intimacy problems and a yen for killing supernaturals, I went with… a sincere inhuman male narrator who wants nothing more than to marry and have kids. It’s not even set in a big city. Typical. -_-
Excuse any weird typos/issues, this is an unedited first draft!
I arrived to wage genetic warfare on humanity beneath the light of a yellow moon, leading an ornery brown cow and followed by six irritated chickens. The chickens were irritated because I’d been walking all night. The cow, on the other hand, was always ornery.
I’d bought this property sight unseen, assured by the sallow man who’d sold it to me that it was a fixer-upper packed with potential, with a river cutting through the lot corner, a huge field of wild wheat, a house, barn and chicken coop and “forest access.” Naturally, I’d anticipated a choked stream, a half acre of weeds, a ramshackle handful of buildings and a few trees. Still, I hadn’t quite expected the complete rooflessness of the barn and homestead.
“Well, then,” I said. The chickens ignored me and wandered out into the yard, to sleep or eat as whim struck them. The cow was not amused, but her mood improved greatly when I cleared out a stall for her and filled her troughs. At least the feed I’d ordered had been delivered… and hadn’t been rained on.
I sat on the part of the fence that hadn’t fallen yet and looked out on the unkempt field, which at least was as large as promised: not the half acre I’d imagined but a good twenty. I liked its wild face, and how it glowed like silver with wrought black shadows sharp as spikes. I didn’t like that I was waiting here, by the field, instead of assessing the extent of the repairs I’d have to do to make the property livable. But it was a full moon, and a harvest moon at that, and it would be foolish not to expect a visit. Particularly since I’d been gone so long.
So I waited, patiently, in that half-aware state that the long-lived learn to pass the time, and eventually the hiss of fabric against boots drew me from my reverie.
A long nail caressed my neck. I didn’t move.
“The wanderer has bought a home.”
“As you see, Mistress,” I said.
“Does this mean he’ll finally take his responsibilities seriously?” she asked, still standing behind me where I couldn’t see her.
“Yes,” I said. “I’ll do what I was sent to do.”
“You took some time in getting around to it,” she said with just a hint of cool anger.
“We have time,” I said. “I wasn’t ready yet.”
“And you’re ready now?”
“Yes,” I said, and thanked the powers that my mistress couldn’t read minds.
“Good!” she said, her humor improved. She walked around to lean on the nearest wooden post and share her secret smile with me. She was my mistress, and had been since she killed my last. Delorah she called herself, descended from the line of the Moon and Sleep and, some whispered, Death. She dressed fashionably for the age in a leather fetish corset over black leggings, with black boots and a coat made of spiderweb lace. Her short black hair, black lips and darkly fringed eyes wouldn’t have looked out of place in a nightclub, except on her it wasn’t cosmetics. She smelled like exotic perfume. Tasted like unadulterated peppermint extract. I have had the… privilege.
I didn’t like her much.
“Is there any news?” I asked politely, because she was still here.
“We’ve acquired three children,” she said.
“That’s good,” I replied.
“—but one of our women is pregnant,” she finished.
“Ah.” No need to ask by whom—or rather, by what. The cold fury of her voice told me all I needed to know. “So, what did you do?”
“Executed her lover,” Delorah said. “We’re waiting for the child to be born before killing her. If the baby survives, we’ll switch him in the cradle if there’s an appropriate infant.”
And if not, he would die with his unfortunate mother. That his mother might not have chosen to lie with the human who got his baby on her wasn’t of any moment to the powers that be among my kind. All that mattered is that this was a war and we must win it. Baby by baby.
“It’s not going well,” she said after a moment. “We’re looking to the Spring Folk to turn that tide.”
“Of course,” I said politely, because I was one of them and it would have been folly to disagree. Nor did I show her my dread, for her casual words were a promise that she would oversee my little experiment, probably personally.
“You’ll do your best,” she said.
“Better than your half-hearted, pathetic efforts on my behalf,” she said.
I didn’t look at her. “I’ll work my worthless tail off, Mistress.”
“You do that, “Elijah.” You do that.”
Her perfume withdrew, leaving the air clean. I took one shallow breath, just to be sure that she’d really left.
I didn’t want this assignment. But as one of the few of my kind, I had no choice. Strange how similarly the short-lived and the immortal clung to life, that they would do unsavory things to preserve it.
The fields needed mowing. I needed to clear out the stream, which was, in fact, as choked with weeds as I’d assumed. The chicken coop, though leaning to one side, was still erect, but both the barn and the homestead roofs needed repair. The utilities had been turned on, but half the lights were blown. The list went on and on, but I made it in the light of the new day, and my spirits rose with the sun. By mid-morning, I sat to rest on the dirt in the yard, watching as the wind ruffled the eye-watering brilliance of the shining grasses in the field.
I half-expected Meredith to caper out of the field. She would have loved this place in its exact state… and even after I’d shorn its wildness from its corners, she would have loved to live in the forest edge that abutted my pebbled stream. I imagined her, leaning against that far tree with her hair green as new leaves, peeping with paler ivy. Her eyes had been the delicate yellow of the youngest of shoots. We’d both been Spring people, and I’d served her out of love as well as necessity. People laughed and called us an unlikely pair; surely the line of the Wild and the line of the Field could never harmonize. They didn’t understand that the Wild and the Field both loved growing things, and that pairings had been built on more fragile commonalities.
For Meredith I would have gone to this task with a smile instead of a dense and darksome heart. But she would not thank me for sitting in a yard, ignoring my chickens and my ornery cow, and she would tease me about living in the storm cellar for want of a real roof, so I got to my feet, tucked my shopping list into my jeans pocket and started the chores so I could get to town. The cow didn’t put a hoof in my chest, though I could tell she thought about trying, and she kept her tail to herself instead of lashing my head with it… so it was a good day for cows.
I was just going out to check on the chickens when I found I wasn’t alone. Two people were standing at the gate to the yard. Had a random passerby observed the three of us he might have thought us the same age, which put the humans somewhere in their mid- to late twenties. The male had a mop of black hair and glasses that suggested a bookish nature I wouldn’t have guessed from his greyhound’s body. The female had dark brown skin and thin braids that fell past her shoulders. She had a basket balanced on one lean hip.
“So there is someone here,” I heard the male say to the female before he lifted his voice and called, “Good morning!”
“And to you,” I said, sauntering closer. I couldn’t see my own Glamour working, but I can tell by people’s reactions when it’s in effect. My supposed shape was short, solid and blond, a nondescript version of my actual self. I jazzed it up or dressed it down according to my surroundings. This town was definitely a dress-it-down sort of place. “My name’s Elijah Fields, and I just bought this farmstead.”
“Hi, Elijah,” the male said, holding out a hand. “I’m Louis and this is Beryl. We live closer to town.”
“In town, in my case,” Beryl said, waiting for Louis to let go of me before offering her own pink palm. I liked their grips, warm and silky with sweat. “I work at the seed and feed shop and Louis here fixes most of the machinery in the area.”
“Well, that’s handy to know,” I said. “I was planning on heading into town today. As you can see, my place is in need of some maintenance.”
“I’ll say.” Louis eyed the roof. “Did you sleep in that last night?”
“I’m afraid I did,” I said. “The bats kept me company.” Not a lie, either. Bats liked Delorah; her comings and goings tended to draw them.
“Ugh,” Beryl said. “Critters are fine. Outside, where they won’t mess your house.”
“There’s nothing in the house worth messing yet,” I said with a chuckle.
“Well, now there is,” Beryl said and handed me the basket. I took it by reflex—it was large—but I wished abruptly I hadn’t. Gifts given to my people bind, and I could feel the debt sinking onto me. Ah well. For the powers we were given, we had weaknesses in proportion. I glanced in the basket and found an odd assortment of items: chocolate, strawberry wine, bird seed, towels, even a water filter.
“It looks a little strange, but it’s a little bit of the best in town, plus some necessaries people don’t necessarily think they need,” Louis said.
“Thanks,” I said. “I wasn’t expecting a welcome wagon.”
“It wasn’t planned,” Beryl said. “It’s not like people ever move here. We were so surprised we just threw some stuff in a basket and brought it along. You know, an excuse to actually see if you were real.”
Strange choice of words. As I grinned, Louis elbowed Beryl without taking his eyes off me and said, “I don’t think we were supposed to say that part.”
“Aw, he doesn’t look like he’d mind.”
“I don’t,” I said. “Tell you what. Let me put this in the cellar where the strays won’t get to it and feed the chickens, and then I’ll walk back to town with you. I need to buy some light bulbs anyway.”
“And you’ll tell us why you moved here?” Beryl asked.
I glanced at her, bemused. “Is this so strange?”
“A little,” Louis said. “Almost all of us were born here.”
“And we’ll die here,” Beryl muttered.
There’s… about forty more pages of this, in which we start to see some small town vs. large town tension, and some racism, and learn why a faerie might prefer to live in a town full of Christians than with Pagans, and all sorts of other oddments.
To be honest, I’m kind of re-attracted to the thing. As if I don’t have enough to do. At least this one would be a standalone! And an urban fantasy! And a quasi-romance! If you’re into weird and awkward romances…
Okay, nevermind. -_-
Mirrored from MCAH Online.