|Timeline for THE BETWEEN's sequel|
I'll get there. The multiple characters isn't even the most difficult part. That would be making sure I stay internally consistent with the first book while I write the sequel.
But even a difficult writing day is a joy. Here's a snippet from the latest scene.
Aeon paced the dais Lydia had created around the peach tree at the center of his garden. Why had she chosen to seat her power here? Why not the grove of the Unbound, in the shadow of the conquered monarchs? That would have sent an unmistakable message to the Fae. Or she could have at least taken over the former holdings of Bright. It was Oberon who tore her roots from her old life, after all. He stopped and trailed his finger along the arm of the wicker throne. Tiny wild roses bloomed at his touch, their buds turning to him and opening as if he were their personal sun. All around him, the trees hung heavily with perfectly ripe fruit. The mingled scents of peach and apple flavored the air.
This used to be a place of peace and refuge. Even when he had been a prisoner of the maze, this haven had soothed him. But Lydia had sunk her name deep into the soil beside his and now the living place quietly rebuked him. Even banished, she still had power here. Anger rose in him like sap in a tree. The roses withered, the red draining from their petals, before dropping to the ground. He gripped the top of the throne until the twigs ground into powder in his hand.
"I am ruler here!"
"Is there any who would gainsay you, Lord?"
Aeon spun around to face the Seneschal. The man took a jerky step back, his body expressing the fear his features hid all too well. Gripping his sigil, Aeon sent his will and his fury through it. The gilded peach pit burned in his palm. "Fair warning, in return for your long years of service. From no on, my garden will be closed to you, Seneschal, unless I bid you here."
He bowed his head a fraction. "Yes, Lord."
The light breeze that had set the leaves whispering died, leaving the two of them in strained silence. Aeon glared at the blurred space where the Seneschal's eyes should have been. "If you have something to say, tell me and leave." Turning his back on the man, Aeon rewove the top of the throne, working green vines in with the wicker. He smoothed his tunic and sat, draping his legs over one of the chair's arms. The other throne's emptiness mocked him. If he chose, he could bring Taylor here to join him. She was but a step away from him, no matter where in Fairie she chose, but he hesitated. He had misjudged Lydia. He couldn't risk doing the same with the sister. Not now, when her power was slowly binding her to Faerie, and to him.
"Your news, Seneschal," he said, lacing his words with the power of command.
The inscrutible Fae stiffened, a puppet answering to his master's strings. Aeon didn't bother to hide his satisfied smirk. The Seneschal had mocked him for too many years not to know there would be a price to be paid for his insolence.
"Lydia has returned. The darklings hold her powerless."
His fingers ceased drumming on the throne's arm, but otherwise, Aeon showed no sign of his surprise. She shouldn't have had the strength to breach the walls between worlds. Unless she had help. He narrowed his eyes, trying and failing to pull the Seneschal's features into focus. Would he risk robbing Deirdre of her death price and earning her enmity to bring Lydia back to challenge him? It made little sense. The Seneschal had too much to lose and too little to gain in placing Lydia back on the gameboard. Besides, she was no longer powerful enough to matter. Especially now that the darklings had stripped her of whatever glamour she had been able to glean in the short time of her banishment.
"What of the sister?" Aeon ached to reach out to her, to find comfort in her childhood memories, when he had been the friend she had craved and created. The uncertainty that made him use the Seneschal as his proxy was a splinter working its way deeper and deeper inside him.
"Taylor is struggling against Nightshade's counsel. She wishes to rescue Lydia. Milord, together, the sisters are a threat. You must act."
Aeon catapulted from the throne to stand over the Seneschal, his hands balled into tight fists. "What will you advise your liege?"
The Seneschal started, but stood his ground. "Use the darklings as you created them. Take any glamour not be offered in tithe and bind the land to its true ruler."
A shiver moved through the garden as clouds thickened overhead to blot out the sun.
"And what of the Hawthornes. Shall I destroy the very trees I had a hand in planting?"
The ground trembled at his feet.
"Strip both sisters of their memories and return them to the Mortal world. It would be a mercy."
"To whom?" Aeon felt a rumble of thunder deep inside his chest. Darkness continued to gather in the heart of the maze.
"Faerie cannot survive like this." The Senescal cast furtive glances to the sky. "Be the King you once were and finish the war Oberon and Titania began and lost."
Aeon stood in silence for a long minute staring at the nameless, faceless Fae whose life reached back nearly as far to the roots of Faerie as his did. Then he opened his mouth and laughed. The sound rolled over the thunder and blasted the clouds from the sky. All around them, apples, pears, peaches, and plums cascaded from trees to thud on the ground, only to vanish as they rolled onto the grass. New buds swelled on bare branches and flowered as Aeon's laugh echoed through the maze. "Oh, you have offered me fine counsel, my old friend." He wiped his tearing eyes and shook his head as the Seneschal stood, his body rigid. "And the King I had been might have thanked you for it."
"Yes, yes, use your silvered tongue to beg my forgiveness." Aeon smiled, enjoying the Seneschal's discomfort before turning his back on the manipulative Fae. "I may not understand your game yet, old friend, but I do know that anytime your desires run with mine, I had best take care."
The last time the Seneschal tempted him to action, he found himself prisoner of this place, the very vines and thorns that did his bidding now, tools of his jailors.
"I am only what you have created, Milord. And you created me to serve Faerie."
He couldn't remember what impulse led him to craft the glamour that had give the Seneschal such power. Perhaps he had grown complacent in his long rule. "Have you forgotten what your actions have forged?" Aeon whirled to face him again, this time as the twisted, tortured gardener. The pain of assuming that hated shape goaded him. "Did you think all was forgiven?"
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