Okay, so I got stuck on the prequel. I guess I'm not ready to write about teenage Lore yet.
So here's what we're going to do. I'm going to shoot for a weekly schedule again, but the actual content will vary. If I'm working on Chapter One of The Mâvarin Revolutions (the book after the Mages trilogy), then that's what you're going to get. If I've managed to squeeze out a scene from the prequel, you'll get that instead. If all else fails, I'll write a "Missives" entry (Mâvarin apocrypha), or throw in a Joshua Wander snippet, or maybe even take a stab at "The Passion of Glenn Stone" (title subject to change) or "Leaving Denny's." Fair warning: any text from the actual novels will be deliberately fragmentary. Still, I'll try not to jump around too much! For tonight, you get part of Chapter One, Scene Two of
The Mâvarin Revolutions
Fragments from a Work in Progress
by Karen Funk Blocher
© 2007 by KFB
King Jor was dying.
This sad fact was known to the Mâ-na-Mâ within a day of it being known in the Palace. At least, that was what Commander Wil Masan of the Palace Guard assumed. It was a fact that Lt. Tarso had given the news to his brother Keni, a lowly Gate guard. Keni had undoubtedly told Mera Sinan, or someone like her. This was just as well, in Wil's opinion. The balance of power in Mâvarin was about to change, and it would be well for the country's patriots - such as they were - to know what was happening, and make their preparations.
Lt. Bruber was at the Princess' door when Wil arrived. "Is she in there?" Wil asked.
Modo nodded. "Just got back from the Tower," he said.
"None so far."
Wil shook his head. "That we know of, you mean." He knocked on the door to Cathma Masha's suite, using his usual identifying cadence.
Wil winked at the guard and went in. Cathma Masha was sitting on her couch. Her face was damp and red. She looked up at him. "I'm not going, Wil."
He knew what she was talking about. It was an old argument they were about to replay, given new urgency by the present situation. This time, Wil had to win the argument. He chose his opening gambit. "And I can't make you go. But if you don't, I will have to commit all my resources to keeping you safe - and that's going to draw attention to my people."
"Then don't do it. Look, Carli's never going to do anything to me. I'm his sister."
"And Lormarte's daughter. But neither relationship will protect you. As long as the Mâ-na-Mâ favor your succession, you are a liability to them. But if something happens to you, the revolution is over before it begins."
"But I didn't ask for a revolution. If these people fight to put me on the throne, they'll die, and Mâton will curtail this country's freedom even further. Isn't that worse than letting Sumarte and my mother rule through Carli?"
"The Mâ-na-Mâ think it's worth the risk."
"And what do you think?"
"I think it's better if you stay alive long enough to find out whether they're right," Wil said dryly.
"What if I were to issue a statement endorsing Carli's succession?"
Wil shook his head. "I doubt the people will believe that's what you really want. Is it?"
"Well, no. If Carli were free to make his own decisions it would probably be fine, but we both know he isn't. Yes, I do think I'd make a good queen, but this is my family, and Carli is the rightful heir. How can I go against him?"
"Other than being female, your claim to the throne is as good as his," Wil pointed out. "There are precedents."
"Not many, and not recently." Cathma Masha got up and crossed the room, giving Wil a view of her luscious back, but hiding her expression.
"That hardly matters, if public sentiment is on your side."
The Princess dipped her hands in her washbasin, splashed her face, and patted herself dry with her favorite floral hand towel. Then she turned to face Wil again. "But is sentiment on my side? Is it really? We know what the Mâ-na-Mâ want. But what of the Twelve Families?"
Wil smiled. "They all like you personally. I can vouch for that. Besides, half of them are either Mâ-na-Mâ themselves or sheltering someone who is. The other half have an economic interest in seeing Mâton's influence reduced, as long as it's done without their expending either funds or people."
"That's just it. I don't want people to die over this."
Wil looked into the face of his Princess, so different from the rest of her family save for the dying King himself. Her eyes were sorrowful, her expression sincere. It was odd that he could love someone so idealistic. "I don't think you can prevent that," Wil said gently. "My interest is in seeing that you aren't among the dead."
Cathma Masha was silent for a long moment. Wil began to hope that at last she was beginning to understand the reality of her situation. Then she tossed her head, in that gesture of defiance Wil knew so well. "There must be a way," she said. "What if...what if I were to go into exile?"
It wasn't a perfect solution, in Wil's view, but it was progress, the first time the Princess had indicated a willingness to leave the Palace. If he could finesse the conversation from here, he might be able to save her life after all, and possibly even her succession.
"Where would you go?" he asked.