I’ve been proofing the electronic and print galleys (doncha love that writerly jargon?) for Bargain With Fate, Book 2 of Sage. Therefore, I decided to give you another snippet from it. This clues you in on why there are pictures of Dragon, Phoenix, and Tortoise on the covers of the three books, but no pictures of Unicorn. “Alicorn” is another word for Unicorn’s horn.
From Bargain With Fate, Book 2 of Sage
by Marian Allen
Elsie stretched out a trembling finger. At Kinnan’s nod, she touched them.
A shudder ran through her.
“I can almost see it,” she whispered. “Bigger than a horse, much bigger. Its horn, as long as my arm. You can feel its heart beating. You can feel it breathing. There’s a sweetness… deeper than a smell….”
“You’ve seen it, too,” said Brady.
“Did you feel all that?” Elsie asked.
“No, but…. How many legs did yours have?”
“…I don’t remember. If I really saw it at all, I didn’t see it clearly. Maybe that’s why I felt so much.”
“It had four legs, of course,” said Kinnan. “How many legs should it have?”
“Three,” said Brady. “Like the one we saw.”
“It didn’t have –”
“How would you know?” said Brady, more violently than he had intended. “You thought it was a horse!”
“Three legs,” said Moder. “That’s right, isn’t it?”
“Where does that come in the story?” Kinnan asked. “I never heard that part.”
“It isn’t in the story,” said Brady. “It isn’t in any story. That’s just the way it is. Everybody knows that.”
Kinnan laughed. “Everybody in Kozabir, maybe; but, in Layounna, unicorns have four legs.”
“Like regular horses,” said Brady. “And they’re little, and pretty, and prance around with flowers in their manes and tails.”
Moder quaked with silent laughter, tears popping out of the corners of her eyes.
“What’s funny?” Kinnan asked.
“You,” said Moder. “Sitting there, displaying relics as evidence of something you don’t even seem to believe in.”
Kinnan closed his thumb over the curls and quirked one side of his mouth in a cynical smile. “Lightning can do peculiar things to wood. If one form of damage goes by the name of ‘alicorn’ and people believe it comes from a mythical beast, the power I get from it is real. Let me show you something else.” He reached into his pack. “This is what will finally win me the throne, and keep it for me, too.”
He pulled out a bundle, untied it, unwrapped it, and lifted a bag. It was made of cloth of gold, with small tiles of silver sewn to it.
“Quite a tobacco pouch,” said Brady.
Kinnan didn’t bother with a squelching look. “It’s a mandate bag.”
“Yours?” said Moder.
“Of course, mine. I told you who I am. You said you believed me. Whose else would it be?”
“I only asked.”
Kinnan put the alicorn into the pouch. “Some of the old people say the true royal line – my line – the House of Onagros – held the throne by right of mandate, represented by a bag. None of the old folk agreed on what was in it except for one item – alicorn. Now I have that. The other things… Some say amber. Some say silver. Some say dried clay made from ashes, fertile soil, and the blood of a white dove.”
“Ugh!” Moder screwed up her face and pushed Kinnan’s words away with hand and pipe. “Blood of a white dove…. Prick your finger and use the blood of an ass, instead.”
Kinnan laughed, shrugged, and put the bag away.
~ * ~
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: What does your main character consider representative of power?