Here’s another excerpt from THE FALL OF ONAGROS, Book 1 of SAGE. Books 2 and 3 are due out by the end of this month.
The Fall of Onagros, Book 1 of SAGE – excerpt
by Marian Allen
Oliva beren Audre kept cold silence as her son crossed her private sitting room and took the chair she reserved for his particular use. It had been his favorite at the Thanehold: outsized and overstuffed, perfect for lounging in odd positions.
But Landry no longer lounged in odd positions. Landry now sat with regal dignity, even alone with his mother. If His Grace ever sprawled or lolled or folded himself in ways which looked uncomfortable but were not, his mother never saw it.
His mother seldom saw him privately at all, these days. Despite her best efforts, Oliva was finding herself – and Corvina was finding herself, in a separate campaign – blocked from the font of royal power, and blocked by the font himself.
Tonight, for example, Oliva had waited the Kinninger’s pleasure to grant her an interview, waited until long past midnight. In fact, the Thane suspected her son had gone to bed and had only come to her when he woke in the night and couldn’t sleep again.
He said nothing now, but waited for her to speak.
Oliva decided she had forced her last smile. “My Lord,” she said, not bothering, either, to cloak her voice’s chill with maternal softness, “your attendance honors me.”
Landry smiled a little, and inclined his head. He had waited long to hear such words in such a tone from her.
“My advice may be unwelcome,” Oliva went on, “or it may be unnecessary, but as I am no longer in your closest confidence, I cannot know. May I speak?”
Landry inclined his head again.
“It is time you remarried, My Lord. Ten years have passed since Karol’s murder was discovered, eight since you ‘avenged’ her. Layounna needs an heir. Or are you grooming Guthrie beren Melanell for that?”
Landry laughed. “My Chief Sword is my tool, and a very useful one, but hardly Kinninger material, and hardly fit to follow me.”
“Exactly so,” said Oliva, although she had been, and would continue to be, at pains to reward the Chief Sword’s courtesy. He might prove useful to others besides Landry. “And so you need an heir.”
“But an heir presupposes a wife, and I have no time for courting. I have no time for searching or for choosing, and I have no will to it.”
“Let me serve you in this, My Lord. I’ve given it much thought. If I may ask a blunt question: You want not only an heir, but an heir in your keeping and control, do you not?”
“Then your wife must be in your keeping and control.”
“What woman would stand for that? A mental incompetent? What sort of mother to my heir is that?”
“She needn’t like it. She need only have no choice.”
“‘Refusal would be treason’? Is that the idea?”
“I had youth and inexperience in mind. Compliant parents, custody made luxurious and called protective, with Karol’s death and lack of heirs to justify it.”
Landry thought, then nodded. “That would do. Have you anyone in mind?”
“I would look for girls of fourteen to sixteen, who have not been much in society. The parents must be unimportant, subservient, and without power or powerful friends, yet they must be just well-bred enough to be worthy of connection to our line.”
Landry smiled again, then laughed. “I know the very woman you’ve described. Her father presented her to me last honors day as having come of age. Rather nondescript, but not ill-favored. The daughter of the Roll-Keeper. Darcy, his name is. Her mother is a public scribe and copyist.”
Oliva pulled a face. “Not so high as I would have looked.”
“But, oh, such compliant parents!” said Landry, with another laugh. “There’ll be no trouble from that quarter. Yes, young Whatever-her-name-is will do nicely.”
Landry rose and for the first time in years willingly kissed his mother’s cheek.
Oliva saw him out, not entirely pleased with the interview, but not entirely displeased, either. Landry had held her firmly in the place he had relegated to her. He had taken her advice, though he had plucked the project from her hands and dealt with it himself.
Landry was no longer swayed by his mother’s counsel. Oliva was content to see if his tender wife might not be swayed by her mother-in-law’s, and his heirs by their grandmother’s.
The Kinninger’s mother dreamed that night – dreamed of placing a crown on the head of a faceless child. The crown settled over the child’s head, onto its shoulders, and tightened into a collar. The crown stifled the child, but Oliva held the other end of an invisible leash and she made the body move to suit her purpose. No one but Oliva knew the child who wore the crown was dead.
~ * ~
Ain’t that sweet and tender? No? You’re obviously not an adherent of the House of Sarpa, then.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: What is your main character’s relationship with his/her mother? Has it always been the same? If not, how has it changed?