“This is Director Rosencrantz Guirlande of the Sophist Aristocracy. Any and all trespassers surrender yourselves at once.”
The words passed through the aether like ripples in water, growing in strength and volume with each new set of ears that acknowledged them. The aether was weird like that.
“Trespassers?” cried an exasperated Shuck, his twin tails lashing from side to side. “Those fiends have a right nerve stamping their authority on my home.”
Shelley reached out and scratched behind his upright ears. “Now ye see what me and Mam have to live with,” she said.
“I didnae know it were that bad.”
“Ye dinnae have a price on ye head.”
A low grumble emanated from Shuck’s throat “Sounds like there’s about two dozen of them, give or take,” he said. “There’s a bunch heading fer the old market place, while the rest are fanning out in groups of three.”
“Aye.” It was a good thing she had a friend like Shuck at a time like this. He knew the Scar better than anyone. He was, in a way, a part of it.
“Do ye think they’ll dare enter the house?” she asked.
He shook his head. “Not unless they’ve changed their tune. Just try not tae go letting anymore of ye friends inside, or they might start getting ideas.”
What friends? He was one of the few she had left, a possibly-make-believe fusion of cat and dog, shaped by descriptions Shelley had read in her mother’s tomes on mythical beasts.
“Speaking of your friends,” he nodded to the courtyard below, “that Alonie lass disnae look too happy.”
Malkuthian cloak pulled tight around her, Alonie Kent, one of the few people who still spoke to Shelley as if she were a normal human being, blazed a path across the courtyard, leaving a vague trail of impressions behind her as she made for the safe house. She would be back in the room any moment now. Shelley glanced at her watch. She’d been astral for less than a minute—maybe thirty seconds of real time. For the daughter of a famed Seelie hero that was an embarrassing ratio; Endora Eoghan could have turned those thirty seconds into thirty minutes at the very least. The aether was weird like that.
“So much for us having a private chat,” she said in defeat. “It’s been a weird day.”
“Aye,” said Shuck, “and by the looks of things, it’s about tae get weirder.”
I don’t know if it’s obvious, but Shelley is Scottish, or what amounts to Scottish at this point in the future.
(2018 Addition: this marks the first time I’ve changed a chapter title. Or, rather, reverted one to its previous form. When I first published this chapter, I was thinking of naming all of Shelley’s chapters as if they were YA books. However, since I gave up on that idea, the previous title – Shelley Eoghan and the Ruins of Dusk – stood out a bit too much, so I went back to the title it had before that. HERE ENDS THIS FUN FACTOID.)