Tuesday, May 28, 2013


(For previous chapters, see right side bar. If viewing by mobile, scroll down from http://leannareneebooks.blogspot.com for all chapters)
Chapter 9.2

I blinked a moment, staring at this imperious man before me, and debated just how much cheek I'd give him.

"Neither Mrs. Northe nor Lord Denbury seem to be in at present, Mister Veil," I said in response to Nathaniel's insistent belief that I should know the whereabouts and goings-on of my suitor at all times. "So we'll just have to wait."

"Unless they ran away together," Nathaniel said dramatically. Lavinia snorted.

I didn't bother replying. Considering Mrs. Northe was the wisest woman I knew, I didn't think she was the type to run off with someone who could be her son, no matter how attractive he was. But then again, jealousy was a funny creature and flared up at the most inopportune moments. She had always been keenly interested in his welfare and well-being…

Before the green-eyed monster could entirely run away with my sensibilities, the maid I recognized as having been with Mrs. Northe for years, a thin woman who must have been hiding from all the commotion, bobbed her head at me before handing me an envelope. I could feel Nathaniel's keen, dark eyes upon me like a hawk.

"This place is full of secrets and missives!" he exclaimed. "I felt, from the moment I entered this fine house, caught up amid plots and espionage!"

Lavinia leaned forward from the settee, a fond smile on her face as she said in a stage whisper: "Everything, even the smallest thing, feeds his imagination."

"Oh, but it is espionage, Mister Veil," I replied with a wink and opened the note.

"Ha!" he exclaimed, seeming rather delighted. But my humor was short lived.

My heart faltered a bit. The letter was from Maggie. Nathaniel and Lavinia were lost to a bit of banter as I was lost to the words of the misguided young lady who was as much enemy as friend, yet a girl whose destiny I felt was awkwardly entwined with mine.

Dear Natalie,

I write this to you from Chicago, which is an odious place compared to New York City. It's crowded, loud, smelly. Not that New York doesn't have its foul districts, but this swine-butchering city seems so uncultured comparatively. But Karen is trying to endear Chicago to me, and day by day she wins a bit of it over to me.

I'm sure this letter sounds very frivolous thus far. That's probably what you think of me. Frivolous, shallow, with no idea what I've done.

But I do know. Please don't think the worst of me. I realize I nearly died. And I nearly dragged you with me into the madness.

I realize I nearly killed you.

I do not know what else to say but that I am sorry. And I am so very glad that you, Jonathon, and Rachel, and whatever forces were on your side, managed to save us. I owe you my life, misguided as it is. But seeing as I'm still alive I might as well make the best of it. Though the fashion here in Chicago is at least a year behind New York. Not that I've had much time for shopping.

Karen is teaching me myriad mysteries I don't even begin to know how to describe to you. Perhaps you will see them in person. I long to return to New York, but I am advised that the dark magic needs space and separation. Something you probably already knew.

But things are afoot here in Chicago, Natalie. There are other '"doctors'" doing other '"experiments'." Auntie was out here, having left us to our own devices, and her and Karen and the late Amelia did a bit of snooping, and it seems there's a subterranean racket of missing bodies and body parts, of possessions and soul-ripping. Karen said other recent instances might also be related to the collective trying to grab hold in the strangest ways.

But really, is what they're doing entirely evil? Is there not a point to experimentation? Asking questions? Seeing what the limits of the body, mind, and spirit may be?

I wonder these things, and then I wake with carvings on my arms and Karen has to bless me and wash my arms down with holy water. Karen says that Amelia is watching over me, she's sure of it.

I cannot help but wonder if Karen and Amelia were more than friends and were actually in one of those "Boston Marriages." Could you imagine? How scandalous. You should ask Auntie about it, though I doubt she'd tell me the truth. She never did like me being nosy in other peoples' business. I can't blame her. It has gotten me into trouble.

Karen said that Auntie told her that you suffered the same markings as I have. Runes? Some ancient language repurposed for something terrible? Perhaps you can share with me your thoughts and how the terror of it made you feel, for right now I am feeling rather put upon and wholly alone. I've never done well with solitude. Perhaps that's something I could learn from you too.

Not that you're alone, now, with Lord Denbury… I burn with shame. I don't know what else to say upon that count. That's another apology and contrite plea for forgiveness for another day. Though I doubt it would surprise you to hear I'm still rather jealous. What woman wouldn't be with such a catch as he?

Rachel has been by to check on me, not that we can communicate other than by notes we write one another. I can't imagine what it would be like not to be able to speak, and yet she is full of joy and hope, the sweetest soul. I can learn a lot from her about being grateful. That's another thing Auntie always said about me. Ungrateful. But not Rachel, who bears her burdens lightly and with grace.

Rachel says- well, she wrote, rather- when she came over for tea, that she's very busy putting all the souls to rest that were pulled to the reanimate body that a researcher here was working on. She says she feels a sense of purpose in fighting all this dark nonsense and that sense of purpose is something I'm trying to cling to.

What about voices? Do you hear voices, Natalie? Whatever you can tell me of your experiences with the forces that Karen refers to as "the Society's darkness," will likely be of great help.

Or, you might tear this letter up, wanting nothing to do with me ever again, and I could not blame you for that, even though I would be sad. I might not have ever been a good friend, but maybe, in the end, I can be.

With hope,

Margaret Hathorn

The letter shook a little in my hand as I gripped the paper and sat with these words, a ponderous weight upon my heart. I wasn't sure whether to be amused or appalled by Maggie's flippant, socialite tone shifting so effortlessly between gossip, deadly matters, and plaintive soul-searching. I went back and reread her previous paragraphs.

She was so close to what I would consider a redemptive tone, and yet she still justified the experimentation. Until she entirely denounced the Society's aims and actions, it was likely that the dark magic would still cling to her, call to her, and worse. It might still work through her.

I had denounced the demons entirely, and yet the runes had still managed to invade, carving their ways onto my arm as the dark magic sought me out. What was it doing to her, when she so clearly was still tainted?

I had been staring so intently at Maggie's words, as if I could somehow will further meaning, insight, and direction from the paper itself. Frankly I wasn't sure how much time had passed. But at the sound of rustling fabrics and soft murmurs, I looked up.

The number of persons in the room and milling in the halls and stairs beyond had increased dramatically, though the sound had not. Mister Veil's Association could be an eerily quiet bunch.

"Oh..." I murmured, my cheeks burning from the realization of sudden, further company. "I see it is time for a show..."


(End of Chapter 9.2 -- Copyright 2013 Leanna Renee Hieber, The Magic Most Foul saga - If you like what you see, please share this link with friends! Tweet it, FB, + it! The Magic Most Foul team really hopes the audience will continue to grow and it can only do so with YOUR help! If you haven't already, do pick up a copy of Magic Most Foul books 1 and 2: Darker Still and the sequel: The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart and/or donate to the cause! Donations directly support the editorial staff.

Cheers! Happy haunting! See you next Tuesday!)

1 comment:

houndstooth said...

That Mr. Veil is QUITE the character! I hope Mrs. Northe and Lord Denbury get home soon!

Bunny (catching up on my reading now that the human is home)