Secrets of the UnderWhere: Welcome to the UnderWhere 004

SotUcoverWednesday nodded companionably, understanding perfectly that the child didn’t actually want to converse with him so much as he simply wanted someone to listen and make affirming grunts in all the right places.

Well did he know the feeling.

But as they walked along, Wednesday’s tooth started to tingle. Not the one that told the story of his tribe, nor the one that gave a brief history of the UnderWhere itself. No, it was his own personal tooth that was jangling in such a way as to make the fur on his face and arms stand up.

The child was completely foreign, and yet somehow familiar. And why had the Lord Mayor, out of all the UnderWherians he might have chosen, chosen him?

Beneath their feet, the path unwound in a litter of peculiar goldenrod-colored bricks and stones. At first, he’d been so preoccupied with the child that he hadn’t noticed, but now he squinted suspiciously down at the path.

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Secrets of the UnderWhere: Welcome to the UnderWhere 003

SotUcoverTo the average Underwherian, gillyhoppers were more myth than legend, which might be on account of how shy they were.

Fortunately, Wednesday’s family were the curious sort that were always wondering about the next hill over. They’d found a tribe of gillyhoppers in a forgotten spring in the center of a forgotten forest of stone. They went and visited the gillyhoppers every so often, but never let on they were doing anything more than casual adventuring in the name of curiosity.

That was the other thing Wednesday’s family was very good at: keeping secrets.

He stood next to the child and grinned at him in the most welcoming way he knew how. That is, to say, he bared his teeth so the child could see that he came from a good, if not particularly extraordinary family of a little less than average means. The stories were carved there on his teeth for all the world to see, and the child seemed to be studying them with interest.

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The Faerie Thief: The Ruby Queen’s Garden 003

TFTcoverThe pebble was, on its own, quite unremarkable. It was a smooth, anonymous dun color. The same shade the soil went when the sun and wind and rain had bleached the color from it. It was soft and smooth as sand, but for the tiny markings she’d carved into its surface.

Silence.

A beautiful word. A quiet word. A word the flowers feared more than anything else. More than the gardner with his silver-bright shears. More than winter with her frost and chills. But not quite as much as they feared a queen with poppy-red skirts and a temper to match.

“Indeed?” The head daisy raised a brow, politely incredulous. “All in the Garden may speak their minds—”

Robin stepped forward, “I’ve a mind—”

Gwyn put a hand on his arm, her eyes on the daisy who was the grand duchess of this particular flower bed.

“—And when laws are broken,” the queen’s pet gave them a look so full of disdain that Gwyn could almost taste it, “the right authorities must be alerted.”

She shook her head. The stone burned cold and hot in her hand, aching to be used. That was the way of runes—invoke a power, even if only by scratching out the name of it, and it’s going to want to do what it was made to do.

A lesson she’d learned early on.

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Secrets of the UnderWhere: Welcome to the UnderWhere 002

sotu002The Crown Prince’s eyes widened, for they were of equal height, and both had a mop of unruly curls that hadn’t yet decided if they were going to be brown or gold.

“Bring the creature to me,” the Crown Prince ordered, raising his miniature scepter before he turned and scrambled back into his litter. The golems stood as one, and began the long run back to the Castle Under, while the Lord Mayor looked on with envy.

Now that was power.

“Well, you heard the Crown Prince,” the Lord Regent said, grinning. His teeth were every bit as yellow as his eyes. “See that the creature is delivered safely to the castle in a timely manner.”

Mutely, the Lord Mayor nodded. He was going to have to round up a committee to deal with the human child. The crowd, meanwhile, shifted restlessly and were already edging away.

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The Faerie Thief: The Ruby Queen’s Garden 002

tft002The daisies had been gossiping again.

Their voices, high and fluting then low and secret. Words cupped behind leaves, sepals curling with glee.

And their eyes.

Bright and knowing. Watching her. Waiting.

Gwyn curled her fingers into her fist, one by one as she stared back. For one breathless moment, she envisioned herself gripping slender stems and tugging upward, hard and sharp. Exposing root to sky, scattering the daisies’ secrets on the wind along with wishes and petals.

But the beastly things were sentient, and she was not a murderess.

Not yet, anyway.

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