Middle-school history teachers, Confederate reenactors, and the Queen of Faerie and her minions. Will this novel say something profound about the Romantic/Celtic/medievalist myth of the Old South? Probably not, but I suspect that the reenactors and fairies will beat on each other.
[A confession: I did not write the following piece during NaNoWriMo. I wrote it as an exercise for writing.com's October NaNo Prep Challenge: “Write a background story about a character." So it isn't an official excerpt, and it isn't part of my word count. When I start editing, however, I'm going to slip it into the novel.]
There was no past in Faerie, or so it seemed to Fenn. There was no future. There were only circles, cycles, seasons: the circles of stones, wherever they were found; the circle dances; the equinoxes and solstices. There had been a monarch before Domhnulla, but Fenn could not remember. King? Queen? He did not recall. He had been on the outer edges of Faerie then, his circles swirling together into a contracting spiral, each turn bringing him closer to court. When he arrived, she was the center: Domhnulla.
For Domhnulla, each turn of the wheel meant another consort, male or female. Most lasted no more than a night; some lasted no more than a dance. When it was Fenn’s turn, he thought little of it at first. Domhnulla drew him from the circle of courtiers, her hand slim and cool. The queen’s last consort, a buxom sea nymph, faded back into the crowd. Her face blank, the nymph headed outward, towards the ocean. Fenn ascended the dais.
That first night, Domhnulla said there was too much of the woods about him. He knew he was a rough fairy. Even glamored, he never attained the smooth shimmer of his fellows: his eyebrows were thick, his jawline shadowed. He was taller than the queen, and though he would not stoop, he consented to stand on a lower step.
They danced that way, encircling the dais, he a step lower. The queen’s gray eyes were level with his.
Fenn was not a fairy to lose control. He never grew drunk on blossom wine; never swayed at the smell of a vulnerable young human; always ruled mischief and was never ruled by it. He was a diplomat and -- when necessary — a fighter. He danced because that was what fairies did, especially the fairies at Domhnulla’s court. He rose to consort because Domhnulla chose him.
And, circle after circle, she did not unchoose him. Dance after dance, he stayed on the dais, one step down. Night after night, she drew him to her chamber. The spiral of fairies that led to Domhnulla resolved into concentric rings, orbiting, no fairy getting closer, no fairy thrown outward.
“Where do you come from?” Domhnulla asked.
“The trees,” said Fenn.
He shrugged. “Many. Redwood, palm, Joshua…”
“In my territory?”
For it was beginning to seem that he had always been hers. Were all his trees merely her sentinels, her couriers, passing him along like a signal, like a message, to her?