Chapter One

Shan and Priscilla Ride Again
Chapter One
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

He really was quite beautiful.

Priscilla paused, aware that she was staring. Quite beautiful. Slim and golden-skinned, green eyes bright under straight brows partially hidden by a fall of glossy dark hair. He held himself with careless grace and moved with an economy of motion that spoke volumes of efficiency. He was a shade taller than Pat Rin yos’Phelium, with whom he was speaking, and, unlike that gentleman, wore the very minimum of jewelry required by so exalted a gathering. The effect was not one of inelegance, however. Something in the younger man’s bearing made the exquisite and bejeweled Pat Rin seem just a trifle — overdone.

At that moment, the object of her study turned and caught her eyes upon him. One straight brow slid upward, to be hidden completely the renegade lock of hair.

Priscilla felt herself flush.

“I do beg your pardon,” she said, half-laughing. “It’s just that I was thinking how much you look like Captain yos’Galan.”

“Look like Shan?” Pat Rin’s voice carried a subtle note of shock.

His companion raised his glass, second brow rising to join the first. “No, don’t you think so?”

“No one looks like Shan!” Pat Rin announced with accuracy, but without, perhaps, tact. Priscilla felt the electric tingle of the young gentleman’s irritation as if it were her own.

Lacking her advantages, Pat Rin pushed on. “You look more like me than you look like Shan!”

Which was strictly correct. But the similarity she had seen was more than a superficial likeness of hair color or even facial structure. It had to do with bearing, with efficiency of motion. With assuredness. She was pondering how best to explain this when Pat Rin suddenly recalled himself.

“Do forgive me, Lady. Here is my cousin, Val Con yos’Phelium. Kinsman, here is Priscilla Delacroix y Mendoza.”

She smiled and bowed acknowledgment blended with equality, for warmth. “Lord yos’Phelium. You’re a Scout?”

He returned her bow exactly, lips twitching.

“Lady Mendoza. Indeed I am. Have you been acquainted with my brother long?”

“Only a few relumma,” she said carefully.

“Lady Mendoza serves as First Mate on Dutiful Passage,” Pat Rin informed his cousin.

“Ah. Then I am very pleased to meet you, indeed, Lady. My sister was to bring me to call on you. In Balance I was constrained to escort her this evening, since she cried out that she was too timid to go alone.”

This did not sound a great deal like either of his foster-sisters, in Priscilla’s opinion.

Nor in Pat Rin’s.

“Anthora?” he asked, clearly puzzled. “She’s nearly always by herself. Not for lack of offered escorts, either. I’m forever meeting her.”

The green eyes were very bright.

“Are you? Well, perhaps because it’s my first day at home in a relumma or two. No doubt she felt I would expire of boredom if I were –“

“There you are!” Anthora yos’Galan slid her arm through her foster-brother’s. “Well met, kinsman. Priscilla — how are you, my friend? Will you dislike it excessively if I bring Val Con with me tomorrow evening?”

“Of course not. I’ll be happy to have him.”

“That’s very good, then.” Anthora tugged on Val Con’s arm. “There’s someone I want you to meet, Brother.”

“I thought as much,” he murmured, soft voice resigned. “Nova employees an agent these days, does she?”

“What can you be talking about?” Anthora wondered, light eyes innocent.

Her brother sighed. “I am speaking at this present with Lady Mendoza.”

“Yes, but you see, Priscilla must go to Lady Faaldom now, and I’m certain Pat Rin would rather court Tabita sig’Renlin; so you’re bereft in anywise.”

Priscilla grinned, catching a bright green eye.

“It seems we each have our orders, sir.”

“So it does.” He frowned at Anthora, a feat of pure willpower, since within he was bubbling bright, exasperated mirth.

“I hear you come most frequently alone to parties. Pat Rin says he’s always meeting you.”

“Oh, now, not always,” she protested. “It can’t be always, you know, kinsman.”

“Now, cousin, admit that I see you everywhere,” Pat Rin chided.

“But I can’t, cousin.”

She turned back to her brother.

“I go so many places that he doesn’t, you see,” she explained earnestly.

Val Con exploded into laughter.

Grinning, Anthora bore him off.

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Auctorial Reflections

I had a really, really hard time not editing the heck out of this chapter. It needs — oh, so very much. Polish, grace, detail.

I’m particularly displeased with the portrayal of Pat Rin, who would never have been so gauche, nor so publicly disdainful of another Korval clan member, no matter how much he was secretly horrified.

On the other hand, this little scene represents our first attempt to fumble toward the notion of the “clan face.” Which is to say that the various members of a clan will tend to resemble each other, even if they don’t particularly look like each other, because of the similarity of upbringing, and the clan’s internal culture.

Sharon Lee
April 20, 2015

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2 thoughts on “Chapter One”

  1. Hmm. Rather than “clan face,” I took it to mean the piloting, based on the efficienmcy of motion and grace, things that Theo tends to identify with “Pilot” when she makes her judgements.

    1. I think it would be an extra layer, on top of those things that say “pilot” to Theo. A certain style of bearing. Just as a pilot might or might not “fly like a scout,” and one might (or might not), in conversation, reveal other scoutlike behaviors, one who is of Korval will have a collection of “things,” that might include certain graces, responses, speech patterns, movements and the like. Some inherited, some learned, many both: an inherited inclination, shaped by learning from one’s clanmembers. I would think this would be especially true with a cha’leket, as close bonds often spring from numerous strong similarities of mind.

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Sharon Lee & Steve Miller present rare genre moments for readers looking for a fiction fix