November 24th, 2009

spring

Snippet

Found this while cleaning off my desk. It's a snippet that didn't make it into THE MOON'S APPRENTICE.

Teo stared at the Ringmaster in the flicker of lantern light. Murga spoke to the air, and more than spoke, he cajoled it like a new lover and berated it like a longtime friend.

"Sir," Teo ventured.

Murga swung to address him in turn. His face was odd, blurry, as though layers had been superimposed over each other. It made Teo's head hurt to look at it.

"What do you think of him, our little Shifter boy?" Murga asked the air, looking on either side. "The Beasts hate Shifters, but they fear them too. Some people say the beast King is a Shifter, but we know there is no Beast King, don't we?" He gave Teo an intent look. "Not yet, anyhow."

Teo's mouth was dry. There was something about Murga's stare that unboned him, made him weaker than Granny Beeswax's spell. He was a lunatic -- he had eaten bad food or been Mandrake kissed.

"Sir," he began again, but the words were stones between his teeth, too hard and obdurate to take on meaning. Underfoot the dust and tangles of dried grass seemed to spell out cautions. Back home, the mad were put down, for no one knew what they might do, what they were capable of. What did the city do with them? Or would anyone even realize what had overtaken Murga? Surely anything could be expected of the man who ran a circus, and treated its Beasts like boon companions.