The voice was familiar, but I could not place it. I dragged my feet, trying to linger, maybe catch another few words. The man gripping my elbow shoved me past the half-shut door deeper into the dark hall. I swore, and glared at my handler when he laughed.
It would have been useful to know who betrayed me.
War makes for unusual alliances. When Lugh and the Green Man approached me for this mission, it was the first time we had ever spoken without provoking a storm. It meant a crossing of the traditional boundaries, but Winter had been waiting long months balanced on the cusp of her ascendancy, and the agents of Spring and Summer thought she might make truce for long enough to oust Autumn.
Armed with Lugh’s fiery arrows and the Green Man’s bow, I traveled widdershins towards Autumn. I abandoned my furs before I even crossed the border. By the time I reached the city I was riding in shirtsleeves, turning my head to catch every stray cool breeze. Winter’s army was camped outside the walls, her soldiers shuddering with unspent fury. They let me pass through: Winter’s agent fortified by Spring and Summer.
Autumn caught me outside the city, just as he had caught the Harbinger. They took my weapons from me, the bow and arrows of the seasons of light, and dragged me up onto the ramparts.
“Cousin.” Autumn’s agent greeted me. He was toying with one of Lugh’s arrows.
They had cut out the Harbinger’s tongue, she who was to be inviolable. They had shackled her to the wall. She returned my gaze, unblinking. Somehow, we both knew, I would have to kill her and take her place.
Here’s the opening line I have chosen to kick off the Master Class:
I had planned for this to be self-contained in 300 words, but that didn’t happen. And Eric just said to write what comes next, not to complete the story. So, yeah, this is what comes next. Maybe I will finish it up at some point…