Welcome to Sorchia’s Universe—A-Z Blog Edition.
This year, my offering is a serial story—a Gothic fantasy featuring vengeful witches, disappearing castles, betrayal, and romance (PG only for this one.) Remember to Join Sorchia’s Universe to be eligible for the giveaway at the end of April.
Have you missed an episode? Never fear! Here are links to the story so far.
If you enjoy this story, take a look at the Books link to see what else I write.
A Cold Spring
Episode 5: Everything Changed
Everything changed on that night nearly eight months ago.
We intended the formal dinner to celebrate Maddock’s and my marriage to be a first step toward healing the rifts between our two families. Time, we hoped, had eroded their ancient fears. Intoxicated by our own joy, we invited everyone: La Croixs and Darkmores, those who survived the atrocity that fractured our families centuries before and the young ones who knew of such things only in legend.
My stately Celtic Darkmore relatives mixed with Maddock’s New World La Croix family in an oddly familiar blend. I was only a child when Lucia blew our alliance apart, but I remember peeping over the banister from the upper level of the old castle on a throng much like this one many years ago when the world turned topsy-turvy.
New Castle Highmoor, erected on the ruins of the old castle, was a symbol of a new beginning. Nearly a thousand guests overflowed from the sumptuous drawing room of New Castle Highmoor to the elegant ballroom to the spacious veranda even spilled out into the verdant gardens. In the foyer, Maddock and I greeted each and every one.
Giggling cousins in brightly colored gowns cascaded down the steps into the garden, a bubbling tributary from the main concourse of matronly aunts wearing their finest brocades and portly uncles whose interests lay closer to the Scotch bottles and comfortable chairs in the drawing room. All afternoon and into the evening, they came.
Some drove modern cars or opted for traditional horse drawn carriages—equally impressive to manage in this secluded region. Others dispensed with pretense and materialized from dramatically boiling clouds of smoke or, more festive, alighted from gauzy spheres of purple magic.
Many extended a blessing for an abundance of children to their greetings and a private smile passed between Maddock and me. Our secret would be common knowledge soon enough but for now it was a sweet and intimate bond only we shared.
On that night months ago, I listened to a thousand versions of “may you have a long life and much happiness”, grasped a thousand hands in welcome, noted fear flickering behind a thousand smiles. A millennium had not erased the terror associated with this valley.
In our families, old habits die hard.
Don’t miss Episode 6: Fashionably Late
This story is supposed to have a kind of timeless feeling about it since time moves differently for these magical characters. It’s set in modern day, but hops around with visions and flashbacks. I tried not to be too heavy handed with those and to signal clearly where and when each episode takes place. What do you think? So far; so good? Leave a comment or use the Contact Sorchia button at the top of the page.
3 thoughts on “A Cold Spring–Episode 5: Everything Changed”
Enjoying the story very much. I tend to get over-interested in the mechanics of how magic systems work, so will be interested to see if there is more of this, or whether you will leave well alone!
I’ve not found myself confused by the time-hops so far, but it is coming in bite-size portions that are well signposted. In Reaper Man, the first edition at least separated out the two stories by using different fonts, so that might be a way of managing things if the story is going to have a life outside of the blog. That said, you are of course breaking it into episodes/chapters, which Terry Pratchett studiously avoided (for the most part).
Thanks! The division into episodes is 95% artificial and inserted only for this challenge. I think the story reads better as a complete short story, but making episodes has tightened my writing a bit. I do like to describe the magical tendencies–or show–but it’s like explaining a joke sometimes and better left a bit of a mystery. I want it to feel possible without imposing a bunch of rules. Not sure if that makes sense. I appreciate your comment–especially about not being confused by the time hops. A couple of readers in my critique group expressed concern but I think it works.
That is a fair point – I think this works best if there is less explanation and no attempt to link different abilities or to give indications of how difficult things are in relation to each other. Sometimes you find that people make a big deal about how difficult something is, when if it were possible in reality it wouldn’t take much energy, for example, and vice versa, difficult things are done with a snap of the fingers. I guess that’s why magic users spend so much time trying to store magic…