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LJ Chat, Day One, Post Three November 18, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in author chat, Princes of Air.
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Originally posted 11/17/2011 at the Circlet Press Livejournal

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All right, so what’s all the hub-bub? What exactly IS this super secret project?

When I first wrote Princes of Air, I sent it out to my usual beta readers. And every single one of them said the same thing: “I’d have loved to see more about Oscar.”  Oscar is the second-oldest of the brothers,  and he’s not really a major character in any of the three stories in Princes. But for some reason, he’s just  compelling. People wanted to know more about the character that I had one of the brothers refer to as “The Ice Raven.”

And about a month of so ago, I got hit HARD by a plot bunny. Muirenn, Oscar’s mate wanted HER story told. So, with the blessing of my most wonderful editor, I wrote “The Ice Raven.” Only three people knew I was doing it — my husband, my editor, and one of my beta readers, who guessed what I was up to when she read my Facebook posts about the process.

Here, then, is that super secret project. I’ll be posting a little at a time over the next few nights, and there will be spoilers in here. Chronologically, this takes place between parts two and three of Princes of Air.

Oh, and as a word of warning, this is unedited. So any mistakes, grammar goofs, or inconsistencies are all my fault.

Here, then, is Muirenn’s story:


I am nothing. Or so I have been told. As a very young child, too young to know better, my ears were filled with insults and curses. I was unwanted, unloved, and not even my own mother had seen fit to give me more than my miserable life. I had from her not even a name that I could call my own. Not that she could have named me — I doubt that she even had the wits to name herself.

My mother was a child of the forest, mad as mad could be, and she lived like a beast in the great forest of Uragh. My earliest memories are of the forest, and of living wild with my mother. I was, I think now, perhaps seven or eight when I was taken from her. The winter had been bitterly cold, and we’d ventured too close to a village, searching for food. We had been seen, and the men of the village hunted us down, trapped us, and took me away. I was brought to live in a village not far from the forest, and I was given into the keeping of the innkeeper, who kept me as his nameless slave. He spoke of teaching me, training me as he would a beast, and under his fists, I lived as a beast, valued only for the work I could do. I rebelled, and tried to return to the forest, to the wild things that had been my home, escaping the inn to make my way the edges of the village and look with longing on the forest in the distance. But the innkeeper came after me and beat me with his own hands until I was half-dead. After that, I learned not to look to the forest, not to leave the shadows of the inn and the stableyard beyond.

And yet, I hungered for more, for something I could not name, could not voice, had I even the words to speak of them. I dreamed. I dreamed of flying, soaring to touch the clouds on wings made of ebony and midnight. I dreamed of freedom and joy, such as I had never known. I dreamed such dreams as would make men weep, and I woke with my own tears soaking the rough ticking of my pallet.

Such, then, was my beginning. I lived in that village for two winters before my freedom found me.

Because of my parentage, I suppose it is to be understood that I have always been a little fae. It came as no surprise, then, when a passing druid took an interest in me, seeing in me something that prompted him to take me from the inn. He never told me what he paid for my freedom, but it was freedom indeed that he gave me, adopting me as his daughter, and showing me for the first time what it was to be truly cared for, truly loved. His name was Gaynor, and it was he who taught me to dress, to speak, to be something more than a enslaved beast. It was he who truly tamed the wild creature that I had been. And it was he who named me at last, calling me Muirenn, which he told me had been his own mother’s name.

Thus it was that I came to his house, a tidy little cottage under the elms, outside the village that surrounded the great college of Druids. For five years I lived there, growing from a child to a young woman. As my body blossomed, so to did my mind. Gaynor taught at the college, and as his daughter, I was allowed to attend any of the lessons that I wished. Everything to do with learning fascinated me, who had been deprived of such things for so long. I learned to speak Latin and Greek, and to read and write those languages as well as my own. I learned the songs of the bards, and could sing with a clear voice the deeds of the great heroes and kings. The only classes closed to me were those on magic and sorcery, for it was too soon to say if I held those gifts. Despite that, I lingered near the secrets places where the sorcerers gathered, and it was there that I saw him the first time.

I thought that I knew all of the men and women who lived and worked in the college, so when I saw the stranger, I naturally stopped to stare. What caught my eye initially was his magnificent cloak, made all of black feathers. He was tall, taller even than Gaynor, thin as a willow wand, and his features sharp as a blade. As sharp as a blade and as cold, and yet… I saw something else. Something more. Something that I knew that I needed, more than life, or breath, or freedom. I could not say what it was, nor could I explore it further, because it was at that moment that Gaynor found me.

“Muirenn!” he growled softly, catching me about the shoulders and guiding me away from the sorcerers, who had gathered in a circle and were talking amongst themselves. “Muirenn, you have no business being here, child!”

“Gaynor, who was that?” I asked, craning my neck to see over my shoulder. “Who was he?”

Gaynor looked back, and his eyes went wide. “He’s no one to cross, Muirenn. Now come away, and leave them be.”

“Gaynor? Gaynor, are you frightened?” I asked, suddenly alarmed. “Who is he?”

“Frightened? Hardly,” Gaynor answered. “He is Oscar mac Morrigan. He is the Goddess’ own son, and a very powerful man. One of my students, a long time ago.” He led me away, and I heard him murmur, so softly that I wasn’t certain I was meant to hear, “And the most lonely man in Eire.”
I’ll talk a little bit more about Oscar later. More specifically, his appearance.

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