If you haven’t heard yet, I’m going to be regularly uploading snippets of quick writing exercises as I get ready for my next series. These are uncut, unedited, raw, (how much more dramatic can I make this sound) and aren’t going to be in the book. They’re exercises for me to get to know the characters and to gear up to this amazing new world I have planned. So without further ado — here’s your introduction to Eamonn, the Banished Prince.
A brisk wind twisted around his body. It lingered upon his open wounds, cold fingers leaving behind a bitter throb. However, the pain was gentle. Perhaps Borrum was looking upon him kindly. The God of Wind had a strange sense of humor and likely would have found tormenting Eamonn a diverting pastime.
The wind nudged him, a sluggish blast of air making him clench his teeth and suck in an arduous breath.
His body began to swing.
Rough rope dug into his neck. His face had long ago turned red, cords of veins bulging on his throat and across his forehead. He couldn’t feel his feet or his hands.
They had hung him like a common criminal. They knew a monster when they saw one. He would remain Borrum’s plaything until someone cast pity upon him. An immortal could not die by hanging, only suffer in silence.
A crowd stretched as far as he could see. Faerie men and women who stood to watch his agony. Their faces showed no mercy. Though he had seen their hatred, though he twisted in the wind because of them, he still had hope someone would look at him with pity.
They did not.
Eamonn’s eyes felt strange. Pressure pushed from inside his head, threatening to pop the orbs out of his skull. He could barely see, but he noticed the crowd begin to part.
There they were. His family, the most important people in all of Seelie.
His father was dressed in his royal finery. As King, there were none more splendid than he. Golden armor, specially made to fit his body, glinted in the dying sunlight. Straps of crimson held a blood red cloak to his shoulders. The Seelie crown, twisting branches intertwined with rubies, perched atop his head.
The King was a stern man. He always looked down his hawkish nose, even at his most prized council members. Pin straight hair fell in a waterfall to his ribs. Never once had Eamonn seen a single strand dare to fall out of place.
A wheezing breath caught in this throat and refused to move. The vein in his forehead pulsed as blood sluggish pumped to his brain.
“Eamonn,” the ghost of his father’s voice from long ago rang loud and clear. “Pick yourself up boy. You are fine.”
He had fallen. They had been playing at battle. He held a wooden sword in his small hands, and his father had pushed too hard. Eamonn had tripped on a stone and fallen to his knees.
Cold steel pressed against the back of his neck. He sniffled. Fat tears dripped from his eyes and hit the crushed gravel beneath his fingers.
“You are fine, boy. If you don’t get up now, you are dead.”
“It hurts, Athair.”
“War hurts. An Unseelie wouldn’t stop to cut off your head, even if you were crying. No son of my will ever beg for his life. He will fight to the last second.”
Eamonn didn’t want to fight. He wanted to run home to his mother’s gentle embrace so she could sooth the bruises his father had given him.
“Boy,” his father’s voice was angry. “You will do our name proud. You are the eldest son, and my heir. Get. Up.”
The muscles of his thighs quivered. His vision skewed when he tried to move. But he could feel the pride of his family running through his veins. Eamonn was a prince among Fae. He was the heir to the throne.
He would not be felled by his father and would continue to fight until he died.
His fingers flexed. Twitching wasn’t much of an accomplishment, but it was a start. The King would never see him weak, even swinging from the end of a noose.
Trailing behind his father, his mother walked. The light of her soul burned bright and painful. She, of all others, was the one he loved most.
Golden links covered her body, her gown made of armored pieces shifting with her subtle movements. Belled sleeves trailed upon the ground and her hands were folded gracefully at her stomach. Her unaging heart-shaped face was lifted regally, but she did not look at him.
He wanted to see her eyes. He wanted to see what she was feeling because his most royal mother could not hide her true emotions. The eyes were the window into the soul, and hers were more expressive than most.
The wind shifted him, pushing his body to the side until he could no longer see the crowd parting like a wave before them.
But he could still see her eyes.
Shimmering pools of bright blue, they matched his. He saw the oceans in her gaze. Saw the endless movement of waves and the soft hushing sound of foaming water touching sand.
“Eamonn,” she whispered in his ear. “My sweet son. Thank you for the flowers.”
Calla lilies were always her favorite. She said they reminded her of the time before time. When the world was new and war had yet to be invented.
He stared at her graceful fingers as she arranged them in a vase.
“You are so thoughtful. You spoil me, mo chroi.”
Her heart. She always called him her heart, and called never his brother those words. Eamonn was her favorite.
Over the years, he had created himself an image. Warrior. Battle hardened and strong. He had taken on armies of Unseelie and defeated them time and time again. Even the great Guardians of the ocean did not dare to challenge the legendary Seelie prince. He had never been touched by a blade.
Eamonn straightened his spine. “It is my honor to spoil you mother. You deserve every piece of gold I can bring you. Every honor I can lay at your feet.”
“I do not want honor.” Springs of golden curls bounced as she turned. Mirth turned her eyes sky blue. “I want my son to be home. To take the throne and stop his adventuring, so I might see him more often.”
This was a complaint he had heard many times over. His lady mother worried, and he was loathe to disappoint her. Falling to his knees, armor creaking, he placed his palms against the cold stone floor.
“If it were my decision, I would stay with you forever, Mathair.”
She brushed his hair, her fingers tangling in long braids. “I know you would my son. I love you dearly. I could not live if you died.”
The wind tossed greasy hair into his face. The strands stuck to his eyes, causing them to water and sting. His mouth gaped open, lungs burning for air, heart begging for the love he remembered.
His mother did not look at him. Her eyes did not land upon her favored son.
The crowd gasped and the treacherous wind tilted his swaying body. His brother walked among their people. Prideful. Hateful. Powerful. Everything Eamonn had not given him credit for. Everything Eamonn was not.
It made perfect sense that Fionn was his exact opposite. They were twins.
Eamonn stared into eyes eerily like his own. Blue like the ocean on a clear summer’s. Blue like the sapphires which sparkled in his stolen crown.
Fionn had always been haughty. He did not like being the younger son. He wanted the throne where Eamonn had not. Because of this, his twin had plotted nearly their entire lives to take it.
“Eamonn, you have not paid attention to your studies! While you were galavanting around the known lands, I was learning our land. You cannot insult the nobility without some kind of repercussions.”
Eamonn snorted, tossing a clementine into the air. “Why ever not? They are a pompous group of men and women who have no idea what the commoners want. Rich does not mean better.”
“Of course it does.”
“The humans don’t think so.”
Fionn slammed his hand down upon the table. Tiny glass figures, one for each noble man and woman, shuddered and fell. “You are not taking this seriously!”
“No I am not, Deartháir. When I am king, I will change this place for the better. We were born into this life and we are lucky. But it’s about time that the fortunate give a little.”
Eamonn tossed the clementine, chuckling when his scholarly brother flinched. Fionn would never learn. He enjoyed the benefits of being royalty, but that meant little in this changing world. They could mold the future. Why would they not take that chance?
Never in his life had he thought his brother would stab him in his back. But Eamonn turned in surprise when he felt a letter opener slide across his shoulder blades.
“What?” Eamonn growled. “You dare?”
His brother gaped, the makeshift dagger in his hand dropping to the floor. “You-you-”
“Best spit it out before I gut you.”
“You are Unseelie.”
The words stung, but were no less than he expected from Fionn. “I am your twin. I am no Unseelie.”
Shattering glass echoed behind him as a maid entered the room. She began to scream.
“What?” Eamonn spun and reached for his sword. “What is it?”
“Your back!” She pressed a hand to her mouth and backed towards the door. “Abomination!”
The crowd began to shout as his family stopped below him. The wind tousled his hair, but did not touch the royals. Even it would not dare disturb their perfection.
Energy sliced through him. Eamonn met his father’s gaze and began to struggle. He swung wildly side to side, but did not manage to break the rope around his neck.
“Hear me!” The King shouted. “This beast before us has been a snake in our midst. His lies are treason. I revoke all rights to the throne and renounce you from your royal line.”
Eamonn hadn’t expected the words to hurt. They lanced through his body, sliced through his heart and into his very soul. Without his family, without the honor he had built for them, what was he?
Nothing. No one.
“I hereby declare my son, Fionn, to be my successor to the royal line!”
The cords of muscle on Eamonn’s neck stood out in stark relief as he struggled to speak. To say anything other than dangle before them. Weak. He could not be so weak!
“I banish you to Hy-Brasil!”
“No!” Eamonn’s shout was a hoarse rasp. Hy-Brasil was a death sentence. The phantom island could only be seen once every seven years.
A soft hand touched his foot. He strained his neck to look down and see his mother shake her head. Even she, the queen of all that was good, refused to help him.
“Cut him down,” his father said.
The rope slid from his neck. As he fell, it sliced open his skin and revealed the monstrosity he was inside.
Flesh peeled back to reveal glimmering amethyst and multi-colored opal. The wounds would not heal. They would not bleed. Wounds became an imperfection.
And an imperfect man could not be the Seelie king.
Eamonn fell to his knees, legs numb and toes tingling as they awoke. His head was yanked backwards by the tail of his braid.
Fionn stared down at him. It was like staring into a mirror at what his future might have been. His perfect brother, with skin which could not be cut at all.
“This is how it was always meant to be, dearthair,” Fionn said quietly. “You will never be forgotten.”
His twin dragged the cold edge of a blade down the left side of Eamonn’s face. The point caught upon the bumps of stone and rock that were revealed as he carved more and more.
Mathair gasped. Eamonn heard the soft clap of her hands covering her mouth and her ragged breath. But she said nothing. She did nothing.
“Go, monster.” Fionn told him. “Take him away where we will not see his disgrace any longer.”
And then everything fell apart.