And, because you all have been waiting so patiently, here is a snippet from the book in progress 🙂
Jadren heaved a sigh and rolled his head back, staring at the ceiling. “If I were to hazard a guess, which I apparently am being coerced into doing, I’d say that she means she thinks I ran away only as a bargaining chip. She won’t believe that I don’t truly want, in the charred cinder of my withered heart, to be Lord El-Adrel after her. Katica can’t conceive of anyone not wanting her power. She’s used that to play her heirs against each other all these years.”
“Do you?” Selly asked.
He lifted his head and gazed at her. Blinked, long and slow. “Do I want to be Lord El-Adrel? Dark arts, no! What would possess you to even ask such a question?”
“It’s a reasonable question,” she answered, studying him.
“Not unless you think I’m enough of a monster that I want to become my mother,” he spat back.
“See, that’s not a reasonable answer. You can head your house without becoming your mother.”
“Oh, and I suppose you believe I should follow the example of the sainted Gabriel, Lord of House Phool?” he sneered. “If my choices are to become a tyrannical megalomaniac or an idealistic idiot merrily leading my house to doom, or a passive/aggressive wannabe like Chaim Refoel, then I’ll take option D: none of the above.”
“Or,” she retorted, “you could make the role your own. You’re not one of your mother’s automatons, plodding along mindlessly in the footsteps of others. If you became Lord El-Adrel, you could make the house over into what you want it to be.”
He curled a lip. “Why, Seliah—have you been harboring a secret desire to become Lady El-Adrel? Perhaps all that half-feral swamp beast behavior of yours has been a cover for a heart that quietly yearns for the power and glory of a high house.”
“Be nice,” she warned him. “You know I don’t care about heading a high house and, for the record, I don’t care if you are Lord El-Adrel or not. But I think your people deserve better. And,” she added after a moment, “the house deserves better.”
“The house is a house. She doesn’t deserve anything. She can’t, because she’s not a person.”
“Then why do you talk about her like a person instead of an ‘it’?”
“Because she’s a right bitch,” he observed without rancor. “You saw what she did to us.”
“She helped us to escape,” Selly replied remorselessly. “Besides, I think she wants you to be Lord El-Adrel.”
He rolled his eyes. “I’m not letting an over-magicked dwelling make life choices for me.”