A rummage through random aspects of the past that interest me and may be of use or interest to other readers and writers of period fiction. Please note that the stories featured and my artwork for the covers are copyright; and have the courtesy to ask permission if you wish to use anything that is mine, and duly acknowledge it if you do.
I've been invited to take part in a holiday blog hop of Halloween stories, and though I intended to write a Regency one, it didn't happen, and instead I was influenced by a pop video called 'Daze' by the Poets of the Fall. The blog hop more or less grew around the prevalence of scary clowns, and I do actually have a clown phobia. However the guy in the video is both more and less than a clown ... check it out as well as the stories by the many excellent authors below.
THIS will take you to the other Halloween stories including one by Giselle Marks; for my efforts see below
Warning: this is very very dark. About the darkest thing I've ever written.
Lord of Fire
She was mortal,
she was her own person and she had free will.Her name was Elaine Rathbone, not Aine. No matter what he called her.
And then he
smiled at her, and that smile was more frightening than any other man’s scowl.
of leaving me, my Aine?” he asked. “You know what happened last time.”
shuddered.Aodh was his name, born of
the fire, and he had drawn strands of flame directly from his hall’s fire to
whip her.She still bore the marks.
she whimpered, and hated herself for whimpering.“If I come out with you when you go hunting
for pleasure, if I find a replacement…”
“If you leave
another time, Aine, you will die,” said Aodh. “I find you too … entertaining …
to want another lover.But you may come
on the hunt.”
a shuddering sob.
night … how many years ago hadit been?
… when she had first met Aodh, at a party, she had thought herself the luckiest
person in the world to have such a handsome and skilled lover.It had only been when she had realised time
had passed in his arms that she told him that she wanted to go home. She wanted
to let her parents know that she was all right, and to return to college.She told him, she could always come to him in
That was when
she discovered how jealous he was; and how violent he could be when
irritated.That beating had only been
with his fists.He shouted, as he always
mine!Mine alone!You are my toy, and you are nothing to anyone
It had been
when he had changed her name, though he had been calling her Aine for a
while.Her former, besotted, teenage
self had not noticed. But he forbade the
use of her old name.She was Aine, his
toy, his slave, his pet.
She had plotted
to run away.That first year, he had
left her alone when he went hunting.She
had tried to find her way out, only to become lost in a labyrinth, magical and
confusing, that surrounded the rath, the fairy hill, in which his halls were
built. And he had found her, and marched her back to his bedroom, the hedges
moving aside for him to take a straight path through the labyrinth, and then he
had whipped her with fire.Then thrown
her upon her burned and agonised back to rape her.Elaine Rathbone did not believe in magic,
but Aine suffered from it, every day of her stolen life.
“You came to me
willingly, and ate at my table, so I get to keep you, and you live and die by
my whim,” he said.
A choice to
risk death was still a choice.Death
could be no worse than this. She stared down at her hands.
“I would like
to hunt,” she said.“If I cannot go
home, I need to learn the customs.”
“There’s a good
girl,” he raised her chin and kissed her, almost tenderly.Aine … Elaine … tried not to shudder at
caresses that had once driven her wild with passion.
Aodh and his
minions gathered for the hunt on Samhain, what most mortals called
Halloween.They needed no costumes,
because their everyday garb, tawdry finery of the eighteenth century, was
costume enough for most people.Elaine
remembered being impressed by the clothes, and by the jewelled Venetian masks
they all wore, all ancient and doubtless valuable.She was given one too, to wear with the
cinch-waisted gown and its panniers, her hair dressed in an updo somewhere
between Marie Antoinette and a rat’s nest, by the smaller, low-fae servants who
did not get to go on the hunt.They were
servile, disgustingly so, but capable of magic, and had great strength, That she
had discovered on the second Samhain, when she tried again to escape.Too bizarre looking even for Halloween, the
little creatures were not allowed to go on the hunt, and they were set to watch
her, and their fear of Aodh was such that they pinched her cruelly and sat on
her to keep her in her room.
Now they chattered
lady is one of us, now!” said one. “And at the end of this night, you will
never be able to leave, you will be all fae, your mortality burned away!”A small, blue being, with a huge head, and
eyes all liquid navy blue, with no whites to them, informed her.
“Hush!” a more
senior maid said.She was as brown as a
berry, and heart-stoppingly lovely on her left side, but wrinkled and ugly on
the right, her features twisted, leering on that side.She had more magic power than many, and some
said she was Aodh’s base-born daughter on one of the low-fae.It was only a whispered rumour; it was not
done for the high-fae to lie with their servant race, but Aodh was a man of
complex and not always salubrious sexual tastes.Elaine had seen him kiss a servant girl and
then have her tortured for not giving enough evidence of enjoyment.He had then had her tortured again for
simulating too much enjoyment when he did it the next time.Aodh had taken Elaine with enthusiasm, while
he watched the torture, both times.
“I have to
accept my fate,” said Elaine.
“We is glad to
have you, lady.When he has you, he
doesn’t hurt us as much,” said the little blue one. “He dares not hurt you too
bad; mortals break too easily.”
“But after this
“You will heal
as well as any of us!” squeaked the little one, and was cuffed by her superior.
“You talk too
much, Gormbhinn,” she snapped.
immune, Grainne, even he does not
break that taboo,” squeaked Gormbhinn.
“I will tell
him,” threatened Grainne.
that, make sure I am beautiful enough to please,” said Elaine.If she got away … or died … it was a shame
that the mostly gentle little servants would suffer, but they had magic, and if
they had but stood together, they would be able to overthrow Aodh.Yet they seemed, mostly, to accept it.
She wished she
could take Gormbhinn, who had been kind to her.
The wild hunt
under Aodh turned up, as they had when Elaine had first met them, at a country
house where they gate-crashed a party.Elaine gate-crashed with them, and pirouetted and laughed and flirted
her fan.Aodh of course was impressing
all the young women at the party, and after an hour or so was busy indulging in
a flirtation with the daughter of the house. She was a pretty, rather
silly-seeming girl, and Elaine wondered whether Aodh would choose her as his
replacement consort.Poor girl, but
Elaine must think of herself. Elaine
slipped out, heading for the garage.Sure enough, many cars had been left with their keys in the ignition; a
lot of these county types were careless about such things on what they saw as
‘home territory’.She picked a Porsche,
and set off, driving in what she hoped was the direction of a larger town than
the village near the mansion.
She laughed in
relief, discarding her mask, as she drove, this was technology, something
beyond the ken of the fae.
And then she
saw that the petrol gauge was running down, the petrol going quite
visibly.Surely it was not such a
gas-guzzler?No.He could not be removing the petrol could
he?The tank must be holed.
The tank must
be holed, and she was leaving a stream of petrol behind her.And Aodh was the Lord of Fire.
There was a
flickering behind her in the mirror, visible above the hedges where it
reflected on wet leaves of overhanging trees.
With a whinny
of terror, Elaine stood on the brake, and wrenched open the side door, flinging
herself across the country lane into the ditch.
The line of
flame ran hungrily to the rear of the car, and the night exploded in white
flame.Elaine thought she could hear
Aodh laughing as she almost blacked out.
He must not
She had already
kicked off the impractical high heeled satin shoes which were part of her
costume, in order to drive, and hardly heeded the brambles and nettles tearing
at and stinging her bare feet as she scrambled out of the ditch and ran along
the road, searching for someone, anyone.She leaped out and waved frantically as headlights came towards
her.The car screeched to a halt.
“Have you any
idea how stupid that was?” Yelped a male voice. Then, more panicked, “Here,
Ruth, help, the lassie is hurt.”
And then there
was blessed oblivion.
Elaine woke up
in the white sterile atmosphere of a hospital.Her parents were sat at the end of the bed.
her mother cried, seeing her daughter awake.“Where have you been all these years?”
“I … he
kidnapped me,” said Elaine.“But he
thought it was safe to take me to the party … thought I was cowed …”
syndrome,” a white coated man said quietly.“Elaine, do you remember the things he did?Those … burns on your back…”
“He whipped me
with fire,” she whimpered.
“We believe it
was some kind of homemade electrical device,” said the doctor.“You can tell the police about it when you
are a bit better rested, but if he took you to the party at Marston Manor, I
think your tormentor might be dead; it burned down, and everyone who was in it
died in the blaze.”
people…” Elaine started to sob, gently.“But he didn’t get that poor silly girl.Better burned than his toy ….”
It was never
quite the same, because Elaine had lost seven years of her life; and she could
never, ever tell her parents, or the police, exactly what had happened.They would never believe her.She spoke of a man who thought he was the
king of the goblins, and dressed like David Bowie in Labyrinth;and her vagueness was put down to a voluntary
amnesia to block trauma.Her parents did
not push her to unblock the memories.She did wonder why the house had burned, and whether Aodh had perished
as well, and whether he could hurt her again. She became reclusive, brooding,
and throwing herself into the degree she had been taking when she had been
seduced by Aodh.
And then, one
day, she shrieked in fear as Gormbhinn appeared in her room.Her parents were out, and Elaine cowered.
to her and hugged her.
killed him!” she exulted.
“I … I just ran
away,” said Elaine.“And my name is
Elaine, not Aine.”
regarded her solemnly.
“Elaine.It’s pretty,” she said.“But that’s what killed him.He sent fire after you, to burn the rest of
your mortality and make you a spirit-slave.But you wasn’t burned, and at dawn, your immortal part grounded back
through him and he burst into flame.You
killed him and we is free.Gormbhinn
would like to serve her lady,” she added.
“Oh, I so
wanted to take you with me, but I dared not,” said Elaine.
understands.We does things to stay
safe. Gormbhinn … I … hoped that you
would understand my words and escape.Because if you stayed free until dawn, I knew it would be all over.”
Gormbhinn, and cried a flood that she had never quite dared to let out before.
Fae magic would
mean that her parents never even saw the little creature, and they would have
each other, two who knew, understood and had survived.
would never, ever go to any Halloween party ever again.
‘Emma’s Education’ and ‘Grace’s Gift’ are
two romantic interlinked stories in the Charity School series. Spoilt Emma
Spink is sent away to school in the hopes she will learn to behave.But the school is harsher than her father
intended, and she begs Marianne, now Mrs. Tempest, to put in a word for
her at the Swanley Court
school as a paying pupil. Her schooling is not without
adventure, especially after she befriends Emmie Kovacs. For Emmie has a wicked
uncle and a rather handsome older half-brother.
When young Cecil Hasely falls through the door of his
house with a baby in his arms, a wet nurse is needed quickly. Grace Burrel, a
war widow, agrees to tend the child following the stillbirth of her son. She
swiftly becomes one of the family, helping to nurse the now chronically sick
Cecil, and acting as hostess to Chris’s intended bride.The growing happiness of a damaged family is
threatened by ill-intentioned people. Meanwhile, Chris has been dancing attendance
on his intended in Bath,
where some lively young boys cause disruption on a royal scale.
Kindle available HerePaperback should be out momentarily