shalanna: (Easter)
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If this is a good definition (from paul_m_jessup) of urban fantasy (and I think it IS):

Urban Fantasy currently has a template, and currently holds the big blockbusters. This time it's young women (strong) fighting monsters, and romantic/sexual subplots. The young woman is Urban Fantasy’s Chosen One.

Then why doesn't CAMILLE'S TRAVELS ring a bell with any other agents? It fits the mold exactly, even with the romantic subplot. Sigh.

I am also thinking of pulling the demon-conjuring scene in MIRANDA'S RIGHTS (the one in which Miranda's nemesis makes the fatal mistake of not bidding peace between them so mote it be, and thus the demon plans to zap her next time) out of the middle and making it a prologue. Hate to do it, because so many people advise against prologues that are out of chronological order and not from the POV of the heroine and are SO TANTALIZING. But maybe it would give people the idea that THIS IS FANTASY and WILL HAVE FANTASTICAL TROPES somewhat earlier. Hmm.


The demon Asperioth felt himself being conjured just as he was finishing up a complex three-day working.

Because the first tug came when he had his hands full, he couldn't even try a countermeasure. The working was too strong, anyway; someone out there must have his Name. He rose up into the air tail-first, cursing and dropping the components for the last step of his spell as he was sucked into the vortex between the demons' realm and that of the mortals.

The feeling was like being pulled butt-first through a knothole. A too-small knothole.

He materialized in a deep-forest clearing bathed in the light of the full moon. Someone must know a little about what they were doing. His hooves crunched on pine needles; the scent turned his stomach. Looking down, he saw he stood in the center of a salt-encrusted pentagram inscribed in a double circle engraved in the soft dirt. Apparently, someone knew quite a bit.

Or had been reading up on Summoning in the occult literature.

He blinked. As his infravision adjusted to the harsh light, he could make out a petite figure. A human female stood before him with black-draped arms upraised, her toetips barely tangent to the edge of the magickal figure.

Her voice squeaked forth with a whiny nasal accent. "Asperioth, I command thee!"

She'd heard his Name somewhere, or read it in a book, he supposed. That made things tougher for him: once they knew your Name, you couldn't resist the conjuring when you were called. That was part of the reason he'd been pulled so suddenly. And unless you could fool them, you were compelled to obey. Within reason.

"What do you seek by calling me, O woman?" He boomed it out with an echo, hoping he sounded properly fearsome. Asperioth couldn't quite remember the language, the exact phrasing that he was supposed to use. It had been so long since he'd had his Name called by a mortal. "I have little time to spend here. Tell me your desire."

"I want more power." Her eyes gleamed in the moonlight. "More power at my command without all these material components and . . . rituals." Her lips parted, revealing slightly pointed canines at the edges of her smile, and she glanced over her shoulder.

Asperioth followed her gaze to a naked human male, almost as young as she, panting on a woolen blanket behind her. The youth lay unnaturally twisted and still, as though stunned from a working. It was a sophisticated method of raising power; she was no newcomer to the Craft, nor apparently to the rules of diabolical magick.

"I could give you more power in the same way this one has given it." Asperioth beckoned, hoping he wasn’t leering too obviously. "Come hither into the center of my pentacle, and I shall grant your request."

"I am young, but not one day old, dear." She grimaced. "A demon child is not in my plans. Anyway, I've never heard of going into the pentacle with the demon. That has to be dangerous."

Asperioth winced. “Please--we prefer the more correct term, ‘antiangel.’”

She rolled her eyes. “Whatever.”

Asperioth spread his arms wide, then pulled them in a bit as a shower of tiny blue sparks shot from the edge of the pentacle’s central pentagon, in which he stood. “I will do you no harm and plant no seed. You will find I can give you great pleasure as I increase your power.”

She gave him a hard look. "Don't mess with me. You can give me power at my command just with a word. I want that word of power."

Well, it had been worth a try. "All right. But within the confines of this figure, I feel cramped and uneasy. When I am made to be so, I cannot think." The pentagram seemed claustrophobically small; it was squeezing his potbelly and his rear pillows. "Rub out a line so I can come forth, and I will grant you a word which will allow you to command power in an instant."

"Forget it." She glared at him. "You're not coming out here, and I'm not coming in there. Do I look stupid? You stand right there and think fast. Just give me the word."

All right, he would give her a word. But first he had to know what it was worth to her. "What is the payment you are willing to give for each use of this word?"

She scowled, pushing her wild dark hair back behind one ear. "What are you talking about?"

So she hadn't read up as thoroughly as all that.

"I mean there is a cost for each use of the word. The power does not come from the sound of the word alone. It must be paid for by the sacrifice of some mortal component."

"Component." Her voice wavered a bit.

He paused for dramatic effect. "Your pet . . . the use of your right arm . . . your singing voice . . . ."

"Those things are not negotiable. They're too personal." She squinted into the blue light that surrounded him, as if thinking, although he doubted it was remarkably deep thinking. "What about another person?"

"That could be satisfactory." Asperioth looked at her with new respect. He had to admire her ruthlessness and her brazenness in demanding such things so confidently of a power like himself. And she was almost as free from the burden of compassion as he was. However, she should have had all her dragons in a row before Calling him. "This grows tedious. State your exact offer."

"I don't know yet. Can I state it at the time I use the word? Another person, still to be named."

His own abandoned spell would be ruined, unrecoverable, if she kept him here much longer. He could feel steam rising out of both ears. "Do not anger me, mortal woman. Use the same courtesy you would use to a fellow magician, or better. You forget what I am and what you are."

"Sorry. Jeez--"

He clapped his hands over his ears before her invocation of Light could do any damage. "Please! No need for that kind of language. I have your word of power." After waiting one suitably solemn moment, he pronounced a word in the magickal tongue. Guttural and hissing all at once, it would be a challenge to her.

"Can't you give me an easier one?" She squinted at him as if things were blurring over, which would mean her hold on him was fading. She was running out of energy.

"The words are the words." He sent a hostile light out of his eyes to convince her. "They cannot be other than what they are."

"All right, all right. Say it again clearly so I can get it, and you can go."

He pronounced it again for her, slowly, to be fair, because she had proven herself admirably wicked. “Use it wisely. Remember the price.”

She smiled and raised her arms. “I release thee, Asperioth, and return thee to thy proper realm.”

He felt himself slipping back into his own dimension. "Thank you," he heard her calling as he clattered back onto the floor of his own workroom.

He bared his fangs in what passed for a smile. Her fatal mistake was a beginner's error. She had failed to pronounce the peace. She should have ended not with a stupid thanks, but with something like, "Depart now, and may there ever be peace between me and thee. So mote it be."

So now he had her. When she Called him next--if there was a next time--he had no obligation to comport himself with peace. "Mortals today," he muttered, picking himself up and dusting off his legs, which were sticky and covered with dried cinders from the coals on which he'd plopped. "Complete fools. But when has it ever been otherwise?"

_Rhetorical question._



Didn't think I ever did those, did you?

Heh.

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November 2012

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