Home > Gossamer in the Darkness (Fantasyland #5.5)

Gossamer in the Darkness (Fantasyland #5.5)
Author: Kristen Ashley

 


One Thousand and One Dark Nights


Once upon a time, in the future…

 

I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.

I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and

the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast

library at my father’s home and collected thousands

of volumes of fantastic tales.

 

I learned all about ancient races and bygone

times. About myths and legends and dreams of all

people through the millennium. And the more I read

the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered

that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually

become part of them.

 

I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher

and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I

would not be telling you this tale now.

But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off

with bravery.

 

One afternoon, curious about the myth of the

Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to

see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar

(Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then

sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written

and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,

the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand

women.

 

Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived

in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged

places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had

never occurred before and that still to this day, I

cannot explain.

 

Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have

taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can

protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to

protect herself and stay alive.

 

Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.

And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a

point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.

And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that

he might hear the rest of my dark tale.

 

As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new

one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before

you now.

 

 

Foreword


There are two worlds.

The one we know.

And the one that has all the same people in it—our twins—but it’s entirely different.

In this parallel universe, amongst many other places, there is the icy northern land of Lunwyn, the frilly clement land of Fleuridia, the forbidding southern lands of Korwahk, Keenhak and Maroo.

And the glittery enchanted land of Hawkvale.

In these places there are no airplanes or cell phones or sushi. There are no computers or cars or even electricity.

But there is magic.

As such, if there’s a witch, one with great power, and any available motive, she can bring a twin from our world into the other.

Tales have been told in Lunwyn, Hawkvale, Fleuridia and Korwahk (as well as more told in the lands across the Green Sea).

This is a new tale from that other world.

A tale of magic.

A tale of love.

And a tale of very big hats.

 

 

Prologue


The Miracle

 

Edgar, the Count of Derryman

 

 

Hawkvale

Lancestor Sanatorium

Oxblood Region

The Parallel

 

“She’s no better,” he sniped irately, glaring at the pretty young woman with the masses of blonde, lustrous hair curled into herself on the bed.

She was studying him with terrified amber eyes.

“Please, my lord, modulate your voice,” the doctor murmured.

Edgar Dawes, the seventh Count of Derryman, Lord of Posey Park Manor (and several other properties besides), located in the green, gentle, fertile valleys of the Oxblood region of north central Hawkvale, turned to the doctor.

“You said you could affect improvements,” he reminded the man.

“She is improved,” the doctor asserted.

Edgar flung a hand toward the silent, fearful woman rocking rhythmically on her bed, staring at him in terror.

“She doesn’t appear improved to me, sir.”

The man got closer and said quietly, “With respect, my lord, this is due to your demeanor. Maxine…” He paused a pause that held great weight and took that further as he emphasized, “your daughter, needs calm. She’s far more content with the familiar.” Another weighty pause. “And she hasn’t seen you in over three years.”

Edgar refused to respond to the rebuke.

Instead, he retorted, “The world is not calm, as you well know. At any moment, a witch can bring a curse on the land. A Beast of ancient times can resurface to the Earth and cause havoc. You know this because these things have happened. And they have in our lifetimes.” His tone grew all-knowing and imperious, a tone he adopted in some incarnation to the point it was his standard. “Every life is in jeopardy at every moment.”

“That’s a pessimistic outlook,” the physician muttered to himself.

“It is nevertheless true,” Edgar sniffed. “And she must be able to handle that.”

And she must.

She must.

Imminently.

Time was running out!

As such…

“I’ll be taking her to another facility,” Edgar announced. “We’ll see if a different staff can cure her.”

The doctor immediately grew alarmed.

“Sir, please, don’t. Maxine responds to routine. A habitual schedule. Staff around her who she’s grown accustomed to. Familiar surroundings. Her paintings. Her strolls along the river with her nurses. Her reading. We’ve made progress, and if you move her”—and again there was a censorious pause—“as you have, throughout her life, hoping for results she simply cannot attain, she will digress, and that progress will have to be regained.”

Edgar gazed around the room at his daughter’s “paintings.” As he did, his eyes fell on the “books” that sat on the table beside her bed.

He returned his attention to her physician. “A five-year-old could paint a better bird and she reads children’s books.”

“Before she came here, she was twenty-three, and she didn’t read at all,” the man returned.

“I—”

The doctor squared his shoulders. “My lord, I’m sure I don’t have to remind you, your daughter…your lovely, sweet daughter, sustained a significant head injury at the age of six.”

Edgar drew in an affronted breath at being reminded of something he expended quite a bit of effort to forget.

The doctor persevered, “It was an injury of such magnitude, at the time, the physicians you called in, all four of them, told you not only that you were very lucky she was alive, but that it would take a miracle for her to live what is considered a ‘normal’ life. However, in all her notes, throughout her life, every physician who has had charge of her care has recorded that they’ve repeatedly shared with you that she could lead a happy life. However, only if she receives the proper care. She needs stability. She needs patience. She needs predictability. And she needs…”—the man held Edgar’s gaze—“care and love.”

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