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Errare · Humanum · Est

hc_bingo fic: hallucinations

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Title: An Unusually Usual Day
Fandom: Black Jewels Trilogy (this fic: Heir to the Shadows)
Pairing: none
Prompt: Hallucinations
Rating: G
Word Count: 933
Summary: Saetan has a typically exceptional day at the Hall with the entire coven in attendance.

A/N: Written for hc_bingo. Masterpost with my game card is here.

Somehow, the strangest interruptions always came during the most interesting books. Saetan was sure that was a universal truth, and that he just hadn’t read interesting enough books before he’d met Her.

His very first inkling that something might be out of place was, as per the usual, an explosion. He sighed. For a coven of very talented young witches, they did enjoy their explosions. He marked his place in his book and set it aside, standing to pour himself a glass of brandy.

He guessed he would probably need it.

He wasn’t at all wrong, because his second inkling that something might be out of place came moments after he stood up, a bare flicker out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head to look, but of course nothing was there. A quick check revealed nothing unseen except for the touch of Craft residue that always permeated the house after the coven’s more ill-advised experiments. As he returned to his seat and his book, the feeling of something following him, just barely visible from the corner of his eye, remained.

The knowledge that his inklings had been correct came with a cursory knock on his door, and a very cheerful Khardeen. Less than five minutes this time. One of those emergencies, then. Wonderful. At least no one was any more dead than they should have been. “Do I want to ask?”

The Warlord shrugged, only the smallest bit of hesitance showing through the calm veneer. “You’ll probably want to see it for yourself.”


He stepped out of his office to find a large but very still audience already in the hall. He looked around at them, wondering exactly what he’d walked into. Footsteps suddenly pounding down the stairs were the loudest thing in the room by far, which they seemed to realize almost immediately.

Jaenelle, with Karla just behind her, slowed to a stately walk, unsure-but-game smile firmly in place. “Oops?”

To think, all those years he’d never known the undead could get headaches. “What have you done now, Witch-child?” And why hadn’t he noticed yet, when everyone else seemed to have?

Khary cleared his throat, pulling attention back to himself. “Allow to me to demonstrate.” He took two deliberate steps further into the hall.

And five seconds later, his shadow followed the move.

It explained the flash he’d seen out of the corner of his eye, at least. If absolutely nothing else. Shadow wasn’t quite the right word for the residue left behind when Khary moved. It was three-dimensional, with shape and depth, and very obviously mimicking Khardeen, even if it was equally very much not flesh and blood. Like the dancing reflection left in the eye after staring into a fire.

All eyes in the hall turned to Jaenelle, who looked a bit like a wolf pup who’d just been caught eating Mrs. Beale’s chickens. “I think it should wear off in a day or so?”

“That doesn’t tell me what you did.” Or really much of anything. “Or how many people you did it to.”

She puffed up, an offended wolf pup now instead of a guilty one. “Only here in the Hall! And only the males. We couldn’t figure out how to make it hold for more than one gender.”


Jaenelle glanced at Karla who shrugged helpfully. “We were trying to make a scrying spell that would let you see the past instead of the present.” She came the rest of the way down the stairs, stopping in front of him. “We kind of messed it up.”

Why they would need a new spell like that, he didn’t know, and he didn’t especially want to ask. “And instead, you got...?”

“Well, it works, but it’s not very useful, is it?” Karla had joined Morton, waving her poor cousin through a series of moves so she could study his shadow. “It could be fun for a prank, though.”

Saetan closed his eyes, wondering how someone so young could be so utterly terrifying. He opened his eyes again to the rest of the coven finally filtering onto the stairs, and Jaenelle looking up at him with honest worry in her eyes. Obviously she and Karla had been picked to break the news first, just in case. “Well. Life with you is never dull, Witch-child.”

The uncertain smile was back. “That’s a good thing, right?”

Before he could answer, Karla draped herself over his shoulders. “Of course it is. We’re the most fun he’s ever had. Right, Uncle Saetan?”

They were certainly the most something he’d ever had. He wasn’t sure it could always be considered fun. But Karla’s statement had had the desired effect even without his answering. Jaenelle’s smile grew into a laugh, and Karla un-draped herself to drag Jaenelle back up the stairs, a faint ‘kiss kiss’ drifting back to the hall full of males still not quite sure what to do with themselves.

Which left him to direct them. He simultaneously wondered why he’d ever thought this was a good idea, and how he’d ever gotten along without them all.

A pointedly cleared throat. “I’ve taken the liberty of arranging light refreshments and tea in the lesser study.”

Or how he’d gotten along without Beale. He nodded to his butler gratefully while the males of the household all but fled the hall, their not-shadows following them in a most disturbing fashion. A day or so of seeing everything twice. At least a day.

Perhaps no one would notice if he locked himself in his study with a bottle of yarbarah.

This entry was originally posted at http://envious-muses.dreamwidth.org/16035.html.
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