Gossamyr

Gossamyr by Michele Hauf Read Free Book Online

Book: Gossamyr by Michele Hauf Read Free Book Online
Authors: Michele Hauf
the
red clay path and the whistles of his renewed dirge became but a
figment. Only then did she release her held breath. And only then did
she realize she had been holding her breath.
    What sort of skittish maid am I? He presented no threat. He was
but a man. A mortal man. I should have...asked him things. Questioned
him!" She kicked a tuft of grass.
    For all her frustration she had not been trained on mortal
relations. Shinn had ever made it clear a trip to the Otherside would
never occur. Martial skills served well against the spriggans, hobs
and werefrogs of Faery. One did not have to converse with the rabble,
merely lay them out.
    So what hindrance had befallen her tongue? 'Twas not as if she had
never before stood so close to a male. So close as to once kiss, she
thought wistfully.
    You are exotic... A Rougethorn's wondrous declaration to
love.
    Yes, I can love. It is the mortal half of me who loves,
I know it!
    My lady, did you glimmer?
    Ah! 'Twas the man's notice of her blazon that had thrown her off!
That is why she had sent him away so hurriedly. She had not expected
to be seen. And if so, she required time to plot how she would move
about in this new and alien world.
    Yet, for as strange as she suspected her surroundings, the man had
made an odd remark about the sameness of the forest. Verily, in a
stretched-out, horizontal manner. And yet, far removed from all she
had ever called home.
    Fact remained, the mortal had seen her. Mayhap they all could? Her
half blood had never before been tested by unEnchanted eyes. And if
all could see her then all would remark the blazon.
    A disguise must be summoned to cloak her fée shimmer. Shinn
had told her of those mortals who would keep fée as pets. A
caged spectacle to be presented at fetes and in market squares,
forced to wallow in the Disenchantment until they literally shriveled
to bone.
    She had not true glamour, though by merely living in Faery she had
absorbed a bit of the skill. With a decisive nod, Gossamyr closed her
eyes and began to concentrate, to summon her latent power of glamour.
If she simply thought plain that would mask the blazon. Ho!
    Drawn prematurely from her attempt, Gossamyr twisted at the waist.
There he was again. The man with the eerie blue eyes and
clinking silver charms about his neck. Had he traveled a circle? This
forest, dense and large, would surely require any casual traveler
much time to circumnavigate—even should his journey spiral. Was
mortal time so spectacular then?
    Time is the enemy.
    "What sort of witchery be this?" the man said as he
heeled his mount beside Gossamyr.
    Her fingers toyed with the carvings on the staff, and one hand
flattened to her throat. "You jest with me."
    "I beg that I do not, my lady. I traveled straight; there was
not a turn in the road. And yet—"
    "No time passed?"
    "Exactly." Pressing a hand over his brows to shade his
view from the setting sun, he peered at her. A flicker of ruby
flashed in his ring. "I do not believe your sparkle is merely
the sun—"
    "Impossible you did not turn and cut back through the
forest."
    He shrugged, and the hood of his cloak fell to his shoulders to
reveal a scatter of tangled hair and a trickle of crimson running
from temple to ear. Might have been scratched by a branch, so small
the cut. Yet there, to the side of his right eye, a bruise the color
of crushed blackberries tormented the flesh. What had the man been
to? Fighting? Defense?
    "Be gone with you, stranger," Gossamyr said. She had
enough to sort through without him tangling her thoughts, making her
wonder when wonder was best abandoned to focused attention.
    The buzz of the fetch zoomed past her face, too quick for a mortal
to regard as any other than an insect. Shinn kept watch.
    "Ride straight and do not look back."
    With a surrendering splay of his hands, the man huffed out a grand
sigh. "As the lady wishes. I've my own sorrows to keep me this
day." He again heeled the mule. With a bristle of its dirty hide
the

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