The King’s Daughter, Chapter 33

Return to Chapter 32

Hours later, the fire blazed in the darkness, the moon too small to compete. The barn contained enough hay to burn till morning, no doubt. Llelas leaned against a fence post, waiting with Farrier for the burning to stop.

They were fortunate. the wind was low, and the fire stayed to the barn. Grandfather lay on his right side, not far away, his eyes closed. Llelas wasn’t sure whether he was asleep or dead at this point. He barely moved. Captain Sirtris sat on the ground with his head bowed in his hands, his pale hair rumpled. This warred with his innate sense of propriety, this destruction, circumventing the letter of the law.

“It’s the most sensible thing,” Farrier said for the fiftieth time, as if to convince himself.

That was exactly what Ellis would have said in his place. Or practical. Or pragmatic.

“The truth today would aid no one,” Llelas responded.

Farrier gazed at the fire. “Yeah.”

A half-hearted agreement, but that was all he would get. Llelas had lived too long on the edge of Grandfather’s world, on the edge of the Menhirre world, to be unaware of the dangers of revealing information to the public.

Telling one person at a time, like Ellis or Captain Sirtris or Thomas, was acceptable. But should hundreds and thousands of people learn of the aras, those people would quickly become a mob, and mobs had no sense at all.


Ellis had lain awake for hours, her mind twisting and turning over the events of the day. Not so much the hunt for Miralys Dantreon or learning to milk cows with Thomas or the return to Amiestrin to find Grandfather injured. Instead her mind kept replaying her discussion with Captain Dantreon in the library, and watching those brief flashes of confusion on his face when he realized he didn’t remember something.

It had scared him. She’d seen that on his face, a split-second when his mouth opened just a bit, his eyes focusing inward, his brows drawing together. And she’d wanted desperately to get away because she was the one causing that fear. She wasn’t the source, and the only reason he was pursuing it was because she was involved.

He’d wanted to protect her, but that was making it worse.

Maybe writing it out will help.

Ellis got out of bed, went to her desk, and drew out her tattered journal. She opened the cap on the ink and dipped in the nib as she tried to put words to the rambling thoughts in her mind.

July 22, 494

Captain Dantreon kept forgetting when we talked about Grandfather. If there’s some kind of prohibition about discussing aras with seers, that must be why. I feel almost as if he would have forgotten the entire past year if I’d pressed him on the subject. 

He’s always listened to me and supported me, so I hate keeping things from him, but this is for his own good. I’ve seen that with my own eyes.

He didn’t have this problem when he thought there was an imposter pretending to be Mikhal. He only seemed to react when Llelas and Grandfather were talking. There was a second when I could tell the captain had realized something before he collapsed, and I’m pretty sure that something was who Grandfather actually is—the Old Man of the Mountains. So that must be the forbidden information, the part that makes his mind react the way it did.

That was scary. I’ve seen the captain with his headaches before, but watching him collapse like that was terrifying.

Ellis sighed and sat back, watching the ink dry on the paper. If all seers had this much trouble with Grandfather, then this would happen to her father as well. And…

Ellis opened up her lower desk drawer and pulled out her locked box. There were only trinkets inside, no treasures: a pretty stone she’d found by the lake when she was six, the first coin that Geris had ever given her, a silver royal, a pendant she’d found by the side of the road. And the letter.

She unlocked the box with a key from the center drawer, picked out the letter, and unfolded it. Kerris’ childish scrawl filled the page, the first part of which spoke mainly of cats and dogs, then revealed to her that she had brothers. But there had been that bit that predicted things:

Tell Captain Dantreon he should name his first son Andrian. Tell Thomas the horse will be ready on time and tell Kellen his mother will be fine.

Those three things had all come true, more or less—proof of Kerris’ gift.

On either side of that, there had been cryptic notes that none of them had understood. Below had come a warning for her to take care and a note for Sandrine—presumably Llelas—to looks at some boots and a watch. In the light of the last few days, that warning for her made sense, although Ellis had no idea if Llelas’ warning had gained any significance. But above that sentence was an even stranger comment:

I’m not supposed to see the young lieutenant, but I do. Sometimes. Like a shadow, but I know he’s there.

I’m not supposed to see the young lieutenant. Ellis ran a fingertip over that line. Not supposed to see…

The young lieutenant must be a reference, somehow, to Grandfather. Kerris wasn’t supposed to see Grandfather, and knew it, yet he could. I know he’s there.

Ellis licked her lips. If Kerris could see Grandfather—or perhaps he meant another of Grandfather’s kind—that made him a stronger seer than Captain Dantreon. Or perhaps a different kind of seer. She didn’t know what it meant.

But she was going to ask Llelas whenever he returned. Or she could ask him now by writing in her journal, couldn’t she?

She heaved out a heavy sigh. She trusted Llelas, but there were some things she didn’t want him to know. Thinking of that, she plucked the throw off her bed, settled it over her head so that it cloaked her and part of the writing desk, and drew the inkwell inside its cover. Surely Llelas, if he was Watching her, wouldn’t peek inside that close shelter.

I shouldn’t have been in the officers’ quarters, she wrote. I know that, but Captain Sirtris told me to stay there for the captain’s sake. I didn’t have much choice. They could have called in Lieutenant Sidreiyan, but he still looked sick to his stomach, so it had to be me. I hope the captain has forgotten I was there, because I don’t want him to be angry with me.

I know now why I was forbidden. I knew before that Captain Dantreon was handsome, but I spent a couple of hours there, watching him sleeping.  He’s very handsome.

All the cadets are attractive in their own way, even Kellen, and I want to punch him because I don’t trust him. Mikhal is beautiful, the maids were right about that, but it’s not the same.

But there’s no point to mooning over him anyway, is there? I can’t waste my time like that, not if I want to keep up with the others, so I have to not think about it.

Ellis set down the pen, capped the inkwell, and blew gently on the paper to set the ink. Then she realized it didn’t matter. She tore the page from her journal and wadded it up. Then she tugged the throw off her head and went to throw the wad of paper on the fire. She watched it burn.

She laid back down and, as she reached to turn down the lamp at her bedside, spotted a smear of ink along the side of her thumb. She tried to rub it off with her other thumb, but only succeeded in getting ink on that hand as well, and under her fingernail.

Some things were harder to escape than others.


Go on to Chapter 34 (not available yet.)

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Update on Dreaming Death sequels…

Last week, I had someone over at Goodreads ask when the sequel for Dreaming Death would be coming out. As is probably evident by now, my publisher isn’t putting out the sequel. First week sales weren’t good enough to consider continuing the series, and therefore I’m no longer with them. Which leaves me with an incomplete…

via Update on the Dreaming Death sequels… — J. Kathleen Cheney

Things an Author Doesn’t Actually Control

J. Kathleen Cheney

It’s interesting (and sometimes infuriating) to see some of the things that fans blame on authors. Authors who are traditionally published often have little control over their published properties. That’s simply part of the way that the business runs.

But authors still take heat for some of these things. Recently an author had a book released, and for some reason, Amazon didn’t release the ebook on time.

And fans sent hate mail to the author.

Can you really call those fans?

So I’m going to put down here a list of Things that Traditionally Published Authors Generally Don’t Control.*


The Release Date

Yes, we don’t have much say over when our next book is coming out. Our publisher sets up a scheduled date and everyone races toward getting things done on time, but if we miss a crucial part in the publication process (say, for example, edits just take too…

View original post 1,195 more words

New Website

I have a new website! If you’re looking for information about my publications, please click here.

This site is now primarily used for my serial work. The King’s Daughter is open to all readers, and I usually post a bit of that each week. The Truth Undiscovered is for my Patreon patrons, and is thus password protected.

Thanks for dropping by!

Beth Cato: Researching the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 — J. Kathleen Cheney

Today my guest is Beth Cato, whose new book, Breath of Earth, is available today. I get to tell you about her new book, and she’ll also discuss one of my favorite topics–researching the historical events behind it! From the back cover: After the earth’s power under her city is suddenly left unprotected, a young…

via Beth Cato: Researching the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 — J. Kathleen Cheney

New Golden City Novella, plus a Sale on The Seer’s Choice — J. Kathleen Cheney

Available today, After the War, a novella of the Golden City, at Amazon. Read an excerpt here. Also, The Seer’s Choice is now on sale at most booksellers! Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, All Romance Books An excerpt: A raindrop struck her cheek, and Genoveva peered up at the sky. The clouds had thickened…

via New Golden City Novella, plus a Sale on The Seer’s Choice — J. Kathleen Cheney

Stay Crazy by Erica Satifka (Interview)

Today my guest is Erica Satifka, whose debut novel, Stay Crazy comes out in one week!(The publisher is having a preorder price break for it right now, so if you’re interested, the link is below.)

SCfrontcover150_largeBlurb: After a breakdown in college landed Emmeline Kalberg in a mental hospital, she’s struggling to get her life on track. She’s back in her hometown and everyone knows she’s crazy, but the twelve pills she takes every day keep her anxiety and paranoia in check. So when a voice that calls itself Escodex begins talking to Em from a box of frozen chicken nuggets, she’s sure that it’s real and not another hallucination. Well… pretty sure.

An evil entity is taking over the employees of Savertown USA, sucking out their energy so it can break into Escodex’s dimension. When her coworkers start dying, Em realizes that she may be the only one who can stop things from getting worse. Now she must convince her therapist she’s not having a relapse and keep her boss from firing her. All while getting her coworker Roger to help enact the plans Escodex conveys to her through the RFID chips in the Savertown USA products. It’s enough to make anyone Stay Crazy.


So now we get to talk with Erica about the book!

What is your new book about?
Stay Crazy is about an alien invasion at a big-box store in Western Pennsylvania. The only witness (well, at first) to the coming cataclysm is Emmeline Kalberg, a 19-year-old woman recently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia who goes to work at the store after taking a medical leave from college. When she hears a voice called Escodex through the RFID chips in frozen food containers, she has to figure out whether it’s real or a hallucination. As the book takes place in contemporary times, there’s also a lot of mundane-world stuff about coping with stigma and having a dysfunctional family.

As you can likely tell from the description, this isn’t an easy book to slot into genre categories. It’s not scientific enough to be science fiction, it’s a few shades too light for horror, but “weird fiction” seems to describe it the least well of all. My spouse says it’s urban fantasy, but if it’s that, it’s a really strange example.

How well do you relate to you main character in this book, Em?
In most ways, really well. We’re both working class, from Western Pennsylvania, and had the same job in a big-box store. We also both like riding our bikes and complaining about people. I also gave her my taste in music. But unlike Em, I don’t have schizophrenia, and that’s where the mountains of research came in. I’d like to think we’d be friends, at least in small-town PA, where the weird kids have to stick together.

Although I don’t have schizophrenia, I do have attention deficit disorder. And even though these two things are totally different, I feel like it gives me some perspective on what it’s like to be in a slightly different headspace from most people.

The title of the book is “Stay Crazy”….how did that title come about?
I literally changed the name of the book moments before submitting it! The novel was originally called Entity after the evil alien force in the book, but that was a really boring placeholder title that I always knew I’d replace. I wanted the title to have something to do with mental illness, but also not be a very serious or “heavy”-sounding title, because Em is no mere emo chick. I was waffling on the title, hand hovering over the keyboard when Stay Crazy popped into my head and I asked my spouse about it and they gave me the thumbs-up. It’s definitely not meant to be derogatory toward people with mental illness, but is instead used as a form of reappropriation.

What is one thing you would want to tell the readers of this novel before they start? (Or after they finish?)
I think readers need to set aside any pre-conceived notions or prejudices they have about people with schizophrenia: that they’re violent, that they’re hopeless, that they should be locked away. Em has a lot of problems, but not all of them are caused by her schizophrenia, and the disorder itself isn’t anything like it is in books or movies. (For one thing, it has absolutely nothing to do with multiple personalities.)

I’ll be honest: when I first started writing Stay Crazy (and by “writing” I mean “thinking about” since my stories always have a really long incubation time) I didn’t know the first thing about schizophrenia, only that it caused the lines between reality and fantasy to blur and would thus make an excellent plot device for this novel. But as I read through memoirs and blog posts by people with it, I began to realize just how damaging and untrue the stereotypes are. I felt I owed it to those people to make Em’s portrayal as accurate as it could be. I spent so much time researching the schizophrenia aspect of the book that I didn’t even bother to make the rest of it scientifically accurate! But that’s no great loss.

What advice would you give to other writers who are coming up on their first book debut?
Accept that you might not be writing anything new for a while. I haven’t written anything new in months, and a huge part of it is that I’m so keyed up for this release. How can I even think about the next book when I can worry about this one instead? I’ve never had problems working on multiple writing projects at a time, but for whatever reason, the process of publishing this book stopped me dead. I’m looking forward to getting back to… well, the next book, plus short stories again. I haven’t written a single short story this year!

But yeah, you only get one debut novel, so if you gotta be sidetracked for a few months over it then let yourself be sidetracked.



Erica L. Satifka is a writer and/or friendly artificial construct, forged in a heady mix of iced coffee and sarcasm. She enjoys rainy days, questioning reality, ignoring her to-do list, and adding to her collection of tattoos. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld , Shimmer, Lightspeed , and  Intergalactic Medicine Show , and her debut novel  Stay Crazy  will be released in August 2016 by Apex Publications. Originally from Pittsburgh, she now lives in Portland, Oregon with her spouse Rob and an indeterminate number of cats.

Follow Erica at: Website / Twitter / Facebook