Notte’s Many Names

A snippet from SOLOMON’S CHOICE, which will be out later this year, posted for a Certain Wonderful Reader who has always loved this character.

Enjoy.


Dain repeats himself, quieter, somehow far worse: “Are you satisfied with the outcome of this exchange?”

If I ask for clarification, would that put me in danger?

If I say no, I am suddenly sure he will take me – and I don’t want to go with him. Why? How is he worse than my monster, Terrance?

He is, though.

If I say yes, that means he leaves me here with the monsters who drink blood.

If I say –

Tom traded you of his own free will, my traitor mind whispers, and I grip both sides of my head for a moment, unable to avoid it.

My heart sounds so loud in my ears.

They’re waiting. “I’m satisfied,” I say, choosing them for the second time, though I don’t know why.

Dain lowers his voice again. “I am not.” He turns to the Presence. “Notte, I hereby charge you with theft of the Throne’s belongings.”

“That will be difficult to enforce,” says Presence (not-teh?) gently.

And Dain does something I would never do in a million, billion years: he sneers at the god of blood. His rings – they’re vibrating, how do I know that? – all catch the light as he turns full to face the Presence. “I own this land. I own everything here. I am heir to the Many-Tongued Throne. I am the one who says whether you stay or get kicked out or even if you live to tell the tale, and I say you have finally gone too far.”

His self throbs.

An afterimage of some kind, his shape, seems to leap out from him like a flash of bronze light, expanding in a blink to fill the room and disappear, as if I could suddenly see sound.

The fire dims.

I make a small, choked sound.

And then, He speaks.

“If we must pull pedigrees, then I fear you will lose,” the blood god says kindly, and he’s already growing, no, he isn’t growing, his shadow is, or his presence is, or maybe he’s just taking off his own leash, because suddenly I can’t even breathe without taking him in.

“I am He Who Walks Unhindered,” he says, and it wasn’t my imagination, the room is rumbling. “I am Naktam, Night, the Dark One, the Night-King and Nox Aeterna. I am the King of Blood and Lord of the Night Whispers. I am The Mortal’s Doom, and before your mother shed her first infant tears onto the soil of the old world, I was.” His voice echoes in the void he just created, in the darkness that throbs and caresses him and swallows the firelight, in the utter steadiness of his eyes as he pins the Fey with will alone.

I can’t breathe, can’t stop shaking, can’t take my eyes from this living-walking-terrifying nuclear explosion in man-form.

“I, too, beheld the purple light of the Night Sky as it tore asunder and crashed to the soil, a crude knife thick like fists and sharp as guilt. I, too, was changed, and walked the streets of Az’Kabek, witnessing the First Death, and I was there when your mother spun the final song to make the Silver Dawning. She sung that song because of me – with my succor and by my choice. Do not, Leonard Jasper Silas Dain, mistake my patience for weakness. You are in my home, on land that I am owed beyond even the death of your Throne, and you will treat my guests well – or you will find you are no longer counted among them.”

And it all retreats.

The darkness shrinks in.

The tendrils evaporate.

The presence lightens, leaving ordinary air again, breathable, easily manipulated by human lungs.

My gasping is very loud.

Dain the Fey Prince of the Night Sky stands absolutely unmoved by this display except for one thing: his color has gone from bronze to beige.

My monster lets out a low whistle, ruining the moment.

“Now, then,” says the Lord of Night Whispers. “Could I persuade you to take tea?”

“No,” says Dain, a little too quickly, a little too hoarsely, and clears his throat. “No. I’ll go.”

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