“Seed”, Ch. 2

“Herald! Long time no see. How the hell you been?”

The little man gawked, then turned back to Rylie.  “It speaks to me without permission,” he spat. “I assume this is willfullness – or are humans really that stupid?”

“Listen, you twig.” Rylie hauled him up by the cloak, and Herald shrunk even more.  “I will.  Not.  Hear you tear down my husband in my own home.  Now tell me why you’re here, or I’ll send you back myself.”

Rylie released him, and he wilted to his knees. “Forgive me, my lady. Your father, Lord Ivy-Green, has requested your presence.”

“It’s late here. Whatever he wants can surely wait.” Rylie stepped past Herald, unlocked the door –

And opened it into an emerald wild.  Tall trees soaring out of sight, a billion motes of pollen hanging on the fragrant air.  Tabarded footmen stood ready, floral staves topped with thorny axeheads.

Home.  But not the home she’d expected.

“Apologies, m’lady.  Our lord will not take “no” for an answer.”

Rylie looked back at Dennis, who wrinkled his nose at the gemmy light.  On his first and only visit to the other side, his allergies had flared so bad she thought he would suffocate.  He stayed away, and this no doubt pleased her father.

“What the hell,” he groaned.  “You’re holding our house hostage now?”

Rylie frowned apologetically. “My father’s too powerful.  I’ll have to just get it over with.”

“Just go, hon.” He pecked her with a quick kiss.  “Go and get our house back.”

“Okay, hon.  I’ll be fast.” she smirked at the little man who waited, arms folded. “Maybe Herald here will keep you company.”

Herald jutted his chin toward the stars.  “I will do no such thing.  Though perhaps I will choose to stay and protect this lesser creature.”

“Cool.” Dennis yawned massively.  “You can sing me a lullaby.”



Rylie shut the door and left the mundane behind.  She nodded to the footmen, and they led her down the florid path.  Tall, dark-berried blooms fenced the path, their petals gold and scarlet.  The path widened, bordered and roofed by laced birch and climbing blossoms.

The footman halted and ushered her on as the path emptied to a large clearing.  Moths in colors vibrant and mute flitted the air.  Rylie approach a gigantic tree in the center of the clearing, ghost-white bark alive with a rainbow of cannas and thriving flowered vines.  In the shelter of the roots of a massive tree sat her father on an ebon throne, ringed on all sides by his blue-white hunting hounds.  They wagged timidly, ears back, as she approached.

“My dear Rylie,” He reached for a bottle and poured two flutes of a rich berry-wine.  “You look a few shades pale.  What do they feed you on the other side?”

Rylie rolled her eyes. “I’ve told you, father.  We can eat their food – it’s just not enough.  I take supplements.” She bent down and gave a gentle hound a pat.

He shook his head, locks shaking like wind in the treetops.  “I will never understand your desire to live among inferiors.”

“You don’t have to, as it’s not your decision.  And you must know by now, Dennis is not my inferior.”

“So you say.”

Rylie sipped the wine, and felt its energy billow through her.  She’d missed that feeling.  “Why have you brought me here? It wasn’t to have this conversation again.”

The Green Lord narrowed his eyes, emerald glamor humming beneath his lids.  “There’s trouble in the mortal realm, child.”

Rylie laughed boomed in the quiet place.  The white hounds pricked their ears.  “There always is! You have no idea.”

“Not this sort of trouble.  These short-lived fools are fighting over magic again, and on a global scale.  We have record of this happening once before, and it did not end well for our kind living among them.”

Rylie blinked, then blinked again.  “So, you brought me here because Dennis might be in danger, and because I might be in danger because of him?”

“That’s right.”

“And you’re aware that, by bringing me here, you’ve locked my husband out of his own house late at night and thus put him in quite a bit of unnecessary danger?”

Her father froze, his lips nearly to the glass of wine. “In that case, I suggest we cut this meeting short.”  He gracefully rose, tall as a cypress, and gave his daughter a quick hug.

At the edge of the clearing, Rylie turned back.  “It’s not because he’s black, right?”

The Lord laughed.  “Of course not.  I’ll waste no energy in judging the appearance of my inferiors.”

“There’s that word again.  See you in a few years, Father -”

“It’s the lines in his hair, if you must know.”

“…His steps?”

“Yes.” he grimaced in disgust. “They smack of… agriculture.”

Rylie supressed a laugh and turned away. “Then you should be glad he doesn’t have cornrows.”

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