Monday, November 21, 2011

because it is Nanowrimo

An excerpt from Maenads at Band Camp, which, if I finish it and have the nerve to attempt the YA Paranormal market, will probably go out with one of those portentous one-word titles instead. I'm favouring Muse.

This is about midway, from the pov of the Sensible Girl, Cassia:

I slid down the grassy overhang, and landed with a sandy thump on the narrow beach. Good thing they'd picked the sand beach, instead of the pebbled boat lauch. And there they were, all seven of the Parthenoi, some standing with arms crossed, some cross-legged or kneeling on the sand. I couldn't tell which was which in the moonlight, with all their hair turned black and silver.
"Okay," I said. "I came. And I didn't tell anyone I was coming. But I'm telling you now, I'm going to use my own judgement about what I tell Kay. I'm not keeping secrets from her."
"That is well." Oleia's voice. "She may believe what she hears from you."
"You're going to tell me something that's hard to believe, right?" I wasn't too sure what was still hard to believe, if the last few days were believable. They happened, I told myself. That means you believe them. Otherwise you can't trust anything.
"Hard for some. Your friend will not wish to believe."
I'd read about 'her heart sank'. Now I knew what it felt like. More in my stomach than heart, but I guess that doesn't sound as dramatic. "This is about Adrian."
"What have you guessed?"
"Uh-uh." I shook my head. "No. I know how a cold reading works. You have to tell me what's going on, you don't get to let me fill it in while you pretend you knew all along. That's what con artists and fake mediums do, and I'm not going to fall for it."
A sigh rippled across them, starting with Oleia and ending with the two who were kneeling.
Oleia seemed to hesitate, which was not what I was used to from her. "You have seen what happens when we sing. When Adrian plays."
"No kidding. And I've seen that Dubois and Sawchuk don't see what happens. Cute trick."
"Do you know what Parthenoi means?"
Jazz had told me, after he'd googled it in town. "Virgins. So?"
"It is a name of--courtesy for the dancers of Dionysus. The Maenads."
I bit my tongue and managed not to say 'the what?' Maenads was the spelling my brain came up with after a second. The first thing I remembered was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, with Bacchus and the wild girls making vines spring up in freed Narnia. But C. S. Lewis hadn't written the real maenads and bacchanalia, not in a kid's book, not by a long way. Hadn't Lucy said she'd have been afraid of them if Aslan hadn't been there? What about the real (mythical) maenads? Come on, brain, you read a book of Greek myths when you were thirteen...
Dionysus, the god of wine and madness. The bacchanalia, a mad dance and orgy, which sounded like fun (a ceilidh?) until you read about mad women chasing animals and tearing them apart with their bare hands. Mad women who demanded that Orpheus play his lyre for them. But Orpheus was mourning for what's-her-name and refused. So the Maenads tore him apart, and his head floated down the river, singing...
I shivered, and it wasn't just the cold wind off the water. "The Maenads who murdered Orpheus."
One of the sitting girls spoke. "Not murdered. The son of a god is not so easily dealt with."
There were seven of them, and one of me. I knew the ground better, and my night sight was pretty good, but--better to stand and face them. "You got me to break bounds so you could test my trivia knowledge of Myths and Legends of the Ancient World?"
"Not ancient," said Oreia, without a smile or sneer. "Now. We are the Maenads, we pursue Orpheus down the millennia, but the story is not as you have learnt it."
I crossed my arms, partly for warmth and partly to look bigger and more businesslike. "No kidding. What's your version?"
The sitting girl spoke again. "She is not ready to hear. Let us go." They swivelled their heads all together as if they had practiced for hours, and the seated ones flowed smoothly to standing, so they were all poised to leap up the bank and run into the night.
"Wait," I said. "Is this about Kayley? Is she in some kind of danger?"
They turned their faces toward me, all together, and the moon lit their eyes to white. "She s always in danger. In every life."
"Wait, every life? You mean, reincarnation?" I tried to remember. Did the ancient Greeks even believe in reincarnation? Didn't all their dead end up as ghosts in Hades, the most boring afterlife ever? "No, forget that. Is Kayley in danger now? Here and now, at Forbidden Lake, this summer? No double-talk, just tell me yes or no."
The moonlight cut Oleia's face into cold stone, a statue that didn't understand pity or fear. "Yes. She is in danger."
That book of myths had taught me one thing:  gods and other immortals were double-talking, double-dealing bastards, worse than lawyers about hidden clauses, fine print, and reading between the lines. "Be specific."
"If she continues on her present path, she will be dead before the week is out."

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