Linda P. Baker
The Irda: Children Of The Stars
The Keeper of the history of the Ogre stood alone and unassisted on the platform, though she was as ancient as the stone walls of the castle. She had buried the bones of all her friends, of her children, and still she lived, because of the Gift, which she alone possessed.
She opened her mouth, and it came, the Gift of the gods. A voice as pure and clear, as bright and beautiful, as stars shining in the darkness of a night sky. The ribbon of sound pierced the air. The words wove the History of the World, of the Ogre, firstborn of the gods.
A Good and Perfect Gift
“My dear, you know tbat magic, beyond tbat necessary for daily needs, is forbidden to all but the Ruling Families.”
Lord Teragrym Semi, eldest of the five Ruling Council members of the Ogres, considered by many in the royal court to be the most powerful, plucked a piece of fruit from the bowl sitting at his elbow.
“Yes, Lord, I know. But… there have been exceptions.”
Eyes cast down, the young Ogre who kneeled before him allowed her voice to trail off. Her eyes, so strange and black, stole upward, then back down too quickly to give offense.
Teragrym pretended to examine the fruit, searching the fuzzy red skin for blemishes, then tossed it back into the bowl with a sneer. He did not deem it vital to mention that the punishment for disobedience of the law was death. He assumed she was willing to risk death.
Magic danced in the air about her, well concealed but barely controlled. Powerful enough so that he could sense it without casting a “seeing” spell. Just that feeling, coming from one not of a Ruling Family, was enough to condemn her.
Her fingers twitched, and he imagined he could see the spell she was longing to cast dancing between them. It would probably be something spectacular, designed to impress. No doubt she knew more than just spells of fire and water, of mischief and play.
For a race renowned for its beauty, she was striking and exotic, dark where most of the Ogres were silvery. Pale of flesh where the norm was emerald and indigo and raven black. Her black eyes were almost elven, and there was a warmth to the gem-green paleness of her skin that reminded him of the pale-pink flesh of humans. It was an almost repellent mixture and strangely compelling.
With her billowing robes spread about her in a perfect fan, she made a fetching picture. A perfect, ripe flower, offering herself. “You are very beautiful. Young. Healthy. Well placed at court. You could make a brilliant match. Be secure. Why do you risk telling me this?”
“I can make a match for myself, yes,” she whispered. “Or my uncle will make one for me, and himself. Perhaps it would even be a brilliant one, with a well-suited family. But I do not wish to be some family’s adornment.”
Teragrym snorted, almost laughing in her face. This particular Ogre did not strike him as being malleable enough to be anyone’s adornment.
“I would never be allowed to learn magic as I wish to.” She glanced up, smiled with beguiling sweetness. “Please, Lord, families have been known to take in someone who showed promise, who could be of use… who would vow undying devotion in exchange for… considerations.”