M.J. Scott visits Fantastic Fables with fabulous tale featuring Rumplestiltskin. Iron Kin is the third novel in Scott’s urban fantasy Half-Light City series and was just released on April 2, 2013 from ROC/Penguin books. Shadow Kin and Blood Kin are the first two novels in this series.
Another huge thanks to Penguin books for today’s giveaway, one lucky reader will win a copy of Iron Kin!
Rumpelstiltskin and the wrong girl
In which we learn that one shouldn’t mess with metalmages…or DuCaines.
Being dropped onto the floor woke up. At least, I thought I was awake. When I opened my eyes, everything was mostly dark and my head spun.
I sucked in a breath, felt the press of rough fabric across my mouth, and realised there was something tied over my head.
Sainted earth. What the hell was going on here?
“Wake up.” Something pointy prodded me. “Wake up.” The voice was as pointed as whatever had jabbed me. Slightly tinny and crotchety sounding.
To play dead or do as asked? Hopefully doing what was asked would mean I’d get free of whatever was blocking my sight. I rolled over carefully and registered that my hands were tied. With something not metal. Damn it.
“I’m awake,” I said cautiously.
“Good.” Something whipped whatever was covering my eyes and face away, leaving me squinting in the sudden brightness, salt tears of protest stinging my eyes.
I brought my hands up to rub the tears away and gradually my vision focused.
Brought my captor into focus too.
I blinked again, wondering if I was seeing things. He was barely four feet talll, skinny and bony with skin, hair and eyes a completely not-human shade of bronzey-golden-green.
“Like what you see?” he asked, tipping his head at me and scowling.
I managed to squirm into a sitting position. Which meant my head was about level with his waist. I tilted my head back. The–thing I was going with for now–scowled harder as I studied him, one foot tapping impatiently.
Waiting for an answer.
“I don’t tend to like people who kidnap me,” I replied. “Nor does my family.”
“Oooh,” he said mockingly, “Saskia DuCaine. Big scary brothers. Should I be worried?” He dangled a key in front of my eyes. A key that buzzed with wards and magic that felt like nothing I was familiar with. “No brothers going to find you here.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Where’s here?” I doubted he was going to tell me but it was worth a shot.
“Somewhere else,” he said.
Hardly useful. “You obviously want something,” I said, wriggling a little on the hard wooden floor, trying to find a comfortable position. “What is it?”
He looked slightly impressed. As though he’d expected me to start weeping or something. “Have problem. You can fix.”
“Why would I do that?”
The scowl returned, a spark of brighter gold flaring in the strange eyes. “No fix, no go home.” A dagger appeared in his hand out of nowhere, a nasty looking thing with a jagged black blade. He flipped it, caught it and pointed it at me.
My stomach flipped slightly. Okay, so he was serious. Which meant I needed to string him along while I figured out how to get myself out of wherever the hell this was.
“I see. So what is it you want me to do?”
He stepped backward, revealing a big pile of straw and an odd looking thing that I thought was a spinning wheel. My mother was big on ladylike occupations like embroidery and sewing but she’d never made me learn to knit or spin.
“You metalmage. You spin straw into gold.”
My mouth dropped open. “Excuse me?”
The dagger twirled. “Straw. Gold. Simple.”
“I think you misunderstand what metalmages do?”
The dagger stopped then vanished. “No. You can make metal.”
“Not out of straw,” I protested.
He snarled, stepped forward and slapped me hard enough to make me see stars. When I could see again, the dagger had reappeared. It traced a line across my cheek where it throbbed like fire. I felt dampness. The bastard had cut me. My mouth dried. He was serious. Deadly serious. He would kill me. Probably without blinking. Which meant it was now him or me. I stared up into those cold golden eyes and thought fast, ignoring the pain in my face. “I need some other metal to make anything. Why don’t you explain what you need?”
His expression eased a little. The dagger stayed though in place. “Need thread of gold.”
I lifted an eyebrow at him. He shrugged. “Girl stuck in tower, told people she can spin straw into gold so they’ll let her out. I can help her.”
“What’s in it for you?”
He scowled again. “Never you mind.”
I resisted the urge to scowl back. So, he’d kidnapped me and he had some other poor girl on the hook somewhere else. Nasty creature, whoever-or whatever he was. “Listen, I can make gold thread–or something that looks like gold thread but I need metal to do it with. I’m a metalmage, not Fae. I can’t just change anything in metal. Get me something metal.”
He cocked his head. “Don’t try to fool me, girl.”
“I assure you, Mr–” I paused.
He stayed silent. I did too.
“You can call me Rumple,” he said eventually. I didn’t know if it was his name or not–possibly not when magic can do strange things with names–or a commentary on his clothing which definitely had no passing acquaintance with a flatiron but it would do.
“Mr. Rumple. I need metal to make more metal. I’ll help you, you send me home, we’re both happy but I need the metal.”
“Fine.” He stomped a foot and pulled out the key again. He did something odd and the room shimmered around me. When the odd sensation died down he was gone. I clambered to my feet. There was nothing in the room that would cut through the bonds on my wrists. It was a bare round room, no windows, no door. Just me, the straw and the spinning wheel and a stool. My cheek throbbed as I tried to think. I lifted my hands and touched it gingerly. I couldn’t feel fresh wetness, so it had stopped bleeding at least.
The air shimmered again and Rumple reappeared, a bulging sack slung over his shoulder. He upended it and a pile of various metal objects cascaded out onto the floor with a jangling clatter.
He jerked his head at the pile. “Spin.”
“I don’t know how to spin. Show me.”
He muttered and stomped but eventually moved to the wheel and gave me a curt demonstration. I studied the mechanism. It might work. If nothing else, it would wind the thread of metal out nicely.
Rumple cut the silk binding my wrists with his dagger and, after a faltering start, I got a thread started and set to work, teasing the cups and plates and candlesticks he’d brought me out into thin strands of metal, manipulating the alloys so it shone like gold. The wheel made a soothing humming noise that might have been pleasant if I wasn’t locked up with a tiny crazy thing who would probably gut me as soon as look at me.
Beside me, Rumple watched, his expression an unpleasant blend of avaricious delight and cunning.
I waited until the first bobbin of thread was full and then as he reached for it greedily, I brought up the half-stretched candlestick in my hand-the one I’d deliberately left with a wicked point-and stabbed him in the leg.
He howled and tried to dodge away but I was bigger and stronger. I grabbed his wrist. “Tell me how to get home.”
I twisted the candlestick. He howled harder. “Tell me!”
“The key,” he said panting. “The key will take you home. After you make the gold.”
“Sorry, Mr. Rumple,” I said. “But you picked the wrong girl to kidnap.” I pulled the candlestick out of his leg and bashed him across the head. He crumpled to the ground. I considered him for a moment, unconscious.
Kill him or leave him? I looked around the room again. No way out without the key. So if I took the key, I should be safe enough. But my brothers had taught me well. And I had no way of knowing if he’d come for me again. My cheek throbbed suddenly, reminded me exactly what kind of creature he was.
I looked back at the pile of straw and the remaining metal objects piled on it.
“Bad choice, Rumple,” I muttered again and sent a blast of power to heat the metal to glowing. The straw caught alight beneath it with a fierce crackle. “Don’t mess with a DuCaine.” I reached down to tug the key from his belt. The room started to dissolve around me, leaving me a moment to wonder about the girl in the tower. But then I decided that, if she was real, then without Rumple around, if she was smart, she could probably rescue herself.
Which is always best…
M.J Scott is an unrepentant bookworm. Luckily she grew up in a family that fed her a properly varied diet of books and these days is surrounded by people who are understanding of her story addiction. When not wrestling one of her own stories to the ground, she can generally be found reading someone else’s. Her other distractions include yarn, cat butlering, dark chocolate and fabric. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Want to read more from M.J. Scott?
This giveaway is provided by Penguin Books!
One lucky reader will win a copy of Iron Kin
Available April 2, 2013 from ROC/Penguin Books
About this Book:
Imagine a city divided. Fae and human mages on one side, vampire Blood Lords and shape-shifting Beast Kind on the other. Between these supernatural forces stands a peace treaty that threatens to shatter at the slightest provocation….
I was raised to do the right thing. But to my family that means staying safe behind the walls of human society. To be a respectable metalmage and never put myself at risk. But the treaty is faltering. And if it fails, nothing is safe. To help save the city and everyone I care about, I will use whatever means I can to ensure the negotiations to renew the treaty are successful—even if that means forging an alliance with a man who is the very opposite of the right thing….
Fen is trouble. Wild. He would rather bind himself in iron and drink himself into oblivion than learn to master the visions that come to him. Those visions might just hold the key to peace, and it seems that my power might hold the key to his control—if I can keep it around him…
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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