Hello my darlings,
What is the crabbiest, most hostile day of the week? Monday. Who is the crabbiest, most hostile woman in the entire book series of The Age of Waking Death? Olympia Ondine Mahtrador.
That being said, Mondays are officially Olympia days.
Enjoy your snippet! Happy Monday.
Your most adored,
The Hollow Living (sample)
Copyright Sarah Carraway
Encarz felt his lips give way to a thin smile at this sight of his latest pride and joy.
He stood to greet his daughter. Olympia slid into his arms and allowed herself to be embraced. She had blossomed into the pinnacle of womanhood seemingly overnight. Encarz took a moment to study her, soaking in every detail from the serene set of her lips and the guarded expression in her eyes to the way her hair had been styled with the curls tamed and pinned elaborately on top of her head; the way it was worn by married women. He wondered at what point in his life had he looked away and missed her growing up.
“Daughter,” he said. “It’s good to see you looking well.”
“Very well, I assure you.” She smiled. “I brought the twins.”
“Let me see them,” Encarz turned towards his grandchildren, eager for his hands to be the first of a man’s they felt. Olympia walked over to one of the handmaidens and lifted a baby from her arms. The handmaiden backed away into obscurity and Olympia turned to her father, offering him the child.
“This one,” she said proudly. “Is Anthony.” She lowered the tightly swaddled bundle into Encarz’s arms, and as soon as contact was made he could have sworn his heart stopped.
He looked down at the bundle and noticed a shiny new pair of Mahtrador purple eyes gazing up at him from underneath an airy pile of fine black hair. Of course his grandson would have been born with a full head of hair.
“Anthony,” he tasted the name for the first time. He found that he liked it well enough.
“Encarz Anthony,” Olympia said.
“I like that a little better,” Encarz cradled the baby in the crook of his arm while stroking one of its soft, full cheeks. “He has the family eyes.”
“He looks like his father,” Olympia sighed.
“He looks his like his grandfather.” Encarz turned away from his daughter as if he were never going to give her child back and continued to coo over him. Olympia rolled her eyes and turned to the other handmaiden, lifting the second baby from her arms and waving her away. Anthony’s twin had come into the world screaming and hadn’t stopped since, until now. This was the first day Olympia had been able to look down on her second son without seeing his toothless mouth stretched as wide as possible in an ear-piercing screaming. As a result of his caprice, the nurses had neglected to wrap him up as tightly as his brother. The swaddling cloth had come loose and was hanging around his shoulders while his tiny fists waved wily-nilly in the air. His face was covered in self-afflicted livid red scratches that were the product of his sharp little nails.
“Crazy little thing,” Olympia muttered, pulling the cloth up over him and hoping to restrain him. He paused in his gurgling and stared at her, silently, as if daring her to touch him again. She wasn’t eager to hear him cry again, so she let it go.
“I’m glad you came to see me,” Encarz said at last, turning to face her again. “Nisroch was here and I am about to lose my mind.”
“You put him in charge of the army,” Olympia reminded him.
“You should know by now that my ability to make decisions has been severely hampered, as of late.”
“Is that age speaking, father?” she teased him.
“If so, we are all doomed.” He looked down at Anthony. “I’m not even that old, am I? No, I am not.”
“He’s old,” Olympia whispered into her second son’s ear. He responded by scratching her face, catching her chin as she pulled away.
“He suggested I go to Drakkian Province for more men,” Encarz continued, knowing she couldn’t really understand, but he needed someone to bounce his thoughts off of.
“Drakkian Province,” she said absentmindedly. “I thought they were no longer under our rule?”
“They are not,” Encarz sighed. “That is what makes things so godsdamned difficult.”
“Do you think they will help us?” she asked.
Encarz’s forehead wrinkled. “I don’t know. All I know is that I won’t be caught begging to Cyrano Ercole.”
“We all have to make sacrifices,” Olympia said sternly. “And no one said you had to beg.”
Encarz gave her a sharp look, but she lifted her chin stubbornly. It didn’t help that she was right.
Olympia adjusted her second son in her arms so she could reach out and touch her father’s hand. He used his free hand to grasp her fingers and squeezed them, hard.
“What is that one’s name?” he asked, nodding towards the second baby.
“Athos,” she said. Athos gurgled at the sight of his grandfather and reached out into the air, unclenching his fist and waving his open hand around wildly, cooing and hoping for some attention.
Encarz pulled away and looked back down at Anthony, unable to help comparing the two.
“We all make sacrifices,” Olympia said again. “My sacrifice gave way to my greatest gift. Now I have two beautiful children who are your assurance that you will win this war.”
Encarz thinned his lips. “I have faith in Azrael,”
“And that,” Olympia agreed, “is all one needs.”