This week has been a tad hectic, to say the least. First, my internet was down for a few days which kept me from getting on here and tallying votes until after I was supposed to have already written the next installment of the story. So the following was written somewhat last minute to the accompaniment of an overabundance of two of my writing staples—coffee and Dr. Pepper—so I pray you bear with me through any of the odd typos or sleep-typing that may have slipped through.
In case you missed last week’s post, every Friday I intent to post the next installment of a serial short-ish story on here. If you haven’t yet, be sure to read the previous installments:
Installment One: In which Alexander Mitus Scott Beauford III dismantles a cannon and has an unexpected brush with destiny.
Installment Two: In which Alexander Mitus Scott Beauford III has an unpleasant surprise, and Miss Destiny appears to posses the ability to walk through walls. The truly fun part of this story is that y’all get to help decide what happens. Curious how that will work?
Read Installment Three to find out …
“You’re Destiny.” Destiny smiled then, and a cold, shark-like smile it was. “Indeed. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. I am Destiny, and you are a Beauford.”
Alexander felt the cold fingers of fear crawling down his back like an army of spiders. “But … I thought that was just a legend. You haven’t been seen in over three generations of Beaufords.”
Destiny shrugged. “That’s the problem with a family curse. They’re often unpredictable, but always unavoidable.”
Well … This was a conundrum and no mistake. Alexander scuffed a stockinged foot against the floor as he considered his options. It wasn’t every day one came face to face with a supposed family curse. What was the traditional protocol? His military handbooks had been disappointingly vague on the subject of family affairs—especially in regards to curses.
The way he saw it, he could make one of four choices:
1) Run for his life and see how fast Miss Destiny could chase him in her long dress and heeled shoes …
2) Beg for his life. Perhaps Miss Destiny would show mercy and leave him in peace.
3) Fight for his life. Between the cannon in the center of the room—that Miss Destiny was still using as a seat—and the various handguns and rapiers mounted strategically on the wall, he had a fairly good supply of weapons, should the curse necessitate defense.
4) Or lastly, yield his life in servitude as a good little cursed descendent of a cursed family should.
Four options … But Alexander, being Alexander Scott Mitus Beauford III, heir of the Baron of Midsig, decided to follow none of them. Instead, he simply laughed, plopped down in Father’s leather desk chair and flipped open a massive tome to continue his research. Curses were a thing of the past. Relics from a time when magic reigned supreme and fantastic critters prowled the night. They belonged to the era of swords and shields and knights clad in not-so-shining armor, not this modern age with its guns and cannons and firearms and research.
Destiny cleared her throat.
Alexander answered without lifting his gaze from the book. “Do you need assistance finding the door? Because that can be arranged, though we are a tad short on servants at the moment.”
“Stalling gains you absolutely nothing, you know.”
“More’s the pity.”
Miss Destiny took a deep breath, and Alexander crooked an eye at her over the edge of his book. She looked like she was about to explode. “Time is wasting! And you, unfortunately, don’t have much of it! You know what they say, heroes always die young. Now shall we get on with it before I die of old age?”
What was that about heroes dying young?
Alexander tried to conceal his concern as he let the tome snap shut with a thump and rocked back in the chair with his stockinged feet on the edge of Father’s desk. Not that he was a hero … or anything approximating one. Not yet at least. Still Miss Destiny certainly took the cake for persistency. “You know … I do believe I’m rather rusty on the details of this whole, nasty curse business. I can’t for the life of me remember who or what or how it all began … Care to enlighten me?”
“There simply isn’t time.” Destiny pursed her lips. “Suffice it to say that Emperor Caldwell has need of your services, and you, as a cursed member of a cursed family, are cursed to respond.”
Alexander’s chair settled with a thud. “And do what, exactly?”
Destiny’s eyes glittered. “That would be telling, wouldn’t it?”
“Fine.” Alexander pushed out of his chair, swiped his hands on his trousers again, took a deep breath, and pulled his cloak from the hook by the door and his dueling pistols and rapier from the umbrella stand. “Fine. Let’s get it over with.”
Help determine the course of the story by voting for your favorite next scene starter below! (Leave a comment with your vote.) And don’t forget to share the story with a friend!
Option 1) Confound the woman! Of all the exasperating, irritating, high-falooting people he had ever met, she had to be the worst. With mud plastered hands, Alexander tugged the hood of his cloak down over his sodden hair and squelched through the noxious pools of the swamp where Miss Destiny had deposited him.
“Oh, no, Alexander. I’m sorry!” He muttered in an exaggerated attempt at a falsetto. “That would be telling, wouldn’t it? No, it wouldn’t! Because apparently it’s absolutely impossible for you to tell anyone anything! Like maybe that an umbrella would have been more helpful than dueling pistols!”
Option 2) “Now, before we get started, there really are a few things we should cover,” Destiny said over her shoulder.
Alexander trudged along the road, feet already sore in his stiff leather boots, throat already dry with dust, and already hating the sight of the stiff figure in the gray dress marching briskly ahead of him. “Like what?”
“Rules of the road.” Without slacking stride, she counted them off on her fingers. “No dilly dallying. No complaining. No short cuts. And no asking if we’re there yet. Trust me, you’ll know when we’ve arrived.”
Option 3) “Don’t forget. Heroes die young.” Destiny’s final, chilling admonition sent a shiver crawling up Alexander’s spine. He cleared his throat, straightened his black and white servant’s livery, then stepped through the massive double doors that enclosed the Emperor’s great hall. He couldn’t help rolling his eyes at the irony of it all. Only a short while ago, he had been complaining over the fact that he had to play servant in his own home. Now he played servant for an Emperor. A game that might very well get him killed.