Neither rain nor high tide struck in force to oppose the posting of this next installment… but the internet did go out. If you’re reading this, then it came back on at some point. Hooray! My apologies if it didn’t come on until late in the day. First let me say that I absolutely loved all of the responses y’all dreamed up for Alexander, and I want to thank everyone who submitted an option! Unfortunately, I can’t use all of them, for obvious reasons. So the votes have come in and been tallied, and we do have a winner. From Krissy Aleman!
Die in his place. Weren’t there plenty of other Beaufords who could do the job: third cousins twice removed, and such? And besides, it wasn’t a guarantee that he would have to die. “Oh, this just keeps getting better and better,” he muttered.
Read on to see how the response she wrote plays into the story. It’s good, folks. Quite good. And if you’ve just stumbled across this blog and haven’t the faintest clue what I’m talking about, or if you simply need to catch up on past installments, you can do so here: When Destiny Comes Calling.
Die in his place.
Weren’t there plenty of other Beaufords who could do the job: third cousins twice removed, and such? And besides, it wasn’t a guarantee that he would have to die.
“Oh, this just keeps getting better and better,” he muttered.
Miss Destiny arched a skeptical eyebrow at him—that woman could communicate textbooks with her eyebrows alone. “I am relieved you think so. I rather expected a different response.”
No need to ask what she had expected. Her pursed lips and up-tilted nose made it quite clear. Alexander fairly cringed at the disgust in her tone. For someone who routinely dished out ogre-sized doses of sarcasm, she seemed woefully oblivious when on the receiving end. Still, he wasn’t one to argue when the mistake was in his favor. Though the fact that it was a mistake set him to shuffling his feet. Her words struck a nerve, and he ducked his head to hide his burning cheeks. What hope had he of succeeding in a military career when everyone assumed that he would respond to expected danger with complaints, excuses, and cowardice?
No, Alexander Mitus Scott Beauford III was a man of honor and dignity, of an ancient and proud (albeit once treasonous) lineage. He was not a trembling wretch who must be coerced into action. If heroism was his destiny, and death his fate, then by Gilbert St. Vincent (of the legendary Mounted Chevaliers), he would face it with head held high, shoulders back, and a trusty pistol in both hands.
“Dearie me.” Fate clucked her tongue at Alexander as she rocked the baby emperor. “What is that expression on your face? One would think you had just eaten sour apples.”
His shoulders slumped. “I’m looking heroic.”
Miss Destiny sniffed and tossed her dark head. “Yes, you do that. A little practice won’t go amiss. Meanwhile, it’s time we were on the road. Our enemies cannot be far behind.”
“What road?” Alexander swung his pistols to encompass the swamp. “We’re in the middle of nowhere.”
“It may not be the King’s Highway, but there is a road, and we’ll strike it soon. I merely led us on a little shortcut.”
“Oh well, in that ca—” Alexander broke off as Miss Destiny took a step closer, her eyes flashing dangerously.
“And no, this is not the middle of nowhere. Trust me. I’ve been there. It’s much worse.” She spun with the precision of a military turn and glided away, heeled shoes barely sinking into the muck.
Alexander grunted. “Is she always like that?”
To his surprise, Fate answered. “No, she’s usually much harder. It’s most troubling.” Hugging the bundled baby Emperor Caldwell VI to her chest, she started after Destiny, calling back over her shoulder, “I think she likes you.”
The words froze Alexander in place. He fumbled for a reply, while his brain screamed panicked words that thankfully didn’t make it to his lips. Every instinct told him to run away. But he just stood there. Helpless as the dead ogre. It was merely a jest, he reassured himself. An ill-favored jest. Fate didn’t—couldn’t—honestly intend for him to take is seriously.
“Do try to keep up!” Destiny’s voice broke through the haze of his thoughts and propelled him into a stumbling walk. “We are on rather a tight schedule, and we do have someone highly important to meet.”
Meet. Someone. Right. Alexander bolted after Destiny and Fate, crashing through the swamp underbrush and sinking up to his knees in mud as he tried to catch up. “So, this someone … are they a friend or a foe?”
“That depends.” Destiny sounded completely unconcerned—a fact which by now only made Alexander more nervous.
Where is Destiny leading them? And who are they going to meet? Vote for your preferred choice of setting and new character.
Setting Option 1: An abandoned mine shaft
Setting Option 2: A wharfside tavern
Setting Option 3: An overgrown hut on the far side of the swamp
Character Option 1: A third sister, as of yet unnamed. One who is neither very fond of—nor very beloved by—Destiny and Fate. (Taken from a brilliant suggestion from Allison Ruvidich!)
Character Option 2: A cannibalistic giant king, who lost his family and his eye to Emperor Caldwell V in battle. Character Option 3: A down on his luck con-wizard who is prone to making dismal predictions. He can scarce speak a word with predicting the end of the world or some other disaster. His name—wait for it—Doomsday.
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Remember, we have moved to a bi-weekly schedule with When Destiny Comes Calling so I can keep up with my other deadlines and get published copies of my books into y’all’s hands soon. But be sure to stop by this next Friday because I have something very fun planned while y’all are waiting on the next installment! Y’all are going to love it.