Now that BOOK TWO in the Songkeeper Chronicles has been turned in to my editor, and Out of Darkness Rising is coming out in less than a week, I decided to take a wee bit of a break from my serious writing projects and turn my attention to the fun stuff for a little while. Like When Destiny Comes Calling! As always, check out the previous installment here, find out more about the serial short(ish) story here, and be sure you read to the end to vote on what happens in the next installment.
Doomsday bustled over to the table with a tray full of tea things. He set it down with a thump in front of Destiny and the mismatched cups all rattled in their saucers. “Do help yourselves. The cream’s gone sour and the ants have been in the sugar. But what can expect when the world is ending?”
Destiny poured a cup and took a dainty sip. “It isn’t the world that’s in danger of ending, only our fine Empire, now that poor Emperor Caldwell V is dead and his son, as you well know, passed on earlier this year, leaving only the grandson to take the Imperial Seat.”
“A babe to take the Imperial Seat?” Doomsday looked as though he was about to launch into another fit of woe is me cries, but Destiny cut him off.
“Only as Fate would have it, little Emperor Caldwell VI has been kidnapped!”
A cunning gleam appeared in the wizard’s eye. “I see, and you have come to petition my inestimable help in finding and recovering the poor babe.”
“Not quite.” Destiny smiled, and it was the sort of smile a spider might give a fly. “That is well in hand. Your unique talents are required for something rather more … dangerous.”
The way she rolled the word over her tongue, almost as though she savored the taste of it, sent a little shiver down Alexander’s spine. Doomsday clutched the back of a chair and lugged his bulk around and into the seat. His head rolled back and he looked as though he were about to pass out.
“No.” He gasped. “Not that!”
Destiny took another sip, set her cup down, and folded her hands with deliberate grace. “I’m afraid so. The time has come for you to fulfill your oath and for dear Alexander here to fulfill his family’s curse. Between the two of you, we shall ensure that Emperor Caldwell VI survives to take his grandfather’s seat.”
“I see.” Doomsday ran a shaking hand through his thick black bush of a beard and tugged it away from his face, revealing a narrow, clean-shaven jaw and a mouth set in the most doleful expression a man could imagine. Of course the beard would be a fake. Was there anything about the man that was as it appeared? “Doom is indeed upon us.” Doomsday gazed pensively into the fire and said no more, while Destiny went back to sipping her tea with an expression of the utmost serenity painted across her face.
“Oh hang it all!” Alexander shot to his feet. The handle of his right dueling pistol caught on his chair and tipped it over with a clatter that nearly made him jump. “He might see. You might see. But I certainly don’t. Now, you’ve said I might die, ma’am, to fulfill the family curse, and I expect that provides me with some right to know just what is going on and how I’m supposed to ensure Emperor Caldwell VI’s path to the throne!”
“Come now, Destiny.” Fate’s voice drifted through the open trapdoor. “Just tell him and be done with it. It’s time we were moving on!”
Destiny rolled her eyes and poured a second cup of tea which she offered to Alexander. He snatched it from her hand and slammed it back down on the table, splashing tea across the red-checkered cloth and earning a heart-broken cry from Doomsday.
“Not Mumsie’s beautiful linens!”
The con-wizard hastened to mop up the mess, grumbling beneath his breath, and casting baleful glances at Alexander over his shoulder. But Alexander had eyes only for Destiny. Her eyebrows had arched up almost into her hairline, and the disapproval in her gaze was enough to make Alexander wish (for the five hundredth time) that he was back at home in his father’s study where his greatest concerns had been figuring out the inner workings of his cannon, solving problems like trajectory and range in a strong wind, cleaning gunpowder residue from his mother’s drapes—an accident—and dealing with the constant turnover in servants—definitely not his fault!
“There is no need to make a scene, Alexander Mitus Scott Beauford III.” The way she said it sounded so much like his mother, it made the hair stand up on Alexander’s neck. “I shall tell you what you need to know.”
“I’m afraid that shan’t do.” Alexander adjusted his pistols and his sword, dusted off his clothing in a vain attempt to make himself look presentable, and marched toward the trapdoor. “I think I’ve been more than reasonable given this most irregular situation. Unless you agree to answer my questions as I ask them, this ridiculous adventure we’ve embarked upon will be over.”
He had reached the trapdoor where he could make out Fate peering down at him from above, the baby emperor clutched tight in her arms, and was just trying to figure out how to climb up and out of the con-wizard’s secret lair without a ladder, when Destiny’s voice stopped him from making a complete fool of himself.
“One question and then we must move. Our enemies cannot be far behind.”
Alexander executed a neat military turn. “You will answer the rest later? When and where and whatever I ask?”
“Yes.” Destiny forced the word through clenched teeth. “Later.”
“Well, then it seems we are agreed. First question: just what dangerous thing are Wizard Doomsday and myself supposed to do?”
“That, I thought, was obvious.” Destiny took another sip of her tea. “You must assassinate the Lord Chancellor, Baron Von Horben. Tomorrow night.”
What happens next? Choose your favorite option below and vote in the comments! Then stop by next time to see how your vote changed the course of the story.
Option 1: Enemies attack the Plucky Lass, forcing Alexander, Destiny, Wizard Doomsday, Fate, and baby Emperor Caldwell VI on the run to complete the mission.
Option 2: Alexander, Destiny, and Wizard Doomsday return to the surface to discover that Fate and Emperor Caldwell VI have been captured by an unknown assailant.
Option 3: Alexander stands up to Destiny and refuses to take part in any assassination attempts because Baron Von Horben is a close friend of his father, Baron Midsig.
Can’t get enough of When Destiny Comes Calling? Join the Pinterest Inspiration Board! This week, we’re looking for pictures of Fate and Wizard Doomsday.
Here’s how it works: In order for me to invite you to the board, we have to follow one another on Pinterest. So if you would like to join the board, leave a comment once you follow me and then I will follow you back and send the invite! Follow Gillian’s Inspiration Board for When Destiny Comes Calling on Pinterest.