As promised, my dear ladies and gents, the next installment of When Destiny Comes Calling, or as one of you lovely readers so aptly subtitled it “Destiny and Co.” This has been a long time coming, so “many thanks” to all of you for waiting so patiently to find out what happens next. As always, read the previous installment here. (Oh and for any of you who might be interested in trying something similar, check out the guest post I wrote for the Realm Makers blog with tips and tricks for running a serial short(ish) story.)
“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.”
For a moment, Alexander thought the world had tilted. He clutched at the table for balance and managed to knock over the entire pot of tea this time, earning a second heartbroken wail from Doomsday—“Mumsie’s doilies!”—and a disapproving “tsk tsk” from Destiny. But he just stood there, gripping the table, fearful that his legs would give way beneath him or that—horrors—he would faint! Presently, he came to himself and realized that although his knees were knocking together, he had neither fallen nor fainted. Nor had the world turned on end. Apparently the Beaufords of Midsig were not of fainting stock. (Rarely of fighting stock either, though Alexander was determined to change that.)
He drew himself up to his firmest, proudest, most determined posture and opened his mouth to speak. Only to wilt and clamp his mouth shut. The strength seemed to leech from his backbone like Doomsday’s tea into the doilies. Standing face to face with certain death in battle was one thing—generally, one could count upon being armed to the teeth, bedecked in a dashing uniform, and backed by a cannon or two. If one died, there was always the posthumous medal to look forward to, the salute, and the knowledge that one’s name would live on in history. But standing face to face with the imperialistic Destiny and her flashing eyes, primly upturned nose, and dragonish grin, well, that was a different matter entirely.
“Ma’am.” He cleared his throat, clasped his hands behind his back, and assumed his most formal manner—patterned after his father, of course. “Ma’am. I do believe you have gathered rather the wrong impression.” Diplomatic sounding perhaps, but somewhat too wishy-washy for his taste. When refusing Destiny, perhaps it was best to do so outright. “Beaufords are not assassins. I cannot kill anyone.”
He fought the urge to duck behind the table and forced himself to stand steady instead. Any moment now, the dam would break. Destiny would spew forth curses upon him for daring to defy her. Instead of dealing with his great great great grandfather’s curse, future generations would speak in hushed tones of Alexander the Abominable. How he had dared look Destiny in the eye and refuse her to her face. The notion was terrifying … and a little bit thrilling too.
With measured grace, Destiny added a pinch of sugar and a dash of cream to her tea, gave it another three stirs—clink, clink, clink—and took a dainty sip. All the while, Alexander’s gaze never left her. She seemed remarkably calm. Too calm. It was almost more terrifying that the explosive wrath he had feared. Perhaps by now he should have begun to expect the unexpected. Just when he thought he had Destiny worked out, she up and changed tactics so suddenly that it left him sprawled on his face.
“Now, now, my dear Alexander.” Her lips quirked into a smile. “You Beaufords may not be very good assassins, I’ll grant you that. But you are assassins nonetheless. You have your great great grandfather to thank for that, remember?”
A high-pitched call sounded out, and a yellow bird the size of Alexander’s fist suddenly shot across the Wizard’s lair, so close its wings brushed Alexander’s hair, and landed in Doomsday’s outstretched hand. It shrilled a series of notes, bobbing up and down on the wizard’s palm with a whirring of gears and creaking of cranks. It was a gadget of some sort? Alexander inched nearer for a closer look, but the wizard wrapped both hands around the fidgeting yellow bird.
“Oh dear.” Doomsday turned doleful eyes upward as he stroked the bird’s neck feathers. “It would appear we have a problem. Enemies are upon us. The Plucky Lass has been taken. We are all going to die.”
“Fate!” Destiny shot to her feet, upending the table with a clatter of broken tea ware and crockery. “We must—”
“Dear sister, calm yourself.” Fate emerged from the cobweb-bound section of the wizard’s lair. Little Emperor Caldwell VI sagged in her arms, his beat red face squashed against her shoulder, deep in peaceful baby slumber. “We are quite all right. Though if you’ve finished your little chat, I highly recommend we move on. I managed to close the trap door behind me, but barring a handy locking incantation from the good con-wizard, I daresay it will not hold forever.”
“Fresh out of locking incantations, I’m afraid.” Doomsday shoved the yellow bird into his pocket, then snatched up his black beard from the table and settled it on his chin. He disappeared into the dark corner beneath the trapdoor, and for a moment, all Alexander could hear was a great deal of muttering, thumping, thudding, and hammering. After a good minute, Doomsday reappeared, draped with cobwebs. “When locking incantations fails, a handy triple bolt system does the trick. We should be safe … for the moment.”
“By Bildad the Bold, I do believe those are the first optimistic words I have heard you utter.” Alexander grinned in spite of himself. If the pessimistic wizard had any hope at all, then surely things could not be so bad.
Doomsday shook his head. “You have woefully mistaken me. Our enemies cannot get in … but we cannot get out. My friends, I do believe we are trapped.” And the funny thing was that the gloomy wizard actually seemed to be cheered by the fact.
And now, ladies and gents, it’s your turn! Alexander, Destiny, Fate, Wizard Doomsday, and little Emperor Caldwell VI have managed to get themselves into quite the pickle. How in all of Cantakorious will they escape? Brainstorm below. We’ll tally together the best options and put it to a vote later!
Those of you who are members of the Inspiration Board for When Destiny Comes Calling on Pinterest, this week we’ll be looking for images of Fate and Destiny, twin sisters who are both remarkably alike and strangely different. If you would like to join the Inspiration Board, simply friend me on Pinterest and then leave a comment below saying that you would like to join. The more the merrier!