Week three in my lead up to Read Tuesday (9th December) – and an excerpt from the third of my books. There is a special offer at the end, with more available for Read Tuesday itself.
I’m doing them in sequence, choosing an excerpt I like. Actually I like all of Lost City, especially chapter 11, which you can find in the Xtras menu item on the Princelings official website. It was very difficult to choose a sequence from this story that didn’t need too much explanation or give too much away!
I’m aiming to keep the excerpts to around 800 words. In case you haven’t read the Princelings series yet, I’ll give you a short introduction to the excerpt each time. Click to catch up with the excerpts from Book 1 and Book 2.
The Princelings and the Lost City
Fred, who is now Crown Prince of Castle Marsh, and Prince Hunston of neighbouring Castle Wash, are investigating a castle that Fred, George, and Fred’s fiancee Kira discovered a few days earlier. Kira has been acting strangely ever since then and has gone with George to Castle Buckmore. Having found their way through a maze of bureacracy called ‘security’, Fred and Hunston were told to present themselves to Queen Eleanor in three days time, since today is the queen’s birthday and she is not doing any official business for three days. They have already seen enough to know they don’t want to be here that long…
From Chapter 9: Black and White
Fred knocked on the door. After a few seconds, a small person who looked like another security officer opened it.
“Good afternoon! Crown Princes Fred of Marsh and Hunston of Wash to present their personal greetings to Her Majesty,” said Fred. “Your chief of security, Sylv, said to come up as she couldn’t spare an escort at present,” he added.
The guard looked surprised, but disappeared inside, shutting the door again.
“Inspired,” breathed Hunston into Fred’s ear.
In a further few seconds the door opened again.
“This way if you please,” said the guard, and they followed her into the Queen’s apartment, to the room where they had originally emerged from the secret passage.
“Queen Eleanor, Crown Princes, er, of Marsh and er, of Gosh,” she said, and withdrew to about four paces behind them.
Fred and Hunston bowed low with the particular flourishes appropriate to their castles.
“Your Majesty,” said Fred, “Crown Prince Fred of Marsh presents his greetings on your birthday.”
Hunston took his cue. “Your Majesty, Crown Prince Hunston of Wash presents his greetings on your birthday and hopes this day will enable cordial relations to be re-established between our domains.”
The Queen looked at Hunston suspiciously, but offered them seats on a chaise to her right. “You are just in time to join me for our lunch. Would you care for refreshment?” They nodded and murmured their acceptance and she waved a hand towards the security guard, who disappeared.
“What brings you to [Castle] Arbor?” she asked. “I doubt whether arriving on my birthday is anything other than coincidence.”
Fred looked at Hunston.
“Well, I suppose I shall confess that to be true, Your Majesty,” he said. “It was interest, a love of natural philosophy, an enquiring mind, and the establishment of friendship with Crown Prince Hunston here that led me to suggest a visit to the forest as a way of increasing our understanding of each other. And it has brought added benefits, meeting you.”
“We met during the war against the pirates, you see, Your Majesty,” continued Hunston, “and it seemed appropriate to our positions and the desire to improve the situations of our castles that we thought to work more closely together in the future.”
“How would you describe your castles?” asked the Queen.
“Wash is an edifice at the entrance to the port of Lynn, ruled by my father, King Lynn. We are blessed with excellent trading routes and a vibrant community. We suffered a little from the pirates’ rampages, especially raids on our people, who were carried off in numbers, but we are recovering steadily and people are returning.” Queen Eleanor greeted Hunston’s summary with interest, and her eyes glinted at the phrases ‘vibrant community’ and ‘people are returning’.
She turned to Fred. “And yours?”
“Castle Marsh is isolated in the middle of miles of reed-beds. We have really been isolated as a community for many years, a situation my grandfather seemed to encourage. The population has dwindled steadily over these years. After my grandfather’s death last summer, the prince who acceded to the throne was none other than the pirate king, so the castle was in turmoil due to his dastardly deeds. My uncle Vladimir is now king, and has named me Crown Prince, and we are working together to re-establish the castle and its community, and bring it into the modern world,” finished Fred.
She looked at him keenly. “That is not an easy job.”
“No, Your Majesty.”
“Could you tell us a little about Castle Arbor in return, Your Majesty,” asked Hunston. “We arrived shortly before what appeared to be a skirmish outside, so we have little idea of what is going on in your realm.”
“What did you see of this skirmish?” she asked.
“Oh, only that a group of ruffians appeared to be disturbing a picnic and that your security forces engaged them and saw them off very effectively.” Hunston replied evenly. “We had only just completed the arrival formalities at the time, and it was the reason your security chief sent us to you unescorted, I believe.” Fred had an idea it would have been better not to add that, but he said nothing.
“We have heard of a lot of the former pirates roaming the countryside and causing irritation and local trouble,” he said, “especially around the region of Castles Dimerie and Fortune. Is that the case here?”
“It may be why the problem has increased recently, yes, although there has been a small band of disaffected youths refusing to leave the vicinity and causing trouble for us for some time.”
The Queen looked away from them as their lunch arrived and a tray of interesting dishes, but with a very small range of ingredients, Fred noticed, was laid in front of them.
“Tell me, Prince Fred, have you ever been here before?”
Fred managed to stuff rather more of the food he had in his hand into his mouth than he had intended, which gave him an excuse not to answer straight away. Did she know about him, he wondered, and if so what? How truthful should he be? Should he say little, or expand and be more cooperative. What was going on here? He decided on limiting his answers but being truthful, just in case she knew more than he imagined.
He finished chewing and swallowed. “Yes, Your Majesty. A few days ago. We thought it was deserted, begging your pardon, not realising how early we had arrived.”
The Queen nodded. “And how are your companions of that day?”
Fred raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Fine, your majesty.”
“Where are they now?”
“They have returned to Castle Buckmore, ma’am.”
“I see,” said the Queen, and Fred was sure that as she reached out to help herself to another dish she was trying to hide a very self-satisfied smile. He wondered why.
(c) J M Pett 2012, 2014
You can buy the Princelings and the Lost City for full price ($2.99) from the following links:
or use the coupon code GE27T to buy it half price and download it in any format you like from smashwords.com. Coupon expires 16th December 2014.