BONUS: The Peacock King in Court Teaser Chapter

The Peacock King in Court is the next novel in the Peacock King series.  Online publishing of the story will start on the 11th of April, but until then enjoy this sneak preview!  This is the first scene in the book.

Stay tuned for the next update - on Saturday we'll have a bonus short story for you!

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The palace wards go down with an audible snap, as if all Iaen had to do to make it happen was snip a wire.

'Sssst.  I told ya, Rudie, don't talk about me in your writing!  Nobody's supposed to even see me!'

The folks in black ops are always so paranoid.  Like anyone reads my stuff anyway.  I'm sure the official people give it a dusting with their eyes, but come on.  Gerald's the real Poet.  I'm just the real cowboy. I mean, he gives that a good shot and all, but in the end he's just playin' dress-up.

...Man.  He really knows how to make a proper mess, too.

I mean, look at all this.  This throne-room, which is already starting to look like a fancy rummage sale/barracks combo.  The fancy banners and rugs have gotten real dinged up and frayed, even burnt, by some of the random fights that have broken out.  The servants keep on rushing us from out of nowhere, man.  And some of those people know what they're doing when it comes to impromptu weapons.  Aside from the expected stuff like knives and spades and staves, we have been attacked with ladders, broomsticks, candleabras, tea services, spike-heeled shoes, aprons (makeshift garottes), wigs, torches, torches made out of wigs, spaghetti, plates, saucers, teaspoons, pepper shakers, mousetraps, and corn.  Not to mention the tamed animals that Faun didn't get to.  They keep siccing them on us.  I bet you didn't know that squirrels make capable guard dogs.

Now, it doesn't take too long to find a garden in this place.  Say what you want about the creepy buzzard, (and Caerig and Kennit grumble in agreement with that particular description of the Peek) but he has good taste in decor.  I keep forgetting that this place is enclosed at all.  Everything's so airy and relaxing, feels so open - especially in these little pockets of garden I find in the rooms.  One problem with it, though - well, besides mosquitoes.  Easy to lose sight of where you came in from, and where you're going.  The wards are down now, which makes it easier to, you know, breathe in this place, but that makes my tracking sense even rougher.  All the astral stuff around here's pretty broken up, after all.  I guess that's my excuse for why I didn't see the damn thing coming until it was on top of my head.  To be fair, neither did my Arms.

There's the most horrible screech, like a baby being dropped onto a brazier.  Then, without further warning, my ears burst into flames.  Well, that's exactly what it feels like, and I'd know since I got so used to the feeling when Stevie learned to ignite people's hair at the age of three. (Look, I don't know. Dad thought it was funny.)  They feel strangely wet for being on fire, though.  So at first I think it's some sort of, I don't know, operatic tyrotyle, but then fire rakes down my face, and I realize it's talons attacking me.

I lose my balance between all the thwaps my head is getting.  Like two guys are just hammering it with pillows as hard as they can.  And whatever this thing is, it's heavy, and it's got a curtain over my head or something.  I almost get knocked over.  Trying to pry whatever's on me off of me just results in more of those spine-shredding screams, and a stab to the back of my hand.  So, I figure I'll look for help, while this thing's eating me alive.  I run back to the throne room, or at least where I think it might be.  For all I know, I'm on the moon with this thing.  Can barely see through the blanket or whatever it's got tossed over me.  What the hell is this?!

I hear a couple exclamations of surprise, and they're not accompanied by cheers, so I'm pretty sure they're from Armed and not the Peek's servants (or from someone who knows me well enough to find this funny).  I hope for some assistance, flopping around while this thing just keeps SCREAMING on top of my head, and then the fire is in my eye and I can't see binocular-style anymore.  After that, my arms move on my own.  I ignore the fire raking along my scalp as I rip the thing away from my head.  It lands on the throne.  Then Caerig and Kennit dispatch it like lightning, which tends to be the way Arms dispatch anything.

It dies in a flurry of feathers.

"Gerude?  Oh god Gerude, your eye."  A couple people rush up, try to dab at my wounded eye, try to give me some medical aid.  I don't so much notice.  I'm still gaping at that thing I killed on the throne.  It's mostly a splatter of red, now, with blue and green down sprinkled around its carcass like horribly-timed confetti.  The fan-tail sprawls over the throne like a drape of silk.

Bloody my bones, I've killed one of the Peacock King's peacocks.

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