Extract from ‘Portentous 1’

I know that a lot of people take a peek at Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ function (and rightly so) to get a little bit of insight into the text they’re thinking of picking up. However, openings can only offer so much. So I thought I’d start dropping a few pieces in here, either from stuff that’s already out or maybe even stuff that I’m developing. Here then, is a little bit from ‘Portentous 1: Brothers’.

Portentous 1: Brothers – An Extract

Wexlen was sat on a bench scraping mud from his boots, as a couple of staff spoke to him. She recognised the settlement’s falconer and one of the Ceremony gate sentries. When he saw her and the boys he grinned and urged the men to go back about their business. He opened his arms for Soran to run towards.

Alton looked up at her with his tray of cakes. He didn’t have to ask the question. “Hand them over,” she said. He held the tray up, which she took, and then ran to his father. When he got there, he curbed his excitement and offered Wexlen his hand. He’s trying to be so grown up, she thought. Wexlen took it, but pulled his son in for a hug.

She let them all have their moment, then walked over with the tray. “Frannie’s baking?” Wexlen asked.

“With help from your sons, yes. How are things with Paxlan?”

Wex paused, conscious that he was talking about the children’s uncle and Alton was bound to be listening. “Things are okay, but I think he and Aleska are going to be busy at their farm for a few days.”

“Anything I can help with?”

His face grew a little thoughtful and, with it, stern. “No, I don’t think so. And it is perhaps best that you and the boys leave them to it at Windvane. At least until I’ve checked back to see that their… work is done.”

Gabrella was worried. This was all too cryptic, and the sooner she could get him alone, the better.

“I can help with farm work,” said Alton.

Wexlen ruffled his hair. “No need, son – your uncle has everything under control.”

Gabrella scoffed inwardly. “Has he?” she asked.

“It’ll be fine,” Wex replied, which wasn’t the answer she was looking for. “Come on – let’s go to the gates and say goodbye to Envoy Croke.”

They approached the Ceremony gates as a family, Wexlen linking her arm, and both of them with a boy on their opposite hand. Doster walked behind, holding the cakes.

They walked up the ramp under the arch, past old Edbryn with an armful of yellow sashes, and out onto the smooth road. The caravan of velocers and pods was arranged in single file, the sky-blue markings on the envoy’s showed its position as second from last. All the men were in the pods, save for one stood by each, waiting for the order to leave. The only difference was Croke’s: the envoy joined his guard on the outside of the pod. He looked impatient.

Wexlen led the family towards him.

“Thank you for your visit, Envoy Croke. I hope your journey back to the Centre is a safe one.”

“And a swift one. I have much to share with the Leader.”

“My falconer tells me he helped yours send out a bird. It seems your man was missing the right sized parchment roll.”

Croke was furious that the two birdmen had liaised, but he hid his disgruntlement. “Yes; I had to let the capital know what has transpired here. How uncooperative the governor of Star East One has been.”

“I didn’t act outside of the law. You had no jurisdiction over the civilian’s property, and you had my word that there was nothing untoward. That should have sufficed.”

“The fact that the civilian was your brother clouds this matter somewhat, Dais. Having now examined his property for yourself, are you still maintaining that there is nothing untoward there? No evidence of the storm debris that we are searching for? Last opportunity.”

“I am. There is nothing for you at Pax’s farm.”

“Then at least we know who’s side you are on.”

“No sides, Envoy Croke – just truth.”

“Well, the truth of it is that you can expect a reply from the Centre shortly – I imagine by return of falcon – along with another visit with all the signed lawful documents you could wish for. I just hope that the Leader asks me to come on that trip also, so that you can personally show me around your brother’s homestead, and anywhere else we decide to tread. Your own home for instance. Your own chambers.” With that last point he stared at Gabrella and she felt the hair on the back of her neck rise. She stepped closer to her husband.

“Pass the Leader my regards,” said Wexlen, and pointed his family in the direction of the village. Croke, unamused, clambered into his pod.

Down the ramp, the sound of rolling wheels and thudding paws thundering away, Gabrella cornered her husband. “Are we to expect trouble, Wex? What’s going on?”

He urged his sons to help themselves to a cake from Doster. “It’s under control,” he said. “The less you know, the better.”

This surprised her. “Wex, you’ve never-”

“This is between Pax and me. And Aleska, unfortunately. Until it blows over – and it will – I don’t want anyone else involved.”

“You don’t sound convinced, my love.”

He wore a smile that looked as flimsy as a painted mask. “All will be well; I just need you to trust me.”

“Always,” she said, and stood on her toes to kiss his cheek. She didn’t feel reassured however, and hoped that her husband – and governor – was doing the right thing for everybody, and not just being swayed by the actions of his foolish brother.

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