Mock has separated me from everyone. Seriously send help. It's lonely up here. Please send food. I am fed a few times a day but it's not enough for me. Though to be fair, I eat like a dragon and so I must be fed like one.
I'd like to reintroduce Ditira to you. Though, we never did actually met her in the first book. Only heard about her from Diekin. She's Corrik's twin sister---I'm still trying to find out who's older one---and Diekin calls her the prettier one. I'm partial to men so I'll take his word for it but I can say she is stunning. Included is what Mock used to muse her. As I'm sure you've noticed by now, Mock's works generally focus on men. She's not sure there's an especially good reason for that, other than she loves 'em so much and that this is simply what her muse, muses and she does so with great enthusiasm. But when a female character comes a long, they are usually fierce and feminine.
Ditira is clever, intelligent and a huge, muscular warrior. Mock tends toward the large-muscled and strong generally because of her background in bodybuilding--her first, female idol in that world was the bodybuilder Chris Sare. This is how her muse, muses women.
She is also Diekin's Top.
Diekin and I caught like fire together from the start, which I'm not sure Corrik liked so much. Diekin is a brat like me. He's kinda like the picture below but with longer ears.
All right, see? I can be on my best behavior. Tell, Mock.
Last, the BIG announcement. For the first time ever, Mock is going to do a pre-order. That date is yet to be determined. I'll announce that when I come back to talk Alrik.
For now, enjoy this lovely excerpt which is quite a lot more than an excerpt! Some of my musings. It's part of the Prologue. Hope you enjoy.
Prologue Part II Tristan's Musings
To be fair, I have always been a brat.
Growing up, Lucca and I were usually in some kind of trouble. I remember the blond-haired hellion running down the hall like fire was chasing him, nearly barreling into me. It turned out ‘fire’ was the pastry chef. “Tristan, run!”
Note, I had nothing to do with this venture, and yet I was a willing accomplice. If he was in trouble, so was I.
As he approached, I could see the two small pies he carried; I matched Lucca’s pace and ran with him.
“Wait till I get my hands on the pair of you! Royalty or no, you won’t steal my pies!”
But we were younger and faster than the old pastry chef; it didn’t take much to outrun him. A few sharp turns and we lost him in the maze of halls, but we did need a secluded place to eat the stolen pies without someone else catching us. “Tristan, this way,” Lucca said.
We continued to run, veering left and right, until we reached the back of the palace where there was a secret door, unguarded, we could slip out of, undetected. We carried onto the stables, knowing where to go like we had one mind and soon, we were lying against a large hog, buried in thick mud, bellies full of fresh blueberry pie. “How did you manage that, Lucca?” I asked him.
“How do I manage anything? I’m clever as sin.”
Of course. I rolled my eyes at my arrogant cousin. Lucca’s father had made many attempts to temper Lucca’s conceited demeanor over the years, but the task proved hopeless. “Whatever. I’m glad you did. The pies were delicious,” I said.
“My pleasure—what you want to do now?”
“We should probably go clean ourselves up before—"
“Tristan. Arcade. Kanes!” Papa’s deep voice was followed by an equally angry, but more feminine, “Luccalthizan Amarail Kanes!” from Lucca’s mother, my aunt.
“—before we’re caught.” Only we were already caught.
Upon reflection, I sometimes wonder if we wanted to be caught; as I’m learning, it’s in a brat’s nature to brat. We can’t ask for spankings, won’t, we need to be chased and we need to be made to go over a knee. I didn’t understand this about myself at the time, I do now.
We froze. “Do you think they’ve seen us, yet? We could make a run for it,” Lucca whispered to me.
“Yes, we’ve seen you, and we can hear you as well. Don’t even think about moving,” Papa said as he came around the corner. I knew better than to disobey a direct order like that; I remained where I was with Lucca against the hog, in the squishy mud.
“You sir are a mudball,” Papa said when he finally got a good look at me and he was not pleased. The queen was behind Papa looking every bit as stunned. She ordered Lucca to her side, but I wasn’t getting that courtesy. Papa walked over and lifted me, unconcerned about the sticky mud, or my six-year-old pride.
Papa was a warrior, Father’s Second. When he wasn’t looking after me, he was on the field, ergo the mud covering one muddy little boy didn’t bother him like it had the queen.
“Let me down Papa. I’m too big to be carried.” I squirmed and pushed at him, but Papa was stronger and paid me no mind, even going as far as to smack my little bum as he began walking away with me. I looked back to see Lucca, who didn’t have it much better—the queen had grabbed him by the hand and was now dragging him up to the palace—as Papa carted me off to the barracks.
I had chambers in the palace, which is where Mother lived, but I also spent a great deal of my time in the large barracks, and so was given a room there as well. Papa and Father preferred to stay there, and I preferred to stay with them.
Father and Papa had a fine set of rooms in the barracks since Father was both Warlord and brother to the king. Normally, I loved being in the barracks; Mother often complained I spent all my time down there and not enough with her, but that day, I was panicking a little. Going down to the barracks increased the chances of having to tell Father of my transgression.
It’s all fun and games for a brat until they’re caught, and then they are left wishing they had behaved in the first place.
I tried to appeal to Papa’s softer side. “I’m sorry, Papa.”
Papa stopped walking, set me on my feet, and crouched down to look into my eyes, giving a wry smile. “How was the pie?”
“How did you know about the pie?”
He laughed. “It’s all over your face little man.” He reached out to wipe the corner of my mouth with his thumb.
“We shouldn’t have done it and I’m sorry, but please don’t take me to Father; he’ll murder me.” Papa picked me up and I was set on his hip once again as we continued toward the barracks. “I said I was sorry, Papa. Will you please put me down?” Life felt very unfair at that moment.
“No.” He was quiet as I contemplated my certain doom but finally, he spoke. “I should let you continue to think I’m taking you to your father, but I won’t. I’m just going to clean you up, then we’ll go back to the palace to discuss the repercussions of what you and your cousin did.”
“Are you going to spank me?”
“I should.” Papa sighed. “But I’m not going to. I will have to tell your father and I can’t promise you he won’t.”
There was no question about that. Even as a little boy, I knew Papa reported to Father about all things. Still, a boy could hope. Thinking back, this was one of the many things about their relationship I never questioned, but now I see it was a part of their domestic discipline style marriage. Otherwise, I don’t believe he would have had to tell Father absolutely everything. Not the small things anyway.
“Lucky for you he’s out at the moment. I came to fetch you from your mother and I am not pleased to find that you were not with her.”
“Oh, c’mon Papa, don’t be mad.” I hated it most when Papa was mad at me. “I was, but she said Lucca and I could go off and play around the palace.”
“You are much too young to be left to your own devices in such a large place.”
“I’m six.” I remember puffing my chest out, trying to make myself bigger. Thing was, Papa was huge, especially to the six-year-old me.
“Do not sass me, young man, you are in enough trouble as is.”
I also knew well the difference between ‘little man’ and ‘young man’. “Yes, sir.” I obeyed and shut my mouth.
Papa carried me all the way. I didn’t know it then, but because I was Papa’s only child, he allowed himself to indulge in things like carrying me, even when it was unnecessary, and I know he saw it as a deterrent from future misbehavior.
“You’re a silly little boy, you are,” he said to me when we were finally on our way to the baths near the barracks. He had to spend some time dumping buckets of water over me, to rid the excess mud before we could think about entering the baths. I’d had enough mud on me to turn the bath water into a swamp.
“I said sorry, Papa.”
“Sorry until you and Lucca are involved in the next pot of chaos you stir.” But he was smiling.
“Lucca’s fun. I’m glad he’s my cousin. You think I’ll ever have a brother, or maybe a sister?”
He raised both brows. “Don’t you think one mud-boy is enough for me to take care of?”
He reached down to tickle me until I was giggling. “Yeah! Yeah. One’s enough!”
“There, that’s how a proper boy should laugh.”
The baths in Markaytia were large as pools, and the staff always kept them filled with fresh water. I jumped in, the mud spreading all around me. “Over here, please,” Papa said. I swam over to him so he could scrub me down. When he was done, he was wet and dirty and as it turned out. This was what tipped Father off. When I was towel-dried, I was sent away with a pat to my bare bum, in the direction of my small bedroom in the barracks.
That’s when Father returned. “Eagar! You here?”
I froze. It was time to face the music. Papa didn’t spank me, but Father would, and I knew then, maybe he’d spank Papa too. Poor Papa’s shirt—totally ruined and muddy beyond repair, the water from my bath having trailed the mud everywhere, making him look just as muddy as I had been.
At that moment, the look in Father’s eyes—I remember it well. Now I know what it meant. Papa knew he was going to get scolded, and I’ve been learning from my time in Aldrien what that does to ones like me and ones like Papa. We can’t bear the disappointment.
Father set eyes on me and then glared daggers at Papa. “Explain, Eagar.”
The trouble Papa got into was my fault, at least I thought so then, so I cut in. “Lucca an’ I stole pies. We ate them in the pig pen—it’s not Papa’s fault.”
“Yet he’s the one who looks like he’s been rolling in a pig pen,” Father roared.
I backed against Papa’s leg and then reached up for Papa to lift me, yes after all that fuss over being carried. He scooped me up, shielding me from Father’s ire. “Arcade, I was just about to clean myself up. I had to get Tristan settled you see—"
“I can see it very well, thank you. Take the boy back where he belongs. I need you today.”
“But, Arcade, I thought you had business out of town?”
“That business has changed. Go, now. Come right back.”
Despite Papa’s respect for Father’s command, and the scolding we both knew he was going to get, I got a distinct impression that Papa wanted to pummel Father. “I just got him, Arcade. Can’t we visit? Just for an hour.” Papa would plead, but he would never disregard Father.
“No. Is taking him back going to be a problem for you? I could get one of the men to do it.”
“That won’t be necessary. I’ll take him to his mother.” Papa wasn’t going to win the argument, but he was going to have some time with me one way or the other.
“Good, but you won’t go anywhere like that. Change first.”
On and off the field, Papa called Father ‘sir’. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but now I understand its real meaning.
When Papa brought me back to Mother, she was only mildly surprised to see me. I’ve always loved Mother, a lot, but when I was a little boy, hanging out with her wasn’t fun. She often made me cross-stitch. Six-year-old me liked swords and violence; cross-stitching was a major snooze. “I’m sorry, Olivia. I know I was meant to have him for the afternoon, but Arcade said I had to bring him back.”
A sentence like that meant nothing to me then, it was the kind of thing I was used to hearing. But I get it now, Papa had a responsibility to Father beyond that of a standard Markaytian marriage. With Elves, everyone has a designation based on their unique energy, from super dominant to super submissive. It’s a spectrum.
Whatever Papa was, Mother knew.
“It’s all right, Eagar,” she said.
“It’s not. What if you had things to do? Arcade can’t expect you to drop whatever you had planned to look after him.”
“You know he can. That’s my role. I knew when I agreed to bear Arcade Kanes an heir, that my first responsibility would be Tristan, day or night.”
I hated being talked about like I was a chore, but I knew I wasn’t, not really. Father and Eagar were a married couple; Mother’s only involvement was me. She was always treated with respect, the palace pays handsomely for Mothers, and her relationship with me was important, but she was not part of their relationship romantically. It was always clear that she was meant to look after me when they could not. Mother didn’t mind that though. She volunteered to have me because she wanted a child; she loved me dearly. She liked not having a partner to answer to—Mother had always been a free spirit. She detested travel when it involved staying in the forest rather than Inns, but she was an active socialite and loved to visit other towns. Her social calendar was limited when I was little, but as I grew so did the engagements. She vowed to keep things that way until I was fully grown, and she could meet someone who could keep up with her.
Besides, she had just as much parental say as Papa even though Father always had the final word on Tristan. This was understood from the outset and she was all right with it. “Your father is a good man,” she’d say most of the time. She would make jokes with me and there were times I know she wished Father would let up a bit, but overall, she supported his decisions. “You’d do well to heed him, my child.”
I knew Mother would make me cross-stitch as punishment once she made me tell her what I’d done. I begged Papa not to go, I wanted to stay with him. He put his forehead against mine. “Papa has to help Father,” he said.
“Can’t you help him, later? I just got to see you.”
“We’ll see what your father says, little man,” he said to me and I couldn’t help but think I’d ruined our time together. Mother jumped in to save poor Papa, who I know must have been feeling bad about having to part with me so soon.
“We’ll see about tomorrow young man,” Mother said, taking pouty, little me from his arms. “I’ve had an enlightening conversation with your aunt—is there something you want to tell me about pies?”
“I already apologized to Papa!”
“But you haven’t apologized to Chef Andros.”
“Be good for your Mother,” Papa said with a kiss on my head.
When he left, I asked about the situation. “Is Papa in trouble with Father, Mother?”
Mother denied it. It wasn’t her business to share. “Don’t be absurd, darling.”
Which was weirder for me. In my mind, anyone could be in trouble with Father and that was what I knew to be normal. I’d even watched him lecture the king. Father was the eldest brother and the rightful heir to Markaytia, but he allowed the title to pass onto my uncle, preferring to serve as Warlord instead, something that Markaytian law permits. Despite having forsaken authority over the kingdom, he still felt it his right to lecture his younger brother if he thought the said brother was being a fool.
Mother proceeded to reprimand me about stealing pies. All of my parents were determined I wouldn’t end up as spoiled as Lucca. I was made to apologize to the Chef even though Lucca didn’t have to—he had been the one to steal the pies, I just ate them—and was put on kitchen duty every night for a week.
That night, Father made his way up to the palace to lecture me. I did ask about Papa. I didn’t know the ins and outs of their relationship at the time—still don’t—but I knew something was up. Father had replied, “He’s fine, why do you ask?”
“I thought he might be in trouble,” I said. With you, I almost added.
Father narrowed his eyes. “Papa can take care of himself; he doesn’t need a six-year-old boy defending him.”
I was annoyed, but I didn’t speak out against him. I was prone to mischievous behavior, but when Father spoke, I obeyed.
He ushered me to my chambers. “Mama already punished me,” I informed him, in case that could save me. Having three parents meant receiving three chastisements and let me tell you, it was not fun. You would think I’d stay out of trouble with that fate awaiting me each and every time I put a toe out of line.
“I decide if you’ve been given proper chastisement or not.” That was Father’s role, it always had been. “I’m not sure if you’re sorry about what you did.”
“I am, Father.” But he had his spanking eyes on, and I began to tear up.
He surprised me. “I do think this has been handled properly, for once, but I don’t like the frequency of this kind of mayhem. You and Lucca get up to a lot of trouble. You both need steeper consequences. One day it could be dangerous, deadlier than pig slop. You don’t know what I’ve seen, Tristan.”
“Then take me with you. I want to see,” I said.
“You think I’m going to make a disobedient whelp, Warlord? No. If you don’t start obeying your parents, I’ll find someone else to succeed me.”
Hearing that was worse than any spanking. “I’ll behave. Promise.”
“I hope so because I’ve decided your training will not begin until you can learn to behave, which will be a measure of your ability to take orders. Immature brats do not become warlords.”
“Yes, sir.” I stared at my hands for a while as his eyes burned into me. Father was a man of war and that leaked through his marrow, making the air ooze a mixture of authority and purpose.
“I believe we have reached an accord,” he said. “Now to bed with you.” With a flourish of his long, warlord cape, he spun on his dark leather boots and stormed off, leaving cold air in his wake, knowing his directive will be carried out.
I wiped my stupid, crying face. After what he said, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. And I wonder as I think back on this time if a spanking would have been better for me in that instance? No six-year-old is going to admit to that.
If I were a more submissive one, I’d have gone to bed straight away, the guilt of disobeying too great to live with for long, but that’s not what I did.
Have you met me? I am Tristan Kanes, Brat. Always have been, always will be.
Instead of going to bed as I should have, I slid the picture frame over. Behind was an intricate maze of tunnels Lucca and I had found a while back. The tunnels zig-zagged through the palace which we used to sneak from room to room unnoticed by our parents who did not seem to know they were there. I slipped behind the frame and into the beaten stone passageway, intent on finding Lucca. First, I would clobber him for getting me into trouble and then we’d see about the frogs down by the stream we thought might like to live with us.
Secret frogs of course. No one was going to allow us to have pet frogs and for good reason—Chef Andros almost ended up with unintentional frog soup.