QSFer Eric Alan Westfall has a new MM historical fantasy romance coming out on September 21st – preorder now: The Cooking Mage & The Parchment Prankster Part Three.
The foreseen four happened. Both “prince” and “mouse” survived the 19th. Now everyone knows Georg’s more than a six-nine (rounded up) scarred cooking mage. He’s a deadly warrior who knows how to use the magickal sword gifted to him by Saint Brunhilde of the Blade.
The story about Lord Mouse using parchment magick in the ballroom battle is ridiculous, but he’s the only one with the power to stop the conspirators from draining the magick out of the Gunpowder Treaty.
The conspirators’ to-do list for 24 July is therefore focused: (1) Kill Lord Mouse; (2) avoid the Prince; (3) avoid any and all saints, and (4) ensure no more dancing!
One last visit to our world of magick and technology, in which there’s a most unusual meeting in the Swiss embassy, a subterfuge goes tragically awry, the Senior Mage takes a train trip carrying a box of Vienna’s finest chocolates, two meetings happen on a theme of “You want me to do what?”, objectivity gets defenestrated whilst planning to stop the murder of Mouse, but it has to be revived and brought back to the meeting; a pair of press releases causes much fuss and furor; a shadow-walker (check the O.M.I. pamphlet if you don’t recall) earns his pay; the future gets fogged again; a series of meetings on a theme of “You can’t be serious” happens; a vase is murdered; and three men risk everything to end the conspiracy once and for all.
Plus a glorious HEA with parties all over the hundred-plus islands of the Earldom, celebrating the shared birthday of Georg and David. And a very private and personal HEA for our heroes, the day before, at the Earl-Consort’s vacation home on the Jamaican Sea. You know. The one with the well-warded, no spying or scrying allowed, nude beach, where a Mouse might consort with a Consort.
Part One: September 7, 2022 (99,054 words of story)
Part Two: September 14, 2022 (117,343 words of story)
Part Three: September 21, 2022 (149,682 words of story)
Special Preorder Price.
Up a dollar after the last book releases
24 July 1890. Berlin. Shortly After 9:00 a.m.
Inside The Swiss Embassy, After The Gates And Doors Have Been Magicked Open.
The guard’s wary, conflicted look worsened, and began hardening into something else.
Henri recognized the look, and given the youth of his sovereign he was sure the Earl wouldn’t understand what he was seeing. Henri couldn’t leave a fellow guard, who was doing his job as best he could—even if he’d been an arrogant prick, earlier—in the lurch. He cleared his throat. “Your Lordship?”
David stilled, surprised, but knowing Henri would not be interrupting without a good reason. “Captain Tessier.”
“Your Lordship, if I may?”
Henri moved past David, approaching the guard, knowing there was no way he could look anything other than what he was—a lethal warrior who had essentially invaded the Swiss Embassy. He did the guard the courtesy of lowering his arms, holding them away from his body, with his hands open, palms outward, and nowhere near any weapon.
He also remained a few feet away from the guard, creating the illusion of a border or wall of sorts between them.
The guard didn’t flinch when Henri moved, nor did his hardened expression change.
“I’m Henri Tessier, Captain of his guard.” A head-tilt indicated David, and a small smile, unseen by those behind him, suggested, “We’re both guards here, what can you do?”
He got an even smaller, but slightly sympathetic, smile in return. But there was no sympathy nor any “give” in the guard’s voice. “I’m Christoffel Burckhalter. Sergeant. And I…I can’t. No, I won’t.”
Henri gave him a bow which, had he been Prussian, might have involved a heel-click. It was an unquestionably respectful bow from one professional to another. “Let me see what I can do.”
Henri returned to their group, said, “Your Lordship, may we talk?” When he directed a look past the group, they all moved further back in the hallway, to put more space, and less likelihood of overhearing, between them and Sergeant Burckhalter.
“Your Lordship, we can’t, we mustn’t, do this. We know how powerful the Senior Mage is, or at least as gossip says he is, and in this instance I willingly accept the word of gossip. The other man—and as you can plainly not hear, there is no longer an argument—is likely another mage. Likely powerful. All as you said.
“A magickal or physical confrontation between them and us if we force the door means Sergeant Burckhalter gets injured or killed, doing his duty. He is an honorable man, my lord, who views standing aside and letting us pass as cowardice. I can’t fault him for that.”
David sighed. Although this meeting had been set up by Inquisitors, his decision at the gate to be a pushy parchment mage sovereign, left him effectively in charge. Responsible.
There was no need for a consultation with his beloved, er, with the Crown Prince who had more experience with battles and magick, to know Henri was right.
He would have to negotiate. After a murmured, “Please wait here” to his companions, David moved to the same position Henri had occupied earlier.
“Sergeant Burckhalter, I need to speak to the men beyond the door. I don’t want to yell from here, and risk not being heard, or being misunderstood. May I go to the door? Only me. Everyone with me will stay where they are. Or they will back up, if you wish. I give you my word I will not use magick except to defend myself. My word, as well, everyone with me will do the same.”
The sergeant gave him a long, assessing look, before nodding and stepping away to allow David by. But as soon as David was past, the sergeant moved, and was once more guarding the gate against the invaders.
A deep breath to calm himself a little, and David said, with a reasonable degree of Earlish loudness under the circumstances, “Senior Mage, this is the Earl of Jamaica, a fact which you already know. I supposedly came here to audition for the role of savior in the current drama. I have four things to say.
“First, I am the famous, or infamous, depending on your point of view, Lord Mouse, the Parchment Prankster. I am neither ashamed nor embarrassed to acknowledge it. It appears, too, I am renowned far from the streets of London, for the quality of my jokes.
“Second, my parchment magick not only took down the wards on the Embassy’s door and the Embassy’s gates a few minutes ago, they’ll stay down until I allow them to go back up.
“Third, instead of celebrating the birthday of the Crown Prince, and my own, on the 19th, I had to kill two assassins.
“Fourth, there will be no further auditions, demonstrations, explanations, justifications, or whatever else you thinkyou’ll require of me. Either the knowledge you have of me, and the backing of both the Inquisition, and therefore the Queen Herself, as well as the Crown Prince of Prussia and Saxony, is sufficient to award me the part, or it is not.
“If not, say so, or let your silence say so, and I’ll leave. I will, of course, put the wards back up and lock everything on my way out. Whether the Crown Prince stays to off—”
“The Crown Prince departs when the Earl does.” Georg interrupted, with perhaps Voice-assisted volume so the men behind the door could not possibly not hear.
When all that followed was more silence, David’s shrug was implicit in his turn towards Georg, a cliché compass pointing towards his personal north. He would find another fucking way to help the idiots behind the door, but enough was fucking enough.
He paused when he reached the sergeant. “My apologies, sir, for this interruption in your day. You did your job well. If your current employer does not appreciate how well, come to the Jamaican Embassy. We will find you suitable new employment with, I assure you, increased pay.”
“Th-thank you, Your Lordship.”
Moving past the Swiss sergeant, he said to his group, “Exeunt omnes down the center aisle, I think.”
Eric is an American Midwesterner, and as Lady Glenhaven might say, “He’s old enough to have sailed with Noah.” In the real world he writes for a living, with those who would claim what he writes is fiction. His partner of thirty years—who died unexpectedly in 1995—enthusiastically encouraged him to try to get his writing published (mostly poetry back then, plus some short stories), but he didn’t have the guts to do so until 2013. At this point he’s not sure which was officially first, The Song, or Like a Mountain, Waiting.
Up to now, he’s published 17 novels and novellas, 1 poetry collection, 2 short story collections, and 3 short stories. God willin’ and the crick don’t rise, 2022 will also see The Tinderbox out and about. But since real life is, as we all know, a pain in the (anatomical site of your choice)…no guarantees.