Welcome back to Pact Days! I was kind of at a conundrum, looking for something to post today. I thought an excerpt from Constant would be fun.
Constant is the unexpected 3rd book in the Valespian Pact series. Unexpected because I was sure Bespoken would be next and was writing on Bespoken when I realized I needed some background details on Zeus's brother, Prince Mestor Vondorian and Warlord Sohm'lan. I had planned for there to be a sort of sneak peek of their love affair in the following books with a culmination in the final book, Legends. But I needed a bouncing off point because things didn't really heat up for the two until the Vondorian twins, Azaes and Mestor, go to pick up Zeus from the space station only for Zeus to be kidnapped by Captain Dargon Kal-Turak. It is during Striker that the true love story between Mestor and Sohm'lan begins.
I decided to do a couple of flash fictions during the Striker time period and before I knew it, those flashes turned into a short story, then a novella and I decided to just take it all of the way. I thought I was finished when the book hit 65k but the beta feedback was extremely helpful in pointing out missed opportunities and other problems. I was fighting my way out of depression when I started writing the flashes for Constant and it showed. Depression does funny things to the brain, and unlike Hemmingway (who I think wrote most of his works in his depression), it hindered my creativity. I have been doing rewrites and adding new words when I can. I spent a lot of time editing May, June, and July, first for Caledonia Destiny, which released on July 9th, and then on Alpha Trine for its new contract period for LT3 Press.
Now I'm back to working on Constant. It has unintentionally become a pivotal book in the series... I really didn't mean for so much of the Mar'Sani history to come to the forefront, but as I write I can now see why this is so important. Some things that I was going to mention in future books, I pulled back into Constant, and now the book is well on its way to being 100k words. I don't know when it will be done. I keep setting deadlines and I keep blowing by them. But with other projects now off my desk, I will be working primarily on this book.
That being said, this is an excerpt from Constant. It is a memory told from Mestor's POV when he and Azaes were five summers old. The time period is before Canry was lost in the Waters of Poseidon. The part I want to share is almost 3k so I'll split it between today and next Thursday. Enjoy!
Copyright Lexi Ander
Mestor was attempting to sneak by the nannies. He wanted to go to the nursery and see his little brother. Canry was only six moons old and Mestor had heard the adults talking about introducing Canry to the Waters of Poseidon. He wanted to be there too, but the nannies were guarding the doors like they were Giante elite Mukene warriors guarding the high king.
His twin, Azaes, peeked around the doorjamb to the room of the nannies' bedchamber. Nanny Notus was still at the exit of the main room, speaking to a Basilisc guard. Earlier, Nanny Kalika went to the kitchens to order their midday meal. Mestor gestured to Azaes, giving him the 'all clear'. His twin walked from the nannies' room, not run. The nannies always sensed when Azaes or Mestor were running and they did not want to draw the attention of Nanny Notus. He and Azaes had learned that lesson the hard way. Mestor suspected they were always caught running because their tails crashed into everything. Their waterfather, Sohm'lan, promised they would learn how to control their tails better when they grew older. But for now, he and Azaes knew not to run when they were trying to accomplish something of the utmost importance.
::All set,:: Azaes signed with his hands. ::The fuses are really long—::
A loud bang went off in the nannies' sleeping quarters followed by several more pops. The Basilisc guard brushed by their startled nanny. Nanny Notus followed the guard, his hands fisted in the shirt over his heart. Once their backs were turned, Mestor bolted, in a fast walk, not a run, out the door and into the large, grand hallway. The nursery where Canry and Shaneva stayed was around the corner. A little over a summer ago, he and Azaes and graduated to their own rooms and the days were spent with tutors instead of playing in the sand. They missed spending time with Shaneva, and now that Canry would be introduced to the Waters of Poseidon, he and Azaes would be allowed to play with Canry more.
Azaes took the lead as they hurried down the hallway. Around the corner coming toward them, was the sound of clumping footstep. The explosion, which shouldn't have been that loud, would have brought more Basilisc guards and they were hurrying, coming toward Mestor's and Azaes's room. Mestor's heart sped. They had to find a place to hide before the guards rounded the corner. He rushed to the nearest pot, and Mestor climbed over the side of the planter, turning to grab Azaes's hands. Once he hoisted his twin over the rim, they both scrambled into the middle where the large fronds hid them from view. Something grabbed his tail and when he looked, Azaes was holding both of their tails in his fists.
The sound of boots rounding the corner caused Mestor to instantly still. The guards were talking about the report of a loud noise, and they were stopping at all the rooms, checking for more hidden incendiary devices before advancing on to the next room.
Staying still was so hard. Mestor thought hours passed before the guards rounded the opposite corner that lead to a different wing of the palace. Scrambling out of the giant pot, Mestor accidentally spilled some of the black soil over the side. Somehow both he and Azaes got their clothes dirty as well, but he could not worry about that now. They needed to get to the nursery before more guards came down the hall.
Again, Azaes took off and Mestor tried to mimic his twin's soft steps on the yellow-veined, red tile. At the corner, Azaes got on his belly and looked around the edge. Mestor paused and crouched behind Azaes. He was startled out of his excitement when his tail cracked against the tiled wall. He bared his teeth when Azaes scowled over his shoulder in a silent reprimand.
Once Azaes deemed the way clear, he scrambled to his feet. Mestor glanced behind to ensure no one had spotted them before he ran after his twin. The door to the nursery was all the way at the other end of the hallway. Mestor sprinted like he was in one of the annual mountain races that Sohm'lan anticipated in every year. He could practically hear the cheers, his waterfather shaking his fist in the air as he urged Mestor to move his feet faster.
He was not sure what happened, but he crashed into Azaes, and they tumbled in a knotted-heap through the open doorway of the nursery. Mestor hiss-clicked at Azaes's shushing noises punctuated by grunts as they rolled. They disentangled themselves only to hear more footsteps. Mestor scurried to one side of the doorway while Azaes took the other. To be safe, he trapped his tail between his legs so it would not thump anything. The clomping slowed as a passerby glanced into the quiet nursery and then continued on without entering. When the noise was gone, Mestor helped Azaes slide the ornately painted door almost closed. The nursery was remotely monitored for sound. Something they had learned before graduating to their new rooms. Even though they did not dare speak, Mestor and his brother use the language of their hands, taught to them by the People of the Longing.
::How long before Nanny Notus and Nanny Kalika noticed that we are gone?:: Azaes gestured as he crossed to Canry's birth bed. Mestor shrugged. How would he know?
Canry's halfshell was intricately carved with whirls and spirals surrounding the drawing of a four-legged raptor. The wings spanned the length of the oval cradle. Mestor's father told them how he climbed Mount Rhodes and haggled with the Gatekeeper for the birthbed made from the eggshell of the Pegasus, the largest flying raptor species on Atlainticia. Mestor had trouble imagining a bird so big.
Inside the birth bed, Canry slept on his stomach, his hind-end sticking up in the air. ::His tail is starting to grow,:: Azaes pointed out.
Canry was born without a tail. Meme said all youngling came into the world tailless, but still Mestor and his brother worried. They sometimes talked about it long into the night and neither remembered being without their own tail.
::It is really thin.:: Mestor replied. ::Maybe Canry needs to eat something special for it to grow thick and strong.::
Azaes made a face. ::Unca seaweed is nasty.::
The nannies were always pushing them to eat more of the greens, claiming it would strengthen their limbs and tail.
Azaes sighed deeply. ::I guess we should eat more of it when we spend time with Canry so he would eat more himself.::
Thank you for stopping by and reading!!