Yesterday, probably yesterday, who knows with exams being the way they are, a few people expressed some interest in reading my fiction. What follows is an excerpt, the prologue from my novel Enchanted Forest, INC. It is Terry Pratchett-esque fantasy/humor/adventure/snark.
There comes a point when a yipping dog has to be put outside or locked in a room or just generally shut up. With muscle relaxants, sedatives, wine, whatever is on hand and easily administered. To Malin’s mind, this point had come some 20 minutes previous. Malin was not a dog person. No, he was definitely catlike in every sense — rude, apathetic, interested in hunting things weaker than himself, graceful, and scornful. If cats could talk, and would bother long enough to answer, they’d agree that Malin was very much one of them.
At the moment, he was sitting outside of a window on a turret of a very tall, somewhat foreboding castle. The wind was picking up and it had begun to rain a very annoying, misty sort of rain that offered very little in the way of atmosphere but a lot in the way of damp. He was waiting. If he’d had a tail, it’d be twitching impatiently.
And Princess Gertrude’s dog would not stop barking. She and her handmaiden had been trying to calm it since he’d arrived — dogs didn’t like Malin. Nor did they like intruders, so it was really no surprise that the dog was having a fit. The surprise was that the princess hadn’t sent the creature away long ago.
Still, nothing like the thrill of the hunt, eh? Normally he was easily bored, but tonight, no, tonight he could wait forever. Happily. Well, not happily so much as willingly. And maybe the dog was getting on his nerves a bit. And maybe it was a little bit cold. And probably the rain and wind weren’t good for his skin…
He glanced through the window.
The window had sheer curtains, he couldn’t make out features, but he could see the slender figure of the princess and wondered off-hand how many liberties one could take before a princess no longer counted as innocent. The search for a maiden princess of marriageable age had taken a very long time, but maiden was a very specific requirement that one could easily work around. With her permission, of course, who didn’t love a scoundrel?
The somewhat larger shape of the handmaid was wrestling with the small dog. If they’d understood dog language they would have heard, “Hey, there’s a man outside your window. Let me at him! LET ME AT HIM!”
Of course, they didn’t understand the dog. The handmaid finally managed to get the dog outside. The door closed behind and Malin waited a beat to make sure they’d gone. He opened the window without a creak, and delicately landed on the floor inside. Really, astonishingly like a cat.
The princess turned, and they both froze in horror.
When you think princess, you’ve got certain expectations: slim, blonde, blue eyes — and the princess certainly had these but… her eyes were small and piggish, her hairline was receding, and she had spots on her abnormally large nose. She would have been merely below average in the looks department had she not decided to remedy the situation by using as much makeup as possible. Cartoon round spots of red on her cheeks, drawn on lips and eyebrows, and that hideous shade of blue eyeshadow. Her teeth, well, they were the teeth of the greatest monarchs worldwide: horsey and a bit frightening.
The look of stupid surprise wasn’t doing her any favors.
Malin pulled out a locket with a portrait in it. The girl in the portrait was stunning — flawless skin and a tiny nose. He held it up and compared the two for a moment.
“Are you Princess Gertrude?”
She smiled. This, Malin decided, was worse than the “O” of surprise she’d been offering before.
“Of course. What can I do for you?”
Princesses are not, generally, good at self-preservation, their default position being polite rather than, say, running and screaming.
“Are you sure?”
“Well, I certainly have been up to now.”
“Right. It’s just that I have this portrait,” he walked over and showed it to her. “Is this really you?”
“Oh yes, I remember Hans the Elder painted that not a year ago. I do think it looks so remarkably like me. Are you returning it?”
“By all means, keep it.”
He snapped his fingers and she fainted into his arms. He carried her out of the window and disappeared into the night.
Moments later, the dog burst into the room. What a dog of his size could have actually done under the circumstances remains unknown, but he was pretty sure he’d have had it under control.