The following is an excerpt from my upcoming novel, Madame Blustocking's Pennyhorrid now available for pre-order Through Hunt Press.
“Misters Wingaurd and Kelly to see the council.”
The young doorman nodded and slipped through a servant’s door at the side. After a moment the main doors were muscled wide open with the assistance of four men. A young man, in judiciary black robes and a powdered wig, beckoned to Lynald and Kelly and they were ushered in through the towering archway. The two gentlemen exchanged nervous glances. They didn’t have a clue what was going to happen now.
“So how did they know we were coming?” Kelly asked the Elf in a barely audible whisper.
“I have no idea,” came Lynald’s answer, eyeing a sort of arena ahead of them. Some public forum was in session, consisting of a council seated at ornate wooden desks. These were tiered in a wide circle around a sunken dais.
“So we’re just going with this?” asked Kelly.
“Pretty much,” said Lynald. He seemed to have pulled himself together and was striding purposefully behind their guide. Only Kelly noticed Lynald’s slightly fixed grin; a testament as to how nervous the Elf really was.
“Grand. Bloody grand,” muttered Kelly, shaking his head.
“Announcing Misters Lynald Wingaurd and Evelyn Kelly! Blindsmen, Costermongers, Duffers, Dowsers, Factors, Fulkers, Legerdemainists, Limners, Noontenders, Machinists and makers of fine Wigs!” announced an undersecretary as the two travelers approached the council. The council consisted of about twenty fat middle-aged gentlemen with impressive sideburns; all were dressed in somber black and starched collars. They nodded grimly.
Kelly nudged Lynald. “’Makers of fine wigs?’ Why the hell did he say that?” he hissed.
“I thought it had a nice metre,” said Lynald with a shrug.
“You changed our business card again, without asking me! You always do that!” growled Kelly in frustration.
“Have you ever made a wig in your life?”
“How hard could it be?”
“I bloody hate you sometimes,” said Kelly through gritted teeth.
“Gentlemen,” said one of the councilmen with white hair. Kelly thought he looked like the senior official. “On behalf of the town council I bid you welcome to Poulipolis. What brings you to our fair city today?”
Kelly and Lynald exchanged glances. They hadn’t gotten a “story straight” yet and weren’t even sure if they needed one. Kelly would have been less worried about this if they hadn’t been in a city submerged in the Undine Ocean. Before he had a chance to whisper this to Lynald, the Elf had stepped forward and was speaking to them in his pleasant tenor.
“If we may be so bold, I must admit that we are at a loss. We had no outstanding plans to visit Poulipolis–no purpose in coming. It was a whim we acted on, only this morning. That being the case, we must ask you: how did know we would arrive today?”
Kelly watched the council anxiously. The black-robed gentlemen seemed a trifle perturbed and mumbled a bit amongst themselves. Finally, the white-haired gent spoke again.
“You yourselves do not know? Well that really is puzzling. It seems we are all wrapped up in this mystery. By any chance… did you receive a note urging you to come here today?”
Lynald hardly needed to answer, “yes”. The astonishment on his and his partner’s face told the council already.
“Yes, I have the note right here,” said Lynald, offering the scrap of paper to the councilman. “Did you receive a note yourself – er – m’lords?”
“Yes. It told us that the renowned team of Wingaurd and Kelly would visit us… and that the city is doomed.”
PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY OF MADAME BLUSTOCKING'S PENNYHORRID HERE!