Unlocked! In celebration of the audio release of Harrow, the first chapter of Deuce has unlocked for all of my patrons. This is a Galleries of Stone prequel that spins out the convoluted (and often comedic) tale of how Aurelius and Ulrica met. Because they never should have. He’s so dockside. She’s so uphill. And yet …!
In addition to exclusive story updates, patrons will enjoy story art, regular mailings, and (coming in October) narrated chapters, courtesy of Travis Baldree. Do take a look!
“Aurelius Unpierced” | art by FoxOfTwilight
CJMilbrandt on Patreon >>
Summer leaves brushed bronze skin as Aurelius’s scuffed boots left the ground. Lean arms flexed. Claws bit bark. Curling in on himself, he swung onto an overhanging bough. After an entire winter’s voyage spent clambering through the rigging on his uncle’s ship, a tree was nothing.
He made it to the fourth limb without disturbing so much as a sparkfly. Gratifying, but not as satisfying as an audience. Not that his regular hunting partners were given to gushing. Quite the opposite. No matter how dazzling his performance, Aurelius’s only reward was a grudging lack of criticism. Impatient uncles. Bitter cousins. Backstabbing brothers. But their silence was easily as fine as the jeweled droplets he’d wear as soon as this rite was passed and he was pierced.
Aurelius had turned thirteen at the midwinter festival, half a lifetime ago. Father refused to put off a voyage to Far Continent for the sake of his youngest son’s pride. How Aurelius’s dignity had suffered in the interim! Making him wait until the summer hunt was pure meanness. But Aurelius would show them all. None of his brothers had done better than a brace of rabbits during their hunts.
Respectable, but entirely too typical. I can do better, so I will.
In order to fetch better prey, Aurelius was bending the rules by hunting out of bounds. Like Aunt Lissie says, the best acquisitions are rarely found on beaten paths.
… for the rest of this chapter (and to subscribe to twice-monthly installments of Deuce), become a patron. There are perks at every tier. CJMilbrandt on Patreon >>