SNEAK PEEK - The Adventures of Charls the Veretian Cloth Merchant
Exclusive excerpt from the upcoming short story
His mind whirling, Charls tried to focus on practical matters: He told Guilliame not to fret. He explained the change of wagons. He checked the stock, and was pleased to find it in meticulous order. He met the six soldiers, though he did not recognise any of those men he faintly remembered from the Prince’s Guard, Jazar or Dord.
But there was one happily familiar face, as a man stepped out from the last of the the wagons, unfolding himself as he emerged from a space that was meant for much smaller men.
“Lamen!” said Charls.
The first time Charls had met Lamen, he had been pretending to be a merchant from Patras, not very successfully. Charls had noticed the holes in Lamen’s knowledge of silk right away. Now, Charls thought fondly, it was obvious why: Lamen was not a merchant. He was merely a merchant’s assistant.
“I see you are once again assisting—” Charls leaned in conspiratorially, “cousin Charls on his travels.”
“Cousin Charls wants to keep his identity hidden. I hope you understand. The Veretian Council think he’s hunting at Acquitart.”
“I am the soul of discretion,” said Charls. “Although I wonder, that is, if I might ask …”
Across the inn courtyard, Cousin Charls’s bobbing hat feather was visible as he haggled with the innsman over the cost of a wagon-train’s lodging. There was one thought troubling him.
“Is not the Ascension in five weeks?” said Charls.
“Four weeks,” said Lamen.
He said it with a steady expression, standing in front of a very orange wagon.
“It’s lucky King Damianos is at Delpha,” said Charls, uncertainly. “There’s no need to worry that the Prince is away so close to the Ascension.”
“Yes, this would be a terrible idea otherwise,” said Lamen.