Sample from "Discount Miracles"

I just finished editing this section, and I really like how it turned out, so I thought I would share it with you lovely people:


The Prime Minister made a spectacle whenever he moved. Each day Parliament was in session, he was surrounded by analysts, representatives, assistants, and the press. Lackeys and frantic petitioners pushed to gain his attention, and even inside his own office, his workers would vie for attention during that brief opportunity as he walked from one meeting to another.

This Prime Minister, Joran the third, discouraged the process publicly, but never threatened punishment. He answered queries amiably, smiled and shook hands, and generally received the attention with quiet dignity and kindness.

So it was that half a dozen men surrounded him as the guards opened Joran’s office doors. The room was large and spacious, with a long table in the center and sitting areas to either side. Dark tapestries hung between the tall windows, arrayed like a church sanctuary. At the end of the room sat a large desk next to the fireplace. The Prime Minister stopped as he saw the prince sitting at his desk. Joran took one moment to tamp down his response, then turned to his lackeys.

“A word with his eminence in private please.” He made shooing motions with his hands. They bowed and scraped as they backed out of the room.

The Prime Minister looked at the guards standing around the Prince. His voice was low and neutral, holding only a tinge of menace, “I said ‘private’.”

The Prince gave a quick nod to the leader of the guards, and they left without ceremony. Once they were gone, Joran’s smile returned, “My Prince, how wonderful it is to see you here!”

Prince Dayner Raeburn was thin and gangly, and never seemed dressed correctly. Thick bangs that he refused to cut fell across his eyes. When brought to court for important functions, the royal dressers managed to make him look presentable, but never without hours of cajoling and flattery. He slouched and pouted, refused his lessons, and fought every effort at looking like a true leader. Even as he sat in the Joran’s seat, he thumbed through papers with his feet on the desk.

“Did you do this, Joran?”


“This!” He held up a fistful of papers, “You allowed the McLeans access to the wetlands that I was working on.”

Joran put his hands behind his back and took a deep breath, “My Lord, the McLeans have suffered a terrific drought over the last two years. They were beginning to threaten the Hutchins clan to the North.”

“But I was working with those wetlands. I was going to make something out of it. An adventure resort, you know? For vacations! Hunting in the swamps.”

“Yes sir. But those lands are largely unused, and I knew that giving the McLeans temporary development access to it would help defuse the tension between the warring factions -”

“I don’t care about that. That land was mine!”

Joran put his hands out by his side in a gesture of submission, “My Liege, all the land is yours.”

The boy blinked, then nodded, “Yes, well. I had plans for this. You had no right to take it away.”

“I was trying to stop a war, sir.”

“Then stop the war. Just go down there and tell them I won’t have them fighting. Bring the army if you have to.”

“Sir, an iron fist breaks more than a whispered promise. By avoiding -”

“I don’t care. That was my land.” The boy got up and walked over to Joran, “You’ve been telling me what to do my whole life. Now you’re promising my land to others without my permission. You’re using my name behind my back.” He pouted and scowled at the old man, “You made me look stupid in front of my advisers.”

The old man stared levelly at him, “It was never my intention, Dayner.”

“Quiet.” The boy kept his voice low, and beneath the sullen child’s pout, Joran could see steel, “You won’t have that power when I’m king. If you try something like this a month from now, I’ll make you regret it.”

Joran held his gaze for a moment, then cast his eyes to the floor. He turned to face the Eastern window and asked lightly, “Have you given any thought to the ceremony, your grace?”

The boy stood close to him, “I don’t care about that. I’ll have to put on some stupid robes and say some stupid words, and then I’ll be king.” He leaned in close to the Prime Minister, “More than that, I’ll be a god. My word will be law. My will, the will of the land and the air and the people. After that, if you ever countermand me again, I’ll have you arrested or worse. You’re not my father. You’re not my king. After my birthday, you’re not even regent. You’re nobody. And you don’t want to see what happens when a nobody fights with a god.”

Joran’s face flushed, though he refused to meet the Prince’s eyes, “As you say, my Liege.”

The boy stood and stared at him for a long moment, then threw the papers down, “After the ceremony, everything is going to change.” He stomped out of the room.

The old man muttered, still gazing at the bright horizon, “It certainly will.”

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