Mau Anthology Sneak Peak 2 [Monarchies of Mau]

Pugmire

Monarchies of Mau art by Pat McEvoy

Writers are deep in writing on the Tales of Excellent Cats anthology. Another story I’ve gotten a chance to read a bit of was “Listening In” by Aaron Rosenberg. It’s another great story, so here’s another teaser for you. This is a section from the pre-edited manuscript, so some things may change between now and the final release, but I think you’ll like what you see. Enjoy!

The word that made Dusktip’s ears prick up was “Trailblazer.”

That pivotal phrase had come from a pair of Korats brushing past her on Mau City’s busy streets — one of them tall and stocky, the other small and lean like Dusktip herself, but both grizzled and hardened and bearing the scars that proved their worth to their House.

The taller cat had been the one speaking, and she continued to do so as Dusktip pivoted on her heel and loped quickly after them, sliding into the pair’s shadow and slowing down to keep pace. As usual, she wore her hood far enough forward to shade her face and obscure her features, but far enough back so as not to be seen as skulking. That was the key, to walk that fine line between subtle and suspicious, crafty and conspicuous.

It was a walk Dusktip had learned to excel at.

“…don’t know why he does not stay at his safehouse, as is custom,” the tall one was saying, gesturing sharply back toward the city’s largest residential district. “Why insist upon taking shelter with us instead?”

“Maybe he doesn’t want his castellan to know he’s back,” the shorter one offered, his rushed words a sharp contrast to his slow, lazy gaze that had already raked across Dusktip once without even a second’s pause. “Maybe he’s in trouble, and that’s why he needs protection?”

The taller one considered this. “Could be,” she agreed finally. “I mean, clearly he’d be safest with us.” She chuckled, as did her companion, and their talk shifted to boasts of strength and putdowns of other Korat soldiers. Dusktip decreased her speed still further, and the pair slowly pulled ahead, their combined shadow sliding off her like warm blankets being tugged from a sleepy kit by irritable parents. Only once the crowd had all but swallowed the two soldiers did Dusktip turn and move away, instinctively twisting to slip between cats without being noticed.

She had a lot to think about…