Mau Anthology Sneak Peak

Pugmire

Writers are deep in writing on the Tales of Excellent Cats anthology. I’ve gotten a chance to read a bit of “Where the Heart Is,” a story by Joseph D. Carriker, Jr. (an amazing writer and a dear friend). I enjoyed it so much that I’m passing it on for everyone else to read as well! 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!

Minister Hanji Toyger von Korat really should have known better.

She looked her best for the occasion, naturally. She was graceful (not delicate, her mother’s favorite term for her, undermining her with the faintest of praise) and well-groomed, with brilliant orange-red fur and black stripes like permanent, dramatic shadows across her form. Her minister’s robes were of a genial forest green, embroidered with copper threading and lovely little discs of copper in clusters here and there. They tinkled merrily as she walked and caught the light most fetchingly.

Her eyes were bright and amber and missed nothing. Which was very good, for Minister Hanji was the spy-mistress of the Monarchy of Korat, charged with the security and protection of the Seat of Korat against espionage, while actively deploying her own agents to garner intelligence of use to the Seat. As such, she was accustomed to the ins and outs of paranoid and altogether curious sorts: spies, agents provocateur, long-term moles, and all the rest of them.

As such she was fairly sure the visit of Diplomat Illiad Bombay von Korat was something she was prepared to handle, despite his reputation. Even among his own people, Illiad was accorded a…curiosity. Relentlessly polite and altogether too inquisitive for his own good, the foremost diplomat of the Monarchies to the dogs of Pugmire was – not to put too fine a point on it – a spy.

Which meant his mission largely fell under Minister Hanji’s bailiwick. Though she was relatively younger than the notorious diplomat, she occupied a position of authority over him, mostly because he wasn’t in the Monarchies to play the political games needed to secure the position. Indeed, they’d never had the chance to actually meet face-to-face since she’d come to occupy that ranking, though they did know one another casually from before (all the spyfolk did seem to know one another, at the end of the day). So she was here to get things off on the right foot, and to perhaps even ensure a little regard was attached to her name for taking the sometimes headstrong and…independently creative diplomat-spy firmly in hand.

Thus, here she stood, next to some lout in an ugly indigo wrap. In and among the others who were waiting for the caravan gate to be opened in the great wall surrounding Korat proper. The caravan outside was mostly merchants, but also included a small group of travelers returning to the Monarchies from faraway places, including Pugmire. According to his last letter, Diplomat Illiad said he would be among them, and Minister Hanji wanted to make sure she was here to greet him.

The great gates finally clanked and groaned as they were opened, and then stopped. Dead.