Still Waters Run Deep: Part 1

A fantasy serial by Siri Paulson

 

Another town, another floating market. Payut settled his conical straw hat more firmly on his head and paddled closer, already planning what he would say. The market thronged with narrow boats, hawking fruit and rice, fans and sarongs to the townspeople on the docks. Every town market smelled almost the same, with small variations if one went far enough up the waterways – a different spice mixture here, a different oil there. This one smelled of incense and fresh fish and deep-fried bean curd. His stomach gurgled.

As he brought his boat in to an empty spot on the docks, children were already crowding close. “It’s the charms man!” they shouted, overlapping each other in their excitement. “What did you bring us?”

Payut smiled. “Dolls and toy soldiers, fans and tops. I even have an emperors-and-footmen board for sale.”

A little girl called down, “Don’t you have any charms?”

Payut kept his smile in place. “Of course. Love charms, schoolwork charms, charms to make you faster at martial arts or steady your hand at weaving sarongs.”

An older girl, who looked very like the first, frowned at him. “What about health charms?”

Here it came. “You don’t need any health charms, Little Sister. You’re the very model of the five harmonious elements.”

The little one shook her head vigorously. “It’s not for her. Mama is sick.”

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Introducing Captain’s Boy

Would you believe I wrestled for days with what to write for my blog post? Then I remembered that the reason I was stressed and unprepared was that I have a novel coming out…

This is the first chapter of Captain’s Boy, coming April 1st (Monday, aaah!) from Turtleduck Press. As stated in this handy-dandy timeline, it occurs about two years before the events of Knight Errant.

Warning for some explicit language.

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Donte looked at the sagging awning above him, at the straggly hedge separating the restaurant patio from the graffitied wall next to it, and thought about space and how he’d like to be there. Out there he and Jordan would both be safe, and Jordan might actually learn math.

“Yes, Alex is a bully,” he said, interrupting Jordan’s story. “But I’m not fighting him.” Donte shoved his hair back and tapped the notebook. “This answer is wrong,” he said. “Can you see why?”

Jordan didn’t even look at the paper, staring instead at Donte in challenge. “Why not?” he demanded. “You could take him! Alex is big, but he’s just a coward. And it’s not just me that he picks on. He stole Cadie’s bundle last week. You know she thinks it’s her baby what died. She was on her knees begging him to be careful and he held it over his head and laughed.”

“Math.” Donte tapped the paper again. When he started tutoring Jordan, Donte had bent the mentoring rules to …

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