“Why don’t you tell them the truth,” Ellard Tetsu breaks in with clear disapproval. “You’re Prince Jarlath, heir to the House of the Cat.”
Jarlath jerks his thumb at Ellard. “He is my bodyguard, and is always trying to tell me what to do.”
“But it’s not safe—”
“Rubbish. As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted. Welcome to the city of Viros, the main trade center on the planet of Viros. I’m your tour guide for the day.”
A snort burst from Ellard, and Jarlath raised his hand in a stop motion.
He continues. “Viros has a monarchy. My father is the current king. As you can see, the city sits on a hill. The castle at the top dominates the skyline, huge and imposing. Outside the castle is a large square, then the city falls away in terraced streets, the levels winding down the hill until they reach the wall that surrounds the city for security purposes.
We’ll start with the castle, since I have an “in” with the King and Queen.
This is a rear door. Don’t worry about the guards. As long as you don’t have any concealed weapons, we’ll be fine if we take a quick peek from the foyer. The security guards might ask to see your identification. Get it ready please.”
Jarlath ushers everyone inside and waits for the security process to end.
“The queen—my mother—is a big collector, so the castle is full of weird things from all over the universe. Ellard and I weren’t allowed to play inside the castle when we were kittens in case we broke something valuable.”
“We’re still not allowed to play in the castle,” Ellard says dryly.
Jarlath chuckles. “True! Come this way… this is the ballroom where the dances take place. My parents want me to marry and are arranging a ball where they intend to invite the most eligible women in the kingdom.” He pulls a face. “Let’s go outside.” He gestures through another door and they all amble outside. “This is the market square. The evening markets are a lot of fun with the tiny pop-up restaurants and stalls selling all sorts of things. I’ve been trying out the different foods from neighboring planets, even the hangover cure—a malpack head. It looks pretty gross but once it’s sliced and seasoned it’s not so bad.”
One of the young ladies in the tour party lets out a squeak of horror on sighting a food stall selling nothing but heads.
Jarlath hides his amusement and steers clear in case she faints. “Ellard, you deal with her,” he whispers and grins at his bodyguard’s grumpy face. “The feline statue over there is in honor of a past king – the current King’s grandfather. Oops! Mind the kids playing. You stand on one of their tails and there will be tears and snarling. Come this way and we’ll wander down to the street on the next level. This part of the city is rundown and needs restoring and rebuilding. We’ll continue to the next level. This used to be the magic quarter, but most of the practitioners fled the city when a prior king placed a restriction on the use of magic. If you’re interested, I suggest you come back at the end of the tour.
You’ll notice as we move toward the city walls that the buildings are becoming increasingly derelict. The poor live in this area. These squalid conditions need fixing. The king…when I take over as king I’d like to make improvements and bring the city into the future. A new space port for a start to bring in more tourists. I hope you’ll help us spread the word.”
Jarlath flashes a smile “That concludes our tour for today. Do you have any questions?”
Photos: Top, from left - 1. The House of the Cat castle interior, 2. Claimed & Seduced, my sexy body *wink*, 3. The soldiers patrolling the castle
Bottom, from left - 1. Malpack heads – the best hangover cure ever, 2. A local stallholder posing for tourists, 3. Me, Prince Jarlath, in my feline form. *sexy beast*
Jarlath, our tour guide today, appears in Claimed & Seduced and Ellard, his bodyguard appears in Hunted & Seduced, both books in the House of the Cat series.
Jarlath’s story (Claimed & Seduced) also appears in the Dark Legends box set, which is due out on 17 January 2017.
Grab the box set now since it is 99c for a limited time.
Purchase your copy of DARK LEGENDS here: