New excerpt from Supertsar!

As I near completion of the novel, I probably shouldn’t share so much for free, but I couldn’t help myself. Here’s a section from the chapter where Pyotr meets Louie XIV, The Return of the Sun King.

Yes, they never actually met. Fiction is funny that way! Enjoy!

***

From Supertsar chapter eight, The Return of the Sun King:

Though most historians agree that Pyotr and Louis XIV never met, the two greatest rulers of their era did in fact exchange brief pleasantries…

*

Pyotr awoke and sat up in bed, grumbling and cursing to himself as he recalled the argument that led to this latest seizure. It was his son Alexis that had so infuriated him- it was always thus, as no one else would dare disagree with the Tsar. No one else would be so stubborn, or so foolish. He rubbed his eyes and drank from the mug at his bedside.

The candles spread judiciously about the room had burned to their waxy stumps, suggesting Pyotr had slept for several hours since his collapse. He reached for a clean white shirt, pulled it over his head, and squinted as the candles’ flames jumped and brightened. Though less than a finger’s width of wax remained of each, their respective flames swelled, fueled by neither wick nor oxygen but by some deeper unseen energy, projecting their light and heat towards the center of the room, filling the space by the foot of Pyotr’s bed. Dust coalesced, taking shape as Pyotr blinked. The candles’ light ebbed again, gave one last defiant flicker, and extinguished themselves as the mysterious figure appeared.

What began as the glowing suggestion of a man solidified. As Pyotr’s late night guest took shape, the shadows in the room swirled and groaned with a life of their own. Creases in the curtains grew muscle and sinew, writhing in their captivity. Details carved into furniture became sharp black teeth, gnashing at their surroundings as trained bears might pull at their collars. 

As the small man assumed his final shape, Pyotr had to smile. Had he not seen such madness throughout his life–the living flame of Charles’ armies, the strange sky vessels that visited him in his youth, the visitations of the Tolchok themselves–he would have been more unnerved. And the man who now stood before him, clothed in silk and fur and fire, would have been more imposing if he wasn’t so short in stature.

“My own eyes deceive me, for the Sun King himself must have better to do than return to life to haunt me. The infinite fields of the afterlife surely provide ample space to build a palace to dwarf sublime Versailles.” Pyotr squinted as he spoke, partially blinded by the glow of his intruder.

Non, mon sauvage. I am a sun king no longer. I am now the Sun. My fire is my rage. All shall burn in my cruel orbit.” When Louis spoke his voice came not from his throat but from some deep unknowable source; the voice of a volcano, the voice of the molten core of an angry star.

“You speak as though you might affect my aims. Finer warriors than you have tried their best to topple me.” When Pyotr sat fully upright his eyes were level with those of the French monarch.

“Had more time on this world been afforded my person you would have accepted the role of loyal subject, or perished at my hand.” His Most Christian Majesty’s jowls trembled. “My current benefactors assure me your downfall is imminent. Your disappointing issue will likely inform their final strategy.”

Pyotr barked a laugh. “Now it is my ears that fail, for the Sun King speaks as a messenger. Has the great Apollo been reduced to errand boy? Has the whole world gone mad or is it my perception of events that is inaccurate?”

Louie’s golden form brightened as his eyes darkened. “The Flame are neither my employers nor my masters. They are the state that I inhabit, and l’etat c’est moi.”

“Then burn, mon enfant. Burn for all time in the hell you now call home. The affairs of this world are no longer your playthings.”

And Pyotr hurled his mug at the apparition, shattering Louie into a trillion aimless photons. He would not meet the Sun King again in this world or the next.

***

Stay tuned for more info regarding final publication and release dates!

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About Scott Aric Mills

Cartoonist. Chronicler. Cosmonaut.
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