So I figured I’d use these excerpts to introduce the key players of the book (except the first, which was the prologue). First was Juniper, arguably the most prominent player in the ensemble cast, followed by Jake.

This one is Slow, short for Winslow, a teenage runaway who has found his way to Timber Haven and one of the first people he meets is an eight-year-old in need of a save.

Hope you enjoy.

Slow

Slow was getting a kick out of this strange little girl, talking a mile a minute about energy and the sun and mold.  It was like he was playing catch up after missing a year’s worth of Science in school.  Back when Slow had attended school.  He’d dropped out at fourteen, determined to take his guitar playing on the road and make it as a bluesman.

He just hadn’t reckoned on being so hungry all the time.  Busking didn’t pay nearly as well outside of the bigger cities, but he’d made it to Timber Haven after six months of trying to get there.  Timber Haven was where the secret to the music was, or so he’d grown up hearing.  The key to all of his dreams could be just around the corner.

Slow and Juniper came into a park under a big metal signpost that read Kings Park in iron letters artistically crafted with little iron birds around them, with a crown between the words Kings and Park that had red stained glass in place of rubies.  The grass was immaculate, thick like shag carpet but cropped close.  As they walked, Slow and Juniper crossed a chess set topiary with detailed bushes standing three feet high, trimmed to look like chess pieces, except the King pieces, which looked like bronze statues.

“This park is amazing.” Slow said, accidently interrupting Juniper’s science talk in his appreciation of their surroundings.

“What?  Oh, yeah, Kings Park is neat.” Juniper agreed.  She was used to people getting sick of talking about science long before she did.

“Why is it called Kings Park?” Slow asked.

“Well,” Juniper began, “some adults say that it’s named for a rich family who lived here in town, the Kings, but the real reason is much better.”

“So what’s the real reason?” Slow asked, inspecting a bush cut like a knight.

“Um…I’m not sure you’d believe me.” Juniper said, inspecting a rock she’d accidentally kicked, flipping it over in search of fossils.

“Try me.  I’ve got a pretty open mind.” He said, turning to her.

“Okay, I guess I’ll tell you.” Juniper stood back up, leaving the rock as there hadn’t been any fossils, “But you can’t stop being my friend if you think it’s freaky.  Other kids do that all of the time, but since you’re a big kid, you shouldn’t.  Deal?”

Slow was certain that Juniper was the most fun person he’d ever met in all his fifteen years.

“You got it, Juniper, deal.”

“This park was built in celebration of the kings of old.  The Ogre kings and Fairy kings; the kings of Man and Serpent, Hound and Sea; for every king that ever was and ever will be.”  Juniper finished with a flourish of her little hands.

Slow sat his guitar case down and clapped his hands.

“Bravo!” he cheered to Juniper, “That was great, kiddo.  Did you memorize that from somewhere?” he asked, recognizing a performance when he saw one.

“That was just how my friend Story told it to me.” Juniper smiled.

“Salutations upon our meeting at cross promenades, Ms. Soot!” said a man in a purple suit and bowler hat, sitting on a little bench beside the chess topiary, “and how does this splendorous Saturday find you?”  The man stood from the bench with a bow, asking the last with a tip of his hat.

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