Immortal Duplicity, book 2 of the Chronicles of the Mages series, will be released later this month. Here is Chapter 1 as a free taste. The book’s predecessor, Immortal Betrayal, is available at all retailers.
“Captain, they need you in the stockade!” Corporal Hansen stood in the office doorway, with flushed face and breathing hard. He was one of those people who looked like they were about to hyperventilate when they got excited. To make matters worse, breathing excited him. It obviously also made him forgetful.
“Corporal, I realize they’re new enough to not have dust built up in them yet, but I am wearing my oak leaves. And I’m sure whatever is going on in lock-up can wait. It’s not like they’re going anywhere,” the major pointed out.
“Sorry, um, Major, but sir, I think you’ll want to go see this one. They just caught a Reb spy trying to get into the armory, but that’s not why you’re needed. It’s hard to explain, you just have to see him to understand,” Hansen stammered.
“You’re not going to leave me in peace until I see this guy, are you? OK, let’s go,” he said in a resigned voice.
They left the main office and made the short trek across the parade ground of Fort Lyon. In an effort to show his annoyance with this interruption, Maj. Edward Wynkoop purposely walked with a slow gait. Several thoughts went through his mind as he strolled along, kicking up the Colorado dust as went.
Why was it necessary for him to see this prisoner? He would be getting a report soon enough detailing the man’s capture. From the information provided he would then decide how to proceed. They may not have used these stockades much, but there was still a protocol to follow. But he supposed out here in the wilderness of the Colorado Territory, protocols were easy for the men to forget, or flat out ignore. It had been a while since they had organized drills on discipline. Perhaps they were overdue.
Then he started thinking more specifically about the prisoner. Hansen called him a Rebel spy. Why would the Confederacy be spying on them? They were about as far removed from the fighting as one could get. Their primary concerns related to the Indians in the area. But the Cheyenne and the Arapaho were peaceful tribes. As long as the white men respected their space, they didn’t give them any trouble. He was starting to doubt this person’s connection to the South. More likely he was just a guy looking for something sellable to steal.
This trip across the fort was really starting to irk Wynkoop. Why did they need to drag him from his work for this? When he arrived at the guardhouse he was met by a couple of privates who had been left to guard the prisoner. They looked at him rather queerly as he walked into the holding area. “Did I have dirt on my face or something?” the major thought to himself.
There was only one prisoner at the moment. Wynkoop didn’t think they ever had more than one at a time unless he ordered both sides locked up for fighting. The prisoner was lying on the cot with his hat pulled down over his face. He was wearing typical civilian clothes that one would expect to see on a local farmer. The doubts of his rebel nature were getting stronger.
“Well, I’m here,” Edward said to no one in particular, but to everyone at once. They dragged him over here, what did they want?
“Stand up!” Cpl. Hansen ordered the captive. The man was in no hurry. He lopped his legs over the side of the cot and ran his hand through the helter-skelter mess that was his hair, before putting his hat back on top of his head. Then he stood up and looked at the newly arrived officer, reckoning he was the man in charge.
Wynkoop froze. The prisoner froze. Each one’s face reflected the other’s own astonishment as if they were each staring into a mirror. Edward’s hair was cut short and he was clean shaven per Army regulations. His counterpart was shaggy headed and he had a beard that was in need of trimming. But that was the only physical difference that could be seen.
“Clear the room!” Wynkoop suddenly ordered. “I’ll question this prisoner personally.”
“But regulations require another person to be present for all interrogations,” Hansen piped up. Fine time for him to suddenly remember protocol!
“Regulations also require you to follow the orders of your superiors, now get out!” the senior officer nearly roared. The men were already to the door by the time he got to the last syllable. Once they were out, Edward returned his attention to the captive.
“For now, I only have one question: How old are you?” Edward demanded.
“Twenty-six, Major” he answered with a hint of suspicion in his voice.
“Sir, it’s just you and me in here now. What’s your real age?”
“I think you already know that, Major,” he sounded like he knew the two men shared a secret, but Wynkoop was unsure.
“Tell me anyway,” the interrogator tried to keep his voice as flat as he could.
“Very well, then. I turned 272 in June, just as you did, Brother.”