Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Chapter 1 Part 2

Some more news for those of you anxiously awaiting my next release. I've officially finished the proof reading phase of Son of Thunder. All final corrections have been made and the book is practically ready to go. Still planning on a late October release, but I will keep you all informed if that changes in any way.
In other news, now that Son of Thunder is no longer distracting me, I've returned to Freelancer, my Fixer sequel, with a vengeance. I'm aiming to have the first draft finished by the end of November. I'll make sure to share a sneak peek or two as I go.
And, since I'm so fond of sneak peeks, remember that last one I shared? I hope so, it was the last thing I posted... Anyway, that was the opening scene of Son of Thunder, and I decided I'd share the rest of chapter one with all of you. It's below for you to enjoy. And stay tuned, I plan on posting the entirety of chapter two, as well.

Chapter One, Part Two

The large warehouse was lit with flickering light, the electric bulbs buzzing as they warmed up, brightening to illuminate the gathered crowd.
There were more people watching and waiting than Yol had expected. The boy felt like he was hiding his nerves well. When he felt the need to weep with fear he forced a smile on his face.
In the center of the large room, tied to a chair, was a man, scarred and bruised. His eyes burned with hate as he studied the men and women gathered to watch him die. The man looked at Yol, his hatred burning brighter.
Yol forced himself to smile back. He could not show fear. That was not a luxury intended for an executioner.
Yol’s father stood behind the chair and the bound man. He locked eyes with his son and raised a questioning eyebrow.
Pulling a long, thin knife out of his belt, Yol readied himself.
The circle of spectators drew their own weapons, guns and swords, axes and spears. No one was leaving that room until Yol or the scarred man was dead.
Yol’s father pulled his own knife out of its sheath and cut the bonds of the prisoner. He offered the man the hilt of the dagger before stepping back and joining the watchers.
The man rose, testing the weight of the blade in his hands. He paced back and forth within the circle, studying Yol. If he killed Yol he would be free to go.
If he had given away his intended movement at all, Yol hadn’t noticed. The man darted forward, blade first, aiming for Yol’s chest.
The boy staggered back, bringing his own knife up, pushing it up and out. There was a dull clang of steel as he deflected the blow. He recovered quickly and pressed his own attack.
It did not take him long to realize that this man did not know how to fight with a blade. How was that even possible? Had his father not trained him? Had he not been given a dagger as soon as he was old enough to hold it? Had he not been forced to cut himself so he could know not to fear the pain?
The man did fear the pain. Yol could see it in his eyes. That emboldened the boy, pushed him closer, encouraged him to risk more.
He pushed another clumsy attack away. With an angry snarl the man lunged, stabbing forward. Yol ducked beneath the attack and stepped inside the man’s range. Before the scarred man could bring the dagger back Yol’s own blade slid into his stomach. He angled it up, right where he knew the heart to be.
The hatred in the man’s eyes burned away, replaced momentarily by fear. Then that too left him, and only emptiness stared out.
Yol stepped away quickly, the weight of the corpse pulling his knife out of his hands. He looked around at the watchers, waiting for someone to say something.
After a moment of silence his father stepped forward. He said nothing to Yol, but turned to face the rest of those gathered.
“Today, Yol becomes one of us. Bring out his Eye.” The group parted, and a girl, she looked to be a few years older than Yol, was led into the circle. She wore a blue robe, and Yol could see she was naked beneath. He could feel himself blush.
The young girl met his eye briefly, before her nervous gaze darted back to the ground.
At his father’s direction Yol removed his shirt, and he and the girl knelt side by side on the cold ground as Yol’s father and another Artist began their work.
Yol bit back his scream as the needle bit into the flesh of his chest. A soft gasp escaped from the girl as the work on her tattoo started.
At the next sharp instant of pain, Yol forced a smile. The pain was good. This pain gave him power. Power for which he had big plans.


"The Sohlgain Dragon Center is the largest dragon farm in the country," the manager droned as he led the new clerk through the administrative building. "We have several hundred acres of fields and barns, which are used for both the dragons we rely on for our income as well as several large herds of cattle we use to feed them." He stopped walking as he remembered something, "We also occasionally sell a cow or two if the herds are large enough that we can spare them, so every so often you will see a payment that is not associated with the normal accounts."
"I see," Chika answered, pretending to listen. She had already been feeling overwhelmed with her new job, and that was before her new manager had decided to teach her everything he could before the end of the day.
"As you would expect, we make the majority of our money the same way any farm does. We collect the energy the dragons produce and sell charged batteries to various cities and individuals. Cheap energy is in high demand these days. We are also one of several farms that cater to traditionalist citizens by providing a venue for chainings. Every month we host hundreds of events. Our clients tend to be wealthy, we are the closest farm to the capital, so that is to be expected."
"Does that mean we charge more than other farms?" she asked.
"Well, we charge what the clients are willing to pay." He offered a sly grin as he spoke. "After all, can you truly put a price on tradition?" He obviously saw concern on her face so he continued. "To put it in perspective for you, today we hosted the Breun family."
"Of Breun Arms?"
"The same. The emperor himself was in attendance."
"Well, I suppose they could afford a bit extra."
"Yes. And it is this second source of income, the services we provide to our nation's wealthy, that has allowed us to grow so large. We have close to five hundred dragons. With that volume of power, we are currently providing energy to a full third of the nation."
"That is impressive," Chika said.
"Now, I know it's your first day, but our senior clerk is currently working with another client. We have a man in from the city of Hurthow." He checked the notebook he carried under his arm to ensure he named the correct city. "He is interested in purchasing a dragon. It will be good training for you to see how we handle transactions of that nature."
"We sell dragons?"
"If the client happens to be a city. Some cities find it cheaper to buy a young dragon and chain it directly into their power grid. The daily output of one dragon is enough to power somewhere around five city blocks. We then charge an annual maintenance fee. Hurthow is a returning customer. They've already selected their dragon and just need to pay."
"Sounds good. Please, lead the way."
"Then after that," the manager continued, as he led her toward the waiting room, "we have payments to make to the local Summoner’s Guild. Dragons are not free, after all."
“Summoner’s Guild?” she asked.
“Oh yes," the manager continued.
“I thought—”
“You thought correctly. Dragons are the one exception to that. Did you read the contract you signed before we employed you?”
She flushed slightly.
He sighed. “Don’t worry. I don’t think anyone ever does. There was a non-disclosure clause in there. You cannot reveal anything you learn while employed by the farm. Ever.” He gave her a meaningful look.
“Of course.”
“Good. Now, not every employee is given this information. The majority think the dragons are just bred to be so tame and docile. The truth is they are created by the guild. It is all the guild does. Anyone discovered by the guild with the knack to become a summoner is hired by our government and put straight to work with the organization.”
“So,” she interrupted, “why am I allowed to learn this?”
“Your references are impeccable,” he said, his tone never changing from the dull drone. “Because of that, we have decided you will be trained to handle our dealings with the guild. Occasionally we have to hire them to inspect one of the creatures. Such as today. We have someone here now checking on the dragon we are selling to Hurthow. It would never do for one of our dragons to not have the docility needed to operate as a power source.”
“I suppose not," she said.
“Very good. Here we are.” He indicated the large double doors that led to the waiting room, and with only a hint of greed said, “Let’s make some money.”

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