Another Day and New Potential

The story begins here.

This week saw the culmination of a project began earlier this year.  My follow up work to Master of the House finished its initial draft.  Initially the book was to be titled “Children of the New Potential”.  I’ve decided to change that and use the series title along with a shorten version of that tentative title. That being said, I am happy to announce Legacy of Shadow: The New Potential (TNP) is complete and ready to face the challenges of the market.

So, how do I explain this book?  TNP is the story of a group of characters who make a similar decision to walk away from the lives they are leading into the unknown.  Each of the characters does this for a different reason but as they end up on the same path, together they are given a warning that the answers each of them seeks rest at the top of a frozen mountainous wasteland at the top of the world.  Over the course of a week these characters fight against the forces pursuing them, against their own fears, and against the fear of passing the point of no return.

Laylani is an Elf of Deep Shadow who has taken up a burden that was not her own.  Her arrival in Britania spells doom for its people and spreads fear that the City State is under attack from the undead forces at its door.  She has come seeking refuge after her failures in the northern lands.  Laylani finds no refuge in Britania but manages to regain control of her destiny and perhaps the friends who will see her through it.

Eric is a Templar in the service of Britania.  He is smart, skillful, and has a promising career ahead of him however a nagging sense of worthlessness and isolation leave the warrior feeling as if there should be something more.  When he comes face to face with Laylani and senses something familiar and kindred in the supposed threat to his homeland, it becomes the catalyst that will either ruin his life or save his soul.

Vavian is a free-wielding mage who works and lives outside the control of Britania’s Magi Guild.  He is a sought after criminal.  He is a threat to the social order.  He knows what the Guild has in store for the downtrodden of Britania.  Using the chaos around Laylani’s arrival to move on his own plans, he becomes hopelessly wrapped up in a struggle that he could have never imagined.

Dempsy is a wealthy ‘Copter pilot with a keen eye and a strong distaste for the law.  He plans to help Vavian escape Britania and life a life of comfort, ease, and coin but when his friend returns to him and reveals that their plans have changed, Dempsy has a choice to make.

I never could have imagined how difficult writing this book would be.  It was not that the actual writing, typing, and plotting were hard, overcoming doubt was the challenge.  Master of the House lent itself to an ever tightening plotline and left plenty of room for character evolution.  TNP is a lead off book, meant to spark a whole series but still be self contained.

I had to capture a world, introduce new characters, justify motivation…  Of course every book does this.  I’m not complaining, not at all.  What I wish to express here is that this book is the first step in a bigger story.  This overall story is something I have captured in my mind and now had to find a way to condense the important parts into an opening act.

I was not even sure I liked my own characters as I wrote the book.  That’s a hard pill to swallow.  (Rest assured they ARE awesome and the book turned out great.)  It’s simply that when you are inside a story, crafting it and setting the stage for later, you know who these characters WILL be.  As you write them, you see them only as they are on the first page or first chapter and it feels wrong.

The further along I traveled in this book, the better it felt.  Not only were my own fears unjustified but many of them were incorrect too.

I plan to do some site expansion and add information about these characters in the coming weeks.  I will also post my query that I will send out for this book for anyone to see and comment on.

I should really take a lesson from Dempsy.  He pretty much nailed it:

 “You can never bake the same cake twice. That’s a life lesson. Don’t forget it.”


Share on Tumblr

Short Story Friday – Shooting the Messenger

This is a fun thing for me to post because it means I’ve finished drafting my next book, tentatively titled “The New Potential”.  So, today’s story is simply Chapter 1 of the book.  It was a shorter but much more difficult process to put this work together for me.  The reasons for that I can’t even really begin to understand.  The end product however is something that I’m really enjoying.  The project has taken shape nicely and as I begin to edit the thing, may of my fears have been assuaged.

Less talk, more rock.  Presenting The New Potential – Chapter 1: Shooting the Messenger

Chapter 1: Shooting the Messenger

Bad news will always find a way to deliver itself. One can hardly be blamed for shooting first in times like these.

-Twitch

Past

The Governor of Keldj and his sons trudged out to the border of their known territory so that the edge of the great forest was in sight. Core prepared a campfire to ward them against the frigid temperatures. There was no telling how long they would actually be out here.

Governor Stiven went about rousing the woman while Lucius stood over her with his scatter-gun pointed menacingly in her direction.

The girl arose with a violent start, her eyes darting back and forth. Her clothing was different from the men that surrounded her. Dark cloth interlaced with leather covered the woman. Where the others were draped in multiple layers of fur and heavy materials, the woman only had a heavy cloak to shield her against the cold.

“Where am I? Why is it so cold? Who…who are you?” She focused her gaze on Core and then Lucius. “You…and you…Old Kin!” She staggered to her feet, losing her footing in the snow but still rising to face her captures. Core was the largest of the three men, taller than the other two by a foot or more and nearly twice as wide. He stepped in front of the woman and gruffly shoved her back to the ground. “This is not a discussion that will happen on equal footing young lady.”

She fell back to the ground undeterred, none of the fight had left her eyes. Stiven put his hands behind his back and paced around the campfire before he addressed her, “You claimed my children are in danger. What are they in danger of?”

The girl’s eyes took on a wild look to them. Core noticed subtle signs that foretold of rash action. He loomed over her threateningly in response.

The girl scuttled like a crab away from him, moving as fast on all four limbs as most men do on two feet. She pointed at Stiven and began to shout. “YOU! Even now she conspires to turn you against them! She will take EVERYTHING from you. She will corrupt everything, steal everything you love…and you, YOU will help her!” Her cries were desperate and somewhat pathetic. She raged against a darkness and a conspiracy that all others were oblivious to. Core and Lucius moved to protect their father while the girl staggered backwards, her footing uncertain in the unpacked snow.

Stiven looked to his sons with uncertainty.

She screamed again, “Why can I not remember? No, no no! I have to remember. I have to stop you. I have to protect them. I…can’t remember anything else!” She was panting, having screamed the very breath out of her body. She composed herself slightly and continued, “Core Stiven, Lucius Stiven, heroes against the darkness, that old sin moves to take her vengeance now. When a fallen knight and his followers arrive with word from the south, you must heed them. You will know them by the authority they wield and by the strength of their conviction…”

The girl staggered some more before collapsing into the snow.

Lucius lowered his scatter-gun, “Father, your taste in woman is wretched.” Her frantic antics gave Lucius the impression that she was more loud than dangerous.

“She is an elf Lucius. I do not know how or why an elf has made its way into our lands. I never thought in my lifetime I would encounter one. You will indulge my curiosity.” Stiven replied with the authority of a father.

Core moved towards the girl, “She’s mad. That much is obvious. Could it be that an elf has survived for all these years alone out there? I think that might make anyone mad.”

Lucius interjected, “What if she isn’t alone? If there’s one, there’s many.”

“I’m not sure old axioms about undead apply to living elves.” Core replied. “We best do what we originally claimed we were going to do. She should be imprisoned.”

Stiven shook his head. “If there are others, they may come looking for her and if the legends are true, having elves about is not something I want in my lands.”

“Then what of her claims?” Lucius spoke while looking down at the darkly clad elf, “How exactly do you plan to destroy us father?”

Core grunted, “That much concerns me as well. Something she said, something about “that old sin”, I’ve read or heard that before somewhere.”

Lucius spat as he responded, “The Oracle.”

Stiven looked down and quietly said to himself, “Yes, that’s it. That damned Oracle. If there’s even a hint of truth to it… I’ve made a decision. The girl is to be released to the forest. If she is tied to old prophecy, then she will survive. If not, then it is on her to find her own way. She will not be executed nor will she be imprisoned.”

He turned with a solemn glance to his two children. “Tomorrow morning, I pass on leadership of Keldj to you Core. Sparring the life of this elf is the last action I take as Governor. By midday tomorrow, I will retire to the great forge in the mountain.”

“I am far from ready Father. This land needs you, not me.” Core dreaded the idea of taking the mantle of leadership while his father still lived.

Stiven replied, “You would do well to respect the decisions of your elders, particularly when they involve you.”

Lucius took what few supplies he had on him and tossed them at the woman. He returned her sword to her and left an empty pistol and a few rounds next to her. Kneeling down, he spoke quietly to the elf, “Run. Run now. If you ever come before me again and pose a threat to my family, I will kill you.”

The girl gathered up the sword and food but left the pistol, “We are all family Lucius. It is all we have.” She trudged away through the snow, faltering at first before breaking into an impressive running stride. The familiarity of the elf spoke to them with disturbed Lucius greatly.

Present

Will looked out from Britania’s western wall. He could see the lush green landscape beyond the city walls and wondered what it must be like to freely walk out into the wilderness. His duties as a rifleman for the great City State of Britania kept him high above the massive city he was sworn to protect. It separated him from people but it allowed him to look out upon the natural world that nearly all citizens were forbidden from stepping into.

Of course no one had any desire to step out from behind Britania’s massive walls. Beyond the great walls was a pristine natural world, unblemished by the hand of man yet completely filled with unyielding horror. Humanity had long been relegated to holding up in their massive cities, of which only five existed. The world outside the safety of the walls was populated by an ancient race of slain elves, remnants from a forgotten war that left the losing side doomed to walk the land as undead monstrosities.

At some point in the past, beyond the memories of those living today, an entire people had been slaughtered. Their bodies were risen up and used as a terrible undead army to assault humanity. Only through the sinister machinations of The Tyrant King had humanity united under a plan that might ensure its own survival. Despite that plan and the emergence of the great walled cities, humanity remained on the verge of extinction since that time.

As a rifleman, Will was part of the first line of defense in Britania. The undead were almost manageable when in small numbers. One, two, even five were a trifle, no threat to the city at all. However, when they began to gather, when several of them were within close proximity to one another, the undead monsters became something cunning…something dangerous. As they gathered in larger numbers the undead would become faster and smarter. They would begin to remember aspects of their old lives. They would formulate strategies and use weapons. Worst of all, on occasion, they would employ magic.

The riflemen were there to cull the heard. They were there to head off danger before it became a threat. Though Britania kept trained warriors and could ready an army in short order, open conflict against the horde was never an option. The curse responsible for the presence of the undead hordes never left the world it was set upon and it never diminished. Open conflict against the horde was not an option because any man, woman, or child who died for any reason in this world also found themselves rising up against their fellow man.

Life within the great City-States was an exercise in living under constant siege.

Will considered these things as he had every morning he spent atop the wall. “This is hell.” he muttered to himself.

“Talking to yourself old man?” the voice called out mockingly to him. “Pressure getting to ya? How about letting me put this here bit of tin to use for the first time?” It was one of the new recruits. Recently the Central Government had gone to great lengths to increase their numbers. There was no end to the number of people who would jump at an opportunity like this. The pay was amazing, you got to legally carry a firearm, and there were many unofficial perks as well. The standards for entry had been quite high until recently.

Will sneered under his mask, “I tell ya what kid, you plug the first one we spot today with your first shot and I’ll pay our tab tonight at the tavern.

The new recruit turned back to the others on the wall, “Looks like we’ve got a wager gents! So what do you want if I, and I know it’s unlikely, but what do you want if I should miss?”

“Nothing. Call it a welcoming gift to your new job.” Will tried his best to smile. Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement below. “Looks like there is one approaching now. Lucky for us, isn’t it? No time like the present to show off those skills Ace.”

The kid looked down the wall, “Yea, you’re right.” He lifted up his rifle still new and shiny. There were no powder burns, the butt of the gun was still polished, and the kid’s bandoleer had a full compliment of ammunition. He took his time, lined up the shot. His finger edged the trigger. Right as he was about to make the precise nerve twitch that would destroy the unholy creation below, there came a massive crack of fire from slightly to the right and behind him. This caused the new recruit to jerk and fire wildly off into the forest. He knew at once what, or rather, whom had caused it.

“You bastard!” He could see Will leaning casually against the adjacent wall, his rifle resting on his shoulder and a column of smoke brewing up from it.

“You missed. Hunh. Who’d have thought. You’re really going to have to work on those nerves Ace.” The newbies might be good on a range without distractions but the wall was a different world. They would learn in time.

The other riflemen were laughing. They had seen this play out more times than they could count. The new recruits that kept their nerves could count on a bright future with the Central Government. Word always got around. For those that could not keep a steady hand, they would at least ear steady pay. The kid realized at once what happened to him and knew enough to not make it worse by making a scene.

“Will, you want this thing downed or what?” one of the other riflemen called out.

“Take it out.”

A series of 3 shots rang out. The situation should have been settled.

“WILLIAM!” Something was wrong. “Will, it dodged…It dodged the shots!” the man called out in alarm. “Send for the Templars! We’ve got LEGION!!!”

The word made Will sick to his stomach. ‘Legion’ They were the “living” undead, able to call and gather the roaming shamblers to their side. They were unholy contradiction. Legion were those of sound mind and soul, slaughtered in rage and anger, who even in death managed to keep their cognitive abilities. They could act alone, think alone, and cause great destruction through dark magics. Worst of all, with Legion, where there was one, there would soon be many.

The alarms sounded and the Templars were on the streets before the citizenry even knew that they should no longer be in the same place.

Then the unthinkable happened. The Legion of one stopped in front of the massive ancient gate to Britania, lifted its hand and the gate gave way.

The world, was about to end.

 

 

Share on Tumblr

Short Story Friday: Motivation

As I promised yesterday, today’s story piece is a portion of the current book I’m working on.  It’s the real introduction to the character Dempsey who is based both on an old friend and a hefty bit of the character he played in the game that brought much of this about.

Here we go…

Motivation

Vavian led them to the building that Dempsey and he had lived in for the past several months. From the outside of the building Eric and Laylani could see the large flying device known as a ‘Copter that sat perched on the roof. They made their way around to the rear entrance of the building and Vavian knocked on the door in a specific way, two heavy knocks, one lighter, and then three more heavy raps on the door.

The man that met them at the door was carrying a candle in one hand and a pipe in the other. He looked at the trio, heated his pipe on the candle, and shrugged his shoulders saying, “Oh well, what the hell…” before stepping aside and welcoming the group in.

Dempsey watched as Vavian walked past and then turned a curious eye to Eric, however it was Laylani that gave him real pause. “Vav…she’s a good deal older than I was expecting…and…not human. Vavian, why isn’t she human?” Despite his aloof nature, Dempsey had a very good eye for detail and the brief glance under her cloak had revealed Laylani’s elven heritage.

“Plans have changed Dempsey…I can’t even begin to explain it all right now but what you need to know is that we need to get to Keldj and we need to be out of Britania before first light.” Vavian just came out with their predicament rather than skirt the issue.

“That is…a much colder choice than the other pleasant options you proposed to me when we discussed this matter. Also Vavian, not to put too fine a point on it, but you have brought one of Britania’s esteemed Templars into our humble little hide out where we usually eschew the presence of the authorities.” Even while Dempsey was voicing his concerns on the matter, he was absent mindedly tapping his pipe against his hand. “And you have not exactly explained your pointy eared friend here either.”

Laylani pushed her hood back, finding no need to hide her appearance. “I am an Elf of Deep Shadow and I am tasked with summoning the twelve decedents of the fallen heroes from the War of Sin.”

Dempsey’s eyes widened at the claim and he merely nodded. “Fine. Fine. War of Sin, all well and good, I can believe that. Now, a Templar helping you Vavian? Coming aboard my ‘Copter? …and not turning us in to the State Authorities? That stuff the woman says requires a leap of faith, his story?” Dempsey point at Eric. “Well…”

Vavian quickly cut him off, “This Templar helped us to leave the State Prison in one piece and put a Guild Master flat on his ass to keep us from getting burned alive.”

Dempsey raised an eyebrow and replied, “No shit?” He took a long puff of his pipe, “That bastard Richter? You put him out?” He began to laugh a little. “Keldj it is my boy, Keldj it is. Now, you all ain’t never been up north…”

Laylani interrupted him, “I have.”

Dempsey waited to see if Laylani would say anything else before continuing, “I have some cold weather gear I got in trade last season. Should do us right for the snow and slush.”

“Ok…ok, good. We don’t have much time Dempsey. Even now they’re out looking for us.” Vavian was rushing. He was still on edge from what he had seen earlier in the night.

Dempsey was never in a hurry. He could be infuriatingly slow for Vavian’s taste at times and this was one of them. “Never did get your name Templar or you Miss…Terious.” He laughed at his own joke.

“There will be time for all of this once we are on our way Dempsey! Don’t make a game of this!” Vavian was actually getting angry now.

Eric could see a certain need to play along with their pilot. “I am Eric Sturgg…former Hero of Britania.” He frowned and offered his hand.

Dempsey chuckled slightly at this and shook his hand, “Former Hero? That’s the kind of title that makes for good story telling over strong drink. I like you already Templar.”

Laylani leered at Dempsey and then resigned herself to an introduction. “Do not call me Miss Terious ever again. Eric has given me the name Laylani and you may use that name for me when in his company.”

“That’s…a strange way of putting it, but alright.” Dempsey motioned for them to follow. He led them to his storage room where a variety of various goods were kept. Opening one of the chests up he confirmed the winter coats and various armaments against the cold they would encounter. “So…why are we going to Keldj?”

His question lingered in the air until it became obvious that not one of them had a specific answer to give him. Eric and Vavian resorted to looking towards Laylani for answers. The idea of explaining herself was foreign to her.

“There…there are three warriors there. It is my duty to awaken them to their responsibilities.” she said it angrily as if the others should have understood implicitly.

Dempsey only nodded as if it all made perfect sense. “Three warriors. Understood. Well, the Keldjian people are none too friendly. Asking questions is only going to get us in a heap of trouble. If you don’t know who these people are…we may be better off dealing with the authorities here rather than angry Keldjian Marauders.

“I will know them when I see them!” Laylani insisted.

Eric and Vavian looked at one another uncomfortably.

Dempsey laughed, “I thought as much. Don’t get your pointy ears bent out of shape. We just need to get the right kind of bribes. Why, with the right bribes, you can go just about anywhere. That there is a life lesson, try not to forget it.” Dempsey looked around and started pulling various crates out from their store places on the wall. “A little bit of planning goes a long way towards a happy voyage. What we have here are the right things to open doors of opportunity.”

Once he had three crates chosen, Dempsey asked Eric and Laylani to take them up to the roof in preparation for their flight. Laylani thought nothing of it and went about doing her part to speed them along the way. Eric understood that this was an opportunity to allow Vavian and Dempsey to talk alone. It put him on edge to know that their cooperation might already be at an end but there was little he could do beyond allowing it to play out. Reluctantly, he left the two alone and went about his task.

Once they were gone, Vavian turned immediately to Dempsey, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry…I should have taken them somewhere else. I should have given up on this whole thing. It was originally going to be Sarai. You hear me Dempsey? I was supposed to have the Governor’s daughter with me. We were going to go to Seaside and find that rogue water mage to fix the water sickness in South Wall.” He was falling over his words out of guilt. Dempsey sat watching him with a slightly bemused look on his face.

“Will you shut up? Seriously now Vav…you have no poker face. Are…are they what they say they are?” Dempsey seemed oddly interested now.

“What…do you mean? I am…I’m pretty sure they are. I’ve seen things tonight that I never, ever could have imagined and the vision that elf showed to the Templar…”

Dempsey clapped his hands, “She really is an elf! Hot damn, hot damn.” He was grinning like an idiot.

“You…you’re liking this?” Vavian asked with outright shock in his voice.

“You’re damn skippy I am! Vav…I fly a dangerous contraption powered by magic I do not even understand. I run illegal shipments of goods this way and that. I agreed to allow one of the most wanted criminals in all of Britania to live in my basement so that I don’t have to pay for official fuel sources for my otherwise illegal operations…”

Vavian had not even considered for a moment that like everything else in life, Dempsey would see this as a game to be played, a risk to be taken for the sheer thrill of it all. Vavian was now sure, without a doubt in his mind that Dempsey was insane.

“So, you bring me the opportunity of a lifetime, to see the kind of stuff they only tell you about in pillow fiction and religious sermons, up close and personal? I’m all in.” He shook his pipe again trying to remove the used product to no effect, “Plus, you’re the only friend I’ve got.” He pointed his pipe at Vavian, “Remember that. Now, we’ve got a flight to take.”

Once they were on the roof, Dempsey let them into the strange looking flying machine.

‘Copters were a bit of technology with an illustrious history. While Lux is the City State widely known for its steam technology and automated advances, it was the Britanian Guild that designed the first flying vehicles. These contraptions became a necessity for travel between cities as over-land travel was an exercise in suicide and waterways through the landscape were limited.

As he prepared the machine, Dempsey explained a bit of the technology. It was all second hand information though. Dempsey himself understood vary little of the lift concepts that kept the craft aloft or how the various gear ratios controlled speed and direction. He explained to them how the very first ‘Copters used a terribly inefficient means of creating steam to power the vehicle, but when the Guild perfected their vacuum containers that all changed. The ‘Copters could be pre-loaded with ready-to-go energy that could be used to power the system.

“Of course…the Guild’s price for this service is so prohibitively expensive that flight to one place or another is only for the wealthy or by State sponsorship. Since Britania sits right about in the place every city needs to set down to refuel, they have what you might call a monopoly on inter-city travel. Unless of course, you have a friend who makes fuel with almost zero effort.” Dempsey motioned towards Vavian who was using his powers to charge the fuel canisters.

Dempsey hopped up into the small cockpit and engaged the gears. The heavy blades sitting atop the ‘Copter began to move. “Climb on in. Next stop, barren frozen wasteland!” He grinned as Vavian threw himself confidently into the cabin and prepared himself for the trying voyage by ‘Copter. Eric entered more cautiously and looked about uncomfortably. The machine looked as though it might fall apart at any minute. Laylani took her time boarding. Out of the group, the experience was certainly the most foreign to her.

“This is why…” Laylani stated quietly.

“Why what?” Eric asked pensively.

As the ‘Copter began to lift itself up from the roof and move them northward towards the frozen tundra of Keldj, Laylani was lost in amazement staring down from the ‘Copter and seeing the moonlight illuminate the passing landscape.

“This is why she hates your kind so very much. Unlimited potential. My people have existed since the beginning and we have never mastered the world in such ways.”

 

Share on Tumblr