The Rise of Magic, Book Four, Snippet 2
Chris here, and I’m sitting in an AirBnB in Calgary, Alberta. Mrs. Raymond and I have been up here speaking at a conference related to our day jobs, and with three lectures and a shit-ton of conversations behind us, we’re ready for a little R&R.
We’ve never been to Calgary before, and it is a cool city.
I used to walk around cities just taking it all in. Since I’ve been writing fiction for a few years, I see new places differently. I wonder how a character might see it, how they might move in the street, what kind of trouble they could get in down that dark alley!
It’s been a fun trip, but I’m also REALLY looking forward to book 4 landing. I’d say this is like nothing we’ve done before. It has a different design and rhythm… what’s the same though? Revolution is a hell of a lot of fun!
So, here’s another snippet to hold you over until the release, which is coming REALLY soon.
Revolution: Snippet 2[Unedited]
Heavy rain fell across the old glass windows, waking Hannah from her already restless slumber. Shooting up in her bed, her mind swam with images from her dream—or rather her nightmare. It had been the same every night for a week. The airship hovered over the Boulevard, bringing down hellfire on the place she had once called home. Standing helplessly on a hill overlooking the city, she watched her people die.
Body covered in cold sweat, she had to remind herself, like each day before, that the dream had really happened—although most of her people escaped. But that didn’t stop her from reliving it each night—a bitter memory that haunted her.
Throwing her legs over the side of her bed, she looked down at Sal still happily snoring on the floor beside her. The dragon was nearly as long as the bed and weighed twice as much. Despite his size, he had more room here in the tower—although he spent a good deal of time stretching his wings outside. There was no longer any reason for him to hide who he was.
She got up and paced across the room. It was the same that she had occupied when she and Ezekiel had lived there before not even a year ago. Those months felt like a different lifetime. Unlike before, the room was no longer her own. Two other beds lined the walls, but they were empty and made up with blankets pulled tight. Julianne and Amelia were already gone—as they were every morning. Their diligence in leading the tower filled with Arcadian rebels was inspiring, but Hannah needed her rest. Parts of her body still ached from her fight against Alexandra in the factory.
Pulling on her white, mended shirt and leather corset, she was pleased to feel a little bit more like the girl from the Boulevard. Too many days were spent masquerading as Deborah, the proper noblewoman, and she was glad to be Hannah once again. Of all the things that died that night, Hannah was glad that Deborah was one of them.
“Come on, you lug. Get up,” she called to Sal.
The dragon lay motionless, save his steady breathing. He opened one eye, saw Hannah standing over him, and then closed it quickly.
She couldn’t help but laugh and give him a little kick to the ribs. “I know you’re awake. Now, get your lazy ass up. Let’s go find some food.”
At the mention of breakfast, the dragon hopped up onto all fours and beat Hannah to the door. He sat, his enormous tail swiping back and forth while his eyes stayed on his master.
“You need to get control of that thing,” she said, pointing at his long meaty tail with its barbed end. “Gonna freaking kill someone with it if you’re not careful.”
Sal rubbed his head against her leg. Reaching down, Hannah gave him a scratch under the chin. “Good things today, Sal. It’s time to start planning the revolution.”
Hannah and Sal walked the long corridor toward the Great Hall, which had been arranged as an enormous gathering place. The tower was already buzzing with life, and people tripped over themselves to get out of the way of the girl and her dragon.
In all, nearly two hundred Arcadians had fled the city the night the Boulevard burned. Parker and Julianne lead them to their new home in the woods. While the majority of the community were people from the Boulevard, there were certainly middle-class folks—largely business owners from the market—and a few dozen nobles mixed in as well.
Over that first week, the new community spent their hours getting acquainted with each other, and healing from the shock of Adrien’s violence. Many had taken part in the melee on the streets of Queen’s Boulevard, and more than a few came to the tower with a significant injury. The refugees now filled the once abandoned tower almost to the breaking point.
Ezekiel had told her the building was once called a skyscraper, and though there were only eight floors remaining, she could imagine it reaching up into the heavens in the days before the Age of Madness—before the old world came to an end. Some of the rooms were being used for planning and training, but most—including the ones that Ezekiel had trained Hannah in—had been converted into bunkhouses. A small group of carpenters was working around the clock, hammering together makeshift beds, and working to accommodate the people.
Everyone had a gift, and all would be used before too long.
Sal curled up under a table that had become their normal spot during meal times as Hannah got in line to get food. She glanced back at the dragon and smiled. If Sal kept growing, he’d have to become a better hunter. The rations that Eleanor, Maddie, and the others had saved from the city were quickly dwindling, and soon, eyes would turn to the gentle dragon for meat. Hannah would die before Sal became steaks.
A gruff voice ahead in the line interrupted her meanderings about Sal’s culinary use. “Dammit, you can’t just cut into line like that. Get to the end like everybody else.”
The man raising his voice had a harsh face to match his tone. The object of his ire was a nobleman, a few inches shorter and half as wide.
Face turning red, the nobleman raised his hands in defense. “No, no. I was here. Just had to see to my wife for a second, she’s not well.”
“Here? You were here? I sure as shit didn’t see you here. How about you—” the man nodded to another new resident of the tower “—you see this tight ass nobleman in line right there?”
The third party turned away from the disagreement, trying his best to stay out of trouble.
“Shit,” the gruff man said. “Just get to the end of the line.”
“How dare you speak to me like that? I’m sure you’re used to barking like a dog in the streets, but I deserve some bloody respect, you bastard.”
Hannah scanned the room, looking for her friends. None of them were there. She left the line and approached the men. “Cool it.” Turning from the nobleman to the man from the Boulevard, she said, “Who cares who was here first? There’s enough food for us all.”
The gruff man spun to face Hannah. “The hell there is. Can’t be much of anything left, but I’ll be damned if I let some prick from the Quarter eat while I starve. And who the hell are you, thinking you can tell me anything about anything?”
A tiny smile spread across Hannah’s face. Naturally, she thought everyone in the tower knew exactly who she was: Hannah from the Boulevard—the Witch Bitch that saved them all from their misery under the thumb of Adrien the Dickweed. But it seemed like this man needed a lesson.
The man looked at Hannah and then back at the noble. “She belong to you?”
In silence, the noble looked at his feet.
“Scheisse, I’ll tell you who she is,” a deep, gravelly voice said. “That’s Hannah, the one that saved your pathetic, ungrateful ass from being fried like a pork chop. So, ye better start respectin’ her.”
Hannah and the man both spun to see Karl, the rearick, standing with his war hammer resting on his shoulder.
“But if ya have a problem with that, ya little twat, we could step outside and straighten it out, if ya like,” Karl snorted, looking up at the man.
The man’s eyes cut back to Hannah. “You’re… her?” he stammered.
“In the flesh and blood,” Hannah said with a grin.
His lip trembled, and he looked back at the rearick’s hammer. “Shit… I’m so…”
Hannah held up a hand. “Listen. The tower’s getting tight these days. Go get your food and cool off.”
The man nodded.
“But give any more shit to anyone, and I’ll introduce you to my dragon.” She nodded over to Sal and watched the man’s face freeze. “Understand?”
He nodded, but his eyes were cast downward.
“Good,” she smiled. “We’re all in this together. Things are getting tough; they’ll only get tougher. If we start tearing each other to shreds, that bastard back in our home has already won.”
The man turned back in the line and tried to pretend nothing had happened.
“Thanks,” Hannah whispered to Karl.
“Just another boar I saved ya from, lass. Now, let’s get our grub and have a seat!”
With their plates half as full as they should have been, Hannah and Karl made their way to a table in the corner of the great room where Sal had already taken up residence under the table. Hannah kicked her feet up on her beast and took in the room. The first few days after the victory, people were alive with the rush of winning the day, but that energy had faded. They had begun to fear their decision to follow the magician and her crew out to the tower.
Even some of the folk from the Boulevard grumbled, “Why have you led us out of Arcadia? Life was better there.”
She knew that was a lie. She knew that they had already forgotten the taste of Adrien’s oppression. And she knew that they would need to eat and train if they were going to take back the city.
Eleanor sat across from them, with her own sparse bit of food. She stared at it for a moment in a prayer of gratitude to the Matriarch and the Patriarch. She finally looked up at Karl and Hannah, smiled, and stabbed one of her few cubes of potatoes with her fork. As the one assigned to rations, Eleanor had taken it upon herself to eat less than anyone else. It was a job Hannah did not envy, but she knew Eleanor was up to the task.
“People are getting restless,” the rearick said as if he had been reading Hannah’s mind. “I’ve seen it before. If we don’t get them moving, and soon, they’ll start turning on each other. Hell, they’ll turn on us.”
Hannah nodded. “You’re right about that. Saw a little glimpse of the future with those jagoffs in line. What do you have in mind?”
Karl snorted. “Simple. They’re supposed to be a damned army, right? Time we start treating ‘em like one. Set ‘em to training. Set their eyes on kicking ass and getting home, and they’ll forget their empty bellies. Make discipline their food, and victory their only hope.”
Eleanor looked up from her plate, which was nearly empty. “I didn’t know you were a poet, Karl, and a bad one at that. You can’t build an army without food. Our people from the Boulevard know hunger, but it can only go so far. With winter still upon us, there’s precious little to forage in the woods. These people had little to begin with, and what they managed to carry with them has already been burned through. If everyone keeps eating like you,” she said, eyeing Hannah’s almost empty plate, “we won’t last the week.”
A loud thump grabbed their attention. Hannah turned to find Parker with a slanted grin on his face, standing over an enormous boar with its throat sliced open. “Ask, and you shall receive, Mother.”
Hannah’s eyes smiled at her best friend. “Not bad for a petty thief from the Boulevard. How’d you manage that?”
Grabbing a mysterious piece of meat from Hannah’s plate, Parker popped it in his mouth. “You see, Hannah, when a man has his back against the wall, and the people he loves are in need, the primitive hunter in him emerges, and he does whatever he has to do for the sake of those he loves. We need food; I brought back food.”
Hannah looked from the boar to Parker and back. She rolled her eyes. “So, in other words, you took some experienced hunters into the woods?”
Parker flushed. “If you want to put it that way… Yeah.”
Hannah and her friends laughed. “Well, you just do whatever you have to do to keep food on the table. And we will call you man all you like.”
Eleanor gave her son a kiss, then looked disgustingly at the boar. “I don’t care what you call yourself, sweetie, just get this filthy thing off the table. Maybe you could find some experienced butchers to help you clean your kill.”
Parker picked the boar back up and followed his mom out of the dining room. Hannah shook her head, then glanced over the room. Eleanor was right; this lot was no army. But they were the only army Hannah had.
“I think you’re right, Karl. I’ll try and figure out our food situation, but do you think you could teach this group to fight?”
Karl nodded grimly. “Aye, I’m done underestimating you Arcadians. You’re all thieves and drunks and gluttons, but I’ll turn your people into killers quick enough.”
Hannah smiled. Ready or not, she knew they’d all be doing a fair amount of killing before long. Either that or they’d be dying.
To follow CM Raymond and Lee Barbant and to find out about their other books: http://www.smokeandsteel.com