Monday, March 28, 2016

The Sky Lord, Chapter 1

 The Sky Lord
Book 3 of the Convergence Series
Autumn Dawn

Work in Progress


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The Sky Lord Copyright © 2016 by Autumn Dawn
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

The Sky Lord

It had been thirty years since the Convergence, when the dimensions aligned and combined Earth and the world of Gwyllon, known in human mythology as “Underhill”. Elven castles and ancient ruins sprouted in vacant lots, on major highways, sometimes merging with existing buildings, twisting into completely new structures. Roads and rail systems reformed, and after the rioting, starvation and death, agriculture finally sorted itself and food began to flow. A new government formed of elves and men had arisen, a society of human tech and elven magic. Cell phones and frost giants, race cars and elven steeds, dungeons and dragons…
And everywhere, monsters.

The Sky Lord

Super-duper book blurb

Dixie listened to her gas tank tick as she stood by the side of the road, waiting for the traffic on the one lane bridge to clear. The wooden bridge was hastily constructed post Convergence and in dire need of an upgrade. Traffic to the city had increased; the highway patrol was successfully keeping the monster population under control, but the department of transportation hadn’t caught up. Cars were forced to take turns from each side, making morning traffic a nightmare.
She blew out a breath and looked away from the convoy of rusty old cars, horse drawn buggies and lone horsemen. She rode a motorcycle because gas was expensive and horses got eaten by monsters. It usually meant she could weave in and out of traffic jams, but there was no way around the stalled car clogging the bridge. All the cars had pulled to the side of the road to let a big 4x4 hook a tow strap to it.
She was stuck under the broiling sun with twenty-seven cars ahead of her. Her jeans and combat boots were good for preventing burns and road rash, but right now they stuck to her skin in a slick of sweat. That was okay; it matched the one gluing her t-shirt to her chest. She’d peeled off her helmet and armored motorcycle jacket, and flicked the tail of her light brown French braid off her shoulder. She’d tried wearing it short, but the stuff always got in her eyes, usually when there was killing to do. There was nothing worse than being blinded by your own hair when beheading a three headed snake.
Braids were easier, even if they exposed the tips of her pointed ears to sunburn. That sucked, but even trailer trash elves had healing, so she got by. Not enough to heal the scars that snaked over her forearms, neck and torso, but she’d learned not to mind. She was alive, wasn’t she?
The shoulder holster made sweat collect under her shirt, so she shifted it to try and get some airflow. She’d never take it off; the other gun at her hip and the machete poking over her shoulder were necessary to a girl with her particular talents.
The tow strap broke, provoking a heated argument. Even with keen elf vision, she had to squint to make out what was happening. Someone finally produced a chain, and they hooked up again.
She decided to remain standing, fluff her butt a bit. Straddling a bike seat for hours at a time tended to numb it.
The river was wide and looked inviting, but she knew better than to dip her toes in unknown waters. This was a northern river, but who knew what kind of crazy fish had spawned? Since Earth and Gwsyllon, known in human mythology as “Underhill” had converged, magic and science had united, producing a generation as likely to see sea monsters and dragons as it was to own a cell phone and email account.
She wasn’t too keen on dragons; seemed like another kind of monster to her, and she had enough monsters in her life.
They were pulling the dead car to the side of the road now. Looked like traffic might get moving shortly.
The river stirred. Her hand dropped to her gun as the ripple revealed a wide green back. What was the chance that was an elderly turtle, peacefully going about its business? Probably about the same as her getting a PhD in math or science.
The creature lifted its head and growled, the short tentacles around its eye ridges wiggling. It focused on the dead car, wet fish eyes sizing up the occupants.
Oh, crap, Dixie thought, and sprinted for the bridge.

Shozan was minding his own business when screams from the river caught his attention. Angling his leathery wings, he corrected course to investigate. Cars were fleeing the river, crashing and scrapping each other in the frenzy. Others parked nearby as heavily armed motorists fired on a monster in the water. The bullets did little good, seeming to enrage it. The heavily armored beast lumbered for the bank, as big as a two story house.
There was a car dead at the water’s edge, the parents frantically unbuckling screaming children from car seats. The man had one leg in a cast and the woman was heavily pregnant.
A young woman stood between them and the thing on the river. She had a gun in one hand, but it was pointed at the ground. Was she frozen with fear?
The monster in the water paused, its head swiveling to view her with widely spaced eyes. It seemed confused.
Shozan took advantage of the distraction to dive at the monster, talons out, driving it into the gravel bar. He could have flamed it, but the girl would have been roasted. Instead he used his massive jaws to break the monster’s neck, ripping it half off.
Satisfied the monster was dead, he looked for the girl and saw her scrambling up from the dust, eyes wide. Most likely she’d tripped over her own feet trying to flee.
Well, he was terrifying. He took stock of the situation, noting the twitchy-fingered gunmen. Bullets merely tickled, but it wasn’t good for the human’s state of mind if they started firing. “It’s all right, the monster is dead. I’ve got it under control. Has anyone called highway patrol? Are there any injuries?”
It took a moment for the shocked motorists to respond, but Shozan’s natural command soon brought results. Any injuries were minor. Also, since the road was now clear, it was an easy matter for people to start driving over the bridge, and they eagerly hurried on their way.
Shozan noted the bridge with disapproval; he’d see that it was attended to. It was obviously past time for expansion. He would speak to those in charge, see that it was taken care of.
He found the girl swearing at her bike. He vaguely recalled seeing a jacked up truck crunch over it as the owner fled. The front end was totaled, both tires mashed. “Do you need a lift?”
She eyed him with open suspicion. “I’m good.”
He rumbled in disapproval. “Shozan,” he said, leaving out the many honorifics. “Why didn’t you run from the monster?”
She made a face. “Usually, monsters love me. I have a gift. Too bad water monsters don’t seem to feel my charm.”
“Do you have a job?”
She blinked. “I’m between jobs. Why?” Her drawl was deeply southern, smooth and feminine. She would be easy to listen to.
“What’s your name?”
Her brow furrowed. “Dixie Jones. What’s yours?” Scars snaked around her arms, neck and slid under her shirt. Faint lines shown around her nose and eye, as if something had bitten her. If so, the damage had been expertly repaired.
“If it’s true you charm monsters, I have a job for you. I pay extremely well.”
She surveyed him in disbelief. A towering, midnight blue dragon in his prime, he’d just killed an enormous river monster in front of her, and it had only taken seconds. “I’m having a hard time believing this.”
He grinned, and she took a quick step back from his dagger teeth. “No offense intended.”
His laughter boomed. He liked this girl. “I’ll give you a million dollars for three day’s work. We’ll negotiate a salary after that. This is a long term problem, but I see potential in you.”
She studied him for a long moment. “Three days for something you could do yourself.”
“I’m a busy dragon, Ms. Jones. You’ll work with the team I’ve hired to take care of such things. This was fun, but my business affairs don’t allow time for me to flit about, killing stray monsters. I have a company to run.”
“Do you consider yourself a monster, Mr. Shozan?”
“Absolutely. I’m also a stickler for contracts, which I will require you to sign. A million dollars is a large retainer, even for a dragon.”
A million dollars. He watched it sink in, the cautious excitement creep into her eyes. “A contract would be good.”

“Excellent. Shall I give you a ride to the city? We can be at my lawyer’s office in minutes.” He called ahead, left a message with the secretary to expect them. He’d feed her while they waited for his attorney to draw up a document, bind her to a contract…and then they would see if Miss Dixie Jones really could charm monsters.

Best spring in years

We added charcoal filters to the air purifiers and what a difference! If it moves air in our house, it gets a charcoal filter.

We installed a wood floor from Lumber Liquidators two years ago to deal with dust mites, so now we have to check for formaldehyde. Because of the lawsuit, they have free air quality test kits, which my husband is looking into. He's as amped as I am about my feeling good, and moral is high here.

Because I'm still using a mask (necessary even with the air purifiers), I'm having the best spring in a long time. I even made it a half hour in Walmart until I started getting foggy (even charcoal filters don't save me from the bakery for long). I've also been able to go on short walks to get out of the house, which is amazing. I haven't taken an allergy tablet since I began using the masks, which is nice, since I view medicine with suspicion. You know those viagra commercials with the long list of side affects at the end? Yeah...

The upshot of all of this is I'm getting work done. Time to spread the happiness around!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ninja Me 2

Still using the mask, which is is a Godsend. The charcoal layer gets me through the bakery and pizza baking area of Walmart. Although I haven't tested it by the cleaning aisle yet, I passed the scented candles without incident.

The only down side is that it's too scratchy to sleep in, much to my dismay. After researching the matter, I determined that a three ply cotton mask is sufficient to keep out stuff bigger than one micron, which covers pollen, dust mites, dander, mold and a great deal of dust. Virus are another matter, but I'm not worried about swine flu; I just want to breathe.

I made my own 3 ply cotton mask, which is very breathable and lets me sleep without torment and wake refreshed. As soon as I take it off in the morning, I start coughing, so I know it works. The charcoal mask is still superior, but I bought surgical masks at Walmart today (superior filtering, but ugly) and will scavenge them to make more soft cotton masks.

Considering a Vogmask on Amazon, possibly pink so I don't look like a terrorist. I would come home from the store to see that terrorists have bombed Belguim...sigh.

Of course, now I'll have to write about a masked mage. Kicking around an idea for a metal mage in a junkyard. Much less anguishy than that the last one, promise. There might be a dark elf involved...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ninja Me

My doctor has been asking me to wear a mask for years during pollen season, but I didn't realize how much it would help my asthma and allergic headache. As a result of pride and stubbornness, I suffered from spring bronchitis, severe asthma and the horrible foggy, drunk feeling that spring allergies bring. As a result, I was trapped indoors with air purifiers and felt unsafe driving, shopping, etc. It also cut into my work time, resulting in weeks of lost productivity.

This mask is life changing. I love it. I told my kids they could call me ninja mom, because it's not at all like a stupid looking paper invalid mask. Yes, it fogs my glasses a bit, but it's easy to ignore, plus the steam inside the mask is soothing to my lungs. Best of all, I don't wheeze when raking, I have energy, and the stupid pollen is defeated.

I love that it's washable and love the price. I'm ordering more.

Famixyal Top Quality 2 Pcs Fashion Three Ply Activated Carbon Cotton Warm Mask Anti Dust Mask Anti-fog Mask Earloop Face Mask Safety Respirator Particle Respirator Home and Surgical Face Masks Filter Antivirus Bacteria Fog Haze Protective Guaze Mask

Famixyal Top Quality 2 Pcs Fashion Three Ply Activated Carbon Cotton Warm Mask

I slept in the mask last night and will be wearing it unless I eat, shower or brush my teeth for the next few weeks. On the one hand, Walmart is going to be interesting, but I got so disoriented and dizzy after forgetting to hold my breath in the laundry department (chemical sensitivity) that my daughter had to drive home. She even treated me to a lecture for scaring her; it's a weird reversal when your teenagers start mothering you.

Stores are usually tricky, since the dairy/wheat allergy usually leaves me dizzy and breathless. I prefer to shop early, and of course that's when the bread and pizza is baking.

Trust me, you can't hold your breath through an entire shopping trip.

Antique stores are fun, but not if old musty stuff triggers asthma. I'm hoping that won't be a problem anymore.

The final thing, the big tamale, is church. Perfumes, an old, musty building, chemicals...I haven't been able to attend our church in years. It'll be odd testing the mask there, but there are a few other sick people wearing surgical masks for cancer, etc. I'm sure the ninja will blend in soon enough.

Might even start a fashion trend. We can be the "Ninja Church". We already have a Korean congregation that shares the building, so it's not that far fetched.

The important thing is, I don't have to be afraid anymore, and I don't have to miss out on work. My son requested one for when the pollen makes his eyes swell and my husband is going to use one when he cuts the grass, which he's quite allergic to.

Ninja family. Sounds like a book...or at least a cartoon.