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.

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