Hello again! Thanks for checking back.
Here is the first passage from “The Steam Magnate”, which begins as a kind of travelogue. Kyra is new to the Broken Glass City, and the reader is carried with her, learning something of the odd mission she’s been sent on, and of the cityscape that will change her life:
“Kyra arrived late at night, on a crowded, rattling steam engine, at an ancient place they called the ‘City of Mirrors’ or the ‘Broken Glass City’, depending on the language used. The city earns these names from stained glass that has been superimposed onto the exteriors of the walls and walkways, as though glass were shattered and thrown about into patterns, some random, others deliberate. The murky stone beneath dilutes the clarity of the glass and creates the illusion of hidden texture inside the walls, as when the stones beneath a river are visible under shallow water.
Despite the awesomeness of the place, apparent even under the dimness of night, Kyra felt gripped by a cold and powerful fear, as she had been sent here as a vassal to one whose mind was contorted toward revenge. The one who had sent her cared little if Kyra returned. She was to find a certain person in this city, to stay out of the sight of anyone of importance, and to rest assured that those who were making her a part of their scheme considered her quite worthless. The man she was seeking, whom she knew by the name of Eson, had likely arrived some days earlier and with a great deal more opulence than her own arrival had occasioned. There was mention of a contract or deed of some kind that she was to try to obtain from him through her innocuous and seemingly guileless manner, and through deception and over an extended period if need be. It would not be an instantaneous thievery, and perhaps not thievery at all, as the contract was said to be at least half the property of her employer. So was her task set before her, a vast pool of darkness into which she must step.”
Kyra is caught between forces beyond her control. Will she accomplish her strange duty, and how will she be transformed in the process? Is she really as innocent as she seems, or are there more layers to her identity? What is in store for her in this illusory city?
A large excerpt from the story is also available on Aio’s site. This excerpt introduces Eson’s character and gives you a sense of his conflicted and ever-searching nature. I always write Eson in first person perspective (so far!) and always write Kyra and Jado in third person. So, you are hearing Eson’s account of the story directly from his mouth, as he wants you to hear it….
Here is another excerpt to let you in on Eson’s perspective. He is describing his home country, The Steam Territories, which is a cold nation to the north of the mild Broken Glass City, and a nation under tight political control:
“Everything here is run by steam. Steam billows out from the roofs of buildings, and steel pipes run along the lines of the buildings which are high, like those in the glass city, but made of a darker kind of stone. We are the lucky that can live high up, near the water’s sources, before it is piped downhill to the power stations. We’re all wealthy because of the steam sources, and so we are largely immune to outside forces. We are few in number, and all have inherited at least some wealth from our ancestors’ positions as guardians of the original springs. Many, I among them, have been able to increase our wealth greatly through private dealings with myriad and secret persons. I have my own spring that flows next to my home into a pool surrounded by rocks, mine and now Sarah’s to enjoy. Steam heats our narrow houses and the enclosed walkways running between them. The entire town is built into the hillside, and from a distance it looks only like a wall of windows and dark beams set into the slope. The twisted evergreens insinuate themselves anywhere there is a slight chance for survival, their branches pressed against our windows like spiky green hands. Rivers of evergreens run along the valley below, and the train tracks continue toward the lights of our vast and hideous capital.”
Eson lives in reverence of the mountain springs that his family lineage has long protected. The springs are the source of his power, wealth and influence, as well as supporting his inner strength and spirit. Power of all kinds, from steam and tidal power to personal and social power are key elements in the story of Eson and his world. The reader may trust him and his smooth words, or you may wonder, “What isn’t he telling me, behind all his talk of power and inheritance?” The layers of Eson’s story unfold toward surprising revelations…
More excerpts tomorrow, and other topics to follow later in the week!