The Sorceress and the Dragon

Now that His Robot Wife: Patience Under Fire is done, I can get onto the final Senta (The Sorceress and the Dragon) book.  It is written and still needs revising and editing.  Before I start though, I’m going to go through and do a major re-edit of all of the series.  I’ve done some editing of them before, but this time, I may do some minor rewriting of certain sections.

I’ve already completed and uploaded the new version of Brechalon, and now I’m working on the Voyage of the Minotaur.  I’ll post here, when I’m done.  Once I have them all re-edited, I’ll start the revision for book 10: For King and Country.  It is a very long book, by far the longest in the series.  Watch this space for more info.

The Drache Girl – Chapter 10 Excerpt

Saba Colbshallow rapped his knuckles on the front door of the five-story structure, again, louder than he had before, but there was just as little response as there had been the first time.

“Police constable!” he called.  He waited a bit longer, and was just about to leave when he heard a distinctly sultry voice from inside.

“Who is it?”

“Police constable,” he said again.

The door opened and Zurfina stood in the doorway, her strange little leather dress displaying a good portion of her breasts with their star tattoos as well as her long legs.   Her thigh high boots had such high heels that she could almost look Saba in the eye.

“Yes?  What is it?” she said, with the air of someone who had just been interrupted in the middle of something vitally important.

“May I come in?” he asked.

With an exaggerated sigh, the sorceress turned her back and walked into the house, leaving the door wide open.  Saba followed her in and looked around the large room that formed the lower level of the structure.  It was, he thought, a surprisingly mundane looking combination of kitchen, parlor, and dining room.  The place was tidy and organized, none of the furnishings looking particularly worn or new, expensive or poor.  Zurfina waved her hand and the door slammed shut behind him, causing him to jump a little.

“Well?”

Saba swallowed.  He had known Zurfina for four years now, and found her just as wondrous, mysterious, and fascinating as he had when he was sixteen.  He had of course grown up to be a police constable, but she had grown to be a legend. She was an attractive woman: not as beautiful as Mrs. Dechantagne of course, not as charming as Mrs. Dechantagne-Calliere was at least capable of being, and nowhere near as adorable as Miss Lusk. Neither did she have the curvaceous figure of Dr. Kelloran.  But as writer Geert Resnick wrote in his novelThe Pale Sun, “the painting that most draws one to it, is not the most beautiful, but the one hanging to the wall by the most tenuous thread.”  Zurfina held the same appeal as a fast horse, an unstable bomb, or a canoe in a river filled with crocodiles.  And there was power.  Power was always appealing.

Zurfina sensed his hesitation and moved to stand very close to him.

“Now, little Saba,” she said, with exaggerated slowness.  “What brings you to see Zurfina the Magnificent?”

Saba had perfected his stare: a piercing look that let those he was interviewing know that he would brook no nonsense.  He gave the sorceress one of these stares, but it didn’t seem to work as well as it was supposed to.  She stepped a little closer and he suddenly realized he could smell her breath.  It was minty.

“Little Saba.”  Her charcoaled grey eyes seemed to be looking at something just below the surface of his face.

He swallowed.

“Police Constable Colbshallow,” he corrected.

She leaned forward so that the tip of her nose was only an inch from his.

“Little Saba,” she repeated.  “There’s something you’ve been dying to tell me.”

“No there isn’t.”

“Then why are you here?”

“I’m here about a Miss Amadea Jindra.”

Zurfina leaned back and scrunched up her nose.  “Now what business is that of yours?”

He retrieved the notepad from his coat pocket and flipped it open.  Turning so that he had better light to read by, he took the opportunity step away from the sorceress.

“It was reported that you kidnapped, um… acquired Miss Jindra from the deck of the S.S. Arrow four days ago, and no one has seen her since.”

“I say again, what business is it of yours?”  Zurfina spoke distinctly, chopping each word as if came out of her mouth. The temperature of the room dropped several degrees.

“You cannot simply snatch people off the street…” His voice trailed off as he noticed the sorceress’s eyes flashing.

Zurfina folded her arms across her chest and raised one eyebrow.  At that moment the door swung open and Senta walked in. Her bright pink dress peaked out from beneath a heavy white overcoat, with a fur trimmed hood.  She was carrying a large bed pillow under each arm. She kicked the door shut with the heel of her shoe, and walked over to stand next to the sorceress.  She looked first at Zurfina and then at Saba.

“Okay,” said Senta.  “What’s going on?”

“Little Saba was just telling me what I can and cannot do.”

“Well, this isn’t going to end up well, and you know who will have to clean up the mess?  Me, that’s who.  Here are your pillows,” Senta shoved the pillows into Zurfina’s hands.

Once the sorceress had taken the pillows, Senta took Saba by the hand and led him toward the front door.

“Let’s talk outside.  I love the smell of pine trees and chimney smoke.”  She led him outside, closing the front door behind her.  “What exactly are you doing?”

“Conducting police business.”

“Stopping me from taking care of those wankers who shot Bessemer has gone to your head, eh?”

“This is my job.  This is what I do,” said Saba.  “I protect the public peace.”

“And do you ever think about how you would do that job if you were turned into, say, I don’t know, a pig?”

“A pig?”

“Maybe a pig.  Could be anything really.  I thought I was about to see a Police Constable shaped lawn ornament.  But then I don’t have Zurfina’s wide experience and peculiar wit.”

“Well I have to go back in and talk to her.”

“Did they have to take your brain out to make that helmet fit?”

“That’s not funny little girl.  I have to find out what she did with Miss Jindra.”

The Drache Girl – Chapter 1 Excerpt

It was the second day of Hamonth, the first day of winter, and a chilly breeze blew across the bay and into the bustling colony of Port Dechantagne.  A ship, the S.S. Mistress of Brechbay had docked at the recently upgraded port and a row of happy immigrants were descending down the gangplank.  They stared with fascination, mixed with a small amount of fear at the dockworkers below them.  Dozens of lizardmen served at the port.  Sluggish now that the cooler weather had arrived, they used heavy winches to lift cargo from the deck of the ship and to deposit it on the gravel road beside the dock.  Other lizardmen then scooped up the crates, boxes, and barrels with hand-trucks and ferried them to the nearby warehouses.  Both groups of lizardmen were supervised by human foremen.

People all along the dock stopped and stared as Senta walked by. Hundreds of passengers leaned over the railing of the ship and others on the gangplank pointed and gaped with open mouths.  Senta carried herself with a bounce that made her long blond hair sail behind her like a proud banner in the wind.  She was dreadfully skinny, though the bustle beneath her yellow dress gave her a little bit of a figure.  She was a child soon to become a young woman, and she was brimming with confidence. She was well known in the colony and she thought that she was quite pretty too.  She had to admit though, that the people were probably not gawking at her, but at the dragon which walked along next to her.  It was the size of a small pony, covered in scales the color of polished steel.  Every step it took was a study in grace, and from the tip of its whiskered snout, past its folded wings, to the tip of its barbed tail, it seemed to just flow along.

“They look as though they’ve never seen a dragon before,” said the dragon.  Had someone heard his voice without seeing him, they would have thought it was a young gentleman speaking.  It was a rich voice, but still young.

“They probably haven’t,” replied Senta.  “Dragons are pretty rare.”

“Rare and very beautiful…”

“Oh do shut up,” said the girl, and then, “There he is. Hey Graham!”

A boy about the same age as the girl and about twice as heavy even though he was almost a head shorter, ran toward them.  He had on the dungarees and heavy shirt of a dock worker, and both were stained here and there, no doubt from just such a form of labor. His unkempt brown hair and freckled face made his smile seem all the more genuine.

“Hey Senta.  Hey Bessemer.”

“Hello Graham,” said the dragon.

“You look a mess,” said Senta.  “You did remember that we were supposed to go for lunch?”

“Sorry, I can’t go.  I gotta work.  I can’t leave my crew alone.”  He gestured over his shoulder at the group of five lizardmen awaiting his return. Looking like a cross between an upright alligator and an iguana, with skin ranging in color from a mottled olive to a deep forest green, each of the reptilians were two feet taller than the boy. They stood waiting, scarcely moving, and giving the dragon and his companion surreptitious looks.

“I don’t care for those reptiles,” said Bessemer.

Graham snorted.

“What?”

“It cracks me up every time you say that,” Graham told the dragon.  “Besides, you know they think you’re a god or something?”

“I didn’t say they didn’t have taste.”

“Come on,” said Senta.  “I’ve heard this entire conversation already twenty times.  If you can’t come with us, we’ll just go get lunch ourselves.”

One of the lizardmen hissed something, and then two others began replying in the local reptilian dialect.

“Up your trolley!” yelled Graham at them, and then he too began to hiss in the native tongue.

The lizardmen turned and walked back over to a pallet full of cargo, which they had evidently been in the process of carrying to the warehouse.  With what seemed to be a great deal of unhappiness, but not a great deal of speed, they returned to work.  One of them hissed again.

“That’s right you!  You keep your pecker on!” yelled Graham.  He looked at Senta and flushed slightly.  “Sorry.  Ma says I shouldn’t use the language from the dock around the young ladies.”  He said the words ‘young ladies’ in a strained falsetto imitation of his mother.  “I’m sorry, but I can’t go.  I didn’t know the Mistress was going to be docking today.”

“Fine,” said Senta.  “I’ll just dine with Hero and Hertzel.”

“Hertzel’s working too.  I just saw him take his crew up on the crane.  It’s probably going to be a late night and we’ll probably be working this schedule for the next four days.  Look, I’m sorry.  But I’ll make it up to you next week, Okay?”

“Fine,” said Senta, unhappily, and Graham set off back toward his cold-blooded staff members.

“Don’t be so sad,” said the dragon.  “You can have a ladies’ luncheon.  You can be all hoity-toity and proper.  You know how much you love that.”

“What about you?”

“I’m going hunting for my own lunch.”

“Just be careful.  Watch out for predators that are bigger and scarier than you.”

“There may be bigger, but there are none scarier!”  He emphasized his last four words for the crowd of immigrants fresh off the ship who were forming around for their first look at a living dragon.  Bessemer took a deep breath and blew three small smoke rings in their direction. The crowd, moving as one, took a step backwards, even though none of them had approached within a twenty foot radius of him anyway.  Then, with one swift motion, the steel dragon shot into the sky like an artillery shell and disappeared.

Senta walked up the hill, following the white gravel streets through the warehouses and workshops that filled the area near the dock. She passed along the fence that separated the militia barracks and parade ground from the commercial storage facilities.  Finally she passed through the gate in the Emergency Wall that had once separated the colony from the terrors of the primeval forest, but now separated the older part of the colony from the newer.

Just beyond the gate was the town square. This was the only portion of town that was paved with cobblestone, and it had only been completed the previous summer. In the very center of the square was a small area of grass, lined with flower beds and set aside with small ornamental wrought-iron fencing.  In the middle of the grass was a large flagpole, flying now, as it always did the red, white, and blue Accord Banner of Greater Brechalon.  Around the edge of the square were about twenty buildings that comprised almost all of the community’s shops and stores.  Senta had been in every single one of them.  She had been in most of them many times. Today her stop was on the corner of the square at Mrs. Finkler’s Bakery.