So, I'm a little late posting this one. Sorry about that. Quick TL;DR: whichever of the six or seven novel openings I post racks up the most comments will be written in full on this here web log here. Of Hidden Shadows is a high fantasy epic. In Times of Cold Rain is noir crime-lit. Women, Weed and Weather is so-called "literary" fiction. Lyon's Den is a genre mash-up between chick lit and detective story. Weaponslayer: Forged is my offering to the YA gods.
Forged: Book I of the Weaponslayer Trilogy
The Rainman crept through the flickering shadows, gesturing for her to sit with his long, twisted fingers. As he passed by the broken light, she could see that he walked with his arms and legs forming almost a straight line, as if he were sneaking along girders and steel rope even in his own living room.
‘I am,’ he stuttered, ‘very pleased to make your acquaintance. I am Rejil, Rainmaster of Holshard Waterworks.’
She slunk back into the plush softness of the spherical chair. ‘My name is Sarah. I was chased out of the Upper Tier, something was after me, I got lost up here.’
Rejil nodded grimly in the dark, his violet eyes sparkling in the fragments of candlelight that danced in the wind. ‘I have seen you, Sarah. You are not like the others.’
She shrugged and sat up on one elbow, watching the Rainman perch in a sling. ‘I’m younger.’
‘What was it that chased you?’
A boy, she almost answered. The Rainmaster wouldn’t understand. Something about Azrel was wrong. His damned amber eyes. She felt like an insect trapped in sap whenever she saw him. But he had not dared pass the smog line, and she was alone again. Well, alone with a rather strange old man watching protectively over her.
‘Can I get you something to eat?’ He finally said after she declined to answer his question.
She nodded. She had not eaten in hours, and she could feel her quickening metabolism burning calories at an alarming rate to compensate for being so high above the Tiers.
‘How long was I out there?’ she asked when he returned with a steaming broth and a slice of bread. She sopped up some of the broth and bit into the bread. She smiled, the soup had been made with Pure water.
The Rainmaster slung himself around the room, hanging on lines stretching across the ceiling of the cottage. He seemed to be looking for something, his long limbs flaying about, tossing books and stacks of paper with his hands and his prehensile toes. ‘Not a long while,’ he said as an afterthought, absentmindedly picking up a worn looking volume and flipping through it. ‘You should be fine.’
She could feel how chapped her lips were, and the tips of her fingers felt as if they were covered in rust. She ran her hand through her hair and shivered to feel the frozen strands. ‘Thank you for taking me in,’ she said.
Rejil nodded sagely. ‘I found it,’ he said, holding up a shimmering red leather quarto. The pages seemed thin, even from across the room. She could hear the wind whistle through it as the Rainmaster flapped it in his hand as he made his way back across the room to her.
She took it from him and wiped the back of her hand across the jacket, scattering dust in the air. She gasped when she saw the title. ‘Songs in Silence,’ she whispered. ‘This was my mother’s favorite book. She read from it to me every night until I was Gathered.’
The Rainmaster sat patiently in front of her, not even nodding as she spoke.
‘How did you get this? When I Returned, after being Forged, I searched all of the libraries and bookstores for this. Everyone said it didn’t exist!’ she opened to the first page, reading the words aloud.
‘Your father was a great friend to We Who Live Above the Clouds, we saw him often in his journeys.’
She stared at the ancient Rainmaster, her jaw open and bubbling with a dozen unasked questions.
‘You did not know your father,’ Rejil acknowledged, ‘but he knew very much indeed about you. He was proud when you were Gathered, and he mourned your mother for years when the Infection took her.’
‘She was Infected?’ Sarah mumbled, her head dropping back to the pages of the book. ‘They never told me.’
‘We knew, and some of us were able to recover some of her things for him. And for you, though only he was confident that you would make your way here.’
‘Where is this place?’ she asked, the green glow of the cottage suddenly assaulting her with its strangeness. Even the sky outside the windows was lighter and falling away from her, as if gravity was tugging on the very color of the air.
‘We are far above the clouds, dear child, we are in the Fourth Tier,’ the Rainman said, taking her hand in his own and caressing her forehead. ‘You ran very far, and came very high.’
‘Where is my father? Is he here?’ she pushed the strange old man away from her, standing despite the rattling in her knees.
‘We have not seen Davyd in a very long time. He left for far Rindaven nearly two dozen moons ago. He has never returned.’
Less than two years, if she was as high up as she thought. The journey to RIndaven would take at least a year if he were going by any of the traditional routes. ‘Rejil,’ she barked, making a mental inventory of what she had brought with her on her Watch before Azrel had interrupted her. ‘Did my father know how to Cloudtravel?’ The Rainmaster choked on his sip of broth.
‘Where did you hear of that?’ he demanded.
‘It doesn’t matter, all right,’ Sarah protested, ‘I just need to know.’
‘No, he did not.’
Maybe the foolish boy who threatened her might have some use after all. That is, if he really can Cloudtravel, she thought. They could make it there only a few months or even weeks after her father. Maybe she could stop looking for answers in the smelly old books of the Upper Works religious catalogs. It was like Rejil had said, she really was different. And her father might be exactly the person to tell her why.