Here’s part 2 of the excerpts of Storm Approaching for you! Enjoy!
Andiriel stood outside the Wizards’ House in a reverie. A hundred gold—why, you could buy a horse for ten! She was still standing there when her friends ran up.
“I sold that thing—it’s called a changer,” she told them. “It’s sort of magical.”
“Then it must have been Garjon, not Vomaxx,” said Jin. “How much did you get?”
“Look.” She held out the coins that bore on one side the portrait of a chubby, beardless man wearing a crown, surrounded by the words “Grellin the Fourth, E.W.G.”
The girls gaped. She gave one coin to her dark-haired friend. “Your share, Jin.”
Jin squealed. “Thanks, Andiriel. Mmmm—I’ll meet you back home. I’m going to get some rouge.” She scampered off towards a shop.
“You get two,” she said to Nella.
The pale, plump blonde girl hesitated, then started to cry. “I can’t take them, Andi. Jin and I just teased you about going into that nasty place because you talk about adventures and heroes and we wanted to make you look silly. We never thought you’d actually do it. I felt awful. So did Jin, a little.”
Andiriel kissed Nella on the cheek. “But it turned out all right. I really got a lot more than this. Garjon is keeping it for me, but don’t tell Jin yet. Here.” She pushed the coins into her friend’s hand. “Take ‘em, Nel. I want you to.”
Nella smiled and put the coins in her pocket.
They got back to the Institute at sundown and entered the residential building to find Mistress Verda looking expectantly at both the door and the large clock. “Just in time, young ladies. None of you needs any washing duty, do you? Andiriel, what did you do to yourself?”
“I tripped, mistress.”
“Clumsy as usual, I see. Is your arm very sore?”
“Some, mistress. I stopped at the Wizards’ House. Master Garjon gave me some salve.”
“Go and wash it, and I’ll get you some gauze to wrap it in.” She shook her head. “What is going to become of you in two years?”
“I think about that a lot, mistress. I really do.”
Chapter 2 FORMATION
Andiriel and her fellows were fortunate. Orphans, foundlings, waifs, they might have starved or met worse fates. But thanks to the benevolence of the Emperor and a philanthropic businessman named Rellas Shai, they were in the Institute for the Salvation of the Homeless: taught carefully, clothed decently, fed well, and cared for by people who combined strictness with fairness. Master Shai, who paid half the expenses, did get some return for his kindness: at age ten the girls learned to make lace, and from then on their schedule was fixed: rise at seven, cleaning and breakfast, school from eight until twelve-thirty, dinner, five hours of work in the lace factory, and, after supper, study, and games, and bed at ten (or eleven, for the older girls). Sunday was free, after morning chapel.
The girls became very skilled. The lace was excellent. They were paid about one-fifth of what Master Shai would have had to pay adults.
One afternoon a few weeks after Andiriel’s adventure in Jagar’s Chapel, while the girls were busy at their tables in the factory, someone yelled, “Look! Glory Knights!”
Work stopped. The matrons, far from trying to restore order, joined the general rush to the windows.
Andiriel used her strong arms to push forward until she had a good view. Riding by in ordered ranks were fifty men, each wearing mail under a red surcoat emblazoned with a golden sword encircled by a crown.
These were followed by men on smaller horses, younger fellows in white surcoats, their mounts loaded with impedimenta. Two wagons brought up the rear.
A collective sigh arose from the dozens of women and girls crowding the windows. Andiriel and many others called out, “Long live the Order!”
“They’re going to Red Tooth Pass,” said Nella.
“Yes.” Andiriel’s eyes eagerly followed the cavalcade. “The one with the gold star on his sleeve is a Professed Knight and the others are Knight Brothers, or esquires—the ones in white.”
Traffic along the avenue made way for the riders. Pedestrians watched respectfully, the men removing their caps. Some cheered.
“Aren’t they magnificent?” said Andiriel. “And their horses are so big and beautiful.”
Jin giggled. “So are the riders. Wouldn’t you like to marry one, Nella?”
“If only I could.”
“You all know that the Knights of the Sovereign Order are celibate,” said a matron, whose own eyes had never left the cavaliers. “All right, ladies, back to work.”
Andiriel, Nella, and Jin were at the same table.
“Would you like to meet a Glory Knight, Andi?” asked Nella.
Jin laughed. “Andiriel wants to be one, don’t you?”
She had a faraway look in her eyes as she missed a stitch. “I would if I could. They’re so wonderful. They guard the Emperor, they protect us, they’re brave and strong. And their lives aren’t boring.”
“I’d like to see the Emperor again,” said Jin. “I was too little when he came to Javakis. Maybe we’ll go to the Capital some day. It’s not so far.”
“It’s 200 miles,” said Nella. “That’s far.”
“I’ll get there some day,” said Andiriel. “I’ll see our foster-father, and the palace, and the Glory Knights, and… and… Well, I’m not doing this all my life.”
One of the matrons passed the table. “You won’t be doing this for very long at all if you don’t do it better, young miss. A copper off for that poor work. Less talk and start again.”
Jin laughed; Nella frowned. “What are you going to do when we leave, Andiriel?” asked Jin a moment later. “Are you going back to the chapel for more gold?”
“Maybe you should.”
“Me? I’m no hero. I’m going to apprentice to the Javakis Players. I already talked to the manager. It’ll be fun. They tour all over. That’s how I’ll get to the Capital.”
“You’ll be a good actress, Jin,” said Nella. “I’m sure you will. I’m getting married. Mistress Verda said that Mistress Ellana has had three men asking about me for their sons.”
“That’s what you want,” said Andiriel.
“Oh, yes, Andi, I do. My own home and some children. I love children.”
“I know. I’ve seen you with the biddies.” (She referred to the youngest orphans.) “I’m always afraid I’ll drop one.”
“Why don’t you go to the Higher Schools, Andiriel?” Jin asked. “You could get in easy, with your brains. You read the dictionary, didn’t you”
She smiled. “I did read the General Lexicon, but we won’t have a real dictionary until the Commission finishes work and prints it up.” She did some stitches. “I love words, like Nel loves kids. They’re beautiful and powerful.”
“Join the Federation, learn magic words,” said Jin. “Or the Church, and learn holy ones.”
“I don’t think I can be cooped up much longer. I want to see things and do something new. I just wish I knew what. Let’s be quiet now. Master Shai deserves good work.”
Tomorrow I’ll post the second-half of Formation. 🙂 You can order your copies of Storm Approaching from the publisher, Author House, or from Amazon (US/UK). South Africans reading this can also order the book from Kalahari and Exclusive Books.