Take a moment and enjoy this brief excerpt from Chapter 1 of Blightcross, a brand new fantasy / steampunk novel. If it catches your interest be sure to stop and enter the giveaway for a copy of this book!
“By now, the bumps, dips, and nauseating drops should have become commonplace. At least, that’s what Capra had assumed. Four days aboard a flying boat ought to be more than enough time to grow accustomed to the strange sensations.
She had assumed wrong.
The green tint of the face frowning in the mirror told her so, if her roiling stomach wasn’t enough. But a lady ought to keep herself composed, especially when she was pretending to be one. She plunged her hands into her purse, sifted through small tools and knives and other unladylike things, only to confirm her initial fear—she had forgotten makeup, and would have to settle with this unstylish shade of green. Yes, to any other woman, an arsenal of cosmetics would be second only to their wedding dress on such an occasion. But Capra had deeper concerns.
The bathroom mirror, all gilt and modern leaf designs, rattled against the wall. She steadied herself on the edge of the counter and swallowed hard. Wasn’t there a pressure point in the wrists that could rid a person of seasickness? If, that is, being sick in the air was the same as being sick at sea.
A voice, deadened by the bathroom door, addressed her. “Darling, is everything all right?”
She bit her tongue and imagined herself standing on the dusty plains back home. Firmly planted. Firmly planted and not bobbing up and down and swaying and rolling…
“Everything’s just fine, dear. I’ll be right out.” She turned around and craned to catch the back of her neck in the mirror, just to be sure that her collar still covered her tattoo. An army brand was the last thing she wanted to explain to the Baron.
She wrenched open the tap and plunged her hands into the trickle, splashed her face.
Baron Parnas, the old bastard. He just had to make it difficult. Why couldn’t it have been a younger, more attractive man who had what she wanted?
No point in whining. It would be over soon enough. Just hold on long enough to do it all calmly and avoid being sloppy, and it would all fall into place. She straightened her back, adjusted the bejewelled clothes that Parnas had given to her. They were shapeless and boring, but apparently that was the style among these people.
Once she joined the Baron in their cabin, he frowned and said, “You’re still looking a bit ill, Capra.”
She made a vague gesture and began to pace. “Maybe we weren’t meant to fly.” All around her was the sound of creaking wood and a constant rush of the wind.
“Or maybe it’s just that you Valoii have some catching up to do with the rest of us.” He said this with a strange grin, and Capra wondered if revealing her nationality had been a mistake. “Unless your famed sheep herds have grown wings.” He chuckled, but Capra couldn’t see the humour in it. Some people evidently still thought it was acceptable to poke fun at a Valoii. But Parnas was old, and men of his generation might never pull abreast of the social progress that had burst like a fountainhead after the war. The Valoii were still backward in his mind, despite his romantic interest in Capra. That interest, she had figured out, was probably for the sake of novelty.
It wasn’t all bad. She just found it hard to enjoy the intricate floral rugs, the stunning arrangements of diamonds and triangles in the wall parquetry, and the modern furniture under the circumstances. The peacock feather motifs and feminine figures reminded her of the sophisticated land she had just left, for which she already longed.
Parnas suggested they take a walk around the deck ringing the sides of the flying boat, and it was the best idea she’d heard from the Baron since she’d sent him that initial love letter. Fresh air—that’s what she needed.
On through the corridors. Red carpet pillowed their feet like thick moss. Numerous times they met with the ship’s servants, done up in their grey waistcoats and yellow sashes, and Capra flattened against the wall to let them through. She caught up with the Baron, who simply barrelled past oncoming traffic, outside.
Her balance took leave again, and the Baron caught her. She gave him a coy smirk and gripped the railing. Overhead, the flying boat’s wings hung and flexed, and she caught a whiff of sulphur from the machine’s many engines. “It’s so different here. I didn’t think Naartland was this barren.”
“Much of it isn’t, my lady. This is just the Blightcross Administrative District. The province to the north has fjords and rainforests, everything I told you about in our correspondence. You’ll see once we get there.”
The sky around the ship was a field of blazing orange, and the ground was more of the same. Sand, dunes, and a vein of dark water cutting into the heart of Blightcross proper. There hung a haze about the entire city, just enough to smooth over most of its details. She saw the basic outline—swaths of tall buildings, and at the far end, near the river, a monstrosity of what she guessed were pipes and conduits. At the centre of this stood the tallest structure in the city, and its immense height was about all she could glean from the smudged view.“
“In a world rebuilding after global mechanized war, chaos and ethnic tensions rule.
City-states like Blightcross prosper under dictatorships built upon oil production. Refugees flock to the city-state to find work in the massive oil refineries. The black blood of Blightcross is replacing vihs-draaf, the magic of the Ehzeri people, but magic hasn’t entirely disappeared…yet.
For fugitive soldier and thief Capra Jorassian, Blightcross is an opportunity to earn enough money for her freedom. Stealing an enchanted painting from the dictator’s collection is nothing new. But the simple heist gets complicated quickly when Capra’s childhood friend shows up, bent on bringing her back for court martial. Then her eccentric employer, the creator of the painting, is kidnapped, throwing Capra into a struggle for the survival of Blightcross, with only her enemies as allies.
Till Sevari, the mad dictator of Blightcross, wants the secrets of the painting, and he’ll do anything to get them. But when the deadly forces within the painting spiral out of his control, Capra is the only one who can defeat them – by finding a power just as deadly, hidden beneath the lies of her own culture…
Blightcross breaks the boundaries of steampunk, using fantasy to explore the world of post-colonialism and the greed of oil dependent cultures.”