Please welcome Kenny Soward
to The Qwillery with an excerpt from Tinkermage
. In this excerpt we are introduced to Stena Wavebreaker. Tinkermage
, the second book in the GnomeSaga, was published on December 1st by Ragnarok Publications.
Stena Wavebreaker came from a long line of strong-backed sailors, all who’d mysteriously taken up the seafaring trade some two-hundred years ago. Their original family surname had been purposefully forgotten and the Wavebreaker Shipping Company established. A passion for the sea drove them to dangerous waters, bravely delivering cargo where no others would dare, taking on pirate ships with gleeful hostility. Reckless, no. Tough as twice-hardened gnomish steel, yes.
Stena had been a fixture on gnomish vessels for almost forty years, known by everyone for her less than gentle ways yet still loved by her crews. If you wanted cargo delivered to the Drake Islands or around the coast to the dwarvish stronghold of Olrad, you hired Stena Wavebreaker.
But an airship captain?
The clouds kissed her face with cold mist as she stood on the forward navigation deck of her most recent commission, a nameless vessel pieced together and re-thaumaturged into something that might (or might not) stay in the sky. Granted, she fought hard to stay airborne. The port and starboard fans, mounted on swivels four to a side, were locked vertically to support the main aft propeller, driving the airship forward as fast as they dared, although Stena could tell by the low whine of the engine they could do better yet. Rune-etched wood made up the ship’s hull and deck frames. Tethered above was the large, bulging air bladder comprised of several smaller air sacs, all of which fit into a skin framed by metal and wood. They swung beneath it like some maniacal pendulum.
Stena put her boot into one of the many rope anchors in place across the deck as the vessel heaved up against a wall of wind, tilted at a precarious angle, threatening to roll her down the deck. She’d been trying to read a map and resisted the urge to toss it aside and clutch an anchor rope.
No. She must exude utter confidence, unwavering fortitude, and insurmountable strength. She couldn’t show one sign of ground-kisser’s weakness. Her foot tightened beneath the ankle rope, muscles straining taut up through her leg. Her eyes fixed on the flag of Hightower fluttering from a pole near the prow. A white cog on a field of blue. Her heart swelled with pride at the sight of it even as she gritted her teeth from the ship’s billowing.
Just like the surge of waves below your feet, Stena!
The crew of four followed her lead, anchoring themselves while continuing to go about their business with cool efficiency. Levers flipped, shouts rang out, and water surged through pressure lines. The engines whined with increasing effort as the gnomish crew steered the vessel up the wave of wind.
She called out with a boom, “Hang tight and steer her right, good gnomes!”
The wind ate her words, and she repeated herself loud enough to be heard, squinted against a fierce pelt of rain, and willed her crew onward. The only one among them not part of her crew was the linguist, Bertrand, who Dale had assigned at the last minute to help communicate with the swamp elves when the time came. Yes, the swamp elves. Who knew if they still existed? Stena and her crew were to find out, and they would depend on the linguist to keep them alive. Right now, Bert was below with the cargo, undoubtedly hanging on for dear life with a bucket on hand in the event his dinner came up.
At the crest, the ship hitched and evened out. Stena relaxed. She knew it wouldn’t last though. Soon, there’d be another brutal wave of wind to batter them in some unexpected direction. Being on a stormy sea was smooth as a baby’s bottom compared to this. Her crew was just too new, too green.
“Maintain altitude,” Stena shouted. “The first of you who figures out how to keep this bucket of slop from rolling on its head gets an extra fill from the cask.”
Stena secured the map to the controller’s table with corner clasps. She pushed a shock of blondish-gray hair back into her fur-lined hood and studied the markings and intersecting lines of their course, looking for any piece of land they might have missed.
As directed by Precisor General Dale Dillwind some days ago, they’d flown back and forth across the lands south of Hightower, through clouds and gray skies, gazing down like gods upon the hills, forests, and streams. West across the Southland Farms where barns and homesteads looked like tiny, rust-colored boxes all the way to the Western Pass, then back east again over Swicki Forest and what had once been Dowelville. Stena had directed them to fly low over the newly charred Harwood Lake, marveling at the massive carcass of the mother amorph being hacked to pieces for disposal by gnomish workers. Stena had attached a note with their current report to a ship weight and dropped it down to the officers directing the cleanup crew. One officer had gone to it and waved up at them.
It was then that Stena realized the importance of their mission and Dale’s genius in sending the airships to the sky in the first place. Hightower hadn’t been threatened by outsiders in almost two hundred years, yet the precisor general had taken it upon himself to shake this sleepy town awake. He’d launched a half dozen ships to the far corners of Sullenor to seek help from races they’d not had contact with for decades, centuries even. Stena’s mission was the hardest, by far, and she would do everything she could to be his eyes and ears in the sky. While she was confident in their mission, she was also one hundred percent positive it was a fruitless task. Unlike most Hightower gnomes, she had great experience with the outside world, and that world had very little time for her folk and their problems.
Which only made Stena want to succeed even more.
“Lins! What’s wrong with the prow? It’s bending to this wind like a beat dog. Is it sad? Is this damnable boat sad? If I find myself staring at the ground one more time, I’m throwing you off this deck. Now, right the ship!”
“Aye, Captain!” came Linsey’s reply. As if to prove her competence, the port and starboard blades shifted, engine noise rising, and the prow nosed up at the moon.
Yes, they’d stay afloat if it damn well killed her.
Ragnarok Publications, December 1, 2014
eBook, 320 pages
Cover by Arman Akopian
THE ENEMY EXPOSED. Nikselpik Nur has become the city of Hightower’s staunchest—albeit unwilling—ally. He’s hardly learned to cope with his debilitating bugging addiction, much less take on the duties of being the city’s First Wizard. Can he embrace this new path? And will he?
Meanwhile, Stena Wavebreaker is pulled from her seafaring duties by the Precisor General and given command of a raggedy airship to scout the ultraworldly enemy from the perilous skies above the Southern Reaches. Her mission: gain the support of the unpredictable ‘swamp elves,’ the Giyipcias.
Lastly, Niksabella Nur has set off from Hightower at the behest of the grim stonekin leader, Jontuk. The gnomestress must unlock the full potential of her invention, the recursive mirror, and her own powers, to bear what might be the heaviest burden of all. What will she discover along the way? And will Jontuk be able to keep her alive long enough to save them all?
This is GnomeSaga Book Two.
A full-color PDF map of Sullenor, the GnomeSaga setting, is available to download here at Ragnarok Publications.
Ragnarok Publications, October 30, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 416 pages
Cover by Arman Akopian
NIKSABELLA the gnome has tinkered in the shadows for years, developing an invention that might change the world—even if she doesn’t know it. She has few friends and even fewer allies in Hightower, where social and academic status is crucial.
Her brother, NIKSELPIK, is an obstinate wizard who drinks heavily, sings dirty songs, and makes unmannerly passes at gnomestresses. A dark addiction consumes him, giving him increased power while also pushing him closer to death.
Dark, otherworldy creatures, foreign to the lands of SULLENOR, have suddenly appeared, making chaos wherever they go. In the wake of this, Niksabella must fight to protect her life and her invention, while Nikselpik engages the enemy as an unlikely counselor to Hightower’s military elite.< Will the gnomish siblings find their true powers together, or perish apart? And will they overcome the wounds of their childhood before it's too late?
Kenny Soward grew up in Crescent Park, Kentucky, a small suburb just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, listening to hard rock and playing outdoors. In those quiet 1970's streets, he jumped bikes, played Nerf football, and acquired many a childhood scar.
Kenny's love for books flourished early, a habit passed down to him by his uncles. He burned through his grade school library, and in high school spent many days in detention for reading fantasy fiction during class.
The transition to author was a natural one for Kenny. His sixth grade teacher encouraged him to start a journal, and he later began jotting down pieces of stories, mostly the outcomes of D&D gaming sessions. At the University of Kentucky, Kenny took creative writing classes under Gurny Norman, former Kentucky Poet Laureate and author of Divine Rights Trip (1971).
Kenny's latest releases are ROUGH MAGIC (GnomeSaga #1) and THOSE POOR, POOR BASTARDS (Dead West #1) with Tim Marquitz and J.M. Martin.
By day, Kenny works as a Unix professional, and at night he writes and sips bourbon. Kenny lives in Independence, Kentucky, with three cats and a gal who thinks she's a cat.Website