Sunday, February 02, 2014

Update of the Update

Machine should be coming out at the end of April. You can bet you'll see the cover as soon as I get it.

Following is a blurb and a snippet from Chapter Two.

* * *

The closing-day flea market at the Marvelous Mechanical Circus always draws a colorful crowd, but salesman Will Marchman doesn’t expect to see a large, elaborate gold wagon on the plaza—especially one called The Spiritorium. The wagon’s exotic looking owner claims he can perform “cleansings and siphonings” via a miracle-working machine housed within. He can supposedly flush the wickedness out of people and places.

The Spiritorium appears in the Mongrel village of Taintwell the next day, setting off a potentially tragic chain of events that involves a shocking revelation. To make matters worse, Fanule Perfidor, de facto mayor and Will’s lover, has been neglecting to take the tonic that stabilizes his moods. Besieged by his illness, Fan drives Will away. Then Fan’s best friend, vampire Clancy Marrowbone, vanishes, causing a rift between him and his mortal lover. Then Will disappears.

As Fan regains control of his mind, he knows what he must do to save his village and the people most important to him. He must solve the mystery of the Spiritorium and confront a man he’d hoped never to see again.

* * *

From the corner of his eye, Will saw a figure racing in his direction. A tall, familiar figure, his rough jacket flying out behind him, his powerful strides measuring out long stretches of grass. Before Will could react—
“Get away from him!” Fan roared, sounding fiercer than Will had ever heard him, sounding like a dragon defending its young, as he gripped the stranger’s shoulders and flung him aside.
Or tried to.
The Spiritmaster stumbled but didn’t fall, although he looked considerably older than Fan. Any other person would’ve landed on the ground ten feet away. Transfixed and anxious, Will glanced back and forth between both men. They looked… they looked like….
“You,” the stranger grated, his sharp gaze raking up and down Fan’s tall frame. The glance he darted at Will made a damning connection. “And a filthy two-door, no less. I can’t say I’m surprised.” He muttered something in a foreign tongue, but the name Quam Khar stood out.
Will gaped at the angular figure, the exotic man of stone. Why had he targeted them? Why did he seem to despise them? Not because they were twors; he couldn’t be absolutely sure of that. Not because Will was a Pure and Fan was a Branded Mongrel; he couldn’t have known that, either. And what, if anything, had all this to do with that Quam Khar person?
The self-appointed judge (for that was how he now seemed) dipped to the left, frowned for a moment at the side of Fan’s head, then extended a hand and flicked at Fan’s windblown hair. Will gasped at this inexcusable liberty. Glowering, Fan jerked away.
The judge curled his lips. “Well, well. Small wonder I couldn’t see the verification. They found you guilty of buggery and cropped your ears. What a peculiar punishment. You should have been stoned or hanged or at least had an S carved into your forehead.”
Will stepped forward. “That’s not why his ears were—”
Without looking at Will, Fan stiff-armed him from getting any closer to the stranger, at whom he stared spears of ice.
Any second now, Will feared, Fan would do something horrible to the man. Fan would suck the light from his eyes and swallow it, which meant it would be gone forever. The Spiritmaster would be blind for life.
Will clutched at his lover to get his attention. “Calm yourself, Fan. Don’t do anything rash. The authorities won’t tolerate it. You’ll be arrested.”
“It would be worth it.” The reply, spoken in a hard, cold voice, was shockingly sincere.
The stranger echoed “Fan” on a scornful laugh, as if he were spitting badly cooked food from his mouth.
“Just leave him be,” Will pleaded when he saw how Fan’s face had changed, how it quivered with suppressed rage.
“He can’t leave me be,” the stranger said, sneering around the words. “I’m sure it isn’t in his nature to leave anything be. Nor is it in mine.” Narrowing his eyes, the man lifted his nose and grimaced. “Dear God, how much of an abomination are you two? Do you also consort with blood drinkers? I can sense at least one beast’s presence in your lives.” His gaze slid to Will. “Ah, your friend, the one I saw you with yesterday! Is he the link, or is there, God forgive you, a more direct connection? Because as sure as I’m on this Green, I’ve stumbled upon a clutch of mandrakes, at least one of whom is a vampire.”
Will’s face gathered in confusion. More, in dread. How could this newcomer know all these things? “Who are you?” he whispered. Without waiting for an answer, he shifted his gaze to Fan. “Who is he? Tell me. I know you know.” His certainty had come but a split second before he voiced it.
A scudding cloud dimmed the sun. Slowly, the stranger looked at Will and smiled.
With a gesture as graceful as Clancy Marrowbone’s movements, he pulled a card from one of his pockets and handed it to Will.