Saunter into this Week in Review November 15th-21st, 2020

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Slow down a little bit and explore the new books released in this, Week in Review for November 15th-21st

Ease into some new books here: Week in Review

 

 

Never a Dragon:

Dragons used to rule the world; those days are over. But humans, mages, and dragons have just begun learning to co-exist without conflict. Kylara Diamantine has never met another dragon. Raised by her mother apart from the rest of their society without any idea why, she's always been curious about the rest of their species. She wants to get out there, to meet other dragons, to explore! To stretch her wings. Literally.

 

Battle Magic:

Every lesson Leira Berens has learned since she found out she’s a Jasper Elf is about to be put to the test. Magic has come out into the open with a bang and everything is in peril. The monster will have his day or die trying. Wolfstan Humphrey is losing ground but he’s not going down easily. He’s built an army of twisted magicals ready to attack. Will his quest for power succeed?

 

The Auburn Rebellion:

Centuries ago, humanity crawled inside its bunkers and vowed never to come out. But Jessica13 and her little service mech Mini leaped head-first into a wide-open world that’s every bit as grand and lethal as she imagined. They discover Auburn, a village with apparent freedoms they didn’t know existed, but all is not what it seems. Can she protect the people of Auburn from the iron-fisted rule of Lady Hoot? She’ll need to rely on her wits, Mini’s speed, and a hell of a lot of engineering skills to try and save the people of Auburn.

 

Final Chance:

Justin is acclimating inside the virtual world, but can he find the final element he needs to escape from the world of PIVOT? With Prima’s help—or, perhaps, despite it—he has gotten to Insea, the capital of the Elven lands. Aided by Tina, who is desperate to help Justin recover from the accident she created, Justin decides to fight in the Tournament of Insea. The one problem? His chief rivals are a set of twins who believe they’re reincarnated gods—and they’ll stop at nothing to make sure they take power.

 

Wizardborn:

The War to End All Wars just got personal. The World’s First Wizard was dragged into this fight kicking and screaming, but now that the dark conspiracies have dredged up specters of his past, Milo is determined to put them down once and for all. His power growing with the stakes, Milo faces foes, human and otherwise, with aims that threaten to reshape the world, and they’re willing to do it at the cost of millions of souls. Milo, hero or not, can’t stand by, and so with his deathless bodyguard and fey girlfriend, he plunges into the dark, swimming upstream all the way.

 

Determine the Future:

A new set of dragonriders are in town. And they don’t play by the rules. Actually, for the Rogue Riders, there are no rules. There is just what belongs to them and that which they take from others. The Dragon Elite have never had such a huge problem to deal with. Fighting magitech armies is one thing. Cyborgs another. But battling their own, this makes it personal.

Follow the stories of some of our favorite heroes here: Week in Review

 

Festive Fan's Pricing Saturday November 21st, 2020

Fan's Pricing Saturday

Load up on books in preparation for Thanksgiving week.

Fan's Pricing Saturday: November 21st, 2020

 

 

Note:  We requested the price changes from Amazon on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, they don’t change all of the prices at one time. Please double-check the price before clicking “Buy”.)

All of these new releases are 99c for one day only!
And they are also available for FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
Grab them today before the prices go up!

 

 

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Battle Magic

 

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Unfaithful Covenant

 

CALCULATED RISK E-BOOK COVER

Calculated Risk

 

Final Chance e-book cover

Final Chance

 

Moonlight detective agency boxed set e-book cover

Moonlight Detective Agency: Boxed Set

 

 

Never a dragon e-book cover

Never A Dragon

 

Auburn Rebellion e-book cover

The Auburn Rebellion

 

 

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LMBPN Story Featured in Nebula Showcase #54

The Nebula Awards Showcase #54 features the Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, as selected by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Volume #54 is the latest volume of the prestigious anthology series, which has been published annually across six decades. The Nebula Awards Showcase volumes have been published yearly since 1966, reprinting winning and nominated stories of the Nebula Awards, as voted on by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

You can find both digital and print purchase options for the showcase here:

https://nebulas.sfwa.org/2020-nebula-showcase/

This volume’s editor is Nibedita Sen, a Hugo, Nebula, and Astounding Award-nominated writer and editor. Volume #54 collects stories and excerpts from works nominated in 2019, including the following winners and nominees (an asterisk indicates a winner):

Introduction by Nibedita Sen
“It’s Dangerous to Go Alone” by Kate Dollarhyde
“Into the Spider-verse: A Classic Origin Story in Bold New Color” by Brandon O’Brien
“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by P. Djèlí Clark*
“Interview for the End of the World” by Rhett C. Bruno
“And Yet” by A. T. Greenblatt
“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of  Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow
“The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinsker
“The Only Harmless Great Thing” by Brooke Bolander*
“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly
“An Agent of Utopia” by Andy Duncan
“The Substance of My Lives, The Accidents of Our Births” by José Pablo Iriarte
“The Rule of Three” by Lawrence M. Schoen
“Messenger” by R.R. Virdi & Yudhanjaya Wijeratne
Excerpt: “The Tea Master and the Detective” by Aliette de  Bodard*
Excerpt: “Fire Ant” by Jonathan P. Brazee
Excerpt: “The Black God’s Drums” by P. Djèlí Clark
Excerpt: “Alice Payne Arrives” by Kate Heartfield
Excerpt: “Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach” by Kelly Robson
Excerpt: “Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries” by  Martha Wells
Excerpt: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal*

LMBPN congratulates all of the authors with selected stories, but we're especially honored to have Messenger by R.R. Virdi & Yudhanjaya Wijeratne selected for this prestigious volume.

If you're interested in more great stories from LMBPN Publishing, please click here to join our email list to be notified of new releases and sales!

 

Blended Wild Wednesday November 18th, 2020

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A little something for everyone, and at a great discount!

 

Welcome to Wild Wednesday for November 18th, 2020

 

Each week we bring you a list of books from not only LMBPN authors, but also friends of ours, that are on sale! Here’s a fantastic opportunity to discover some new authors or some exciting books you may not have seen yet.

Most of these books are FREE in Kindle Unlimited, but all are on sale today.

Please remember to double-check the price before you one-click.

 

 

NEVER Split the party e-book cover

Never Split the Party 

 

Moonlight detective agency boxed set e-book cover

Moonlight Detective Agency Complete Series

 

 

Dream Travelers Ultimate boxed set e-book cover

The Dream Travelers Ultimate Boxed Set: Includes 3 Series 

 

 

End Days complete series e-book cover

End Days: Complete Series

 

 

The dark one's reign e-book cover

The Dark One's Reign

 

Don’t miss out on these other fantastic promotions! Just click the banner and go to the web page.

 

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Enter For Your Chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card

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If you see this message after November 18th, and want to be notified of future price promotions, please sign up for our newsletter at www.lmbpn.com/email.

 

 

Exhilarating Week in Review November 8th- 14th, 2020

Week in review

 

It's such an exciting feeling when the next book in a series comes out! This week was full of that very feeling.

 

 

 

Catch up on your favorite series here: Week in Review

 

 

Don't Give A Dwarf:

Johnny Walker, Dwarf Bounty Hunter is back on the hunt. WANTED: Dead or Alive. Logree Creature. Origin is Oriceran. Intelligent, flammable, displaying purple goo and tentacles. Do not approach. Leave to the professionals… like Johnny Walker. Just what the Everglades needed. But who’s going to watch the teenage shifter staying in his cabin? Turn your back and she’s wrestling an old Gator from the swamp. Johnny knows what to do. A little magi-tech and a few favors can get the answers he needs.

 

Unfaithful Covenant:

Erik and Jia have to build more resources into their team, and one isn't so happy with Jia. Will she be able to change the agent's opinion, or will they have to toss her off the team and forego her expertise? The enemy's cracks are starting to be visible. One of them is showing their hand early. Will the covenant created before Erik and Jia be strong enough to withstand the focus of their enemies?

 

Calculated Risk:

What do you do when the other side uses your son’s life as a negotiating ploy? Mary and Senator Tad Williams will learn what it means to play hard ball. Can they play just as hard? Amber, Nick, and Jacob now have the responsibility that came with their sudden decision to help a kid. Are they up to the task? Justin is acclimating inside the world. Will his need to connect with another person extend to feelings for a fake character? There is more going on here than dirty politics, questionable business ethics, and cutting-edge science that might kill.

What will happen next for these heroes? Find out here: Week in Review

 

 

 

 

Mischievous Snippet #2 for Dragon's Daughter book 1

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Never A Dragon : Dragon's Daughter Book 1

 

After a while, in a safe world we create for ourselves sometimes, we forget that there are real dangers out there and realities we don't even know to be concerned with. The same is true for dragons I suppose. But you know what they say, curiosity killed the cat.


 

Sixteen years later: Somewhere outside Little Water, New Mexico, USA. 

The wind felt amazing under Kylara Diamantine’s wings and so much better than the stuffy air of their home—more like cave—half-buried in a mountain. The red rocks and sands of the New Mexican landscape below her had baked in the sun all day. They belched heat into the air that she caught with her wings as she spiraled higher into the sky. 

She wasn’t strictly supposed to be out flying—not without her mom—but what Hester Diamantine didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her. The young dragon was almost seventeen now, but her mom still treated her like she was nothing more than a dragonling. 

There was no reason why she couldn’t fly by herself. She was certainly good enough at it. She flapped her wings and forced herself into a dive that took her from the cool air that lingered high above the mountains to the heat-baked landscape below. As the air grew hotter around her, she whooped with delight. This was living! 

Instinctively, she spread her wings and caught another thermal of hot air to drift higher again as effortlessly as a bird. She circled continuously and increased speed as she added her strength to the power of the heated air to drive herself so high that the air became cold enough that when she breathed it in, it almost hurt. 

When she reached that elevation, she leveled off and studied the landscape below her. Kylara had never known any landscape but New Mexico. She longed to see a lush forest, a meadow, a jungle, or even a city, but she could admit that she lived in a beautiful place. Below her, different shades of stone battled for dominance of the high desert landscape. Red rocks, yellow rocks, and pink boulders flecked with crystals that glimmered in the sun all poked from the sand and scrubby soil. Some people might see a wasteland, but not her. She saw a hundred kinds of cactus, dormant grasses, and scrubby trees ready to force out a year’s worth of growth whenever the sky decided to let it rain again. It was beautiful there, yet she wanted to see what it looked like somewhere else—anywhere else. 

She had been to nearby Farmington any number of times and even to Santa Fe a precious few, but she wondered what else was out there beyond the beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows of her home. Sometimes, she envied the cars that gleamed in the sunlight as they moved freely through the landscape. They only needed gas to escape their environment, not their mother’s permission. 

Kylara sighed and her gaze followed an old beat-up truck until it rounded a mountain road and vanished. Another glint caught her eye, this one higher up. A plane? No, it was too low for that and there wasn’t an airport in that direction, anyway. 

She almost gasped when she realized that it wasn’t a plane but a dragon. It was a long way off but she had seen it bank and saw its dark silhouette against the reddish earth below. Its wings and tail were unmistakable. This was a dragon—the first she had ever seen besides her mother and herself. 

Curiosity surged through her. She seldom had an issue with her aura as her mother constantly reminded her. While it was what Hester described as closed off, even the lizards hiding in the scrub below, she was certain, could feel her desire to find out more about her kind. 

The curiosity was as quickly followed by caution. Her mom had forbidden her from meeting other dragons. It was the number one rule she had to follow and Hester had drilled it into her head since before she could fly.  For whatever reason, she had never told her why.

At times—especially over the last few years—the rule had been frustrating, but it hadn’t exactly been difficult to follow. Kylara had never even seen another dragon. To attempt to break the rule would have involved either stealing her mom’s car or flying hundreds of miles through the desert. Neither was an option that she particularly wanted to take. 

But now, one flew in view of her land. 

Kylara thought about her mother’s rule and how serious she had always been about it. She was not to meet another dragon…but could she look at one? After all, it wasn’t like she had been raised in a vacuum. Her mom had taught her about dragons, their history, and even their current events—an especially exciting topic for the young dragon, as the exploits of the Steel Dragon and the new organization she had created a year before were more exciting than any book. She had told her daughter not to meet a dragon. It seemed logical that there was probably a reason for that. But to peek at one? How could that possibly hurt? 

Her mind made up, she tucked her wings and dropped to glide over the arid landscape. She wanted to see this dragon but that didn’t mean she wanted to be seen. Fortunately, her dragon form was perfectly suited for her environment. 

In this light, her scales varied from copper to red. In reality, they were like her mother’s—the color of a diamond—with the same hard, crystalline edges that made her mom’s dragon form so tough. But the underlying shade was different, exactly like her skin was only a few shades darker than Hester’s.

In the light of the late afternoon sun, she looked like a mirage floating over the desert, an apparition of heat hardly any different than the colors of the desert itself. She looked nothing like her mom, not in her dragon form or in her human body, but Hester had always explained that the magic in dragon blood made hereditary traits more interesting than they were in humans. 

Kylara flew low and slow over the landscape, keeping her gaze fixed on the dragon as she drew closer to it. She could not sense its aura yet. If she did, she did not know what she would do. Even that might be enough to satiate her curiosity. But she couldn’t sense it yet so she flew closer.

It was hard to tell in the light, but it looked like the dragon was coming closer. Did that mean it had seen her too? She had been up quite high—higher than her mom liked her to fly when they were anywhere but the very center of their land—but had the stranger seen her before she had seen it? 

She knew these questions would not be answered. Certainly, she’d be lucky to even see the true color of the dragon’s scales without it seeing her. But maybe, after seeing this dragon, she could finally get some answers from her mom. She knew some of the girls in the area had a Quinceanera celebration. Could it have something to do with that? A coming of age ritual? She decided she would ask her mom—after she had a better look at this dragon. 

Her mother, however, had other ideas. 

Hester Diamantine—her scales the color of diamonds frozen in ice and eyes burning with rage—screamed into the dry desert air behind her errant daughter. “Where on earth do you think you’re going, young lady?” 

“Mom!” Kylara responded, grasped for other words, and found none. 

Her mom caught up to her extremely quickly. The young dragon forced a smile on her face but her mother showed far more teeth in her fury. 

“Well?” Hester demanded. “What could possibly compel you to break my single most important rule?”

In the face of her mother’s wrath, she didn’t have an answer. She knew her mom would demand far more than, “I only wanted a peek.” In an effort to preempt the inevitable lecture, she chose her only viable option. “I’m sorry, Mom.”

“You’d better be, young lady. You’re off our land, were flying so high everyone in the four-state area must have seen you, and when I catch up to you, I see another dragon who you seem to be approaching? Have you lost your mind?”

No, I finally started using it, Kylara wanted to say, but she didn’t. Instead, she fell in behind Hester, caught her wake, and used it to glide home. Still, she couldn’t help but glance at the other dragon with longing. If it was so bad to see the other dragon, why did she want to so badly

_________

I have some sympathy for Kylara, I would also want to meet a dragon. This snippet really got me thinking, in fact I have more questions now than I did before. But don't worry all will be revealed November 15th when Never a Dragon: Dragon's Daughter book 1 is released. Until then head over to Amazon and pre-order your book!

 

NEVER A DRAGON E-BOOK COVER

 

Dwarves, Aliens, and Boxed-Sets Oh My! Fan's Pricing Saturday for November 14th, 2020

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Dwarves, more Dwarves, plus some Space Opera Action on this Fan's pricing Saturday for November 14th, 2020

 

Note:  We requested the price changes from Amazon on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, they don’t change all of the prices at one time. Please double-check the price before clicking “Buy”.)

All of these new releases are 99c for one day only!
And they are also available for FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
Grab them today before the prices go up!

 

 

Dwarf Bounty Hunter ebook cover

Go Dwarf Yourself

 

DONT GIVE A DWARF E-BOOK COVER

Don't Give a Dwarf

 

Shadow Vanguard boxed set e-book cover

Shadow Vanguard Boxed Set

 

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Spell Binding First Snippet for Dragon's Daughter Book 1

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Never a Dragon: Dragon's Daughter Book 1

 

Make change from inside the system? Is it really possible? Suppressing your powers and doing work for others seems more like slavery than alliance.


 

Somewhere north of Kugaaruk, Nunavut. Canada. 

It was no mystery why the dragons had ceded the land below Hester Diamantine to the dwarves. This was a barren, icy place, especially in January. What few trees grew there were all windswept, scraggly pines that looked like they’d rather be incinerated by dragon flame than grow another year in the cold.

Every single body of water—and there were many of them on this peninsula that looked like it would prefer to be dragged into the frigid ocean—was frozen solid with ice. They had left the town of Kugaaruk behind them an hour before. The dwarves there hadn’t wanted to tell Cesar Tormentus where they were hiding the rogue mages, but they had told him all the same. 

“I have something,” Rubonus said. He was the youngest of the three dragons on this mission to capture a group of renegade mages, although he was still far older than the last member of their group, a mage by the name of Lara Cooper who was bonded to Hester. He made up for his lack of experience with enthusiasm and had not hesitated to show the dwarves that even though their skin was impervious to dragon flame, their homes and businesses were not. 

“If it’s another fucking fish shack, I don’t want to hear about it,” Tormentus said. 

They had already leveled three fishing shacks, only to find—what else?—people fishing inside. 

“I appreciate that, sir,” Lara said to Tormentus.

“It’s not your job to approve, Mage Cooper.” He said the word “mage” like it was a slur. To him, it was. “It’s your job to obey the dragon you are bonded too.”

“What do you see, Rubonus?” Hester asked. She knew Lara could use her magic to keep herself warm while she rode on her back, but there were limits to her powers, especially since she wore a dampening cuff on her wrist that rendered them more impotent than they might have been. The dragon didn’t want to flatten any more fishing shacks, but she didn’t want to be out there until Lara froze to death either. She liked the little mage. 

“I hate to bust your horns, Tormentus, but it is another fishing shack.” 

“I’m waiting for the part where you tell me why I should care,” their leader snarled. 

“This one doesn’t have any lights on,” he replied. In his eagerness, he made Hester think of a fox hunting a vole. Honestly, that was an apt comparison. The idea of a modern mage killing a dragon was about as preposterous as the idea of a vole killing a fox. To be sure, both happened.

A fox might choke on a vole or get rabies from one, and groups of mages had been known to get lucky and hurt dragons—but not with even odds and not during a retrieval. Tormentus called this a hunt, but that was not what it was. This was a mage retrieval, plain and simple. Hester was his lieutenant, and part of that meant reminding him of such discrepancies. 

“Then how do we know there are people there at all?” Their leader did not sound amused. 

“I can sense magic signatures,” Lara whispered to Hester. She relayed the information to Tormentus. It usually went better that way. 

“How many?” he asked Cooper. He knew full well that it took a mage to sniff out a mage, exactly like it took a dragon to sniff out a dragon. 

“Uh…they’re trying to suppress their powers so I can’t sense them but—”

“Tell me how fucking many of these traitorous mages there are,” he growled. 

“I sensed five, sir, but it’s now only four,” Lara responded and tried to keep her voice strong over the wind. 

“That has to be them, sir.” Rubonus flapped his wings and flew a little lower to point his nose at a fishing shack in the middle of the lake. 

“Rubonus, grab a tree trunk and try to drop it on the building. You need to practice your accuracy and even if you miss, it’ll shatter the ice and drown the cowards.”

“Sir, if I may,” Hester interjected before Rubonus swooped to retrieve his missile. She didn’t wait for Tormentus to respond because she didn’t want to wait until spring. “We haven’t made contact with these mages since they left the United States and entered dwarf land. Protocol states that we need to give them a chance to explain themselves and take a cuff.”

“They made their choice when they ran,” he said. 

“If they weren’t running from the duties of their American citizenship, they wouldn’t be suppressing their powers,” Rubonus pointed out as casually as if he commented that it was cold out rather than trying to deny a group of citizens their right to cooperation. 

“Still, sir, if Cooper and I can get them to wear the cuffs, that would be four more mages for our department. Reports show that two of them are at least third-level mages. As a commander, you get a commission based on their placement—correct, sir?”

“It’s hardly commission but yes, you’ve made your point, Diamantine. You have five minutes to see if you and the mage can get them to put the cuffs on. After that, we burn that shack and melt the ice beneath their feet.”

She nodded, ignored the fact that he insisted on using her formal dragon name, and flew out over the lake. Experience was a powerful reminder that Tormentus was already counting time. She spread her wings to slow her flight to a gentle glide as she approached the structure. It was tiny and made of rickety boards and a corrugated tin roof. A few fishing poles leaned up against the outside of it. But Lara was right. There were people inside.

Hester could smell smoke from a hastily extinguished fire. She pumped her wings twice and blew snow drifts away from the fishing shack and out across the frozen lake. Beneath the snow was the crystalline blue sheen of the ice. It reflected the moon above them as if both the sky and the lake watched what would transpire there that day. 

Seconds before she landed, Lara leapt from her back with a magic-augmented gust of wind to slow her fall. Before the dragon touched down on the ice, she shifted into her human form. Her momentum was such that when her feet landed, cracks spread from her impact. Still, the ice seemed solid enough. She took a few steps forward and the surface didn’t crack further. 

“We know you’re in there,” Hester called into the night. In response, the clouds, heavy and gray, moved in to block the moon. 

“We don’t mean you any harm. We merely need you to come home to your country and serve your fellow people. You all have gifts. We want to help you use them.”

She received no response except from the clouds, which began to drop big fat flakes of snow on the scene. Hester stood in silence for a moment. The falling snow swallowed all sound. She could hear nothing from inside the shed and nothing from outside except the sound of wind moving over the wings of the two dragons who circled overhead. 

“One of them stopped suppressing their magic,” Lara whispered through the snow. 

“That was a stupid thing to do,” she muttered, knowing the mages inside couldn’t hear her. She stepped forward and knocked on the brittle, wooden door. Even if she didn’t have a well of dragon strength to call on, she had a feeling she could have knocked the door off its hinges if she wished to do so. 

She was about to do exactly that when a light blazed inside the dilapidated building. Orange light glowed around the poorly framed door and the wood exploded outward in the wake of a massive fireball. Hester, no stranger to fighting fire, raised her arms to block her face, but the heat and pressure of the blast were too much. She was hurled from her feet, thrown back, and cracked the ice with her shoulder, but thankfully didn’t fall through. 

One of her hands screamed in pain when she tried to push to her feet. The fireball had done far more damage than she had expected. Her dragon healing powers seemed to have trouble mending the wound. 

“And you! You’re a fucking traitor to your people!” the mage who had thrown the fireball yelled at Lara. Hester knew it was the same mage because his hands were wreathed in flame. This was most likely the leader of the little squad they were tracking. The reports had been wrong. He was more advanced than third-level. The flames on his hands danced and made his sweat-streaked brow glisten and his eyes look even crazier than they would have in the hidden moonlight of the growing snowstorm. 

“Mages who don’t work with the dragons are killed!” Lara shouted and used a spinning disk of air to deflect a blast of fire, then another. “Help me change the system from the inside.”

“Says the slave. You’re worse than a slave. You’re a slave who hunts men brave enough to be free.” The other mage launched a blast of fire and she flinched and allowed the attack through her disc of air to knock her off her feet. 

“You don’t deserve her pity,” Hester said, done with playing nice and ready to take this mage by force for what he had done to Lara. 

She readied herself for a retaliatory attack but never had the chance. 

Tormentus and Rubonus swooped in from opposite sides and completed a damn near perfect ring of fire maneuver. Each dragon exhaled narrow blasts of flame at the ice surrounding the fisherman’s shack. The ice—as thick as it was—was no match for dragon fire, and by the time the two dragons completed their loop, the surface beneath Hester’s feet was no longer solid but an ice float. 

“I’d rather die free than live as a slave!” the mage shouted at the two dragons and hurled balls of fire into the night that they dodged easily. 

“And what about your allies? Do they wish to die on their feet or live for decades?” Hester shouted at the man and tried to draw his attention. 

“She’s trying to use her aura powers on you, Jason. Don’t fall for it!” A female mage emerged from the shack and rocked on the now tilting and shifting piece of ice. The snow whipped behind her and revealed her magical ability to control the wind. 

“Lara,” Hester said. 

“On it.” The mage grunted. She pushed to her feet in time to throw a blast of wind at the newcomer. She was far more practiced and funneled her gust into a tight cylinder that drilled toward her opponent’s chest, but the raw power of the unbound mage exceeded what power she had available to her while she wore the magical dampening bracelet.  The rookie mage and the magic master’s powers collided, created a swirling dervish of snow and sleet that zig-zagged between the two dueling women, and threw sleet and frigid lake water everywhere else. 

The dragon had no doubt that if Lara were unbound, she would have been able to defeat the mage easily but of course, no mage could go about unbound. That was why these had tried to escape. 

“You have no right to your power!” the fire mage yelled at Hester. “You’re not a predator but a parasite.” Another blast of fire followed and she dodged it. He could heat his attacks hot enough to burn a dragon, which was no easy task. Her right hand still hadn’t healed and it didn’t feel like it would. 

But he was only human and she was a dragon who had trained for centuries in combat. She moved forward and stepped around his assaults with practiced ease. It took the mage a great deal of effort to throw the superheated fireballs, so every one of them was easy to anticipate—or easy for someone with dragon reflexes anyway. 

She settled into a rhythm—step, step, dodge, step, step, step, crouch. Step. Step back. In moments, she had covered the distance between them. She thrust her left hand into his chest and the mage catapulted away. Her intention had been for him to collide with the shack, but she had misjudged. Instead, he tumbled across the snow-covered surface of the lake. 

Hester glanced briefly at the shed. Why hadn’t the other two mages come out? It was surely obvious by now that the two who currently fought wouldn’t win. What were they waiting for?”

A scream jerked her head away from the shed, her opponent, and back to Lara. She turned in time to see a great wave of water rise from the lake and pound into her to sweep her feet out from under her. 

It seemed the mage she had been fighting could control more than a single element. This was unusual in a rogue mage but not unheard of. While the woman’s control of water might be rudimentary, it was still a threat, especially with the cold. 

But it was fire that proved to be the decisive element in this battle. The mage Jason blasted Lara with flame. At first, the dragon thought he had missed but the ice melted and cracked beneath her and in seconds, her mage fell into the icy water. 

“Lara!” Hester screamed and scrambled after her. She had to get her out. The mages could wait. Humans were squishy little things. If Lara got too cold, she would die. Her rescue took priority for now. She reached her and extended a hand but was too late. The water had already iced over. 

The dragon straightened and turned toward the mage with the wind powers. Had she frozen the surface of the water to kill Lara? But no…she now ran back toward the fisherman’s shack and pointed at the sky—or more specifically, the dark shapes of two approaching dragons—and screamed. 

Then, Hester understood. In the doorway of the shed stood a third mage, an old man. He had refrozen the lake and killed Lara. 

“Murderer!” she shouted and ran toward him as the two dragons swooped overhead. 

They flew in a tight formation so when they exhaled flames, it was as if a single inferno engulfed the rickety structure. 

Surprisingly, it didn’t burn. 

In the flames, Hester saw the fourth mage silhouetted, a young man who wrapped the entire hovel in some kind of shielding energy. His power was stronger than anything she had ever seen in a mage. To stop Tormentus was a feat in itself, but to stop him and Rubonus was beyond comprehension. 

It was almost a pity that he didn’t fully understand the power of the dragons he now faced. The flames didn’t burn the shed but they did melt the ice all around it. In one moment, three mages stood in their shed and tried to defend it. In a split-second, they were on a tiny island of ice made top-heavy by the shed on it. It tipped into the frozen lake and spilled the three defenders into the water. 

The old man had the wherewithal to attempt to freeze the water so he could climb out, but Tormentus’s third strike came much sooner than his second had. He incinerated the old man and the shed in one blast. 

The only mage left was Jason, the fire mage who had turned a simple retrieval into a goddamn slaughter. 

His attention wasn’t on Hester, though. It was on the pine tree falling from the sky directly toward him. 

She knew that many mages could use their powers to move objects but Jason didn’t seem to be one of them. Rather than redirect the falling tree, he blasted it with fire. All he achieved was to transform it into a burning trunk that impaled him and thrust him into the frigid lake to end the fight. 

Hester wasted no time. She doubled back to where Lara had fallen under the ice. “Lara! Lara, dammit, you’re better than this!” she screamed at the icy surface. This far from the dragon’s twin inferno, the lake was still frozen from the old man’s magic as if it had never been broken at all. “Lara!” she shouted. 

“That mage complained about the cold of the wind. She’s as good as dead,” Tormentus boomed from the sky. 

“She could have made a pocket of air to breathe. She might still be alive.”

“It’s doubtful,” the leader grunted. “We’re heading south. Mission accomplished.”

“Mission accomplished!” Rubonus echoed. 

“I can’t leave her down there,” she shouted at the two dragons. She had lost control of her aura and knew they could both taste her grief for the dead mage—no, dying. She could still be saved. The young woman had to be saved. 

In return, Tormentus let Hester feel his aura plainly. Disdain was what he felt, disdain for her and achievement for the mission. He counted it a success even though Lara was dead. 

“The plane in Kugaaruk will leave at dawn. If you miss it, you’ll have to fly to Boston,” The leader didn’t even bother to slow as he banked in a wide circle to return from whence they came. “While you’re at it, make sure there are no other survivors.”

“I’m sorry about your mage!” Rubonus said. “She was a cute one. If they give me a good one, you can have first choice if you want it, yeah?”

With that almost insulting response to her grief, they were gone. 

Hester turned to the lake and tried not to let despair over Lara’s death overwhelm her. It was incredibly hard to not blast a hole in the ice and try to dive for the mage’s body, but she was no swimmer. Some dragons were but she wasn’t one of them. If she broke the ice, she wouldn’t be able to peer through it. Instead, she searched for her friend’s body—that was what Lara was, a friend. She didn’t think of the woman as her mage but she did think of her as her friend. 

And she had let her die. 

_______________

Alright I'm hooked! This is exactly the dragon adventure story I didn't know I was looking for! How did such powerful creatures find themselves in a place that stifles their abilities. Come back in a few days to read the second Snippet, and in the mean time pre-order Never a Dragon: Dragon's Daughter Book 1 on Kindle Unlimited. Drop Date is November 15th.

 

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Exuberant Second Snippet for Opus X Book 10

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Unfaithful Covenant: Opus X Book 10

 

Nothing like a natural wonder to remind you what's important. Is it even possible to relax in Erik and Jia's line of work?


 

Spreading out into the galaxy and the terraforming that came next were impressive accomplishments. 

In just over two centuries, humans had conquered the air and the stars. If it weren’t for the Local Neighborhood races, there would be nothing to stop the species from sweeping across the entire galaxy, defying all those who doubted they would prosper. 

That was before one considered the advances in medicine and genetics. Although terrifying yaoguai reflected the dark side of biological science, de-aging treatments and medicine had pushed back the specter of death. 

No one lived forever, but humans were finally living to their true potential.

These feats were the products of humanity’s primary advantage over other animals on Earth. Humans were neither the strongest nor the fastest animal. 

They didn’t have the sharpest teeth, nor could they hold their breath the longest. Their minds set them apart from anything that might prey on them and led them to the inventions and tools that assured humanity need never again fear extinction because of a threat to a single planet.

FTL travel via either the HTPs with their Navigator head start or the jump drive displayed humanity’s technology prowess and assured the species’ continuity. However, as Erik stood on the rocky outcropping, staring at hundreds of meters of water cascading over the lip of the massive gorge, he didn’t care about technological achievements. Nature was power in its most primal form, and that was on display. 

A man had to respect that.

Victoria Falls was over a kilometer wide, but Erik was unsure of whether to think of it as one waterfall or a set of close waterfalls. In either event, it ignited more than a smidgen of humility before nature in him. His awe at the impressive display kept him quiet and contemplative. How long had water flowed from the falls into the river below? How long would it continue?

Jia stood beside him, smiling at the waterfall at the edge of an outcropping. The Zambezi River churned below like a hungry god waiting for sacrifices.

“It’s beautiful. I’m glad you talked me into coming to see it in person. It wouldn’t be the same in a simulation.”

Her dark hair fluttered in the breeze. It was a perfect sight: a beautiful woman in front of gorgeous scenery. Erik could get used to this. 

Was this a small preview of his future?

“It’s pretty nice,” Erik replied, “and I figured we should take the chance before Alina makes us jump into Zitark territory to steal a blessed piece of meat from them or something.”

Jia laughed. “I don’t think they have blessed meat, but I’ll admit I’m not an expert on alien religions.”

“Wait, are you admitting Jia Lin doesn’t know something?”

“There are a lot of things I don’t know.”

“I’ll alert the news reporters.” 

Erik’s left arm itched. He might be fully healed and his replacement installed, but his brain hadn’t gotten used to it yet. The doctors had promised him it was temporary. They could tweak the hardware, but there was only so much they could do to his brain. 

He shook out the arm and chuckled, gesturing along the length of Victoria Falls. “I wonder if we could fly a flitter through that? Might be fun.”

“I don’t think the locals would appreciate it.” Jia glanced his way, appreciating the joke.

It’d been a while since they’d taken anything approaching a vacation. Playing in nano-AR and VR could be relaxing, but it wasn’t the same thing as putting thousands of kilometers between them and the Argo

They’d brought along the MX 60 with the standard gear in its storage compartments, but that wasn’t because they anticipated trouble. It would have been too much work to empty it. 

Besides, it never hurt to have extra gear on hand in case they bumped into a killer cyborg in a spider-bot body, an insane Leem-human hybrid, or a monstrous yaoguai

At Erik’s request, Emma was leaving them alone so they could appreciate the grandeur of nature without her running commentary. He almost found that more relaxing than not having to worry about a firefight with the Core’s minions.

“I wonder…” Jia crouched, her eyes narrowing. “I’m pondering its defensive capabilities.”

“Huh?” Erik’s brows lifted as he tried to figure out where she was looking. “Defensive capabilities of what?”

Jia gestured at the waterfall. “Using that as a defensive position. The sheer volume of water heading down has to help. If you could pop us between the water cascades and fire…” She tapped a finger on her lips. “Maybe stay behind the denser portions.”

“I honestly don’t know.” Erik thought for a moment. “I’ve never fought someone from behind a waterfall, let alone one that big. Somehow I doubt it’ll be a problem.”

Jia stood and dusted off her pant legs. “You’re probably right. Just curious, like you and the flitter.”

“It wasn’t like…” Erik looked away. “Now that I think about it, I imagine if we were being chased, we could try to use the falls against other flitters. You could crash them if you did it right, or get them down to the river for easy shooting.”

Jia gestured around at the nearby trees and slowly turned. “This isn’t the greatest tactical environment. They’ve got a lot of trees, but they’re not very dense.” She pointed at a thick copse that would require an impressive jump or a flitter to get to. “That’s decent—good coverage of most of the area. Sniping, maybe?”

“Thermals would make the trees useless. You’d get picked off easily.” Erik scratched his eyelid, trying to visualize what a good close-air support craft like a Dragon might do to the area. “But a big-ass Elite wouldn’t do well there.”

Jia groaned and rubbed her temples. “What are we doing?”

“Looking at a waterfall, I thought.”

“No.” Jia folded her arms. “Don’t you see?”

Erik inclined his head toward the water. “Kind of hard to miss. It’s huge.”

No.” Jia walked over to him, took his hands, and looked up his eyes. “You and me.”

“What about you and me?” Erik asked, confused by the quick change in the direction of the conversation.

“We’re here at a beautiful natural wonder, and we’re both thinking about how to fight the Core in this location.” Jia let go of his hands and stepped away, waving a hand at the water. “We’ve got no reason to think they’ll ambush here. We even traveled using fake identities.”

Erik didn’t smirk. It wasn’t all that long ago that Jia balked at breaking laws or regulations, but now she had no problem asking Emma for help should they desire to travel without leaving a trail. It made sense during missions, but this was vacation.

“I’m not seeing the problem,” Erik replied with a shrug. “It doesn’t hurt to think about it.”

“Doesn’t it?” Jia tromped over to a tree and leaned her back against it. “I see my friends less and less these days. We didn’t go to many sphere ball games last season. We spend most of our time training.”

“Yeah, I suppose. The new season’s starting soon. We can hit more games this season if that’s what this is about.”

“No.” Jia sighed. “Yes, I’d like to go to more games, but that’s not what this is about. It goes deeper than that. It’s about you and me.”

“What about you and me?” Erik frowned. If there was an alarm for relationships, it’d be screaming right about now. His mind raced, trying to spot the hole so he wouldn’t step in it. “Is this about making me go to that freaky restaurant?”

Jia offered him a quizzical look. “No, nothing like that. I’m just saying, patterns become habits, and habits are hard to break. I’m thinking once this is all over, we’re going to need to deprogram ourselves. Learn how to be something other than…what was it he called us? That’s right, the Last Soldier and the Warrior Princess.”

Erik grinned. “I kind of like those names, though it was cool being the Obsidian Detective and Lady Justice.”

“This isn’t about nicknames.” Jia pinched the bridge of her nose, eyes shut. “Erik, we’re too alike. We both throw ourselves into our work. Before, it didn’t consume me because my lazy captain wouldn’t let it, but now…” She opened her eyes and gave Erik a concerned look. “We’re people, too.”

“Jia, you’re letting this work you up.” Erik walked over to the tree and patted the trunk before leaning against it. “We’re at war with the Core. Of course we’re going to spend most of our time on duty or thinking about combat or training. That’s what war means.”

“Is that how it’s always been for you?” she asked. “From what you’ve told me, you were on when it was time to fight and relaxed when you weren’t.”

“Sure.” Erik stuck his hands behind his head and rested his skull against them. “But during wars, there was a lot less relaxation. That didn’t mean I didn’t take time off now and again, but I never forgot what it meant to be a soldier and that mindset sticks. You’re right, though. It’s different now.”

“Different?” Jia asked, a touch of fear in her voice.

“Yeah. It was easier to shut off, but I think that’s because we’re not part of an Army. We’re not even part of the Intelligence Directorate. We know they’re doing things, and they have people helping us—sometimes a lot of people—but it comes off like we’re trying to handle all this ourselves. I think that’s what’s programming us, if you want to call it that.”

“Are you worried about what happens after it’s all over?”

Erik shook his head as he stared at the mesmerizing tons of water flowing in front of him. He was grateful for the audio filter Emma had suggested before their arrival. Sometimes a man wanted to appreciate nature without it roaring at him the entire time.

“Once we take out the Core, I’ll have my revenge and the UTC will be safer,” he replied. “Will it be safe from everyone and everything? Nah. Of course not, but I don’t think it’s my responsibility to worry about the rest. If those bastards hadn’t been involved in killing my unit, I might have retired and been content to live in some frontier colony watching months-delayed sphere ball recordings from Earth.”

“It’s weird for me to even think about now.” Jia stepped away from the tree and back toward the edge of the cliff. “I want to see a lot more of the UTC, and not just when we need to show up to blow up people.”

“Then I’ll have to make sure we have a good ship. We’re going to miss the jump drive when it’s gone, but it won’t be so bad if we’re not rushing to some system looking for trouble.”

Jia didn’t speak for a good half-minute. 

As she continued looking down at the water, a small smile grew on her lips, and the tension on her face and her neck slowly eased. When she broke her silence, her voice was low.

“I’m worrying too much.”

“You always do,” Erik replied.

Jia glanced at him. “Well, if we’re both able to think that far ahead, we won’t have a lot of trouble adapting to the future. I like the idea of flying through the galaxy with you.”

“Until we run into a Leem with a death wish.” Erik grinned.

She shook her head. “Even your Lady isn’t that much of a bitch.”

“Do you honestly believe that after everything we’ve been through?” Erik offered her a healthy grin.

Jia barked a loud laugh, before she doubled over, mirth was spilling out of her like it’d been desperate to escape. Tears welled in her eyes, and she straightened and wiped them, her huge smile aimed at her favorite part of him.

His heart.

The clouds were gone from her face. “Good thing we did that anti-Leem training then.”

_______

Classic Erik and Jia. Feels like hanging with old friends in this Snippet. To be fair you never know when you might need to have a tactical plan for fighting in a waterfall. I know that you are already on your way to pre-order Unfaithful Covenant: Opus X Book 10. Don't worry you won't have to wait long to see what happens next because November 13th it's all yours!

 

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Courageous Wild Wednesday November 11, 2020

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Courage can be found in many forms, and a great discount doesn't hurt either!

 

Welcome to Wild Wednesday for November 11th, 2020

 

Each week we bring you a list of books from not only LMBPN authors, but also friends of ours, that are on sale! Here’s a fantastic opportunity to discover some new authors or some exciting books you may not have seen yet.

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