TITLE: Rotten Magic
AUTHOR: Jeffrey Bardwell
Jeffrey Bardwell is an ecologist with a Ph.D. who loves fantasy, amphibians, and reptiles. The author devours fantasy and science fiction novels, is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove, and has eaten a bug or two. The author populates his own novels with realistic, fire breathing lizards. These dragons are affected by the self-inflicted charred remains of their environment, must contend with the paradox of allometric scaling, and can actually get eaten themselves.
The author lives on a farm, is perhaps overfond of puns and alliterations, and is a gigantic ham. When not in use, he keeps his degrees skinned and mounted on the back wall of his office. Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
SERIES: The Artifice Mage Saga, Book 0.5
Devin will do anything to win. Even resort to magic.
Devin competes to become the best artificer in the mage phobic Iron Empire. Who needs magic when you can master the art of machinery? The other apprentices envy his genius and skills . . . especially Benson. Every apprentice hones their craft building and fighting in crude prototypes of powered armor. Some add frills, others barbs or horns. When Devin transforms himself into a mechanical dragon to slaughter the competition, Benson steps into the role of dragon slayer.
But Devin harbors a secret as he claws his way to the top of the Artificer’s Guild: he’s a mage. These new abilities are thrilling and frightening, and the voices more so. How long can Devin be content wearing a steel dragon mask when the seductive promise of true arcane power whispers in his ear?
Experience the prequel to the Artifice Mage Saga: a fantasy steampunk brawl of metal vs. magic where sorcery is bloody, science is greasy, and nobody’s hands are clean.
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THE FALLEN KNIGHTHOOD
Nobody mourns the collapse of chivalry as they should. The regression of knights from their historical roles as mounted heroes, nobles, and stewards of the king’s justice to common gutter trash riding in wrinkled, red uniforms is a symptom of a greater disease. When we lost our knights in shining armor, we lost that which shines within ourselves.
It was not always thus, although few now are old enough to remember. But I can still close my eyes and feel the warm breeze on my back, hear the pennons snapping in the wind, smell the scent of oiled leather, and see the sun shining off that brilliant, burnished armor as the knights paraded down the street, waving to the crowd. I must have been a lad of five or six, but the memory lingers. The sun set that day and never rose again. The knights rode to battle one last time, perchance to kill an upstart duke for the glory of their monarch. But now that duke sits upon the throne, a cold chair washed in the blood of our king while the blood of our knights polishes the flagstones at his feet.
We have replaced a kingdom with an empire, glory with greed, and chivalry with cavalry. When the imperial soldiers ride through the streets, it is no gay parade, but a grim patrol. The neighboring kingdoms fear us now, and well they should, for we have conquered two of them and soon we shall conquer the rest. Only Corel, by the grace of her dragons and her mountains, remains secure. But the others? Farse, the land of Graceful Mountains? Kindar, the quiet Kingdom by the Sea? They are shackled to the empire, reduced to mere provinces.
Remember the knights. Remember the brilliant knights in shining armor. A darkness is spreading across the land and we will never shine again.
The empire is harsh to those who refuse to conform. The Artifice Mage is coming. Will he bring new light to the empire or his own brand of darkness?