Welcome to our Steampunk Revelry! Tighten those corsets and pin those cravats. Today, we celebrate Starla Huchton’s steampunk adventure, MASTER OF MYTH!
About the book:
“Captain Rachel Sterling commands the ship that rules the sea and air, but when a chance encounter ends with a strange ring in her possession and a secretive order known only as The Brotherhood out for her blood, gone are her simple days of dodging the law to make a profit. Armed with a loyal crew, an enamored inventor, and an intellect as deadly as her aim, she must fight against an ancient power and those who would command it. What is the purpose of this mysterious ring and what dangerous magic will she face? Join the crew of the Antigone’s Wrath as they sail the waters and navigate the skies to find the information they desperately need before it’s too late.”
Read the excerpt of MASTER OF MYTH and play the TwoChops crossword puzzle game for one of the entries in the Rafflecopter running Nov. 6-12 for the following prizes: a handmade pirate-themed necklace or a $10 gift card from the Coffeetime Romance eBook Store! Gaze upon the goodies!
And now, your excerpt. Beware, gentle souls. For here be pirates!
“I don’t like the look of this place,” Danton said as they peered at the hookah bar across the street.
“And what were you expecting?” Rachel crossed her arms. “The likes of Li Han don’t spend their evenings in quiet tea houses or churches.”
“Is there anything else we should know before going in there?” Iris kept her eyes trained on the door to the hookah bar.
Rachel shrugged. “Don’t give him any more information than necessary. Generally, there’s a banner or flag we’ll need to fly to mark us as protected, so don’t leave without that. This man is out for my blood so avoid using my name or mentioning the Antigone’s Wrath at all costs. Lie if you have to. Do you have the tea sample?”
Danton patted a small, black pouch that hung from his belt. “We’ll be fine.”
She watched them cross the street, suppressing the urge to follow behind. In this line of work, one accepted a certain amount of risk, but Rachel didn’t have a good feeling about this one. This was her risk, not theirs, although, this cargo was their doing. Still, they had been in port long enough that word of the Antigone’s Wrath being docked might have reached Li Han’s ears. If he had heard, he would undoubtedly link Danton and Iris to it. The coincidence would be too great.
The captain flicked her eyes to the shadows next to the hookah bar and in other places along the road. The “if he had” was why they brought the extra men. Without looking, she knew there was a man directly above her, on the roof of the building she leaned against. There was another behind her, and four others hidden from view. She didn’t believe in taking unnecessary chances. The thought prompted her to check her weapon again, verifying the single shell was still cradled in the chamber. With one specialized bullet, she could fire off five bursts of compressed air, each one strong enough to knock a hole through a man’s chest at ten paces. These preceded a sixth shot of shrapnel she endearingly called “the kicker.” While it wasn’t the most ladylike of instruments, it did the job well enough when she needed it.
Several minutes passed, the only sound a muffled whisper of exotic music coming from the hookah bar. Things seemed to be progressing as they should, until the shattering of glass broke the silence, and Danton flew through the front window. He somersaulted into the street and shakily, but quickly, got to his feet. A short, well-muscled Chinese man jumped through the busted out storefront, at least three more on his heels. Light glinted off the curved knife in his hand. With a snarl he leapt towards Danton, but a single shot felled the man before he was within five paces. The bullet came from the rooftop above Rachel.
In moments, the calm of night was filled with the cries of a street brawl. Rachel stayed to the shadows, letting her crewmen take care of the rabble, firing off the occasional shot when necessary. She was worried. Iris was still inside.
Seeing a break in the fighting, she dashed across the road and into the destroyed interior of the hookah bar. Floor cushions were strewn about, and tables with their intricately decorated smoking pipes lie broken and tipped over. A man with a bloodied face tore through a door at the back, screaming curses at her in Arabic, but his sharpened scimitar spoke her language well enough. Tucking into a roll, she dodged the wide swing of his sword, crouched, and plunged the dagger from her belt into his back, puncturing his lung. He crumpled to the floor, and she pulled the blade free.
Proceeding with more caution, she crept towards the room her attacker came from. With a flick of her wrist, the small pistol up her sleeve slid onto her palm. The shrapnel blaster was too inaccurate for this situation. There was a good chance Li Han was holding Iris captive, and she wouldn’t risk harming her friend.
She pressed her back to the wall and slid to the edge of the doorway, listening.
Nothing. Not even the sounds of struggle. If Li Han hurt Iris in any way, she would take him back to Yong Wu in a box, and make sure the one-handed man suffered the whole way.
Exposing as little of herself as she could, she risked a peek around the corner. Before she got much more than a glimpse of Iris with a henchman’s knife to her throat, Li Han fired a gun at her head. Luckily for her, he had not yet become a marksman with his remaining hand, and the bullet embedded itself firmly in the wall.
“I knew you would come!” His half mad cry preceded another wasted shot. “Now why don’t you show yourself so we can have a little chat, hm?”
“And trust a Han? You must be joking,” Rachel called back. “Your kind are notorious for shooting first and sorting it out later.”
Li Han chuckled. “Perhaps, Captain Sterling, but as I see it, you have no choice.” His statement was punctuated by a sharp gasp from Iris as the knife pushed into her flesh.
Rachel took a deep breath to ease her temper. “If you kill me, your boss will be most displeased with you.”
A maniacal laugh came as her answer. “Displeased with me? Ever since you took my hand he’s been displeased with me. Why else would he have exiled me to this speck of a town, barely subsisting off of what little merchant trade comes through here? Oh no. You should have killed me when you had the chance.”
As he ranted, Rachel used a pocket mirror to peer around the corner. The guard holding Iris looked very unhappy with the situation. She studied her first mate. She appeared to be fiddling with the ring on her left index finger. Very slowly, she turned it so the large agate was on the under side of her hand. The guard stared at the door but didn’t see the mirror. Iris, however, did, and mouthed the word ‘poison’ as deftly as she could. Rachel smiled. She had an idea.
“Tell me something, what did Yong Wu do when he found out it was a woman who took your hand?” She allowed the side of her face to slip into Li Han’s line of sight. Three bullets slammed into the wall at her back, and she was thankful for the thick stones the Somali used to construct buildings.
Li Han seethed. “You took my honor! It was only for my years of faithful service that he spared my life, but this exile is worse than death!”
“And how is Jiao? She was such a pretty girl…”
Another blast erupted from the gun as he screamed with rage. The telltale click of an empty chamber told her this was her chance. Rachel stepped through the doorway and fired once. Two men fell to the floor: the guard with bloody foam bubbling up through his lips, Li Han with a bullet between his eyes.
“Are you all right?” Rachel stepped over the bodies to search the desk.
Removing a handkerchief from her sleeve, Iris dabbed at the nick in her throat. “No real harm done.” She shrugged and kicked the leg of the guard, eliciting a last twitch from the fallen man. “Though I can’t say the same for him. Yong Wu will not be happy about this.”
“Then Yong Wu should be more mindful about the men who work for him.” Rachel rifled about in a desk drawer. Not finding what she was looking for, she opened the bottom one. “Hm,” she said as she examined it. “Too shallow.”
“Who is Jiao?” Iris asked.
Pulling the drawer from its rails, she dumped the contents on the floor. “She was almost Li Han’s wife,” she replied, prying at the hidden panel with her dagger. “Also Yong Wu’s daughter.”
“So that wasn’t only about his hand,” Iris concluded.
“No,” she said. The board refused to come free. She sighed and stuck the blade into the desktop. “He had good reason to hate me, but he did try to kill me.”
Iris shook her head as she watched Rachel puzzle over the compartment. “Let me.” She looked inside the drawer. “Ah, yes. Here we are,” she murmured as she ran her finger over a burned-in mark on the inside front panel. The circular seal glimmered for a moment and the false bottom of the drawer popped open with a soft click.
“More of your magic.” Rachel sighed. She lifted the loosened wood piece out onto the desk and removed the burlap-wrapped contents. A deep scowl etched itself into her face as she saw the elegant dagger. On its hilt gleamed a circle of text surrounding a lightning bolt piercing a heart. “Apparently, Yong Wu should be much more mindful,” she amended her earlier statement and slipped the knife into her belt. A pennant lay beneath: bright green with a glittering gold design. “There you are,” she smiled as she removed the flag. “Now, let’s see how Danton is getting on, shall we?”
***END OF EXCERPT***
[twochop-public idtype=”1″ id=”14099269233421234916″]
And your Rafflecoptersaurus:
A geek of all trades, Starla Huchton has been crafting stories in various genres since 2007. Her first novel, The Dreamer’s Thread was released as a full cast audiobook podcast, becoming a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. After releasing short fiction of steampunk, noir fantasy, and other varieties, she released the first three books of the Sci-Fi Romance Endure series in 2013. All three books of the Evolution series will be released in 2014, as well as a Steampunk Fantasy novel, Master of Myth (the Antigone’s Wrath series, book 1), which was the first place winner of the Crested Butte Writers’ contest, The Sandy, in 2012. Shadows on Snow, the first book in her gender-flipped retelling of Snow White, a YA-friendly fairy tale, was released November 3rd, 2014.
Follow her many exploits here:
When not writing, Starla trains three Minions, a black lab, and a military husband whilst designing book covers for independent authors and publishers at Designed By Starla.