How does that sound? No matter what it couldn't be a worse cliffhanger than book 1, right?...
Anyhow, Obsidian isn't quite finished yet in actuality, but I'm reading back through to do the final edits of the rest, and to pledge I'll have it out by the 18th, I'm posting CHAPTER 1. Which is aptly named "Fera" since "Fera" is the setting for the whole (or almost whole... o_O) of Obsidian.
I don't want to give too much away, but since the first chapter will do a bit of that anyways, I'd like to share some pics for the new setting.
Check it out...
As for the bike, that may or may not be why Obsidian is set in a different period. ;) I won't say anything about it, except that it will NOT belong to Evelyn.
Here's another one...
If you haven't guessed who gets the two motorcycles by now, you're bound to be really surprised by all that happens in Obsidian.
Also, Evelyn will wear this:
And I will try to get her to wear this, in yellow...
But she hasn't done it yet (final chapter stuffs!) so I'm not so sure....
And let's see, a couple extras...
Boys will have something like this...
Girls will have something like this....
And in this book, none of our main three amigos will look anything like this...
Which is to say, they won't look much like themselves. (That's Jaden, Evelyn, and Ikovos, from left to right)
But let me vouch for Jaden, that he is really plus-plus in a hoody.
Two more things before the Chapter 1 sneak peak...
Here's one of the main theme songs for Obsidian (because every blog should have something to listen to).
Have you ever wondered what Jaden and Ikovos' last names are? Come on, it's Evelyn AVEST, and then Jaden... um... and Ikovos... umm. The coolest thing about Obsidian is that you get to find out! If you'd like to guess, leave a comment. If you get it right, I'll send you an ARC**. You only have three weeks though, then you'll really find out. So guess now.
AND... last but not least, here's the first Chapter of Ember book 2, Obsidian. Let me know what you think in a comment, please. And enjoy! -Tess
Chapter 1: Fera
“Oh!” I gasped, hands jolting to my heart. “My goodness gracious, Jack. I can’t believe you just did that again.”
The boy--Jack Gallin--smiled back pleasantly. We were in a large room, quite lively with people, each working at their respective desks. Like I was. Like Jack was supposed to be. The walls were gray; windows were scarce. This was new base of operations for us and I wasn’t adjusting well.
“I can’t help myself,” said Jack, hopping over to his chair at the opposite end of my desk. “It’s too funny to hear what you’ll say next.”
I eyed him, picking up the papers he’d dropped off for me. They were reports; ones that I was responsible for filing. I had a feeling that I already knew what they would contain.
At the moment... for five months now... I worked at a place called D-Roe. As far as I knew we handled little more than local crime busts, inside work, and personal protection... but the sheer number of employees told a different story. There were sixty-eight in our office alone; most worked out in the field. I didn’t know much about the whole thing to be honest. I’d joined for one reason and one reason only. Since entering this world I’d been contacted by the Gaeln only once... and that one time they’d instructed me to come here. I’d agreed because... well, because there hadn’t really been another option for me. Here at D-Roe my job was simple: read and log crime reports. No thinking, no adding, just cataloging.
“I mean ‘goodness gracious’?” mimicked Jack. “Who says that?”
Jack was and had been my desk partner since joining D-Roe. He was eighteen, same as me. He had light, ambiguously shaded, hair, and an odd arrangement of facial features; he was very thin, and he always wore the same clothes. He was funny, never too deep, and the cause of ninety-nine percent of all my procrastinating. I was convinced that if not for him, I would be out of the gutter position by now.
He laughed, throwing his hand out loosely. “No, no. Wait...‘blast it’. That’s my favorite. I love it when you say that. Or curses. Curses!”
“Jack, really--is there a point to this?” I half whispered, leaning in towards him. My eyes scanned the room of active workers. “We’re in enough trouble this week as it is...” I caught sight of the window; it was still light outside, probably close to three. That meant three more hours for me.
“Alright. I’ll be good,” he replied.
I smiled, then took a knife and sliced open the envelope. No surprise at the contents.
Insufficient photographs of two nameless boys. Insufficient because they were orphans, streets urchins, whatever you’d like to call them. The whole idea I could still barely grasp. But here, on this massive metropolis, with hundreds of thousands of people all living in a ninety-mile radius, there were a lot of kids that got lost in the mix.
The problem lately--the problem with these two--was unexplainable disappearances. If not for the fact that some of the boys had already been being tagged for surveillance, we probably never would have noticed. The first kids that had vanished were known to do illegal transport work for some not-too-pleasant characters. We’d started checking with them to no avail. And now these two made what?...Sixteen?...Sixteen now.
I sighed, then spread out the papers for filing.
“Same deal?” Jack asked across from me. I nodded and he sighed too.
Having had some...experience with the issue, Jack wasn’t a fan. But like me, he was scarcely permitted to work on the case.
“How old this time?” he asked.
“No way to know for sure,” I noted--unnecessarily--we never knew for sure, “but I’d guess around nine or ten by the faces.”
“And that makes--”
“Sixteen.” I finished.
“You’d think they’d want all the help they could get,” drawled Jack sharply.
I continued to work. “Well, it’s becoming a higher priority case. Maybe they’ll sign you on.”
“Right,” scoffed Jack. “And lose all my valuable assistance with paper-pushing?... No one can staple like I can baby!” He snapped a stapler at me, already back to grinning. I knew inside he was more upset than that.
“Well I think that if Tyson, or any of those fuddy-duddy higher-ups had half a brain, they’d have you heading up the project.”
He spread his arms. “Well, thank you.”
I barely got out a “you’re welcome” when another file dropped onto the desk.
“Make sure these get in today, Gallin.”
I stiffened at the voice. Oh dear. Sure enough, I looked up just in time to catch Tyson walking away.
Six-foot-two, chestnut hair, silver-blue eyes, age twenty-nine, head of our department, and one fatal characteristic. The characteristic that set my heart off double-speed. The characteristic that cracked my voice and blurred my focus. The characteristic that blew my composed, contented, feigned, little world to pieces.
One characteristic, that’s all it took. Tyson reminded me of Jaden.
“Do you think he heard you?” asked Jack, with a humored smirk back in Tyson’s direction.
My eyes blinked and I tried to still the papers shaking in my hands. “Ah...” breathe, Evelyn, breathe “...I don’t know.”
Days were always harder when I heard Tyson’s voice. Tonight would be a difficult one.
I winced up at Jack so I didn’t seem unduly affected, then we both went back to working.
The next three hours passed too slowly. I was close to the last one out, as usual, despite Jack’s extra work. I guess I was a little bit of a perfectionist when it came to cataloging. I hit the switch on my desk lamp with a sigh and headed out the door.
Our office was hidden on a nondescript level of a large, business skyscraper. Like everything on Fera, the structure was connected with a dozen others by lifted metal causeways encased on the sides with glass and the tops with full ceilings. Out on the wider intersections everything was open--just the sky to envelop them.
I peered down through the glass window as I walked the hall--my usual habit. You wouldn’t hit the literal bottom of Fera for at least half-a-mile if you jumped, but the surplus of tiered decks made seeing the full descent a rarity. The sound of the automatic door brought my head up; I walked through without hesitance to the main intersection deck outside. The bustle of people never failed to amaze me. That and the cold.
Dear, goodness. I hugged my slight green sweater around my body and just kept moving.
Out here the sky was a dim blue, only parted by the taller tips of the silver skyscrapers and passing ships. It was almost always like this on my way home from work, though if I was lucky the clouds would also glow a brilliant pink. Still, the fluorescent white and blue lights that lined almost every building, platform, and causeway, were brilliant enough.
A gust flew by me and I tightened my sweater again. I wished I could close my eyes as I walked sometimes, but there were too many people here. That was alright though... by the time I got home it would be less busy. My apartment--a thirty minute trek from D-Roe--was in the not so brilliant part of town. Not terrible, just... a single girl with an indeterminate job couldn’t afford to live in the ritz--or the upper city as it would be called in Fera. My place was down a few decks, not quite to the mid-low level. Here the sky was less visible, and the metal coverings were less sparkly. A few cheap shops flickered colorful lights across the walkways; including BQ’s which Jack and I sometimes went to. He’d offered to go tonight, but...no--not tonight.
I entered the cove that preceded my apartment elevator, waving to Old Bill, the landlord, as I passed. He usually stopped me to complain about the less consistent tenants, but today he seemed to be too occupied with a new cleaning contraption. The last one he’d shown me was astounding: a metal disk you set in the middle of the room that--once triggered--would sanitize the whole area with a single bright flash. Needless to say after seeing that, I’d really never pitied his complaints about cleaning any longer.
I took the stairs in two’s tonight. I was on the second floor of the tenement, five doors down the hall that wrapped around in a circle.
Absently, I typed in the code that would release my door lock, waited for the lag, then stepped in. The metal wall closed behind me and I sank to the floor.
Oh... My eyes closed and my head fell back, papers dropping forgotten to the floor. You see, outside I could pretend that all of this was normal. That flying ships, and mile-high buildings, and fluorescent lights, and transports, electricity and planets -- that all of these things weren’t in any way unusual. I’d grown up here after all. Evelyn Avest, daughter of Cal and Ryanna Avest, who’d died when I was twelve. Lived with my--now off-world--aunt up until six months ago. Received a full education on the middle levels, but had otherwise no distinguishing accomplishments to boast of.
That was me. That’s the I.D. the Gaeln had given when I’d gotten here... at least in a roundabout way. In actuality the Gaeln, who I consistently had trouble not despising, hadn’t appeared to me once. When I’d first woken up on Fera, six months ago, all I’d had to go off of were two slips of paper in my pocket. The first had been a note telling me to go to D-Roe’s address, inform them that I was referred here by a company called Lange Inc., and acquire a job. The second paper had been a coded I.D. slip, which had informed me of my “past” here on Fera. I still didn’t know now why D-Roe had accepted me and I still didn’t know what Lange Inc. was. But my new employers had set me up with a place to stay; I had started work, and shortly thereafter I’d met Jack.
All I’d been able to do at that point had been to trust that what I was doing at D-Roe mattered... just like the Gaeln had promised.
But now... normally at this point at night, I wouldn’t have let myself fall to the floor. I wouldn’t have let myself think about the past. I would have taken a shower, done some work, eaten dinner, and gone to sleep.
Like I’d said: not tonight.
I drug myself off the ground, leaving the papers where they were. I slipped my feet from my boots, and manually flicked off all the annoyingly automatic lights. I closed the shades and brought my blanket over to the couch; sunk down in, all bundled; then held out my hand in the almost pitch darkness.
Every sign of Fera was gone except for the low hum that couldn’t be escaped.
I did this on my bad days--maybe once a week, twice lately. It was stupid because it always felt worse the next day.
Don’t do it, Evelyn, I thought, just once, before giving in to the rushing memories.
I thought about my life long before, in Tiver; when I was never contented. I thought about that morning by the lake with Sylvanus, and my journey to the Meoden dimension. Of Thoran jumping in with his flaming green sword. And of sweet Cornelius, fainting in the woods.
I thought of Ikovos... how brazen he’d been from the start--how thoroughly awkward I had been. I thought of the cold walk through the night, and the towering lodge; the impossibly long, once mysterious, hall that had led to the small study of glowing books. Then the fire, too bright to be normal, burning on its own, mesmerizing me with its elegant movements. Then the boy... leaning against the wall with a smirk on his face...
I wouldn’t get farther than this. I never did. All I could see was his face, mind darting though all the moments I’d had with him... up until that night in the library... when he’d wrapped his hand under mine and...
The violet flame lit above my palm. Deep, more blue than before, more dim, but otherwise the same. I lifted it to my eyes with an unstable smile. I concentrated solely on it, on the way it removed the built-up chill from Fera that I could never get rid of. It would flicker wildly, threatening to go out until I thought of Jaden again. His incredulous brow lifts, his unhinderable confidence, the clear tone of his voice, the way he had looked when he kissed me... because I had to remind myself that this perfect, magical, boy, that would have made every second of the rest of my life something rather like paradise, had actually wanted me too. Loved me too.
Yes--then the flame steadied.
I smiled, but the empty holes were already beginning to stab at my stomach, in my chest. I laid on my side, set my hand out, carefully, and pretended for as long as I could that I was back in the study. Just overly tired, having a strange sort of nightmare. And in the morning I’d see Jaden and everything would be fine.
Yeah... just a dream that he would assure me was very silly... just a silly dream.
* SW stands for Star Wars. Always.
**ARC stands for "Advanced Reader Copy". It's what gets sent out to reviewers before the final edits are done on the novel. Sort of. Real Description.