Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

An Excerpt From Choices Meant for Gods

Or...Author Island's chat question can be answered by reading this little nugget from Sandy Lender's fantasy novel

(Henry gets described before this part of the scene, so we're jumping in in the middle of the "Jenkins Tavern" scene without his introduction. He tends to talk - A LOT. For those of you unfamiliar with Nigel, he calls Amanda Chariss by her given name (Amanda, or Mandy) while everyone else calls her Chariss, so don't let the name confuse you.)

Henry, it appeared, could drink the bar dry without any ill effect. Chariss had no taste for ale, so hers sat mostly untouched. Henry’s tankard, on the other hand, was refilled time and again. At one point, the bartender gave Nigel a knowing look. “You’re not up to trouble this afternoon, are you, Mister Taiman?”

“No, no, we’re only talking about the old days, not reliving them. The lady might like some water to drink.”

“Not reliving those days, eh, Nigel? And why not? What’s going on at that boring old school of your father’s to keep my best friend and accomplice from setting out to sea with me? I could use a strong hand for my next journey.”

“Henry, it wasn’t the life for me six years ago. It’s certainly not the life for me now.”

“Ah, yes, we’ve got a sweet little miss now. So, tell me,” he focused his loud attention on Chariss.

“Where are you from, ‘Manda, because I know no one in Arcana City had a gem like that on their cheek when I lived here.”

Her soft smile was meant to lower his voice, and the light spell she transferred to him as she spoke clouded the memory of the gem from his mind. “I’m from Tiurlang.” (It wasn’t a complete lie; she had lived there briefly.) “My grandfather and I only came to Arcana a few months ago. We both teach at the school. But you haven’t lived in Arcana all your life, Henry. Where does your ship take you next?”

“Oh, fooling around with the hired help, are you, Nigel? How intriguing. But to answer your question, I’ve got a great adventure ahead of me,” he slurred, leaning over the table. The volume of his voice dropped dramatically, and he looked over his shoulder as if expecting someone cared enough to listen to his story. “Maybe not so much an adventure as an opportunity, I guess. There’s not too much adventure in moving goods from one shore to the next anymore; it’s become old hat to a veteran seafarer like myself, but I’d at least call my next voyage an opportunity. I met up with a man who has need of supplies. Have you heard of Jamieson Drake?”

She hid her astonishment like a seasoned warrior, and touched Nigel’s leg on the bench to impart a spell to him. His alarm was thus clouded when Henry looked at him.

“The man’s crazy powerful. More powerful than that wizard that trained your father, I’d bet. Although I’d have to say I’ve heard stories of the wizard that trained Godric, and he sounds pretty fierce from those tales. But Drake is a sorcerer, I’ve heard tell, and I believe they’re only outmatched by the gods themselves, if I remember the hierarchy right. He’s got the whole Joveran Army wrapped around his little finger. And he’s the ofersey’n of one of the counties up north somewhere. I’m pretty sure it’s Kida, but no one pays any mind to the happenings in the west. Anyway, he needs supplies taken to the east continent. He’s got an alliance with King Tothe over there and he’s planning to help him take over the whole countryside. Can you imagine? I’m going to be rewarded handsomely for a little transport of goods from here to there. Nigel, this is something to get in on. I’m hiring a third boat for my fleet to handle the load, and I’m looking for a captain.”

“Nigel would be thrilled,” Chariss offered.

Henry beamed. “See there! I knew she was a player when I saw her. She’s got the look of someone who can make a decision, eh, Nigel? I bet you could captain that boat yourself, Missy. Did Nigel tell you he was in the Arcanan navy once?”

“Henry, those are old days gone by—”

“But those were volunteer days as well, my friend. What I’m talking about now is riches beyond your dreams.”

“I have the estate, Henry.”

“Hmpf! You can’t tell me that bastard’s giving you a penny when he dies. Pardon my language, Miss. It’ll all go to Jake and we both know it. Your lady friend here is right. You’d be thrilled to captain my boat.”

“Of course,” Chariss said. “Wouldn’t you be thrilled to be in charge of a whole ship of Drake’s war supplies?”

Nigel understood she was planning something, but didn’t want to make rash decisions. His reasons for remaining at Arcana had multiplied since her arrival, and Henry’s appearance couldn’t alter that.

“Would Nigel have to meet Mister Drake’s approval, or can you just send word that you have all the ships and sailors necessary?”

“He’s too busy planning a war. He wouldn’t want to come here to talk to sailors.”

“Oh, so he’s not here in Arcana?”

“No, I met up with one of his ‘advisors’ at Mar Dell. It’s the port just north of here. They’ve got a lot of the inbound trade locked pretty well there, but Drake knows it’s best to ship out from Arcana City’s harbor for a quicker delivery.”

Chariss felt herself growing impatient waiting for him to get to his point. “So you’ve not discussed this with Drake in person?”

“No, I got the impression Drake was rampaging the northwest of the continent and couldn’t be bothered with the mundane aspects of moving an army’s supplies oversea. But I don’t have to meet my associates in person. There was one fellow—”

“Aren’t you concerned the emperor will put you in prison?” she interrupted.

“Prison? For what?”

“Treason, for one.”

“Sweetie, by the time Maken dies and someone else figures out I even exist, I’ll have my payoff and I’ll be hiding out in a nice little palace somewhere on the other side of the Meredore. I’ve got a couple picked out.”

Nigel looked at his old friend seriously. “Until you get your palace, where are you staying tonight?”

“Oh, one of the wenches in town will remember me and take me in.” He winked at Chariss. “Nigel here was always the favorite—”

“Come stay at the estate,” Nigel interrupted. “Have you got a horse?”

“Yes. No. And I can’t stay at the estate. That bastard father of yours would kick me out so fast…”

“Henry, I won’t even consider your offer if you don’t come stay with us while you’re in port,” Nigel said.

“Argh. All right. All right. You win. You see there, Missy? He’s always been able to have his way. Let me get my things from the ship. I’ll get a horse and I’ll be there by bedtime. I’ll pull the bell and send old Godric Taiman into a tailspin.”

Nigel smirked at the suggestion. “Yes, I rather enjoy the idea of seeing his face when you walk into the parlor tonight. Are you sure you’re able to get yourself to the house?”

“What!? Man, I can hold more ale than you’ve seen in your lifetime. I’ll get there.” He looked at Chariss. “Nigel always did take care of me. That’s why I need him in my fleet so badly now.”

She smiled politely. The man had no idea what he needed if he’d struck a bargain with Jamieson Drake.

You can download the pdf of CMFG at

"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

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