Cover & Excerpt
Gullwing Book One
All Marco wants is to work his messenger job until he can retire. But when an unusual assignment sends him overseas, he finds himself broke and stranded in foreign lands.
No sooner has his journey begun than he is beset by a neurotic bureaucrat, a headstrong princess, and a conniving wizard.
Pulled in so many directions at once, Marco sees sour prospects for attaining his modest retirement dreams, much less getting out alive.
This isn't your typical "swords and sorcery" novel. The Gullwing Odyssey is a comedic adventure in a fantasy 16th century setting. It's the tale of an ordinary young man who embarks upon an extraordinary journey quite by accident, and in the end finds himself. Expect spectacular magic. Expect plenty of laughs. But above all, expect the unexpected.
Genre: Fantasy Comedy
Content/Theme(s): Dragons, Magic, Humor
Release Date: August 8, 2013
Publisher: Darkwater Syndicate, Inc.
Excerpt & More
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“Altansayir preserve me,” Kuril moped, wringing his claws as he paced the room. There was no purpose in his step as he plodded the same concentric track he had paced out for the past quarter hour. In that time, the dragon’s claws had run the circuit from wringing to being stuffed in his pants pockets to pulling on his crest and back around again.
“All right, so I’m not this emissary person everyone thinks I am,” said Marco, shrugging with his palms up. “I’m sure Kerrigan will turn this boat around when we tell him there’s been a mix-up.”
Kuril stopped pacing. “He has no discretion to do that.”
“He has to.”
Marco scowled. “No one obstructs Lord Amadis Eric’s mail. When His Highness finds out, he will dispatch his lancers. You’ll see. Before long, he’ll be bearing down on us with his army of fifty...”
Marco paused, saw no harm in inflating the numbers a bit.
“Five...” he went on.
Kuril crossed his arms.
“Hundred...” Marco ventured. “Thousand?”
“Really?” Kuril asked, cocking his head to one side. “Lord Eric’s glorious army of fifty-five hundred-thousand cavalrymen?”
Kuril lowered his tone to a growl. “Do you take me for a fool? I know you’re from Quirantes. I also know that there aren’t even fifty-five hundred gnats in all of Quirantes, let alone horses.”
Marco’s face flushed. “I’m under orders from Lord Eric. We have to turn around.”
“And I’m under orders from Emperor Rao. And we can’t turn around.”
“Lord Eric will have you in the stockade for this.”
“And you’ll be drinking seawater at the bottom of Damicyan Bay.”
Marco rocked back and swallowed hard.
Shaking his head, Kuril hissed frustration out through clenched teeth. “You’ve botched everything!” he shouted. “When the Hazaranthis learn of this foolishness, they’ll withdraw all offers.”
“Don’t blame me for this,” Marco said. “If anyone’s to blame, it’s that fool Alexis for mistaking me for someone else.”
Kuril’s upper lip twitched, baring his incisors. Faced with this, Marco knew better than to press the issue.
The tension in Kuril’s face broke. He grimaced, crinkling the scale folds that age and worry had drawn under his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” Kuril said. “We hit it off poorly. I don’t even know your name.”
“Marco,” Kuril repeated. “Right, well, if both our species are to have any hopes of co-existing peacefully, then they’d better start somewhere. And if we both are to have any hopes of existing at all, we’ll need to work together.”
Marco crossed his arms. “What do you mean?”
“Someone’s going to have to meet with the emperor, regardless of whether he’s the real emissary or not.”
“You’re not serious?” Marco half said, half asked. “I’ll do no such thing. I’m needed in Avignary.”
Kuril shook his head.
“This can’t be.” Marco’s voice was shrill with disbelief. “When Eric finds out I failed to deliver his mail, he’ll fire me for sure.”
“I’m trying to avert a war here,” Kuril spoke over him. “Are you saying your job is more important than the lives of thousands?”
Marco took a pause before answering. “I get retirement pay if I serve until I’m fifty.”
“Then if you want to live to fifty, I suggest you reconsider.”
A twinge of fear spurred Marco’s heart to gallop. His eyes flew to the knife on Kuril’s belt, then back up to meet the dragon’s gaze.
“There’s no way around it,” Kuril said. “The emperor, fair as he is, is stern. Either you do it, or he’ll have us killed.”
Palms up, Marco shrugged. “I don’t know the first thing about diplomacy.”
“You’ll have to learn. Sit tight a moment.”
Kuril left the room and returned with a thick tome hugged to his chest.
“And that is?” Marco asked.
“This,” he said, dropping the book on the desk, “is your first lesson.”
Disgust churned in the pit of Marco’s stomach as he eyed the monolithic book. It was an old tome, and looked as though it had not been opened in a long while. Turning it to its title page released a puff of trapped air that reeked of vellum and conceit. On the title page was printed:
Below the title, in larger letters than the book’s title itself, was printed the name of the author of this scholarly treatise.
By Kandensa, Marco thought. A Manocombian wrote this. The whiff of arrogance from opening the book should have been forewarning enough. He committed the name to memory and vowed to spit on it when he reached dry land.
“You expect me to read all this?” he asked.
“Yes, and quickly, because when you’re done I’ll have to show you the finer points.”
“There’s no way this will work,” said Marco, shoving the book away. “Do you really think your emperor is that gullible?”
“Well, no, certainly not,” Kuril said, wringing his claws. “But I think this is as good a plan as any, especially considering we’ve no alternatives. Besides, the emperor has never met anyone from Hazaranth, and so he wouldn’t know enough to think you weren’t the emissary.”
Marco breathed hard out his nostrils. “We’re dead.”
Wincing, Kuril nodded he was in agreement.
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