I’m very happy to tell you that I finished the first draft of Wrath of the Medallion a few weeks ago and have now entered into the boring but necessary editing process. I expect the book to be printed and ready in February/March of 2015. It feels a bit unreal that the story is finally done – writing the ending was always something that lay far into the future, and when I finally got there it was like visiting a place you’d wanted to see for a long time and when you finally made it there you noticed that it wasn’t quite what you had expected. Without revealing any details I can tell you that the ending willbe very epic, with both happiness and tears and hopefully with a few unexpected twists.
Anyway, here’s an excerpt from one of the early chapters, which was a lot of fun to write. I hope it’ll keep your expectations up and make you look forward even more to the release of the book.
* * *
“You did what?”
Blanca spat out the last word as if it’d been a piece of rotten fruit. Commander Basordan recoiled from her wrath, almost falling backwards off his chair. The startled expression on his face would have made good old Alikos laugh his face off.
“I-I thought you’d be happy. Most people in the army see a promotion as the ultimate achievement.”
“Well, I don’t! At least not this kind of promotion. A captain? Why on earth would I want to be a fucking captain?”
Basordan gave her an uncomprehending look, probably wondering if she’d lost her mind. She glared back at him, determined to make him explain himself or be her enemy forever.
He cleared his throat. “I guess people see it as a chance to develop, to face new challenges and reach new levels of achievement. It also means a significant pay raise…”
“You can keep your money or give it to someone who wants it! And quit that fancy talk about achievements and challenges. I know damn well what a captain does. He suffers! I’ve known several of them during my time in the army, and every single one of them was miserable!”
That wasn’t completely true. The captain she’d been most closely involved with – captain Anadun – had enjoyed life in the army as much as she had. He’d been a skilled warrior, as popular with the officers as he was among the men he commanded. A good friend and a merciless enemy, a man any soldier would want to have beside him in a fight.
And he died. Captains tend to do that a lot.
“Please calm down,” Basordan said, sounding almost pleading. “Surely it can’t be all that bad…”
“It’s the worst damn rank in the whole fucking army! You’re in charge of hundreds of dirty soldiers acting like babies half the time and as grumpy old bastards the other half. You have to do all the dirty work of a junior officer, only now you’re responsible for ten or twenty times as many men. If this is your idea of a reward, then I suggest you start rewarding people who’ve behaved very badly!”
The commander rubbed his thumb across the rough cloth of his tunic, eyeing her with a dejected look in his eyes.
“I hadn’t expected this kind of a reaction,” he said at last.
“Why make me a captain in the first place? It’s not like I’m some great strategist or anything.”
“We intend to put you in charge of the scouts in the army we’ll send north into the Oronkili’s lands. Those scouting companies will almost always have support from more heavily armed forces, which means you’ll have command over a pretty large segment of the army. It doesn’t mean – as you seem to fear – that you’ll have to lead hundreds of soldiers into the middle of a battlefield. You’ll be in charge of scouting operations only, just like you were as a lieutenant.”
Blanca chewed her lip. She was still far from pleased with the commander’s decision. What she was beginning to realize was that yelling at him would accomplish nothing. He could give her whatever rank he wanted as long as she was part of the army. All she could do was try to make the best of the situation he’d put her in.
“I want to keep my old squad,” she said, forcing her voice to remain calm and cold. “Either that or I’ll resign from the army this very instant.”
That made the commander smile. “We can’t have that, can we? All right, the squad is still yours, and you can join them on missions whenever you feel like it. How’s it going with the new members, by the way?”
“They seem all right. Delian’s not pleased about having an Indesse fellow in the squad, but she’ll come around. Hervey and Gordal work really well together. I intend to make good use of that up there in the desert.”
“That’s good. Your squad has quite a reputation. It can’t be easy for newcomers to live up to the expectations.”
She frowned at that. “If they’re not good enough I won’t let them join. Are we finished here?”
“Sure.” Basordan shook his head ruefully, making Blanca’s frown deepen. Did the wanker find her amusing?
She gave him a curt nod before leaving the stone building where he had his office. Many of these glorified barracks had been damaged by fire when the hippos conquered the palace, but most of those were now restored to more or less their original state. The pale grey stone was still blackened in a few places, and Blanca could see a few cracks where hard objects had hit walls or roofs. But for the most parts they’d managed to wash away the remnants from the battle.
Most of the preparations for the upcoming invasion took place in other parts of the city, or in the open country outside its white walls. The Indesse engineers worked on new trebuchets and other siege engines to replace the ones that had been destroyed when they conquered Nouraline. The work here in the palace consisted mostly of reorganizing companies and appointing new officers where the old ones had been lost. Blanca’s squad had three new members, giving it a total of eight.
Two less than what’s customary, but I won’t add any more if they don’t order me to. Eight is the perfect number for the operations we’re expected to undertake. You can split into two groups of four, or four pairs. The more people you have in a squad, the harder it is to work well together.
She found her squad members lounging outside the barrack they shared with another group of squads. Forkers, Tygar and Delian were practicing with those weird Indesse crossbows. Blanca herself had only tried one of the damn things once and had almost shot off Tygar’s ear. Despite that, her three friends insisted they learn how to use them, and Blanca had to admit they were getting pretty good.
“What’s up, chief?” Tygar asked when she strode up to them. “You look like a bloody thundercloud. Was the meeting with the commander that bad?”
Blanca realized she was scowling and decided there was no reason to stop.
“The tall, lecherous bastard!” she growled. “How dare he? Having the nerve to… ahhh!” She buried her face in her hands, emitting low, dog-like snarls.
“Er, Blanks?” Forkers moved closer and eyed her worriedly. “What did he do? Sell you as a sex slave to the Oronkil king?”
“They don’t have a fucking king,” she moaned. “If they had, I would’ve taken the job without hesitating.”
“What, then?” asked Tygar. “Tell us.”
She looked up, her cheeks red with rage. “The inbred misanthrope made me a captain!”
There was a moment of silence, then all three burst into laughter. People standing nearby stopped what they were doing and turned to look at them. Blanca merely continued scowling, although now she wasn’t sure whether it was intended for that conceited fool of a captin or these so-called friends who dared to laugh at her misery.
“Oh dear, you really know how to get us worried for nothing, Blanks,” Forkers said when he finally was able to speak again. “I know you liked things the way they were, but being promoted to captain is hardly the end of the world.”
“It is!” Blanca snapped. “I’ll be in charge of all the scouts they’ll send north. And soldiers too. Ordinary soldiers! I haven’t dealt with ordinary soldiers since I was twenty! I mean, do they eat like normal people? Or do you have to give them some kind of fodder?”