At the end of this post I’m going to enclose the previous reading I did, exactly as it appeared in the printed document.
So, as per my previous post, I’m going to be reading at another local authors night (link goes to Facebook event).
You can actually read any excerpt I could pull out, because my focus these days is on my next book, The Crown Princess’ Voyage (Book 2, The Gift-Knight Trilogy). Provided you can navigate Wattpad’s interface and/or tablet app, and don’t mind reading from a screen (I say that because some people really prefer paper), both The Gift-Knight’s Quest and The Crown Princess’ Voyage are available online and free to read. There are some other drafts up there which have not yet had a single editing pass, so… reader beware. With the two full novels, even though they’ve had numerous editing passes, that’s exactly why you now get further license to complain when I missed the obvious typo.
I don’t know how long they’ll both be up there. I was hoping to get a few interested readers who wouldn’t have otherwise risked buying the book before they tried it. I’m also a small-time author and in order for someone to want to “steal” a book that’s not meant to be read free, I would have to be popular enough for that to be a concern. If J.M. Frey can put books on Wattpad for trial without being too worried about it, and this is kinda something I felt encouraged by her to do, I have nothing to worry about.
And now, the previously read excerpt (which is not what I’ll be reading next Wednesday). Jan is a supporting character from Book 1 who starts to develop his own plot arc where he’s in charge. When it starts, he’s still under Chandra’s orders and waiting for her to be done whatever diplomatic visit she’s committed to, but he has to take immediate action. Then her decision making basically drives them apart. It was always easy when being loyal to the Kenderley family necessarily meant protecting their kingdom of Kensrik and its people, but what happens when these two things are forcibly separated? Chandra has a very difficult choice to make and I think she made the practical one, but Jan doesn’t agree.
Context summary: After the events of The Gift-Knight’s Quest, violent unrest forces Chandra to sail away from home—with her private fleet, her Army, guard captain, and knight. They quickly learn that nowhere in the known world is safe, whether on land or sea, thanks to a strange enemy who has basically invented the cannon. This scene occurs after Chandra made a difficult decision. Either her army could enter Derek’s homeland and try to defend it against a large army that has already toppled the world’s most massive fortifications; or try to sail back home to defend Kensrik, and most likely be sunk by the enemy along the way. She chooses to help Derek’s homeland because she’s certain they would never get back to Kensrik in time. Her guard captain Jan, unquestioningly loyal for a book and a half, refuses to order any of his men to abandon their homeland. Derek suggests a compromise: let Jan take the sailors, since the forces on land have no need for them, and let Jan state his case before the soldiers so each person can decide for themselves. Both sides accept this idea, leading to this scene.
“Thank all of you for coming by to listen. I’ll get to it quick, your country needs you. And your Crown Princess needs you, too. For the first time, you don’t get to help both at once. It’s the choice of your life, and neither one’s got safety assured. You sailors, I have something for you to do. I can’t force you to get on those ships, but they need to be sailed, and that’s the one way you can continue being of service. Where the Crown Princess Chandra goes, now, they only have a need for soldiers. And while it might seem tempting to take off, somehow finding some use for yourself in the middle of nowhere, your country needs what you can do, so you’d better think deeply about that. And for the rest of you, I need men willing to learn how to work these weapons. You have to do exactly as I’ve told you to use them safely, and the rest is the limited time you’ll have to learn aiming. Don’t feel like I don’t need you if I get just enough men for each weapon, because this is war, and you may find yourself having to replace a wounded or a dead man. But like I said, I can’t force you; we’re not the Kenderley Navy, the last Kenderley has chosen to fight this next part of the war entirely on land, with her knight in command. Honestly, she wouldn’t be any safer with us. We’re up against ships as deadly as the one we’ve captured, and faster than anything else you’ve ever sailed on, like the one Sir Derek stole for us. They’re up against an army that knocked down the frontier wall. If you’re with me, then you’ve decided that Kensrikans may as well face long odds for their homeland, and let the Plainsmen face long odds for theirs. Don’t think that makes us the Kensrikan Navy, either, even if everything we do now is to save ungrateful people who kicked us out in the first place. If we live through this, if we win, I can’t guarantee a parade, but I can guarantee we’ll have done what’s right. That’s all I’ve got to say now, so make your choice. And try to make it fast, because Bayrock can’t wait for so long; weapons like what we’ve now seen, lots of them could be pointed at the old Palace all too soon.”
Jan stepped back and turned a bit. He wasn’t going to give anyone a guilt stare, because all he believed he had done was offer them a choice of which death seemed most noble.
Did the Plains want Chandra any more than Kensrik? What was fighting for one ungrateful land versus fighting for another? It mattered to Jan if one of those ungrateful lands was home.
“You’ve got us, Captain Jan,” said one sailor who spoke for all others, and broke Jan out of his brooding with a hearty slap on the back.
Jan smiled and nodded, still refusing to look straight at the whole group. He next looked up at a man whose broken nose had never quite healed straight.
“I can’t go with you,” said Lucas.
Jan laughed bitterly. “And it was worth your time walking up to me to say no?”
“Yessir, it was. You have to say no to a great man, at least say it to his good ear. What’d you expect me to do, just walk away, not a word? After what we’ve been through?”
“Oh, Lucas, you glorious idiot.” Jan grabbed the man in a tight hug which deprived the smaller man of breath for its duration, but Jan made sure it wasn’t too long.
Jan kept his hands on the man’s shoulders and they smiled at each other, at arms’ length.
“Goodbye, Captain. Watch out for flying jugs.” Lucas said.
“Goodbye, Lucas. Don’t let Sir Derek off easy; talk back to him for me, but not in battle. Great Sky, keep your mouth shut in battle.” Jan said.
The next joiners were all the soldiers who had sailed with Jan on the Red Sky, minus Lucas who already bade farewell. They were all happily walking to their probable doom, and if by chance they survived this, he would tell them their official name, inspired by his exchange with Lucas: Jan’s Glorious Idiots. He wouldn’t admit it a moment sooner, in case they took it personally. The less familiar soldiers who decided to join them were no better.
As a handful of others, mostly strangers, walked away to join Sir Derek’s camp, Jan sat on a beach boulder and stared at the sand. He knew that his name fit perfectly into the official title of this group. What better leader for Glorious Idiots than Jan Donde, the biggest one of all?
And there came Chandra, walking toward him, head covered but for her face in a thin dark shawl to protect from the sun. The same woman who would freely roam the halls of the Kenderley Palace when Jan wanted her to be watched carefully at all times was on the beach unattended; why would she change now?
“Good evening, Jan. Have you got all you need? All the men and supplies?” She asked.
Jan nodded slowly, but said nothing.
“I suppose I should call you Admiral, now. But then, I’m not calling Derek a General.”
“You can call me what you like,” Jan replied, “I’m Captain Jan. I guess we’re pirates, more or less. It’s not like Lucen’s hired or sanctioned us for what we’re going to do.”
Chandra closed her eyes guiltily for a brief moment.
“Yes. This act is yours, this choice. I don’t get to give you a title, or to own what you’ll achieve without me. I’m sorry, Jan. I wish you all the best. Please make it through this alive.”
“As far as I get to choose that, I will. I’ll send word when there’s something to say,” Jan replied.
She looked at him and she doubted he would invite any embrace. This big man, almost fatherly in his protectiveness when she needed to be escorted safely away from Queen Alisand’s funeral, from King Jonnecht’s demise; she used to wonder if there was anywhere in the world she could go that he wouldn’t follow if she might be in peril. Now she knew where, but there were compelling reasons why.
Chandra shed a tear and turned and walked away. Jan just watched, quietly making sure nothing happened to her while she remained within view, and accepting once she was out of sight that he had chosen different responsibilities. No one said a proper goodbye.