Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz are pleased to share an excerpt from Blaze of Embers, the conclusion to their Books Of Ore series. On-sale today!
Margaret Tanner already wished she hadn’t come home.
When she got the news that Micah had run away, Margaret had requested a leave of absence. It had taken an entire week for her submission to be processed. Tensions had spiked after President Saltern’s condemnation of the Quorum at the Council of Nations, so it was an “inopportune time” for an officer of the Foundry’s special engineering corps to be off duty. Nevertheless, she had managed it, and after a high-speed Galejet flight from Vellaroux, Trelaine, to Albright City, Meridian, she was home.
Yet international strife was nothing compared to what was waiting for her at Plumm Estate.
“Not like that,” Deirdre Tanner snapped, snatching the ornamental zigzag silverware from her daughter to properly pack it for shipping. “Fold the table linens.”
Accustomed to taking orders without question, Margaret moved with military precision to the other end of the giant brass table in the dining room. She adjusted the cuffs of her starched gray-and-gold Foundry uniform, brushed a strand of copper-blond hair from her heart-shaped face, and set about the new task. In their correspondence, her mother had neglected to mention that Dr. Plumm had fired the Tanners, and that he and Phoebe had moved out without so much as a thanks. Foundry officials had packed up all of the Plumms’ necessities, mostly files and personal effects, and shipped them to their new, undisclosed residence, leaving the staff to take care of the rest. Of course, Mr. Macaroy, Mr. Kashiri, and most of the others had abandoned ship at the first sign of trouble, leaving all the remaining work to the Tanners—namely Margaret and her mother, since Randall was utterly useless. So they had been at it for hours, working away into the night. Margaret wouldn’t have said no to a quick bite to eat, especially because a Televiewer in the kitchen was blaring with revelry from President Saltern’s campaign rally, and she was curious to hear his address.
“No, no,” Deirdre said, slamming down the box of silverware and stomping over to Margaret. “The trim folds in. Like this.” She yanked the silversilk tablecloth away.
“Mother,” said Margaret.
Deirdre flattened the pleats of the tablecloth as if she were spanking a disobedient child. Margaret placed a firm hand on her shoulder.
Strands of cobweb hair framed the gouges of grief in Deirdre’s face. Bruise-colored bags hung beneath her mudbrown eyes, which swam with tears.
“I just . . . What am I going to do, Margie? Where am I supposed to go?”
“It’ll be fine.”
“It won’t be,” Deirdre sniffled. “I’ll have to go back home to Oleander. Back to . . . him.”
Margaret stiffened at the mention of her drunken absentee father.
“You’re not going anywhere,” she stated. “We’ll figure it out. I’m here. We’re together now.”
“We’re not,” Deirdre whispered. “Not all of us.” Her round shoulders quaked. “My baby . . . My baby’s gone.”
Margaret handed her mother a silversilk napkin from the table. “Not the linens, Margie.” Margaret insisted, forcing the napkin into her hand. Her mother conceded and dabbed at her eyes.
“Go lie down, Mom. You need a break.”
Deirdre appeared eager for the opportunity, but she glanced with some concern at the mountains of valuables that still needed to be packed.
“I’ll take over here,” Margaret said, offering a soothing smile. “Don’t worry, you can redo everything I touch in the morning.”
Her mother smiled in return, a little embarrassed.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” Deirdre said, kissing Margaret on the cheek. She took one last uneasy look around the cavernous dining room of Plumm Estate before shuffling off to her quarters.
Margaret breathed a sigh of relief. She loved her mother and would do anything for her, but the atmosphere in a room always felt lighter when she left it. A sudden spray of wet coughing came from the kitchen. Concerned, Margaret put down her folding and walked over to see. Her brother, Randall, decked out in his Military Institute of Meridian uniform, sat hunched over the counter, sputtering. Tennyson the chauffeur chuckled as he pounded the teen’s back. Between them sat a brown bottle of liquor.
“Tenny’s bailin’,” Randall managed, wiping his mouth. “Just havin’ a little farewell drink, is all. Don’t tell Mom.”
Margaret huffed. “A chip off the ol’ block, aren’t ya?”
Randall narrowed his beady little eyes at her.
“Go see if she needs anything,” Margaret ordered, and her brother obliged, breezing past her. Tennyson followed, offering Margaret a sly wink as he slipped away.
A tumultuous ovation on the Televiewer grabbed her attention. On the screen, three Razorback fighter jets flew in formation, blazing a trail of golden fire above a gleeful crowd packed onto the bridge to Foundry Central. Newscam drones swept over the bay, looking for the perfect angle of the Crest of Dawn, the titanic sunburst that towered over Albright City. There, thousands of feet above the crowd, emerging onto a platform festooned with bunting and ribbons in patriotic red, white, and gold, was President Saltern with his beautiful wife and children. The leader of the free world had never looked more youthful or vibrant.
An orchestra started playing “Our Shining Hearts.” The crowd sang, voices ringing throughout the glorious metal city. This was a celebration for the ages. The nation’s beloved first family sang along with the people.
“Meridian cast off all her bonds, when Creighton Albright forged the bronze.”
The sky crackled with fireworks, a frenzy of dazzling lights reflecting off the gleaming skyscrapers.
“With ball of lead and sword of steel, we’ll crush our foes beneath our heel.”
The Salterns laughed, squinting against the spectacular light show.
“So praise the gold, the brass, and chrome, of Meridian, our mighty home!”
A Newscam drone held the President’s proud visage in an iconic beauty shot. But something was wrong. His eyes went wide. His mouth went slack. Fear paralyzed Margaret as she too understood. Fireworks were speeding toward his platform. Not fireworks. Missiles. An explosion—a blinding white supernova. The gutwrenching screams of an entire city in shock. A strike against the legendary Crest of Dawn.
Thus the war began.
Excerpted from BLAZE OF EMBERS © Copyright 2017 by Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Missed The Foundry’s Edge (The First Book Of Ore) or Waybound (The Second Book of Ore)? Found out more at http://www.booksofore.com.
About The Third Book Of Ore: Blaze of Embers:
Phoebe Plumm and Micah Tanner are no longer the spoiled heiress and naïve servant boy who first stumbled upon the fiercely beautiful world of living metal known as Mehk. They have rallied to aid the mehkans and risked their lives fighting the relentless greed of the Foundry, a corporation that harvests the metal creatures to sell as products back home in Meridian. But the kids’ mission to retrieve a mysterious relic ended in devastating tragedy and with Micah as a prisoner of the enemy. Shattered, he can only watch as an unthinkable new power rises in Mehk and international war erupts in Meridian. Trapped between the Foundry and this staggering mehkan threat, Micah has no choice but to work with dangerous humans and mehkans alike, each with their own agenda. As the path of destruction spreads and hope fades, Micah leads his unlikely allies in a desperate race back to Meridian, where the two worlds are about to clash. A terrible reckoning is underway, and this time, everything is at stake.
About the Authors:
Cam Baity is an Emmy Award winning animator, and his short films have screened around the world, including at Anima Mundi in Brazil and the BBC British Short Film Festival. His credits include major motion pictures like Team America: World Police and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, and popular television shows such as Robot Chicken and Supermansion.
Benny Zelkowicz studied animation at CalArts and made the award winning film, The ErlKing. He directed and starred in the BBC/CBC animated series Lunar Jim, and worked on The LEGO Movie as well as several TV shows including Robot Chicken and Moral Orel.
Courtesy of Disney Hyperion, I have a digital copy of Blaze of Embers by Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz for one (1) lucky winner!
Contest is open to US residents only. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends April 28. I’ll draw a name on April 29, and notify winner via email.
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