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Wind Raker -- An Army of Heroes

I'm looking forward to Wind Raker, the fourth Order of the Air book, coming out this fall. I'm especially looking forward to the characters kicking up a notch, beginning to realize exactly how big the story they're in is. This scene is one of the turning points, so I thought I'd share it. I'd love to hear what you think! (There is one spoiler for the end of Silver Bullet.)



She sat down at the bar, contemplating, and then tugged at the bartender's sleeve. "Is there a phone I could use to call a taxi?"

"I'm happy to call you a taxi, ma'am," the bartender said. "It usually takes about twenty minutes."

"Thank you," Stasi said, crossing her legs and checking the clock. "I'll wait right here."

A man slid onto the barstool next to her. "I'm afraid it's going to be a good deal more than twenty minutes tonight," he said. "There's been an accident on the coast road. Very unfortunate. Of course people will take the curves too fast when they've been drinking. It's tragic but hardly unexpected."

Stasi schooled her face to calm, though his voice sent a shiver down her spine, a voice from her past that she hoped she'd left behind. "Mr. Pelley," she said evenly.

"Mrs. Mitchell Sorley." His hair was a little grayer, streaking dark hair in a way that looked distinguished rather than old, dapper and neat in evening dress and Van Dyke beard like a continental gentleman. He nodded courteously, taking in her black dress with marabou trim and her wedding band. "You've moved up in the world."

"Well," Stasi said, opening her cigarette case and drawing one out. "A girl's got to look after herself."

"And very nicely too," Pelley said. "May I congratulate you on your marriage?" He offered her a light with a silver lighter.

"Thank you." The ritual of the cigarette gave her a moment to think. If Lewis and Alma had been in a wreck there wasn't anything she could do from here, nothing Mitch could do, and she couldn't get back to the house and the children without a taxi. On the other hand, if this were a game of Pelley's she'd do well not to spook. Either way, he was dangerous but while he was talking to her in a very public place he wasn't doing anything else.

"You're worried about your aviator friends," Pelley said shrewdly, lighting one of his own. "No need to. I don't think they were the ones killed. Some hard drinking soldier." He shrugged. "These things happen."

"And how would you know that?" Stasi asked, a hint of challenge in her voice. "I don't see you out on the coast road."

He smiled. "Do you and I need to be physically present to know something?"

"Do we?" Stasi said. There were no Dead in the club. Not recently dead, not long dead. There was no one she could ask, and certainly no just killed soul running about in confusion, returning to the last place they'd been.

"I don't," he said. He turned to the bartender. "Whisky on the rocks for me. Mrs. Sorley, would you like something?"

"A gin fizz," Stasi said. Letting Pelley buy her drinks was one way to do it. She gave him what she hoped was a knowing smile. "Tell me something, Bill. What are you up to?"
He smiled urbanely. "Let me tell you a story, Mrs. Sorley. It's very fanciful, but bear with me. I think you'll find it interesting."

"I'm sure I will," Stasi said. Where in the hell was Mitch?

He took a long draw from his cigarette. "Once upon a time…. That's how fairy tales start, right? Once upon a time there was a kingdom that was defended by a peerless fellowship of knights. Maybe they were the Paladins of Charlemagne or the Knights of the Round Table. Or maybe they were some other knights altogether. It doesn't matter. What does matter is this — there was blood and steel and kingdoms were won and lost and cities fell and flames went up to the sky. Treasures were buried and the dead lay in the open air. There was victory and defeat, gold to adorn the biers of noble kings and queens, and at last the knights lay still and silent, every single one. Crypts were sealed with weeping, and those whose bodies were never found rotted away in the spring, their corpses revealed by the melting snow. Grass covered all, white flowers dotting the hillsides like unchanging snowflakes."

A shiver ran down her spine, visions rising at his words. It seemed she could see all he said, made as real before her eyes as a moving picture.

"But the knights only slept. They were bound, you see. They were bound by their oaths and their fellowship, by their king and their God. They belonged to the Story, slaves to the world, as though the rings on their fingers were fetters of iron rather than bands of gold. The greatest knights who ever lived!"

Pelley stopped and raised his whisky as the bartender put it down, lifted his glass as though in toast. "Again and again they are called back, not as skeletal forms that move in the dark but in new bodies, young and strong and perfect, ready to take up their service again. They are the ultimate warriors, honed by thousands of years of human strife, victors and losers of the greatest battles in history. They are the best of the best, unconquerable save by one another."

Stasi reached for her gin fizz, hoping her hand didn't shake. "And what does that have to do with anything?"

"Now that great fellowship assembles again. It's time to put the world in order."

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Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
shetlandgirl
Sep. 16th, 2014 07:07 pm (UTC)
I loved Steel Blues and the feeling of something bigger developing and now this gives an idea of what the bigger something may be. And 'House and children' plural! Can't wait for Wind Raker to be published!
jo_graham
Sep. 17th, 2014 03:25 pm (UTC)
This is indeed what's developing! It's definitely big. Wind Raker is the book where our guys see how big the stakes really are.
squishydish
Sep. 16th, 2014 10:05 pm (UTC)
"It's time to put the world in order." MY order, that is, a rightful hierarchy, not this misguided mishmash of freedom and fair play and service that your little friends seem to like. You'd be wise to come over to my side before it's too late...

Gah! Is he really trying to line up Stasi, of questionable origins (though WE know her worth), or is he just hoping to undermine Mitch, who already rejected him? I suppose it could be both.

And I know she's trying to keep him talking, but it makes me nervous that she's accepting gifts (a light and a drink) from him. At least they're transitory -- just don't take any jewelry, Stasi!

Edited at 2014-09-16 10:05 pm (UTC)
jo_graham
Sep. 17th, 2014 03:27 pm (UTC)
Oh yes. That's what Pelley means. That's exactly what he means. *grimly*

He's trying to undermine Mitch, but also he can't help gloating that he thinks he's succeeded at murder. It would be a perfect murder, murder by magic that he could never be charged with, but he wants someone to know he did it and know there's nothing she can do about it.

She won't take jewelry. At least not that way! Stealing it is a different thing!
ashabardon
Sep. 17th, 2014 10:38 am (UTC)
Every time you post this I get the shivers - is there a confirmed release date yet because I can't wait read the whole thing, from start to finish, and meet old friends :D
jo_graham
Sep. 17th, 2014 03:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks! We don't have a confirmed release date yet, no. Sometime this fall. Right now we're waiting on the cover art. I'm so glad you're looking forward to it!
ashabardon
Sep. 18th, 2014 09:56 am (UTC)
You know it! It's the last book of on my must read this year this.
ashabardon
Sep. 19th, 2014 11:49 am (UTC)
As this is sort of connected being the same beautiful universe ... any word on Elza?
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )