City in the Sky – 2nd Edition is a standalone fantasy book. Release date: May 31, 2022.
“Killing a man isn’t an easy thing to live with, no matter the cause.”
Erik Tarverro is a skilled blacksmith, a better swordsman—and hated for his mixed aeradi parentage. Denied mastery of his craft in the human city he grew up in, he accepts a risky contract from a dangerous stranger.
With new enemies at his heels, he leaps at the chance to join his father’s people in the sky city of Newport. Despite his human blood, he finds his place among the aeradi: heir to an ancient noble family.
His duty leads him to sailing the skies and learning what it means to lead soldiers. But Erik’s enemies will have blood, and the peace between his people and the Draconan dragon riders is like a powder keg. All it would take is one spark—and dragons will fly on his newfound city in the sky.
This title is a second edition. The original was published in 2015. This edition has been re-edited and has new front cover typography.
Erik Tarverro waited silently in the Guild Hall of the Smiths’ Guild. The hardwood seat and simple decorations, fitting for an artisans’ guild, did little to alleviate his tension. Every so often, his hand drifted down to the sword at his belt and caressed the hilt. His grandfather, recovered now from his long illness, had borne an identical weapon into the Tribunal Room an hour earlier. Combined with several other pieces, it was to stand as proof of his readiness to be qualified as a Master of the Guild.
In a gesture too controlled to be a lunge, Erik came to his feet and began to pace. He’d tried not to get his hopes up, but surely this time they’d have to accept that he was, indeed, good enough to be a Master. He was a better swordsmith than half the Masters in the city.
His pacing brought him to a polished shield hung on the wall, and he paused, examining himself in it. It was his eyes, he knew. His eyes, with the slant and dark color that his father’s aeraid blood had bequeathed to him, that marked him as a half-breed. He was short for a human, but not unreasonably so. It was his eyes and face that marked him as the child of an aeraid. The jet-black hair that he’d drawn back into a ponytail only accentuated the difference.
Erik turned away from his image in the shield with a muttered curse. His father had been as good a man as any of them, for all that he was not human. Who were they to decide that his blood made his son less worthy?
The door to the Tribunal Room creaked open and Erik turned to face it. Five men, dressed in the formal robes of Master Smiths, walked out of the room, ignoring Erik as they turned toward the back of the Hall, where no mere journeyman could enter.
That was it, then. If there had been any chance, they’d have invited him in to speak for himself, not simply left. The grim expression on his grandfather’s face when old Byron followed them out merely confirmed it. Erik met the old man’s gaze, and Byron shook his head.
Three times now, they’d rejected him. Not on the basis of skill—even as a journeyman, people recommended him to those looking for good swords—but merely due to his blood. No matter how many of the city’s smiths acknowledged him, it always seemed that his Mastery Tribunals were made up of the ones that held his father’s race against him.
“Come on, Erik,” Byron said finally. “Let’s go home.”
Erik nodded sharply and slowly released the handle of his sword.
The fading afternoon sun glittered off the blade of the sword as Erik ran through his exercises. The sword hummed through a complex series of parries, cuts and thrusts, inflicting unspeakable damage on empty air.
Why wouldn’t they just accept him as a Master? He was good enough; there was no argument anywhere about that. At least one of the smiths who’d voted today had sent business his way in the past. He was the most respected journeyman smith in the city, but as long as he remained a journeyman, he couldn’t open his own shop. He was left working out of his grandfather’s shop.
He snarled and spun, thrusting the sword into the “stomach” of the dummy in the quiet training yard. Even money didn’t help. He was good enough that he had enough of that, but bribing the Tribunal was nearly impossible, even if it was likely to do any good.
There were simply too many Masters in the Guild who would not allow a “mere” half-blood to “pollute the purity” of their organization. As long as any Tribunal included at least three of them, and there were enough that that was almost certain, he would never have a chance.
He heard the shop bell ring, but he ignored the noise as he slowly and methodically hacked the dummy into very, very small pieces.