SSV is happy to give you a tantalizing peek at Duck Blood Soup and tease your reading appetites for more! The post has a snippet of three different chapters from the novel. Just enough to get you hooked!
When Eizenfeng’s leading wizards combine science with magic, the world changes dramatically. Technological advancements, coupled with racial and economic tensions propel the country toward war with a longtime ally. Jeunelux is oblivious to the building turmoil; scorching days harvesting tomatoes and her annoying older brother are more pressing concerns.
Suddenly, strange dreams that haunt her nights become reality. Jeunelux, along with two other untrained and unlicensed teen wizards embark on a quest to save the girl’s father, rescue a giant, and prevent a war.
“For someone who loathes humans, you sure waste a lot of time trying to understand them.”
Kruk didn’t bother to look up from the tiny book. “It’s because I study them that I despise them. Have you ever read their literature? Volumes dedicated to violence, deception, and adultery. They write about emotions that they have no hope of ever understanding. Their history books are full of weak attempts to simultaneously justify self preservation and self destruction. It’s mind boggling. Besides, it’s no different than you and your spiders.”
“It’s completely different,” Lren said. “Spiders serve a purpose. They’re worth understanding. Look at a spider web some time. If the natural art doesn’t convince you, the mathematical intricacies must.”
Lren paused as a smile crossed his longtime friend’s face. Kruk had once again managed to change the topic. Defeated, Lren muttered, “At least you’ve never seen me crush a spider.”
Lightning briefly lit the pitch black sky and trailing thunder masked the screams for just a moment. The glow of distant fires reflected off of the low clouds and revealed the nearby smoldering ruins. The stench of death and destruction filled the air. Jeunelux instinctively knew that she was both here and not here; that she was a part of, but distant from the scene around her. Smoke and rain mercifully hid the full extent of the devastation.
Jeunelux found herself walking along a strange river bank. Across the river’s black water she could just make out the silhouette of a town much larger than Genderalt. Rain fell around her yet her night dress was dry. Mud squished between her toes, but her bare feet remained clean. She wanted to move faster but her leaden legs had a mind of their own. Jeunelux sensed rather than saw others like her.
Groenendael ignored the massive club swinging toward his head. The weapon passed harmlessly through the wizard and found its target in the person of a shop owner standing behind him. The behemoth did not seem to care that it had missed him, and in fact did not seem to notice the wizard at all but instead.
It was the one word that brought dread to heart of every farmer in Eizenfeng. ‘Dragonfly’ would have been bad enough, but his wife Regle had yelled ‘Dragonflies’. She knew the important distinction between the two words.
One of the six-inch creatures might only destroy a few plants, but when their numbers grew they became far more destructive. A couple of dozen could destroy a whole farm — barn, house and all. A swarm could destroy a small town. Garimet looked out of the kitchen window. He couldn’t see how many dragonflies there were, but with his entire family out in the field one was too many. The farmer rushed out the back door of the house without bothering to drop his spatula.
Garimet wasn’t sure what he could do to help his family if there were more than a few dragonflies. The fields aren’t burning; that’s a good sign, the farmer thought. He could see his two youngest boys running toward the barn with Regle urging them along. She would try to protect the barn and its contents. The family’s livelihood depended upon it. A week’s worth of harvested vegetables were loaded onto wagons in the barn. If they lost those, there wouldn’t be enough money to cover the bills.
Regle stopped running once she saw Garimet. The normally strong woman was struggling to hold back her tears. “Teravus fell when we were running from the field. I think he might have broken his leg. Jeunelux was trying to help him, but there are so many dragonflies. Please Garimet, please save them. I can’t lose another child.”
Words alone wouldn’t comfort his wife. He wanted to hold her in his arms and let her cry on his shoulders. “Get the boys to the barn. If things get too bad, make your way to the root cellar. I’ll do what I can for Teravus and Junie.”
The farmer sprinted toward the fields, searching frantically for his children. The dragonflies’ buzz drowned out his shouts.
Garimet understood why his wife sounded so panicked. In his forty years he had never seen this many dragonflies. Hundreds buzzed above the fields, working themselves into a frenzy. Instead of feasting on the plants like they normally would, the insects darted back and forth, high and low. The bugs were most dangerous when they were agitated and he knew it wouldn’t be long before these started breathing fire.
In the middle of the swarm Garimet noticed an area devoid of insects. He ran to that spot, his fatherly instincts telling him that his son and daughter would be there. One of the dragonflies swooped down and with a small puff of fire singed the farmer’s hair. Experience told him that the worst thing he could do was swat at the bug. A crushed insect would give off an acrid scent that would provoke the entire swarm to attack anything and everything.
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