I have also been working on a collaboration with Taki Drake in her Unfettered Mage universe. It has been a lot of fun, and working with a mentor on something has been an amazing experience. (I just hope it has been as fun for her.) So, Without Further Ado, here is a snippet from the first of several books we will be working on together.
Of course, she wasn’t alone. Even now, in the protection of Ruth’s private quarters, she had a bodyguard. Jenna was on duty and stood within the room. The former Marine was armed and exuded danger and power.
The Mage glanced at her companion, words flowing through her head,
I think I’m doing pretty well to adjust to Arkken. I’m coping with bodyguards following me everywhere and living in something that looks like a cross between a medieval castle and a modern tech fantasy. Spaceships and swords. Who would’ve thought the reading of my youth would make this seem familiar?
Outside of the people at the castle, and those that had been on the slave ship with her, Ruth did not know many people. For the most part, her schedule was her own, and she told people when she wanted to talk to them.
The alert tone of the communicator on the wall of her room was even more startling because she had expected to be totally undisturbed. The source of the call was hidden, an icon going the equivalent of what on earth would have been an unlisted number notification. With a wide-eyed glance at Jenna, Ruth asked, “Who do you suppose it is? I don’t know that many people.”
Jenna frowned and said, “Even more importantly, how did they get your number?”
“Only one way to find out. Let me answer it.”
The bodyguard moved to be out of the view of the caller but pulled a recording device from her belt. At Jenna’s nod, Ruth tapped the icon to accept the call.
Shocked, the Mage recognized the man whose image now showed. Unsure of why he was calling her, Ruth greeted him by name, “Senior Auditor Rick, what a surprise. To what do I owe the honor of your call?”
The slender, precise man twitched his face into the approximation of a smile. Leaning slightly forward toward the screen, he said, “I wanted to extend my thanks and the gratitude of others in the Auditors Guild for your handling of the misfortunate audit problems. We deeply appreciated your cooperation in this and wanted you to know that nothing like that will ever happen again.”
Ruth knew how mortified the man must feel and how important it was to the Auditors Guild that they were seen as incorruptible and perfect. It had never crossed her mind to trumpet the fact that they had made an error. Any gratitude for her perceived forbearance was simply a plus.
“You are very welcome, and I truly hope that you never have to deal with something like that again.”
When Ruth would’ve ended the call, Auditor Rick raised his hand to stop her, and said, “It occurred to me after we had left our meeting that there might be some information that someone raised in the Alliance would have that you are missing.”
“Yes, I’m finding all sorts of holes in my understanding and patching them as quickly as I can. I just hope that nothing critical is missing. I would hate to have people injured or other accidents happen because of my ignorance.”
“With that in mind, several of us prepared some information packets that we thought you might find useful. I am transmitting them over to your incoming message queue now. Some of them concern local laws and regulations as well as the definition of the powers and responsibility that an Unfettered Mage holds.
“Additional information covers similar topics for anyone wearing the circlet of the Archmage. Since there hasn’t been either a powerful Fettered Mage or any Unfettered Mage in multiple millennia, you might find it difficult to find those guidelines.”
Ruth smiled in gratitude, and said happily, “Thank you! That will be very helpful.”
Looking satisfied, the dignified Auditor added, “Some of the other packets of information cover areas that might actually be dangerous for you and your people. After so long, the existence of an emerging Unfettered Mage may excite some of the more radical organizations throughout the galaxy. While most of these tend to be poorly funded and not particularly powerful, many of them have members that are fanatics and will go to great lengths to cause you harm.”
“That sounds perilous, and frankly wasn’t something I expected to hear. Are there any specific groups that you think would be the most concerning?”
Sighing, the Auditor look suddenly tired. Running a hand across his face, he scrubbed his eyes for a moment and looked deeply into Ruth’s eyes across the electronic interface. “Some of the worst ones go by names that cover their fury at the galaxy in general and twisted logic with labels that proclaim them to be on the side of good. Two of the worst are the Protectorate Cadre and the Order of the Just. Most of the others are just flash and no substance.”
Ruth sighed in dismay and heard a very soft echo from Jenna. Once again trying to look appreciative, the Mage responded, saying, “Thank you again for your consideration, Senior Auditor Rick. I will definitely delve into the information you have sent me. I will also make sure that all the necessary people on my staff see it.”
The man nodded in acknowledgment and ended the call, calling out an ending farewell, “You are very welcome, Mage. The Auditors Guild always balances its transactions.”
More snippets of this book can be found here (Link to Taki Drake’s page)
Note: For those who have read all my works, the main character was first developed in the short story Commander of Mercenaries, found in (insert Anthology Here)