Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Grand Master's Pawn, Part 1, by Aurora Springer

Release date: January 18, 2015
Subgenre: Epic fantasy

About Grand Master's Pawn, Part 1


The vast web of the teleportal system links the civilized planets, yet wars and disease propagate from the edge of the galaxy. Are the mysterious Grand Masters responsible for the disasters? On Avalon, the White Mother Tingu weaves her plans for the most promising empath in generations. Violet Hunter seems an ordinary graduate of the Terran Space Academy with the dream of exploring exotic planets. She hides her secret talent and her task of investigating the twelve Grand Masters. One Grand Master took a chance and selected Violet as his pawn. On her missions, Violet gains new powers, strange allies, and clues to the Grand Masters. While seeking answers, Violet is hurled into conflict with the Grand Masters, while the galaxy flies toward chaos.
Part 1 follows Violet’s mission to the Catacombs of the ice planet of Erebus. 


Two blue beams emerged from the round eyes of an ugly stone griffin, casting a weird light over the walls of the small room. A deep, resonant voice spoke, “I am the Grand Master and you will serve as my pawn.”

“Yes, Grand Master,” Violet said, refusing to show fear at the eerie, disembodied voice. “What may I call you?”

“You will call me Grand Master,” the haughty voice held an unpleasant edge.

Violet resolved to assert her independence instead of retreating into her usual passive acceptance, and said indignantly, “Grand Master, do your pawns have individual names?”

The room vibrated and psychic pressure built up against her. “You are insolent, Violet Hunter!” the Grand Master growled.

Shivering at the menace in his words, she stepped back against the wall, and instinctively shielded her mind. His psychic power was impressive since he was not physically in the room. Unexpectedly, Violet sensed a faint drift of amusement, the mental equivalent of a smile.

“Hunter is a good name for your vocation,” he remarked in a milder tone.

Violet stiffened; he must never learn the truth. She hunted him.

His gruff voice grew severe again, “I have taken a chance by selecting you. You must prove yourself worthy to serve as my pawn.”

“My qualifications are excellent,” she said, nettled by his antagonistic attitude. Surely, he had checked the records for her performance at the Academy.

“True, however, you have no practical experience.”

Violet objected again, “Grand Master, I have more experience with aliens and other planets than most of my contemporaries.”

He growled, “I am aware of the reports on you. Nonetheless, every pawn must meet my high standards when performing their missions.”

His deep voice rose in volume and resonated throughout the small chamber, “You will perform the missions exactly as I command. Do you understand me, pawn?”

“Yes, Grand Master,” she said, trying to sound compliant. Who was he to plan a detailed strategy? He would be safe in his palace, or wherever Grand Masters chose to live, while she would be working under hazardous conditions. Her survival might require swift action.

The Grand Master continued in his imperious manner, “Your first mission will be to acquire the living crystals from the cave in the Catacombs of Erebus.”

The blue beams from the griffin’s eyes flashed on the wall of the room and a rotating planet appeared in midair. The white surface of the planet was streaked with fine yellow lines like cracks in a smooth ball.

“The Catacombs lie deep within the ice planet of Erebus where the labyrinthine passages lead to the subterranean city of Elyrium.” As the Grand Master spoke, a maze of interconnected caves appeared within the hovering sphere, which cracked apart like a stone geode to reveal the colorful jewel of a city. “The crystal cave is in the city. You will teleport to Erebus and hire the guide named Rothan Rivern. Inform him that you serve the Grand Master. You can rely on him to lead you though the perilous caverns to the crystal cave. Do not use force to extract the crystals, or they will lose their vital energy. Move your hands gently over the crystals until one loosens and falls into your hands. You may take one or two crystals in this manner. Do you understand, Pawn?”

“Yes, Grand Master,” Violet repeated obediently, committing his instructions to her memory. She stared in fascination at the stone griffin with the glowing blue eyes. The Grand Master must control the holographic display from some remote site. She wondered if he would ever reveal his true physical form.
Blue light flashed from the eyes of the griffin and the voice of the Grand Master assumed a menacing tone, “Your mission is a challenge. Not all survive the Catacombs.”



About Aurora Springer:


Aurora Springer was born in the U.K. of Irish and Polish parents, which makes her a good American. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, one dog and two cats. She is an avid reader and has been composing Science Fiction and Fantasy stories since childhood. She has a doctorate in molecular biophysics and has a day job in academia where she works with crystals. Her ambition is to boldly discover the secrets of life and create new worlds. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, boating and painting.

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