Excerpt From Orphan’s Price

Excerpt: Orphan's Price

An orphaned boy, uncontrollable magic, and a destiny to recover a nation’s honor.

For sixteen-year-old Ren, life was a brutal slog in the orphanage. His only aspiration was to become a sorcerer.

But with no family connections, he had no chance…

Until, a freak magical accident drew the attention of international authorities.

Will Ren evade the authorities, and take his one chance to pass the ritual required to join the Amethyst sorcerers?

Or will his low birth doom him and the world?_______________________

Orphan’s Price is the first book in the Chronicles of the Seventh Realm, an epic fantasy series comprised of episodic short reads. Ren may be the “chosen one”, but Chronicles of the Seventh Realm is a sprawling series of characters with many tales to explore. This is the first book of Ren’s Tale.

PROLOGUE

IT WAS LATE AT NIGHT—or early in the morning—but to Professor Henry Velden it was the perfect time to work. While his peers dreamed of the mathematical formulas the Amethyst Nation delivered earlier in the week, he toiled in his lab on new inventions. Most mathematicians spent their days finding proofs through formulas, but he preferred to prove through experimentation.

After checking his calculations for the fourth time, Prof. Velden plugged the variables into his computer simulation and executed the virtual experiment. A green bar moved across the screen as it counted up from 1%. A yawn overtook him, and he arched his back.

His fellow professors poked fun at his experiments. No one believed his inventions could change the world, but still, he persisted. His experiments would bring the Pearl Nation back into the spotlight. The right technology would force the world to treat them as equals once more. No longer would magic be the only measuring stick, now that technology was a reliable substitute.

The computer chimed, indicating the simulation had finished. 87% likelihood for success. Not the best odds in the world but Prof. Velden would take it. If his plan worked, he’d be a hero. As he prepared the hardware and wired up the power supply, he thought through his goals. Limit the energy flow into the machine until the rift opened between his universe and what he hoped would be a parallel universe, releasing a large surge of energy to kick-start a feedback loop which would stabilize the wormhole.

A quick triple check verified the proper circuit board connections. The last thing he could afford was another power surge to the grid. He bundled himself into a thermally insulated coat but skipped the proper face masks—he didn’t plan to be out long. Opening the front door filled his house with an icy chill. He made sure the door sealed behind him, ensuring his house would heat itself back up quick enough. Fortunately, central heating was the first thing the Pearl Nation mastered after magic faded.

The ground was covered with snow two feet high, and the path he kept cleared had a thin white sheet of fresh snow. Prof. Velden walked the thirty yards to his shed where he kept spare parts and, most importantly, his own fusion reactor. The university hadn’t approved the requisition orders for the materials, but they were common enough that the odds of Prof. Velden being caught were slim. The roof had grown new icicles since the last time he’d visited. He made a mental note to break them off. 

He slid the shed door open just wide enough to slip in and slide the door closed behind him. A furnace in the corner kept the room just above the freezing point of water, warm enough for most citizens. Using nature’s cooling effects ensured his electronics wouldn’t overheat. The shed was large enough to house his reactor in a back corner, offer a workstation to the left where he sometimes built prototypes, and tuck the furnace in the front right corner. The majority of the shed stored dismantled electronics piled on every available surface and hanging from nets in the ceiling. 

The reactor’s display showed 70% fuel capacity—more than enough to run his experiment. He pulled the wall breaker behind the reactor which opened the connection to energy from the public power grid. Starting the reactor took enough electricity to run a neighborhood for a day. The reactor’s display showed the capacitors at 30% and rising. Using capacitors meant Prof. Velden could charge his reactor rather than pulling the energy all at once and risk causing a neighborhood outage. Energy was free to use, but even so, using so much as to cause an outage would result in a severe fine, and possible loss of his position at the university. 

The readout reached 100%. Prof. Velden disconnected the grid and ignited the fusion reaction. An ultra-hot stream of plasma pulsated inside the reactor’s core, held in place by a magnetic field strong enough to rip apart steel. 

A loud crack like thunder rumbled against the walls of the shed. 

Curious. 

Prof. Velden tapped on a diagnostic readout as fast as possible. All systems showed to be working within tolerable conditions. There was no way to look inside the reactor and see what was happening, but if the diagnostics claimed everything was fine, there was no reason for him not to believe them. 

What had caused a rumble loud enough to shake his shed walls?

He pulled his jacket tighter around himself and went back outside to investigate. Off in the distance where the ice met ocean was a blue energy pulse hanging in midair. He cocked his head to the side and blinked his eyes in an attempt to shake off what he saw before him. It didn’t work.

He ran toward the light, ignoring the burning sensation in his calves as he repeatedly pulled his feet out of the snow banks. Before he could get to the water’s edge, the blue glow vanished and total darkness engulfed him. Only the small spots of light from his shed and house were visible behind him as he turned about to regain his bearings. 

Prof. Velden used the built-in flashlight on his right coat sleeve, to see where the blue light had been a moment earlier. He sprinted forward, and as he neared the spot, noticed a dark pile of clothes on the ice less than ten feet from the ocean. A woman cradling a young child. Henry didn’t know what to make of it. He worried she was dead—neither of them moved.

The desire to learn the unknown won out—he approached ignoring the tightening in his chest, knelt down to lift her, and she opened her eyes. Bright blue eyes, the color of the rift he’d just seen, stared back at him.

“Thank the gods,” Henry whispered more to himself than anyone else. “Are you okay?”

She stared at him, a blank expression on her face, either unaware of where she was or unable to understand him. He reached out a hand to lift her up, and she scuttled back, tightening the child into her body.

He raised both hands to let her see he meant no harm. Reluctantly, she allowed him to lift her and the child. He could now see that it was a young boy—perhaps two years old.

Prof. Velden had never been a strong man, but somehow, he carried her and the child back to his home. When he laid her down on his sofa, he saw the blood which stained the side of her blouse and skirt. Blood covered his coat. She’d bled the whole way home. He reached out to check her skin, it was ice cold. He could see death coming into her eyes, and he knew she had only moments left to live. 

Henry had seen death up close when a plague ravaged his city as a young man. All the men of the university had been called upon to lead teams for quarantine and decontamination. So many died in front of him—so many more he’d been forced to barricade inside homes with the sick. What plagued him wasn’t the scenes of death, but the visions of survivors eating the dead to survive. Those were the darkest days of the Pearl Nation, and ones they never spoke of.

The young boy cried while his mother tried everything to comfort him with the last of her strength. She reached her hand out and grabbed Henry’s arm with surprising strength. He knelt closer to her.

“Help him.”

Her eyes focused toward the far wall of the room.

“I promise.”

She didn’t respond, leaving Henry to decide the young boy’s fate.

The child fell silent, apparently able to sense his mother passing. He had the same bright blue eyes as his mother and stared at Prof. Velden while he paced the room.

Henry made the decision to care for the boy. After all, he’d promised, and everyone knew there was no backing out of a death oath. He would call the clerk’s office when the sun rose, explain what happened to the woman, and file the proper paperwork to adopt the child. Henry hadn’t the slightest idea how to raise a child, but he knew how to research any subject and was confident that child-rearing would be no different.

He looked at the boy, deciding what to call him. The boy’s blue eyes calmed his mind, allowing him to focus in on the present like a laser.

“What should I call you?

“Humm

“How about Henry? And for short, I’ll call you Ren. That way no one confuses the two of us.”

The boy giggled and gave Henry a huge smile.

“Ren it is.” Prof. Velden collapsed to the floor beside the sofa.

Ren crawled out of his dead mother’s arms and into Henry’s lap. Fate had seen fit to throw the two of them together, and Henry wouldn’t shirk his obligations. He moved his hand along the floor and felt a cool spot where blood had dripped onto the hardwood. 

That would be a pain in the ass to clean, but that was a problem for tomorrow.

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