To celebrate the release of Lost Dogs #8: North Into the Past, I’m starting off series of blog posts where I share the Introduction “chapter” of each book. Each introduction is a short piece intended to set the mood and scene for the book, and they’re usually only a few hundred words – about a page or two.

In the first few books, the Introduction was mainly a description of where the story takes place, but in later books, they’ve started to include information about the world. For example, book five explains the role International Rail plays in the world, and book eight talks about the origin of the elves and the other races.

Today though, it’s time for the introduction to Lost Dogs #1: Last Fight of the Old Hound, which is all about the city of Tin Jian:

Tin Jian, the city of dreams.

The jewel of the east, where the desert meets the sea. Where magic meets technology.

Towering skyscrapers and soaring spires. Concrete and steel, crystal and marble. Offices and apartments, temples and churches.

Blinding white in the blistering sun. Glowing with neon and fire under the canopy of stars.

Airships cruise between towers and spires. Subway trains race through ancient tunnels. Crowds of people fill the streets and alleys – on foot or in carriages, on bikes or on camelback.

It’s warm, crowded, and noisy, and it never ever stops. Not in the dead of night. Not when the wind from the desert fills the city with sand and blows the airships out to sea.

The city is always alive.

Everyone comes here. Humans and dwarves, anfylk and elves. The dreamers, the searchers, the wanderers. Vagabonds and adventurers. Those with something to sell, and those with nothing to lose.

This is the city of dreams – where journeys end and adventures begin. Where pasts are laid to rest and new futures are built. Where all it takes is a little bit of courage, and a little bit of luck. Take a chance, make the leap, play to win, and you will.

Where dreams become nightmares, and fortunes are built on the shattered dreams of those who hoped.

This is Tin Jian, and this is the story of a man who came from nothing, who lived the dream and rose to the top, and who’s about to throw it all away.

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There we go. That’s how the book begins, and each book begins with a similar short chapter – not quite a prologue, but also not quite part of the story. I hope you like it.

If you’re interested in reading more, you can purchase the book here, or keep reading for a sample of the first chapter.

Due to Amazon regulations, I’m not able to share more than 10% of the book, as it’s available in their Kindle Unlimited program. As such, this isn’t the entire first chapter, but rather just the first two scenes, and the lead-in to the third.

Last Fight of the Old Hound: Chapter 1

Roy took the last few steps up the stairs from the subway station and emerged into the busy street. People everywhere. Noise and dust. Horses, camels, donkeys. Even a small elephant. Heat. Not a hint of a breeze.

Better get moving or some fool would pick him out as a tourist and try to sell him something, or rob him.

People from the cold, dark north weren’t common here, and at well over six feet tall, Roy stood more than a head above the average Tin Jian human. Rough and unshaven, with short black hair, blue eyes, and shoulders as broad as a bull’s. Fifteen years under the merciless southern sun had turned his pale skin a worn leathery tan, but it was still nowhere near the deep brown shades of the true southerners.

He’d long since adopted the dress of the locals – loose flowing cotton in plain bright colours – and it made him a little less conspicuous, but not much. For today’s meeting, he wore a long sleeved white tunic and a long brown skirt converted into trousers using a clip at the bottom. Leather sandals and a broad brimmed hat.

Get moving. Walk with a purpose. He’d already spotted two people looking at him the wrong way, and there were probably more. Even here in the financial district in the middle of the day, you shouldn’t let your guard down. Mostly you’d just have to worry about pickpockets, but if you took a bad turn and ended up in the wrong alley, you’d be in trouble.

Roy pressed on through the crowd. Burj Fareena was just down the street. Past the intersection and he’d be there. He glanced at his phone. Forty-five minutes to the meeting.

Leaving early had been the right thing to do. You never knew what delays you might get into, even on the subway, but somehow today the journey had been smooth and without incident. The trains had departed promptly, and when he’d had to change lines, the crowds had surged in all the right directions. Perhaps it was always like that when going to the financial district.

He crossed the intersection and stopped outside the skyscraper’s main entrance. Tall doors of glass and steel led into a large vestibule where he could sit down and read the morning paper. Probably get a cold drink to refresh himself. Comfortable, but dull and boring.

Exposed too. Someone might recognise him and come to ask for an autograph or a selfie, or to tell him about their nephew who wanted to get into wrestling and did he have any encouraging words for the boy? Who knew what weirdos might stop by and try to talk to him about whatever crazy thing flew through their mind.

Hopefully the meeting would be short, but Roy suspected it wouldn’t. Karl, his manager, had sounded excited on the phone and told him it was very important. Sure, Karl was young and inexperienced, and the two of them didn’t get along, but he did seem to have a knack for the money side of things. Most likely this was about some new sponsorship deal the syndicate had negotiated, and they wanted to make sure he didn’t wear sneakers from the competing brand or whatever. Some crap like that.

Shrugging, Roy turned away from the entrance to the tower and continued down the street. There was no way he’d sit around in a public space like that for forty-five minutes just to have some brat in a suit tell him what he could wear. Might as well do something interesting with his time, like avoid getting mugged.

There used to be an old market nearby. The Kachin Ya. An old monastery that had been converted to a prison, then a temple, and now a bazaar full of little shops, cafes, and restaurants. An oasis of wood and brick in a desert of concrete and steel.

He’d not been there in ages. Well over a year, at least. Shame really. It was a nice place.

Five minutes later, Roy stepped through the arched gateway and into the bazaar. A large atrium, three floors high, and one below ground. Walkways lined by wrought iron fences clung to the walls, and bridges crisscrossed the space connecting the different floors. Large potted plants and small trees grew in baskets hanging off the sides of the walkways.

High above, sunlight filtered in through a dirty stained glass ceiling, creating a slightly otherworldly atmosphere. Shops lined the walls on every level, and on the lower floor, chairs and tables provided seating for the many restaurants and cafes on that level of the bazaar.

Roy ordered himself an iced tea in a paper cup from a stand by the entrance and then climbed a narrow spiral staircase to the second level. With no elevators in place the walkway was a little less crowded and the pace more relaxed. He really should come here more often. Shame there wasn’t anything else interesting nearby.

Clothes and hats, kitchenware and art. Nature remedies, footwear, bags. Music and instruments, ornate office supplies, comics. More clothes, glassware and pottery, yarn and fabrics, a fortune teller, a massage parlour, tea and biscuits. There was even a tiny pub with only two chairs and where you had to bring your own glass to drink.

Where monks once lived, and where prisoners once suffered, every cell and every room held its own little business. Some shops so small they only fit one visitor at a time.

“The History of Art – Book Shop.”

Roy stopped and stared at the sign. It pointed into a narrow passageway in between two cell blocks. That hadn’t been here last time or he’d have noticed for sure. Art history was one of the subject he’d studied at the university back home. Useless for getting a job, but fun and interesting.

Grinning to himself Roy stepped into the passage, found another sign pointing up a narrow staircase, and climbed it two floors to a doorway covered by a beaded curtain. He pushed it aside and glanced into a small room lined with books from floor to ceiling. Large tomes bound in leather and gold. Glossy coffee table editions. University literature paperbacks. Books of all formats and sizes.

The only light in the room came from an electrical lamp next to an old fashioned mechanical cash register on a little table in the middle of the floor. On the far side of the table a bent older gentleman in a tweed suit held on to a wooden ladder, while a little anfylk woman in a light brown robe tried to read the titles of the books on the top shelf.

Roy gave a light cough to make sure they both knew he was there.

“Just a moment, I’ll be right with you.” The man glanced over in Roy’s direction. “Just have to keep safe here. Can’t have my customers fall and break their necks.”

“Almost done,” said the woman on top of the ladder. “I think this is the one.”

She checked a note in her hand and began tugging at a heavy tome just a little too far away for her to get a good grip on it from where she stood on the ladder.

“Hold on.” Roy stepped around the table and reached up to grab the book. “I’ll get that for you.”

Continued in Lost Dogs #1: Last Fight of the Old Hound.

If you’re curious to read more, you can purchase the book here.

Optionally, if you’re not in the US, you can find your local region Amazon page here.

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