Once again, it’s time for an Introduction chapter. This time, the turn has come to Lost Dogs #6: A Break in the Clouds. Here, we’re introduced to the Kingdom of Viller, where Roy originally hails from. It’s a small and out-of-the way country, and it’s about as far away from Tin Jian as you can possibly get.

Here goes:

If you take the train as far west and north as you can possibly get without leaving the free world behind, you’ll end up in the Kingdom of Viller – or just Viller, if you live there. A small, independent nation nestled in the foothills of the majestic Snaggfell mountains. So far away from everything else, you’d be excused if you thought it just a fairytale.

Long cold winters. Short warm summers.

If you ask the locals, it’s always raining.

In the centre of the kingdom, on the western shores of Lake Vil, you’ll find the nation’s capital, and it’s biggest city: Kul Viller. You have the old castle on the hill, the cathedral in the valley, and the grand central station, of course, in the middle of it all. You have a river full of ferries, and a harbour full of ships.

You’ll walk on cobblestone streets, past buildings made of wood and stone. Steep slanted roofs, and weather vanes the shape of geese and wolves. Town squares with freshwater wells. Pubs in every alley. Parks and shrines and cemeteries. Shopping malls and convenience stores. Gyms. Offices. Apartment blocks. Factories and suburbs.

Airships and subways and horses and bikes.

Elves and humans and fylkin and dwarves.

Really, it’s just like any other metropolitan city down south. It’s not even that much out of the way. You can take the eastbound express and be down at the coast in less than a week.

If you want to go west, there’s no train, but you can take a barge up the river, and then a sled into to the mountains. If you’re so inclined you can hike or climb, but sooner or later, everyone turns back.

There is no passing the Snaggfell, but there is much to see there still.

Picturesque little villages on the mountainside. Stunning scenery, authentic local cuisine, and well marked hiking trails if you’re feeling adventurous. Your perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of modern cities.

In the Kingdom of Viller, you’ll find the edge of the world. You’ll find the last outpost of civilisation before the untamed wilderness of the utter north. You’ll find a small, friendly kingdom, full of warmth and hospitality, and if you don’t mind the rain, it’s really not that bad at all.

Sometimes interesting things happen here.

Like now.

That’s it for this time…

This book is really rather different from the previous ones. If there wasn’t much action in the previous ones, there was at least some. This one, has nothing. It’s a peaceful and quiet little story, and while there’s no action, I do believe someone who’s read the preceding five books will find it interesting.

Bonus content this week is the eighteenth chapter of the book. It’s a bit of a mood piece that separates the bulk of the story from the ending.

A Break in the Clouds: Chapter 18

The sun shone on the city that afternoon. Unexpected, but welcome.

It should have rained all day, but it didn’t. They’d said it on the weather report, and they were usually right, especially when they said it would rain.

The cloud cover broke up and disappeared. Sunlight dried wet city streets, and when evening came, the promenade along the river bank was full of people enjoying an evening walk and the summer’s first properly brilliant sunset – the kind you wouldn’t expect to see for weeks, when the rains really did stop and the factories closed for summer vacation.

Red and blue and purple and orange and fire. All the colours of a sky cleared by rain, and with just a few clouds here and there. A spectacle in colour, as the critics would have said had it been a performance to review in the morning papers.

The cafes stayed open late that evening, and the waiters and baristas pulled in record tips from the tables on the sidewalks. The pubs turned up the music and kept their doors open. The guests carried chairs and tables outside.

It was, by all accounts, an amazing evening, and it would be a shame to stay in and go to bed early just because there was work in the morning. There was work every morning, but evenings like this did not come around often.

Life had to be lived, what else was the point in working for it?

It drove the shamans crazy.

The spirit of the city was as giddy as a winter calf let out into a green field for the first time. The streets bowed under the weight of good omens, like the branches of a tree heavy with fruit.

For no good reason.

The news was as dull as always. The economy behaved as the economy should. There was drama, and there was gossip. The prince and his priestess. Actors and singers, judges and lawyers. The crooks and the filth, the clergy and the magi.

The dreams and the drama. Accidents and serendipities. Life. It was life, and it went on just as normal.

Everything was, as far as the bigger shape of things was concerned, perfectly normal.

But, when you’re looking at the big picture, it’s difficult to see the little details, and it’s easy to miss an old hippie with a tattoo on her face. You’d be excused for not seeing her.

And the tiny black flowers around the grave stone of that old junkie? They wouldn’t take root or sprout for days yet. You’d be excused for missing those.

You’d be excused, but you would not forgive yourself, for you knew something was up, and you’d be unable to find it. No matter how you scried and searched. You’d wander and wonder, in the warm evening air, under the glorious sunset, and you’d have no idea why the city you knew so well was suddenly so happy – like a lost child had just come back from the dead.

And when, a few weeks later, someone told you that that’s exactly what had happened, you’d nod sagely and say you suspected as much.

There we go. That’s all for this time. If you’re curious to learn more about the Lost Dogs series, I’d recommend checking the About page, here.

You’ll also find the first Introduction chapter, for Lost Dogs #1: Last Fight of the Old Hound, here.

If you’re already sold and just want to start reading, I’d recommend picking up Lost Dogs: Betrayals. It’s an omnibus edition, containing the first five books in the series, and it’s available here.

Finally, if you do check out the book, please leave a review, it’s very much appreciated.

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