Monday, June 3, 2013


Silent Warrior
The Dragon Kings
 Prequel Novella
By Lindsey Piper 
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication Date: APRIL 23 
ISBN: 978-1476713250

Available at: Amazon | Apple | B&N | Books-a-Million | Google | Kobo  

A silent woman ashamed of her criminal background becomes a Cage warrior to seek redemption. An unrepentant fortune hunter will do anything to escape his mounting debts. Although rivals on the streets of Hong Kong, they find common ground when seeking their clan’s stolen idol, but for vastly different reasons. Neither one suspects that love will begin when he becomes the first man in five years to hear her speak.
"This is not going well."
Wiping the sweat from his brow, Hark of Sath shut his know-it-all mouth. He wasn’t used to being pessimistic, let alone muttering the crap. He focused on the feel of forged iron in his hands. A thousand details filtered into his senses. The concentrated stink of bar. The grit beneath his boots. The white glare of lights illuminating a space designated for fighting in the bar tournament.
And then there was the woman…
He recognized her as a fellow member of Clan Sath, but she didn’t even seem to be of their rarified race. Too…other. She squared off in front of him, ready to continue steadily kicking his ass. He was angrier at himself than he was at the surprisingly adept amazon.
"Enough of this," he spat.
Hark countered her next attack with a combination of looping kicks, two clashes of his blade against her shield, and a quick roll. He sprang up and sank into a prepared stance. Loose knees. Relaxed thighs. He grinned at the expressionless woman and tossed the iron sword from hand to hand. Showing off. Sure. He’d won a lot more out of life by faking it than he had by behaving by the rules. Twisting reality to his vision was something of a specialty.
His opponent in the that shitty fight club in Hong Kong used her shield like a weapon, slicing the air. The lip of the shield was jagged, as if tipped with shark’s teeth. Its solid weight made for a daunting hunk of metal. Hark dropped to one knee and lifted his sword lengthwise to blunt her downward strike. One hand on the handle was easy enough. Holding the blunt side of the blade in his left hand, however–that hurt. The iron dug into his palm. It wasn’t sharp enough to cut skin, but the desperate defensive move would leave him with a broken bone or two.
Despite the pain, his bones would heal with the sped of the Dragon Kings.
He rolled again, aiming at the woman’s shins. She skipped over one slashing attack. His second blow–a twisting backhand–caught her left Achilles’ tendon. She fell to one side. Even sprawled on the ground and wounded, she’d lifted her shield. No backing down.
And not a single sound.
"Do you ever say anything?" Hark clenched and loosened his injured hand as they both took a breather. The crowd jeered. They threw beer bottles and what looked like dead rats. "That did hurt, right? My sword? Your ankle? But I get nothing. A little grunt would be nice–something to tell me I’m doing a good job. Or maybe to toy with my head. Mock me. I can take it."
Even the white spotlights didn’t brighten the pure black of her eyes. Something other than determination shone from those dark depths. Humor. His suspicion was confirmed when the corner of her mouth tipped into the saddest excuse for a smile. The mocking he’d expected was there, but it remained unspoken.
Great. That was his reward. He might as well hand over his balls and call the fight in her favor.
She was unnerving. And he couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so fascinated with a woman.
"Ok, fine. I get it. Strong silent type? I thought that was reserved for cops and guys in movies, but I can adapt." He hefted his sword and winked. "I’m modern. Feminists don’t intimidate me."
She was more than a feminist, if the word even registered. Expression sober, she didn’t react to his wink or his barb. She was as quiet as the condensation that covered the walls of the bar.
Hark had thought himself better able to read his own kind. The Children of the Dragon were masters of small moves when it came to demonstrating emotion. Or hiding them. They weren’t nearly so animated as humans that laughed, cried, shrank with fear, and used hand gestures that bordered on manic–this from a guy who talked more than every Dragon King in the Far East.
The tall, gracefully thin woman rose to her feet. Blood trickled down the back of her injured ankle. She walked with a slight limp, but nothing about her posture suggested it was time to call it quits. Her skin held the golden sheen of their people–the appearance of a tan no matter the exposure to sun–yet the lights leeched most color. With white-blond hair, she was pale on pale with the flashes of black fire in her eyes.
And she was collared.
At one time in her past, or maybe even now, she belonged to one of the three human cartels who traded in the flesh and brawn of Dragon Kings. The collar meant her gift as a Sath–to borrow the abilities of other Dragon Kings–was dampened. She needed to fight like a human, no matter their people’s remarkable capacity for recovering from physical injury.
Not that Hark was in any better position, without another Dragon King’s gift to leech.
If she belonged to one of the cartels, what was she was doing rolling around in sawdust with him? Hark knew his reasons. Fighting scrubbed the details of how he’d wound up in the Sham Shui Po district of Kowloon City, but one word remained.

Ugh. He hated that word.
The woman wore lightweight armor. That and the weapons they wielded elevated this particular tournament above a bar room brawl, as money changed hands on impromptu wagers.
Hark was protected by armor too, but it wasn’t molded to his frame. The metal and leather were as cumbersome as his weighty, ridiculously blunt sword. He supposed he should be thankful. It would’ve better to wear a giant soup can than face this woman in street clothes.

He’d been thinking about it all wrong.
Would-be combatants chomped at the bit for their turn in the tournament, and they were clearly bored of Hark’s piss-poor performance. Stab the new guy! He has a small dick! Whether in Mandarin or the more common Cantonese, the insults were easy to guess.
But Hark wasn’t finished. He tossed the sword aside. It landed with a dull thud and skidded a few inches in the slippery sawdust.
"It’s hot in here," he said, fanning his face dramatically. "If there’s anything I cannot stand, it’s an overly-warm arena of death."
He went about unlatching his armor. The amazon froze. She didn’t grind to a halt like the Tin Man needing oil, but stopped as if the Dragon had flipped a switch. Animate to inanimate within a heartbeat. Only her eyes gave her away. Roving. Probing. She gobbled up the details of his movements. Leather arm guards and his soup can breastplate fell away as he untied the straps. When the last piece hit the blood-spattered sawdust floor, her lips parted.
He liked taking her by surprise. He could get used to that.

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