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Series: Dark Metropolis #2Release date: June 16th 2015
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BEHIND THE STORY
Originally, the antagonist of this book, Ingrid, was Freddy’s long lost sister! And Sebastian, the revolutionary leader, was originally the spoiled son of a wealthy man whom Ingrid fell in love with, and the true antagonist was a creepy traveling sorcerer. It was an utterly different story. And also a story that was not working at all! It took me some months to figure out what the real story was. Thank goodness for revisions. And time.
The key to figuring out this book? Marlis. Once the character of the Chancellor’s daughter walked into my head, the rest fell into place.
“Dark Metropolis” was inspired by Metropolis, the German silent film by Fritz Lang. As an homage to Lang, in the opening scene of “Glittering Shadows”, Marlis is watching an opera that is basically Fritz Lang’s “Die Niebelugen”, the silent film he made before Metropolis that is a retelling of Wagner's Ring Cycle and Norse mythology.
The battle scenes in this book were so hard for me! I knew I had to write them, and I wanted them to be good and realistic. But I simply can’t conceive of how a battle ought to go, despite all the time I’ve spent playing Dynasty Warriors games... Luckily my guy is a military history buff. I made him draw me detailed maps and write very involved battle plans!
One of my favorite things about this book is that Freddy gets a new kitten. I want to put that out there, for everyone who was traumatized by the cat death in book one. I would never write an EXCESSIVELY sad pet death, but I still really, really wanted to fit a new kitten in there. At one point I wasn’t sure it was going to work, and I was like, “NOOOO, MUST HAVE KITTEN.”
Many of the names of minor characters and places in this book come from the anime “Legend of Galactic Heroes”, and there are two airships in the book named after Final Fantasy airships.
The Chancellor was laying in state on his bed. Freddy had never seen the Chancellor’s private chambers. He felt like an intruder, seeing a painting of his late wife gazing upon him from the wall, a pile of newspapers on the nightstand, the slippers on the ornate rug. In Freddy’s mind, the Chancellor was always standing, speaking forcefully, with every situation under control. Now he looked pale and small beneath the heavy canopy, eyes closed, hands folded.
“How are you keeping him preserved?”
“Bathed in serum. It has a few uses, rather like baking soda.” Freddy could see the silent temper in Marlis’s face now. Even as a child, she had grown cold and fierce rather than crying when she was upset. She bit her thin lips, and gently smoothed her father’s brow, creased so he looked harried even in death.
“Revive him now, and I will assure your parents’ safety,” she said.
“I want to see them first.”
“I’m afraid it can’t work that way,” she said.
“You need my magic.”
“I do, but do I need your cooperation? You take pleasure in using your magic, I know.”
This was the test. He knew her weaknesses, but she knew his, too. She was poised yet tense, an animal waiting to strike.
“Marlis, we shouldn’t act as enemies,” he said. “Don’t you realize how precarious all of this is?” He spread his hands to indicate the wider world.
“Of course. I’m sure I know much more than you do.” He saw the beginnings of tears in her eyes. “Please, just bring him back and do not let him go until I say so.” She turned to the wall abruptly, smoothing her hands over her face and hair, and then adjusting her glasses.
He stepped closer to the Chancellor’s body, feeling the familiar itch of magic in his fingers. He knew now that he couldn’t allow people to live, and when he let her father go, she could harm his parents anyway. His only chance to gain the upper hand was to show Marlis he meant business.
“I can’t agree to the terms,” he said. “I can’t let him live.”
She looked at the guards. “Tie him.”
Freddy had seen the guards quickly subdue the people he revived when they were occasionally panicked and violent. Now he received the same rough treatment as one guard grabbed him and the other pulled up a heavy wooden chair. They didn’t care if they bruised his arms or scraped his skin as they held him down with iron arms and bound his legs to the chair.
“Marlis!” He twisted his head to look back at her. The chair faced the Chancellor. “Is this really how you want it to go?”
She wasn’t watching the guards, and stood by the window, clutching the curtain in one hand. Sunlight turned loose strands of her dark hair to red-gold.
The guards yanked his hands forward and reached for the Chancellor’s hands. The dead man’s cold hands were pressed into Freddy’s and tied there, forcing his magic to flow. It had always flowed with a touch, and now he had to choke it back with everything in his power.
That meant touching death, touching the clammy, soft hands of the man who, along with Gerik and Uncle, had forced him into a childhood of imprisonment. His throat was tight and painful. Holding back magic felt oddly like choking back tears. Now the guards were roping his chest to the back of the chair, and then his elbows to the arms. He couldn’t even speak. It took everything in him not to revive the Chancellor.
“Leave him,” Marlis said, and he heard her walk from the room quickly. She was ashamed she’d done this to him. He heard it in her voice and her step.
He was faced with the ghastly sight of the Chancellor, now with his arms extended toward the chair like Freddy was a macabre puppeteer. Every instinct inside of Freddy screamed to bring life back to these cold hands and that slack face.
He tilted his neck back to look at the ceiling. The urge was dampened, ever so slightly, if he didn’t look at the man. He was breathing fast, wiggling his feet against his bonds, restless to work, and he still felt the Chancellor’s slack skin forced against his fingers.