Excerpt from The Clockwork Wolf by Lynn Viehl
published by Pocket Star
to be released February 2014
Someone knocked at the door, and I brushed past him to open it. “It’s time you woke—” I was talking to an empty hall, and glanced down it toward the front entry. “Harry?”
Something cold and heavy latched on to my trouser leg, making me jump, and when I looked down I saw a gleaming brass rat wrapped round my ankle and gnawing at the tweed.
I tried at once to kick off the horrid little mech, but its paws stabbed through my trousers and curled to hold tight. “Lucien.”
Without a word he came to me and began unfastening my trousers.
“What are you doing?” I demanded, slapping at his hands before I realized what he was about and tore at the fastenings with him. I yelped as I felt something like tiny daggers scrape against my shin. “It’s biting me.”
Dredmore yanked down the trousers as I braced myself with a hand on his arm and jerked my leg up. The rat began whirring furiously as it tried to hold on, and I yelped again as it bit me a second time. It felt ridiculous,being attacked by an animech no bigger than my foot, but the memory of the one that had been sent to my office and the very real pain this one was inflicting didn’t entice me to laughter. “Get it off, Lucien. Hurry, please.”
A blade flashed, and with a few swipes Dredmore cut away the trouser cuff, freeing my ankle. I stepped out of the pants as he wadded them round the rat, bundling it inside the tweed.
“It’s another bomb,” I said, but he shook his head and carried the writhing bundle out of the dressing room. I grabbed my night robe as I followed him across the house to the back entry. “Where are you going with that?”
“Stay in the damned house,” he ordered over his shoulder before he kicked the door open and rushed outside.
I went to my kitchen window and watched as he strode across my small patch of yard and into the street. There he dropped the bundle and backed away, removing something from his coat and tossing it up into the air.
A shower of iridescent crystals fell over the bundle, piling atop it and solidifying into a sparkling faceted globe. I could see the bundle of tweed inside the beautiful thing, but it wasn’t moving. Streaks of frost rayed out from the globe, shooting across the cobblestones and grass in every direction.
I opened the window. “Why are you freezing it? If it’s a bomb you have to put it in water.”
“The ice will preserve the mech and the magic,” he said, crouching down to examine the globe. “I’ll take it to Morehaven so I can examine it.” He glanced my way. “Don’t come out here.”
What he meant was, don’t come out and ruin his spell. “I wasn’t planning to. Do enjoy the bomb.” I slammed the window shut, thought for a moment, and then reopened it. “Will you be needing your driver back?”
“Yes.” He gave me one of his brooding looks. “But not with your grandfather in him.” His cloak swirled as he stalked off into the shadows.