By Janeen Ippolito
Ironfire Legacy Book 1
INTRODUCTION – Lawless
The salvation of humans and dragons lies within a convicted murderer.
Dragonshifter Kesia Ironfire has one goal—to redeem her past by serving the cruel dragon Pinnacle as a soldier in the dragon-human war.
Then a rogue mission to spy on a new airship explodes into sickening green smoke. The same mysterious green smoke that was present the night of Kesia’s crime. When her dragon overlords deny any involvement, she and her tactical partner Zephryn Nightstalker try to investigate–and are sentenced to death.
Still searching for answers, Kesia and Zephryn flee to the human military capital, where Captain Shance Windkeeper has been furloughed after the destruction of his airship. Eager to discover what–and who–blew up his vessel, he agrees to help Kesia and Zephryn infiltrate High Command. In exchange, Kesia must pretend to be his betrothed so Shance can escape an arranged marriage. If only she knew what ‘betrothed’ and ‘arranged marriage’ meant.
But human social customs are the least of her worries. Dark secrets surface as Kesia delves deeper–secrets that challenge the facts of her crime and undermine the war itself.
A steampunk fantasy adventure with a side of snark and quirky romance.
LAWLESS BY JANEEN IPPOLIO — EXCERPT
One benefit of illegal missions: there were no high and mighty leaders questioning everything you did.
//Remember: in and out quickly, don’t disturb anyone, and don’t destroy anything.//
But beware fleetwings who tried to fill the gap.
Kesia huffed a steam of smoke at her tactical partner and thought back. //Ruin all of my fun, hm?//
//Is any of this supposed to be fun?// Zephryn fixed her with a fierce glare, his cobalt eyes flaring with red fire. He was a vision of lethality. His long, serpentine body and midnight wings imposed themselves in her view, obscuring the starlight. Which was what they needed this night. Kesia adjusted her flight pattern to fly closer to him, further within the protection of his Cloak—part of Zephryn’s Talent that allowed him to end light around himself and others.
His Talent was the only reason she was alive. An ordinary soldier caught on an illegal mission would face severe punishment. A criminal like her would face immediate execution. Unless she brought home reconnaissance, something to earn her enough respect for her past to be erased.
Something like spying on the Congruency’s newest airship and prized captain.
A thread of panic stirred her. No more thinking, or else she would never do it. She flapped her wings, coming close enough to Zephryn to flick her long tail across his back. //I won’t take unnecessary chances, I promise. Thank you for helping me.//
//For you? Always.// His stern look softened for a moment. He nudged the top of her deep red head with his snout. A flush of warmth immediately erased much of Kesia’s fear. //Now, go quickly! I will stand guard against other sentinels. Satisfy your curiosity, and see what you can learn.//
//With all speed.//
She glided in slow circles beneath the ship, smelling the acrid scent of oil-fuel and smoke. Airships had once been vessels of beauty and artistry, used for pleasure excursions and merchant expeditions. After the war began, the Scepter of Industry had made new advancements, ones that stung the eyes of dragons and corrupted the air.
Kesia brought her attention back to the mission. What should she be? Stifling a bubble of laughter, she closed her eyes.
She shifted. Her dragon form shrank and was consumed by paper-thin skin and feathers. Kesia fought dizziness at the sudden loss of mass and angled her body to adjust for the night winds that buffeted her far more than before. Zephryn’s Talent could get them eriously close to the airship, but hers would allow her to hop aboard.
Kesia shook off the thoughts and flapped her wings harder. She enjoyed this form. It was fast and fleet.
//Really? You chose a form that is a symbol of death for the humans, Rose-Wing?//
She croaked irritably. //Or perhaps a symbol of flattery, hm? After all, you’re raven-hued.//
Kesia could picture Zephryn’s peevish look, one that made her enjoy teasing him more //I would not have you needlessly jeopardize yourself. And what was our bargain about disturbances?//
//What disturbance? Croaking is a perfectly appropriate action for a raven. You always seek to ruin my fun. But if it will appease you . . .//
She closed her eyes and shifted again, this time to another, smaller bird. By the time she reached the top-most mast of the ship, she had gained control of her new sun-dove form. Kesia landed gracefully on a crosspiece and settled her wings about herself, fanning the brilliant yellow plumage underlaid with pale blue feathers. Zephryn couldn’t possibly object to this choice. Sun-doves were migratory birds that followed winter across the land of Sekastra. Al human travelers saw them as good omens.
Dragons like her saw them as snacks.
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AUTHOR BIO — Janeen Ippolito
Janeen Ippolito is two authors for the price of one! She writes nonfiction writing resources and speculative fiction with monsters, misfits, and mushy stuff. She’s also an experienced teacher, editor, author coach, and the Fearless Leader (president) of Uncommon Universes Press. In her spare time, she enjoys sword-fighting, reading, food, and making brownie batter. A lifelong misfit, she believes different is beautiful and that everyone has the ability to tell their story. Two of her goals are eating fried tarantulas and traveling to Antarctica. This extroverted writer loves getting connected, so find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and at her two websites: janeenippolito.com and writeinsideout.com