Adrian Faulkner and his publisher, Anarchy Books want to share an excerpt from The Four Realms with you. After the excerpt, enter to win the entire Anarchy Books catalog – digital books and albums – on a CD! What an awesome giveaway! That will keep you busy for quite a while!
Excerpt: The Four Realms by Adrian Faulkner
It was snowing in New York. The thick storm clouds overhead had turned afternoon into evening and filled the streets and avenues with their cargo. On news of the storm’s approach, most of the city had emptied, workers leaving their offices before the journey home became impassable.
Broadway was practically empty. The clothing sellers who normally crowded the sidewalk were gone, having shut up and left hours ago, leaving a solitary figure making his way south through the shin deep snow. He seemed unprepared for the weather. His trousers were a size too big for him and his shirt was partly untucked.
Winds whipped around the city blocks like a serpent, striking from every direction with icy blasts, causing Mr West to draw his jacket ever tighter and vow to couple his plans with the weather forecast next time.
There were much easier ways to get from New Jersey to the meeting place in the heart of New York City. However, Mr West had ‘chosen’ to take the Transit in, and walk, rather than take a cab, down from Penn Station. It had seemed like a good idea at the time. "Know your enemy," the training programs had told him, and he felt that by experiencing choice, he better understood the inhabitants of this world.
Choice was abhorrent to him. Yes, he told himself, decisions often needed to be made, but that should only be done by those whose job function it was to make them for individuals, and then only after careful analysis and consultation. Otherwise, you had what you had here… a chaotic system.
Of course the humans and dwarves, and even the elves would argue that without choice there was no freedom, but what use was freedom when all that was stopping people killing you or stealing from you was a thinly guised code of moral conduct. With choice, it gave people the right to do bad things to others. Where was the freedom from crime, the freedom of job security, the freedom of not having to worry about the course of your life?
No, Mr West told himself, the amount of choice here was bad. Even worse it was so unproductive. It made their enemies unpredictable and irrational, something that the data models still needed to take into account.
He stepped off the sidewalk to cross 27th street and jarred himself as the drop, hidden in snow, was more than he expected. The snow soaked his trouser leg up to above the knee. He hated New York, even their sidewalks weren’t uniform. No wonder they needed so many lawyers.
He was surprised to see that the Pizza restaurant was still open, and despite feeling slightly uncomfortable about it, ‘chose’ to stop and buy a slice. If there was one redeeming feature of New York, and indeed, the whole of this realm, it was Pizza. Since the start of the operation here, he had tried just about every variety. He ignored his logic which told him he did not need to eat and ordered a slice of pepperoni. Pizza heated and bagged to go, Mr West left the relative warmth of the parlour and stepped out into the snow once again.
He didn’t have far to go. The awning of the next building marked his destination. The shivering doorman saw him, swung into action, opening the door, and upon noticing the pizza, asked Mr West: "You get that from next door?"
Mr West nodded.
"Best Pizza in the city," the doorman exclaimed as Mr West shook himself off and stamped the snow from his feet. He walked up the narrow passageway toward the lobby and elevator. A member of cleaning staff was busy fighting a losing battle trying to mop the floor of melted snow the guests had brought in.
Mr West took the elevator to the twelfth floor, and knocked on door 1203. He was expected and the door opened almost instantaneously. Three men dressed immaculately in black suits and white shirts stood on the other side; so alike in every such way that it would be easy to confuse them for identical triplets. They looked slightly nervous as Mr West entered. The one who had answered the door closed it quickly behind West, whilst the other two stood up from the twin beds they had been sitting on. Mr West grabbed the chair from the writing desk and sat down to face the huge window that looked out over the city. Standing in front of it was a fourth man, much older than the other three but similarly dressed. His cropped hair and beard were as white as the snow outside and his face was etched with a scowl as deep as his wrinkles.
"You’re late, Mr West," the older man growled.
"Sorry," West replied nonchalantly, beginning to eat his pizza slice. "Traffic was terrible."
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