Authors: Bryan Fields
Tags: #Urban Fantasy
Urban Fantasy by Bryan Fields
Las Vegas. City of sin, neon, and epic bad decisions. David Fraser and his fiancée, the Dragoness Rose Drake, are in Vegas for the BuzzCon gaming convention, seeking an investor for the online game they are developing. It’s a long shot, but even in Las Vegas, long shots occasionally pay off.
The warrior god Crom has other plans. A centuries-old religious war between the Dark Elves of a distant world threatens to spill over onto Earth. Crom’s followers need an artifact capable of killing the demoness known as the Bloodmaiden before she can become a full-fledged goddess and establish her worship on Earth. It’s a quest worthy of a Hero. A Hero like…David.
To succeed, David will need all the strength, resourcefulness, and luck he can muster. Fortunately, he has Rose to call on, and she has a way of making her own luck. Anyone who tries to stop them will find out what happens when the dice come up Dragons, the hard way.
Dragon’s Luck© 2015 by Bryan Fields
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, or events, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
14878 James, Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada, H9H 1P5
Cover Art © 2015 by Celairen
Edited by Christine I Speakman
Copy edited by Nancy Canu
Layout and Book Production by Lea Schizas
eBook ISBN: 978-1-77127-733-4
First eBook Edition *July 2015
The Elder Eddas of Saemund Sigfusson; and the Younger Eddas of Snorre Sturleson
Translated by Benjamin Thorpe and L.A. Blackwell
The Dragonbound Chronicles
Life with a Fire-Breathing Girlfriend
The Land Beyond All Dreams
Shall We Play a Game?
Want to know the secret to having a solid million dollars after only a year in the gaming industry?
Start with ten million and don't spend more than eight and a half. If you're lucky, you might even have a product to show for it.
I wasn’t one of the lucky ones.
I sat at the head of the table in Flatirons, our main conference room, watching a bald eagle stalking through the skies above the open space beyond our parking lot.
Hey, big guy—If I chain Mitch to a rock out there, would you be kind enough to eat his liver?
The eagle turned and flapped away. Just as well. Mitch’s liver was probably poisonous. I shifted my chair so I could look north.
Our building stands on the south side of the Interlocken Technology Park between Broomfield and Louisville, giving a great view of the hustle and bustle of life around the mall and along the Denver-Boulder turnpike. All those other buildings and all those other companies were full of bright, excited people creating brilliant new things. They could get away with giving conference rooms aspirational names.
I looked back at the whiteboards running along the walls and suppressed an urge to take Mitch’s head off with a two-handed sword.
That’s…not as unlikely as it sounds.
On the good side, that would be a great reason to rename the room. How about…Tombstone? Never mind. I can’t even afford a new name plate for the door.
My name is David, and I’m a careless spender. A year and a half ago, I sold my former employer a bundle of medicines I picked up a hundred and fifty years in the future on an alternate Earth. The sale netted me a good ten million after taxes. I would have been set for life if I had listened to my fiancée. She’s a Dragon, and money management is one of those things Dragons excel at. I didn’t listen. I bought a game studio.
I’ve been playing games all my life. Video games, pen and paper, board games, live action. I’m an experienced gamer, but making games is vastly different from playing them, and I don’t have that skill set. I had expected to have a multi-player online fantasy role-playing game called
The Living Land
ready for closed beta testing. Instead, I had lots of lovely art assets and some half-finished code.
The only person happy with the game’s progress was Mitch Campbell, the VP of Product Development. The previous owner sold me on Mitch’s expertise as a game designer, so I extended his contract and entrusted the game to him.
Since I didn’t know enough to know when something was wrong, it took me a year to discover the reports he’d been giving me were not accurate. Somehow, every one of the team leads had managed to fool him with doctored productivity numbers. That’s why he and I were on a conference call with Wayne, our art team lead, checking on the status of the team’s deliverables. So far, the numbers Wayne was reporting were as bad as those from all the other teams.
While Mitch wrote Wayne’s numbers on the white board, I said, “Wayne, eighty percent of the assets your team checked in are grossly over the polygon budget. We talked about this six weeks ago. Did you forget, or just decide to ignore me?”
Wayne stammered a bit before managing to choke out, “Well, I recall the request, but Mitch felt there was no need to interfere with the team’s creative process.”
“I see. Mitch, Wayne is throwing you under the bus here. He seems to feel you have the authority to countermand my directions. Any comments?” I leaned back in my chair and smiled at Mitch.
The bastard shook his head and tried to look innocent. “I didn’t countermand anything. I just didn’t want the work to go to waste. I asked Wayne to fix the poly count and the bounding boxes after the buildings were textured so we could preserve the detail and shadow mapping. I never meant he shouldn’t fix them.”
I stood up and pointed to the numbers. “And just like that, you managed to waste six weeks and thousands of dollars. You caused this mess, you get to fix it. I want an action plan by the end of the day, Mitch. Wayne, every over-budget model checked in over the past three months is going to be rejected and assigned back to the artist. The artists will have two weeks to fix as many assets as possible. The ones who don’t make the grade get cut.”
Wayne gasped and sputtered into the phone. “Wait! What do… How…You can’t do that!”
I snorted. “I can and will. Let me be clear. Your ass is on the line, too. You are going to correct your own work, just like everyone else. And if anyone says anything out of line on social media, I’m drawing a pentagram on the floor and sending a host of demonic lawyers after them. Do you have any questions, or is any part of what I’ve said unclear?”
Wayne took a deep breath. “Dude, this isn’t necessary.”
Mitch said, “David, come on. This—”
If Mitch had been in range, I would have stomped on his dirty stinking bare feet. The ass clown refused to wear shoes unless there was snow on the ground. Goddess knows what plagues he was incubating down there. Instead, I said, “Shut up, Mitch. Wayne. Do you understand me? Yes. Or. No.”
Wayne didn’t answer for almost a minute, but I could hear him breathing. I let him sweat. Finally, he said, “I understand. I’ll do my best to meet the deadline.”
I said, “I’m glad to hear that. I hold great hopes for your success. Please keep me informed of your progress.”
He sighed. “Yeah. If there’s nothing else, I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
We hung up. I looked at Mitch and said, “I have a meeting in five minutes. I suggest you start figuring out how to get all the teams back on schedule.” I started to walk past him and out the door.
He grabbed my shoulder. “David, what the hell? Yeah, we’re behind schedule, but going nuclear on the staff and threatening to sue people for posting rants is bullshit. Get your shit together, asshole!”
I kept my fists at my sides and gave his hand a pointed look. His language wasn’t the issue; in truth, the entire office tends to use F-bombs as punctuation. I just didn’t want him touching me. It made me feel unclean.
He got the message and let go of my shoulder. “I’m sorry. I got carried away. I shouldn’t have done that.”
“You’re right. Unfortunately, it didn’t rise to the level of a termination offense. You can expect a written warning. In fact, I think it’s your second one of the day. Now, pull your head out of your ass and get to work.” I pushed past him and stalked off down the hall.
I took a moment in the bathroom to regain my composure. No matter how justified my anger at Mitch’s sabotage, walking in to a meeting pissed off wasn’t a good first impression. I took a deep breath and tried to flush the anger out of my system. I wasn’t an angry person before I bought the company. I’d never behaved this way managing my old database team. This job was changing me, and I didn’t like the person I was turning into.
I wanted a glass of whiskey. I kept several bottles in my office. It didn’t solve any issues; it just made me not care about them. I settled for washing my face and checking my reflection for burst blood vessels in the eyes. My reflection smiled back and said, “Enhance your calm, David Fraser.”
He always was a smartass. I turned the light out and left him alone in the dark.
Nadia, the newest member of the game client programming team, was leaving a note when I got to my office. She had that pale, porcelain skin Goth kids weep for, so pale it made her sky-blue eyes look navy. Black clothes, black boots, black leather belt, and hair as green as a pureed Leprechaun. At least it was this week.
Without looking up, she said, “Your ten o’clock is waiting in the lobby. When you’re finished with her, I’d appreciate ten minutes. I asked Pete to bring you a suggestion, but he refused.” She finished writing and replaced the pen. “I feel it’s in the best interests of the company to come to you directly.”
I scowled. “Pete is just one more section of that whole human centipede Mitch dragged in behind him. Hiring you is the one thing he’s done right here. Send me a meeting invite when you get back to your desk.”
“I already did.” She handed me the paper she was writing on. “This is about a pair of shoes Rose would love. You should get them for her.”
“Rose never comes into the office unless she has to,” I said. “When did you get a chance to meet her?”
Nadia smiled and tapped her finger on the note. “We haven’t. I just read her blog.”
“You actually understand what she’s talking about?” I winced inside the moment I said it. I waved my hands, signaling for a time-out. “Wait, wait, I didn’t mean it like that. I’ve tried to read it and at best I get half of what she’s talking about. If you do get it, I’m jealous.”
Rose’s blog was a financial advice column, ranging from investment and finance basics to analyzing the impact of international events. It’s not a job, because Dragons are above working for a living. It’s chatting with friends about her favorite subject while she’s lounging naked on our deck soaking up the sun.
Nadia smiled again and handed me the note. “Don’t worry about it. As I said, these shoes are just awesome and I thought she’d like them. They look like they’re made of gold nuggets and have spikes coming out of them. I thought they’d go with her car.”
I had to laugh. Rose bought a 1971 Corvette Stingray with a 454 big-block engine at a drug seizure auction last year. The previous owner had layered the body with 22-karat gold and added gold-plated rims and side pipes, a new all-leather interior, and hand-carved rosewood trim. Rose named it Hoardelicious. The shoes sounded like they’d be a match for it. “You’re right, she would love them. Thank you.”