DSP Publications author Kim Fielding has a new fantasy book out:
Praesidium is the most prosperous city-state in the world, due not only to its location at the mouth of a great bay but also to its strict laws, stringently enforced. Ordinary criminals become bond-slaves, but the worst punishment—to be suspended in a dreamless frozen state known as Stasis—is doled out by the wizard and reserved for only the most serious of traitors.
Ennek is the youngest son of Praesidium’s strict Chief. Though now a successful portmaster, Ennek grew up without much of a purpose, unable to fulfill his true desires and always skating on the edge of the law. But he is also haunted by the plight of one man, Miner, a prisoner for whom Stasis appears to be a truly horrible fate. If Ennek is to save Miner, he must explore Praesidium’s deepest secrets as well as his own.
First Edition published by CreateSpace, 2009
THIS FAR down, he didn’t so much hear the waves as feel them patiently pounding against the stone foundations, rumbling and crashing without rest. It was disconcerting. Ennek felt as if the building could give way any moment, tumbling him and everything he knew into the unforgiving brine. At the same time, though, the battering of the sea comforted him, because it was as if the ocean was alive. Certainly it seemed more alive than the body now stretched before him, pale as marble, suspended in a webbing of ropes.
Ennek stood next to the wizard, Thelius, who ran his fingertips over the arm of the inert man. It reminded Ennek of the way his father, the Chief, would stroke absently at his big oak desk, worrying at many decades’ worth of gouges and scratches and dents. Thelius’s motion made Ennek’s stomach churn uncomfortably, and the Chief noticed and scowled at him. But Thelius only inclined his head a little and kept on speaking.
“So you see,” the wizard said, “they remain like this until their sentence is completed.”
Ennek’s brother lifted his hand as if he meant to touch the prisoner, then let it drop.
“Oh, it’s quite all right, Larkin. Feel if you like.” When the Chief’s older son didn’t react, Thelius gently grasped Larkin’s large hand in his bony one and set it on the prisoner’s unmoving chest.
“It’s cold,” Larkin said in a near whisper.
“Yes. They remain at room temperature, as their hearts no longer pump blood through their bodies.”
Ennek had taken a half step back, as if he might be forced to touch the man as well. “Do… do they dream?” he asked.
The Chief made a rumbling sound of disapproval deep in his throat, but Thelius only shook his head. “No, young man, they do not. They’re not asleep. They don’t breathe, they don’t eat or drink, they don’t age, they don’t sense anything around them, and they don’t think. It’s as if they are frozen in a single moment, you see?”
Ennek nodded, but his stomach felt no better, especially when Thelius’s fingers made another proprietary little motion across the white skin.
Larkin’s hand was still on the man’s chest. “How long has he been like this?” His voice was calm, almost disinterested, but Ennek knew his brother well and could tell by the slight flush in his cheeks and the way his breathing had become a little too rapid that Larkin found the concept of Stasis interesting, exciting even.
“This one has been here for slightly over seventeen years. He has thirteen more years remaining.” Thelius’s dry voice crackled like old sticks.
“And when he… wakes up?”
“Then the world will have moved on, beyond whatever foolish ideas he was trying to spread. He’s been forgotten already, I’m sure. And I’m certain the Chief will find an appropriate position for him, some way for him to repay his debt to society.”
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Kim Fielding is very pleased every time someone calls her eclectic. Her books have won Rainbow Awards and span a variety of genres. She has migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States and currently lives in California, where she long ago ran out of bookshelf space. She’s a university professor who dreams of being able to travel and write full time. She also dreams of having two perfectly behaved children, a husband who isn’t obsessed with football, and a house that cleans itself. Some dreams are more easily obtained than others.