Featured Author: William Tracy – Facets of the Nether
Today I’m highlighting author William Tracy’s novel Facets of the Nether, book two of the Dissolution Cycle.
Publisher: Space Wizard Science Fantasy
Release Date: Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Is This Book Romance?: No
Word Count: 118000
Cover Artist: Books Covered
Genres: SciFi, Fantasy, Steampunk, Space Opera
LGBTQ+ Identities: Bi, gay, gender-fluid, non-binary, poly, trans
Keywords/Categories: aliens, intergalactic empire, music-based magic, science fantasy, new worlds and wonder, fate of the universe
Is This Part of a Series?: Yes
Series Title: The Dissolution Cycle
Position (Number) in Series: 2
Necessary to Read Previous Books: Yes
Warnings: Descriptions of anxiety and panic attacks
Book Blurb: The Dissolution approaches.
Sam has saved the Assembly of Species, but at a terrible cost. Locked in his apartment, his memories gone and his best friend abducted, he is once again crippled with anxiety. Meanwhile, Enos struggles to free her brother from imprisonment, alone for the first time in her life. Her true species has been revealed, and there are hints the deadliest of her kind survived an ancient war.
But the Nether contains more secrets. A musical chime disrupts daily life, signaling changes to its very fabric. To solve this mystery, Sam must face his anxiety and confront truths about his memories and unique abilities. Only then can he save his friends from the machinations of the Life Coalition, by understanding the reality behind the Facets of the Nether.
Non-Exclusive Excerpt: The appearance of a new house of the maji is not to be as surprising as its origin. My apprentice, who firmly appeared to be of the House of Communication, is the one who is showing me these new things, at my age. Truly, the Nether is changing.
Journal of Origon Cyrysi, Kirian majus of the Houses of Communication and Power
A chime erupted through the Imperium, as if all the crystal plates in the world rang and shattered at once. Samuel van Oen held his ears and, through the window of his mentor’s apartment, watched a flight of alien birds split and scatter at the noise.
“What was that?” Sam dropped his hands from his ears as the sound stabilized into a deep, clear tone he felt in his gut. It was loud, but not as unbearable as it had been. Deep in the back of his mind, the Grand Symphony responded to the noise like a tuning fork against a plate of metal. The different rhythms fractured and multiplied at the chime, like the whole world was vibrating.
No one answered his question, as Majus Cyrysi was out again. The Kirian had spent more time in the libraries of the Spire than in teaching Sam, not that he was ever particularly good at teaching.
The tower of the House of Communication vibrated beneath Sam’s feet as the sound lessened to a background hum. The music normally playing in its halls had ceased during the explosion of sound, but now picked up fitfully, warring with the chime’s resonance. The flock of birds—with crests of orange, and three scaly wings down each side of their body—swooped in an irregular pattern, disrupted by the noise.
Sam went to the window and looked down. To one side, dust fell from the strange stone bridge that ran from the middle height of the House of Communication to the immense wall of the Nether. He’d been out on it before, as it was a curiosity of this House, and maji occasionally used it to take in the view. There were a few maji on it now—a tall Etanela and two Methiemum—looking up at the immense wall of the Nether, bathed in blues and purples like a titanic sheet of ice.
On the ground far below, people milled around in confusion. Sam guessed the bell-like sound wasn’t normal, but he’d only been in this place a little under two months. Before that, things became blurred and hazy in his mind. The presence that had rooted through his head took many of his memories. He remembered Earth, and that he had stayed with his aunt after something happened to his parents. Their faces refused to come to mind. Thinking about what happened at the Dome of the Assembly made him seek the silence of Majus Cyrysi’s apartment, and he couldn’t stop. He was obsessing about what he could have—should have—done differently. He was slowly spiraling down to a place of solitude and loneliness, and his body wouldn’t obey his deeper wish to break the cycle.
Sam jumped back from the window as someone banged on the door. A spike like an icicle in his gut went through him. Sweat pricked his forehead.
Don’t be someone new.
It could only be one of a few people, but his throat threatened to close at the thought of explaining why he was sitting here alone, staring out a window. How long ago had Majus Cyrysi left?
Sam put one eye to the peephole in the door, then sagged in relief. It was Enos. He could ask her about the sound digging its way into his head.
He opened the door and let his friend in, looking her over. There were bags under her eyes and she hadn’t combed her long black hair.
“You haven’t slept either, have you?” said Enos.
Sam let out a burst of air. It wasn’t quite a laugh. “That’s what I was going to say.” He pulled her into the room by her hand, quickly closing the door. The hall should be familiar, but it didn’t feel like the right day to go outside. Again.
“You hear that too, right? Do you know what—”
Enos shook her head. “No idea. I was about to ask you. People are running around like mad. I don’t think anyone knows.”
Then why would she think I knew? He stared at the closed door.
Enos followed his gaze, then took his other hand. “It’s been a ten-day since you left Majus Cyrysi’s apartment.” She winced as if she had a headache. Probably that irritating chime. It was like a dull drill, pressing against the back of his head.
Sam frowned. Now wasn’t the time to talk about going out. Couldn’t Enos see he had other things on his mind?
“Before this noise started I was trying to remember…remember—” He bit his lip and focused over her shoulder. It was something about Earth. He’d almost had it.
“Remember what?’ Enos asked, bringing his focus back. “Is it connected with the attack on the Assembly? Or about the new themes you hear in the Symphony? Can they help us find Inas?”
Sam shook his head. He was letting Enos down.
She won’t want to be with me anymore.
He knew it wasn’t true, but the fact beat against the inside of his head. Inas had been the other side of a scale, balancing him. Without him, everything was harder.
Unique Post: (Setup From the Author) This is a scene from about a third of the way through Facets of the Nether. The main character, Sam is working with his mentor to try to determine whether the new abilities Sam has developed are connected to a strange chime sounding through the Nether.
Scene: It was four days later and Sam was working with Majus Cyrysi when the summons came. The Imperium had still not calmed down from learning Aridori existed. The Assembly had been in session every day, arguing about what they would do. Sam hadn’t ventured out into the crowded streets. He’d heard there was a spontaneous protest in front of the Dome. Even the music in the House of Communication seemed more martial.
Sam shook his head to clear it as Majus Cyrysi spoke.
“If the sequence is to be holding,” his mentor said, “the chime will be coming in a few moments. Open yourself to the Symphony. See if you are able to determine the resonances this time.” He twisted a dial on a contraption built of metal and cogs, and bellows pumped as a little hand began drawing a line on a sheet of vellum. Sam had no idea what it was supposed to do.
Sam also hadn’t been able to divine what his mentor wanted from the great resonant bell-like sound. With the larger threat of the Aridori, everyone had settled on calling it a ‘chime,’ even though it was as like to a chime as a church organ was to a doorbell. The only similarity was that it rang.
The chime rang every day now, at the same time. People were getting used to it, and even incorporating it into advertisements: ‘Get a bowl of Kirian maggots half off—today when the chime sounds!’ Some of the street musicians were trying to harmonize with it, making it a backbeat to their compositions, though others sang of marching against the returned Aridori.
Sam pulled his pocket watch out. Hours on Earth didn’t line up with lightenings in the Nether, but he reset his watch every morning and had figured out how they reconciled. It should be in three…two…one…
The little laboratory Majus Cyrysi had co-opted vibrated with the rest of Spire. If anything, the Spire vibrated more than the House of Communication, perhaps because it rested against one of the immense columns.
“Now! Tell me what you are to be hearing in the Symphony!”
Sam closed his eyes to block out the chugging equipment the majus hovered over and listened to the Symphony. The chime was giving all the chords a strange vibrato, like a struck gong.
But that was it. There was nothing to the music of the chime. He couldn’t find its source. It seemed to be everywhere. He opened his eyes.
“Anything?” Majus Cyrysi’s crest was spiking and waving with excitement. Sam shook his head, and his mentor deflated.
Sam went deeper into the melody, swimming through layers that defined the stone of the Spire, the metal of the machine, and the flesh of their bodies. There was something solid beneath it all—a mass of roiling notes which at first had no rhythm. Then he realized it instead had an incredibly complex rhythm.
“I can hear…”
“What? What is it, boy?” Majus Cyrysi must have been worked up. He hadn’t called Sam that in a while.
“I’m not sure.” Sam reached out, trying to grasp even one of the complex jumble of notes. His focus bounced off them, and he gritted his teeth at a sudden spike of pain and an instant headache. Sam grunted and pressed fingers to his temples.
“I lost it,” he said, and that was when the chime stopped.
“Not completely,” Majus Cyrysi said and pointed to the graph the machine had made. The needle was drawing a straight line again, as it had before the chime, but the intervening space was filled with a spiraling, fluting, sequence of whorls. One small section at the end went wild, the peaks of the graph stretching to edges of the page. Sam squinted at it, then looked at his watch, counting seconds to get the time of the graph.
“I think that last section is where I almost touched the music of the chime,” he said.
Majus Cyrysi was hovering over him in an instant. Sam tried not to draw back from his faintly fishy breath. “You touched it? You are to be getting better at this. What was it like? What were the tempos of the music? The phrasing?”
“I…I…” Apprentices were taught musical theory, but he had hadn’t gotten very far. A lot of the concepts were more difficult than when he’d tried to learn the piano one time.
Hey—I remember that. Playing the piano.
“Out with it! What were you hearing? Do not keep me in suspense— ”
There was a knock at the door of the chamber.
Majus Cyrysi grumbled over and jerked the door open. “What are you to be wanting—oh. I see. Yes, I suppose he could come. Not as if I were conducting an important experiment with my apprentice.”
Sam frowned at his mentor’s scowl and spiky crest.
“The Effature is to be requesting your presence. Alone. Immediately. You had best be going. Just be thinking how to write down what you were to be experiencing. We are to be getting very close to an answer. I can feel it in my feathers.”
Author Bio: William C. Tracy is a North Carolina native and a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy. He self-published his Dissolutionverse space opera books and has one epic fantasy published with a small press.
He also has a master’s in mechanical engineering and has designed and operated heavy construction machinery. He’s trained in Wado-Ryu karate since 2003, and runs his own dojo in Raleigh. He is an avid video and board gamer, a reader, and a writer.
In his spare time, he cosplays with his wife such combinations as Steampunk Agent Carter and Jarvis, Jafar and Maleficent, and Doctor Strange and the Ancient One. They also enjoy putting their pets in handmade costumes and making them cosplay for the annual Christmas card. Get a novelette by signing up for William’s mailing list at http://williamctracy.com, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/wctracy for writing updates, cat pictures, and martial arts.
Giveaway: William is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win: Click HERE to enter.