MENTOR: Rin Chupeco

MENTEE: Josh Hlibichuk



WORD COUNT: 89,000



When his genius father goes missing, a young alchemist must survive a city-bombing madman and scheming sky pirates to discover whether his parent deserves to be rescued… or apprehended.



“Is Adelaide available, please?” Gabriel’s voice cracked.

Perfume puffed a drag off her cigarette and batted fake eyelashes at him. “A proper boy like you come for a few minutes with one of our ladies, is that right?”

“You’ve got the wrong impression, miss.”

“Oh, I got it right, I bet,” Perfume said. “A lad comes down from his stuffy old office and wants to relax with the common folk. Well, I know what you’re here for, nothing to be ashamed about. We’re human. We got urges, especially young men like yourself. I can go tell her you’re here…”

“I know the way.”

This was the chore that made Gabriel want to vomit; he stared down the long hallway of the Ladies’ Rooms. A small glass-and-metal globe sat outside the door Gabriel had come for, sparkling and alone. Of course she was free. Wincing, he knocked.

“Come in, my dear!” came the lusty call from behind the door. The room smelled of incense, and it was decorated in yellow and red silks imported from the Everlasting Empire. Beyond, picture windows framed the clean, tall buildings of Castlemount’s Business District. Every detail had been crafted to evoke the illusion of lush luxury at an affordable price.

In front of him, on a floor laden with pillows, lay a woman half-dressed in silk.

“Oh, my sweet!” she clamored, pulling herself up from the pillows to stand. “I didn’t think you’d drop by today. Oh, I’m so glad you did—sit, sit!” Gabriel closed the door behind him and pulled out a chair from nearby.

“You asked me to come, mother,” he sputtered.

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