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PRINT: The Hot Springs Episode (Titan Mage Side Quests #1) (SIGNED Paperback)

PRINT: The Hot Springs Episode (Titan Mage Side Quests #1) (SIGNED Paperback)

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Book One in the Titan Mage Side Quests series. Published by Spice Rack Press.

About this premium SIGNED PAPERBACK:

Signed by Edie Skye. Contact us holowriting (at) for personalization requests.

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“Edie Skye has somehow managed to mix together LitRPG, magical mecha, and a spicy harem romance into a story that is fun and great entertainment. It’s been a while since I sat down and read a book in one night, but here we are.” —Amazon Reviewer

“As a teenager, I drooled over the mechs of Robotech and Macross, and nothing since then has captured my love of those massive robots as the titans of Titan Mage.” —Amazon Reviewer

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Enjoy a sample from THE HOT SPRINGS EPISODE

Chapter One

“It was supposed to be one monster!” Locke snarled as he charged his catalysts in preparation for the latest wave of wood drakes.

The creatures came out of the trees like a pack of tiny, angry half-dragon, half-treants, snapping and snarling and wholly unhappy to see him there in his titan.

Technically he knew it was inaccurate to compare them to dragons, since he’d learned that drakes and dragons were two completely different creatures on the world of Haven, but it helped him to think of them that way—as wingless, flameless four-legged dragons that made him loath to meet a real dragon. For those comparatively tiny beasts—tiny compared to a dragon, at least—still matched the entire two-story height of his mech.

Titan Chimera was a brilliant red building-height suit of armor outfitted with an energy catalyst, a matter catalyst, and two gravity catalysts. While far from being fully upgraded, it was more than capable of wrecking face—and had already done so several times since he’d joined Harper’s Harriers—but never against a pack of titan-sized monsters. Never against fifteen wood drakes.

“He has a point, Captain,” his partner’s voice came through the titan’s radio. A sudden blast of red shot past Titan Chimera and incinerated two of the drakes as she spoke. “We may need to have some … heated renegotiations with the client. There’s no way they could have missed this many wood drakes, especially as dark-infested as they are. I think they were trying to cheap out on us.”

“I don’t disagree,” the captain replied from the bridge of the Harriers’ airship, in her usual restrained manner. “I’ll inform you if I see another wave coming from here. In the meantime, take out as many as you can, and try not to get infected.”

“For real, don’t,” radioed the ship’s chief engineer, in her usual unrestrained manner. “If this dickhead gets away with cheaping out on our bounty, pretty much all of my budget’s going to get sucked up by repairs, which none of us wants. You hear me?”

“Loud and clear, Bexley,” Locke replied. “Ember, which side are you taking today?”

He turned to see Ember’s titan, Long Shot, through Chimera’s visual sensors. The great streamlined airship that was the Blue Heron hovered some way behind him, its hangar ramp open, and Long Shot perched there with a clear view of the battlefield below and a shoulder-mounted energy mega-catalyst cannon ready to snipe from a safe distance. The titans paired well together, his bulky, solid mech the melee brawler, her sleek blue-and-silver mech the ranged sniper, and now they both prepared to do what they did best:

Fuck up some monsters.

“Split them up,” Ember said. “I’ll take the left side. And make sure your group’s far from mine when you start burning it. I don’t want to lose you in the smoke and accidentally incinerate you.”

“Will do,” Locke said, and moved out.

He sprinted toward the encroaching swarm of wood drakes, set his energy catalyst to freezing and then fired the gravity catalysts in his legs to leap! That was something else he had access to in this world—magic.

There were only a limited number of types—energy magic, matter magic, gravity magic, and time magic. It had to be channeled through specially built catalysts before it could be accessed, but he’d taken to it this past month like a … well, like a half-paralyzed nineteen-year-old isekai’d into a new world and a new body that had all the muscles and all the magic.

And now his pimped-out giant robot somersaulted over the wood drakes on the force of the glowing purple gravity catalysts implanted in the backs of the mech’s robotic calves. The energy catalyst on the underside of his left arm whirred and glowed blue, and a great freezing beam sprayed from his hand, straight through the middle of the pack of wood drakes.

Titan Chimera landed on the other side of the rush with a tremendous, controlled thud, and when he turned the titan around, he saw that his plan had worked. A low wall of ice now bisected the group of monsters, and they began to split in different directions.

Another focused heat blast from Ember took out two more of her drakes, and Locke switched his own energy catalyst to heat and leapt again to catch up with his half. He aimed his left hand straight at the pack, waited for the full charge, and then blasted the backmost creatures with a steady stream of searing fire before they even thought to turn around.

He didn’t land.

Before he could, he fired his gravity catalysts again to push him away from the beasts, out of even their slightest grasp.

Against most monsters, Locke preferred to fight up close, with his fists and whatever weapons he felt like summoning with his matter catalyst—but these were not normal monsters. He’d fought a lot of drakes in the past month—stone drakes, mountain drakes, water drakes, lake drakes, sea drakes (which were all distinct from each other)—but despite the size and generally ferocious appearance, most were merely cool-tempered animals who wanted to be left alone and only attacked if they felt threatened.

This was especially true of the wood drake. A standard wood drake looked something like an old wise man of the forest, like an ageless being that had no concept of the passage of time and only cared to exist quietly in its secluded copse until it decided it was time to leave this place for another. Its scales resembled bark, sometimes curved into the shapes of horns or spikes, and mosses, mushrooms, and lichens just grew on them as a matter of course.

Bexley had once shown him how to pet and feed a wild wood drake. They weren’t even carnivorous, except when they accidentally ate bugs.

These wood drakes were nothing like those.

Their normally placid eyes flickered with dark, unnatural sparks of some nebulous energy, and their moss-covered shapes now pulsated with a blackish-purple sludge, slowly seeping into the spaces between their bark scales and filling their bodies with a madness that was not their own—and not even of this world.

In the sky above hung the great orb of the Crystal Moon; from its surface fell meteors, and from those meteors spread the shadow dregs.

No one knew exactly what the dregs were, not even his crewmates, who’d all been born on Haven. All anyone knew was that the shadow dregs craved destruction and would take over anything—living or non—to wreak it. They routinely turned peaceful creatures into zombie-like killing machines for no apparent reason. Once a creature—or a person—was infected, there was no saving them. It was why he couldn’t risk touching the creatures, and why the dregs had to be obliterated whenever they landed. The only creature he’d ever seen survive a shadow dreg infestation was a stone drake, and that was merely because it was fireproof and thus resistant to the magic he’d used to kill the dregs infecting it.

The wood drakes were definitely not fireproof.

But they were also no longer themselves.

With a horrible multi-tonal shriek, every wood drake in his group rounded toward him. He shuddered as even the three that were on fire came for him, their bodies propelled forward by the dregs inside them even as the drakes themselves screeched in terrible pain. He could hear the sap inside their bodies cracking and popping as the heat of his flames cooked them—but all he could do was put them out of their misery faster.

He triggered his gravity catalyst again. A great plume of sparkling steam and excess magic billowed out of his shoulder louvers as he once again leapt out of the monsters’ reach, charged his energy catalyst as white-hot as it would go, and blasted a beam straight at the nearest drake’s flaming head. The creature’s skull exploded. It still moved under the influence of the shadow dregs, but at least it was no longer screaming.

He repeated the process for the other two that were on fire, then leapt back again to take new stock of his situation. Three drakes remained on his side, still mostly untouched; one drake was frozen in the nearby ice wall, apparently caught in his initial blast, and if the diminishing levels of smoke rising from Ember’s side of the wall were any indication, her cannon had obliterated even the ashes of her drakes. But then she had a tier three mega-catalyst embedded in that cannon, whereas he hadn’t yet gathered enough materials and void essence to upgrade his energy catalyst beyond tier one. Of course she’d be wiping out wood drakes with ease. Her titan was dedicated to ranged combat.

His energy catalyst wouldn’t be tier one for long though, and the void essence his titan collected from all these monsters would help him get there.

“Alyssa, what’s the news from the forest?” Locke radioed.

“Stay on your toes,” Captain Alyssa replied from the Blue Heron. “I see motion in the trees.”

Locke charged his energy catalyst and leapt again, spraying the nearest of the four wood drakes.

“What kind of motion?” he grunted under the jolt of his titan landing.

“Could be another wave,” the captain replied.

“Damn. Why so many?” Locke stated, blasting off the head of the next drake. “Is it normal for wood drake packs to be this large?”

“Yeah, these are oak drakes,” Bexley replied from inside the hangar, with all the leisure of someone who wasn’t presently staring down two charging, flaming monsters. “They leave their little acorn eggs everywhere and most of them take, so you get lots of oak drake babies and big packs. The proper term for a pack is a grove, by the way.”

“Wait, how do you know that?” Locke asked, taking out the next drake.

“I’ll have you know the size of my intellect is directly proportional to the size of my spectacular chest,” Bexley replied. “Plus I once bedded a botanical monstrologist, and the stuff he talked about post-coitus was fascinating.”

“Bexley, we’re in the middle of a job here,” Captain Alyssa reprimanded.

“Fine,” Bexley scoffed. “Don’t make use of my eclectic knowledge. But you’ll probably find it relevant that most oak drake packs have an—”

“Oh, shit!” Alyssa suddenly exclaimed.

Locke had barely taken out the last of his drakes before a great and terrible thrash blasted the forest open and sent trees taller than his titan flying through the air.

“Gods!” Ember echoed, and fired another beam to incinerate one before it hit the Blue Heron.

Locke was not so lucky. He was close to the forest, and so had more trees to dodge, and he taxed his gravity catalysts to their limit as he sprinted and ducked through the avalanche of wood and foliage.

When the trees stopped crashing, only one thing of the forest remained in motion: an ancient wood drake, its bark rough and knotted with the passing of untold ages, its eyes glowing with the same shadowy fury as the others, and its head stretching far above that of his titan’s, at least three stories tall.

“An Oak King,” Bexley finished.

The Oak King came for Locke like a landslide. He’d barely fired his catalysts before its great green claws smashed down into the dirt where Titan Chimera had been, tearing divots that were at least a foot deep.

He fired a white-hot blast at the creature’s forearm, but it didn’t recoil. The lichens on its back simply caught fire, and it brushed them off as if they were little more than spicy dust.

But as it did so, Locke noticed something.

“Ember, I don’t see any shadow dregs on the outside. Do you?”

Ember’s visual sensors were better than his, being more essential for her sniping, and after taking a moment to look, she replied, “No, I don’t, either.”

“What does that mean?”

“They’re probably concentrated in the monster’s brain case,” Alyssa suggested. “A creature that large? It would take all the shadow dregs you’ve already destroyed and then some to control it their usual way.”

“Take the brain directly, however,” Bexley added, “and they can control the whole thing.”

“Are shadow dregs smart enough to know that?” Locke asked, blasting a lichen-free spot, then dodging another swipe.

“They don’t do it often because the alternative’s easier,” Ember said, “but I’ve seen it enough to know it’s a predictable tactic for big monsters. We’ll want to go for the head.”

Locke dodged back a safe distance, then gazed up to get a better look at the head.

“Dammit,” he groaned. If the bark was thick elsewhere, it was doubly so on the skull. The mosses there hung from great horns that were as thick as his titan’s arm, which suggested the skull supporting them would be at least that thick.

“I’m gonna have to chop it,” he said.

Moreover, he was going to have to run up the monster to chop it. He could jump, he supposed, but his control of his gravity catalysts wasn’t fine enough for complex midair maneuvers yet, and if the Oak King wanted to swat him out of his jump, it would have little trouble doing so. He had no choice but to run up its shape, and that meant risking infection by shadow dregs.

“Hang on! I’ve got an idea!” He sprinted before anyone could order him otherwise.

“Locke, what are you doing?” Ember shouted.

“I’m going to break the skull open!” Locke rounded the monster’s tail and launched up to its hindquarters. He darted up the monster’s ragged spine, and in three great strides, was at the base of its neck.

“Got it,” Ember replied, and as Locke scaled the Oak King’s head, he called upon his matter catalyst. This in turn called upon the tank of swiftmetal implanted within Titan Chimera’s back, which spooled out of an opening beneath his right hand to form the thin wireframe of a titan-sized war axe. More slick pseudo-liquid metal spun out to fill the shape with every ferocious step he took, and by the time he leapt onto the skull, it had solidified into its desired form.

He fired his gravity catalysts, leapt as high into the air as he could go, and then brought his axe down with all the might of Titan Chimera behind it. The axe blade chopped into the wood of the Oak King’s skull with a thick, wet thunk—but only a few inches.

And now the Oak King knew what he was doing. It reared its head back and roared—not a ferocious-sounding thing, but a sad noise like ages-old trees groaning as they were felled. Fortunately, though, its thick bark gave it a limited range of motion, and Locke was able to bring the axe down in a similar spot with ease. He did this again and again, each time eliciting tragic moans from the creature, but also knowing it was the only thing he could do.

The shadow dregs wouldn’t leave. They could only be destroyed. And so anything they infected also had to share their fate.

Titan Chimera leapt into the air and brought the axe down with thunderous force—and this time, the edge sank in with a sickening thwomp! The thick wood of the skull split, and a savaged chunk flew out, revealing the weird grayish green of the Oak King’s brain—and the shadow dregs throbbing around it.

The shadow dregs gushed up through the hole, straight for him.

He met them with his energy catalyst, fired a white-hot beam down into the gap before they could even reach the outside air, and then, the dregs sufficiently distracted, he leapt off the monster’s head.


Nearly as soon as he said it, a brilliant white flash from Titan Long Shot’s shoulder cannon bored into the Oak King’s head.

It was some seconds before Locke could look in its direction without squinting. When he did, he saw the creature’s skull black with smoldering embers. But more importantly, he saw a distinct plume of smoke rising from the hole he’d chopped in that skull, suggesting there was even more damage inside. The bit of Ember’s blast that reached the soft tissue behind that hole would have ricocheted throughout the monster’s brain case, incinerating everything inside—brain, shadow dregs, and all.

And soon, the unnatural flickering sparks left the monster’s eyes, taking every other spark of life with them.

The monster still stood there, held upright by the thick bulk of its body, but now the only life about it was on it, in the greenery that still grew and would continue to grow despite the creature’s state.

Well, Locke reflected, at least that life would continue.

But on the other hand, he reflected as he headed back toward the Blue Heron, his titan had absorbed a ton of void essence from the kill!