|First off, I love this fantastic world you've created. It feels the beginning of an epic fantasy, I can tell you have quite a few things planned for Drake. The magic system is interesting, if a little awkward. Spelling a whole word seems like it would take some time, maybe a glyph or symbol would be faster?
I love the warring nations as well, the lizard Altereans and the roman-esque Dalmecians have a lot of potential. What are they mining for, I wonder? Precious metals or something more sinister?
And the strange power his grandmother had was intriguing as well, it seems that everyone gives her free reign and doesn't question her comings and goings. Why is that?
As for the oppression, I was wondering why the soldiers treated the workers with such disdain. Are they slaves from another race or citizens of a tyrannical empire? Why is the ruler so cruel to his people? I know this is just the first chapter but a little more background to the setting never hurts!
Let's talk about tenses. You use the present tense throughout the entire story, making it a little confusing and hard to tell what is going on. Especially when a lot of action is involved.
I edited the opening paragraph as an example.
The cruel sun assaulted the quarry, hot yellow arms scorching the dozens of dissidents grunting and huffing within. Sounds of clanking pick axes and scraping shovels bounced off the concrete walls. The lingering odor of hot musk and dry soil permeated the air while loose gravel crunched beneath the armor of Dalmecian soldiers.
They stood atop the concrete walls, black and white armor glistening under the harsh sunlight as metallic crossbows peered down into the quarry. With the threat of piercing arrows looming above, the disheveled drones silently worked to meet their impossible quotas.
(See what I did here? I trimmed out some of the fluff and changed the verb tenses.)
You have a great eye for detail, but sometimes less is more. Try to write as if each word counts, don't jam in too much. The story drops to a crawl when there is too much information. Again, this isn't a bad thing. You can always go back and edit, no worries.
In terms of story telling, the present tense is tricky to use in third person.
Plot wise, I love where the story is going. Drake is about to go on the adventure of a lifetime and I look forward to reading more!