Rosalie Skinner

Science fiction and fantasy author

 
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Book Eight
Adrift: The Fragile Sun

 Caleath must resolve the Legacy of Lathraine's Pledge. Can he possibly save a world from darkness?

This is the final instalment in the Chronicles of Caleath.

 

Cover ImageCHAPTER ONE

unedited version

“Gabrielle?” Naomi’s voice caught on the breeze and carried toward the crew of The Golden Dragon. Heads turned. Caleath could feel every eye watching, every ear listening for his reply. Why, he cursed, did he continue to call the woman who carried his child, by the wrong name? After three days, he should know better. The fiery goatherd had every right to plague him with accusations. He tugged at the bandana covering spiked hair and turned to watch the bow of the ship slice through a clear blue ocean.

“You won’t even talk to me now?” Her voice carried on the breeze.

“Is there any point?” Caleath turned his head. “Gabrielle is in my past. Her daughter…” the words caught in this throat, “my daughter is being held hostage Naomi. Do you think her situation doesn’t prey on my mind?”

“You spend so much time pawing over Rogan’s wretched papers it’s a wonder you have time to think about anything but the Aruven sun.” Naomi’s chin lifted, her honey brown eyes moistened as she faced the wind. Full lips pouted while raven black curls danced around her face. One hand kneaded the taffrail while the other rested on her swollen belly. “Do you spare any time to think of your son?”

“You are safe. I have done all I can to see that the babe will live.” Caleath sighed. “I don’t need this, Naomi. If I thought you only wanted to argue…”

“You wouldn’t have left Rogan’s side. I swear Tag; you spend more time with him than is natural.”

“Take care, sweet maid.” Caleath straightened. “My patience is not infinite.”

“Your patience?” Naomi’s bitter laugh seemed to hang in the air despite the breeze. “Before your dead archimage and the Aruven wizards arrived, I enjoyed my life, Tag Seawell. Each day with you seemed like a blessing. Whatever hardships we faced, at least we knew we had each other.”

Her outburst hurt more than Caleath anticipated. He braced, sensing the crew paused to catch each word.

“Then you left to discover your past. Nothing has been right between us since that day. You are not the man I loved.”

“Tag Seawell the bilge rat, no longer exists.” Caleath conceded defeat. He turned to face Naomi. “You have every right to complain. What can I say? What can I do? If Rogan, Madrigan and I can find a way of repairing the Sorathiis’ artificial sun, the Aruven people will not need to leave their world. Would you have me spend time holding your hand rather than searching for an answer to their problem?”

“Do you think I want to feel the way I do?” Her eyes filled with tears and her chin trembled though she held her head high. “I am trying to understand these people and their language. Being among so many sorcerers frightens me. The truth is that you frighten me. I want to go home, Tag. Why have you brought me here?”

Caleath sighed. Frustration dissolved and seeds of anger scattered on the wind. Ignoring his rapt audience Caleath folded Naomi in his arms.

“I am sorry, girl. My purpose is to keep you and the baby safe.” With the weight of her head resting on his chest, Caleath buried his face in clean scented hair. No longer smelling of goats and lye, he realized how sudden wealth and prestige bestowed on Naomi would make her feel less comfortable, rather than more at ease. “Tell me how I can help. Given that my time is not my own.”

“Remembering my name would be a good place to start.” Naomi lifted her face to meet his lips. “Then I will try and see you as ‘Caleath’, rather than Tag, my wonderful lover.”

Caleath tasted her sweet lips, conscious of the sudden activity on the deck of the ship. At least the crew appreciated his sincerity. Enjoying the embrace, remembering the young woman’s vibrant energy, he renewed in silence, his vow to keep Naomi happy.

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