Rosalie Skinner

Science fiction and fantasy author

 
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Book Seven
Adrift: In Search of Memory

Tag Seawell needs to find out who he is, before the black fits he suffers get worse. What does a vessel carrying wizards and powerful warriors want with a backwater sailor?

Exiled Autumn's Peril - Cover ImageCHAPTER ONE

unedited version

Saturated beneath oilskins, the captain swallowed a mouthful of rain and muttered a curse, bracing when the small ship rolled and bucked against the heavy seas. Salt water sluiced over the bowsprit. Waves crashed through the scuppers, from bow to stern.

“By Orthcan’s shoal and the tides of Marnain, I’d give anything for a change in luck,” Ed Brasheer groaned, as Fate tossed his storm battered ship on a wild ocean. The vessel shuddered before dropping from the crest of another wave.

Above the tumult, the groan of stressed timber alarmed the skipper. The forward mast bowed against the force of the wind and threatened to splinter. Lashed to the helm, Brasheer ground his teeth. Rain and wave fought to shred storm set sails. He lifted tired eyes as lightning speared through dark clouds.

“Careful what you ask for, Captain,” Toby, his first mate shouted. Wind stole words from his chapped lips. “You never know who’s listening.”

“If we lose another mast before the season ends, this storm will ruin me.”

Both men staggered as the ship drove her bow into another wave. The deck tilted. Bowsprit dug deep. For a heartbeat, Ed’s whole world turned on end as water washed across the vessel’s waist.

On the forward yard, a sail shredded. A crewman screamed, falling when the sheet whipped across his face. With one foot caught in the rigging, the man swung above black water. Ed held his breath, afraid his ship would spear into bottomless depths. His heart pounded. Another wave broke beneath the hull thrusting The Petrel’s stern high into the air.

“Get him down.” Ed fought to hold the ship straight into the next set of waves. “Look lively. The wind has died a little.”

“No Captain, it’s died a lot!” Even over the creaking hull, driving rain and raging sea, Ed heard a note of anxiety in the first mate’s voice. The storm didn’t seem to frighten Toby as much as the tempest’s demise.

“What have I done?” Ed spun. Around him, rain eased and furious seas settled. He refused to believe one impulsive plea could change destiny. “We’ve ridden through the worst, Toby. Bilge and blisters, we survived.”

“You mean our luck changed.” Toby’s accusation made the captain shiver. “I’ll see to getting Crimp cut down and treated, sir.” The first mate’s face gleamed white in the muted light of heavy clouds. He pointed to a bedraggled bundle strewn across the forward hatch that hadn’t been there earlier. “You can see to our guest. What ill wind or providence would dump a stranger onto our decks in weather as foul as this?”

Brasheer looked into the green underbelly of storm-ridden clouds. He untied his oilskin cap and shook his head.

“I dare say we are about to find out.” He pointed a shaking finger toward a large silver object floating in the sky, high above the tallest mast. “Have you ever seen a creature or a creation as strange as this?”

Toby looked skyward, as intense light engulfed the ship and a flying machine hovered beneath the clouds.

“Silt and seaweed, preserve us.”

***

 

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