This is the third book in an eight book fantasy series. The 3rd novel is available on Amazon to buy or download via Kindle Unlimited.
Back of book cover
On a medieval planet, Brodia has been the Bone Crusher's apprentice for a year. She is struggling to master the magic needed to fly and engage the enemy wizards. But time has run out for her as the enemy has come.
Her teacher, the grand wizard must fly the king and queen back to the capital, leaving Brodia behind to protect his family. It's just the chance the enemy wants, and they send the Gray Wizard to ambush her and kill everyone.
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In Vosj’s fourth kingdom, during the ninth year of King Attim’s reign, eighteen-year-old Brodia would soon drown in a storm-tossed sea.
But before then, she stood in a merchant ship’s waist with a two-handed grip on the gunwale as the ship pitched in the violent sea. The wind whipped around her as she watched the blue-gray waves race along the ship’s side. Before the wind took it, she stuffed her famous pear-green beret inside her brown jerkin. Her beetle-black hair blew around her head, leaving strands stuck to her face.
The creaking wood and wind whistling through the rigging was background noise as she watched the rolling sea. While everything fascinated her, it also reminded her that she was stuck. After several months of mentally exhausting effort, she had finally split the d’sur fist. It was a single split, giving her two magical fists. To fly, she needed a second split. She found no way to accomplish this despite Zenii’s constant haranguing. For the last week, she’d made no progress with her magic, leaving her repeating each day like a chicken pecking at seeds in the dirt.
She wanted to fly. She needed to fly. ‘More power,’ he kept telling her, but where could she get that power? Months ago, she reached the limit of how far she could hold the wand from her head, which meant her arms were too short to further increase her power.
She watched as the crew took in the topsail with the jib while the relentless wind picked up speed. The only remaining canvas was the wet mainsail puffed out in the wind, threatening to rip into shreds. The power thrilled and scared her at the same time. Brodia stayed at the gunwale, flexing her knees to absorb the pitching deck. It had been months since she felt this alive.
“You still out here, Squirrel?” a voice called from behind.
Even in the wind’s roar, she didn’t need to turn to know who it was. “Aye, Zenii. It’s magnificent in a frightening way. The power of the Five Gods is here for all to see.”
Grand Wizard Preem placed his black hands on the railing beside her. “Master Roon would disagree as he suffers from the sickness of the sea.”
Brodia glanced up as the mainsail above snapped sharply when a ripple ran across the canvas. How long before the crew had to reef it or lose it? Turning her gaze to the waves, she smiled at the thought of her friend sitting in the cabin, retching on an empty stomach. There was a certain pride at not feeling that sickness, though she also knew it was only the will of the Gods that had made her immune.
She wondered about the other passengers. “And his highness?” she asked her teacher, dressed in his long brown leather coat with the collar turned against the sea spray. He’d left his distinctive hat in the cabin letting his frizzy black hair get soaked.
“The king remains in his cabin with the queen. We must be ready in case this storm gets worse.”
“I can see the fear in the eyes of the ship’s crew,” she yelled. “You grew up by the sea. Is this a bad storm?”
“Even though the sea was all I knew, I never went out in a fishing boat. It seemed we lost a fisherman to the sea each year.” Preem paused, so she waited. A year as his apprentice had taught her patience with this man she loved above everything else. “The sea is a cruel lord. He provides the fish we eat but charges a heavy price in the lives of those who sail on him.”
“And this storm,” she said, “is it normal?”
“Only once did I see something like this. The sea storm is a mystery to everyone living near the coast. It comes with little warning, destroying the shoreline before it leaves even quicker than it arrived.” He paused as a powerful gust battered them. “It reminds us of the power that the Gods wield. It makes our magic puny in comparison.”
Brodia allowed his words to settle on her soul as she looked at the waves as high as the gunwale racing past the ship. It was stunning in its power. She imagined the Halls of the Gods surrounded by a moat with waves like these. Being a farmer’s daughter, she imagined the sea as a wet version of the land. But now she saw it was entirely different. The land wasn’t something to fear, but the sea demanded respect. Otherwise, it would destroy you.
The sky was darkening despite it being midafternoon. Would she get any sleep tonight? “Will it get worse?” she asked.
“We live by the will of the Gods,” he responded. “I believe it will grow in strength before it hits the shore. A sea storm hit my village when I was fourteen. It destroyed half the fishing boats, lifting them onto the rocks. But no fishermen were stupid enough to go fishing that day. Still, we lost a cottage along with its family.” Even yelling over the wind, she heard the melancholy in his voice.
“I’ve never seen your village; is it nice?” she asked, to change the subject.
“Indeed. The sea and village changed each season. Hardly a day was the same as the previous one. I miss the changing seasons the most.”
Together they watched the waves. Most now had a white top that was level with her eyes. The ship pitched up one wave, only to slide down its back before rising again. A sharp whistle cut through the wind’s constant drone through the rigging and the snap of the mainsail.
The crew swarmed out the hatch in the middle of the waist deck. “Reef the main,” a man screamed from the quarterdeck.
She watched the bare-foot men scramble up the ratlines to the lower yardarm. Instinctively, she engaged the darkness of her d’dec in the tip of her blackened wand tucked in her belt. Preem did the same with the mastyon at his side. The single split was still more of a gimmick than a worthwhile technique, so she kept to a single d’sur gripping fist.
Across the yardarm, the brave sailors began reaching over to haul in the wet mainsail. As she faced forward, watching the men above her, the wind blew her hair into her face. She concentrated on the men, ready with a gripping-fist if they fell. But they got the mainsail in without incident. The soaked sailors clambered down to the relative safety of the rolling deck.
“You should get below, Sir Wizard,” an officer said as crew members fixed heavy ropes fore and aft along the deck.
“Can I help?” Preem called over the wind. “It’s getting worse.”
“Much worse. But we’ll ride it out; we’ve got the storm anchor out to keep us before the wind.” The officer pointed toward the door under the quarterdeck. “Captain’s in his cabin, sir.”
“Come, Brodia. We’ll see if we can offer any help.”
She followed Preem through the low door into the cabins. It was good being out of the spray. But she found the cramped space below deck oppressive, especially in wet clothes. Preem tapped on Captain Muleb’s door with his mastyon before entering.
“Sir Wizard,” the captain acknowledged from behind his small desk, ignoring Brodia. Some things never changed. “What can I do for you? As you can see, we’re busy.”
Preem ignored the captain’s dismissive tone, asking, “Is there anything we can do to help you, captain?”
“Can you stop this storm?” Captain Muleb said. Brodia almost jumped in but knew any opinion she offered would harden the captain’s resolve. “Or calm the sea?” the captain added.
“I am a wizard, Captain. Not a God,” Preem responded, keeping his voice benevolent. As always, Zenii impressed Brodia with his refusal to get into petty fights. “What are your thoughts on this sea storm?” he asked. “Will it blow out soon?”
The ship’s captain nodded as if acknowledging he’d been improper. “This looks like a bad one. The wind’s been shifting as it gets stronger. It’ll get much worse before it blows out.”
“Can we help with anything on your ship?”
Preem’s repeated question seemed to surprise Captain Muleb. He shook his head at first but then changed his mind. “We’ve done all we can for now, Sir Wizard. However, this storm has pushed us far west of Otanmouth. Now, we’re close to the south coast cliffs while the wind continues to blow us that way. Things could get far worse if we get caught on the lee shore.”
“A few hands. We could flounder on the rocks if the wind doesn’t ease by this evening.”
“We’ll be in our cabin, awaiting your orders, Captain.”
As she lurched back to their cabin, Brodia wondered what it would be like if the ship hit the rocks. She thought it would look strange to see it resting on some rocks. Then she remembered stories from her schoolbooks of ships broken into driftwood on rocky shores. Once again, her failure to fly haunted her thoughts.