Book 3 of the Storms of Magic series is almost here, and that means it’s time for a snippet. A few things before we get to the action:
- I hope those of you in the paths of real storms this week are staying safe. Even watching on TV from a distance, these storms are scary. If the people I’ve chatted with online are any indication, my readers are a tough-as-nail lot. You’re all in my thoughts. Stay safe!
- Storm Breakers picks upÂ exactly where Storm Callers ended. That means if you haven’t read Storm Callers yet go do so before digging into this snippet.
- Now let’s take a look at that cover!
Here’s the video version of the snippet. Or scroll down to read the text version.
Abbey slammed Dahlia down into the chair and leaned in close. â€œTell me everything you know about Sydâ€™s brother.â€
Dahlia grimaced, but the slight smile stayed on her face.
It had only been ten minutes since theyâ€™d halted Dahliaâ€™s execution. Abbey had been in attendance to watch the event, but Dahlia had saved her own life by revealing she had information on Elliot, the long-lost stormship sailor whoâ€™d once served aboard Thunderclap. Syd had been looking for her older brother for years, and she kept her head shaved as an outward display of her ongoing mission.
Theyâ€™d hauled Dahlia to a small room in Livâ€™s nearby home. Dustin, Abbey, Liv, and Fannar hovered over the seated Storm Caller, who sat with her hands bound in front of her, an uncannily serene expression on her face.
Abbey clenched her fists, trying to keep from shaking with anger. After everything sheâ€™d been throughâ€”theyâ€™d been throughâ€”at Dahliaâ€™s hands, again the woman had avoided death.
This was a woman who had helped Storm Raiders sack dozens of towns up and down the Kaldfell coast and beyond. Sheâ€™d orchestrated the Barskall secret invasion of the Kaldfell Peninsula. Sheâ€™d compelled the Barskall king to force his people into military service and addict them to seiderdrek, the potion that gave them enhanced speed and strength at the cost of increased rage and lack of control.
And again, the woman was avoiding her rightful fate.
Not forever, Abbey promised herself. Sheâ€™d let Dahlia live a little longer out of respect for Syd, but the womanâ€™s lifespan would be measured in days.
â€œLike I said before,â€ Dahlia reminded them, â€œIâ€™m not going to tell you. But I will show you.â€
â€œThat so?â€ Abbey asked. â€œI am not going to tell you what Iâ€™m going to do to you with my sword, either. That way weâ€™ll both have a nice surprise.â€
Dustin crossed his arm and sighed. â€œLook, we canâ€™t sail somewhere if you donâ€™t tell us where weâ€™re going.â€
â€œAnd weâ€™ve spared your life,â€ Fannar added. He held the seax, the dagger-like weapon that heâ€™d intended to use to execute Dahlia, tightly in his hand. â€œThat is a big show of trust. You need to give us something in return.â€
Dahlia stared back at the Barskall for a long moment, then nodded.
Abbey crossed her arms and waited.
â€œThis was fifteen years ago,â€ Dahlia began. â€œPerhaps a bit moreâ€”I lose track. Tor and I were Storm Raiding, but only far away from Kaldfell. Weâ€™d struck the Lost Isles a number of times, and weâ€™d also raided in the area the Arcadians foolishly call the Frozen North. As if the mountains and the sea north of their lands were the edge of the world.â€
She shook her head in disgust.
â€œTry to keep your revulsion at the Arcadians in check,â€ Abbey interjected. â€œWhatâ€™s any of this have to do with Elliot?â€
Dahlia continued. â€œIt was around that time we first made our way to Barskall. The land was in the midst of a conflict between two warlords. We thought to raid the coastal villages, but we quickly discovered there was little worth takingâ€”most were living in povertyâ€”so I came up with another plan. I approached one of the warlords, a man named Ragnar, and made him an offer. We would help him defeat his rival in return for his promise to send Barskall warriors to Kaldfell in the coming years to help us defeat our enemies.â€
â€œDid he accept your offer?â€ Dustin asked.
Dahlia shook her head. â€œAfraid not.â€
â€œI wouldnâ€™t take it personally,â€ Abbey told her. â€œHe was probably just turned off by your face. Or possibly your personality. Or maybe your weird voice. Whoâ€™s to say?â€
Dahlia ignored the comment. â€œBut his enemy Elias did. So, with the help of Undertow and Summer Wind, we harassed Ragnarâ€™s coastal strongholds, burned any villages that supported him, and helped transport Eliasâ€™ warriors quickly by sea. It was enough to turn the tide of the war.â€
Fannar grimaced. â€œAnd so King Elias was crowned.â€
Dahlia nodded. â€œThe warlord became King. But before that could happen, he had to negotiate a surrender with Ragnar. The man still had his supporters, especially in the villages on the western coast, so Elias wanted to avoid killing him, if possible. It only made sense to build goodwill with those villages if he was going to rule them. Tor and I went with Elias to negotiate the terms of Ragnarâ€™s surrender.â€
â€œRagnar ended up leaving Barskall, did he not?â€ Fannar asked.
â€œYes,â€ Dahlia confirmed. â€œHe agreed to exile. He would go west to a place called Gren, a land of ice and forests. A place he could begin a new conquest.â€
Abbey and Dustin exchanged a glance. Abbey had heard tales of Gren, but she hadnâ€™t been sure the place really existed. The storytellers in Holdgate told the children of the giants of Gren, jovial but stupid creatures who were quick to anger. In the stories, stormship sailors always outsmarted them.
One story in particular stuck in Abbeyâ€™s mind. A stormship was trapped in a Gren harbor with an enormous boulder blocking its only path to escape. A giant was on the verge of destroying the ship, but the hero of the story tricked the giant into eating the boulder. The ship sailed to safety as the giant laid on the shore suffering from a stomach ache, moaning.
Dustin had heard those same stories, and Abbey could see he was wrestling with the same thoughts, wondering if Gren was even real.
Dahlia continued, â€œRagnar had a strange request. He was intrigued with the way we sailed and fought. He demanded that Tor and I give him a few of our stormship sailors so he might use them to train his people.â€
A look of fury appeared on Livâ€™s face. â€œYou didnâ€™t. Tell me you give sell your own people to a Barskall warlord.â€
â€œAnd how many lives were saved because of what I did?â€ Dahlia asked.
â€œSpare me.â€ Abbey leaned toward Dahlia. â€œYou didnâ€™t care about ending a war. You just wanted a Barskall army of your own.â€
The Storm Caller shrugged. â€œDoes it matter? I helped end a war.â€
â€œHow many did you give them?â€ Liv growled.
â€œWe allowed Ragnar to select five of our sailors. Elliot was the one he really cared about. Heâ€™d seen Elliot fight. The man was an average sailor, to be honest, but he fought with the seaâ€™s own fury. And Ragnar had taken notice.â€
Abbey imagined what it would be like to be traded to an enemy warlord like livestock and taken to whatever mysterious lands were beyond the sea. â€œYou said Elliotâ€™s still alive. How do you know?â€
Dahlia paused a long moment before answering. â€œI suppose I canâ€™t be certain.â€
Fannar raised his seax. â€œSo youâ€™re a liar then?â€ He glanced at the others. â€œLet me end her now.â€
She held up her bound hands. â€œBut I know Elliot. And I know the regard Ragnar had for him. Elliot was a survivor. For all I know, Ragnarâ€™s army was wiped out by the legendary giants of Gren, but even if it was, I have a feeling Elliot would have found a way to survive.â€
Abbey wanted to object to that line of thinking, but if Elliot was anything like his sister, Dahlia might be correct.
Liv scratched at her chin. â€œFrom what Iâ€™ve heard over the years, Gren is a vast land, mostly covered with ice. It would be next to impossible to find him thereâ€”if Gren even exists.â€
â€œOh, it exists.â€ Dahlia smiled. â€œIâ€™ve been there. As part of the terms of surrender, Thunderclap herself transported a portion of Ragnarâ€™s army there. I can show you exactly where we set them down, and I can show you the first town Ragnar attacked. I promise you youâ€™ll never find it without me.â€
Abbey sighed. That was all the information they were going to get out of Dahlia for now. Much like Elliot, Dahlia was a survivor. Sheâ€™d do everything she could to preserve her own life.
It was time to tell Syd.
Okay, that will do it for the first snippet. Click here to read the next installment.