We are only single-digit days away from the release of Storm Warrior. The first snippet was the prologue – an emotional flashback to Abbey’s mom. Today’s excerpt is the beginning of chapter one.
Let’s get right into it, but before we do, I promised you another clue to what this story’s about. Here it is:
The Foggy Day glided across the water and raced toward her target, propelled by a powerful wind.
“She’s turning!” Elliot called from the crow’s nest.
Abbey shielded her eyes from the sun and gazed in the direction Elliot was pointing. It took her a moment, then she saw it through the spray. Sure enough, their target was angling toward port. Tempest Chaser, the stormship they’d been hunting for the last three days.
“Set us three degrees port,” Captain Syd shouted.
“Aye!” a sailor called in response as he made the adjustments to the wheel.
Abbey marched to the quarterdeck, where her captain stood. Syd’s arms were crossed as she watched over the crew carrying out their well-orchestrated dance.
“Think they’re angling back for a fight?” Abbey asked Syd.
The captain didn’t take her eyes off the ship in the distance. “Not if they’re smart. Running won’t do them much good either.”
Tempest Chaser was a mid-sized stormship, one that held no special renown. It was one of the many ships in the fleet that spent most of its time sailing the fishing routes, making sure they were safe for the fishermen and women.
Her captain was an older man who had spent much of the last few months complaining about the state of Holdgate to anyone who’d listen. He didn’t approve of the fact that the city had turned on its most favored son, Tor. He didn’t like that they’d given Thunderclap, the flagship of the fleet, to an underachieving, easygoing captain like Roy. Most of all, he hated the Barskall Storm Callers who had recently been brought to the city, and he was indignant that the Holdgate fleet was actually using some of them on the stormships.
So when Tempest Chaser hadn’t returned from their latest voyage and a handful of villages along the southern Kaldfell coast had reported devastating attacks, it wasn’t difficult to put two and two together.
Captain Syd spoke, her voice thick with disdain. “Storm Raiders. I thought we were done with this idiocy.”
Abbey chuckled, but there was no joy in it. “If there was one thing I learned in our travels, it was that idiocy wasn’t the private property of Captain Tor or Dahlia. It’s a widespread affliction, and those who have it are all too happy to share.”
Syd nodded toward the bow of The Foggy Day. “Check on our Storm Caller for me?”
“Aye, Captain,” Abbey said. As she walked to the other end of the ship, her eyes scanned the deck, appraising her crew. She was happy with what she saw. They were working hard, quickly and diligently going about their tasks. The pre-battle energy practically crackled in the air, yet they remained focused.
It was a credit to Captain Syd, and to the crew themselves. They’d been through a lot together, this ragtag bunch. They’d fought Barskall and Stone Shapers. Now they were back on the Kaldfell Peninsula, and things had come full circle. They were home and fighting Storm Raiders, just like the good old days. It was almost enough to make Abbey smile.
She’d been to three of the villages these assholes had raided. She’d seen the devastation they’d left in their wake, and she’d spoken to the families of those they had killed. Abbey wouldn’t be smiling until this was over and done with.
She’d almost reached the causeway to the foredeck when Olaf stopped her.
“Hey, Abbey, did you tell Dustin my idea?” His eyes were so big and hopeful it almost made her laugh.
“Just to be clear, your idea was that he not destroy them with storm magic, right? That he get us in close, and we try to board them?”
He nodded eagerly.
“No, I did not tell Dustin that idea. Because it’s horrible.”
If he was insulted by her comment, it didn’t show. “Okay, yeah, I can see why you’d think that. But we need to show these guys that Storm Raiders don’t get off easy. I mean, a massive wave and it’s over? We need to strike fear into their hearts. And nothing strikes fear like a warrior with a flaming sword rushing at you.”
Abbey shook her head. After everything they’d been through, Olaf still thought battle was a glorious game. She almost admired his ability to keep his Holdgate ideals.
She put a hand on his shoulder. “Listen, Olaf, I know you’re excited about your magic abilities, and you want to put them into action.”
“They basically turned the tide at the battle in Ammaas,” he interjected.
She decided to let that one go. “I’m sure you’ll have plenty of opportunity to strike fear into your enemies’ hearts with your flaming sword, but we’re going take care of this the most efficient way possible.”
He gave a brisk nod. “Understood.”
Abbey turned back toward the foredeck, pleased at how well he’d taken the decision. The Olaf of just a few months ago would have argued his point, and probably challenged her to a fight over it, too. He’d come a long way, though it had helped that every time they did fight she knocked him on his ass.
As she reached the bow, she slowed her pace. She’d learned not to surprise Dustin when he was stormcalling. The task took total concentration, and surprising him—especially before a battle—could throw him off his game.
She spoke in a soft but confident voice. “Hey, Dustin, what are you up to this fine day?”
He sounded a little distracted when he answered, the way he always did when he was stormcalling. “Not much. Sailing on a stormship. Catching some sun. Hunting Storm Raiders. The usual Tuesday stuff.” His voice grew more serious. “These idiots are showing us their portside. Nice big target. I think it’s time to stop chasing and start playing rough.”
“You know I like it when you talk that way.” Abbey crossed her arms, settling in to watch the show.
“Careful,” Dustin said distractedly. “Elliot will get jealous.”
Abbey didn’t think that was very likely. Things had remained frustratingly platonic between them since their return to Holdgate, despite every sailor on the ship knowing there was a mutual attraction there. It was starting to annoy Abbey. “Let’s stay focused on the battle and leave my love life alone for the moment.”
Dustin grinned. “What love life?”
Without another word, he closed his eyes and tightened his grip on his staff. Almost immediately dark clouds appeared over Tempest Chaser, and the air grew thick with electricity. A lightning bolt crashed down, striking the mast of the stormship. It was quickly followed by a second. Then a third.
Abbey let out a soft whistle. “Looks like all your practice is paying off.”
Not long ago Dustin had considered calling lightning his weakness in storm magic, but he’d made a point of changing that. The mast of Tempest Chaser was in flames.
He opened his bluish-green eyes and nodded toward the other ship. “Hey, what do you say I bring us in close? I’ll bet the crew would love the chance to finish these idiots off personally.”
Abbey frowned. “Olaf got to you, didn’t he?”
Dustin couldn’t hide his smiled. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Abbey just shook her head and told her crew to prepare for battle.
That’s it for this snippet. See you in a couple days for number three.