Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"The Blessed and The Damned" by A.R. Williams (Novelette)

Genre:  Dark Fantasy

Type of Short Story:  Novelette

Summary:  When her twin sister kidnaps her daughter, Lorna Jassan must return to Kuwar in order to find them. Her mission forces her to seek help from Weslin, a man she never wanted to see again. In the midst of her search, Lorna must keep a sixteen-year-old secret hidden, but the city has secrets of its own. Can Lorna unravel them in time to rescue her daughter and escape?

Lorna Jassan forgot how the fog smelled of ash and bone. It hung over the bay, thick and heavy, dampening all sound except the gentle lapping of waves against the Virgin Saint's hull. Nearby, she could make out other ships in the mist. They bobbed like shadows on the waves. Fog lanterns glowed orange-yellow on their decks then disappeared as the ships passed, the soft tinkle of bells, fore and aft, the only hint that they were close and danger near.

"Captain, please prepare me a boat. I'm ready to depart the ship," Lorna said.

"Impatient, impractical woman. Do you not listen? There are dangers in the fog," Captain Baraheri said, disturbing the silence that surrounded them. He wore his dark hair in the religious knot of his people and a multi-colored chapan cinched around his waist with a maroon belt. He looked at her, sadness etched on his face. "I too have children and understand your plight, but this is madness."

"I will wait no longer," Lorna said. "My daughter is out there, lost and alone. The goddesses only know what she is going through."

Sheridan, her man-at-arms, pulled thoughtfully on his grey-white mustache and leaned against a rail. He said nothing to choose either side, but waited for the issue to be resolved. He reminded Lorna of one of her father's mastiffs: old, tough, reliable. She suspected he was enjoying the debate.

"There are many mysteries in the fog," Baraheri said. "I have seen ghosts emerge from thin air and take a man's life. I have witnessed brave men lose their minds and their courage due to the horrors of that city. They are a fierce people, suspicious of outsiders."

"Ghost?" Sheridan asked in disbelief. "We are paladins of the Three Sisters; you can do better than try to frighten us with tales of ghost, sir?"

Captain Baraheri scratched at his beard. He glanced at Sheridan, then back at Lorna. "There are many swords in Kuwar. Twice as many daggers. Even the Iskartaya have blades." He noted Sheridan with a slight nod of his head. "In a city of five hundred thousand, two is not an imposing number. Your gods cannot protect you; even they are outnumbered by the gods of Kuwar."

"I will pay for a boat," Lorna said. She extended her hand to give him a satchel of coins.

Captain Baraheri looked at her as though she offered him a snake. He raised his hands in rejection. "Only a fool accepts money from the unfortunate." He shook his head in disgust, braced his hands against the rail and looked out into the fog. "I will give you a boat," he whispered.

Buy this story on Amazon or B&N.

No comments:

Post a Comment