Friday, September 2, 2011

“Gods, what was that thing?” – A Novella Excerpt

An excerpt from Tisarian’s Treasure for your reading pleasure:

…Marshall had been continuing to scream as he was tossed about, but all at once, with a grotesque cracking noise, he warped into a red nightmare. Blood and gore showered the Albiyan, yet he managed to shear off one of the creature’s forelimbs before it submerged with what remained of Boatswain Marshall. In the water to his knees, Hamish took one last thrust at where he thought the beast might be lurking just beneath the surface. Stabbing nothing, he growled and spouted a litany of curses in his native tongue.

Meanwhile, I searched for Katalin and found her standing alone on a moss-covered rise. She met my horrified gaze with a sad one of her own.

Don’t let the boatswain near the water...

“Where’s bloody Teag?” Hamish rapped out fiercely. He rushed toward us, claymore in hand, and a feral gleam yet in his eyes.

Oberon Teag had evidently decided to make the most of Marshall’s death by fleeing into the jungle.

“There.” Katalin pointed. “He ran that way.”

“Wait!” yelled Lieutenant Hensley, but the Albiyan was already dashing off into the trees. The first mate turned to me and said imploringly, “We can’t abandon the captain,” as if he thought I, too, was planning to give chase—which I most assuredly was not; though, I didn’t relish staying near the monster in the lagoon either, lest it decided to surface again.

“No, of course not,” I said, and strode over to where he and Dominy stood. I peered back at Katalin just as Hensley spoke again: “M’lady, please, come away from the water.”

“As you please, Lieutenant,” she said slowly.

“Gods, what was that...that thing?” asked Dominy, his eyes still wide with fright.

“Not for sure, lad,” Hensley answered, “but I’ve seen the like years ago on the Galleon Coast; all kinds of giant crabs and insects and other mutations. No way for a man to go. Poor Marshall. It’s no way at all. May he rest in the morning tide with his lady love.”

We stood quietly for several long breaths, a sullen mist rising in the sweltering heat as the tropical forest darkened. I felt the eyes again, and soon a commotion in the jungle drew up our heads. Something moved toward us through the underbrush.

Katalin looked at the ground beneath long-lashed drooping lids. She reached out and took my hand. Her words came fraught with a menace that stole my next breath: “They are here.”

A crowd of shadows moved in the jungle, and Hamish stepped into view at the fore, his taut, suffused face set in a grim mask. Behind him came Thadieus Drake, tall and wide-shouldered, a crimson bandanna tied beneath his cocked hat, the brim of which partially shaded his grizzled face, yet not quite enough to hide those protean eyes, sometimes blue, sometimes gray, sometimes green, always deep-set and beaming. A broadsword with a gold basket-hilt hung in a scroll-worked baldric at his waist, and two burgundy gold-chased pistols were housed in a cross belt over his ruffled silk tunic. He bore another pair of black silver-chased pistols, one cocked in each hand, pointing them at the Albiyan’s broad back. Upon seeing us, his black-whiskered lips imparted a feral grin like that of a hungry leopard’s. He swiveled one pistol in our direction.

“Ho, what fortune!” the pirate captain greeted us in his off-putting, self-possessed baritone. “Doubly so that we should renew our acquaintance, good Doctor.” Then Drake smiled at Katalin. “Ah, an’ a flower of womanhood, as well? Truly, the gods are fine.”

He moved into the clearing, prodding Hamish ahead of him with a pistol barrel. The dimness of the jungle had grown thicker, the sky above no longer blue but the color of slate, gray and heavy. From the darkness of the undergrowth, more men came into view, some nine or ten of them, with Oberon Teag among their numbers. Pirates, they were, every steely eyed one, with metallic rings in their ears, noses, some even their lips, and armed to the teeth with blades and pistol butts of every sort, their very bearing threatening murder.

Tisarian’s Treasure is available right now in ebook format for 99 paltry pennies at:

Print version forthcoming on I’ll announce it here. You can order the print version on the CreateSpace store if you’d rather not wait for Amazon to go live.

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