Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 3, Chapter 3

III

 

The group rushed out of the sanctuary and down to the small rocky beach where their boat was waiting. It bobbed up and down as they jumped in. Papi and Melisande climbed in while Morgan and Baltazar pushed the boat back out.

Once it was safely in the water, the two men hopped in and manned the ores. They put their backs into rowing and within minutes came up alongside the Black Vengeance. Smoke was still pouring from the cannon that had been fired.

Baltazar helped Melisande onto the deck. Morgan and Papi followed close behind them. The rest of the crew quickly tied up the boat and, using the attached pulley’s, brought it out of the water.

Baltazar turned away from Melisande and walked over to the bow where Gilles was standing, “What’s going on?”

“Sorry to cut the trip short sir,” Gilles replied, holding up a spyglass, “but we’ve spotted a sail on the horizon.”

“Spanish?” Baltazar asked.

Gilles shrugged, “I don’t know, Captain, she’s not close enough to tell.”

Baltazar took the spyglass from Gilles, “Where away?”

“Two points to port.” Gilles replied.

Melisande joined him on deck as he scanned the horizon. Through the looking glass, he saw the massive flag on the back. It was blue with a gold fleur-de-lis in the middle.

Baltazar shook his head, “Not Spanish, they look to be French.”

Papi nodded, “No doubt dispatched by King Henry to investigate what happened to Mont Saint Michel.”

“Probably.” Baltazar agreed as he examined the ship. “They got here pretty fast though…”

He strained his eye to pick out what he could, “I’m seeing two really large lateen sails… ores… and a massive ram up front.”

He lowered the spyglass from his now-wide eyes, “It’s a galleass… and it’s heavily armed.”

“Great,” Papi sighed, “and here we are, a pirate ship with her guns loaded.”

“And the French be known for shooting first and investigating later,” Morgan added.

Baltazar nodded, “No doubt they’ve seen us… and even less doubt they’re thinking exactly what Papi is.”

“But we didn’t do this!” Melisande insisted.

“Try explaining that to their guns,” Baltazar replied.

“I figure we’ve got an hour before they be in gun range.” Morgan said, watching the ship.

“Less than that I think.” Baltazar replied as he turned back to his crew. “Weigh anchor, hands to the braces, I want full sail in ten minutes!”

He then turned to Gilles, “Take the helm, steer us a course west.”

“Aye sir.” Gilles said as he turned and headed for the helm.

The crew scattered to bring down the sails and get the Black Vengeance moving. Papi disappeared below deck to one of the cannon positions. Within ten minutes, the ship was moving away from Mont Saint Michel.

Baltazar kept his spyglass trained on the French warship as she approached. Melisande and Morgan stood on either side of him. The ship drew closer and came into view of the rest of the crew. To their horror, it changed course, moving away from Mont Saint Michel, towards the Black Vengeance. Morgan shook his head, “Captain, they’re coming about! It looks like they want us.”

“I don’t believe it,” Melisande said in shock, “they’re not even stopping to render aid to the abbey? There could still be people in there who need help!”

“Like I said,” Baltazar replied, “shoot first, investigate later.”

Morgan watched as the ship turned, “That thing has us completely outclassed. She be faster and far more heavily armed.”

“And her crew numbers in the hundreds,” Baltazar added.

He could hear Melisande begin breathing rapidly, “What are we going to do, how can we outrun something like that?”

Baltazar smiled, “Fear not, that ship may have us in terms of speed, but we have two advantages.”

“And what be those, Captain?” Morgan asked.

“Galleasses are famous for their top speeds, but they can only hold those for as long as their men can row, after that, they are completely reliant on those small sails.” Baltazar replied.

“What does that mean?” Melisande asked.

Baltazar turned to her, “It means that while they may be faster, we can cruise at our top speed much longer than that ship can. Also, the design and sheer size of that ship makes it difficult to maneuver. We can turn a lot quicker then she can, we’ll lose them.”

*

Aboard the galleass, the captain watched through his own spyglass as the Black Vengeance got underway. He lowered the spyglass with an angry look on his face, and turned to his mate, “Bring our guest up on deck.”

The man nodded, “Oui mon capitaine.”

The man immediately disappeared below deck. A moment later he returned with Jaspart, who looked like he was trying to dry off. The captain smiled, “Ah Monsieur Jaspart, how good of you to join us. It would appear you were correct about the pirate attack on our abbey.”

“Captain Jaspart…” He replied in an annoyed tone. “Those pirates stole my ship. I overheard them talking about ransacking the abbey. It looks like we got here too late.”

“Truly a shame,” the captain replied, “It seems your information was of little use. You best have something more valuable to keep you from being chained to one of my oars.”

Jaspart sighed, “I already told you, my letter of marquis is on that ship. We need to take it for me to show you, but it is authentic.”

“Not good enough Monsieur,” the captain sneered, “I am not fool enough to trust the word of a pirate.”

Jaspart nodded, “Then how about this, I know the ship and I know Captain La Fuente’s tactics. If you ever hope to keep on her trail, you’ll need my help.”

“For now.” the captain replied as he turned back to his mate. “Give me flank speed!”

“Oui mon capitaine.” The mate replied as he turned to the drummer keeping the rowing beat. “Flank speed!”

**

As the Black Vengeance pulled away from Mont Saint Michel, the French galleass became larger in the distance. Baltazar moved to the back of the ship with Melisande close on his heels. He leaned over the starboard side, extended the spyglass, and peered through it at the galleass again, “They’re gaining on us… from the looks of their ores, it looks like their Captain has ordered all ahead, flank speed. Fool… he won’t be able to maintain that for very long.”

Melisande watched as the ship got closer, “What is that spike on the bow?”

“That would be the ram.” He replied. “You want to steer clear of that, any ship that thing hits is doomed no matter what.”

“And right now it’s pointed at us.” Melisande said fearfully.

Baltazar sighed, “A few hours ago, you asked me to trust you. Well now I’m asking you for that same courtesy. Trust me, we can hold our speed a lot longer than they can hold theirs. We will lose them, I promise you.”

Melisande turned to face Baltazar with a confident look in her eyes, “I trust you Baltazar… more then you know.”

Baltazar smiled as he turned back to look at galleass again. He was about to look through the spyglass when he heard a loud boom, “Everyone hold on!”

Two cannonballs flew towards them and hit the water on either side of the Black Vengeance’s aft castle. Melisande gripped the railing hard, “We’re in gun range!”

“No we’re not,” Baltazar replied, “they’re just trying to scare us. Those shots would have just barely grazed the back of the ship. They’re pot shots.”

He turned to Gilles and nodded, “Keep us steady on, as long as we have the wind, we’ll be fine.”

Gilles nodded as Baltazar then turned to Morgan, “Let’s show these Frenchmen that they aren’t the only ones with cannons that fire straight, run up the aft cannons with a double charge of powder!”

Morgan nodded as he disappeared below deck, “Aye sir, we’ll give em what’s for!”

Within minutes, small ports opened up on either side of the rudder. Long but narrow cannons poked through the holes as the crew worked to get them ready. Baltazar waited for the signal to come as kept his eyes on the approaching galleass.

Finally, the signal came, “Guns reporting ready sir!”

Baltazar nodded, “High elevation, I want them knowing we have range on ours too!”

He waited a few moments as he calculated the distance in his head. He wanted thier shots to be a close call, at least. Melisande watched and waited. Then out of nowhere, Baltazar hollared down to the gun deck, “Fire!”

The deck shook as the two cannons unleashed their ammo. A pair of cannonballs shot through the air towards their target. The first one passed over the galleass’s deck and blew a hole in the forward lateen, while the second one hit the iron ram on the front with a loud clank.

Baltazar went wide eyed, “Wow, expert shooting men, that should rattle their cages a little.”

Melisande smiled for a moment before two more shots came from the galleass’s guns. The first missed completely while the second passed dangerously close to the Black Vengeance’s rudder. Gilles shook his head, “That… was too close. If they knock out our rudder, it’s all over for us.”

Baltazar didn’t respond. Instead he kept his eyes trained on the galleass and waited. Finally, the moment he was counting on had come. The oars began to slow down.

Baltazar cried out in an excited tone, “We got them, they’re slowing down!”

Cheers echoed all over the ship as the French galleass began to shrink into the distance. Melisande joined in the celebration, “You’re incredible!”

Morgan smiled, “Of course he is! He be Captain La Fuente! There be not another captain like him!”

Melisande nodded, “I’m actually beginning to believe that. As unbelievable as that is.”

Baltazar shook his head, “It’s not over yet. We’ll gain some distance, but we won’t lose them, not quickly anyway.”

“So what do we do?” Melisande asked.

“We wait.” Baltazar replied. “For now we’ll hold our course, and hopefully we’ll lose them long enough to change direction.”

He lowered the spyglass and turned to Melisande, “The question is, to where? Where are we going?”

Melisande reached into her blouse and pulled out the piece of parchment that was given to her by Sister Mary. She opened it and looked at what was written. Her eyes narrowed and a look of confusion came over her.

Baltazar placed the spyglass down on the table and stood next to her, “What does it say?”

Melisande shook her head, “It’s just a list of names… Venice, the Night Island, and…”

She paused for a moment, staring at the piece of paper. Baltazar’s eyes widened slight out of curiosity, “What is it?”

She looked up at him, “I… I can’t explain how… but this last name sounds familiar to me…”

“What name,” he asked.

Her eyes darted back and forth between the parchment and Baltazar, “Patrisi…”

“Patrisi,” Gilles asked, “who is that?”

“It sounds more like a family name than a person.” Baltazar replied. “Melisande, could that be your family?”

Melisande thought about it for a moment, “It’s possible I guess. The name is familiar to me, but I don’t understand why.”

“So it be Venetia then?” Morgan called out. “It seems like that’s where parchment says to go.”

Baltazar shook his head, “We can’t go anywhere until we lose that galleass nipping at our heels. Mr. Gilles, hold your course for now.”

Gilles nodded, “Aye sir.”

Melisande moved to the port side and watched the galleass as it did the best it could to keep pace with the Black Vengeance. She closed her eyes, crossed herself and clasped her hands together, “Lord God Almighty, watch over us, please. You have guided me this far, don’t let our story end here.”

She stood on the deck in complete silence for a few moments, waiting for something to happen, but nothing did. Tears formed as she closed her eyes. She felt the wind blow through her hair and caress her skin which only provided her limited comfort.

Suddenly, Melisande felt an odd surge of power flow through her body. Her eyes snapped open, revealing her pupils were once again glowing bright blue. She kept her back turned to the crew, trying to hide whatever was happening to her. Her eyes always seemed to have an unusual glow about them, but they were never this bright. As she hid herself, she heard a startled voice appear behind her.

Gilles pointed towards the bow, “Captain, look!”

Baltazar turned to face the bow. Right in front of them was a thick wall of fog. Baltazar scratched his head, “I don’t get it, the sun is shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, where did this come from?”

Gilles held the wheel steady, “Orders sir?”

“Steady as she goes, Gilles.” Baltazar replied. “Get us into that fog.”

Gilles nodded, “Aye sir.”

Visibility in front of the Black Vengeance faded down to nothing as they passed into the thick cloud. Baltazar nodded, “This is exactly the good fortune I was waiting for.”

With a smile, Baltazar put a hand on the wheel, “Gilles, hold us steady for another hour. Then, if the fog holds out, steer us thirty degrees to port and bring us to a course south, southwest.”

“You got it Captain,” Gilles replied.

Baltazar gave Gilles a confident nod as he turned to see Papi reappear on deck, “Ah, Mr. Clement, it seems we have a need to sail for the Republic of Venice. I need to know if we have enough supplies for a weeklong voyage.”

“Aye, Captain.” Papi replied as he once again disappeared into the hold.

Morgan looked nervously at Baltazar, “I suggest caution sailing through those waters, Captain. Political unrest be the norm in that region these past years according to the latest news. We don’t want to end up in the middle of a warzone.”

“No we don’t,” Baltazar agreed, “but the Venetians have a firm grasp on the region for the time being. I’d be more worried about us coming under fire from that barge behind us.”

“Ye really think we have a chance at outrunning it?” Morgan asked.

“Aye, definitely.” Baltazar replied with confidence. “With this thick fog, give it an hour, and we’ll never be standing in their shadow again.”



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

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I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

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Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 3, Chapter 2

II

 

Another day passed as the ship sailed for Mont Saint Michel. The morning watch reported seeing smoke on the horizon as the sun rose the next morning. One of the men shook Baltazar out of his bunk to wake him.

Baltazar rubbed his eyes as he looked up, “What is it man?”

“Sorry Captain,” the young scout replied, “but we’ve sighted smoke coming from the direction of the abbey.”

Baltazar shot out of his bunk and stood up, “Where away?”

“Two points off the starboard bow.” He replied.

Baltazar grabbed his spyglass and peered out on the horizon. He couldn’t see what was causing the smoke in the distance, but feared the worst. After lowering the spyglass, Baltazar looked at the coastline they were passing, “That’s coming from Mont Saint Michel… no doubt about it…”

The scout turned to him, “Sir would someone be so… ruthless as to attack an abbey?”

“Why not?” Baltazar replied. “It wouldn’t be the first time… Plus it’s a very defenisble fortress, even with low numbers. Still, let’s not jump to conclusions; we don’t know that’s what happened.”

“It looks like an attack to me.” The scout insisted. “Why else would it be smoking so much?”

Baltazar thought about it for a few moments and nodded, “Okay… all hands on deck, man the guns.”

The scout nodded, “Aye aye sir.”

He quickly ran to the ships bell, and started ringing it loudly, “All hands, on deck, everyone to the guns!”

The sound of the bell roused the crew and they rushed to get on deck. Baltazar took the helm, “Gilles, go get Melisande.”

Gilles released the wheel and saluted, “Aye sir.”

The rest of the crew got on deck quickly as Baltazar began issuing orders, “All hands, run up the guns! Five minutes, I want them ready to fire!”

Gilles disappeared below deck and made it to the galley where Melisande was finishing up her duties. She looked up to see Gilles rush through the door, “Gilles, what’s wrong?”

Gilles looked at her seriously, “You need to come with me right now.”

“Why what is it?” She asked nervously. “Are we under attack?”

“Our scouts sighted smoke over Mont Saint Michel.” Gilles replied. “It looks like there may have been a fight there.”

Melisande gasped, “What, who would attack an abbey?”

“I don’t know,” Gilles replied, “but we be going to find out, let’s go.”

Melisande nodded and followed Gilles up to the main deck. The morning sun brightened her eyes as she finished climbing the steps. Gilles pointed out to the horizon, indicating where Melisande should look.

Melisande squinted to see what was going on. Sure enough, she saw smoke coming from the coastline on the horizon, “No…”

Gilles watched her eyes as she peered into the horizon, “Is it…?”

“Yes,” she nodded, “it’s the abbey.”

Within minutes the ship was battle-ready as the burning abbey grew larger on the horizon. It took them another hour to get close enough, but it was evident long before they were close enough to go ashore that this had been the site of a vicious battle.

As the ship neared the massive castle, they could see large burn marks, blast holes, and flames spewing from the stone. An ominous feeling came over the crew as they beheld what should not have been possible. Mont Saint Michel was high enough to be protected from a sea attack, and easily defensible from land.

When they reached the bay Baltazar turned to his men, “Drop anchor here, we’ll have to take the longboat in.”

“That’s a little far, Captain.” Gilles replied. “It’ll take us a while to reach the abbey.”

“What other choice do we have?” Baltazar asked.

“We can keep going.” Melisande interrupted. “The tide is in, the water should be deep enough.”

Baltazar went wide eyed as he looked at her, “Are you insane? We have no way of knowing if it is deep enough. We could wind up running aground.”

She turned to him with a pleading look in her eyes, “Please, you have to trust me!”

Baltazar paused for a moment and looked at his men as they worked. Finally, he shrugged, “Steady as she goes, helm.”

Gilles nodded, “Aye sir.”

Baltazar then turned to Morgan, “Get the longboat ready and standby to lower away.”

“Aye.” Morgan replied.

“Pull in the sails.” Baltazar yelled. “Let the tide bring us in.”

The crew did as they were told and slowly, the Black Vengeance moved in closer to Mont Saint Michel. The ship glided through the water as the castle got bigger. Suddenly, there was a loud scraping noise that rocked the deck slightly. It gave everyone a jump and then stopped.

Melisande turned to Morgan, “What happened?”

“Figure we scrapped a reef.” He replied. “Don’t think it be a good idea to take this much further.”

Melisande nodded, “Just a little more…”

She noticed Baltazar looking at her with concern and glared at him, “Trust me!”

Baltazar turned away, “Helm, five more minutes, then bring us about, hard to starboard and drop anchor.”

“Aye sir,” Gilles responded.

At hearing his orders, Melisande smiled at him before turning and watching the shore. Gilles counted five minutes before pulling the helm over to starboard. Once he did, the ship slowly turned. Gilles held the Black Vengeance at starboard until the bow faced out to sea. The moment that he was certain she was in the right position, he called to the men at the bow, “Drop anchor!”

The anchors on both sides of the ship fell beneath the waves. Within moments, a loud thud indicated that the anchors had impacted on the seabed. The crewmen locked the ropes in place and turned back to Baltazar, “The ship be secure Captain, but I don’t think she can stay here long. We didn’t have to let off much slack!”

“Any idea how much space we have?” Baltazar asked.

The crewman shrugged, “A few feet between us, maybe?”

Baltazar nodded, “We’ll need to make this quick then, lower the longboat.”

Three men worked on getting the launch into the water. Morgan sat in the boat and kept her steady as she touched the water. Papi came up on the deck just as the crew was preparing the longboat.

Baltazar turned to him, “Ah, Mr. Clement, I was about to come and get you. We’re going ashore and I need you to accompany me. With the exception Mel, you know more about the abbey then the rest of us.”

“Understood.” Papi replied.

One by one Papi, Baltazar, and Melisande joined Morgan in the longboat. Baltazar was the last one to climb down. As he made his way over the side, he called out to the men on deck, “Gilles, you’re in command until I get back. Keep her battle ready, I don’t want whatever did this getting a jump on us.”

“You got it, Captain,” Gilles replied, “no problem.”

Melisande took the front of the boat with Papi astern. Morgan and Baltazar manned the ores and rowed towards the small beach located off to the side of the massive walls. As they drew closer, Papi looked up at the high towers, “My God, they took a lot of hits…”

“Aye.” Baltazar replied. “What’s odd is that any weapon that could reach those towers would be slow moving. It should still be in the area… but theres nothing.”

Morgan shook his head, “That be because there ain’t one. Everyone be thinking it, I’m just saying it; no human weapon did this.”

“Then what could it have been,” Melisande asked, “and why?”

Baltazar sucked in a deep breath, he didn’t want to say it, but he had a feeling that he knew what they were after. It’s you they were looking for, Mel. It’s the only explanation.

As the boat pulled up on the rocks, Morgan pulled a box out from under one of the seating positions and opened it. Inside was a pair of pistols, loaded, and ready for use. Baltazar grabbed one while Morgan grabbed the other. They also drew their swords as they jumped out of the boat. The two men’s boots hit the water as Melisande’s feet touched dry land. Papi followed his shipmates out of the boat as they made their way to Mont Saint Michel.

The group made their way up the side of the hill where there was no wall. It was a steep incline and they had to help each other climb at different points to prevent a fall, but eventually, they made it to the abbey walls. From there, they made their way around to the entrance. Walking along the walls, they could see the extent of the damage and some of the rubble that had fallen as a result.

Once they reached the entrance to the main sanctuary the group saw a guard still alive, but only barely. He was shaking in terror and continuously repeated the same words over and over again, “Guards, remain at your posts… hold your ground, hold your ground!”

Baltazar knelt down next to him, “Soldier, it’s okay, the fighting is over.”

The man stopped shaking and looked over at Baltazar. There was a sense of lifelessness in his eyes as though whatever he had seen had ripped the soul from his body before it had a chance to die. Baltazar placed a hand on the man’s shoulder, “What happened here, who did this?”

The guard’s breathing increased and he began shaking again, “Winged beasts… Foul creatures… not human…”

The three men turned and looked at Melisande. She had a look of terror in her eyes. Baltazar stood as the guard closed his eyes and felt limp, “Melisande…”

“Before you say anything,” she interrupted, “I don’t know what he’s talking about. I’ve never seen winged creatures before!”

“We have,” Morgan chimed in, “ye…”

She turned and glared at him, “What are you saying? Do you think I had something to do with this? These people cared for me since I was a child! You think I’d hurt them?”

“Not at all,” Baltazar assured her, “but not so long ago you unleashed inhuman powers on our enemies. At that moment, white wings appeared on your back. It can’t be a coincidence that similar creatures suddenly attack your old home.”

Melisande stepped back, “My God… you’re right… could this be my fault? I am responsible for the deaths of these innocent people?”

“That’s preposterous.” Papi replied. “Put that thought out of your head. You could not have foreseen this, nor could you have prevented it. Had you been here, you’d most likely be dead now too!”

Melisande shook her head, “I only wish that weren’t so hard for me to believe.”

Tears formed in her eyes as she looked at the bodies of guards and monks littering the castle grounds. Baltazar stepped forward with a sympathetic look, “Are you ok?”

“I know most of these people.” She replied. “They were my friends and the only family I ever really had… These guards… they taught me how to fight and let me escape for a few hours every now and then.”

Baltazar hugged Melisande, trying to comfort her as much as he could, “I am sorry for you. I know this must be very difficult.”

“It’s impossible,” she replied as she buried her head in his chest, “let’s just find what we came here for and leave… I don’t know how much more of this I can stand.”

Baltazar nodded, “All right then, let’s go.”

He led the way with Melisande under one arm and his sword pointed ahead. Morgan picked up the rear as they entered the gates to the main sanctuary. It looked as though large explosions of some kind had rocked the once beautiful garden. Large craters had ripped into the flower beds and trees.

Melisande shook her head, “I used to tend to these, I was so proud of them when they came into full bloom. I was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I even saw Sister Mary admiring them from time to time.”

Morgan looked for a moment, “They must’ve been nice. Ye be meticulous when it comes to injuries, can’t even fathom what they would have looked like.”

They continued moving until they entered the first hall. There, in the middle of the room lay small group of nuns. Papi shook his head with a sad look, “They didn’t even show mercy to the sisters… No one was spared…”

Melisande turned to Papi, “Help me, we need to see if one of these is Sister Mary.”

Suddenly, there was movement behind her and a faint whisper. She turned around to see one of the sisters was still alive. Melisande turned and dropped to her knees, “Baltazar, help me, hurry!”

Baltazar moved over to the other side of the sister and kneeled down. Gently, he turned the woman on her back and rested her head on his knee. Melisande moved the hood covering her head to see her face. She covered her mouth when she saw who it was, “Sister Mary!”

The elderly women opened her eyes slightly, “Little Melisande… you’ve returned. I feared the worst when you disappeared.”

“Please forgive me sister,” she replied, “I’m so sorry I worried you…”

Sister Mary weakly shook her head, “You had to find your own way… I watched over you for as long as I could. Your desire for adventure was too strong… I knew it was only a matter of time.”

“Sister, what happened here,” Baltazar asked.

Her eyes turned to face Baltazar, “You… are her protector now?”

Baltazar looked up at Melisande. Her glowing eyes met his and waited anxiously as though she was also curious to hear what his answer would be. Baltazar turned back to the sister and nodded, “Aye, that’s why I’m here.”

Sister Mary pushed against him a little to move her head. She looked up at him and studied his features, “You have a very kind face. You must protect her well, she is important… not just to us, but to the survival of all.”

“What are you talking about Sister?” She asked. “How can I be so important? You told me that I was just a foolish girl.”

“There is more to you then even you know.” Sister Mary responded. “You must find it… the power within yourself… or all of humanity will suffer the same fate.”

“Sister, who did this?” Papi demanded.

She looked up at him, “Demonic creatures… and the one that is many… They are looking for Melisande… but they mustn’t find her.”

Melisande backed away, scared, “Why, why are they after me?”

“Because of who you are.” Sister Mary responded, “Difficult trials lie ahead for you. If you are to survive… you must find the answers…”

Melisande shook her head, “I’m not ready for this, Sister… I don’t want to live like that!”

“You don’t have a choice.” She replied. “We all have a purpose, and this is yours. I’m sorry that such a huge burden has been placed on your shoulders… but such things are not for me to decide.”

“But where do I go from here?” Melisande asked.

Sister Mary reached under her robes and pulled out a small piece of parchment, “Take this… use the information to find the answers, only then will you be able to save us all.”

She handed the parchment to Melisande as her hand fell limp. Melisande took it, but then looked back at the sister, “Sister… Mary, please… who am I?”

The old woman coughed a few times, “You are… you… That is all I can say… you must witness the answers for yourself… for them to make any sense… only then can you decide who you are.”

Her eyes closed and she let out one final breathe. Melisande closed her eyes and placed a hand on Sister Mary’s chest, “Sister… I am so sorry…”

Baltazar placed her body carefully on the ground and crossed himself, “Rest in peace sister. Do not worry; Melisande is in my care now. In nomine Patris, ET Fili, ET Spiritus Sancti, amen.”

Melisande wept as she knelt next to Sister Mary’s body. Baltazar placed his hands on her arms and guided Melisande to her feet. She buried her face in his chest unable to hold back her grief any longer. Her heart felt as though a million needles had just simultaneously pierced it. I should never have left. She thought to herself. This is my fault…

Baltazar closed his eyes as he wrapped his arms around her, “I’m so sorry, Melisande, I wish that there were something I could do to change this…”

“She was my caretaker.” Melisande responded through tears. “She didn’t choose to take care of me, anymore then I would have chosen her… but no matter how badly I misbehaved, she never complained and never gave up on me.”

“Sometimes it be hard.” Morgan said. “Ye never understand how much ye loved someone til they be gone.”

“Truth,” Papi agreed, “as plain as any.”

“We need to get out of here.” Melisande said pleadingly. “Whatever attacked this place was looking for me, and they might still be in the area.”

“Aye,” Morgan agreed, “that be true. We best be shoving off.”

“Are you okay to walk?” Baltazar asked as he released Melisande.

She nodded, “I’m shaken up, but I can still move. I’ll be fine… physically speaking.”

The four shipmates ran out of the hall and into the sanctuary. Suddenly, they heard what sounded like a single cannon firing off in the distance. Melisande jumped at the sound, “They’re back, we’re under attack!”

“I don’t think so.” Baltazar responded in a slightly more calm tone. “That shot sounded like it was only a half charge of powder, not enough to fire at anything.”

Morgan came up behind them, “That shot came from the direction of the Black Vengeance, Captain. It most likely be a signal.”

Baltazar nodded, “To the boat!”

As they turned to leave, Melisande took one last look at Sister Mary and shook her head, “I’m sorry…”

Baltazar grabbed her arm and gave her a gentle tug, “Melisande, please… we need to go, now.”

Melisande looked back at him and nodded, “I’m coming.”



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

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I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

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Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 3, Chapter 1

Book 3

As the Tides Change

I

Deep beneath the ground, in the fiery land of hell, an imp creature approached the entrance to the darkest cave in the Underworld. This cave was the only way to reach Lucifer’s castle by those not capable of flight. Even so, most creatures avoided it. The imp stopped at the entrance and peered in, “Master…”

There was a heavy moan as a black cloud of smoke appeared in front of it, “You had better have a good reason for awakening us!”

“I beg your forgiveness, Lord Legion,” the imp said nervously as he groveled before his master, “but we’ve found her.”

The creature took human form and opened red eyes, “It certainly took you long enough. Where is she?”

The imp lowered its eyes, “Our scouts located someone who matched the description of the girl… it was a young maid living in an abbey in the northern region of France, but we couldn’t be certain it was her. She was either unaware of her powers or unwilling to use them.”

“You begin to bore us, imp.” Legion growled. “Get to the point!”

“We couldn’t move on her until we were certain… that would surely have attracted the attention of the Most High… but surely you felt it, master?” The imp replied nervously. “There was a massive power spike in that region.”

“Yes…” Legion nodded. “Where is she now?”

“We don’t know my lord.” The imp said, stepping backwards. “I took the liberty of dispatching our scouts, but the area that they are supposedly located in is nothing but open ocean and wreckage… however we did find something that may be of interest.”

“And what’s that?” Legion asked.

The imp smiled, “Master, one of the souls that was present in the water spirit has come here. I recognized him almost immediately. I’ve brought him to you.”

The faint ghost stepped out of the shadows. It was in Jaspart’s form, but already looked as though his persona had been corrupted by the trappings of Hell. The spirit bowed to Legion, “Jaspart, at your service milord.”

Legion nodded, “Tell us, what did you see?”

Jaspart sighed, “Had I known, I might never have gone after that man. By what magic does an angel protect him and his crew?”

“You begin to annoy us.” Legion growled. “Tell us what you saw, or proceed to the pit where you belong.”

“Apologies milord…” Jaspart replied as he lowered his eyes. “We were in pursuit of a revolutionary against the crown of Spain. His name is Baltazar Del La Fuente. We had him beat. I had just cut down his first officer and was about to cut him down as well when that… that bitch suddenly appeared. I should have killed her when I had the chance in Granville. It was like she suddenly exploded with power and sent my men flying over the sides of two ships, but it didn’t seem to affect La Fuente’s men. Now I’m here and he has my ship!”

Legion nodded, “She possesses more power than you can ever know, but we need her alive. Did you see where their ship was heading?”

“My ship,” Jaspart replied strongly, resenting Legion’s words, “and I regret that I was already on my way here before the battle ended.”

“Then you are of no further use to us.” Legion hissed as her turned to the imp that was still standing to his side, “Take this condemned soul to his fate.”

The imp nodded and took a step toward the spirit. Jaspart backed away slightly, “No, milord. I can still help you! Please, hear me.”

Legion raised his hand, signaling the imp to stop as he turned back to Jaspart, “And what could you possibly offer us that’s worth saving you from your fate?”

“I know La Fuente.” Jaspart replied. “I’ve been his competition for years. I know his tactics and I know the man. He’s a scoundrel, but he lives by a code of honor. If you go after the girl, no doubt he’ll use everything he knows to protect her.”

“This is pointless,” the imp hissed, shaking its head, “if he tries to interfere, we’ll just kill him.”

Jaspart scoffed, “You think it’s that easy? La Fuente knows how to stay alive in the most dangerous of situations and knows how to weasel his way out of them. Don’t underestimate him.”

“So you would help us outwit him,” Legion mused, “and what would you want in return?”

“To be spared this judgment and allowed to return to my life,” Jaspart replied, “as well as a ship if possible.”

Legion nodded, “Very well, serve us well, and you will have a ship powerful enough to bring you riches beyond compare.”

“My liege,” Jaspart replied with a bow, “I am at your command. What is our plan?”

“We need more information about the girl, how much she knows, how she has lived, and where she’s going.” Legion thought out loud, as he turned back to the imp. “Let us pay a visit to this abbey where we know she’s been. If you find the girl matching her description there, bring her to us.”

A worried look came over the imp’s face, “My lord, won’t that attract the attention of Chiors of Angels?”

Legion nodded, “Probably, but they won’t be anticipating this. Their… leader… knows what I am and wouldn’t dare commit her forces against me unless they were assembled. She’ll cut her losses and assemble her people.”

The imp bowed, “Very well, if you’re certain. Thy will be done my lord.”

Before the creature vanished, Legion pointed an accusing finger at it, “You know the price of failure.”

As the imp disappeared, Jaspart looked at Legion with worry, “What job do you have for me, milord?”

Legion smiled, “Don’t worry; I have special plans for you, ones that involve the use of some of your countrymen.”

**

The crew watched as the ship slowly sank beneath the waves. Gilles stood next to Baltazar, “She was a good ship.”

Baltazar smiled, “With an excellent crew.”

“And the best captain.” Gilles added.

Baltazar shook his head, “If that were true, she wouldn’t be sinking.”

“Ah come on Captain,” Gilles replied, “Ye gave better then you got, and now ye’ve got a better ship.”

“Bigger isn’t always better. “Baltazar said softly. “The Specter was a much smaller target she could easily sneak into port without being noticed. She had a lot of advantages this one might not. So we’re going to need to adjust our strategy.”

“More noticeable perhaps,” Gilles replied, “but faster, better guns, and a stronger hull be a fair trade if ye were to ask me.”

Baltazar nodded, “Fair enough… by the way, have you figured out how this ship was able to repel our attacks so easily?”

“Aye,” Gilles said through a long breath, “but I still kind of find it hard to believe.”

Baltazar narrowed his eyes, “Explain.”

“Aye sir.” Gilles replied. “Most of the caravels built before a certain time were made to be cargo vessels, but this one… this one was built based on the design of the old cargo ships, but the skeleton of the ship is a sophisticated arrangement of crossed beams and a thick support frame. This ship was designed to be able to take a beating.”

“What are you saying?” Baltazar asked.

“She be a hunter-killer.” Gilles replied. “This ship be designed to lure in unsuspecting pirates and then blast them to bits before they know what they be dealing with.”

“Then why is it none of us have seen anything like this before?” Baltazar asked, getting very interested.

Gilles shrugged, “It’s only a guess, Captain, but I’d say the cost of building something so intricate be too high for those even with deeper pockets. I’d be guessing this be a test ship?”

“It makes sense.” Baltazar agreed.

“Excuse me Captain?” A voice appeared from behind.

Baltazar turned to see Morgan standing behind him, “What can I do for you Mr. Morgan?”

“Sir,” Morgan replied, “I be thinking someone is going to come looking for this here boat in no time. I was wondering what course we should set?”

Baltazar thought for a moment, “That’s not an easy question to answer… it basically comes down to what we want to do with the newest member of our family.”

“Aye,” Morgan agreed, “that’s exactly what I be thinking.”

Gilles looked over at Morgan, “What do ye think she be, Captain?”

Baltazar cut them off, “Let’s not start jumping to conclusions just yet. No one knows for certain what we saw.”

He put a hand on Gilles’ shoulder, “For now, you are first mate. Steer us a course west, northwest.”

Gilles nodded, “Aye aye sir.”

“Taking us back to Granville are ye?” Morgan asked.

“Not too far from there.” Baltazar replied. “The people at the abbey no doubt knew something we don’t. Why else would they confine her behind their walls for so many years?”

Baltazar thought about it for a moment. “Meet me in the galley in ten minutes. Gilles and Mr. Clement need to join us as well.”

Morgan saluted as he turned away, “Aye aye sir.”

Baltazar watched the last part of the Specter’s bow disappear below the surface, “Good bye old friend, and thank you.”

He sighed as he turned and headed for his new cabin in the aft castle. The wood working was far more intricate, as were the doors and windows. Baltazar pushed the cabin door opened and saw that Melisande was still sleeping. He sat down next to her and tried to fix her hair, “You saved my life… and that of my true family… I can never repay you for that.”

He let out a deep sigh, “But where ever your journey takes you, where ever you decide to go, I swear to you that you will have a friend in me until the end. I will see to it you find what you are looking for, honor demands no less.”

Baltazar covered her over with a blanket, rested her head on the pillow, and placed her swords next to the bed, “Rest well, you’ve earned it.”

He looked around the room while she slept, this is too much luxury for a sea captain. No wonder Jaspart was getting soft.

He looked down at her. She almost seemed to smile as she slept. There was a strange aura of serenity about her, almost as though she were projecting peaceful feelings throughout the room. Her golden hair gleamed from the sunlight as it came through the window. She’s very beautiful… I hope never to see her unhappy.

A knock came at the door as Baltazar stood up, “Yes?”

Morgan opened the door, “Beggin’ yer pardon, Captain, but the men be waiting for you in the galley.”

“Thank you Mr. Morgan, “Baltazar replied, “I’m coming.”

Morgan nodded, “Aye sir.”

Baltazar left Melisande to sleep and made his way down to the galley where Morgan, Giles, and Papi were waiting for him. The galley was a massive space intended for far more people than Baltazar had under his command. It was far more luxurious then anything they had on the Specter. So far, not many of the features aboard the Black Vengeance impressed him. He had a hard time deciding if this ship was a warship or a luxury yacht. Such things did not fit a respectable pirate.

The three men stood as their captain entered. Baltazar nodded, “Stand easy men.”

He then looked at Papi, “Ah, Mr. Clement, I’m sure it’s been an adjustment getting used to your new kitchen. So I am grateful that you’ve obeyed my orders so quickly.”

Papi nodded, “Sir, may I ask…?”

“No need,” Baltazar said in an assuring tone, “Melisande is fine. My guess is what ever happened, put a strain on her. She’s in the captain’s cabin, resting comfortably.”

“Thank you, sir.” Papi said with a sigh. “That is a relief.”

“Aye.” Morgan agreed. “Once again the girl probably saved our lives.”

Baltazar nodded, “No doubt about it, but the question is, what is she, and what do we do with her now?”

“We should send her back.” Papi replied. “The church obviously hid her for a reason. Please sir, allow me to take her home.”

Baltazar shook his head, “I respect your opinion and we are currently sailing for Mont St. Michel, but I will not just throw her over the side for no reason. She signed on as a member of the crew and she has as much right as any of us.”

Baltazar took in a deep breath as he continued, “Mr. Clement, you’ve known her longer than us, she calls you Papi, and she seems attached to you.”

“She’s like a daughter to me,” he replied, “but really, I don’t know any more than you do.”

“I be finding that impossible to believe.” Morgan said in an accusing tone. “What do ye think yer protecting her from by not telling us?”

Papi sighed, “Okay… I’m telling you the truth when I say I don’t know much, but what I do know is that she was brought to Mont Saint Michel’s as little more than a baby. The Orders were doing everything they could to get her as far away from her home as possible.”

“What were they trying to get her away from?” Baltazar asked.

“That,” Papi replied, “I… do not know, but they would not let her leave the abbey at all. She got so restless that she used to convince guards to let her sneak out. I remember how sad she would get being cooped up there. Everyone hated it… everyone. I always wondered what would happen if she asked me to smuggle her out. I don’t know that I would have refused.”

“Where did she come from?” Morgan asked.

“No one would tell me.” Papi admitted. “All I know is that she is not from this area, and judging by the accent her caretaker, Sister Mary, spoke with… I’d say she was probably from one of the lower kingdoms, possibly either Milan or Florence? Definitely somewhere in the old Papal Alliance.”

“That’s considering she even came from the same region.” Baltazar replied.

“Right exactly…” Papi admitted.

Baltazar looked as though he was in deep thought, “So we don’t know where she’s from…  but can we figure out what she is?”

Gilles looked up nervously, “In my short time at sea, this be the first time that my eyes have laid witness to anything like that. Could she be a witch?”

Papi glared at Gilles, “She spent most of her life in an abbey, where she brightened the locals’ spirits. When she got here, she started healing people after the battle. Even when she turned into… whatever that was, the only people she hurt were the ones attacking us. Does that sound like a witch or a demon to you?”

“Mr. Clement be right,” Morgan added, “she be no witch. Be I the only one who saw the wings appearing on her back?”

“Aye.” Baltazar said as the mental picture returned to him. “They felt like mist when I touched them.”

Papi turned to the captain, “Could she be some sort of an angel?”

“It makes sense…” Morgan replied.

“If that is the case,” Papi said softly, “no doubt she is unaware of her powers.”

“This is all conjecture.” Baltazar added, breaking the air. “We don’t know enough about what we’re dealing with to say one way or the other. Let’s focus on what we do know. This girl snuck out of the abbey after living there for most of her life. She is intelligent, well rounded, adept in the art of healing, and she posses some kind of supernatural powers.”

“Aye,” Morgan agreed, “that be the way of it.”

Baltazar thought about it for a moment, “So what do you men think? Send her back to the abbey, or keep her with us?”

Morgan scratched his beard, “Ye already know my feelings. I was the one who first wanted her off the boat, but she’s become a part of the crew. I be wantin her to stay with us.”

“I agree,” Gilles said, “I still owe her my life. I say she stays!”

Papi sighed, “At this point, I suppose voting to send her home would do little good. At least I’ll still be able to watch over her here.”

Baltazar nodded, “I think she has earned the right to choose, she saved all our lives. So if she decides to stay, we’ll welcome her.”

Gilles nodded, “Aye that be fair.”

“I agree,” Baltazar replied, “but for now, I’d also like to find out more about her, so we’ll hold our course for the abbey.”

Morgan narrowed his eyes, “Are ye wanting to take her on some quest to answer all these questions, Captain? Doubt there be much profit in that.”

“No probably not,” Baltazar nodded, “and I won’t force anyone to go on this journey with me.”

He stood up in front of the crewmen, “We have all agreed that she is a member of this family now. We all agreed that we do not care if she is an angel or a demon. Now I’m asking the three of you, if she decides to stay with us, will you help me repay everything she’s done for us? Every one of us at some point has needed help and the rest of the crew has been there. She’s entitled to the same treatment.”

Gilles stood up, “As I said before, I owe for more than the lot of ye. I’m onboard.”

“Hm…” Morgan thought for a moment. “There be plenty of times for plunder after she has the answers she needs. I be up for an adventure. Count me in.”

Papi smiled, “I’ve wanted to do this for years. Of course I’m in.”

“Alright, it’s settled then,” Baltazar agreed, “but we can’t do this without a crew. I suspect some of the men already had questions they wanted answered before we were attacked.”

He turned to Gilles, “Pipe all hands on deck in ten minutes. I’m going to let them know what’s going on.”

Gilles saluted, “Aye sir.”

The men filed out and made their way to their posts. Baltazar climbed up to the deck and went to his cabin. Once he was in front of the door, he placed his hand on the doorknob and paused for a moment. Am I doing the right thing keeping her here? He thought to himself.

Baltazar put his fears out of his head and opened the door. Melisande was still lying in bed unconscious. He sat down next to her and brushed the hair from her face, “You saved our lives…”

Baltazar had several ports of call out there and double the number of maidens that both hated his guts and loved him, but there was something different about this one. She was more beautiful than the others, but she had an almost mystic innocence about her. Perhaps it was for the best that she stayed aboard. Papi wouldn’t be around forever, so if possible, Baltazar would need to find some way to ensure that she was taken care of.

A knock on the door shattered his thoughts. He stood up and faced the door, “Enter.”

“Pardon the interruption sir.” Morgan said as he entered the room.

Baltazar nodded, “What is it?”

“By yer orders sir,” Morgan replied, “the men be assembled on the main deck and be waiting for ye.”

Baltazar stood up and moved towards the door, “Oh yes. Thank you.”

He followed Morgan out and moved to the quarter deck where he stood in front of his men. Baltazar looked over the rag tag bunch that he had come to call family. He began to wonder if anything was about to change with what he had to tell them.

Baltazar finally decided that there was no point in postponing the inevitable, and addressed his men, “Brave crewmen, you have all served loyally and without question. You have yet to refuse a single order or disappoint me in any way, and for that I am grateful. Because of that, I now feel the need to address some of the questions that have arisen over the last few days… My father is Philip II of Spain… the late king. I am a member of the Habsburg family.”

A voice from the crowd interrupted, “Sir, what about Mel?”

Baltazar nodded, “I was getting to that. I just thought you’d like a full explanation…”

Another voice broke through, “We don’t care what family you come from, sir. Royalty or not, you’re still Captain La Fuente!”

The entire crew cheered, agreeing with the first man. Baltazar was very touched, “I don’t know what to say… thank you men!”

A man in front yelled as he threw an arm in the air, “I’ll follow Captain La Fuente to hell and back!”

The crew looked as though they were getting restless, so Baltazar moved on, “Well then, to answer your question, Melisande is resting comfortably. Whatever happened appears to have drained her of all of her energy, so she’s unconscious.”

A worried look came over the crew. Baltazar shook his head, “Don’t worry men, I assure you that she is alive. She is still breathing and her skin is quite warm. I’m sure she’ll be up and about before we know it.”

As the look of worry faded into relief, Baltazar took in another deep breath, “That is the other reason I have called you here. Men, Melisande has done a lot for us in the short time we’ve been together, but she has no idea where she comes from or who her family is. I intend to take her to find out. This journey may be very dangerous and we may not make any profit at all. At the moment, we’re sailing for Mont Saint Michel. If anyone doesn’t want to be caught up in this, they may be released from service upon our arrival. I won’t blame any man jack who decides to leave.”

The crew all began talking at once. Shouts of annoyance went up from the crew, “What abandon Mel?”

“We ain’t going nowhere!”

“I said before I’d follow Captain La Fuente to hell, and I meant it!”

“Ye ain’t getting rid of us that easy Captain!”

“We owe Mel our lives! Who says we won’t find a prize on the way!”

Baltazar smiled, “Okay, okay, I am sorry I offended your honor. I’m sure Melisande will be very grateful when she wakes up!”

The men cheered as Baltazar looked up at the sails, “Alright then, all hands, full sails, man the braces, and bring us to Mont Saint Michel!”

He then turned to Gilles and Morgan. Gilles returned his glance and nodded, “Holding course east, northeast, sir!”

Baltazar nodded, “Very good. I’ll be in my cabin, hold us steady.”

Gilles saluted, “Aye sir.”

Again Baltazar disappeared through the doors. Melisande hadn’t moved as she slept. He sat down next to her. The sunlight from the window made her hair shine brightly and illuminate the cabin. Seeing her in this light, he couldn’t imagine a more beautiful site. He now knew that he wanted to keep her safe, no matter what it cost him. He leaned in towards her and whispered into her ear, “You needn’t worry, we’ll keep you safe.”

She moved around a little bit and half a smile appeared on her face. He then slowly moved his lips from her ear and pressed them against hers. She slowly began to stir as her eyes remained closed.

In less than a second, Baltazar felt a sharp pain in his throat. He pulled back to see Melisande’s eyes wide open in anger. She grabbed his shirt and held a knife to his throat. He put his hands up, “You’re awake… I’m sorry, you’re right, that wasn’t very chivalrous of me.”

A rambunctious grin formed on her face as she pushed Baltazar back against the cabin door. Baltazar felt his body squeeze as she pressed him against the wood. Suddenly, she brought her lips up and kissed him deeply. Baltazar kept his eyes open, unsure what was going on, but decided to go along with it rather than risk injury to himself.

After a few moments, she pulled her lips away from his, “From now on, you knock before entering!”

With that, Melisande opened the cabin door and, using impressive strength, pushed him out. Baltazar was pushed with so much force that he went flying back across the deck and landed on his back. He sat up to see the door to the cabin slam shut. He stared at the door for a minute shaking his head. Okay, what just happened?

Attempting to save face in front of his men, he got up and straightened out his shirt. That was stupid… He thought to himself as he heard soft laughter behind him. He turned to see three men staring at him, “What are you looking at, back to work!”

After throwing Baltazar out and shutting the door, Melisande bit her lower lip as she smiled nervously. Her heart was racing and she felt strange. She retreated to the back of the cabin and opened one of the windows.

The cool breeze helped calm Melisande as she sorted things out in her head. She still wasn’t sure exactly what happened. Where did that sudden burst of energy come from, why did she pass out, and most importantly, what made Baltazar think that he had earned the right to kiss her?

Melisande wanted answers, so she quickly grabbed some water out of the bowl next to the bed and cleaned herself up. She found some women’s clothing in the cabin that looked like it would fit her. She quickly changed, and made her way to the deck. She opened the cabin door and proceeded to the railing.

The air on the ship noticeably lightened when he presence became known. The crew was happy to see that she was up and about. Even the newer crew that had been victim to her energy waves could see the effect she had on the people she served with.

Morgan and Baltazar looked at each other for a moment. Baltazar nervously shook his head so Morgan decided that it was up to him to talk to her. He climbed down from the quarter deck and approached her as she watched the sea from the starboard railing.

“Top of the morning to ye missy.” He said with a smile.

“Morgan,” she replied as she turned to him, “good morning, what happened… where is the Specter?

“We lost the Specter.” He replied. “She was taking on water and listing badly, we couldn’t save her.”

Melisande lowered her eyes, “I’m sorry… I know you all served on that ship a long time. I thought that if we could end the fight quick enough, there might be a way to save her, but I guess that was a fantasy. I wish I could have done more to help.”

“Ye have nothing to be sorry for.” Morgan said sternly. “Ye saved all of our lives and helped us take control of this mighty ship. Thanks to ye, we be a lot better off than we were.”

“Your words are too kind,” she replied with a half smile, “but I don’t even know what happened.”

“Do ye remember the battle?” He asked.

She nodded, “Yes, I remember everything… but I don’t know what happened.”

Baltazar did the best he could to listen in and decided to risk joining the conversation. He approached the two of them and smiled. Melisande flashed him an evil grim that stopped him right in his path. It took him a moment to calm the chills, but once they were gone, he walked up to her, “What did it feel like?”

Melisande lowered her eyes, “It felt like a raging tide that had been held back by a rickety damn just broke through. It felt like whatever chains were holding me back had been snapped. At least for a little while.”

She looked up at Baltazar with her bright blue eyes, “I don’t know how else to explain it.”

Baltazar smiled, “I think we get it.”

“So wait, if those powers be dormant and ye unleashed them…” Morgan said hesitantly. “Then can ye do that again?”

Melisande shook her head, “I don’t even know what ‘that’ was…”

She lowered her eyes as she continued, “What am I, who am I, what does all of this mean, and what am I supposed to do now?”

“What do you mean?” Baltazar asked.

“You all saw me,” she replied, “I can only imagine what you think now…”

Her eyes turned to a look of fear, “What are you going to do with me?”

“Keep ye.” Morgan replied. “Ye be one of us. Signed and sworn.”

Baltazar nodded, “Not only that, but we’ve spoken to the crew and decided that we’re going to help you find the answers to those questions. I get the feeling that there is too much as stake not to.”

The light in her eyes turned to fire as tears of joy flow from them, “But what about your plunder? I can’t imagine that we’ll have a ton of time for pirating if we’re doing this?”

“Don’t be worrying your pretty head about that,” Morgan replied. “There be plenty of time for that later. Maybe we’ll pick off a ship or two on the way as well.”

“I don’t know what to say,” she replied as her voice began to crack, “I… thank you all so much. I’m not sure how I can ever repay you!”

She grabbed Baltazar and hugged him tightly. Baltazar braced himself for a sharp object to pierce his back, but it never happened. He slowly pressed his hands against her back as she nuzzled into his chest.

Suddenly Melisande’s eyes shot open and she pushed away with a nervous grin. The two of them looked at each other for a few moments in total silence. It was a very awkward moment for them both. Morgan smirked as he turned his attention to the open ocean.

“Just keep me from dying.” Morgan said mercifully breaking the silence. “All I ask.”

Melisande nodded, “Not a problem, Morgan. Thank you.”

She turned back to Baltazar, “So where do we plan to start looking?”

“Mont Saint Michel,” he replied, “we’re going to go talk to this Sister Mary who has cared for you all these years.Mr. Clement believes she may know the truth of your origins.”

“Papi?” She asked. “Where is he…”

“Below in the galley.” Baltazar replied. “You should go see him when you get a chance. He was really worried about you.”

Melisande nodded, “I’m sure… I’ll need to go talk to him.”



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

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Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 2, Chapter 7

VII

 

Melisande was awoken the next morning by a sound on deck. To her horror, her head was resting on Baltazar’s arm. She shot out of his bed, thankfully still dressed and promptly left his cabin, despirately trying to avoid being seen.

Gilles was standing on deck about to relieve the night watch as he saw her run out of the cabin, franticly trying to fix her hair. He had a shocked look on his face as Melisande emerged. She turned to see him looking at her oddly and flashed him an annoyed look, “Oh don’t look at me like that! I assure you, nothing happened last night.”

Gilles smirked and turned away shaking his head. Melisande groaned as she disappeared below deck. Melchior looked over at Gilles and chuckled. Niether one of them knew what to think. Melisande wasn’t the type to easily fall for Baltazar’s charm, but this wasn’t the first time that a woman came running out of his cabin.

Baltazar began to rouse the moment he noticed that she was gone. He rubbed his eyes and sat up. Suddenly, there was a shout from the deck, “Sail ho!”

Baltazar tore off his shirt and put on a new one. He then ran out on deck with his spyglass in hand and turned to the lookout, “Where away?”

The scout turned and pointed, “Three degrees on the port side, aft.”

Baltazar moved the spyglass to his eye, extended it, and inspected the ship. It was an older vessel with white and red sails. Its design matched that of a caravel that was once favored by the Spanish navy. It had a massive foremast with two large square-rigged sails followed by three more masts with lateens.

Judging by the look of the hull, the ship had been heavily modified to carry more cannon. Even more alarming was that she wasn’t flying any colors. Flying no flag was often indicative of pirate activity.

Baltazar looked for a name on the ship. The lettering on the side read ‘Black Vengeance.’ He strained his vision to see what else he could discover, when a familiar face appeared on the ship’s deck.

Baltazar lowered his looking glass, “Jaspart…”

Melchior looked over at him, “Argh, what be that dog doing here and where did he get that ship?”

“It would seem he’s coming after us,” Baltazar replied, “I’ll bet my brother had something to do with this. He’d been bragging about his service to the king, but I thought it was a lot of hot air. He doesn’t have the brains to treat with royalty.”

Gilles held the ship steady as he looked over, “That thing’s ancient. Why would he want such an old barge?”

Melchior watched the ship as it closed, “That ship may be old, but she’s fast, very fast. There be no way we’ll be able to outrun her.”

“I agree.” Baltazar replied. “Can’t outrun him, completely outgunned… this is going to be interesting.”

Melchior frowned, “What be our plan then?”

“Our ship is a more difficult target.” Baltazar replied. “We’re shallower on the draught. That gives us a little more maneuverability. Plus I know Jaspart. He’s cheap, I’ll bet that he barely has enough men onboard to man those guns.”

Gilles smiled, “So outgunned, but not outnumbered.”

“Aye,” Baltazar agreed. “Boarding her should be our goal.”

Baltazar closed up his spyglass and turned to Melchoir, “All hands on deck, if you would Melchior.”

Melchior nodded called out to the crew, “All hands on deck run up the guns! Move it you slum dogs!”

Yelling could be heard all over the ship as the men rushed to get her ready for combat. Melchior shook his head, “Captain, we be still damaged from the last fight, the ship be not ready for this.”

“I don’t see that we have a choice.” Baltazar replied, “Don’t worry old friend, Jaspart is a dogged strategist. He goes with the thing that works and never deviates from it. I know his tactics and our goal here is to avoid his cannon fire for as long as possible.”

As the men scrambled up the masts, Baltazar called to them, “Full sail, if you please!”

Within moments, the ship was catching every gust of wind that passed over her deck. Melisande came up from the hold and ran to the aft castle, “What’s going on?”

“Your old friend is back,” Baltazar replied.

“Old friend?” Melisande asked. “Who?”

“Jaspart.” He replied.

Melisande shuddered, “You mean the man who attacked me in the alley? I didn’t know he was a pirate!”

“Aye,” Baltazar replied, “and a particularly nasty one too.”

She looked back at his ship as a look of horror appeared on her face, “He’s gaining on us.”

Melchior nodded, “Aye, that be true. Ye best be arming yourself lass. He’ll be on us in a few moments.”

Melisande turned and ran to the hold. She helped the quartermaster bring the box of pistols on deck before running back down to her old bunk. She tossed her bag out of the way and grabbed the two swords out of her blanket. She placed her forehead against them for a brief moment, “God, hope you have my ancestors watching over me this day… I’ll need it.”

She then ran back up to the deck. Baltazar scoffed at the swords, “You’d be better off using some of ours.”

Melisande shook her head, “These have protected my family for three generations. I would much rather use them, they’re far better than they look.”

Baltazar shrugged, “As you wish.”

Moments later, the Black Vengeance overtook them. Baltazar began screaming out orders, “Ready guns, hard to starboard, tighten the rigging.”

The crew on the masts struggled and pulled at the rigging until the sales began to turn. Within moments, the entire ship began to turn to starboard. The hull groaned under the pressure.

Jaspart saw what the Specter doing and also ordered hard to starboard. The Black Vengeance to her helm a lot faster than Baltazar had anticipated. She turned almost as quickly as the Specter.

Baltazar shook his head, “God… how is that possible…?”

Melchoir had a look of death on his face, “It doesn’t look like we can even outmaneuver them! Who built that ship?”

Baltazar’s breathing increased as he stared at the massive caravel, “I don’t know, but it looks like our only chance now is to close the space between us and try to board her.”

He then quickly turned to Gilles, “Keep her hard over until I say.”

The two ships turned until they were side by side. Baltazar wasted no time, “Gilles, steady as she goes!”

He then turned to his gunmen, “Fire!”

Jaspart heard him and nodded, “Let ‘em have it, boys!”

The guns on both ships erupted with flame. Both ships took damage, but oddly enough, the Black Vengeance didn’t take anywhere near as much as she should have. The shots from the Specter’s guns bounced off the side barely splintering the planks. Only the ones aimed at the deck seemed to do anything.

A second broadside was fired, and a third. Hot lead blasted through the deck of the Specter, causing it to splinter while her cannons did very little damage. Within ten minutes, the Specter began to list to starboard.

Baltazar saw his ship being cut to ribbons. Melchior came up next to him with a frantic expression, “Sir, we be taking on water! We’re sinking.”

“Then we best board the only ship out here that isn’t.” Baltazar replied. “Hard to starboard, ram them.”

Gilles heard the order and turned the wheel hard over. The Specter responded and turned into the Black Vengeance. The decks of both ships shook violently as their hulls collided.

Baltazar nodded, “Outstanding work, Gilles.”

He then turned to his men, “Grapple that ship men. Pull us along side! We’re going to take her!”

The crew grabbed the new pistols out of the crates as the grapples were thrown. Baltazar sighed, “Now let’s see if these pistols were worth it.”

The sailors with pistols lined up as men from the Black Vengeance poured on to the Specter. Baltazar was dismayed to see that his men were outnumbered by almost three to one. My brother must have really spared no expense to have Jaspart hunt me down.  He thought to himself.

Baltazar called to him men as the enemy crew boarded, “Line one, fire!”

Smoke poured from the new pistols as they fired at the men from the Black Vengeance. They managed cut down several of the attacking crew, thinning their numbers. Though startled by the pistols, the Black Vengeance’s men kept coming.

Line one dropped to their knees and drew their swords as Baltazar turned to the next group, “Line 2, ready… fire!”

The second volley did the trick and evened out the number of crew attacking. Melisande drew both of her swords and looked at the men on either side of her, “Come on boys, to arms!”

The two crews clashed together. The deck of the Specter became a giant pit of violence and blood. Baltazar tried to rally his men on to the Black Vengeance but they weren’t able to form ranks. Jaspart’s crew was far better trained and they were driving the Specter’s back. Jaspart himself came over and attacked Melchior. He smiled, “Surrender.”

Melchior shook his head, “That’d be the day, but not this one.”

“No?” Jaspart asked. “Then I’ll peel the surrender from your useless hide, old man!”

Melchior did what he could to defend himself, but in the end, he proved to be no match for the stronger captain of the Black Vengeance. Within moments, Jaspart knocked the sword from his hand and stabbed him through the chest.

Baltazar turned to see his friend fall, “No!”

Tears entered Melisande’s eyes when she saw Melchior fall. An intense rage filled her like a volcano with molten rock, ready to explode. She clenched her teeth charged at Jaspart.

Baltazar saw what was happening, but was on the other side of the deck and couldn’t get to them in time to intervene. Jaspart saw her and laughed, “I remember you, from Granville… so you’ve become the ship whore have you?”

“Ship whore…” Melisande scoffed. “I’d prefer that to what you vermin were planning on doing to me.”

She brandished her swords in front of her, signaling that she was challenging him. Jaspart smiled, “All right…”

He drew his sword and attacked. Melisande had practiced with the guards, but they had always taken it easy on her. She wasn’t used to someone attacking her in full force. She was able to parry his jab with her two swords, but she wasn’t prepared for the spin kick that followed.

The sword flew from her left hand as pain shot up her arm. She was surprised, but not finished. It was now her turn. In the short time it took Jaspart to regain his footing from the kick, she countered with a vicious swing of the sword that she still held.

Melisande’s aim was nearly perfect. She struck a blow on Jaspart’s arm, cutting it deeply. Jaspart backed away and placed a hand over his wound, “Well now, it seems that I may have underestimated you. You’re going to pay for this, and I think those pretty eyes will more than cover it.”

Melisande took a step back as Jaspart lunged at her with his sword out in front of him. The impact of the two blades created a high-pitched ringing sound. With Melisande’s sword occupied, Jaspart brought his fist around and hit her in the face.

Jaspart’s fist impacted against her cheek. The force knocked her off balance, sending her flying backwards. She was down, but she was still armed. Blood dripped from her nose as she held her sword up and tried to slowly back away.

Jaspart smiled and raised his sword, ready to deliver a killing blow. As far as he was concerned, it was over. There was nothing that she could do to block his attack.

Baltazar had kept his eyes on the fight as he made his way through the battle and fought as hard as he could to get to Jaspart. When he saw Melisande fall, he began pushing everyone out of the way. It didn’t matter if it was his crew, or Jaspart’s.

Melisande closed her eyes, certain that it was over. She promised herself that, no matter what happened, she would not give Jaspart the pleasure of hearing her scream. At least she would be able to keep that from him.

As Jaspart’s sword came down, Baltazar’s immediately appeared between it and its intended target. Jaspart looked up and smiled, “Finally decided to fight your own battle?”

The two captains crossed swords as Melisande did the best she could to scurry out of the way. Baltazar glared at Jaspart, “That’s it, Jaspart, I’ve let you live this long, but you’ve crossed the line! Now you’re dead!”

Jaspart smiled, “We’ll see whose still living. Your ship is sinking and your crew is losing. It won’t be long now.”

“Why come after us Jaspart?” Baltazar asked. “Are you so desperate for cargo that you’ve taken to stealing it from fellow pirates?”

“Nay,” Jaspart replied as his sword connected with Baltazar’s, “your brother offered a fair penny for your head. He didn’t specify that it had to be attached to anything.”

Baltazar sneered, “Philip… damn you… If I ever see you again…”

Baltazar was almost immediately put on the defensive against Jaspart’s merciless attacks. Jaspart was a well-built man with a strong grip on his sword. He had power, but close to no finesse when he fought. Part of Baltazar was afraid that his sword would shatter under the relentless strikes. The blade was a thinner one intended for dueling.

Melisande got back to her feet, shook off the blow she’d recieved, and stabbed one of the enemy crewmen as he came at her. The man fell to the deck, dead. She then turned to see Melchior’s dead body lying on its side.

Papi had been fighting with his fists, but now he had three men on top of him holding him down. Morgan and Gilles were backed into a corner and Baltazar was being driven to the side of his ship.

Melisande began to breathe heavily as she helplessly watched. No matter how hard she fought, there were just too many. She could not save her friends. After so many years of wanting, she had finally found a place that she belonged with a group of people that accepted her. Now those people were getting cut down.

A strange feeling came over Melisande. Her eyes blinked a couple of times as reality became slightly blurred. She didn’t know how it happened, but it was as though time itself had slowed. Everything was moving at a snails pace, but she still saw the battle unfolding in front of her eyes. She dropped to her knees and screamed, “Please God, no… Stop this, now!”

Her head began to feel strange as she cried out again, “Stop!”

Suddenly, her eyes lit up as bright as the sun. The blue fire was blinding to anyone who saw it. A whirlwind formed around her and raised her off the deck of the Specter. She threw her head back and screamed out again, “Stop!”

Her scream sent a pulsing shockwave from her head and struck the crewmen of the Black Vengeance, but somehow didn’t affect the Specter’s men. Several of the attackers went flying over the side. Both Jaspart and Baltazar saw what was happening and stared at her. She levitated in the air for a few moments before another pulse came from her head. Jaspart decided to ignore it and jumped on Baltazar. He began beating him mercilessly.

Baltazar was sure that this was it for him and accepted his fate. Suddenly, the pulse hit Jaspart, knocking him off balance. It was all the opportunity Baltazar needed.  He jumped to his feet and quickly stabbed Jaspart through the chest. Jaspart gasped as he fell to the ground dead.

Baltazar didn’t have time to savor his victory. The fighting had stopped and everyone was staring at Melisande. Suddenly, a ghostly pair of white wings appeared on her back. She looked out at the men with the glowing eyes, “Evil will be vanquished! You will pay for your crimes!”

Chills ran down Baltazar’s spine as he stepped closer. Another pulse emanated from her head, knocking more of the Black Vengeance’s crew overboard. Though the Specter’s crew was spared, the ship was not. The pulses rocked the deck planks and hull, causing her to sink faster.

Baltazar took a step closer, “Melisande…”

She turned and looked at him, “Stay back… do not interfere!”

Baltazar shook his head as he slowly crept closer to her. She was levitating only a few feet off the ground as he stepped closer, “Melisande, it’s over, you’ve done enough. We won!”

She clenched her teeth as her wings spread, “Nothing is over, as long as this filth still exists!”

Baltazar took another step closer, built up his courage and grabbed her. His hand passed through her ghostly wings and pressed against her back. He brought his head to her ear and whispered gently, “It’s over…”

Melisande felt his touch and suddenly her world faded to black. She fell limp in Baltazar’s arms, but she was still breathing. He had no idea what had just happened, but at the moment, there were more pressing matters. He turned to Gilles, “Take her, put her in the captain’s cabin aboard the Black Vengeance.”

Gilles looked at him oddly, “Sir?”

Baltazar looked out at everyone standing around him, “I’m taking over command of the Black Vengeance as restitution for the loss of the Specter. Any crewman from that ship that wishes to join me, may do so. Otherwise, you may utilize the boats from the Specter to get back to shore. Those willing to come with me, get back over to the Black Vengeance.”

Baltazar then turned to Papi, “Take a group below, get our supplies and the crew’s effects. Strip her clean, we’re leaving for good.”

Papi nodded and took fifteen men from the crew with him. Baltazar returned his attention to the rest of the men. His eyes took one last long look at the ship he’d served on almost all of his career. He realized now just how much he was going to miss her, “All hands… abandon ship…”

The two crews worked to get the longboats over the side for those that refused to go with Captain La Fuente. The rest grabbed what they could and ran aboard the large caravel. Within a few minutes, the deck of the Specter was completely deserted. In typical fashion as he allowed other captains, he was the last one over the side.

Baltazar smiled as his feet touched the deck of the much larger ship, “The Vengeance is mine.”



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

From My Writing Playlist

I admittedly don’t know much about this band. I found the song on youtube, and added it to my playlist.

When to Listen:  This Gen list this song! Pure energy!!!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Drakin, where to buy, and what’s next?

Hello all!

I hope everyone has enjoyed The Story of Raiya thus far!! When you’re finished, if you enjoyed it, the sequel Orphans of Haven is now available for purchase! Please don’t forget to leave me a review on amazon once your done. That really helps me out a lot.

Copies of these books, as well as my others, can be purchased on Amazon by following this link:

James Harrington’s Author Page

They’re also available at Barnes and Noble, as well as many other places where books are sold!

Please feel free to like and reblog this post. Word of mouth helps us writers out a lot!

Drakin: The Story of Raiya


Book Synopsis:
‘ “Abomination, freak, monster…”  You get used to names like these when you have yellow eyes, horns, and scales, but Raiya could have really cared less.

After being forced into exile because of her appearance, Raiya’s mind has been focused on one goal; hunting down the dragon lord that killed her parents. For over thirty years, humanity has been locked in a struggle for survival against a race of dragons that had fallen from the heavens. They took everything from her and consumed the planet in a fierce war. Humanity’s numbers are quickly dwindling, leaving her few options in the way of allies.

What she doesn’t know is that her journey will strike at the very heart of the Red War and uncover truths about her past that she may not want to know. Can she finish what she started while coming to terms with the truths of her origin? ‘


SAMPLE CHAPTER

Chapter I

“Unbelievable… thirty years of this shit…  wonder how we’ve been able to keep this up for so long.”

As Jagger pulled his jeep onto what was once Route 9, he reached over to the dash and turned the radio on. A tired-sounding voice appeared over the speaker, “This Matt Lowry, WPR hourly news. Today the Second Battalion, Eastern division, rendezvoused with the Third Battalion outside of New Washington beneath the third parallel in district 5. They were successful at warding off the dragon advance. Casualties were estimated at 30%. However, initial reports estimate that at least six dragons were downed in the fight…”

Jagger sighed. Why do I even bother listening to this? It’s never good news, just a constant reminder that we’re all fucked. Every time those beasts attack, we’re pushed a little closer to extinction.

“In other news, Captain Suen Luli of the Eastern Coalition Air Corps was awarded for…”

Click.

Jagger turned the radio off. He knew the typical song and dance of the news source. They’d tell the bad news first and then deliver some good news which would be played up to be more important. He understood why things were done this way. Morale was very important… especially when it was hidden from no one that humanity was losing the war quite badly.

The jeep drove under the remains of an old overpass that had long since collapsed. It maneuvered gently around the piles of debris. Jagger had spent a lot of time rebuilding and refurbishing his truck. He wasn’t about to get it banged up. Once it cleared the debris, he pressed the gas and picked up speed.

A sign on the side read ‘Now Entering Natick.’ Jagger had been told stories about how that whole area used to be lively with stores and restaurants for people to enjoy. He was too young to remember any of this.

The Red War had been going on for years before his birth, and Natick had been laid to waste while he was still a young child. Now all that remained was rubbed and maybe some salvageable equipment buried in the dirt.

The jeep rounded a large piece concrete that, at one time had been the side of a storefront. This was usually Jagger’s marker to find his way back home. As the jeep hit the open road, a loud noise cut through the air. Shreeeee!

Jagger hit the brakes, “Wyverns… shit! One of those days…”

Jagger quickly put the car in park before reaching behind the passenger seat and grabbing a large bolt rifle. A dark shadow passed overhead as he checked the cartridge battery. The indicator light jumped from red to blue, showing a full charge. Good… let’s do this!

Jagger jumped out of the jeep, brushed a few strands of his long, brown hair out of his face and aimed the rifle. The first wyvern he saw was flying low overhead. He ducked down behind the large piece of rubble that he has passed a moment ago. His gray eyes followed the target. He watched and waited… waited until he had lined up a clean shot, and pulled the trigger. Three large, positively-charged bolts flew from the barrel. Two shots hit the large beast, sending it falling from the sky. I’ve gotten too used to taking down drakes. I used to be able to hit with all three shots!

Sparks of blue electricity flashed through its body as it hit the barrel ground. The wyvern’s skin was too thick for the bolts to do any real damage. They only stunned it, but it was enough to give Jagger the advantage.

He quickly ran to the wyvern, pulled a large machete from his belt, and jabbed it into the only vulnerable part of a dragon’s body; the eyes.

The blade destroyed the creature’s left eye and plunged into its brain. The dying wyvern let out a painful cry as it tried to dislodge the blade. It was a gruesome sight that Jagger had grown used to. He’d been trained for a long time to show no mercy.

Every time he had to watch this scene, he remembered back to the first one he’d killed during his training. He remembered that it had made him sick to his stomach. Seeing a creature suffer like that seemed cruel, but every time he was about to look away his drill sergeant would stop him and force him to watch, “They’re lethal to the very end. Turning your back on one now could be the biggest mistake you ever make.”

‘The biggest mistake.’ It was something that he’d never forgotten.

The wounded beast slowly ceased movement as death overtook it. Jagger placed his foot over the beast’s snout and pulled his blade from its head. Greenish-purple blood spewed from the wound as Jagger wiped the blade off.

As Jagger finished cleaning the blade, he turned to head back to his jeep and grab a few supplies. The snout of a second wyvern was in his path. Oh shit…

Somehow the beast had used its partner’s death screams as a cover to hold Jagger’s attention long enough for it to sneak up on him. The beast smiled, “Hope you taste good!”

Jagger frowned, “This is one meal you’re going to have to work for.”

Jagger gripped the blade at his side, knowing he’d never raise it in time. He waited for the wyvern to lunge. This was likely it, “Bring it on… you ugly freak!”

As the wyvern took a step towards him, a black blur appeared in its path. It shrieked in surprise upon realizing that it had become outnumbered.

Jagger blinked as his eyes adjusted to the new player. They were completely clad in black robes from head to toe, making identification impossible. A gray backpack was strapped tightly to their back. Whoever this was, they moved with lightning speed.

The wyvern snapped at the robed figure, only to have the figure dodge out of the way and grab it by the neck. The stranger held the wyvern in a headlock as it struggled to get out. Jagger watched as it hissed and roared, “Damn… this guy is good!”

“Let go, bitch or I’ll tear your heart out!” The wyvern snarled.

Female… okay, well that’s a start. Jagger thought as he quickly moved to grab his bolt gun.

No amount of thrashing could shake this stranger lose. Her hands were locked tightly around the wyvern’s neck. She spoke in a voice that was barely more than a whisper, “No… you won’t…”

To Jagger’s utter shock, she jerked her arms, causing the wyvern’s neck to sharply turn to the side. The sound of a loud snap caused the wyvern to go limp.

The skeletal structure and bone mass of even the youngest dragons were considerably thicker than humans. Their muscle tissue was also incredibly strong. No human being should posess that strength. It was a physical impossibility.

Jagger watched in amazement as she let go of the beast, tossed its head to the side, and turned to confront him. He put on a friendly smile and nodded nervously. Careful Jagger, she looks like she’s ready to kill you. “Thanks.”

He couldn’t see most of her face under the hood, but her yellow eyes almost looked like they were glowing. Her voice was deep and very quiet when she spoke. It was almost a whisper and difficult to hear, “It was stupid of you to leave your car. A jeep can outrun those beasts and they always hunt in pairs, at least.”

Yup… definitely a woman. “It didn’t seem that dangerous. Wyverns can’t breathe fire, so its easier to fight on foot, especially if there’s only one. I didn’t see the second, and I’m usually not caught off guard like that.”

“One stupid move… all it takes.”

“Words of Wisdom.”

“Why did you fight?”

“Instinct I guess.”

“I see…”

The figure stared at him for a moment. To Jagger, it felt like he was in the middle of drill inspection back at WesCon command. Her eyes darted up and down for a moment before she abruptly turned and began walking away.

Jagger called after her, “Wait!”

The figure stopped but did not turn and did not respond. Jagger took a few cautious steps towards it, “I owe you one for helping me. Do you need anything?”

“No.”

“Really? Nothing?”

“No… not unless…”

“Yeah?”

The figure paused for a moment. Jagger waited as she slowly turned around. Her hood was down as though she were looking at her stomach, “I haven’t eaten in a few days…  I could use of some supplies. Do you have any?”

Jagger smiled, “No, but my town is nearby. Hop in, I’m heading for New Framingham. There are plenty of shops there.”

“A… town?”

“Yeah, you’ll be able to find anything you want there.”

“I… I’m not sure…” The figure replied in a nervous whisper. “I don’t typically do well around large groups of people.”

Jagger looked at her oddly, “Well… It’s the only major hub in this part of old New England after Boston and Worcester were destroyed. The survivors moved out here and established a fortified city in the only nearby area with buildings left standing.”

“Boston and Worcester… they were both destroyed?”

Really? How could she not know about this? “Yeah, for almost ten years now, where have you been?”

“Away…”

“Away?”

The robed woman climbed into the jeep and rested her hands on her lap. She turned to watch as Jagger grabbed a saw out of the back, “Yes… I’ve been wandering the country since my grandparents were killed by an elder dragon. I don’t have access to a radio so…”

Her eyes narrowed as Jagger walked over to one of the fallen wyverns, “Wait… what are you doing?”

Jagger looked down at the saw, “I’m going to get their teeth.”

“Why?”

“Dragon teeth are flame-resistant. They can be melted down and used to make armor, weapons, walls… all kinds of different things. They’re worth a fortune if you can get them.”

He placed the saw on the nearest wyvern’s mouth and began to run the blade across its gums. Blood stained his hands as he struggled to make conversation, “So… you’re a nomad?”

“There a better way to live beyond city walls?”

“Not really…” Jagger chuckled as he removed the upper jaw. “Okay… well let’s see, ten years huh?”

“Yeah.”

“All right so I can fill you in on the Red War, but what do you know so far?”

The girl shrugged, “Not much… From what my grandparents told me, the dragons first appeared in New York… After decimating Manhattan, they flew east and were seen weeks later heading towards Siberia. The five of them disappeared for about five years. When they reappeared, there were many… many more of them and they continued to multiply.”

She leaned on the roll bar of the old jeep as Jagger threw the teeth into the back. He then quickly wiped his hands and went to work on the second wyvern, “They were immune to conventional weapons and were too fast for nukes to work… not for a lack of trying… obviously.”

Jagger looked around the barren wasteland that used to be Wellesley, Massachusetts and nodded, “Obviously… is that it?”

“No.” The woman replied stoically. “I heard that countries were toppled by the onslaught of the dragons… Even the U.S. Government retreated. I heard the president’s speech, vowing to return and retake the land lost to the dragons… That was three days before he and his chiefs of staff were all killed. The remaining world leaders set aside their differences and formed into two governing bodies; the Eastern and Western Coalitions. They established regional governors, but the cities and settlements themselves are largely self-governed… That’s all I know.”

Jagger nodded as he removed the second wyvern’s jaw, “Sounds like you’ve heard most of it. The problem was that most weapons couldn’t penetrate a dragon’s scales. Missiles didn’t work, bullets didn’t… some armor piercers did, but they’re rare. Eventually we developed electrostatic shock weapons and super-focused lasers that could burn a hole through them, but by then…

Jagger let out a deep sigh as he spoke,”… by then, it was almost too late. Humanity had been reduced to nearly 2 billion people.”

“You’re losing the war…” The woman said in a whisper.

Jagger grabbed a bottle of water from behind his seat and poured some over his hands. The cool water rinsed away the dragon’s blood and soothed his skin, “Don’t you mean we’re losing?”

“Sure…”

Jagger got behind the wheel of the jeep and started it up. The engine came to life and caused the entire car to vibrate. He pulled back on the break and allowed the car to wheel forward.

The stranger eyed the dash, “Your car’s engine sounds different. They’re usually louder.”

Jagger smiled, “They’re usually falling apart. I spent years working on this one.”

“Impressive.”

Jagger kept his eyes on the road, though he occasionally looked up to make sure that the sky was clear, “By the way, I’m Lieutenant Jagger Bishop, WesCon Security.”

No response.

“What, you don’t have a name?”

“…”

“All right then…”

Jagger couldn’t be certain, but he thought he detect and annoyed sigh before she spoke, “… Raiya if you must know.”

“Raiya, that’s an unusual name.”

“I’m an unusual person.”

Jagger nodded, “Yeah I believe that, just from watching you.”

“Whatever you say.” Raiya said in a disinterested tone.

Jagger released a deep breath as he watched the debris pass, “So… those were some nice moves you pulled back there. You must be pretty jacked to snap the neck of a dragon. That was amazing.”

“It’s not that hard if you know where the joint is.”

“Maybe you could show me?”

“Doubtful, you also have to be really fast…”

“Oh… too bad.”

As the jeep picked up speed, Raiya struggled to keep her hood up. It acted like a sail, catching the wind that blew past her face. As it was pushed back, small flashes of her skin appeared. She grabbed the sides and forced them forward, holding the hood down over her face.

Jagger had his eyes on the road and could only see her out of the corner of his right, but what he saw left him with more questions than answers. Her skin was tanned, but her pigment appeared to have an almost greenish hue to it. The strands of hair he saw looked like it was a dark olive color. Maybe she dyed it somehow? Yeah right, where would she get dye out here? You’re probably just seeing things.

It was a reasonable thought. He never really had great lateral vision. However, as the hood flew back a second time, he quickly glanced over to confirm what he initially saw. His eyes caught sight of the odd complexion of her skin. There was no doubt that something was off with her. Who or what was this girl? Dragon’s Bane? There hasn’t been a confirmed case of it in a few years…

“Are you okay?” He asked.

“I’m fine… why?”

“Your skin… it’s… pale.”

“So what…? It’s just how I look.”

“All right.”


 

Drakin: The Orphans of Haven


Book Synopsis:

The Red War may be over, but not all wounds have healed. For Sergeant Radley Zall, the nightmares never end. After years of struggling for survival, he finds himself in a dead end job, deporting wayward dragons to the Exclusion Zone. The horrors of his past have left him a broken man, slowing killing himself in a bottle of whiskey. It’s a wearying existence that many former soldiers have been subject to since the war ended, but for Radley, that is all about to change. Throughout his life, Radley’s hatred of dragons has been unmatched until one evening when a small one shows up on his doorstep. The pathetic creature is emaciated and begging for shelter. Her appearance reminds him of his younger self, compelling him to help her. That uncharacteristic decision forces him to confront his past actions— some of which may have contributed to a sinister plot to reignite the Red War and wipe out the few remaining dragons on Earth.


Chapter 1

“Let us overcome these obstacles together, in the spirit of what our forefathers, friends, and neighbors fought and died for!”

It was a good speech… too bad that’s all it’ll ever be. I remember the cheers. I remember the savior standing off to the side before she disappeared… It was only ten years ago, but I remember it like I remember my childhood… as a distant memory.

“Radley? Sergeant Radley Zall, are you with me?”

Radley felt a gentle elbow to the midsection, “Sarge, snap out of it!”

He immediately came back to reality and nodded, “Yes, sir. I’m ready, sir!”

A gruff-looking commander eyed him suspiciously, “Are you sure, Sergeant Zall? I mean we can wait. Whatever you’ve got going on is clearly more important than doing your job. No rush, you know? It’s just a dragon after all. It’s not like the men rely on you to back them up.”

Radley felt his face heating up and was sure that it was turning red, “Sorry sir.”

“Are you feeling sick? Do we need to have Sergeant Bosell check you out?”

Radley felt the tension in the back of his neck. When Commander Miles decided to mock someone in his unit, the man would push it as far as he could. The worst part was that it worked. The officers did everything they could to stay on their toes and avoid it.

“No, I’m fine, sir!” Radley replied as he straightened himself out. He could hear a couple of snickers coming from the ten armored men standing with him.

“You sure?” The commander asked.

“Yes, Commander Miles… I’m sure.”

Commander Constantine Miles eyed Radley for a few moments. The younger officer blinked as he waited for the commander to finish. His blue eyes felt dry under his protective goggles. He could feel his brown hair matting to his head under the heavy helmet he wore.

Commander Miles had been his commanding officer since he joined the security division. The man knew him well, too well. He clearly didn’t buy that Radley was all there.

Finally, Commander Miles nodded, “Well… All right, let’s go.”

He flipped on the radio wired into his vest, “Command, this is Security Group Alpha, we’re in position and ready to move in.”

“Copy that, Commander. Proceed with caution. Good hunting.”

The group entered a massive cave that was hidden deep in the Yellowstone Canyon. The cave walls were as black as coal. The stone floor had once been molten rock, flowing outward. This gave the floor an almost organic look.

Radley carefully balanced himself on the terrain that looked like it had been frozen in time and petrified. He planted his legs between to inclines and raised his bolt rifle.

Six of the other officers followed close behind him. One, a younger man jumped up behind Radley “I thought we’d be waiting out here forever. Finally, we can get this over with.”

“You may hope you’d been able to wait even longer, Kevin,” Radley replied as he removed his goggles, revealing the burn over his left eye. “These dragons usually do not want to come willingly. Often they’re protecting a nest.”

“Is it going to attack us?”

“Hard to say. That happens from time to time.”

“Oh boy…”

“Stay close and keep your weapon ready, Rookie. You’ll do fine.”

“Cut the chatter,” Commander Miles called out from the front. “Let’s get in and out as cleanly as possible. We don’t want a repeat of your first time, Sergeant.”

“First time?” Kevin whispered.

“It’s a long story Rookie, and I’m tired of telling it. I’m sure someone will fill you in before too long.”

The group separated into two as they entered the cave. One proceeded left, while the other went right, forming a pincer. Radley led the second group, closely behind Commander Miles’s. Within moments, both groups were cloaked in almost total darkness.

A staticky sound filled his helmet as the groups kept moving. It was quickly replaced by Commander Miles’s voice, “Okay, everyone… lights on, stay sharp, and keep focus! –Command, this is Unit Commander Miles. We have confirmed the location of an illegal dragon roost. We’re moving into position now.”

The sound of the officers’ footprints was quickly replaced by the sound of throaty breathing. The sound resembled the growl of a lion, only deeper. It echoed through the cave like a shockwave rushing to the entrance.

Radley clenched his rifle as they stepped closer to Commander Miles group. He’d seen this situation play out before and it was nothing new. They’d go in, surround the dragon and take him down from either side. If he tried to fly, they’d shock his wings. If he tried to fight, they’d incapacitate him. It had all become perfectly routine.

“Member of the Dragon species, my name is Commander Miles, Western Coalition Internal Security. You are in direct violation of WestCon Provincial Edict 453, stating that no dragon shall roost outside of the designated dragon zones. This is several miles outside of the Exclusion Zone and your designated areas. You are ordered to surrender and submit to processing. Once you have been tagged, you will then be transferred to a designated holding facility for processing. Please understand, we do not wish to harm you and if you surrender peacefully, you’ll be treated with care.”

The low breathing turned into an angry growl, “The Exclusion Zones… you mean the barren wastelands that your people have set aside for us… You mean the lands with minimal food and few ideal places for us to build roosts! Lands that we have to fight cannibalistic humans for. You offer us amnesty and then force us into the worst possible living conditions!”

Miles didn’t appear to be moved, “I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them. We gave you nearly the entire western coast of this hemisphere all the way down to Mexico. Many dragons have found ways to cultivate a living. If you can’t do something with that, it isn’t my problem. Surrender now, and we promise you’ll be treated fairly!”

This isn’t going to end well… Radley thought as he raised his rifle. This dragon is going to escalate!

“Get out of my home!” The dragon roared before a plume of flame shot past the officers, out of the cave.

The cavern walls lit up orange and revealed the large green dragon that was curled up in a small nest. There were no eggs and no sign of a mate, so this was likely a rogue.

Radley’s eyes widened, “Alpha class. Watch it, everyone! This guy is going to be tough!”

Miles dove away from the flame and hit the ground hard as a second plume passed over him, “Light him up! –Command, we’ve got a code 42. Engaging hostiles!”

The orange hue was replaced by momentary white and blue blasts that spread throughout the cavern as the officers let loose with a spray of electrically charged pulses. The loud pops from the guns echoed off the walls creating a deafening cycle

The dragon’s scales glowed as the pulses electrified them. Little beams of blue and white static outlined each scale. The dragon let out an intense scream as it immediately fell to the side. Its body trembled but otherwise did not move.

The moment the dragon’s head hit the ground, the officers gather around it. The sparks slowly died down as the group moved in. Commander Miles stood in front of its snout and turned to the man closest to him, “Get the shackles.”

“Yes, sir!”

As the man went back to the tunnel to fetch the large metallic rings, Commander Miles read the dragon the required statement of rights, “Illegal dragon, you are hereby under arrest. The charges are illegal roosting, desecration of human territory, and resisting relocation efforts.”

The dragon looked menacingly at Miles as it was shackled. The stun bolts had done their job as it was unable to even lift its head. Smoke emanated from its mouth as it spoke, “May you burn for this…”

“Not today,” Commander Miles replied as he switched on his shoulder radio, “Command, mission accomplished. The dragon has been subdued. We’re looking at an Alpha class, so you’re going to want to bring in the heavy hauler.”

“Acknowledged,” replied a staticky voice. “We were starting to worry about you for a moment. Good work.”

Commander Miles nodded, “Sergeant Radley, let’s get cleaned up here.”

Radley sighed as he turned to his group, “All right men, we’re done here. Let’s head back to the entrance.”

The rookie officer’s eyes focused on the dragon. He remained still as the others moved towards the exit. He was like a statue, frozen in place as though forever contemplating the universe around him.

Radley stopped in front of him as the rest of the group continued, “Hey Rookie, you okay?”

“It’s… it’s not what I expected at all,” Kevin replied.

“What do you mean?”

Kevin beckoned to the dragon’s eyes, “Look at it… I always thought they were giant killing feral machines, acting on instinct like a shark. Now… they actually…”

“You’ve never been up close to one of them, have you?”

“No, I mean I’ve seen pictures and all, but they always flew overhead or were at a distance.”

Radley nodded that he understood, “Right, that’s how it always is. It’s easy to take them down when they just look like mindless killing machines, but when you see them and see the life and intelligence in their eyes, all that changes. Still… it’ll pass and you’ll see them for what they really are again.”

“Really are? You mean…”

At that moment, the dragon came to life and snapped at them, “Inanimate killing machines? We are living creatures, just like you! We think and we feel things. All we want now is peace!”

Radley ignored the dragon’s words. He turned calmly and gave Kevin a gentle push, “Come on Rookie, let’s get out of here so that the relocation team can get in and do their jobs.”

“All right…”

“You can’t ignore us forever!” The dragon roared. “Someday you will pay for what you’re doing here!”

“We already did,” Radley shot back, “5.5 billion times over.”

Outside, Radley closed his eyes and sucked in a breath of fresh air. For years, the air had been badly polluted from dragon flame and an extreme reduction in plant life. When the war ended, the coalitions put their combined science teams into creating massive air filters that were placed all over the world. They would clean the air until new plant life could take over. Is this what fresh air is like? It doesn’t smell like burnt wood or like something’s being cooked… it’s actually kind of nice.

“Good job in there, Sergeant Zall! For a moment, I thought we’d lost you,” Commander Miles said in a light tone.

“Sorry sir, I just… I was thinking about everything that’s happened since the dragon horde left Earth.”

“You certainly chose an interesting time to become reflective,” The commander chuckled.

“Sorry sir, it won’t happen again.”

“That’s fine. You’ve been at this longer than most, a little backward thinking is normal every now and again. Just try to save it until we’re in a little safer circumstance.”

“Yes, sir.”

Commander miles nodded, “Good. –How about you Kevin, you were all excited about getting to see some action, this everything you thought it’d be?”

Kevin frowned, “No sir…”

“No?” The commander asked, surprised.

“I joined the force to help fight canbans and raiders… I didn’t want to be assigned to the dragon core. This was kind dropped on me by command due to a lack of volunteers.”

Commander Miles nodded, “I understand, it’s not the most appealing work. Sometimes I wonder if the danger is even worth it, but it’s work that needs to be done.”

“Does it?” Kevin asked. “Do we really need to hunt down these dragons? Is it really necessary to force them to live in sectors that are cordoned off from the rest of the world? I’ve heard stories…”

Radley scoffed. His lips twisted into a menacing grimace. He’d heard people talk about dragon rights before and it always got him heated, “Have you forgotten the war that literally just ended ten years ago or how many people they wiped out?”

“No, I haven’t,” Kevin replied sternly. “But those dragons are gone. We built ships for them and they left as quickly as possible. It’s been years since then. These dragons didn’t want to fight anymore and requested amnesty, which we granted them.”

Commander Miles nodded, “Yeah and when the new government came to power, they enacted policies to protect dragons and humans. There’s still a lot of bitterness between dragons and humans, and rightly so. This is as much for the dragons’ good as it is our own.”

“You sure about that?” Kevin asked. “I mean…”

Kevin’s eyes darted between Radley and the other men. He quickly shrank back a little, “I’m sorry sir, never mind.”

“Speak your mind, Rookie,” Commander Miles said. “Tomorrow’s too late.”

“Sir, the dragons have done everything we asked them to right up until they were segregated. It was only after we pretty much banished them to the Mojave Wastelands that they began to try to find roosts elsewhere. I’ve heard of what life is like there; it’s hot, nothing grows, and finding food is difficult.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that… maybe we’re part of the problem?”

“You think humans are part of the problem…?” Radley asked in a state of disbelief. “They came here uninvited, attempted to steal our world and wipe out our entire population. After they lost the war, we did what they asked and built them a ship to get back to their own world. We should never have allowed some of them to stay here, but we put aside our differences and allowed the ones that wanted peace. Now they’re hiding outside the designated area. They should have been a lot more grateful than that!”

“But maybe if we didn’t segregate them and allowed them to interact with humans, this wouldn’t be a problem,” Kevin shot back. “We want peace, yet we continuously take rights away from others, breeding hate and resentment! How does that make us any better than them?”

Radley clenched his teeth as he ripped his helmet off and brushed back his brown hair. His cheeks felt like they were on fire as the hair on the back of his neck bristled. He had to hold himself back from striking Kevin across the face, “Watch it, Rookie! You were only old enough to experience the ass end of the war. Watch a dragon torch a shelter for children and mock them as they burned… then we’ll talk!”

Kevin fell silent and lowered his eyes. Commander Miles stepped between them and spoke with a stern voice, “That’s enough, both of you.”

Radley nodded and stepped back, “Yes, sir… Sorry, sir.”

He flashed Kevin an angry look. It was momentary so that Commander Miles wouldn’t see it, but Kevin clearly got the message. The rookie lowered his eyes and bit down on his lower lip. Neither one of them said anything else.

Commander Miles turned and began to walk back to the other group, “Radley, head back to the carrier. The relocation team should be here any minute. It’s just about time for us to go home. You look like you could use some rest. –Kevin, I want you to wait here and go with the extraction team. This will be good practice for you.”

“Yes, sir.”


I hope everyone is as excited for this one as I am! I can’t wait to introduce you to a new world of dragons!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Ins and Outs of Publishing, A Directory of Advice.

Okay, so it looks like I’m still getting a lot of publishing questions. These are recurrent questions I get on a regular basis, and while I want to try to respond to everyone who reaches out to me, I don’t want my blog becoming redundant. So I think I’m going to repost this on a weekly basis from now on to help people navigate the publishing world. I don’t really see another way around it. I wish there was some way you could pin a post at the top of your blog!

So if you have questions regarding publishing, PLEASE check below to see if any of this helps you before reaching out. I’m always happy to help, but I may have already answered your question.

Publishing is a tough road to navigate. Please check out the links below. These are previous posts I’ve made about the ins and outs of publishing. They should be of assistance in your journey:

Am I Ready To Publish? This is a must read BEFORE even considering starting the process. I can’t tell you how many authors burned bridges by not being ready.

Editing… There is a Cost That Must be Paid… or is There? You can skip this one if you’ve already had your writing edited (by someone other than you!). However, I’d still recommend reading.

Getting Published… the basics… In this post, we explore traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. Here you’ll get the pros on cons of each and the steps you need to go through in order to be successful in either.

Finally…

Copyrighting my Writing. Am I Protected? This isn’t required reading… however, if you’re concerned about plagiarism, or in the future may need to file a copyright claim, I recommend giving it a read.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? I’d be surprised if you didn’t. The only sage advice I can offer you other than the documents above is simple…

  1. Do not give up. A million “No’s” suddenly become irrelevant if you get that one “yes”.
  2. People will tell you that everyone and their mother wants to publish a book. You’re up against insurmountable odds and a flooded market. This is false. You’re not up against everyone and their mother. Permit me the luxury and I’ll prove this mathematically: First of all, take the entire group of people who want to get published. Now take that number and reduce it by roughly 60%. You just eliminated all the people who want to get something published, but don’t have the time, ability, drive, or inspiration to write. Next, eliminate another 20%. You’ve now taken down all the people who can put pen to paper but can’t afford the time/money to put the work into advertising and getting published. Eliminate another 10% who can’t take criticism and thus aren’t going to be able to get their writing properly edited. Now eliminate another 5% either don’t have the patience for or get discouraged by receiving a series of “No’s” from publishers.
    Now take that last 5% and eliminate all of them, except you. Why? Because they’re irrelevant. You have your writing and they have there’s. Whether or not you get published and how successful you are isn’t about other people’s writing. Yes, in the end, it’s you against one person, you. Whether or not I’ll ever get to buy your book off the shelf depends on you; how much time, effort, and funds you’re willing to put into your writing. So make it good!

Let’s open it up to the floor. Readers, do you have any publishing advice for our friend here? Let her know in the comments!

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim