Excerpt from Born of Water
In celebration of Read an Ebook Week, and since I have the novel on sale as part of the festivities, I thought I’d share a snippet of Born of Water. I thought a little bit of action will help get you through your day!
Don’t forget to head over to Smashwords to see all the great books on sale and pick up your copy of Born of Water half off! The sale ends Saturday night.
Niri’s glance crossed Ty’s anxious gaze as she turned to look at where Lavinia and Ria sat hand in hand watching the boat behind them. “I’m slowing it by pushing the current back. I’m not trying to sink it.”
Lavinia blushed as she looked away. They were behind and a little east of Tiero now, and no towns were visible along the coast. Niri’s eyes were inundated with her power, flooded with lavender. Their boat picked up more speed as the seas pushed them ahead.
Ty glanced back once more, and then adjusted the rudder pole. The boat veered across the waves, angling toward the northeast. Ria leapt to her feet, turning toward the south.
“Where are you going?” she barked.
“We have a shallower draft. We may be able to lose them amid the islands once night falls. We can’t have them following us into the crossing, Ria.”
Crestfallen, Ria sat back down, staring at her shoes. She could feel the trek to the Southern Shore slipping away from her once again. Lavinia let go of her hand as she stood to get a better view of the boat behind them. Every sail strained under the afternoon wind. It was heavier and fighting an onslaught from the sea, but the larger ship was gaining.
“We’ll be overtaken before dusk at this rate,” Lavinia said, one hand on the rail as she leaned over the side.
They were passing the outer islands of the Archipelago now, uninhabited storm-swept rocks with scant trees offering few places to hide. The populated towns were mostly deep in the peninsulas or on the sheltered side of the inner islands. Ty scanned the sea around them. No sails but those of the chasing boat were visible along the horizon.
“Isn’t there anything else you can do?” Ty asked Niri.
Ria could feel a vibration in the air, and her skin itched as if her blood was humming beneath it. It was similar to what she had felt standing next to Niri at the well. It was power, and she knew it. She longed to be able to release hers as well, but hesitated. She had no idea how to help.
Niri’s eyes had slid from Ty to the sky. Her forehead unknotted as she slowly smiled.
“I think I can feed the clouds.”
“What will that do?” Ria asked doubtfully.
“Create a bigger storm. If you do it between us, the wind should drive them back while it pushes us forward. They’ll have to lower their sails and tack.” Ty’s look weighed their odds and came up with a smile.
Lavinia said, “That could work. A small storm, right?”
Niri nodded in response.
The air began to buzz above the boat, making the hair on Ria’s arms stand up. She looked at Lavinia, wondering how she could sit still watching the ship behind.
She doesn’t feel it.
It was the first time that Ria could think of that she and Lavinia couldn’t share something. This was a part of her that Niri could understand, but never Lavinia. She felt as though a tiny rip had opened in her chest. Despite the pain, Ria felt freer. She looked up at Niri where she stood, head tilted to the sky and eyes glowing lavender-blue.
I’ll follow her anywhere to learn to be this and do what she can do.
In Ria’s eyes, Niri stood surrounded by a haze of aqua-blue and lavender. The sensation of rising amid a thousand other drops filled Ria, before she sank again into her body. The clouds above and behind them thickened, changing from misty gray to a dark roiling mass. Ria’s hair fluttered across her face as the wind shifted direction. Lightning flickered on the edges of the spreading thunderheads. Rain began to pelt the sea a few feet from their boat.
As the rain spread in earnest and drummed the sea around them, Lavinia glanced up with confusion on her face. No raindrops were falling onto their boat or sail.
“Niri is controlling the water so that it doesn’t fall on us,” Ria said to Lavinia.
Surprise erased both the worry and bewilderment on Lavinia’s face. “You can tell?”
“Yes,” Ria said, not really looking at Lavinia. “I can see it.”
Lavinia watched Ria for a moment before turning to check on her parents’ ship. The evening sky was now overspread with clouds, the sunset obliterated by the storm. Lightning flashed frequently above them, arcing between thunderheads. The wind slammed against their ship. Without a word, Ty began to reef their sail, shortening it against the strengthening gale.
It was eerie for Ria to watch the pouring rain on the storm-tossed sea, feel the ship heave on the waves, yet the wind whipping over the boat held no dampness. Ria could see the water shield around them if she looked for it—a clear line like a bubble. The buzz of the air and the hum in her blood were more audible than the storm or thunder, more immediate than the wind or boat. She wondered what it was like to be Niri, building a storm while protecting them at the same time.
The other ship was not faring as well. As the minutes passed, lightning exposed the scene again and again of the larger ship, still with all sails flying and fighting the wind to reach them.
“I think that is enough,” Lavinia said as she strained to see her parents’ ship in the pelting rain and lowering skies.
“I haven’t been feeding the storm for a few minutes now,” Niri said quietly. Despite her calm voice, Niri’s brows were pulled together and her jaw was tight.
The lightning flashed again, revealing the other ship heeled over against the onslaught of wind. The mound of a rock island was silhouetted behind it by a second flash.
“You have to stop it!” Lavinia’s voice was piercing, rising higher than the wind that screamed through the rigging of the ship.
“I can’t control the storm. It is beyond me now. They are too close to the rocks. I’m trying to keep the boat away.” Niri’s voice was thick with desperation. Her eyes were closed as she struggled with the sea.
“Pull them away! Why can’t you pull them away?” Lavinia clutched the rail as she leaned over the edge of their ship above the storm-tossed sea. There was no sign of her parents’ ship.
“I can’t match the wind with the current. They need to drop some sails!” Panic echoed in Niri’s voice along with confusion. Any other captain would have dropped or reefed the ship’s sails in such a storm. Even as a novice sailor, Ria knew that.
Another flash showed the boat slammed by a gust of wind. It tipped under the force, rolling onto its side. A large mainsail tore, the sound exploding through the storm.
“No!” Lavinia screamed, nearly throwing herself over the rail.
Ty grabbed onto her before she fell into the tossing sea.
With Niri’s concentration now on saving the larger ship, she was no longer trying to ease the strength of the waves around them or stop the rain. Raindrops hammered the deck of the boat and left dark rings on their clothes. The small boat rocked with a sickening motion, riding the crests and troughs of the building waves.
Niri staggered, falling to her knees. The itch of her power was gone from around the boat. The desire to act that the power had created in Ria was lifted as well. Instead, she felt a shift as Niri’s power in the sea wrapped around Lavinia’s parents’ ship. The wind-driven hull slid closer to the rocks of the island. Ria stood, one hand against the cabin’s door, while she looked back toward the other boat. All the while, part of her was mingled with Niri’s power around the larger boat.
“No . . .” Niri’s voice was faint and hopeless. The flashes of light showed the ship beaten by the wind and nearly flattened onto its side.
Ria was slammed by the force of emotions welling from Lavinia and Ty as they saw their parents’ boat seconds from floundering on storm-lashed rocks. Their obvious pain opened a floodgate of emotion in Ria as well. Her own family was assuredly on the other ship with theirs.
Power buzzed in the air around the Grey Dawn once more. Ria straightened, standing on her two feet without aid despite the surging sea as energy flowed from her, feeding on emotions and her desire to use what sang in her blood. The air tasted purified for a moment, no longer carrying the heavy saltiness of the sea, and then Ria released the power that had built around her. For one second the other ship was illuminated with its gunwales nearly underwater and its torn sail shredding further in the wind. Then it was gone.
Everyone froze on the tossing, rain-slicked deck of the Grey Dawn.
“What did you do?” Niri whispered, her voice trembling.
Ria shivered the way she had when she stopped the knife. As she came back to herself, her sureness faded. She stumbled, reaching for the cabin to support herself. Ty caught her.
“They are safe. I . . I sent them back home. They are just outside the harbor of Mirocyne. It was all I could think to do, to move them somewhere away from the rocks but where they could repair the boat. It is where our families first met.” Ria looked up into Ty’s amazed eyes.
“You saved them!” Lavinia threw her arms around Ria and her brother.
Niri stared at Ria. Her breath came quick and fast, tears forming in her eyes. Her face drained of color.
“Don’t you know what you did, Ria? You used your power. We are in worse danger than the other boat ever faced!” Niri’s expression was stiff with fear.
A shadow passed over Ria’s face, but did not dull the triumph in her eyes. “But we got away last time. There is plenty of time.”
Niri shook her head, then stopped abruptly. Her head snapped up, eyes widening as lavender infused them again.
“There is something huge cutting through the clouds.” It was all she had a chance to say before a massive creature plummeted from the sky and slammed into the water two hundred yards to the south of their boat. A spray of water rocketed into the air.
Ty let go of Ria so fast that Lavinia barely managed to keep both of them upright. He raced to the edge of the boat, leaning over the rail and staring in the direction of the watery collision.
“What is it?”
Niri closed her eyes, searching for it as it moved in her element. “It is the Curse. It changed to a water serpent so that it could stay under.”
“Can’t you track it?” Lavinia’s voice was starting to shake.
“It is fast . . . it moves like water.”
Suddenly, Niri lunged. Her fingers caught Ty’s shirt. She pulled him away from the edge as the ship lifted on a wave. A monstrous head reared up out of the sea exactly where the Grey Dawn had been a moment before. They were still too close.