Lioness of Kell
Release Date: January 30th 2015 Red Rune Books
Summary from Goodreads:
Secure in his position as the mighty Prince-warlock’s son, eighteen-year-old Basil is content with his solitary life of study and magic. He has a comfortable set of rooms in his father’s tower, he has his books and scrolls, and he is perfectly happy. Until the Warlockry Council summons him, and their demands sets his whole, safe existence tottering. Scared and unsure, he decides to run, and takes the first ship out of town. On board he meets Yarwan, the handsome midshipman, who awakens feelings he never knew existed. Maud of the M’Brannoe, at nineteen already a mighty Kell warrioress, is about to graduate as a Lioness, a special duty officer answering to her Queen and no one else. The Prince-warlock asks her to fetch a certain boy from a pirate town, who could be double for his son. On their way back, someone sabotages their airship and the two find themselves marooned in an ill-reputed forest. Together, the young lioness and Jurgis the lookalike run for the coast and a ship home, while finding solace in each other’s arms. Then the four young people meet, and Basil learns of a spell that might help him. Only the spell’s creator, the infamous Black Warlock, disappeared nearly a century ago. When the four young people decide to go looking for him, they start on a path leading to an old war and unsolved mysteries that will change the world. Or kill them. A spirited fantasy story of high adventure, sparkling humor and romantic love in an alternate earth setting of tropical islands, pirates, steamships and wyrms, where both magic and early modern technology flourish.
CHAPTER 4 – SABOTAGE
It was at the break of dawn, and raining. The branches of the trees around the clearing were heavy with water.
Jurgis shivered. ‘Chilly.’
‘You’re afraid,’ Maud said teasingly.
‘I’m not. When I’m burgling a house, I am afraid. Now I’m not… at least not yet. Which herbs do you need?’
‘Kornullia and everline. Won’t be difficult; they’re common enough. While I’m searching, you watch my back.’
‘Gladly,’ the boy said. ‘It’s very pretty.’
Maud’s breathing faltered for a second as sudden desire exploded in her belly. ‘Don’t say that!’ she snarled.
‘Hey! Don’t be mad, I’m not Atark! I didn’t mean anything,’ Jurgis said, stepping back. ‘It was a compliment.’
A deep sigh escaped her, and she unclenched her hands. ‘It’s all right. You have much to learn about Kells.’
‘Tell me what I said wrong.’
Maud looked at him; the boy seemed earnest enough. ‘Another time. It’s rather personal.’ She felt embarrassed by her feelings and went tight-lipped around the clearing, searching the high grass and underneath the bushes for the herbs she needed.
At last, with her hands full of stems and leaves, she stretched. ‘We’ve got quite a haul and all fresh. She’ll….’
‘What’s that?’ Jurgis’ puzzled voice interrupted her and she gazed at the sky.
‘I thought I saw a bird,’ Jurgis said.
Maud looked at him. ‘So?’
‘A giant bird. Red-spotted green. Breathing sparks.’
‘You’re trying to be funny?’
‘Only it isn’t a bird, it’s a lizard.’ Jurgis waved upward. ‘Gosh, look at those teeth!’
Now Maud saw it, too. A great winged reptile, child of a salamander and a crocodile. With a tail easily twice its body length, and four taloned limbs. It grew larger as it came near, its body undulating as if swimming in the air. The spots on its green scales were blood red and its toothy mouth smoked as if fires stoked its flight.
‘Divine Otha! That’s a wyrm!’ Dropping the herbs, Maud put her hands to her mouth and cried, ‘Hallo, the boat! Alarm! Alarm!’
The dirigible’s captain appeared in the cabin door, and Maud pointed. At that moment, the wyrm dove. The captain slammed the door closed, but whatever she planned to do, she didn’t make it. With a roar, the wyrm attacked, spitting lightning. The balloon’s outer cover wasn’t made to withstand fire; it crackled and melted, and with an indescribable sound, the gas compartment burst into flames. Then, while the wyrm climbed higher for a second dive, the clearing became bright as daytime as the floatgas in the balloon turned the whole dirigible into a ball of fire.
Maud lifted up her head and uttered a cry of bone-chilling rage.
‘Back!’ She felt Jurgis gripping her biceps, but she couldn’t move.
‘It’s goin’ to crash.’ His excited voice tugged at the rage that shook her. Deep in her mind, a small spot of sanity agreed with the thief, and she didn’t resist as he dragged her into the forest’s edge.
Paul E. Horsman (1952) is a Dutch and International Fantasy Author. Born in the sleepy garden village of Bussum, The Netherlands, he now lives in Roosendaal, a town on the Dutch border with Belgium. He has been a soldier, salesman, scoutmaster and from 1995 teacher of Dutch as a Second Language to refugees from all over the globe. Since 2012, he is a full-time writer of epic light fantasy adventures for Y.A. and older. His works have been both trade published in The Netherlands, and self-published internationally.
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