I wanted to share a snippet from my upcoming "Drunken Faery Adventure" (aka The Lost Ancients world) novella coming out next week! The faeries aren't in this snippet-- these are the first pages, but trust me, they are there! And sadly being covered in fish is not going to be the worst thing Jadiera has to deal with. (sorry about the funky formatting--it looks normal in the book ;))
The anthology can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B092R7VQ83/
My short story is The Dangerous Lady.
Jadiera tossed aside the fish that
had landed on her head. And the ones that covered most of her body. The short rat
bastards who’d tossed her out in the bin of fish and then threw more on her,
would get what was coming. At some point. Might be years down the line, but
they would get it. Their laughter as they walked away made it easier for her to
judge when she was ready to climb out of the bin. After a few minutes of
complete silence she stuck her head up and peered around.
alley was empty, or mostly so. Zulc was still there. His bulky shadow as he
leaned against the building blocked most of the light from the closest sputtering
lamp. Of course, he’d have an excellent reason as to why he hadn’t helped her,
then come with her hoping to get some of her meager food funds. Never mind that
she’d shared what she had when they started this ill-fated trip.
was a minotaur, but sadly not one of the brightest of his kind. He was big and
brawny, but also one of the biggest cowards she knew.
walked over to him slowly, patting herself down to make sure all the fish were
gone. If they were going to dump her in fish, the bastards could have at least
done so in fish that was edible. The smollens were bait fish; only thing that
ate them were bigger fish.
‘diera. There were a lot of them.” He didn’t even look sorry. The least he
could do would be to fake it.
shook her head. “They were gnomes, Zulc. Gnomes. There could have been a
hundred of them and you could have stopped them.”
ruled the town of Liverport and most of them were fishermen. Still, Jadiera had
acted on a tip and taken Zulc, herself, and her ship the Sea Queen to
Liverport for a courier job. One that was a trap for someone else entirely and
ended with her in the fish dumpster when they realized she wasn’t their target.
supported herself by traveling between the islands that made up the Sendai
kingdom. Usually she was fine alone, this time the job sounded larger so she
brought on Zulc. The job was a fake and now she was stuck with him, no money, and
nothing to carry off this wretched island.
wandered ahead of her as they made their way out of the alley. She was more
focused on the damage done to her dress than anything else. The two thugs who
jumped in front of her were not expected, but she should have realized this
trip was only going one direction. Down.
Marco, look at this fine lady. How much for a tumble?” The front male wasn’t
much taller than her, most likely human mixed with gnome. His friend was about
the same, only skinnier.
not the kind of woman you’re looking for.” She pulled out her dagger from its
hidden sheath. It was almost long enough to be a short sword, but whatever it
was called, it was pointed, sharp, and she knew how to use it.
we’ll be the judge of that.” The closer one lunged forward, sniffed, and
scurried backward so quickly that he bowled over his companion and they both
fell in a heap.
would like to think it was because they got a good look at her blade. But most
likely they got a good whiff of her. The aroma was bad and getting worse. She
stepped forward waving her dagger anyway. “I’d run if I were you, the curse of
the fish hag will follow you everywhere!” She raised her arms high above her head
and chanted a few harmless words she’d gathered from her last courier trip to
the Othierian Islands. Lots of sorcerers there, but nice people. The words she
shouted were from a menu of foods available at a pub there. But they sounded
words, dagger, and her smell got them to flee. All of that and still no Zulc in
finally found him in the pub of the inn they’d taken rooms at. He nodded to her
from his seat. She sighed, nodded back, and kept going to the outside stairs.
The smell of her clothes was making her eyes water and the people in the pub
would probably lynch her if she stepped inside. The room she’d taken was small
and shabby, but it had solid walls, and an uncommon and most welcome private
bath. She’d paid for water to have been drawn and it was there. A check
revealed they’d drawn it long ago and it was ice cold, but right now, she
didn’t care. She used some of her precious soap supply to lather herself a few
times, then got out and dumped her clothing in and scrubbed it as best she
could. The room had a tiny fireplace with a single pathetic log in it, but
after she put on something warm and dry, she got the fire going and hung out
her damp clothing. Hopefully, she’d gotten enough of the smell out, but her
nose had become numb to it, so she couldn’t be certain.
dug through her pack to bring out some hardtack and a withered apple. She’d
been looking forward to a hot meal in the pub, but the way this evening had
gone so far, it was safer to stay in here. Not to mention, no job meant no more
funds coming in.
warmed some water for tea in her battered travel kettle, ate her meal, and
climbed into bed. Hopefully, a good night’s sleep would make things seem better
in the morning.
just dozed off and was dreaming of a successful haul; carrying a single chest
from one island to the next and getting paid riches each time she landed, when
the world shook apart.
always slept with her dagger under her pillow. It was in her hand and she was on
her feet before the rumbling stopped. Fast reflexes were the only thing that had
kept her alive this long.
wall opposite her tiny fireplace had been hit so hard that cracks now ran
Not only did it ruin her sleep, but that was the room Zulc took. He wasn’t
really her employee, more like he felt she might help him earn money and she
felt the same. Still, she should check on him. Maybe he just got too drunk and
misjudged his bed. She kept her dagger out just in case anyway as she crept
into the corridor.
She lightly called his name before she knocked on the door. No answer but the
door swung open at her touch. The bits of frame that flaked off as it moved told
her someone had let themselves in before her. The room was dark, but there was
no movement. Keeping her dagger up, she reached into her pocket for a small
glow; a magically charged ball of light that could be used by non-magic users,
or in her case, very low-level magic users. On her own, she could use small
spells, nothing powerful. But wasting her little bit of magic on a glow was
something she hadn’t had to do yet.
held the glow up then started swearing and raised her dagger as well.
was dead. It had been his massive, broken body being flung against the wall
that caused the rumble in her room. And there was no being she knew of that
could survive with a neck bent at that angle. From her quick glance, someone
had searched his room, possibly they were doing it when he came back up from
the pub. Zulc might be a coward when it came to defending her, but if someone
was after his things he would have fought with cocky surety. Which normally
would have been well placed. Few people could beat a minotaur in a hand-to-hand
fight. She shuddered at the fact someone had beat him, broken his neck, and
managed to throw him across the room.
smart thing would be to grab her stuff, get on the Sea Queen, and flee.
But sailing in unknown waters at night was a bad idea. Her being alone would
only make it worse. And she’d really like to find a courier job before she
left. She darkened the glow and with a quick look down the hallway, got back to
her room and bolted the door.
few things she’d taken out of her bag were piled back in; she just left the
drying clothes out. If need be, she’d leave them behind, but she only had three
changes of clothes, so she’d rather not. Although, if whoever killed Zulc had
done so because of some connection to her, she’d burn the clothes herself.
moved the small table and even the chair with her damp clothes in front of the
door to at least slow anyone down who tried to get in. Then sat propped up on
the bed with her dagger out and waited.
had no idea when she dozed off, but a pounding on the door made her realize
that she had and that crumbled sideways while sitting on a bed wasn’t the best
way to sleep. Luckily, she’d dropped her dagger and hadn’t stabbed herself with
it. There were five-hundred-year-olds who felt less stiff than she did right
from the predawn stabbed its way through the thin curtain and the pounding on
the door continued. She tucked her dagger into the sheath she had hidden in her
skirts and opened the door an inch. “Yes? I paid through the day after next.”
She seriously doubted that she was going to stay anywhere near that long, but
they already had her money.
came in with a minotaur.” It wasn’t a question. This was the owner of the inn
and pub, an old fighter, but still enough muscle that he could have been the
one who beat up Zulc—if Zulc had been drunk.
We traveled to Liverport together, I thought it safer to have someone his size travel
with me.” She gave him her best winsome smile and blinked innocently. She had
no idea what had happened to Zulc to leave him in the state she found him. But
she did know that she didn’t want to be connected with it, or him. She was
grateful that he hadn’t tried to help her with the gnomes who dumped her in the
bait. Fewer people to connect them.
scowled back. “You two weren’t together?”
he in trouble? He helped me on my ship, for a few coins, but if he needs
something, maybe I can help?” She tried to put some sweetness into her voice.
She really should have taken those acting lessons her father offered when she
was a kid.
leaned down to stare into her eyes. Then finally pulled back with a grunt. “He
got himself killed. Last night. In the room next to yours.” He folded his arms
and glared down at her.
happened? I wasn’t feeling well. Ship travel makes me dizzy sometimes, so a
healer gave me some dolithia to sleep. I took it right when I got in here and
only just woke up when you knocked.” Dolithia was a ground herb used by some
outer islanders as a sleep potion. Usually on the other end of a dart or arrow
and against their enemies, but it also could be used in a medicinal sense. Jadiera
might not be a good actress, but she gathered knowledge like a miser gathered
heard of that. Dangerous. You might not have woken at all.” He rubbed his gray
beard and stepped back. “I’m thinkin’ that minotaur got his nose into something
he shouldn’t of. Nothing to do about you. Come on down when you’re ready, the
missus will make you some breakfast.” He looked her up and down. “Get some meat
on those bones.” He nodded and walked to the next room.
shut the door and leaned against it. That was close. Hopefully if the local pub
owner felt she wasn’t involved, that news would get spread around town. She
wasn’t involved, but she did know Zulc better than she let on. She’d have to
watch what she said around town.
glance down at her now extremely wrinkled dress told her she was now down two
outfits. She changed into leather pants with a loose tunic and shirt. Her
dagger would be more noticeable in this outfit, which was one reason she
preferred the skirts. But from what she’d briefly seen of the locals before her
side trip into the fish bin, weapons were common. Who knew a small gnome fishing village needed
to be well armed?
made sure her few items of value: a long chain with a single leaf pendant, her
glow, a few other pre-made spell packs of various forms, and her remaining
funds were all with her in various hidden compartments. Better to have them with
her than leave them here for the taking.
open the door and taking quick glances down each side of the hall revealed no
one was out. When they’d checked in, the inn had been mostly empty, but many
times these places made money off booking rooms to extremely drunk persons late
at night. With or without their knowledge.