Book Review of Everautumn
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Everautumn is a realm beyond common reality and common knowledge. Where retching volcanoes, unrelenting heat and ashen forests canopied with tufts of flame dominate scarcely hospitable terrain. A realm in the midst of conflict spanning millennia
Almi and Merill have died. Their hearts no longer beat in the fashion they once did. Extirpated and deposited in the harsh, lava-sown world of Everautumn, they now survive as something seated between elf and undead. For six years they have endured, because they trust he will come.
Accompanied by Descarta, the artificial weaveress; Elissa, the once-forgotten daughter; and Hafstagg, the paunchy warrior, Virgil has been sailing in search of a way to keep his promise to revive the elven twins. And he will stop at nothing to do so.
Everautumn plans to challenge that.
Following the near-catastrophe by his hands, Virgil and his cohorts have been exiled from the kingdom of Elusia. His incumbent elves, wards rescued a lifetime ago from the brink of death in a slovenly mackerel locker, have had their life chords mercilessly severed. It is a promise to revive them, to scour the corners of Grea Weralt looking for a way—any way—to use his artifice in alchemy and weaving to resurrect the twins that drives him forward. They’d always been so fiercely loyal, and he’d always pushed them aside. Never again.
He doesn’t travel alone, though. His once-queen and capable weaveress, Descarta acts as a stanchion. His daughter, Elissa, is there too; outright ignored for much of her life, it’s hard goings between the two of them. But both father and daughter do what little they can to develop a relationship. When a leviathan makes detritus of their vessel and strands them on an uncharted island, it’s a good enough reason to breathe more life into the bellows of the bond between father and daughter. It is there that they stumble upon the entrance to Cartesium, an antediluvian metropolis. The city is long-abandoned, but it is precisely the city they’ve been searching for, the city Virgil visited centuries ago when he first began his descent into villainy.
Finding themselves ensnared by an insidious trap, the cohorts are whisked away to the fire-kissed realm of Everautumn and swiftly embroiled in all the turmoil therein. Never content in moderation, upheaval continues to follow hot on their heels. Elissa vanishes alongside a legendary weaver whose motives are murky at best. Almi and Merill—those delightfully ebullient elves—finally chirp and purl into the forefront of the story. They seize the reigns with characteristic vigor and never relent. The twins rejoice, wallow in the smile-warm honey of triumph; for they have prevailed in his coming: their Virgil, their only one.
But they have not waited without consequence. Corrupted by undeath, damaged by six years apart from the man whose presence nurtures them as truly as their vitiated hearts, Almi and Merill have been soured. Still, they sing for him; they croon and lilt their singsong love as they always have, his precious passerine. By the rites they performed long ago and perpetually renew with every utterance of “Our Virgil”, they persist for him.
So it is that they walk merrily and yet not so merrily along the tumultuous path to find his daughter and brave the pernicious peregrination through Everautumn. An army of earthen beasts, a flowing baroque city of water elves, a cursed citadel of zombies, men like toads occupying a volcano-made-fortress with a thousand, thousand roosts and treachery, vile treachery, all pass under foot or wing before the end of their journey. All the while, the tragically demented sisters dodder uncertainly between jubilance and melancholy.
Carefully, ever so carefully, they’re pieced back together by those who care. By themselves, too, as they gently tuck pieces like porcelain back into place: perhaps a chip of an ear or nip of the knee. While doing so, they appreciate the favorably smooth surface and equally agreeable edges. Canted as they are, capricious as they are, Almi and Merill still maintain a keen penchant for detail. Those shards they handle are not replaced without first receiving a thorough thrice-over; their sight rolls along the rough yet toothsome edges and their fingers follow suit, absorbing memories conveniently forgotten or stashed under a mental bucket.
And so, at the end of their journey, when zombies and elves and all manner of creatures have fell to the twang of Merill’s bow or the bite of Almi’s many-fanged mace; when Elissa’s true identity as Queen of Everautumn and an author of time and reality is revealed, they find themselves whole again—as whole as sisters too often shattered can be.
Smiles press arrowheads into their cheeks, and for the first time in too long, the wake of their smiles are nothing more than that: clean, happy, content.
About the Author:
When not dutifully scrawling novels and the occasional article, Darrell can be found petting his wife or bathing with his frolicsome cat. They're both spry and easily beguiled by plastic springs, so he often confuses the two when typing his biographies in third-person.
If populating a map for military conquest, it would be accurate to neatly place his tiny walnut idol--artillery, maybe--somewhere in Toronto, Ontario. His ammunition would be writing, reading, gaming, slumbering and catting; not the naughty whipping sort but activities involving cats. Catting.
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“A cotton beard!” exclaimed the elf through a rising giggle. An exotic seesaw, she tottered with her belly over the vessel’s bulwark to swipe at a diaphanous cloud cleft by its bow. To the inquisitive girl’s dismay, the fluffy vapor evaded capture; it passed heedlessly through her fingertips, and she frowned her disappointment. “Oh.”
“Oh,” murmured her sister, the weight which balanced the dangling girl on the stable side of oblivion. The pair had moored themselves to the airborne ship by employing the same coordination used when one would assist the other with equally amusing if quite less pernicious hand-walking: Almi’s olive ankles secured under arm by Merill.
Approaching from the fo’c’sle, Virgil nearly grinned. He stamped the urge; it would only encourage them. “Songbirds,” he called, using the recently adopted title for the way they would chirrup and lark alongside the dawn passerine. “You are persistent, but your mock surprise isn’t fooling anyone. As I’ve explained thrice over, I cannot make it cotton.”
“Or edible.” He reached to shift the fulcrum and retrieve Almi before pausing at the girl’s chryselephantine calf. Golden-brown flesh was betrayed by the pureness beneath: a latticed ivory of fresh self-inflicted scars. It would be many years before his healers could right the skin. With his resources spread thin, he’d have to wait until kingship returned to marshal a substantive effort. The thought dampened his rebuke to a hardly stern, “Careful.” With a gentle push he brought the fishing elf’s feet deckward and shook his head. It wasn’t a gesture of disapproval or impatience; instead, he was merely intrigued.
“Why do you continue with this?” he probed. “Attention?”
The foundlings snapped to the military equivalent of his question, imitating a royal guard greeting their sire. “Attention!” shouted Almi.
Spurred by a nudge from her sister, Merill followed with less volume and confidence. “Most cottonest king of . . .” She paused to struggle with the still-foreign lexicon. “Of whitest cotton fluff!”
Gazing wistfully over the starboard side, Almi heaved a sigh. “We know our Virgil can. He stirs cottony clouds at home.”
“We watch,” added Merill. “We see him stir.” For punctuation, she followed the full stop with the motion of swirling a cauldron. “Stir us?” she asked, leaning forward and straightening her arms at her side.
“Stir for us,” Virgil corrected, though he found himself wondering whether the lewd misstep was intentional. Her deepened dimples invited him to inquire, for they were the cherries crowning a very well-prepared dessert. One whose peculiarly provocative way of stretching and reaching he’d found himself noticing with greater regularity and intensity of late, and they’d long expressed their love for the man.
A tug on his trappings called his attention. “Our Virgil will stir us?” Almi pressed, emphasizing with fire the incorrectness of his correction.
The sorcerer executed a mental double-take at the waif’s sultry insistence. No, he thought, this isn’t quite right. He was struck ill in spite of the agreeably suggestive coiling his complaisant wards had resorted to. Their shapely figures pressed to his while they pleaded for his stirring. Merill, usually dominated by her less traumatized sibling, had overtaken Almi with her crowing. “Stir us!”
For a moment, Virgil was suspended in that hazy nomadic residence where one acknowledges the scene before them as fantasy, a chimerical side-road where nightmares overturn memory. Only the dreamer cannot comprehend the significance and returns to the role of oblivious master-slave. In that instant of peripheral clarity, the man figured it strange he had succumbed. Dreams were the effect of memory interacting with the Fabric, and that was something he displayed remarkable control over. Then the thought dispersed.
“Dears,” he began, “you needn’t—no. You really don’t want—” Virgil clasped Almi’s pawing hand and caught her smoldering stare. “You’re beautiful girls. Oh, I’ve noticed often. But I will not abuse your sickness. I need to know what’s gotten into you.” Something about that stare was uncanny and alien; their movements flickered as the four flames set upon him.
Merill hung her chin over his shoulder and set forth a sibilant purr, “Stirrr.” Almi’s words danced on her lips, but were mere tongue taps drowned out by the sizzle and hiss of liquid blaze spreading roots across her flesh. Even within the tranquilizing grip of dreams, Virgil knew this was not as it should be.
“No more games. What is going on?” His voice was calm, his inflection controlled. Yet the weaver was fraught with worry. “Tell me,” he demanded as he snatched Almi by the shoulders and shook her. She simpered mischievously. “Tell me!” Virgil produced again, shaking her more vigorously as his composure wilted.
“We—are—wai—ting—for—our—Vir—gil.” The staccato ascended his earlobe and reminded the man that the two wonderful, if haunted, creatures were very dead; that he’d promised to come for them as he had the elven queen of yore. Almi retreated after her ghastly reminder, and so too did the unsettling dream.
Unfortunately for Virgil, he was rushed out of oneiric clutches into an insane reality. Descarta was astride his torso. She had his wrists pinned above his head with otherworldly force, and she shook violently under the onslaught of tears.
“It burns,” she cried. “Please.” Her voice was coarse and struggled; she had been agonizing long enough to wear her throat raw. Elissa hovered bedside, no less mortifying. His daughter held a blade aloft, its identity confirmed as Descarta’s when the gem-studded hilt gathered and threw some distant illumination. Virgil thought perhaps it was the moon, granting its light to the waves which in turn transferred it to the instrument through a hull window. He contemplated this for the moment of stillness that followed, content to wrestle with the source. Then, realizing her sire was very cognizant, the scowl dashed from Elissa’s features as quickly as she dashed out the room, leaving only a frightened yelp in her wake.
The immediate danger conquered—as far as Virgil could tell—he turned his attention to his convulsing beau. “Blossom,” he said, the placating tone he sought trembling on his lips and emerging as something scarcely settling. “Are you hurt?”
Descarta emitted a whine, and whatever dominated her loosed its grip. A shiver later and she collapsed atop him. Relief washed over her in a wave of fresh ocean air, as if the breeze itself had been waiting for the opportunity to glide in and do her the favor. Given her propensity for the element, it very well could have been.
“Des?” he called to her, but she was unmoving, unwilling to believe so readily that she was freed. Cautiously, she appraised herself, the prickle of frost that touched her skin in the warm summer night as the remnants of some infernal elsewhere left her body. Far as the girl could reckon she was unharmed, mental stress notwithstanding. With certainty, she knew sleep would prove to be an evasive catch in the days to come.
Virgil rose enough to gingerly examine her. Descarta could feel his careful pet as it found first her chin, then cheek, then auburn lovelocks, and she whimpered at the magical heat of his fingertips. The weaveress heard his disappointed sigh and shared its melancholy. The touch should have been rejuvenating, exciting, reassuring: never fear-inspiring. Desperately, she wanted to open her eyes and escape the nightmare, but she was a slave to apprehension; what she had experienced was no mere nightmare.
Again, he called to her. “Des, say something. I need you to say something.” His voice was taut and struggled for stability.
She was so afraid of opening her eyes to that searing hell. So afraid of returning.
Virgil sat in a bog of confusion. She didn’t seem to be physically harmed or feverish. Her flesh welcomed him with that impossibly cozy threshold between the cool, smooth surface of polished serpentine and the soft greeting of a velutinous petal. The vivid dream, Elissa, her: he was having great trouble untangling the mess. And where was Hafstagg during all this? Virgil forced himself to focus on the immediate problem. The girl in his arms looked weak, so he pulled the eiderdown to her chin. Pointless, he knew; the weaver had to do something in his helplessness. He didn’t dare enter the Fabric to inspect her there and invite vulnerability. Not when everything remained to be explained.
As it grew, his turmoil reached their bond, and Descarta knew the man cradling her was hers. “I’m here,” she said. Her words were unsure, because seconds ago she hadn’t been there. She had to forcibly instruct herself to ease her lids open and, to her relief, only Virgil’s concerned countenance welcomed the girl. “Virgil,” she breathed, squeezing herself smug to the sorcerer. “The boiling was too much.”
She seemed hale, if a bit shaken. So Virgil surmised she hadn’t suffered any injuries. “What boiling?” Virgil inquired. “What has gotten into Elissa?”
“Elissa?” The weaveress shook her head. “Nothing as far as I’m aware.”
“She was above me with your sabre in hand, poised to strike. You saw her. And you were, what was that just now?” asked Virgil.
“Where is she?” Descarta dodged the question. She’d seen nothing, of course; her mind was elsewhere at the time. And she did not wish to return, even in recollection. He had promised the elves’ influence would not grow, but tonight made it clear they were more tenacious than he anticipated—or some rule had changed. The place they’d taken her when commandeering her body was an arid landscape, sweltering and spotted with broiling pools of reddish liquid. Not lava, perhaps water tinted by some caustic mineral. But the worst part, the inescapable part, was the air: so hot that inhaling set her lungs aflame and made her capillaries scream. Descarta was clueless as to how she survived the ordeal without injury; there was no doubt in her mind about the place being real. She entertained the idea that perhaps Almi and Merill were protecting her while they wrested control, and did not see it fit to thank the pair.
“She dashed off quite upset. I don’t think she expected me to be awake when, well, we’ll find out what she was up to.” It occurred to Virgil that this could also be an elaborate dream. The entire situation was nothing like the serenity he’d fallen asleep to. It also occurred to him that the prudent course would be to treat the scenario as real whether it was or not. Better he take the fantastical seriously than gamble ruining reality. “First,” he insisted, “I’ll need you to answer me. What happened to you?”
“I haven’t a clue,” she replied honestly.
“Des, please. You know you can trust me.”
The girl was pensive. Of course she could trust him. His love was manifest in multiple sacrifices. Still, for his sake she couldn’t tell him everything, but she had to provide some patchwork explanation. He wouldn’t budge when her well-being was concerned. And there was the issue of Elissa. Something was amiss. “I was transported somewhere, Virgil. I was alone.” Her throat ached like she’d swallowed glass, but she went on. “There was fire all around. It burned to breathe; it burned all over. Oh, it burned so dreadfully.” Descarta did not need to fabricate the agony of her visit.
Virgil frowned. He had trudged through something peculiarly similar before his near-death in the Saradin dungeon. “Take your dress off.”
Descarta regarded him quizzically. “I don’t think now is the best time,” she whispered. “And I feel unwell after—” She stopped as he pulled the eiderdown away and helped her to stand. “What are you doing?” the diminutive girl asked. “Virgil!” she objected in a hoarse cry as he swept her frock over her head with a flourish of viridian samite. She didn’t bother to cover her willowy chassis; he was intimate enough with the image.
“Stand still, blossom.”
She nodded and cast away from his gaze, blushing. This was an odd time to go about such things, but she would not deny him his desire. Descarta stood in place, a porcelain statue while he moved behind her, hands finding her hips. He sighed against her lower back and she shivered her response.
“Damn,” muttered Virgil.
“This isn’t right.”
“W-What?” stuttered Descarta.
With equal ease, Virgil helped her back into the frock while the woebegone girl did her best to avoid his eyes. “I’m sorry,” she offered. “I’m afraid.” The weaver before her was quiet, ruminating and melancholy. He scratched the piceous mess atop his head. Silently, Descarta succumbed to habit as well, fumbling with the volute lace of her pinafore.
Virgil sucked in a slow, deep breath and released it the same. “It is gone. The wound is gone. Just two days ago you cut yourself exercising with Elissa.” The synapses had finished their job, so they relinquished control to compassion. Repentant, he cursed himself and hugged the girl with vigor. “Forgive me, Des. You’re resplendent.” Virgil applied a gossamer kiss to her temple, and put space between them so he could stroke her neck and command the shimmer of her amber stare. “Resplendent, yes?”
“You were right; it isn’t the best time. But I cannot turn away such an appetizing girl.” Virgil grinned. “Her mews are so awfully arousing.”
“Virgil,” she turned appreciative little arrowheads into her cheeks, conscious of the way he could make her smile even when terror lingered. Descarta recognized it in him, too. Behind the grin he wore for her and in the tumult of his stare. “I misunderstood you; that’s all. What is the significance?” She intended to say more, yet her throat wouldn’t allow it. And she figured he could gather what she meant well enough.
“I’ve been there,” Virgil replied as he exited the chambers, Descarta in tow.
“The land of fire you described. When we were rescuing my—” Virgil choked on the names of his wards. All he had left were memories, and those precious rubies were now tainted, too. It wasn’t that he couldn’t summon the names. He was mortified by the consequence of acknowledging the poisoned syllables as something forever lost. He’d promised the chipper pair resurrection. He would give his utmost to fulfill that promise. Descarta instinctively grasped his palm and squeezed. She said nothing. She didn’t need to: her touch inspired confidence.
“Elissa!” Virgil called. “Hafstagg!” No answer, so he went on while warily descending the steps to her quarters. “When my flank was destroyed at Saradin, I treaded the muck of some lava swamp between this world and wherever that is. I was subsequently healed, and so were you.”
Descarta’s words came as a hack and rasp. She swallowed them with a wince.
“Heal your throat, dear,” urged Virgil, but she refused. The sorceress wanted to be sure no one was in dire need of her weaving before addressing a bothersome but less than vital wound. “Very well,” he sighed, auguring the cause without much trouble. She cared deeply for everyone aboard the vessel. The master weaver would have happily summoned his meager healing capacity in her stead, only it was lost to him. Since the incident that nearly killed them all, his access to everything but the element of fire had been either suppressed or lost. The passes to conjure anything else had been wiped from his knowledge, leaving only the one strengthened affinity.
A quick search of the quarters and storage rooms was fruitless, so the pair left belowdecks. Above, the moon glowed a vibrant vanilla, suspiciously large among its celestial brothers and sisters. The unnaturally placid sea didn’t slosh or complain against the hull in its usual manner. Beyond the aft railing, Descarta noticed a blotch of starless ink that interrupted the otherwise perfect horizon.
“Land,” Virgil acknowledged as he followed her outstretched finger. “Elissa,” he called just before spotting the lass near to the fore mast. “Elissa.”
The girl was quaking, sabre clasped in similarly unsteady hands before her. “I’m sorry!” she screamed. It was the first time Virgil or Descarta had ever heard the milquetoast raise her voice, and it was startling. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry, Virgil! I’m sorry, Des!” She shook her head vehemently. Virgil took a step forward and she stopped him with a defiant cry. “No!”
It was Descarta who caught the hulking shadow some mid-way between them. The body lay motionless behind a crate. “Hafstagg,” gasped the weaveress.
Elissa started at the mention and backed away, closer to the bow. “No, no, no, no, no!”
“This must be another dream,” Virgil sighed. If Descarta had the voice to argue, she couldn’t have conjured a solid counter. “Elissa—”
“I’m so sorry!” she interrupted.
“I’m so sorry!”
Virgil let loose a steadying suspiration. Descarta nudged him and nodded to the supine figure, brow furrowed anxiously. “I know,” he whispered. While he scarcely cared for the boorish man, she did, and he had learned to begrudgingly respect that. He separated himself from Descarta and began a careful walk forward.
“No!” shouted Elissa. He continued heedlessly through several more shouts until he was within blade’s reach. His daughter trembled but showed no signs of relenting.
“Come, dear. I’ll forgive whatever you’ve done,” Virgil said while wearing as benign an expression as the situation allowed. “Just relax and drop the sword.”
Elissa looked from him to the exquisite hilt and back. Her volume softened and returned to its shy native pitch. “I-I cannot.”
The girl turned her crimson stare to contemplate the timber at her feet. Virgil seized the opportunity to shuffle in beyond the sabre’s effective range and take the girl to the deck. Elissa only resisted when the sorcerer pried each finger from the sabre, and even then only by clenching her fists as hard as she could. When he finally succeeded in disarming the blade, he tossed it aside.
The dull thud and bumpy roll was signal enough for Descarta to hurry to Hafstagg. He lay clutching a nasty wound along his unarmored side. He wasn’t yet mortally wounded, but that could change with enough blood loss. The poppet pursed her lips and was grateful she’d foregone needless healing. After gingerly removing the upper half of the large man’s arming doublet, Descarta invoked a glove of watery weave and began her effort to staunch the flow.
Elissa was quiet, dejected, and refused to look at the man holding her. His efforts to comfort her failed miserably, so instead he simply sat quietly beside the girl. Virgil didn’t want to restrain her, but he also could not let her free given the incriminating evidence just a dozen footfalls away. He watched her closely, and the moon’s margaritaceous shine in her incarnadine eyes reminded him keenly of her mother’s radiant rubies moments before they were drained of life. Virgil found the distant sorrow there disgusting. Eyes as hers should never be blemished so.
A grunt issued from below Descarta, and the hope that washed over Elissa was lucid in the way her posture transformed from sagging to tense. She hugged her knees and leaned forward, eager to hear another sign of restored vigor.
“Easy,” Descarta hoarsely instructed when the hulking warrior recovered consciousness. “Just rest. I’m not finished here.”
He began to object, but even a slight tilt of his head brought on vertigo and another groan. “Elissa did this,” he warned. “I’m not knowin’ what caused it, but she’s off kilter. I thought she was foolin’ when she slashed at me.”
“We’re aware,” responded Descarta, shuffling on her knees to tend the back of his skull. “She’s been calmed.” The prone man grunted again as she tapped at the hard lump on the back of his head.
“Why did you do it?” Virgil asked his once-again-reticent daughter.
Elissa drew a breath, and if she had planned on responding it was interrupted when the boat pitched under the force of a sudden blow. She yelped, Virgil cursed, Descarta cried out and Hafstagg complained. When the violent rocking subsided, a leviathan towered over the four recovering sailors. Serrated spines dominated the portion of the creature that breached the water. It was truly behemoth: half as wide as the ship and many times the length. The latter was initially an assumption, but it was a brief assumption. The beast wasted no time in throwing itself across the deck and diving, tearing the long course of its scaly, pike-laden hide across until, with a fierce swipe, its spire of a tail sailed just over a tumbling Descarta to splinter the fore mast.
Virgil could have sworn; he could have raged; he could have threw in the towel; he could have smartly voiced the absurdity of this carnival of events his mind had clearly—clearly!—concocted under a deathly high fever. The scenario justified all those things. But he was growing weary of this theatre-prison. He stretched a hand to help Elissa to her feet and the biting pain which stretched from shoulder to fingertips when she took his hand assured him that yes, his arm had been fractured when he was thrown to the deck. Of course it was. What would an incredulous series of events be without fighting a leviathan while crippled? Surely, the ship would burst next. “Des,” he called while Elissa helped herself up.
“Here,” Descarta answered from her side of the wake, which split the upper deck in twain. Hafstagg was beside her, unhappy but no more harmed, struggling to stand with her help. “What sort of monster was that?”
“I don’t know, blossom. But we must defend ourselves. Can you manage?” Virgil looked to Elissa and appraised her. He could boast of her expertise in many arenas; combat did not find its way onto that list. “Hide somewhere sturdy.”
She nodded and headed back toward the bow. He really had no idea where she would find somewhere sturdy. That had become peripheral. Virgil clenched his teeth and performed a quick arcane pass that materialized a flaming harpoon in his working hand. This beast was likely ancient, powerful and wanted very much to stain the sea with their blood. Virgil shared the traits and sentiment. Descarta and Elissa had been such doting, affectionate caretakers during the labors of his recovery. The pair made certain he was always comfortable, always healthy, despite his many objections. He loved them all the more for it, but it made him feel weakened. It was his turn to care for them in his own way.
The leviathan emerged well out of reach in a giant leap that sent its snarling beaklike maw into a low-loping cloud. For seconds, it seemed to fly, and the awaiting cohorts could only gawk at their disgustingly bad luck. Then it plummeted to the sea, producing a great swell. “It’s trying to send us off balance before a direct blow!” Descarta painfully issued. “Grab something and be ready!” She wrapped both arms around a bulwark balustrade and prepared for the wave. When it hit, it was hardly damaging. But the gushing blue-green water was sucked into the split deck and took hold like an anchor, quickly shifting the boat in the opposite direction. Descarta found her balustrade quite resilient. Only she was underwater, surrounded by debris falling from the canting ship. When the water lost its grip and the deck returned to an angry sometimes-horizontal, she was up. The sea behemoth was nearly upon them then, but it halted to bellow at the fiery harpoon that’d lanced its forehead. After a two count, the magical weapon exploded in a great, ferocious inferno that engulfed a large part of the creature’s upper body.
Overkill was better than another blow from the beast, so Descarta began her own offensive. The creature was obviously endemic to water, and she doubted even a tornado would deal any consequential damage. So the weaveress instead summoned a gust of lassoing wind to heft the cleft fore mast. It was heavy, and she began to question whether she’d picked too large an object; a fierce gale answered her call to assuage the problem. Descarta used the conscripted winds to hover the timber-spear high above the deck. They whirled with the power of a twister around the mast until it burst forth, much like a trebuchet releasing its load, to disappear into the waning inferno. The subsequent roar and spasm indicated a hit, and she doubted anything could live through the assault she and Virgil had levied.
Elissa clutched the lifebuoy. She was instructed to find something sturdy, but what was sturdy when that monster had nearly decimated the ship by wriggling on it? This wasn’t at all what she wanted when she agreed to join the crew. The half-elf had hoped to have her aloof father notice her, and if things went as he intended, Merill, too. Instead that man, that insidious man, had perhaps sundered any chance for her to be close to her father.
She knew his name: Giacomo. He’d introduced himself as “an old friend of Virgil’s”. Well, it seemed to her that old friends did not wield daughter against father like he did. At the time, all she heard was the vile voice of Giacomo; all she saw was what Virgil had never done for her. The man in her dreams had corrupted her so easily.
“Steady! It’s coming again!” warned Virgil.
Elissa saw her death in its foaming maw. The leviathan was repulsive when she first saw it. Repulsive had transformed to gruesome. Scales bubbled in the inferno’s aftermath; the glowing harpoon still injected firestuff into the beast’s punctured eye; a great shaft of timber was wedged deep into its colossal skull. And yet it raced toward her. She saw the rancor in its gaze and knew it wanted to kill them. Not for food or sport or whatever its initial reason for attacking had been. The creature simply wanted the four who would dare to maim it dead.
Another flame-harpoon impaled the same compound eye. Another explosion. Elissa knew it wouldn’t be enough. Even if the barreling beast died there, its corpse would obliterate the ship. She looked at her lifebuoy; it was a gourd colored like confectionery.
Then the impact came. There were brief shouts all around. Curses, most of them. Elissa just clenched the safety device tighter and closed her eyes. She could feel the wind racing through her hair as she soared free of the surely obliterated boat, the splash of warm tropical water, and then nothing.
I had a hard time initially with understanding this book, however as this is book 2 in the series I believe that is the reason. I think if I had read book 1 it would have made a good deal more sense.
That said, I eventually developed an understanding of the missing information. While I’m not sure I would have chosen this book to read on my own, I enjoyed it. It was surrealistic, which will not appeal to all readers, although I enjoy alternative reality issues. I am glad that I read the book and will look for other books by this author.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but the psychological underlay was fascinating.
I give this story 3.5 out of 5 clouds.
This product or book may have been distributed for review; this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.