You’ve met a few characters from my WIP, The Rose Shield, which I’m delighted to say is back in play after 6 solid months of editing other books. Here are some links to previous excerpts:
Catling, my six-yr-old protagonist on Hanging Day.
Whitt, her adopted brother, battling crajeks in the swamp.
Raker, the half-mad rafter who kicks off the series.
This is an intro to Gannon. He’s having a bad day.
Excerpt: The Rose Shield
Gannon woke in a cargo hold, his ankle manacled to an eyebolt in the rocking floor, his body weak as a feathered hatchling. He lay on his back, deep in a ship’s bowels, the vessel a seafaring hulk by the creaking and groaning as it smashed through the waves. Distant voices teased his ears along with a chorus of clanking metal and squabbling seawings.
The hold was dark, but not lightless. Crates and rough sacks crammed timber berths, strapped down with camgras ropes. Oily barrels perched in wooden frames to keep them from rolling. He needed food and water, and he stank to the stars.
He’d been captive in a ship’s hold before. Memories of his torture after the ambush in Mur-Vallis flooded his head. Panic broke out on his skin in a lurid sweat, and his heart leapt into a gallop. “Gah! Help! Ah. Get me out of here! Help! Let me go!” He thrashed the chain, kicked at a convenient crate, and shouted until a hatch cracked open and a spear of sunlight nearly blinded him.
A sturdy woman with chopped hair and a pickaxe nose climbed down the ladder. A scar wrinkled her upper lip, and her eyes shone in the dim light like chips of flint. She wore a black bodice and leggings, snugly fit and bordering on transparent. For ease of movement, a slit parted the front of her calf-length skirt, and her wide belt sported an assortment of bone-handled blades, none of them friendly. Though older than he and far from beautiful, she exuded an alluring confidence.
She was also Cull Tarr; he was shackled in a Cull Tarr ship.
Her hand dropped to her hip and she held up a key. “I won the wager.”
“Unchain me,” he demanded and shook his leg, clanking the chain. “Get this thing off me.”
“You might be dangerous.” Her eyes narrowed, lips turned up in a mocking smile.
“You’re delusional if you think I can slay you all and seize the ship?”
“Probably so. Still, why risk it?”
His heartbeat slowed its pace, and he stopped rattling his irons. “I give you my oath.”
“Ellegeans break oaths. They broke faith with the Founders.” She considered the key. “However, I’ll accept your word. If you break it, I’ll slice you up and feed you to the sea.”
He didn’t doubt she would. She knelt by his ankle and unbolted the lock.
“What wager did you win?” he asked, rubbing his ankle.
“I gambled on your life.” She hung the key on a nail “We found a sack of poisons on your boat. The others figured you for dead. If you didn’t wake up today, we planned to toss you overboard.”
“I’m glad you won.” He sat up and almost fell over. “I need food and a bath.”
“I’ll feed and water you, and give you a bucket.” She stood up and offered him a hand. “Maybe a fresh pair of trousers. You stink like a grounder’s shithole.”
He grabbed her hand, grateful for the help and unsteady on his feet. The ship’s roll did nothing to pacify the queasy swill in his stomach. “My respects.” He held onto the corner of a crate and managed a crooked bow. “I’m Gannon.”
“No fancy little surname?”
He shook his head. “Just Gannon.”
“A pity.” She shrugged and swung toward the ladder. “I’d hoped to ransom you. We’ll talk when you smell better.”
“Who are you?” He staggered after her.
“Emer Tilkon of the Wandering Swan. Shipmaster to the likes of you.”