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As I’m sure my regular readers know by now, my self-published novella “Ice” has been available for nearly two weeks now. Since I’m the publisher as well as the author, I’m doing all of the marketing for the book myself. While I’ve written summaries and discussed the book on one podcast so far, I still plan to promote the daylights out of it.
To that end, I’m putting up an excerpt of the story. It’s adventure and mutiny on the high seas, but these seas and the ships that sail upon them exist at the farthest reaches of human history where magic and science co-exist. The state of things on the merchant vessel “The Star of Jindo” have gone from bad to worse following a devastating storm that has crippled the ship and killed most of the crew. Captain Ki-Moon Yong has lost control of his command of his vessel for the first time in his career. Here’s what follows:
“Mutiny, Mr. Crooke?” In all of his years at sea, Yong never imagined his crew would fall to such a state.
“Survival, Captain.” Crooke bore the look of a determined man but the rest of the crew seemed undecided, waiting for whoever had the strength left to command.
“Mr. Crooke.” Both Yong and Andrada were surprised when Eralia took a step forward and spoke up. “You don’t want to be doing this, man. If those be the Falklands off starboard, then Puerto Gallegos is to port. Think. There hasn’t been a soul inhabiting those islands in living memory, just sea birds and rock. You’d never survive without supplies and there’s a slim chance for rescue.”
“What hope do we have of reaching port with what we’ve got left? Join us, join me. It’s our best chance. I’ll sail under your authority before I will Yong’s or Andrada’s. If you come, so will the rest of the crew.”
She started to answer when the First Mate growled, “Mr. Crooke. Either accept your duty to this ship or accept discipline.”
Yong stood unwavering but he knew the seaman had already gone too far. Once Eralia might have been able to get through to Crooke, but those days had passed.
“No, Sir. We can make berth at the islands in an hour. If you disagree, let anyone who is willing to follow me come in the longboat. Second Mate, come with us. We’ll never make it to Puerto Gallegos.”
“No one will make it if you divide the crew now, Mr. Crooke. Our only hope is to stay together aboard the Star and set course for Puerto Gallegos.”
“No, Captain. I won’t take your orders anymore.”
“Mac, you’ll end us all if you leave the ship. You and the others stay and I’ll…”
She started to edge closer to the Windcaster and Crooke, but the First Mate held his palm out to stop her. “Stand clear, Second Mate. Mr. Crooke and I will settle this.” Andrada turned to the seaman and pulled his blade out of its scabbard. “Return to duty or prepare to defend yourself.”
“Captain?” Eralia did take one more step forward, still believing she had to stop this. Yong knew what she was asking, but it was too late for either man to back down. Allowing the fight to happen meant he had ordered his First Mate to kill a mutineer.
“Stand with me, Second Mate.”
Eralia hesitated, then returned to the Captain’s side. Billy hadn’t spoken a word since spotting the Falklands. Now the boy ran to the woman and held onto her while staring at Andrada, as if willing him to stay alive.
Yong whispered to Eralia, “You did all you could, but things with Mr. Crooke have been coming to this for a long time.” He was the Captain and he had known Crooke was a risk. He should have seen to his discipline or put him off the Star long ago. But he didn’t and now this was the only way left.
Crooke, fingering his necklace, pulled out his cutlass. Two rough men with murder in their eyes faced each other.
“If you surrender now and return to crew, I promise I won’t kill you.” The First Mate grinned menacingly.
“You’ve bullied me too long, Andrada. Now it’s time to see if you live up to your reputation.”
At the last word, Crooke lashed out, but his opponent ducked away and swung back, drawing first blood by cutting through the man’s right shoulder.
The crew, leaped aside over the wreckage as the two combatants carried on their assault. In short order, Crooke’s blade added another cut to the First Mate’s face, this one just under the left eye. Andrada lunged and sliced away part of Crooke’s jacket, a pool of blood widening at the waist.
As with most such fights, this one didn’t last long. While they were strong men, their strength had been spent fighting sea and storm, and they had little left for each other. Ultimately, though, it was up to fate.
How did this disaster begin and how will it end? Will the Star of Jindo make port or forever be lost to an unforgiving ocean? Find out by buying and reading Ice by James Pyles. Don’t forget to leave a review.