Novel Monday: Facing the Storm – Chapter 5

Description:

When the Tourmaline Seas docked in Atalya, Raelin expected a normal port of call: trade, exploration, loading cargo.

What she got was a stunning offer, threats from the Delbhana and an unexpected need to step into her elder’s shoes.

The rest of the trip home to Aingeal raised the stakes for Raelin and her beloved ship as the lives of everyone on board rested in Raelin’s unprepared hands.

Facing the Storm

By Meyari McFarland

5. Refused Gift

Raelin panted, her eyes wide even though she couldn’t see anything. The things she saw didn’t make sense, not grass and water and flame-tinted sky but ripples and tiny things flitting in front of her eyes while soft, long things that felt like limbs but lacked bones gently waved on front of her. She swallowed down a heave of her stomach that threatened to tip her right over into the grass-not-grass.

Her head throbbed, the temples stabbing her as if someone had shoved twin ice picks into her brain. It sent spikes down her spine, curled the scalp up at the back of her neck and shoved dull butter knives in at the joint between skull and spine. Her jaw ached. So did her teeth. Her hands, her knuckles, her knees, her chest that couldn’t quite move because something so heavy pressed on her chest that she could breathe.

Under her hands the grass was cool and damp. She dug her fingers into the earth, mud collecting under her short-clipped nails. That was real. It was. Raelin could tell, somehow, someway, that the grass was her, was different from the ripples and the scent of salt, the chatter of babies with bright-hot thoughts in the distance.

It hurt. Hurt so badly but Raelin didn’t think there was any real malice in the Lady’s fierce focus on her. It felt more as though she was trying to understand, to communicate as clearly as possible, but Raelin’s brain just couldn’t do what it needed to.

“Anwyn,” Raelin gasped, picturing Anwyn in the days and weeks after her visit to the City of the Ladies in Aingeal. “Punishment. Family. Brawls!”

Anwyn had been troublesome before the visit, always prone to arguing with people but afterwards it had been so much worse. Everything was a reason to argue, to fight, for Anwyn. She’d picked fights over every little thing, even which socks to wear. Mother had shouted and punished. Father had scolded, used the ‘so disappointed in you’ face, pleaded and finally flatly told Anwyn she wouldn’t get her way, no matter what it was Anwyn wanted to do.

The Delbhana had punished their whole Clan. They were still punishing the Dana. Day after day after week after month after year, the Delbhana targeted Raelin and her family just because everyone knew of Anwyn’s visit to the Ladies, knew that she’d gotten some sort of gift from them. None of them could relax. Not Raelin. Not Mother. Definitely not Anwyn who’d gotten quieter over the years, though never less prone to picking fights.

Every visit to the Ladies, every encounter, every Gift, had a price.
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Fantasy Book Promotion!

Only until the 20th, you can get more than 50 Fantasy novels significantly reduced. Not just my novel, Running From the Immortals, but so many really awesome stories!

Go Get Some Great Fantasy Books!

Andrea Pearson has put together a terrific promotion that benefits all of you. Seriously, I’m going to be buying several of these books.

She not only collected some awesome stories and great authors, she got ratings so that you know what you’re dealing with.

I put in Running From the Immortals, the first in my Blood of the Artificer Mages trilogy. That was the story that first moved me from fanfic into writing my own stories, way back in 2012.

It’s got a saga. Seriously, it was such a mess. I wrote the story originally for NaNoWriMo and posted it online. There were issues with it, including a point of view that started 2/3 through the book when I realized I needed to see from someone else’s eyes.

A startup publisher (who I won’t name so don’t ask) solicited me to submit it and they accepted it. But I don’t think they ever wanted to publish it because three years later we still weren’t done with editing. I did a full edit within 6 months, added 60K to the story. But they just couldn’t seem to get the final edts to me.

Folks, I had to get a lawyer to get out of that contract.

Once I did, I looked at the mess I had left from 3 years of aimless edits with two separate editors with totally different styles and said, nope. I still like the story. I just need to fix what they messed up.

So I did an intense rewrite. I put the second point of view all the way through, took it from 160K single novel into a trilogy and man, it’s so much stronger for it. Every single chapter got redrafted and reworked with three years worth of experience.

Running From the Immortals isn’t the first, chronologically speaking, story of the Mages of Tindiere verse but it is a great entry point to reading in that world. I hope that you’ll go check my book out but more than that I hope you go check out all these awesome books.

Go Get Some Great Fantasy Books!

Go share the love, guys and have a great weekend!

Meyari McFarland
MDR Publishing

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Novel Monday: Facing the Storm – Chapter 4

Description:

When the Tourmaline Seas docked in Atalya, Raelin expected a normal port of call: trade, exploration, loading cargo.

What she got was a stunning offer, threats from the Delbhana and an unexpected need to step into her elder’s shoes.

The rest of the trip home to Aingeal raised the stakes for Raelin and her beloved ship as the lives of everyone on board rested in Raelin’s unprepared hands.

Facing the Storm

By Meyari McFarland

4. Babies

Raelin snapped her mouth shut. Her heart pounded so hard that she could barely hear Captain Vevina’s quiet growl. Bahb’s worried murmur of ‘Rae?’ was a distant tremor of sound that barely reached her ears.

The Ladies wanted to talk to her directly. Personally. Not good, not good at all. As curious as Raelin was about the Ladies and their City, she didn’t want to risk any of the problems that they’d gotten after Anwyn’s visit. Or the chancy temper that all her relatives had. It seemed as though the people closest to the Ladies, the ones most favored by them, were the ones most likely to get into huge fights at the drop of a line.

Even if it offended the Ladies, Raelin didn’t want to be that way. She had her goals for her life and getting into brawls every other day wasn’t on the plan of action.

“I… will do so, of course,” Raelin said once she’d managed to swallow down the scream that wanted to erupt. “Did they say why?”

Wouter chuckled, nodding. His eyes wrinkled up as he grinned at her. “The babies thought your hair was beautiful. They wanted to see it closer.”

Raelin stared. From the corner of her eye, she saw Captain Vevina start, stare and then put a hand over her forehead as if she’d just gotten the worst headache of her life. Bahb, as always when something weird happened to Raelin, snorted and shrugged as if it was only to be expected.

“Oh,” Raelin finally said. “All right. That’s fine. It’s um, just red hair.”

“Red hair is very rare in Atalya,” Wouter said. He leaned on his wife’s arm, always presuming she was his wife, and then stood. His knees nearly gave way before he could maneuver his cane into position to take his weight. “We have many with brown hair and some blond but red hair is very rare. The Ladies have always favored those with red hair.”

He hobbled off towards the edge of the grass where it shifted from solid earth to reeds mixed with tiny channels of sea water. Raelin followed, glancing over her shoulder once to make sure that Captain Vevina and Bahb were okay. To her relief, they were already following Femke towards one of the bigger braziers. Bahb waved at Raelin to go on, using the hand gesture for ‘get your task done’. Raelin waved back ‘on it’ and then let her worries for them go.

After all, there were baby Ladies to meet and that was both exciting and worrying. What would they be like? Anwyn had said many times that the Ladies didn’t look at all like popular depictions. They didn’t have a woman’s body on top and a fish’s tail on the bottom. What Anwyn had seen was so much weirder that Raelin still wasn’t sure that she believed Anwyn’s story.

How could someone be nothing but head and arm? Or tentacle, anyway as the Ladies only had tentacles, not arms and legs and hands and feet. Their eyes were supposed to be as big as saucers and their mouth was above the eyes, not below. It sounded strange and incomprehensible to Raelin.
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Finally! New Releases!

I finally put together the links to all the new releases from last quarter 2017.

And sent them out to my mailing list.

Click on the link to see the notice and hey, sign up for my mailing list and you get not just notices of what’s out with babbling by yours truly but also a free copy of Iridescent, a $6.99 value.

Enjoy everyone!

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Free Fiction Friday: Darkness Rising

Every Friday I post a short story here for free. It stays up for one week and then I take it down so that I can post something else. Enjoy this one while it lasts!

POD Darkness Rising Ebook Cover 02
Description:
Kia’s life revolved around the monsters that stalked her tribe every night. The Dark killed at will and there was nothing that Kia could do. Until one night, Kia’s anger overwhelmed her fear. Her life went on a different path, one that she could never have anticipated. Defender of her tribe, Kia bided her time until she discovered a weakness in the Dark that promised everyone freedom.

Darkness Rising is a moody science fiction story set in humanity’s ancient past where one woman’s life made a huge difference in humanity’s development and in first contact with a mysterious alien race.

Darkness Rising

By Meyari McFarland

1. Night

Kia watched quietly, nibbling on her bottom lip as Chinara took a fresh incense cone and gently set it on the family altar. Her hands didn’t shake the way Fola’s had when she put the dates on the altar. Chinara’s hands were steady. Her voice was calm as she prayed to the Gods to grant them good weather, bountiful harvests and freedom from the Dark. It felt wrong for her to be so calm. She should be angry, like Kia.

Outside, Kia heard the strange echoing sounds of impacts that always came from the Dark’s ravine. They were such a normal part of her life that she barely noticed them. Since Mother and Father had been taken by the Dark the sounds seemed louder, more threatening. Kia had tried banging rocks and wood together but nothing made the same hollow booming sound that the Dark’s hammering did. It was if they hammered on something completely different from the familiar wood, rock and earth that surrounded Kia.

“Will you set the flame, Kia?” Chinara asked.

“Can I?” Kia asked, surprised. “I thought I wasn’t big enough yet.”

“It’s just the three of us,” Chinara sighed, her smile so sad that Fola put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “I think it’s okay as long as you’re careful.”

“I’ll be very careful!” Kia exclaimed.

She scrambled up from her cushion by the fire, coming over to take the little lamp from Chinara. It was heavier than she expected. The rosy quartz crystal base chilled her fingers and filled both her hands. Fola poured a puddle of oil in the hollowed out center of the base. Kia let her tongue poke out of her lips between the gap where her front tooth had fallen out, concentrating hard as Chinara carefully lit the little puddle of oil for her.

“Just set it on the altar, Kia,” Chinara said, “right between the dates and the incense.”

“Okay,” Kia said.

Kia had to stand on her toes to set the lamp on the altar. She was very careful to make sure that the lamp didn’t slosh to the sides, spilling the oil and fire. Chinara smiled as Kia stepped back, resting her hands on Kia’s shoulders. Fola patted Kia’s shoulder and smiled too but her smile was wobbly and sad, not confident and reassuring.

“Do you know the words?” Chinara asked.

“Uh-uh,” Kia said. “Say them for me?”

“Of course,” Chinara laughed. “Just repeat after me, okay?”

She took a deep breath as she stared at the lamp for a long moment. Chinara carefully picked up the incense cone and touched the tip of it to the flame, holding it there until it began to smolder. A long thread of smoke curled towards the ceiling of their cave. Kia watched with Chinara and Fola as the smoke built in the dark spot over the altar before slowly flowing like an upside down river towards the smoke hole that led outside.

“Protect and defend us,” Chinara said, looking back down at Kia. “Keep us safe so that we may bear the flame to the next generation.”

Kia repeated the words along with Fola, her tongue stumbling a little on ‘generation’ but Chinara didn’t seem to mind. She tugged both Fola and Kia back over to the cushions, sitting with Kia in her arms. Her arms were thinner and harder than they had been before Mother and Father went to the Dark. Chinara’s belly was flatter, too. It made her hip bones poke into Kia’s side but she was warm and that was nice enough that Kia didn’t complain.

A wail sounded outside, faint and distant. It sounded so far away that Kia wondered if it was out on the plains instead of in one of the other caves. No one lived on the plains, though, so that didn’t make sense. It was too dangerous out there with the Dark and lions and crocodiles and hippos. Chinara’s arms went hard and tight around Kia’s back, tugging her so close that Kia protested.

“Hush,” Chinara whispered.

“Chinara!” Fola hissed. “What do we do? There’s no one to defend us now. We’re all alone.”

“Hush!” Chinara repeated. “We stay quiet. We stay still. We don’t go out at night. We’ll be fine.”

“Should have gone to live with Duna,” Fola muttered but she said it very quietly.

Chinara didn’t seem to hear her though Kia could feel the way Chinara’s body stiffened. They’d already argued about that. In the last three days since the Dark got Mother and Father, Fola and Chinara had argued about it again and again and again. Last time Chinara had screamed at Fola and slapped her. Neither of them had brought it up since.

Kia didn’t want to go live with Duna. He was big and strong but his cave was the closest to the plain. He didn’t live high up where it was hard for the Dark to climb. It made her scared when Duna looked at Chinara. The look in his eyes was more like when Father had brought in an antelope for dinner than how Father had looked at Mother. Besides, Duna’s cave was full of other women, ones he’d convinced that he could protect against everything including the Dark.

“Why do they come?” Kia whispered once Fola had stopped shaking and Chinara’s eyes had relaxed around Kia’s back. “Why do they take people away, Chinara?”

“I don’t know,” Chinara whispered back. “I don’t think anyone does.”

Other wails rose in the night, closer, father away, then one so close that it sounded as though it came from two caves down. Fola gasped and hid her face in Chinara’s back. Chinara shivered but she stayed perfectly still other than the way her arms tightened once more around Kia’s back.

A wail came from the cave next to theirs, full of terror and something that Kia had never heard before. It was a sound like teeth grinding or maybe like grain being ground between two flat stones. But it wasn’t that. She could tell. The grinding sound was too wet for grain, even fresh gathered grain that hadn’t yet dried in the sun.

“Go away,” Kia whispered. “Go away!”

The wet grinding sound changed to a burbling sound that reminded Kia of a babbling brook. Another burbling sound answered it, then a third. Fola whimpered high in her throat, backing away from Chinara and Kia until her back was pressed against the back of their cave. Chinara’s shaking was so bad that Kia felt like her eyes couldn’t focus on the dark patch that was the entrance to their cave.

“No…” Chinara whispered. “Please no!”

She scrambled backwards as a scream sounded right outside of their cave. Kia fell out of her arms, landing on her knees on the cushion. Its woven strands of rush felt harsh under Kia’s hands. Kia stood, staring at the dark opening of their cave as another scream sounded outside.
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Novel Monday: Facing the Storm – Chapter 3

Sorry guys! The end of the year and the silly season hit me hard so I missed that I hadn’t gotten my Novel Monday posts up. I’m back at it and I’m going to make sure these don’t get missed again (for at least a while). Enjoy the new chapter!

Description:

When the Tourmaline Seas docked in Atalya, Raelin expected a normal port of call: trade, exploration, loading cargo.

What she got was a stunning offer, threats from the Delbhana and an unexpected need to step into her elder’s shoes.

The rest of the trip home to Aingeal raised the stakes for Raelin and her beloved ship as the lives of everyone on board rested in Raelin’s unprepared hands.

Facing the Storm

By Meyari McFarland
3. Prayers

Despite being the middle of the night, the sun hung above the horizon as though it was early evening. Raelin sighed, rubbed her hands over her face, and prayed internally that this wouldn’t turn into a disaster. She could smell smoke and incense from the temple the Atalyians had set up somewhere in the city. Possibly multiple temples. For all she knew every single tent had a tiny temple balanced on a wobbly little shelf that could be folded up for travel. It would make sense.

Bahb emerged from the ladder down to the galley, face scrubbed, hair trimmed until it spiked up off her scalp and best clothes on. She looked good, nervous but strong and determined as she strode over to Raelin’s side.

“Idiot,” Bahb muttered. She punched Raelin in the shoulder, hard enough to rock Raelin but not so forcefully that Raelin would bruise.

“I know, I know,” Raelin said. “But we can’t lose the business here. And I wasn’t going to let you take the blame for my curiosity.”

“Still an idiot,” Bahb said with a nod of agreement. “You know this is going to get back home eventually.”

Raelin nodded, stomach flopping inside her. It would. That was inevitable. She smoothed her hands over her thighs, grateful that she’d listened to Cadfael and packed one set of formal clothes before they left. The knee breeches were soft corduroy, Dana blue of course, as was the high-collared jacket. Neither had the embroidery that was considered appropriate back home but here in Atalya that would be a better choice than something fancy. Hopefully.

Despite the need to be somewhat more formal, Raelin had left off the fluffy cravat that she should have tucked into her waistcoat. Going without showed more of her virtually nonexistent bust than wearing it so Raelin did without. Better to look more mature than not.

“Cravat,” Captain Vevina snapped as she emerged from her quarters.

“It makes me look like a little girl wearing my older sister’s clothes,” Raelin complained. “I’m sorry, Captain, but I’d rather they think what little development I’ve got is me instead of fabric stuffed down my shirt.”
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Free Fiction Friday: Dragon Rider’s Song

Every week I post a short story here for people to read for free. It stays up for one week and then I replace it with something else so please read this while it lasts.

POD Dragon Rider's Song Ebook Cover 03

Description:

Young dragon rider Amynta returned to her senator mother Timo’s home expecting conflict, the possibility of good food and a very nice bath. Instead she found the lovely Pallas, a mysterious visitor to her mother’s home.

Dinner brought a request that Amynta hadn’t expected along with possibilities that Amynta had given up on years ago. Perhaps with Pallas’ help Amynta might fly beyond her mother’s domain to make her own life.

Dragon Rider’s Song is a sweet fantasy romance between two young women whose lives revolve around dragons and the songs they use to communicate.

Dragon Rider’s Song

By Meyari McFarland

1. Guest

Amynta strode into her mother, Timo’s, home, shedding her helmet and shield with noisy clangs that sent the servants scurrying. Amynta kicked aside her greaves with a sigh of relief that she didn’t bother to hide. Breastplate, pauldron and the heavy leather coat that protected her from dragon fire and freezing at altitude went next. She paused at the threshold of the kitchen to unlace her heavy boots so that she could kick them off.

“Oh.”

The low musical word startled Amynta enough that she lost her balance and toppled to the red, yellow and blue painted tiles. A sea foam green floor-length stola filled her eyes as she swept her gaze upwards to a delicate burnt umber hand adorned by slender gold rings. The lovely young woman had a pair of laughing golden-brown eyes framed by perfect chestnut curls.

“Ah, hello?” Amynta said as she scrambled back to her feet. “Sorry, I didn’t know that Mother, I mean Timo, I mean Senator Timo was hosting guests right now.”

She couldn’t help but be acutely aware of the differences between Amynta and her mother’s beautiful guest. While the gorgeous young woman was immaculately dressed, perfectly coifed with stylish curls, Amynta now wore only her partially unlaced boots, breast bindings and underwear. After hours in her helmet, Amynta knew that her hair had to be a bird’s nest of tangles. Sweat had long since soaked through all the layers of her clothes so Amynta had to be painfully pungent.

Embarrassment made Amynta’s cheeks heat. She’d gotten used to stripping as soon as she and Blood Blossom, her dragon, got home to the barracks. It had been automatic to do the same here even though this wasn’t the barracks and her mother hated it when Amynta stripped on the way in. For the first time Amynta understood her mother’s objections, if only because it would have been nice to have made a better first impression.

“Must you scatter your armor everywhere when you come in?” Timo asked as she stalked over, delicate sandals sounding more like heavy boots with the impact of her heels. She held Amynta’s coat in two fingers, extended to arm’s reach, as if it might infect her. “The servants don’t appreciate cleaning up after you, Amynta. You are a woman grown. I would appreciate if you would attempt to learn how to behave like an adult.”

“And you don’t appreciate me walking around the house stinking of sweat and dragon fire,” Amynta snarled as she snatched the coat out of Timo’s fingers. Just like Timo to try to make Amynta look bad in front of someone she might be interested in. “By Blood Blossom’s shell, I’ve heard your thoughts about ‘responsible adulthood’ a thousand times. Guest?”

Amynta gestured towards the young woman who watched the two of them as though she was at the theatre. Fortunately, she didn’t seem upset by Amynta’s semi-nudity, Timo’s hostility or this round of their never-ending arguments about Amynta’s choice of career. If anything, she seemed fascinated.

The foyer carried their words through the house. It opened on the other hallways and rooms and was specifically designed for letting the servants know that someone had arrived. Timo couldn’t have picked a better location to let Amynta know that she had not been forgiven. Not that it mattered to Amynta if the entire town knew that she was still at odds with her powerful mother. Everyone already knew that, from the town mayor on down to the servants who poked their heads into the foyer to frown at Amynta.

“Yes, I have a guest,” Timo drawled as she nodded graciously towards her guest. “Her name is Pallas and she’s come from the Academy to study the copies of Ferenius’ histories in our private library. I presume that you’ll never see her again because of it. There are other guests, as well, who are likely to take you for a prostitute if you walk around without clothing.”

“More likely they’d take me for a warrior or field slave,” Amynta snorted. “No prostitute has ever had my muscles, at least not the female ones.”

Pallas tried to smother a shocked giggle behind her hand, eyes gone almost true gold with amusement when Amynta turned to look at her. She didn’t seem offended at all by the hostility between Amynta and Timo, thank the Fire Gods. Timo glared at Amynta, eyes so narrow that Amynta would have braced for attack if it was anyone else.

“You are a bit exposed,” Pallas commented diplomatically enough that Timo eased back slightly, her shoulders coming down. Her voice was lovely, rich and throaty but with a sort of control that made Amynta wonder wildly for a second what she would sound like if she sang. “Not that I mind but one of the other guests is a vestal virgin.”

Amynta’s cheeks burned. “Ah. Sorry. I’ll just go get cleaned up.”

“Finally,” Timo sighed. “And if you could manage to remember your etiquette before dinner, it would be even more appreciated. We civilized folk have manners unlike your dragon riding friends, you know.”

The insinuation that Amynta wasn’t as serious about dragon riding as Timo was about her work in the senate made Amynta’s teeth clench. It was always this way. No matter what Amynta did, it wasn’t good enough. Even when she had tried to follow in her mother’s footsteps all Timo had for her was scorn, disapproval and ‘lessons’ about how far she was from perfection.

Amynta turned and waved one hand at Pallas, signing ‘my apologies for what will follow’ the way Blood Blossom often did before tearing into her squealing and kicking dinner. It was pure habit as there was no way Pallas could understand the little gesture. Most dragon riders didn’t catch onto those sorts of gestures until they’d been riding for several years.

Before Amynta could turn back to yell at her mother in earnest, Pallas dropped her hand from her mouth and smiled so brightly at Amynta that the anger drained straight out of her. It was a beautiful smile that stretched Pallas’ lush lips and wrinkled her eyes up so that it illuminated Pallas from the inside out. Amynta’s heart pounded against her breastbone suddenly. She licked her lips, entirely too aware of Timo’s fierce glare at them both. A lump settled in her throat as her mouth went dry.

“I’m pleased that I got to meet you, Dragon Rider Amynta,” Pallas said. “I hope that you do come to dinner. I’d love to talk to you further.”

“Ah, I’ll… I’ll be there,” Amynta said. She swallowed against the nervous, excited lump in her throat. Her throat burned as she tried to push down the nervousness so that she wouldn’t embarrass herself in front of Pallas, much less Timo. The nervousness slid all the way down to her stomach, settling there to make her stomach flitter like new hatchling wings fluttering.
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Free Fiction Friday: Moon of the Sea

Every Friday I post a short story for people to read for free. It stays up for one week and then I take it down so that I can post something else. Please enjoy this one while it lasts.

POD Moon of the Sea Ebook Cover 03

Description:

Sisters in Conflict

Badra and Rida had spent years fishing the moonlit seas together but their relationship was as unstable as their tiny fishing boat adrift in a gale. Badra had done her best for her sister. They had a home. They had work. There was hope for the future.

Rida was not satisfied. All the silent resentment and worry that they had carefully avoided over the years came to a head when their nets pulled up a Moon of the Sea. The rare deadly fish promised wealth beyond their wildest dreams. It threatened to destroy them both at the same time.

Moon of the Sea is a story of family, sisters and finding what matters to you in the midst of dire emergencies.

Moon of the Sea

“Good catch,” Rida grunted as she hauled on the nets.

The moon hung overhead, stained red by the summer fires blazing in the hills. Badra ignored her. Her hands burned from the salt coating the nets sinking into the rope burns and tiny cuts layered over her palms. In front of them fish jumped and splashed, churning the water’s surface as they attempted to escape the net’s tightening embrace.

She could have sworn that she smelled the fishes’ fear, tasted their desperation as the water slipped away from them only to cram them next to their fellows. Scales rubbing against each other, eyes rolling, flippers flailing at the emptiness where water should be; they flailed desperately as they tried to find their way back to the ocean that was their home. Badra blinked and shook her head hard.

Romanticizing the fish they needed to survive was foolish, especially with Rida by her side. Sister or not, Rida was never and would never be her ally by her own choice. Rida frowned at her, eyes quicksilver bright in the darkness of the night. Moon-fishing had never been her favored work. She far preferred the sunlit fish, larger and stronger, caught on rod and reel.

“Badra?”

“Focus,” Badra snarled at her. “Don’t let the nets slack.”

Rida’s growl was angry but she hauled against the nets, helping Badra wrestle the slimy, squirming mass of moon fish into the bottom of their boat. Wet, flopping bodies tumbled over Badra’s feet. She stood firm while Rida shifted backwards, rocking the boat in her efforts to avoid touching them.
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Novel Monday: Facing the Storm – Chapter 2

Description:

When the Tourmaline Seas docked in Atalya, Raelin expected a normal port of call: trade, exploration, loading cargo.

What she got was a stunning offer, threats from the Delbhana and an unexpected need to step into her elder’s shoes.

The rest of the trip home to Aingeal raised the stakes for Raelin and her beloved ship as the lives of everyone on board rested in Raelin’s unprepared hands.

Facing the Storm

By Meyari McFarland

2. Ship Duties

“Huh,” Cessair grunted as she examined the cups and bowls that Raelin had delivered to her. “Not bad. These should work pretty well. How many prayers you have to promise?”

“Um, none,” Raelin said. She winced at the dubious frown Cessair leveled on her. “I said I was too low of rank to make promises for the Captain. Which I am.”

“You’re Dana,” Cessair scowled so ferociously that her whole face wrinkled up. “Our rules don’t apply to you, Rae.”

At nearly seventy, she looked like she was made out of old leather and twine, brown and steel grey with eyes so dark they looked like bright black buttons peering out of a wrinkled waistcoat. Despite her age, Cessair was sturdy enough to haul line with the youngest of the crew and strong enough that she could lift whole bales of Chinwenduese silk by herself. Not that she’d carry a bale far anymore.

She fit perfectly into the tiny kitchen, arms just the right length to grab any of the shiny copper pots hung on the floor joists overhead or to reach into any of the locking drawers set into U-shaped set of cabinets. Cessair almost might have been constructed at the same time as the Tourmaline Seas was repaired. She fit that well into it. Raelin didn’t fit quite as well, just a hair too short. But she wasn’t that far off. At least she didn’t have to bow her head to avoid braining herself on the pots and pans like some of the crew.

“They do, too,” Raelin grumbled. “No matter who my family is I’m still just one of the sailors on the Tourmaline Seas. That’s all.”

Cessair snorted, shook her head and hooked a thumb for Raelin to take up a post at the sink. She started passing over bowls and cups for Raelin to wash. The little sink couldn’t hold everything and Raelin didn’t really want to have to haul a bunch of water around so she poured water from the kettle on the stove into one of the bowls, wetting her rag and soaping it up. That was enough for a first cleaning. The cups were only dusty.

“You’ll never be just a sailor, Rae,” Cessair murmured as she carefully hung her new spoon rest on the wall. It hung perfectly from the hook, replacing the one that had broken while off Minoo when the cabin girl Dallas had startled Cessair late one night.

“I can try,” Raelin complained, scrubbing at the fourth bowl with unnecessary vigor. “You know I don’t give a damn about family politics. All I ever wanted to do was sail.”

Cessair chuckled. When Raelin peeked, Cessair was shaking her head, face wrinkled up in a grin that exposed the three teeth she had remaining in her head. Raelin went back to cleaning the bowls and cups, cheeks burning. Someday she’d figure out why everyone thought it was so odd that Raelin was happiest at sea. It wasn’t that odd. Most everyone on the Tourmaline Seas was a career sailor who was happiest when the Tourmaline was dancing across the waves.

They both went still as someone with heavy heels stomped down the ladder from the upper deck. As soon as Raelin saw the boots she straightened up. Captain Vevina scowled as she emerged into the little kitchen. With her in the room, the kitchen felt horribly cramped where before it had been comfortably cozy.

“Captain,” Cessair said, nodding once.

“What was bought?” Captain Vevina asked, glowering at Raelin who carefully finished washing the last bowl, the one that had held the hot water.

“Six bowls, six cups and a new spoon rest,” Cessair replied, nodding towards Raelin. “The girl did the bargaining. Did pretty good. You don’t have any more prayers to offer.”

Captain Vevina’s head reared back as if that was unwelcome somehow. Or maybe unexpected? Raelin wasn’t sure. She bowed slightly, swallowed down her perpetual nervousness around Captain Vevina and offered the last bowl to the Captain to examine.

“How did you keep from promising prayers?” Captain Vevina asked.

“I said that I was too low of rank to promise anything for you,” Raelin said. “I think the vendor thought I was sweet or something because he laughed and went with the deal my way.”

Captain Vevina scowled, nodded as she turned the bowl in her hand and then set it down with a harsh clunk that made both Cessair and Raelin wince. Raelin squared her shoulders as Captain Vevina studied her, meeting her eyes just as she had the very first day they met after the Tourmaline Seas slipped from the dry dock where Raelin had helped rebuild her before her return to service.

“Come with me, girl,” Captain Vevina said.
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Free Fiction Friday: Stardust In Your Veins

Every week a put up a short story for people to read. It stays up for one week and then I take it down again. So please enjoy this story while it lasts.
POD Stardust In Your Veins Ebook Cover 07

Description:

Newlywed Falak and her wife Steise hoped that moving to one of the newly opened space stations orbiting beyond Mars would give them a chance at a whole new life. At the very least, it got them away from their abusive families.

Unfortunately, familiar problems with new faces appeared as soon as they started their new lives. Falak wasn’t sure that she could cope with her supervisor’s controlling tendencies but for Steise, she’d do anything, including confronting the man stalking Steise. Stardust In Your Veins is a sweet story of new love, new horizons and confronting the challenges facing you with everything you’ve got.

Stardust In Your Veins

1. Station

Air hissed overhead, constantly streaming past Falak in the great silver air vents that stretched the length and breadth of the station. The constant flow chafed against her skin. Air should gust and drift, stagnate and bake, hoard moisture until your skin felt as though you had been dipped into water. It was strange for it to be so steady and bland against her cheeks.

None of which appeared to bother Steise. She grinned as she stared at everything around them, head swiveling to take in every sight available. Her breath was anything but steady. Steise gasped and cooed at the docking bay doors closing behind them. The blond woven grass wall coverings drew little murmurs of fascination as she ran her fingers along them. When they stepped from the long hallway out into the baggage claim area Steise clapped both hands in front of her mouth, not quite managing to stifle the squeal of delight.

“It’s huge!” Steise exclaimed. “Falak, look at it! I didn’t expect there to be so much open space. It’s beautiful. Oh, look at the murals on the walls!”

Her honey-blond hair, deceptively fine and delicate for a person so forceful, ended up in her mouth. Steise didn’t notice other than to make an absent-minded attempt to brush it out. Falak chuckled, tugging the strands away from Steise’s face. The relative stability of their trip here with it’s never-changing room and utterly boring meals had clearly shattered Steise’s always fragile control.

“They’re not as beautiful as you,” Falak chuckled, hands on either side of Steise’s cheeks to get her to focus for a moment. Falak’s silver wedding ring glimmered amid Steise’s hair. “Where were we supposed to pick up our crates? And where are our new rooms?”

“Flattery will get you toppled right back into bed,” Steise said as she tugged Falak into a quick kiss. “After we have a bed, of course. That comes first. Or maybe getting food. We should have something to eat. They said that we’d have plenty of variety once we got here. Oh, and we should really think about getting some decorations for our rooms, too. There’s so much we need to get done before we start work!”

Steise looked around and then pointed across the vast and echoing room, smiling so brightly that Falak felt as though she was losing something critical, her heart, her soul, perhaps her reason, to her fierce love for Steise. The woman was life incarnate, always moving, never still. Sometimes it exhausted Falak trying to keep up with Steise’s swift shifts of mood and plan but it was worth it. Everything was worth it to be free.

They carefully crossed the room. Steise dodged other families come with them to live on the newly completed station, barely aware of the heavy lifting bots rumbling as they carried over-packed crates to their intended destinations. Falak kept a grip on Steise’s wrist, very aware of the dangers.

That wasn’t what bothered her though. It was the children, so many children who ran and shouted far too loudly for Falak’s taste. Most were dark skinned, dark haired. The station welcomed people of color with open arms unlike some of the older, more established stations closer to the sun. Falak frowned as six children under the age of nine ran by, laughing and shrieking at being liberated from their cramped ship quarters. A glare at their parents produced nothing besides a wry smile and shrug in return.

Children should be seen and not heard.

Except that wasn’t right. Children were not to be seen either. They should stay out of sight, safe inside. Girls should be safe. It was not right to walk outside where anyone could see them. Men were animals who might grab them and attack, ruining them to sate their monster lusts.

Falak’s breath caught as sense memories of being wrapped in her mother’s restraining arms as she hissed stories of rape and abuse. She lost the smell of new plastic and steel, instead smelling Mother’s lavender-scented lotion. The too-powerful memory sucked Falak down like being dragged under water, being held, being restrained with too long nails dragging through her hair. Good girls do not shout. They do not run. They play quietly, sew and read and cook and clean and do as they are told.

Dimly, painfully, Falak squeezed her fingers around Steise’s wrist. It was so hard to push past the flashback. Help, she needed help. Steise always helped her escape the memories when Falak couldn’t. Falak’s fingers spasmed around Steise’s wrist, finally notifying her wife of the danger.
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