Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Adventures of Sneax & Elaina Emboo (Part 16)

Our Story So Far:
Sneax and Elaina went to collect on a debt for Draks, but found more than they bargained for.  Luckily for them, they met Nathaniel, a half-fire elf mercenary, and his companion Maleeka, a giantess of unknown origin.  But it turns out that Nathaniel works for Draks as well, and that he's in Wanderhaven to take Sneax to Ellesburg, a tiny timber town lost in the hinterlands of the Kingdom's northern frontier.  Sneax soon finds herself on a ship with her new companions, her friend Elaina far behind.

But that's only the beginnings of Sneax's problems.  Soon she and Nathaniel realize that the so-called "deal" Draks worked out is really more of a rescue mission.  They and their companions soon find themselves heading north, into the wilderness in search of the goblin bands who've been raiding the local logging settlements, cutting off the flow of valuable timber to the heart of the Kingdom far away.  

To say the least, their first battle doesn't go to plan...

The Adventures of Sneax & Elaina Emboo

Part 3: The Priest of Loki

Chapter 7

“What in the Ninth Ring of Hades was that?!” Zelda cried.  Her voice rang in the clearing after the battle.  “Your little friend nearly got us all killed!”
Nathaniel climbed down from his horse and began frantically pulling at his gauntlets.  He gave Zelda a look that could have curdled milk.  Sneax lay nearby, a tiny figure with blood in her hair.  Her combat leathers were torn along the left side of her body.  Blood ran freely from a wound between her neck and her shoulder.
“How is she?” Zelda asked in a calmer voice.
Nathaniel knelt beside Sneax and began murmuring, imploring the Trickster for the power to heal the worst of her wounds.  
The girl stirred, tried to push him away.  “No… what... are you… doing…?”
Nathaniel caught Sneax’s hands in his own and held them out of the way again.  He closed his eyes and gathered the power of his god until he could feel Loki’s presence all around him.  He grabbed that power and pushed, sending it out and down into Sneax’s shoulder.  Sneax’s cried out, and her back arched, but then she subsided.  Some of the color returned to her cheeks.  
Nathaniel slowly sat back on his heels.  That kind of healing was exhausting work, and in its aftermath, he had to fight just to keep his eyes open.  “Maleeka, dear, would you fetch my healing kit, please?  It’s in my saddle bags on the right side.”
“Hup,” Maleeka replied.
“Very impressive, fire elf,” Zelda said.  “You’re full of surprises.  Is she well enough to travel?”
“She will be,” Nathaniel replied.  “She’s lost some blood and will almost certainly have a new scar on her shoulder, but the worg’s bite missed her major arteries.  If we can set camp somewhere, I’ll stitch her back together.  She should be as good as new by morning.”
“Good,” Zelda said.  She took a breath and blew it out, and then she shook her head.  “We’ll start back south at first light.”
Maleeka handed Nathaniel a leather kit bag.  He took it with a nod, ran his fingers over the embossed symbol on the cover flap.  Ouroborous, the World Serpent.  He began rooting around inside for a needle and thread.  
“So that was all of them?” he asked.  He sounded skeptical.   “One patrol’s worth?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“That wasn’t... all of them?” Sneax asked.  Her voice was barely a whisper, but when Nathaniel looked, he saw that she’d opened her eyes.  She put a hand down on the ground and tried to sit up, but she winced and fell back before she’d made it halfway.  “I was… trying to end… this... before...”
Zelda stared at the girl.  “You thought that was all of them?
“It’s… my first time… dealing… with goblins,” Sneax replied.
“Gods, fire elf, where did you find this girl?” Zelda asked.  
“Wanderhaven.  I don’t think she’s used to working with other people, though.”
“Great mother Gaia!”  Zelda stared at Sneax in wonder.  “There are millions of goblins livin’ in these forests, little girl.  Heck, we haven’t even reached the logging camps yet.  This band might not have even been involved with the raids.”
“Oh,” Sneax said.  She slumped back and closed her eyes.  “I… didn’t realize…”
“Do you mind?” Nathaniel said.  “I’m trying to work here.”
“Fine,” Zelda replied, “just as long as she’s ready to travel by morning.  This little adventure is over.”
Nathaniel was about to argue, but Sneax beat him to it.
“No,” she rasped.
“Look, girl,” Zelda snapped, “I admire your pluck, but after that stunt you just pulled—”
“Gimme… a break,” Sneax said.  She winced but managed to struggle up onto her elbows.  “Nathaniel... just said… I’ll be fine.  Besides... my little stunt... worked, didn’t it?  What’re you so... worried about?”
“Will you hold still?” Nathaniel said.  “You are a miserably difficult patient, Sneakatara Boatman.”
“Shut up... Nate,” Sneax said.  She lay back and closed her eyes.  “You just said… I’ll be fine.”
Nathaniel took his needle in hand and began stitching as carefully as he could.  Without looking up from his work, he said, “Sneax is right, Zelda.  We can’t leave.  We were given a job to do, and we have to do it.  This is a setback, but it’s not half the disaster that it could have been.”
“If you think I’m takin’ you people further into the forest after this, then you’re as mad as she is, fire elf,” Zelda replied.  “You’re like to get yourselves killed.”
“Don’t be… such a… worry wart,” Sneax said.  “I’ve been in plenty of scrapes... worse than this one.”  But then Nathaniel pulled a stitch tight, and Sneax inhaled sharply, her face tight with pain.  “Gods Nate!  You are… a hack… surgeon.”
“Hold still,” he replied.
“Look,” Zelda said, “I don’t know what it’s like down in Wanderhaven, but this ain’t the city.  I don’t take orders from you, not out here.  Out here, I’m in charge.”
“But you need us,” Nathaniel said.  “Otherwise the goblins will overrun the entire area.  Tell me I’m wrong.”
“You’re goin’ to get yourselves killed, fire elf.  I don’t want that on my conscience.”
“We will continue without your help if necessary, Zelda,” Nathaniel replied, “but I’d prefer it not come to that.”
He pulled to tighten another stitch, and Sneax squeezed her eyes shut.
“We can’t leave,” Sneax said, her voice plaintive, face pale.  “Not without… that shipment of lumber.”
“And I don’t think you want us to,” Nathaniel added.  “There’s no one else who’s even remotely capable of helping you.  Tell me I’m wrong.”
“You’d die for a shipment of lumber?” Zelda asked.
“It’s not… the lumber… it’s the job,” Sneax said.  “You don’t have to understand.”
“That’s good because I don’t,” Zelda said.  “But if you’re really dead set on this, then so be it.  Be ready to leave in the mornin’.”

* * *

Want to know what happens next?

You don't have to wait. This book and its sequel are both out now for your Kindle or the Kindle App on your iPad or Android tablet.

Book 1: Sneakatara Boatman & the Priest of Loki

Book 2: Sneakatara Boatman & the Crown of Pluto

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