I didn’t have time to think that through before the keel scraped on what felt like solid ground. If we hadn’t been backing water, slowing precipitously already even before the mist had engulfed us, everyone aboard the ship would have been thrown to the deck by the abrupt halt.
We had just run aground, in the middle of deep water, miles out to sea.
After a moment, as I regained my equilibrium after the shock of that impact, I realized it felt like we were rising, being lifted above the water level. When I lurched to the rail and peered over the side, I saw only wet rock and silt beneath us. An island was rising out of the ocean, stranding the entire ship high and dry. It was still emerging, too, as the ground beneath us shuddered and shook like an earthquake.
The shuddering stopped. The mist seemed to thin, but only to reveal more flat, slimy rock, strewn with some seaweed and what looked like the flopping bodies of fish or eels. Strangely, the mist only appeared to be thinner off to starboard, where it had first appeared. The port side was still engulfed in gray.
The wind had died altogether, and the sails hung slack from the yardarm. Everything had gone quiet. Every man aboard the ship, Tuacha, Marine, or Menninkai, watched, weapons ready, listening and waiting.
A thin, hoarse voice called out from the murk. “Conor! Conor, help me!”
I swallowed, hard, as gooseflesh ran up my arms. I looked at Gunny, and saw that he’d recognized the voice, too.
It was impossible. That voice belonged to a dead man.
Sergeant Able Stanley had been killed that first night, only minutes after we’d come through the mists, his head ripped off after a sea troll had lunged out of the water and dragged him down into the depths. He’d been gone for months. We knew he was dead. We’d seen his corpse when it had bumped against the boat.
Yet, that was unmistakably his voice out there in the fog, somewhere on this strange island that had seemingly risen out of the sea in a matter of minutes.
“We’ve got point.” I quickly loaded my M110, checked that my sword was still on my hip, and went over the side.
Ancient Artifacts. New Enemies
When a strange island rises out of the sea right in front of their ship, Conor McCall and his fellow Recon Marines find themselves within sight of their new home… and fighting for their lives,.
The Deep Ones know about Conor’s sword, and they want it. Badly.
Fighting their way out of the ambush, the Marines and their allies find themselves drawn into the quest for the sword’s twin, far off to the east.
Others want to take both ancient swords as well, and the Marines find themselves pursued by an empire propped up by sorcery, and opposed by monsters and revenants that have guarded the way to the second ancient, blessed sword for ages.
All will find their mettle tested.
If they survive.
The hits just keep on coming. Swords Against the Night is out now on Kindle and Paperback, somewhat earlier than originally planned. As I type this, I’m 25k words into Book 5 – The Alchemy of Treason. Audio will be somewhat delayed, due to Mark Boyett’s schedule, but expect it later this year.