The coast had just come into sight, a faint, dark line to the north beneath the lowering gray clouds, when the sea serpent hit us. I looked up at Eoghain’s cry and saw him standing in the high, swan-carved prow, pointing off to the starboard side. I hadn’t caught the words over the wind, but the tone of alarm was unmistakable. I snatched up my M110 from the sea chest at my feet and started working my way across the deck to join him. If it had been the marksman rifle that I’d left behind on the USS Makin Island, I probably would have had it in a waterproof bag, slathered with silicone spray. But King Caedmon’s Coira Ansec, the mystical cauldron that could produce ammo, weapons—whatever you asked for, really—produced some fine firearms. That thing was practically impervious to salt water. The deck of Nachdainn’s ship was neat, every line, chest, and tool in its place, but that didn’t make it clear. It took me a minute to cross to the prow, where I joined Eoghain, Bearrac, and Gunny Taylor at the gunwale. Gunny was already up on his rifle, peering through the scope. The whole platoon had switched
Weird, sonorous chanting rose from the beach. As I got behind a massive, ancient oak and got on my rifle, I saw that the corsairs had formed a shield wall in a great crescent around the largest of the beached ships. The ships themselves were high-prowed, black-painted and carved with snarling beasts. They looked a bit more Mediterranean to my admittedly unpracticed eye than Viking. But neither name had any meaning here, anyway. The shield wall surrounded a knot of raiders, kneeling and swaying around an emaciated, hunchbacked figure draped in black rags. I couldn’t make out his face, as it was hidden beneath a deep, black cowl. But pale, crooked arms reached out from the rags wrapped around the figure’s shoulders, fingers like claws grasping at the sky as the figure twitched and spasmed, as it continued that droning, buzzing chant. I might not have been the best-versed in the magic and monsters stuff, but I knew a threat when I saw one. And we’d all seen enough in the north to know that sorcery was a very real threat. I put my crosshairs on the twitching figure in rags and took up the slack on the trigger. Two
So, for the launch of Ice and Monsters, the first WarGate Books title outside the Forgotten Ruin series, I went on a few podcasts and interviews lately. First, we had a launch party on the Galaxy’s Edge stream on Tuesday night: Then came the Blasters and Blades podcast, with JR Handley, Nick Garber, and Cisca Small (JR’s got jokes, even in the title): And this afternoon, I was on Keystroke Medium with Josh Hayes and Scott Moon: I’ll be on the Superversive stream on Sunday, at 6pm CST. Overall, this launch has been a blast. Got my first orange #1 Best Seller tag. Looking forward to Shadows and Crows coming out a month from tomorrow.