The Skyblade Saga!
Formerly part of the Kindle Worlds setting “The Plundered Chronicles”, but now independent and free! The new edition of Skyblade’s Gambit is available worldwide on Amazon and other ebook retailers! Watch for the new edition of Skyblade’s Claim in 2019!
Ready for adventure, romance, airships, and pirates? Take to the skies with the Skyblade Saga, featuring the tales of Captain Annabel Skyblade, Major Victorie Brassfeld, and the crew of the pirate airship The Peregrine!
Captain Annabel Skyblade commands the Peregrine, the most feared pirate airship to sail the skies of Aldarre, plundering the rich and powerful. The rulers of the great sky realms have had enough of her, and Victorie Brassfeld, Cerindel’s top Navy intelligence agent, has a plan to capture the pirate, using a lure too strong to resist—a valuable, beautiful sapphire amulet.
But the amulet hides a great secret, and when it is stolen by sinister forces, Annabel and Victorie must join together to retrieve it. And as they face danger and adventure, they also have to face their feelings for each other, feelings they have never had before, when they discover…
Hearts can be stolen too.
Read on for a preview of the first book, Skyblade’s Gambit!
Annabel Skyblade peered through her spyglass as she stood at the prow of the Peregrine, scanning the horizon as the airship cruised through the skies of Aldarre. Most people would have assumed that all around her was clear, but her eyes were sharper than most. She could see that the faint outline in the distant northeastern sky was not a cloud, or a solitary star drake, but another airship.
She lowered the spyglass and hurried along the deck, heading up the stairs to the helm. As she did, she glanced up at the payload; on the balloon was painted a skull and crossbones and, below that, the head of a falcon. She smiled, her green eyes sparkling with thoughts of the chase to come.
Annabel was young, not very tall and rather curvy, with dusky skin and wavy red hair that cascaded past her shoulders. She wore a blue frock coat with gold trim over a white blouse, black trousers and boots that were well-worn but still serviceable. Her coat had been her captain’s claim from her first raid as captain of the Peregrine; the captain of the ship she had raided had been told to choose between his clothing and his life, and chose wisely. On the left side of her belt was a scabbard that held a rapier; on the right, a holster for her Svendaran pistolere.
The Peregrine’s helm was set thirty feet above the main deck of the airship. An older man was at the ship’s wheel, studying the sky ahead. He had a white beard and a scar across one cheek, and was wearing goggles to protect against the wind. “Hardwicke!” Annabel said as she reached the top of the stairs. “Take us northeast.”
“Spotted something, Cap’n?” Hardwicke said as he spun the wheel, glancing at the large compass set into the railing to his right.
“Aye, but let’s close in to see what we’ve found.”
The helmsman nodded as he grabbed a lever to the left of the ship’s wheel. He pushed it all the way forward; the ship lurched briefly as the three sets of propellers, two mounted below the side-sails and one pair that flanked the rudder, reached their maximum rotating speed. At that pace, the crystals that fed them power would soon be drained of their magical energy and need to be recharged, but until then, the Peregrine was the fastest airship of her class in the skies.
After a few minutes, Annabel took another glance through her spyglass. “It’s a merchant airship,” she said. “Corsair class. Her colors are black, blue and gold.”
“Ruegal colors,” Hardwicke said.
Annabel smiled slightly. “They must think they’re going to have a quiet journey.”
“I take it they’re not.”
“Quiet journeys are staggeringly dull. Keep her steady, Hardwicke.” He nodded as Annabel crossed the helm, stopping by a speaking tube near the stairs. She softly cleared her throat as she knelt by the tube’s opening. “All hands on deck,” she said. “Repeat, all hands on deck.”
Annabel straightened up and glanced at the inlays along the wooden railing. They were a silvery metal, and most of them glowed softly, but one did not. She laid a finger on the metal and chanted, smiling as the inlay started to glow.
The metal was known as aerium. It had the unique ability of floating when properly enchanted, and when enough of it was bound to a ship, with additional lift from a hot air balloon, the airship could travel the skies, from sky realm to sky realm and back.
Though the ship’s mage, Pilfor, could keep the aerium properly enchanted, Annabel was able to help out with what little magic she knew. It was said that all good ship’s captains were part magician; Annabel liked to joke that in her case, it was literal.
“Captain Skyblade?” She looked down and saw the slender figure of Pilfor. He had pale skin, mussed-up hair and spectacles, all of which were hidden when he pulled up the hood of his red and black robe. “What sort of trouble might we be facing today?”
“The best kind,” Annabel said.
“Highly profitable, you mean?”
“Observant as always, Pilfor. Set the seeming in place, and show the colors on my signal.”
“Same as always?” Pilfor asked.
“Aye.” Annabel turned and saw that her crew was starting to gather.
Most of the crewmen were glashtyn, small, winged humanoids with bulging noses and ears and gnarled limbs, wearing simple clothing and sharp-toothed smiles. It was said that they were difficult to train, and earning their respect was even harder. They chatted loudly as they waited, their bursts of crude laughter rolling across the deck. Annabel had recruited the glashtyn from another pirate ship shortly after she had taken the Peregrine, and as much trouble as they could be at times, they also worked hard and loved the pirate life.
Behind them stood a troll, his small horns jutting through his long white hair. He wore short black pants and a matching vest, and a mace dangled from his belt. He idly cracked his red knuckles as he nodded at his captain. Annabel spared a quick smile for Tomasund. The troll had been an indentured servant on the Peregrine before Annabel had seized the airship and granted him his freedom. Big Tom had chosen to stay, and he had become Annabel’s first mate and closest companion on board.
Annabel took several steps down the stairs. “Avast!” she shouted. The glashtyn all stopped talking as one and looked at their captain. “I know the pickings have been slim lately,” she said. “But we’ve got a juicy one in our sights! A merchant ship, ripe for the taking!”
Her gaze swept the crew as her voice grew louder. “Aye, they could put up a fight. But I know you skydogs are tougher and meaner than anyone those pampered salesmen could even dream of hiring to guard them! Let’s show those landlubbers and layabouts a thing or two!”
Captain Skyblade drew her sword and pointed it towards the heavens. “We’ll feast like kings and drink like devils tonight!” she shouted. The crew cheered, and she smiled broadly at the sound.
“Quite a sight,” Vandensloop murmured as he stood on the deck of the corsair class airship Gold’s Lure.
“What is, sir?” the helmsman shouted. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his brow.
“That.” Vandensloop pointed towards the southeast. “The star drake.”
The winged reptile flapped its night-black wings as it drifted towards the Gold’s Lure, its tail flicking, its narrow forked tongue darting out of and into its toothy mouth. “Odd, that,” the helmsman said.
“Star drakes usually travel in pairs or packs. Why is this one flying solo?”
“It’s most likely a young male looking for a mate. I won’t question our luck if you won’t.” Vandensloop rubbed his hands. “Take us towards him. If we can capture him, I know alchemists who would pay dearly for star drake blood and scales.”
“Your ship,” the helmsman said to himself as he turned the ship’s wheel.
The three glashtyn chatted eagerly as they grabbed the sides of the net. “Haul!” Big Tom yelled. “Haul, you lazy sons of sows! Quiet as sleeping babies!” The glashtyn fell silent as their wings flapped; they lifted off the deck, heading for the merchant ship that drew ever closer.
Annabel gazed intently through her spyglass. “That merchant never held a sword in his life,” she muttered. “More fool him.”
“The crew are armed,” Hardwicke said. “I see hobgoblins, at least three.”
“Let them try to stop us.” Annabel watched as the glashtyn stopped just a foot short of the merchant airship. Three of them held large hooks tied firmly to one end of the net. “Steady as she goes, Hardwicke.”
The helmsman nodded as Annabel dashed down the stairs. She ran along the deck until she reached the net, which had been secured to the rail. She set one foot on the rail and drew her weapons, her sword in her right hand, her pistolere in her left.
The pistolere was a weapon crafted by Svendaran gadgeteers. Two crystals were set in the handgrip; the magic power they held could push enchanted iron pellets out the barrel faster than lightning when the wielder pulled the trigger. Only trained soldiers and guards, and the nobility, were supposed to have these, which had annoyed Annabel no end. She was just as good as any of them in their gilded towers and their overwrought airships, and she had been all too happy to claim two pistoleres for her own from an uppity Svendaran noble.
She aimed her pistolere towards the sky, pointing away from the Peregrine, and pulled the trigger. Her weapon went off with a loud crack, the fiery pellet streaking from the barrel.
“That’s another odd thing,” the helmsman said as Gold’s Lure drew close to the star drake.
“What would be?” Vandensloop said as he eyed the drake.
“The beast. It’s hovering now. Holding its ground. Like it’s…waiting for us.”
The merchant chuckled. “Young star drakes are known for their curiosity. A fatal trait in this one’s case. I’ll fetch Montalvo—”
A crack rang out through the sky. The drake, the seeming, wavered and vanished. In its place was a cruiser class airship. On the balloon was painted a skull and crossbones and, overlapping it from below, the head of a falcon.
Vandensloop jerked his head when he heard the laughter. Three glashtyn were holding one end of a net, eighty feet long, that stretched back to the pirate airship. They hooked the net onto the rail of Gold’s Lure.
At the far end of the net, Annabel pointed her sword at Vandensloop. “Merchant!” she shouted. “I am Captain Skyblade of the free ship Peregrine! Hand over your valuables, your precious cargo, and swiftly, so that no one has to be hurt!” She smiled sharply. “And hand over your ale and brandy while you’re at it. Our throats are dry.” Vandensloop stared at Annabel, his mouth agape, his breathing shallow.
“Be damned if we’ll give in to filthy pirates!” The helmsman grabbed a spear. “I’ll teach you—”
Before he could take a step, he was swarmed by half a dozen glashtyn. They brought him down to the deck, kicking and punching him, laughing at his misfortune. “Give in, lapdog!” one yelled shrilly.
“Guards!” the helmsman managed to shout. “We’ve been boarded! We’ve—” He fell silent as one glashtyn took the handkerchief from his pocket and stuffed it in his mouth.
Pilfor pointed at the net and gestured, speaking under his breath. The spaces between the strands in the net started to glow. Annabel nodded and started to run down the net, Big Tom right behind. She stepped on the glowing spaces, the net firm and holding in place as she ran. “‘Ware hobgoblins, Tom!” she said as they neared the ship.
Tom sneered as he hoisted his mace. “Let them come,” he said. “After dealing with glashtyn, I could use a change of pace.”
Annabel grinned as she jumped off the net and onto the deck of the merchant ship. She saw the four hobgoblins charging towards her, pushing the fear-frozen merchant aside. She lifted her rapier and waited.
One hobgoblin, taller and broader than the others, pulled ahead and hoisted his weapon, a sword that a human would have trouble lifting. “Such a little pirate,” he said with a sneer. “And a toothpick for a sword. No match for us!”
He ran towards Annabel. She held her guard until the hobgoblin was almost upon her. As the greatsword came down, she spun out of its way and behind the hobgoblin. She slashed her sword, and the blade tore through the hobgoblin’s leg.
The pirate whirled around to face another hobgoblin. He was wielding a halberd, and with a growl, he swung it at Annabel. She ducked back to avoid the blade; as she did, she pulled her pistolere from her belt and fired.
The shot tore through the hobgoblin’s arm. He winced and pulled the halberd back. Annabel leaped and swung; her rapier sliced into the hobgoblin’s arm, cutting deeper into the pellet wound. The hobgoblin dropped to his knees, clutching his bloody arm.
Annabel glanced behind her. Tom was grappling with a hobgoblin, but the last one was sneaking up behind the troll, his spear ready. She hurried softly down the deck, sword raised.
The hobgoblin grinned as he lifted his spear, ready to skewer the troll. Before he could strike, Annabel brought the hilt of her sword down, hitting him in the temple. His grin faded as his eyes rolled up in his head.
As Annabel’s foe toppled over, Tom threw the last hobgoblin to the deck. “Only four?” he snarled. “Hardly worth the fight—”
A shot rang out. The troll reeled as the pellet tore through his shoulder, his mace slipping from his hand.
“Tom!” Annabel’s eyes narrowed as she scanned the deck around her. She saw the rapier thrusting towards her; she barely had time to twist around and knock it to one side with her sword.
“Skyblade.” The man in the black clothing and the outlandish tricorn hat holstered his pistolere and pulled his sword arm close to his chest. “Fancy meeting you here.”
“Montalvo,” Annabel hissed. “I thought you were taking a vacation in the dungeons of Kirtorf.”
“You’d be amazed at what a well-timed bribe can accomplish.” Montalvo smiled. “Alas, said bribe left my coffers in rather sad shape. The bounty for bringing you in should help replenish them.”
Annabel’s eyes narrowed. “That’s assuming you can take me alive—”
She stopped mid-sentence as she saw the faint twitch in Montalvo’s eye. She brought her rapier up, parrying his swing. “Ah, Skyblade,” he said as he parried her riposte. “Your mouth will be the death of you someday.”
Annabel bit back her reply; she wasn’t about to let Montalvo be right about that. Montalvo pressed the attack, swinging again and again, forcing Annabel back as she deflected blow after blow. “No last words from you, Skyblade?” he said mockingly as he closed in. “What a surprise.”
He swung again, but Annabel had thought through her next move. Her rapier caught his where the blade met the hilt. As the swords locked, Montalvo glared at his opponent. “I suppose this is where you’ll be going for your pistolere,” he said with a sneer. “Do try, Skyblade. I’ll draw mine first. They’ll still pay well for your bloated corpse—”
Annabel pushed her sword arm up and drove her knee into Montalvo’s groin. He gasped in pain and stumbled back. Annabel slashed with her rapier and cut through his belt; his holstered pistolere fell to the deck.
Montalvo stepped towards her, but his feet caught in the belt. He fell back on his rear, and Annabel kicked him in the face, sending him sprawling to the deck. “Pity you won’t be bringing me in,” she said. “The bounty could help to pay for your dental work.”
“You bitch!” Montalvo started to stand. “I’ll gut you for this!”
“I doubt that.” Annabel smiled as Montalvo fell back down to the deck. His limbs were locked in place, leaving him to glare at the pirate and curse softly.
She looked back at the Peregrine. Pilfor was pointing at the crew of the Gold’s Lure; she could see the faint aura of the detention spells the ship’s wizard had cast that would hold Montalvo and the other hired guards motionless. “Tom?” she said as she turned towards the troll.
“I’ve had worse.” Tom winced as two glashtyn wrapped his shoulder with rags, stemming the flow of blood from where he had been shot.
“One good arm?”
“Still works.” Tom held out his left hand.
Annabel pulled out her pistolere and handed it to her first mate. “Keep watch on things up here just in case,” she said. “Lickfoot? Sourtongue? Let’s see what our merchant friend might be hauling with him.” Two of the glashtyn flew away from the helm, joining Annabel as she headed below decks.
The door flew open with one good kick, and Annabel strode into the merchant’s cabin, the glashtyn following. She glanced disdainfully at the elegant furniture, the hand-painted privacy screen, the art that hung on the cabin walls. “Foppery,” she muttered as she walked around a table covered in scrolls and workbooks. “Waste of good money.”
Annabel stepped behind the screen and saw the bed there, with silk sheets and a thick comforter. She dropped to her knees and slid her rapier under the bed, stopping when she felt the blade touch something hard. She reached down and pulled out a wooden chest. “Ah, that’ll do,” she said.
“Cap’n!” She turned to see the two glashtyn jumping down from a shelf, both holding all the bottles they could carry. “Look what we found!”
“Farrasper whisky.” Annabel smiled, hoisting the chest as she walked towards the door. “So our merchant has some taste…”
She paused as she glanced at the table. One of the notebooks had been left open, and as she read down the page, her eyes narrowed. “Our merchant also has a reputation,” she said. “I will have a word with him.”
The merchant was still frozen by fear and shock as Annabel stepped back on the deck. She handed the chest to Big Tom. “Get this on board the Peregrine,” she said.
“Even if Lickfoot tries to trade me a bottle of Farrasper whisky for it?” the troll said as he tucked the chest under his good arm.
“Especially if he does.” Annabel turned towards the merchant. “Vandensloop. I’ve heard of you.”
“You—” Vandensloop swallowed. “You won’t get away with this.”
“Oh, I will,” Annabel said, and the anger in her voice made the merchant cringe. “Much like you’ve gotten away with your crimes.”
“I am a humble merchant—”
“Who’s been exploiting refugees.” Annabel’s eyes were afire with rage. “Cheating the helpless, exploiting the desperate, lining your pockets with other people’s tears. You deserve this, and more.”
“Bold words from a damned pirate,” Vandensloop said.
Annabel strode away and boarded the net, the glashtyn joining her. She turned back to face Vandensloop. “Damned I may be,” the pirate captain said, “but you’re damned as well. And I’m far more honest and fair in my dealings than you.” She walked up the net back to the Peregrine, ignoring the merchant’s loud and vicious curses.
The net had been cut and the Peregrine had soared away; the Gold’s Lure wouldn’t be following, as the holding spells on its passengers and crew wouldn’t wear off until after the pirate airship was well out of sight. Mattner the dwarf had been waiting as Annabel and the others boarded. He was skilled in healing magic, and he soon had Tom’s shoulder patched up before moving on to the cuts and bruises the glashtyn had suffered during the raid.
The bottles were stowed away for later celebrating, and the treasure chest had been brought up to the helm. Annabel, Big Tom, and Hardwicke were kneeling near the chest, with Pilfor off to the side. Several glashtyn perched on the rail, watching the chest like greedy gargoyles.
Annabel rubbed her hands. “Pilfor?” she said. “If you would do the honors?”
The mage nodded and pointed at the chest. It started to glow, the light getting brighter as Pilfor grimaced. The locks popped open, and the glow vanished.
Annabel reached over with her cutlass and pushed the lid up. Her eyes widened as she saw the gold inside the chest. The glashtyn cheered as Big Tom chuckled. “Pilfor?” Annabel said. “Any traps?”
“Not a one,” Pilfor said. “Our merchant was likely too fond of his gold to pay for them.”
“More for us.” Annabel grinned as she moved over to the chest. “There should be enough to pay for supplies, and bonuses for all.”
“It’s not all gold.” Hardwicke pointed at a corner. There was a ring there, with a sapphire set in silver.
“Soooo pretty!” Sourtongue said. “Soooo shiny!”
Annabel picked up the ring and examined it. “A lovely thing, this.”
“Mine?” the glashtyn said hopefully.
“We’ll find you something else shiny later. This one’s mine. Captain’s claim.” Annabel slipped the ring into a pocket as Sourtongue sighed.
The sun was setting as the Peregrine approached Cerindel. It was one of the largest of the sky realms, stretching over 500 miles across, home to hundreds of thousands. Under the rulership of King Archibald IV, Cerindel was a land of peace and, for at least some of the populace, prosperity.
The towers nearest Cerindel’s rim glowed like beacons, the light of dusk reflecting off the glass and the filigree trim. Annabel watched from the helm as Hardwicke guided the airship in towards land. She couldn’t care a whit for those who worked and lived in those towers, the powerful and wealthy, but she still had to admit, if only to herself, that it was a beautiful sight.
Pilfor had cast one of his seeming spells on the Peregrine as it had neared Cerindel’s skydock. To those who were not on board, the pirate vessel appeared to be just another airship, docking for supplies and shore leave for the crew. Each crewman also had a personal seeming, and even though the troop of dwarves led by the young woman in the white and blue dress and her companions attracted some attention as they disembarked from their airship, it was nowhere near as much as a pirate captain and a swarm of glashtyn would have.
Annabel and her crew stayed away from the inner city, sticking to the neighborhoods that ringed it, where Cerindel’s poor and working class residents toiled and dreamed of bigger and better things. They walked past farmers and crafters, bakers and brewers, as they went about their lives in and around rundown buildings that were no match for the gleaming towers of the rich.
Several stretches of the streets were lined with Cerindel’s destitutes. Annabel’s heart went out to the families she saw among them. Many of them were refugees from the surface far below, who had paid everything they had to escaped the Great Scarlet Swarm. She stopped more than once along the way as she walked to drop a few coins in their cups, to help them have full bellies for one night.
The crew soon reached the Barrows, the Cerindel neighborhood where deals could be made without questions. Supplies were bought, from merchants who didn’t ask to many questions about their customers, and delivery to the Peregrine was arranged. Annabel and the others then split up, heading for their favorite pubs and taverns.
Annabel’s destination was the Westmore Castle Tavern. The original builders of the tavern had claimed that they had used leftover stones from the construction of the Cerindel royal palace in Westmore; no one believed them, but it was as good a name as any. It was a safe tavern by the standards of the Barrows, meaning that though there were arguments and fistfights aplenty, there were no stabbings or shootings allowed. After all, dead patrons couldn’t pay their tabs.
Annabel and Big Tom, their seemings dispelled, found a table in a dark corner of Westmore Castle and hurriedly polished off a pair of large meat pies and three tankards of ale. The crowd ebbed and flowed around them, workers relaxing after a long day, young men whose blood flowed a bit too hot, the old sharps at a side table swapping tall tales, and Crazy Nellie, an elderly woman who was talking and singing to herself and who was given a wide berth by the other patrons. The tavern’s staff knew not to ask too many questions about their clientele, and the generous tips Annabel left them were both reminder and reward.
“Another fine day’s work,” Tom said with a rumbling sigh as he set down his tankard. “Even though you said we’d feast like kings.”
“I’ll bet even Archie on his golden throne wishes he had a meat pie from time to time.” Annabel half-smiled.
“And some ale instead of that watered down wine they drink in court!” The troll grinned as he reached for a tray loaded with cheese and crackers, shoveling half the contents into his mouth.
“Aye,” Annabel said, staring at the tabletop. “I suppose.”
Tom raised an eyebrow. “Too much ale already, Cap’n?” the troll said as he chewed.
“What makes you say that?”
“You usually complain about me eating all the cheese.”
Annabel nodded. “It was almost too easy, wasn’t it?”
“Easy? Those hobgoblins actually knew what they were doing, and Montalvo was a surprise.” Tom scooped up more cheese and crackers.
“Not that. There’s something missing.” Annabel rested her chin in her hand and stared wistfully into the distance. “I can’t quite explain it, Tom, but I know it’s there, deep inside.”
“More ale will take care of that.” The troll raised his hand to wave down a barmaid.
Annabel glanced over at the tall, heavyset man in the shabby clothes who was waddling over to her table. Half-Pint Harry had earned his nickname not for his size, but for the amount of ale he could down in one gulp, preferably from someone else’s mug. “Harry!” Annabel said, forcing a smile. “How the devil are you?”
Tom sniffed. “And why do you smell more like ale than usual?”
“One of the local girls,” Harry said as he sat down. “She didn’t take too kindly to me telling her how pretty she was.”
“Some women don’t want that kind of attention, from men or from anyone,” Annabel murmured.
“She wasted a perfectly good beer, if you ask me.” Harry grinned. “But it’s odd that you should be here. There’s a rumor going around that seems up your alley.”
“For a price.”
“As always. I need the money to get these clothes properly cleaned.”
“Usual deal, Harry.” Annabel stared down the rumor trafficker. “You give me the story, and I pay you what it’s worth to me. If it’s nothing, it won’t leave this table.”
“It’s a hard bargain you drive,” Harry said with a sigh. “Now, you know tomorrow is the Midsummer’s Festival?”
“Another excuse for pampered noble louts to chase skirts and drink to excess.”
“Well, I’ve heard there’ll be a surprise there.” Harry leaned forward, his voice dropping to a whisper. “They’ll be putting the Amulet of Glena on display.”
Annabel’s eyes widened. “The Amulet of Glena?” she said softly.
“Aye. They’ve already moved it into the Cathedral of Glory, in the lobby.” Harry grinned.
“Without telling anyone?”
“There are dignitaries from all the island realms here. The Council wants to surprise them and show off its power.”
“And rub some salt into the wounds of the Mezaran emissaries,” Tom said as he took a fresh cheese tray from the barmaid.
“It hasn’t been displayed in centuries,” Annabel said thoughtfully. “It’s a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, from everything I’ve heard. And they wouldn’t be guarding it well tonight, since no one’s supposed to know it’s there.”
“Cap’n…” Tom said.
Annabel stood up. “Such a pretty bauble,” the pirate said with a grin. “It’ll go well with the ring I just acquired.”
“And they just brought out the goat cheese, too.” Tom started to stand.
“Nay.” The troll froze as Annabel continued, “I’ll be doing this on my own.”
“Cap’n!” Tom scowled. “Don’t be a fool.”
“Do you take me for one?” Annabel folded her arms. “Tom, this job will take stealth and silence. You’d be bad at that even without a belly full of ale and crackers. And your shoulder needs more time to heal.”
“But the Cathedral Guard—”
“They won’t even know I’m there until after I’m gone.” Annabel handed two gold pieces to Harry. “Find yourself some new clothes, and someone who will be welcoming of your attentions.”
Tom sighed and sat back down. “If you don’t return—”
“I’ll be back on the Peregrine before first light,” Annabel said as she walked away, her seeming reappearing as she murmured under her breath.
The troll shook his head as Annabel left the tavern. “Bloody damn foolishness,” Tom muttered. “It’s the ale talking. I’m sure of it.”
“That went well,” Harry said with a jovial smile. He glanced at the cheese tray. “Are you going to—”
Tom picked up the tray, glared at Harry, and poured a good portion of the cheese and crackers into his mouth. “You could have just said ‘yes’,” Harry grumbled.
Text © 2017 by the author. All rights reserved.
Skyblade’s Gambit came about when I was asked to be part of The Plundered Chronicles, the very first LGBT-themed Kindle Worlds, with stories inspired by the novels of Alex Westmore. I wasn’t sure about joining in at first; I was starting from scratch with the deadline for submission looming like a pirate ship on the horizon. As I thought things over, though, the characters of Annabel and Victorie came to me, then a setting and plot, and almost before I knew it I was writing the novella.
The original edition is now out of print, but the new edition is available worldwide through Amazon and other retailers!
Many thanks to Shei Darksbane for inviting me into the original project, the cover art, and general awesomeness.