A small teaser of The Woodmyst Chronicles Book Four.
White spray exploded over the bow as the Adelandria raced through the choppy waves of the Western Sea. The intended port was Strongholdt, a city on the shore of the Sea of Solace, a body of water set farther inland, accessible by a narrow gorge known as the Griralith Pass. Towering rock walls stood upon either side of the gorge, wide enough for two ships, three in places, to pass.
The Griralith Pass route twisted for over eighty miles and was guarded by numerous forts that sat atop the cliffs along its course. The two largest garrisons, fortified with stone and armed with canons, sat upon each side of the mouth of the pass where vessels would enter and leave.
Captain Jeremy Schoenbach, standing in the wheelhouse behind a thick glass windshield, was always in awe whenever he saw the site. Even with the heavy weather and hard tacking that needed his attention, he took the time to peer through the teeming rain towards the tall cliff with its fortifications standing proudly on top.
“The wind is blowing strong from the west, Captain,” Karlena, his first mate, called to him from the main deck. Several men and the other three Erilian women were busying themselves with their duties as they prepared to enter the passage. “Should we shelter until the storm has passed?”
“No,” he shouted back. “We make for the pass. We have only three days to pick up our next freight and we still have this load to deliver. If we don’t get those supplies for Byview, they’ll be given to someone else to deliver. We need that haul.”
“So,” Karlena yelled over the wind as she climbed to the quarter deck, “we won’t be harbouring for a day or two in the Sea of Solace?”
“We’re running just within schedule,” he told her as she entered the wheelhouse. He tossed her one of the towels that hung on the wall behind him. “If we get more weather like this, we could be late. I don’t want to give our employers any excuse not to pay full charge.”
“We leave early then?” She towelled her arms dry.
“Aye,” he replied.
Without warning, the fortress atop the left cliff exploded into fire. Debris flew into the air reminding Jeremy of a black flower spreading its petals. Giant fragments of rock and iron tumbled from on high, trailing smoke and dust in its wake before crashing into Griralith Pass.
“By the gods!” Karlena gasped. “What was that?”
The men on deck stopped their tasks to view the phenomenon as fire and stone tumbled to the sea.
“Perhaps their black powder for the canons erupted,” Jeremy replied, staring with wide eyes at the tragedy.
Suddenly the other fortress, sitting on the cliff top opposite, disintegrated into fire and smoke.
“Oh no.” Jeremy felt his knees weaken as Karlena wrapped her arms around him.
“It’s happening,” she said. “After all this time, it’s happening.”
He had to admit this was no mishap. Both fortresses were crashing into the tight passage, taking a good portion of the clifftops with them.
“Hard to port,” he hollered, turning the wheel as fast as he could. Several men outside the wheelhouse repeated the order, snapping everyone on deck back to reality. “Man the sails. We’re heading into the wind, lads.”
“Aye,” several chorused.
“I can feel it, Jeremy,” she told him. “This is it.”
“I think you’re right,” he replied.
Water burst into white spray at the base of the rock face to his right. The fallen rubble from both fortresses and boulders blocked Griralith Pass. No ships were going in or out.
“Where will we go now?” Karlena asked.
“We turn around and make for Oldcastle,” he told her as he slipped an arm around her waist.
“Will we go and see them?”
He held the wheel in place, steering the Adelandria to the left. He kissed her forehead, tasting the salt on her skin.
“They need to know,” he told her.
Moving the bow past the oncoming wind and directing the ship to the south, he manoeuvred the sails to tack through the breeze before bearing away.
Karlena ran back onto the deck to peer over the rails to the scene behind them.
Debris continued to fall into the pass. Plumes of white foam jetted into the air as heavy rubble hit the surface of the water after rolling from the pile of iron and rock building in the mouth of the passage.
Sharek came to her side, placing a hand on her shoulder.
“Do you feel it?” she asked.
Karlena nodded. “One of them is near.”
Standing high on top of the cliff, her scarlet robe trailing behind her like a waving banner as she watched the ship sail away on the rough seas, the witch sensed the warrior women far below. Her ruby eyes glared from beneath her hood as the vessel raced away to the south.
She knew of them.
She had been told.
She had been warned.
But it mattered not.
They were leaving on their vessel, fleeing for safety, away from her.
She turned her attention to the two pillars of smoke rising from the remains of the fortresses and into the stormy skies. Admiring the handiwork of her soldiers, she observed the scene for a short time before facing her waiting forces.
Five hundred men stood in formation, at attention, awaiting her orders.
“Ostford is ours,” she hissed. Her voice carried on the wind as if pushed by some invisible force, reaching the ears of all who could see her. “Griralith Pass is shut. We press south to Dellmoor and destroy all who oppose us.”
The men cheered at the news.
“War,” she told them, “has begun.”
Wow! Just, Wow!
I loved The Warlords of Woodmyst. Loved. It. This book kept me reading obsessively, breathlessly at times, and always fully engaged in the story. Author Robert E. Kreig has done an absolutely amazing job in creating characters that his readers will be able to connect with, will relate to, and will truly care about. If that isn’t a hallmark of a great author, I’m not really sure what is. This book is filled with adventure, fantastic creatures and scenarios, and just an epic story line that is sure to keep readers completely engaged. Any reader who loves a great work of fantasy, or just a great work of fiction in general, should absolutely read this book. I highly recommend The Warlords of Woodmyst, and the entire Woodmyst Chronicles series in general, and am looking forward to reading more from the extremely talented author Robert E. Kreig as soon as I possibly can!
Tracy A. Fischer
author of 'The Sort of Life of Julie Winterfeldt (The Julie Winterfeldt Series)'