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The Battle for Trimera: The Ruling Priestess Book 1 by Tanya SM Kennedy (Book Review)

To give in could mean the loss of everything she holds dear but resisting is tearing her apart.

All Pria wants is to protect her family, but as one of only two high priestesses in all of Reia, everyone has an opinion on her life. But as the stories reach her of the peril of Trimera, there is nothing she will not give to return to the only family she has left, her older brother Janu. Emotion is dangerous for a priestess, something she realizes all to keenly when she thinks about her brother’s friend Mian. 

From the day she was born, Mian knew he would die for Pria. But the woman that returns from the Lorien is a pale shadow of the fiery girl he remembers. Still scarred by the loss of his Prince’s advisor, the previous high priestess, he now has to watch his Pria face the same danger. But the more he tries to protect the high strung Pria, the angrier she gets. The only thing he knows for sure is that Trimera would not survive the loss of Pria; that he would not survive the loss of Pria. 

A mysterious being has gained control of the monstrous grinlo and every second that ticks by only serves to confirm that they are after Pria. With the Lorien watching her every move she can’t afford even the hint of weakness. But the longer she spends with Mian the more addled she finds her thoughts. How will she save Trimera when her very emotions could spell ruin?

The Battle for Trimera is the opening to the epic Ruling Priestess medieval fantasy series. If you like compelling characters, epic battles against savage monsters, and a gripping story, then you will love Tanya SM Kennedy’s tale of a priestess struggling against tradition to save her home. 

Pick up your copy of The Battle for Trimera and join the fight to save Trimera today!

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 

At almost 600 pages, The Battle of Trimera is not only a beast in size, but the story is busting out the seams with blood-thirsty creatures. The grinlo are vicious beasts with sharp, black claws. Many men, women, and children have encountered them, yet survivors are few and far between. Ortid, one lone survivor, witnessed their wickedness firsthand. He stumbled up a very gruesome, gory, unforgettable, and stomach-turning scene. The grinlo’s leader, Neram, might be a man, but he was a monster just the same.  

As you are well aware, you can’t have a villain without a hero or heroes. There’re a check and balances in life, real or imaginary. In this scenario, multiple individuals band together to defend their land from the grinlo: Prince Janu, Lord Mian, Priestess Lana, Priestess Pria, Jaren, Liando, and various other soldiers. 

 

At three hundred page mark, Priestess Pria’s mind is troubled. She’s on the hunt for the person pulling the strings of the grinlo, and she’s trying to keep Mian at a safe distance. She wants to be seen as an adult, a powerful High Priestess; however, he makes her feel like a child again. Up to this point, if Pria looked closely, she would see he doesn’t –not entirely. His attraction to her is becoming more apparent for all to see. 

The sexual tension between Pria and Mian is growing with each page. 

 

The next 150 pages were quite active. There were nasty creatures, big and small, being a pain in the neck (literally and figuratively). Emotions also reached the boiling point, and, instead of throwing barbs at each other, Pria and Main let their true feelings show. No, they didn’t shag, but they had some steamy kisses.  

 

From page 450 until the endThe Battle of Trimera kept the same speed as the pages before it. The pace wasn’t too fast or slow. In actuality, Tanya (the author) balanced everything quite well. Overall, I felt she took ample time to develop characters, their relationship to each other, history, plot, etc. She had death scenes, but they weren’t overly detailed. Sure, they were gross but not horror movie gross (if that makes sense). Basically, what I’m saying, Tanya gave us enough visual stimuli to allow the reader to get the picture but not be overwhelmed.

There were some sections I wanted, craved more embellishment on, but I get why Tanya refrained. As I stated in my opening sentence, The Battle of Trimera was almost 600 pages long. 

To sum up, a great book and definitely worth the price tag attached!

 

 

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1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 

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Tanya SM Kennedy was born in the wilds of West Virginia where she was raised to be strong, independent, and bull-headed. She spends her free time (any she can find) reading, writing, and taking care of her menagerie. She still lives in the wilds of West Virginia with her family enjoying the solitude.

 


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Author Tanya S.M. Kennedy (4 Book Showcase)

Series: The Terarch Rebellion (Book 1)

For fans of Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series comes this medieval fantasy romance.

 

To save her people from slavery, Raivien must trust the very people who held her captive.

Raivien has never relied on anyone else; as a terarch, it is the only safety she has. But if she wants anything to change, she needs help and it comes from the most unlikely place: the very handler that captured her and the son of the man in charge of it all. Now if she could just get them to get along, she could focus on the upcoming battle.

Blerk was once the most promising terarch handler in Algar. Once, he had one of the most powerful terarchs the kingdom had ever seen. But he lost it all. One twist of fate and his life was balanced on a razor’s edge. But the closer he gets to Raivien the deeper his guilt grows. Faced with the true brutality he himself inflicted; he is determined to make amends. But one final mystery threatens to overwhelm everything he has worked so hard for.

For once in his life, Alden knows he is doing the right thing. He had looked aside so often when his father performed some heinous act or another. But no more. For his fallen sister, for the mysterious Raivien, he will make things right. Gathering his loyal men, he prepares to overthrow his own father.

Thrown together by fate, tested by fire, these three former enemies must risk everything.

Raivien had never sought out battle, but some things you can’t run from. With a vengeful king hunting them, a savage man out to capture her, and a flood of unaccustomed emotions threatening to overwhelm her, there is more than enough to keep her mind off the impending war and the inevitable deaths that comes with it. The only thing she is sure of is she can’t stand by while a monster sits on the throne of Algar.

The Terarch Rebellion is the opening to an epic fantasy romance series. If you like compelling characters, epic battles against oppression, and a gripping story, then you will love Tanya SM Kennedy’s tale of this feisty heroine’s battle for freedom.

Pick up your copy of The Terarch Rebellion and join the fight today!

 

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Series: The Terarch Rebellion (Book 2)

Raivien is back in the long anticipated second installment of The Terarch Rebellion.

Welcome to Algar where beloved King Alden has turned the kingdom from a symbol of fear to a safe-haven. With the aid of Raivien and Blerk, Algar has grown and prospered. But not everyone is pleased with the change as an unknown foe appears to have their sights set on the throne. With a warlord threatening their border, the mysterious Hawk hunting her every move, and even those she loves doubting her, how can Raivien keep her family from being torn apart? Mystery abounds and enemies are everywhere as we return to Algar where the fight for freedom is never over.

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(Stand Alone, not a part of  ‘The Terach Rebellion’ series)

Adjusting to this new world is impossible, returning to her old world means certain death.

Eylsa has an easy life; as long as she follows orders, she avoids punishment. But a poison is growing within her, stealing her sleep and twisting her thoughts, making a once easy job torturous. And it all started with nothing more than curiosity.

Brendan can’t imagine why his mentor Darius is trying so hard to rescue the very assassin sent to kill him. Everyone seems blinded by the girl’s youth but Brendan isn’t fooled. He can’t deny there is something about her that calls to him, but only a fool would trust a killer.

Assassin retraining did nothing to purge the deadly compassion from Eylsa’s mind. Every day is a constant battle to hide how broken she is. If anyone were to find out the weakness pulsing through her veins her life would be forfeit. When Darius reenters her life she knows she has no choice but to accept his offer of protection. At least imprisoned she might find peace. But what is she if she can no longer be what she was raised to be?

An Assassin’s Redemption is an urban fantasy about two worlds colliding. If you like compelling characters, bad-a** female antiheros, and an epic battle of struggling against evil then you will love Tanya SM Kennedy’s tale of one woman’s struggle for survival.

Pick up your copy of An Assassin’s Redemption and join the fight against the Trinity today!

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(The Ruling Priestess Book 1) 

To give in could mean the loss of everything she holds dear but resisting is tearing her apart.

All Pria wants is to protect her family, but as one of only two high priestesses in all of Reia, everyone has an opinion on her life. But as the stories reach her of the peril of Trimera, there is nothing she will not give to return to the only family she has left, her older brother Janu. Emotion is dangerous for a priestess, something she realizes all to keenly when she thinks about her brother’s friend Mian. 

From the day she was born, Mian knew he would die for Pria. But the woman that returns from the Lorien is a pale shadow of the fiery girl he remembers. Still scarred by the loss of his Prince’s advisor, the previous high priestess, he now has to watch his Pria face the same danger. But the more he tries to protect the high strung Pria, the angrier she gets. The only thing he knows for sure is that Trimera would not survive the loss of Pria; that he would not survive the loss of Pria. 

A mysterious being has gained control of the monstrous grinlo and every second that ticks by only serves to confirm that they are after Pria. With the Lorien watching her every move she can’t afford even the hint of weakness. But the longer she spends with Mian the more addled she finds her thoughts. How will she save Trimera when her very emotions could spell ruin?

The Battle for Trimera is the opening to the epic Ruling Priestess medieval fantasy series. If you like compelling characters, epic battles against savage monsters, and a gripping story, then you will love Tanya SM Kennedy’s tale of a priestess struggling against tradition to save her home. 

Pick up your copy of The Battle for Trimera and join the fight to save Trimera today!

 

Kindle Purchase Link
Print Purchase Link

 

 

Tanya SM Kennedy was born in the wilds of West Virginia where she was raised to be strong, independent, and bull-headed. She spends her free time (any she can find) reading, writing, and taking care of her menagerie. She still lives in the wilds of West Virginia with her family enjoying the solitude.

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Breaking Eselda & Redeeming Jordyn by Tabatha Shipley (Two Book Reviews)

~ Book One: A Kingdom of Fraun series ~

Strength, humility, speed, mirth, and wisdom are perfectly balanced in the kingdom of Fraun where council leaders make decisions in the best interest of all Fraunians. Meanwhile, young Princess Eselda is being groomed to eventually take the throne of Enchenda. But as her reign draws closer and long-held secrets are revealed, she realizes that her title comes with challenges she never imagined.

In Fraun, there are rulers who will kill to keep their secrets hidden; and rulers who will kill to change the council.

What kind of ruler will Eselda be?

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 

Murder, mystery, deception, secrets, scandals, and a love triangle await you amongst the pages of Breaking Eselda.

Eselda’s life is not dull. As she prepares to take the throne, her life is bombarded with questions. Is she ready to rule Enchenda? Should she get married? Whom should she marry? Is she prepared to birth an heir to the throne?

Being in charge of a realm is a taxing job. There are so many decisions to be made. There’s also the worry of becoming dark and malicious around your 20th birthday.

In Breaking Eselda, a lifespan isn’t nearly as long as what we have in real life. At age marker ten, a royal individual reaches full height. When he or she reaches forty annuals, their hair turns gray, and their bodies begin to fail them. Death soon follows. 

I wouldn’t want life to end this soon.

I also wouldn’t want to ride on a talking cockroach or eat earthworm stew. For sure, the only bug I would ever consider using for transportation is a Volkswagen Beetle. 😀

No, I like my bugs small, and my meals bug-free.

 

This book is labeled young adult, but even people with many years under his or her belt will find enjoyment with it as well.

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤❤

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~ Book Two: A Kingdom of Fraun series ~

King Jordyn is realizing things in Fraun were not what they appeared to be. With Queen Eselda of Enchenda making the choice to side with King Tin of Sarcheda, it seems like war is coming to Fraun.

Does Jordyn have what it takes to save Fraun?

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Design-wise, Breaking Eselda and Redeeming Jordyn couldn’t be any different. Breaking Eselda’s cover is bold, eye-catching; whereas, Redeeming Jordyn’s cover is dull and lifeless. When you open up the books, you’ll notice the story setups are also vastly different. Breaking Eselda has zero double spacing between lines and paragraphs while Redeeming Jordyn was littered with them. If you placed these two books side by side, you’d swear they had two different designers and editors. I also found more editing errors in Redeeming Jordyn than its predecessor. 

As for plot and execution, Redeeming Jordyn had its share of shocking developments. As with any war, people rose up to fight their oppressors. Blood was spilled, lives were lost, but it wasn’t all for naught. 

Leaders emerged, hearts mended, and the land of Fraun has hope once again. 

All in all, Redeeming Jordyn was an okay read. Was it as good as Breaking Eselda? No, but I would still recommend it to others. 😉 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤

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Tabatha is the author of the Kingdom of Fraun series,Projection, and 30 Days Without Wings. She believes strongly in the power of helping others and is always willing to help out a fellow writer or reader. Find and connect with her on whichever social media platform you love best.

 

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30 Days Without Wings by Tabatha Shipley (Book Showcase)

Faeries are real.

Elise is a faerie who has experienced terrible heartache and just needs a change before she is forced to choose the path she will walk forever. She will risk everything for one chance at happiness. But is the cost of the risk more than Elise bargained for?

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Here goes nothing.  My shoes make a light tapping noise on the polished floor as I make my way across it.  Normally you probably wouldn’t hear it, but the echo off the domed roof is deafening.  As my heart thuds away in my chest I have to wonder if they can hear that too.  Are they used to the children sounding nervous?  
 
The elder who walked me in takes to the air instead, crossing the chamber in half my time.  I watch her drop delicately into her seat, smiling at a few fae on either side of her.  Flying was a good idea, I wish I’d thought of it.
 
I reach the middle of the room and stop. The man before me has so much gold on his wings you can no longer see any clear.  It sends beams of light flying out in every direction around him, giving the impression that he is glowing.  He has years of impressive service to this community.  He wears a long white beard, but it doesn’t hide the youthful expression in his eyes.  I wonder what this man does for our society.
 
I tip my head downward in greeting.  “Thank you all for seeing me.”  
 
“We are here today to allow Elise an opportunity to choose the path of her future.  Today she will choose the direction of her training.  Elise, today you will tell us what future will earn color in your wings.  What say you?” the elder asks.  His voice echoes through the chamber.
 
I swallow the lump that has formed in my throat.  Here goes nothing.  “Can I request a manifest period?”  
 
There’s an audible gasp from a few of the elders assembled.  They range in age, I know.  Some are no older than me, really, but have shown themselves to be adept at their field.  Each sector of our society, each job held, has an elder who presides over it.  They are all here today to hear my choice.  Evidently, this is not what they wanted to hear.  My wings begin to flutter nervously.  They are well within their rights to tell me no, although it’s not normally done that way.  
 
“Well, yes child.  This would allow you a one-month period to travel to other colonies and decide where you would like your future to play out.”  He commands the attention of a few elders who have reverted to whispering in the back by clearing his throat.  “I believe we are surprised, Elise, because this practice is typically reserved for fae who have family in other circles.  To be blunt, my dear, we are all you have.”
 
“But I could be allowed to try?” I ask.
 
The man looks to his right.  A beautiful faerie sits along the lowest row of chairs beside him, her wings sending off silver rays instead of gold.  She is our leader.  Once she chose her path, the change was instant.  Her silver wings are rumored to have fully colored right then, in the prediction of service she would do.  It is strange that she has been our leader for as long as anyone can remember, and yet she looks so young.  Her face is thin, her eyes forgiving.  Her long white hair reaches her waist.  The hair tugs a little as she nods once to the speaker.  My eyes immediately lock back on him.  
 
“Yes, of course.  We would need to see you again in one month’s time to hear your decision.  You would be required to return for that second meeting and the decision you express at that time would be final.”
 
My heart flutters with the permission.  I’m so close now.  “That is what I wish, then.  Thank you.”
 
It has gone dangerously quiet in the chamber again.  All eyes are on me; I can feel them melting into my face.  I gulp.  They have to have the final word.  It is not official until they speak.  
 
The face of the speaking elder reveals nothing.  He remains stoic.  Finally, he nods once.  “So be it.”  

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Tabatha is the author of the Kingdom of Fraun series,Projection, and 30 Days Without Wings. She believes strongly in the power of helping others and is always willing to help out a fellow writer or reader. Find and connect with her on whichever social media platform you love best.

 

Amazon Author Page Link / Website Link

Twitter Link  / Instagram Link / Goodreads Link

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A Kingdom Under Siege: Wardens of Issalia, Book Four by Jeffrey L. Kohanek (Book Showcase)

Note from the author, Jeffrey L. Kohanek: A Kingdom Under Siege is available now through the Wardens of Issalia boxed set (see link below).  It’s also available to purchase on its own in print format (see link below). Mark your calendars because on May 14th, you can download it to your e-readers. 

 

~~ On sale for only $0.99 until May 10th! ~~

1,300 pages of MAGIC, SECRETS, INTRIGUE, and BETRAYAL
________________________________________________________________________
An enemy nation rises, fueled by subterfuge, assassinations, and fire-powered weapons. A team of young agents must infiltrate and eliminate this threat before all is lost.

Includes the COMPLETE Wardens of Issalia series — novels that combine for over 75 5-star Amazon reviews and 150 Goodreads 5-star ratings. 
  
Books in this boxed set:
______________________________________________________________
1. A Warden’s Purpose: Wardens of Issalia, Book I
2. The Arcane Ward: Wardens of Issalia, Book II
3. An Imperial Gambit: Wardens of Issalia, Book III
4. A Kingdom Under Siege: Wardens of Issalia, Book IV 

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An enemy threatens the kingdoms of Issalia, bent on conquest with the desire to vanquish Chaos magic forever.

The Empire has returned. Assassinations, subterfuge, and betrayal have fueled a rapid rise to power – a rise backed by fire-powered weapons. This enemy army swells with superior numbers and threatens the western kingdoms of Issalia.

With King Brock gone, the domination of Issalia is merely a matter of time.

The wardens, agents from a clandestine organization known as ICON, work in secret to stop this radical enemy. Trained as spies, warriors, rangers, inventors, and magic-users, the wardens have successfully reduced the enemy threat, but by doing so, they leave the Empire no choice.

War is certain. The attack is coming soon.

The kingdoms must stand against the Imperial Army’s advanced weapons and superior numbers. The wardens and Chaos magic offer slim hope, but a leader is required to achieve victory – a legend whom many believe is dead.

Join the battle. The fate of Issalia hangs in the balance.

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The ship continued to rock from side to side, the motion beginning to affect Brock as nausea set in. He opened his eyes, folded the map, and slipped it into his pocket as he made for the door.

Stepping outside, he found the sails filled with the gusting wind and the snow changed to a steady drizzle. Two ships ran even with the Razor while the other five in the armada trailed behind. To the port side, Brock then noticed another fleet nestled in a protected bay.

Brock turned and climbed the quarterdeck as sailors scurried about the distant narrow-bodied longships. “Ri Star? What are they doing down here?”

The Ri Starian crafts raised anchor, the oars at their sides moving the longships toward deeper water as the Razor and the trailing armada sailed past. Tenzi called for another sailor to take the helm while she dug out a tube with glass on each end. She aimed the tube toward the ships, looking through it as the Ri Starian vessels unfurled their sails.

With shock, she gasped. “Flash cannons! They plan to attack!”

Considering what he knew of Ri Star, Brock recalled his previous interactions with Queen Olvaria. In his two decades as King of Kantaria, he had only met Olvaria three times. Despite her polite exterior, Brock had always sensed a hard edge to the woman. She often argued that her queendom was small and lacked resources. If not for their diamond mines, Ri Star had little bargaining power when it came to trade.

With Ri Star consisting of nothing but Ilsands nestled in dangerous waters, they had naturally developed Issalia’s premier navy. Manned by tough, experienced sailors and a crew of oarsmen below deck, Ri Starian longships were the fastest in the world. Having those vessels armed with flash cannons was a frightening prospect.

A flash of green fire and a puff of smoke billowed from the lead Ri Starian ship. A boom followed, and a projectile hit the trailing vessel of the Torin armada, sending a blast of splinters into the air.

“This is bad.” Brock’s tone was grim. “Queen Olvaria has thrown her lot in with the Empire.”

Another longship fired, also striking the trailing Torin ship, this time near the waterline. The wounded vessel rocked, tilted to one side, and turned toward shore, but it was too late. The ship was sinking while sailors and passengers scrambled for the lifeboat.

“We have to stop them!” Brock put his hand on Tenzi’s shoulder. “Slow down so the rest of the armada can pass us.”

She turned back toward the enemy fleet. “Once we are in range, they are going to fire at us.”

“I know, but I don’t have a choice. Just trust me.”

“Fine.” With her face in a scowl, Tenzi bellowed out orders, sending sailors up the masts to lower the upper sails.

Brock leaped down to the main deck where he spotted Stein. The man stood at the rail watching the trailing ships, his attention shifting toward Brock as he drew close.  

“Stein! I need you to run below deck and instruct the other arcanists to begin applying Reduce Gravity augmentations to the deck. I want a large rune drawn near the bow, one in the middle, and one near the quarterdeck. Have them stack augmentations.”

“Stack them? You know what will happen.” Stein’s expression revealed his doubt.

“Just do it.”

As Stein ran to the stairs and disappeared below deck, Brock darted back to Tenzi’s cabin. He burst in and searched the room, his gaze falling on the small, round table bolted to the floor. With his boot heel against it, he gave it a shove but it didn’t move. He then picked up the chair and swung hard. The chair smashed into the table, scattering broken wood pieces onto the bed and across the floor. Brock gripped the tilted tabletop and lifted, tearing it off the base with a loud crack. He then set the tabletop on the floor and began to carve a symbol into the wood with the tip of his dagger. Once finished, he picked up the tabletop and ran back outside.

The drizzling rain continued, driven by the wind and leaving the deck slick. Razor had fallen behind most of the fleet, and the last remaining vessel was nearly upon them. Stein and the nine other arcanists were on deck with a group at the bow, a group in the center, and a group right beside Brock, near the stern. A man in the nearest group hurriedly traced a symbol with a chunk of coal. The diameter of the rune was half the width of the ship.

“Be sure to get the symbol exact!” Brock warned. “A misdrawn rune will kill us all!”

Still clutching the three-foot diameter table, Brock scrambled up the stairs to find the Ri Starian fleet less than a quarter-mile behind them.

“Tenzi!” he hollered. “Raise the sails the moment you see this rune activate!”

Without waiting, he closed his eyes and embraced the anxiety of the moment. The raw and angry energy of Chaos surrounded him, and he drew it in as easily as drawing a breath. Within seconds, a raging torrent of raw power surged throughout his body, threatening to tear him apart. Brock opened his eyes and gazed upon the rune he had etched into the table. It flared to life with a fiery glow, and Tenzi commanded her crew to raise the sails.

Brock ran across the quarterdeck and, with a grunt, threw the tabletop toward the Ri Starian fleet. It spun like a disc, the charged rune etched in the wood pulsing and fading as the tabletop struck the water.

boom and a blast of green flame burst from a cannon on the bow of the nearest enemy vessel, launching a metal ball toward Razor. The projectile hit just below the quarterdeck with a massive crack that sent Brock, Broland, and Tenzi stumbling. It smashed through the rear of the captain’s cabin and emerged out the other side, destroying the quarterdeck stairs in a burst of splintered wood.

“No! Not again!” Tenzi roared in frustration.

The floating tabletop then turned pure white and the churning ocean around it began to freeze. A thunderous crack came from the ice and it expanded in a roar of pops and snaps. The air over the center turned the drizzle to snow that thickened into a swirling localized blizzard.

Razor rocked and began to rise out of the water, sending those on board stumbling as the craft lifted upward. Brock leaned against the rearmost rail and watched the expanding ring of ice race toward them, far faster than the ship sailed. He glanced backward to see the Reduce Gravity runes on the deck, again pulsing with the next augmentation about to take hold.

“Come on. Just a little more lift,” he urged, nervous that the ice would reach them too soon.

The ship lurched and rose up higher, tilting as the hull came out of the water and the wind pushed against the sails. Broland fell into Brock, both of them rolling across the quarterdeck until they wedged against the port side rail. Tenzi held tight to the wheel. The sailors and arcanists toppled to the deck, many sliding across it before slamming into the rail. A sailor on the main mast slipped, spun, and dangled by a rope briefly before falling into the ocean.

Brock pulled himself up and peeked over the rail. The ice ring had expanded beyond their position, the ocean now a white, choppy, uneven surface of frozen waves. The trailing fleet crashed into the ice in a massive collision, damaging hulls and launching crew members overboard. The sailors who landed on the ice did not move.

As the Razor floated away, tilted at a hard angle a hundred feet above the ocean, the ice continued to expand. In the distance. Brock spotted a lifeboat from the sinking Torin vessel, fighting the churning waves as it headed toward land. Between him and the ship, the sea had become an island of ice, two miles in diameter. Ten Ri Starian longships were locked in the ice and would remain there until the augmentation expired. Even then, Brock suspected that most of those vessels were too damaged to make it to shore. Those ships will no longer be a problem.

“That was too close,” Broland said.

“I can’t steer!” Tenzi spun the wheel with no response. “The rudder is useless! We are drifting toward the cliffs!” She cupped her hands to her mouth and bellowed, “Lower the sails!”

Tenzi leaped off the quarterdeck and ran toward the main mast, which was unmanned. The sailors in the other two masts worked frantically to lower the sails while Tenzi scaled the main mast. Brock climbed his way up the angled deck to the starboard rail and looked down. They had passed most of the fleet with only the lead ship still ahead of them.

“Broland, follow me.” Brock leaped over the broken stairs and landed on the main deck, almost falling on the slippery, tilted surface.

With Broland following, Brock bolted to the closet beside the galley and opened the door to reveal three ballistae, three-foot long bolts, and long coils of rope. As the sails came down, the deck began to level, making it easier to stand.

Joely appeared beside the door. “What can I do?”

“Both of you, help me with this,” Brock said as he lifted one of the heavy ballistae.

Once the weapon was out the door, Brock returned to the closet, grabbed two coils of heavy rope, and threw one over each shoulder before scooping up a ballista bolt with a grappling hook on the end.

“Broland, Joely, Stein,” Brock said as he moved past them. ”Carry the ballista to the bow.”

As the trio scrambled to pick up the ballista, Brock looked up to find only the lowest sails still unfurled. The ship had slowed and leveled but was still headed toward the cliffs.

With Broland, Joely, and Stein in tow, Brock led them to the prow. The Razor was now even with the leading ship – the craft a few hundred feet to the starboard side and a hundred feet below them. Kneeling, Brock tied the two coils of rope together and then tied one end to a massive cleat normally used when docking. As he secured the other end to the eyelet on the ballista bolt, he issued instructions.

“Rest the ballista on the rail and hold tight.” He turned to Joely. “You know this weapon. We only get one shot. Make it count.”

Joely nodded, eyeing his target while Brock cranked the launch mechanism back, inserted the bolt into the ballista, and held on tight.

Joely tilted the ballista upward and moved it slightly to the right. He pulled the release trigger, and the bolt launched, the recoil sending Brock, Broland, and Stein stumbling to the deck. The coil of rope rapidly unwound as it slid over the rail, chasing the projectile.

Brock scrambled to his feet and watched the bolt fly toward the other ship. It hit a sail, tearing it. Reaching the end of the rope, the grappling hook recoiled and leaped backward, spinning around the main mast before latching on. The rope drew tight and the Razor lurched, causing everyone on board to stagger.

Razor’s prow dipped and tilted toward the ship towing them. Their direction altered slightly, but the cliffside was approaching fast. The cliff drew close…too close to avoid. A deep grinding sound came from the hull. Razor lurched and shook as it scraped across the cliff face. Moments later, the sound ceased and the ship slipped free.

A glance over the rail provided a wave of relief. They had cleared the obstruction and were now heading toward open waters. Brock wiped his brow and turned to find Tenzi glaring at him, her fists on her hips.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I have a hole in my ship, thanks to you.” She gestured back at her cabin and the broken stairs.

Looking through the opening, Brock was able to see the cliffs behind them, slipping into the distance. “Yes. I’m sorry about that.”

Tenzi crossed her arms and stared north, toward the trapped longships, now appearing as dark specs in a field of white. After a moment, she sighed. “I know you did your best. I just wish they would stop firing flash cannons at my ship.”

Brock moved closer and put his hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, Tenzi. However, look around you. We are a hundred feet above the water. You may have a hole in your cabin, but I am willing to bet that Razor is also the first flying ship. Ever. It should make a great story next time you’re having drinks with other sailors.”

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