Book Eight in the Zaria Fierce Series
Summary in a Nut-Shell: High on his recent platform-jumping victory, Christoffer Johansen is ready to tackle the next phase of the top secret mission, but will find it’s not all fun and games.
An Old Challenge, a New Mission
Successfully securing their new feathery companion should’ve meant the end to their secret mission was near, but Christoffer Johansen learns it’s only just the start. With superstitious river-trolls and bickering white ravens on the one hand, and a shockingly gleeful brownie and witch on the other, he can hardly make hide nor hair of what’s to come. Something, though, is coming and it glides sinisterly just beneath the surface.
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The bell tolled again – loud and resonant in the night, its clangor a groaning, groaning, groaning of disaster and danger and doom. It jarred the nerves and upset the stomach nearly as much as the swooping, plunging course of the ship as it clambered lugubriously through the ocean’s high swells, struggling, struggling to find safe passage.
“It’s not the same. It’s rung differently,” Henrik said worriedly, slipping on his boots.
The ship lurched and heaved, forcing them all to brace against the furniture and walls. Christoffer fought to keep Defender steady, but the border collie whined and yipped in fright, resisting his efforts. He lost his grip on the dog as the pealing took on a desperate tone.
A shivering, rumbling groan ran the length of the ship only to be broken by a sharp crack. The twanging of the bell shifted and lost its pitch. The floor tilted unnaturally and the door banged open in a burst of purple flames.
“Catch him,” shouted Christoffer as Defender bolted for the door.
Zaria’s hand shot out and snatched the dog by the collar. Pulling the frightened collie with her, she grabbed onto Filip’s shirt with her other hand and hauled him close. When her boyfriend opened his mouth, she shook her head.
“No time to waste. We have to go topside, now,” she said, fierce determination in her blazing violet eyes.
The air pressure changed and in a span of a breath they were gone. Something was desperately wrong and it wasn’t whales, and it probably wasn’t giants. More ominously still, the alarm bell had ceased ringing.
“Grab the bags,” Henrik shouted, throwing wide the door to the wardrobe.
Christoffer caught his and Filip’s, nearly fumbling them as the ship heaved up like something was trying to break it apart from beneath. The hairs on his arms rose heralding Zaria’s return. She appeared in a misty shadow whose edges crackled with static and telltale purple light.
“What’s happening?” Christoffer yelled, noticing that she was soaked to her skin, her hair plastered against her skull.
“You’ll see,” she said, not so reassuringly.
She gripped their shoulders so tightly her knuckles turned white. Air squeezed out of his lungs as she teleported them to the decking of the ship. They slammed into the wooden planks, bruising shins and knees as she misjudged the angle of the ship.
She scrambled to her feet quickly, missing Filip’s outstretched hand. Instead, Christoffer grabbed it gratefully, and unsteadily climbed to his feet. All around them fear reigned supreme. The churning waves roared loudly in the night nearly drowning out their panicked shouts.
Water sloshed over the rails in a tidal wave, nearly sweeping Christoffer off his feet. As it was, retaining a grip on the bags was a feat in and of itself. Spotting the others, he immediately swapped the bags for Defender, thanking Geirr and hugging his madly barking dog close.
“I’ll be back,” Zaria said tightly, eyes strained with worry.
“Where are you going?” asked Filip.
“To see if there are others.”
“I’ll go too,” he said, and when she made to protest, he raised an eyebrow in challenge.
“What’s happening?” demanded Henrik, grabbing the rails as the ship tilted precariously and the creaking, groaning sound echoed again all around them.
Geirr looked spooked. “The ship’s being torn apart.”
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(different from the written excerpt)
E-book ISBN-13: 978-1-942750-15-4
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-942750-16-1