The island world of Meriel faces an old adversary and a new danger. Will the reformed Order die before it has a chance to blossom?
Storm clouds loom on the horizon as Carya and Brantley struggle to overcome wounds of the past and build a future together. The fragile new Order is on shaky ground, with too few dancers and sparse resources. Then trouble erupts—and now an insidious rebellion and a new foe threaten their entire world.
When she uncovers an old enemy behind all the destruction, Carya realizes the past is not done with her. With conflict tearing apart the dancers and villages, rimmers are soon overrun, and Carya must unite her people by leading the battle to protect the very heart of her world … or lose it all.
Where could he be? I squinted toward the horizon, where stormy sky met turbulent sea. Brantley had planned to be back by midday, but the primary sun was already lowering beyond the churning waves. Not a good sign. Wind howled from the ocean, and the ground bobbed. A gust slapped into me, rippling my tunic and forcing me to lean forward to keep my footing. My toes dug into the tangleroot.
Shielding my eyes against the subsun, I hoped to spy the silhouette of a herder balanced on the sleek back of his stenella, his determined form rising behind the graceful curve of the creature’s neck. Surely he’d seen the storm moving toward our island. Why hadn’t he raced home? Had he gone out too far? His new mount, Makah, was young and early in her training; she wasn’t as skilled and reliable as Navar had been.
The island’s rim lurched, forcing me to retreat. I could dance a pattern to change the wind’s course and coax the storm away, but I had no idea where Brantley and Makah were. My interference could send the storm straight into them. A sigh ripped out of me. All I could do was wait.
My arms cradled the gentle swell of my belly. I’d hoped news of a babe on the way would cause my husband to take fewer risks. I shook my head, letting the wind tug my hair free from my braid. I didn’t truly want him to change. But I did wish he had a more experienced stenella. Brantley still grieved Navar’s loss. So did I.
The clouds broke open and rain sheeted down, driving me to seek shelter. Our home welcomed me with warmth and light. High windows under the eaves let in the glow of the setting subsun that penetrated even the storm, and torches brightened the wall by the hearth, competing with the flickering fire. A smoky scent curled through the air.
I added a log, grateful for the refuge. A home like this was a luxury I’d never dreamed to experience. Shelves lined one wall, filled with food staples, tools, parchment, and neatly folded fabric. Through a low doorway, I could glimpse the cheerful quilt covering our bed. Spare tunics and cloaks hung from pegs.
I brushed moisture from my shoulders and rested on a bench near the table in this main room. Our bonding cup held a place of honor in the center of the table. Delicate carvings embellished the polished sides with images of land and sea, stenella and forest hound, and a man and woman. A rolled parchment rested against it as if in opposition. I pressed my lips together. As much as I longed for Brantley’s safe return, I dreaded the confrontation that simple missive would bring.
Excerpted from Windward Shore by Sharon Hinck. Copyright © 2021 by Sharon Hinck. Published by Enclave Publishing.
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