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Authors: Mary Weber

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Siren's Song (3 page)

BOOK: Siren's Song
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For less than three seconds I actually pretend to bat him away before giving in to the comfort of his arms and skin and uniformed chest. Because whatever I regret about having to leave the Terrenes and their people to fend for themselves, I
will not
regret this.

“I missed you,” I whisper.

“I rather missed me too.”

I pinch his bicep and he yelps—before I fold in tighter between his arms and try as hard as hulls to hear his heart beat beat beating over the airship's droning. I'm answered with another surge of calm that flows through my skin to coat the very lining of my veins and rib cage.

“I'm glad you're you again,” he murmurs into my hair.

“Are you just going to repeat everything I'm thinking? Because I was about to say the same for you.”

He laughs, although it's weaker this time. “To be honest, I'd rather erase everything you're thinking.” He tugs my chin up until my eyes connect with his. “Except for this.” He presses his lips to my forehead. Where they stay.

stay for what feels like hours.

Until a soldier's shrill voice rips apart the moment. “Look ahead! To the mountain peaks.”

We're almost there.

I feel Eogan swallow and sigh before he releases me and turns to the soldiers assembling across the deck. There's a new weariness in his stance.

“I should help them. Except . . .” Except his gaze says he's not about to leave my side any more than he's already had to.

“I'll help too.”

He nods toward those soldiers who are shoving aside the ignored wraith bodies from Draewulf's Dark Army piled outside the dining room wall. Or what's left of the bodies. Apparently the
living dead can only be stopped by dismemberment beyond recognition, which means the pieces are still leaking greasy black blood all over the deck.

It calls a shiver up my spine. Because even their blood still feels alive. As if the sorcery that made them is still here, still feeding off their flesh.

Still hunting us.

My skin prickles and the sensation of Draewulf's presence suddenly rushes across the distance to slither inside my blood and just about bowls me over.
“I'm coming for it,”
I feel him murmur.
“For all of it. I'm coming for you.”

What the—?
I gasp and fog spurts up past us as the ship dips. I peer behind us through the misty dim at the Tullan black smoke.

Eogan pauses. “Nym?”

I shake my head. “It's nothing. I just—”

A muffled boom shakes the metal beneath our feet, and the next second a blast of air attacks my face and body and sends the ship shuddering.

What in blazes?

I look over in time to see one of the four nearby airships plunge down. The resounding boom is followed by a terrible shredding that's loud enough to drown out the roar of our own engines.
Oh hulls no.
I lean over the railing and watch as the neighboring ship begins spinning below us, slowly at first, until it picks up speed and twists in the air.

I glance up at Eogan, then around at the faces of the soldiers as they rush to the railing. My gut swirls in horror right along with that ship.

“Is it Draewulf?” someone shouts.

“Or the Cashlins? Are they targeting us?”

Eogan's fingers move almost instinctively from my waist to my
arm, and I tighten my left hand's deformed fingers into a fist. We're rewarded by a flash of light igniting the dark sky, followed by a ripple of thunder that is still weak and weary sounding, but at least my abilities are coming back.

Eogan presses down on my wrist—not to will me his calm but to ignite my power. I lift my hand and let the air currents slide over it, cold and smooth like ocean tides on white sand. And beg the Elemental in my blood to stir faster, stronger. To shiver alive and recuperate quicker.

One heartpulse.

Two heartpulses.

The nearby ship keeps lilting and falling in spurts.


“It's not working.”
Oh litches, it's not working.

I turn to Eogan. And pause. Because suddenly it's not just me—something's wrong with him too. Eogan is weakening. Whatever energy he's giving out, it's draining him and his skin is turning ashen.

I pull my arm away and grapple for control of the wind beneath the dropping airship, but it's nearly impossible, especially without interfering with the flight of the one we're on or the three farther out. The wind around us begins wailing, the atmosphere growing violent. I cling with one hand to the rail while my other works to steady the air.

Until the failing airship below us tilts up midspin and exposes the source of the shredding: the ship has a gaping hole in its side.

The soldier closest to me gasps. “Sabotage.”

“No, it was weakened during the battle, and the force of the wind at our speed has taken its toll.” Eogan points to where the airship's metal sheeting has peeled back. “That's not man or magic caused. It's a design flaw.”

The soldier respectfully looks away. Eogan would know such a thing better than anyone. He's the one who created them.

It doesn't matter now though because the ship just keeps spinning faster. Like a child's pinwheel.

Another boom rocks the air from my chest as one of the metal planks peels off the ship's side and flies up to rupture the balloon.

The moment freezes.

Every soldier lining the deck near us freezes.

As if we all know the horror that is to come for the soldiers and child captains on board that airboat.

It drops like a rock from the space nearby.



Pieces of the ship's balloon rip and tear off and flail up wildly past us as the thing falls, sinking down down down. Like one of the paper boat-kites I used to take out to fly in storms when owner number three wasn't looking. Those ships always sank as soon as the rain hit them.

Oh please, no.

My prayers are too late. My stomach clenches and ignites as a burst of flames and heat billows up through the dark, announcing that the ship and its occupants have hit what appears to be a thickly forested ground.

Suddenly my insides are lurching and my nausea is twisting into fear as a loud tearing sound rips through the space above me. This time it's closer. Louder.

Without looking up, I know it's our ship.

Eogan's large guard, Kenan, swears, and I glance up at the giant balloon overhead to where the Bron soldiers have used metal ropes and tethered themselves to posts as they scamper about. A few minutes ago they were almost done repairing the rip Draewulf put in the balloon.

Not anymore.

The hole has just split wider with the shifting winds and a spike of metal from the other ship's hull that flew up and impaled it.

Eogan grabs for me, pulling me against him, and yells for the men to hit the deck or tie onto something. The airship lilts and drops, and I swear bile comes up my throat.

From somewhere nearby, Kenan yells, “Tell the captains to go faster.”

“We've just passed over the river separating Tulla from Cashlin,” Eogan says. “Any faster and this ship will shred apart like the one we just lost. Have the fuelers open the vents all the way to keep the balloon filled, and have the men who're roped on clear the rest of the bodies from the deck.”

Kenan nods. “You, you, you.” He points to three soldiers. “Get these wraith corpses overboard now.” Then he roars across the ship, “Flood the vents! And fix the bleeding hole!”

“Not enough wire-weave to cover it!” comes a shout from above.

“Then bleeding get some more!”

I clench my left hand and pull up a surge of wind, as feeble as it is, to steady the ship for the men above as the guards begin picking up the wraith bodies and shoving them overboard.

Eogan releases me to touch my shoulder. “I'm going to help the captains. Come with me.”

Kenan's giant black hands are on Eogan's chest in a heartbeat. “You look like hulls, Your Majesty, and you're not tied on.” Kenan keeps his palm there but glances up and yells, “What of the other airships?”

“They're holding up,” the lookout calls back.

Eogan swipes Kenan's hand away. “The captains will need help navigating this, and I'm the best person for it if we're going to make it.” He wobbles as he points past the black shadows of the peaks and forests we're heading over to the glittering city in the distance. The
soldiers shove off the last of the wraiths and the airship pulls up higher—just in time, too, from what I can see of the jagged, white-tipped mountaintops poking from the dark. “The other ships will have to follow or figure out the terrain on their own.”

I catch Kenan's glance at the second-story quarters where the two child captains are.
He's probably scared out of his wits. Poor boy.

“Your Majesty, I think you and Nym should—”

Too late. We're descending faster. The stars become clearer, freckling the sky with their light as we make it over the range. I shut my eyes and reach up and will the spark in my Elemental veins to connect with the atmosphere. To strengthen enough to hold us up until the captains find a place to land.

Except next thing I know we're slowly turning in a circle on the winds.


“The fuel is running out,” Eogan says.

I open my eyes and look at him as his fingers squeeze mine. “Arguing about my health or safety won't make a difference if we're dropping too fast,” he says. “Tell the engine room to find every last ounce of fuel. And, engineers, engage the air-fins!”

I start to follow. “I'm coming.”

Except neither of us is going anywhere because a rush of air blasts my lungs and rocks the ship harder. And suddenly the world drops out from underneath us and we are falling . . .

falling . . .


Kenan points toward flickering fires lighting up a forest's edge and lights farther out illuminating what appears to be a city made completely of glass that's swirling in and out of sight as we spin. The glow is growing brighter.

One of the soldiers behind us yells, “Hold on to something, boys, and pray our captains steer us well!”

Out of the dim, Eogan's arms clamp around either side of me, then his hands latch onto the railing as he shoves us both down. I wrap around his body, which is abruptly shivering, and grip my good hand onto the metal beam. And curl my other against his chest.

We spin faster and metal shrieks as we're jolted and jostled against treetops and then thrown free from the rail to skid across the cold deck amid groans from the soldiers. The airship bumps and we're aloft again, only to come down harder with a loud crunching noise and metal screaming and pieces breaking off because all hulls has broken loose.

It lasts mere seconds.

It lasts a lifetime.

Jostling and spinning and bumping.

Then we're crashing as the ship plows through what sounds like metal and glass breaking and material ripping.

Things are flying past us—thunking the deck and bending the rail—until my body's ripped free from Eogan's grip and I'm shoved against the opposite side of the ship.

My head hits. My back hits. My chest hurts.

The ship comes to a stop with a jerk, and everything slows, until with one final squeal the whole thing lists to the side so the deck is now slanted toward me and my hips are against the lower railing.

Silence falls except for the sputtering, whirring hum of the engine.

The taste of blood travels the back of my throat from my nose. I cough, sit up, and rub my head as I look around for Eogan.

He's a few paces away already getting to his feet and heading
across the slanted deck. Beyond him, surrounding us, are what appear to be tall, lit-up glass towers sparkling in starry-night reflection.

I blink and wave Eogan off. He nods and flips around to his men. “Everyone survive?”

Mutters of “here, here, here” fill the air.

“Good.” He looks toward the captains' room. “Kenan, see to your son and the other captain, then the prisoners. You two soldiers there—ensure that no one gets within five paces of Nym while I demand to see the queen.”

“I'll speak to the queen,” I say, pulling myself up. “You men see that King Eogan gets a physician.”

It may be dark, but the expression on Eogan's face when he turns is quite clear.
Like hulls.

Not that it matters because the next second we're doused in torchlight—hundreds of flickering beams igniting the dark and splaying out beyond the airship. Shouts surround us—sharp and angry above the noise of the broken, whining engine.

There's a sound of scraping and bumping, and something's being shoved up against the ship's side while the furious voices beyond only grow louder.

“Halt where you stand!”

The man's accent is odd. Like Princess Rasha's.

Tramping feet draw closer as a head appears above us, from the ship's side that's tilting upward.

“We're refugees come from today's battle in Tulla,” Eogan calls out in a weakened yet somehow still king-like tone. “I demand to see Queen Laiha.”

A commotion beyond the man grows and suddenly he moves aside, and the boarding plank he came up on is swarming with guards dressed in the same purple colors I've seen Rasha wear so often.

Eogan raises his arms. “I'm Eogan, king of Bron, elder brother to the once-king and now-deceased Odion whom I slew in battle. I have urgent news for your queen regarding Princess Rasha and the monster Draewulf.”

His next words are lower, muttered, and it's not until a few heartpulses go by that I realize they're intended for me. “Do not react.”

Because two seconds later a scuffle erupts and I'm watching what looks to be a black bag shoved over his head just before one comes down on my own.

BOOK: Siren's Song
6.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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