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Authors: Daniel Casey

Tags: #adventure, #fantasy, #epic fantasy, #strong female characters, #grimdark, #epic adventure fantasy, #nonmagical fantasy, #grimdark fantasy, #nonmagic fantasy, #epic adventure fantasy series


BOOK: Winterfinding
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Ascendant Realms, Book Two

Daniel Casey

Copyright © 2015 Daniel

All rights

ISBN: 1511442549












The Syr Nebra calendar is
divided up by eight different celebration days serving as the name
and first day of the month. The year is slightly longer than an
Earth year:

Winterfinding (December

Imbolc (February

Ostara (March

Beltane (May 1)

Midsummer (June

Lammas (August

Mabon (September

Samhain (November


The Common Epoch (CE) began
after the completion of the Grand Cathedral in the Cassubian city
of Sulecin. The current year is 1167 CE.


The Nations of Syr Nebra
and their major cities

Essia: Paraonen, Rikonen,
& Heveonen

Cassubia, also called The
Lakes District or The Cathedral: Sulecin & Havan

Novosy: Hythe, Medves,
& Calla

Silvincia, also called The
Seven Spires: Rautia, Anhra, Bandra, Ardavass, &

Adrenia: Dystos, Pyrgos,
& Elvos

The Aral:






Chapter One



Chapter Two



Chapter Three



Chapter Four



Chapter Five



Chapter Six




















Chapter 1

First Day of Samhain

The Cruor, Siracene Highlands

The last body rolled over the edge of the
pit falling onto the naked pile of corpses with a firm thud. Dirty,
disheveled, and sore, Jena stood holding the pushcart up that she
had dumped the corpse from gazing down with a clinical stare. She
pulled the grey bandana, a rag really, she had been wearing over
her mouth and nose down. It had barely mitigated the stench of the
bodies, but at least, it had been something.

She wiped her face with the cleanest part of
her sleeve she could find and tossed aside the pushcart. Picking up
one of the five small kegs from just behind her, she popped a cork
out of its top spout and began splashing its contents out over the
bodies below while slowly circling the pit. She made it nearly all
the way around before the keg emptied, she tossed it towards the
pushcart, and picked up a second keg repeating the process until
all the kegs were used. The potash lye made the queerly blue and
grey dead flesh of the naked bodies glisten in the sun. Jena paused
in her work taking in the ugly faces of the soldiers.

These had been children really. Only one or
two of them looked more than twenty, most had been beardless. She
wondered how the Spires were getting away with sending out such
green recruits. Walking over the discarded pushcart, she kicked a
few kegs out of her way, reached down to pick up a shovel, and
proceeded to the other side of the pit to the dirt mound. She let
the head of the shovel dive into the black dirt and then she just
held it there.

Fatigue washed over her. Her eyes fluttered,
and she dumped the dirt back onto the pile. Stabbing the shovel
into the dirt, she let her body lean on it allowing it to prop her
up. A day buying the kegs, each separately from different vendors
throughout Havan and then a two-day slog back to the Cruor with the
supplies. A day to dig the pit, beginning at dawn and ending in
torchlight a few hours after the sun descended. A day to find and
strip all the bodies—loading armor and weapons onto the lift and
laboring over the rusty winch to get all the gear up the
hundred-foot sheer cliff to the Cruor’s salvage armory. Then today,
disappearing the bodies.

She still wasn’t done. Jena would have to
track through the forests and road to cover the tracks of the squad
if not create a decoy route. She needed sleep; she wanted it. She
shot her head up and shook it violently, dispelling the tiredness.
Bending her knees, she lifted a shovel full of dirty throwing it
into the pit. She would get this done today, before evening. Fill
the pit, re-lay the sod she had cut away, then crawl up into the
Cruor and find the room with the softest bed. She’d sleep and not
dream. It would be her reward.

Novostos Sea

The tallow light made everything feel dimmer
than the near perfect dark of the brig. Sweat rolled down Riv’s
forehead and found a channel into his eyes adding a warm blur to
what he saw. His wrists were shackled above his head as he flexed
trying to pull himself upright but failed. He hung there in the
quiet as the yellow candle light hemmed him. Blinking several
times, his vision cleared for a moment, and he saw the angry red
lashes that crossed his chest and stomach.

The burn of the cuts melded with those he
felt all over his back. Breathing hurt. Riv tried again to reach
the floor with is toes, to take off some of the weight off dangling
but he was just high enough his feet only glanced the floor’s
surface. He was losing his resolve, and he knew that they weren’t
close to being done with him.

had just rounded the Avlea
Peninsula, the western end the great Ragan Mountains that split the
world into two parts, when it encountered the massive Lappalan
fleet. The peninsula belong entirely to Adrenia, the nation of
shipbuilders. Traders would round the peninsula and enter the
Avostos Sea, a narrower but deeper body of water. At the eastern
end of the Avostos was the city of Wick, the entry port to The Aral
and the bithumin that came from its capital Lappala. The people of
the Aral, a vast arid plain, had never shown themselves to be
interested in sea trade or travel. For years, the Merchant Fleet
was contracted to bring bithumin to the nations of Essia, Cassubia,
and Silvincia.

There had been stories of bizarre junks
sailed by the Lappalans when the Aral had been a verdant savanna,
but that had been so many centuries ago it only existed as a fable.
Riv remembered once as a boy seeing a design scroll when he first
worked for the harbormasters of Dystos. It had a sketch of a
Lappalan junk in its margin. The junk looked impossibly tall more
like a floating building than a ship and its sails looked more like
fans. When he had asked about it, it was brushed aside as the
doodling of a very board master shipbuilder.

It had come back to him
the morning his lookout had called him up, saying there were ships
on the horizon. Peering through his monocular, strange sails
appeared and he was thrown. However, it was nothing compared to the
horror the he and the crew experienced coming closer to the fleet.
There must have been more than thousand ships; Riv couldn’t count
them all nor see them all as they were packed so deep. Gigantic
junks loomed before them casting the
in shade from a good distance.
The junks had a beam of at least fifty yards and lengths of nearly
four hundred yards. Riv shook his head in disbelief. He could
imagine the draft of these ships; he had never seen anything like
this. The junks were hemmed by other ships similar to the
but even these
were still larger. They were long, narrow ships akin to the
Adrenine trireme, an empty flat deck with hundreds of oars churning
the water like some kind of centipede dancing across the

There was no avoiding this
fleet. The
was soon met by four of the triremes and surrounded. When Riv
had called down to what he took as the lead ship, his voice only
brought forth a small man dressed in a rather bright and very fine
looking robe. This man walked to the center of his ship’s deck and
stood silent. Then Riv heard his crew begin to call out from all
over the
huge metal hooks shot out from the foreign ships. They grabbed hold
of the rails of the
crashing through its hull to lodge deep in its
body. The oars of the triremes began to row dragging the
into the dark
fleet. There was panic aboard the ship, some of the crew attempted
to cut through the massive lines of the hooks only to discover that
the fibers were too tightly wound, too numerous to be affected by
any blade or even fire. The
heaved and moaned like a whale as it lurched

Since the hijackers were
too close to fire upon with cannons, Riv commanded the crew to arm
themselves. But barely half obeyed or, at least, had time to before
the lines from the triremes were released and the ships peeled
away. Riv saw before them one of the massive junks looming as it
opened two immense panels. The strange sea-gates seemed to suck in
the ocean waters and with it the
as though it were a toy. As
they moved from the bright sun over the sea to the pitch black in
the belly of the junk, Riv heard the grinding of the gates close
behind them and the waters become still.

The crew were terrified. There had never
been anything like this not even in the stories they had read or,
more likely, heard. There was no enemy, just faceless ships and now
the dark. The minutes had been intolerable. Suddenly braziers lit
up giving off a fiercely bright white light. Nearly all the crew
were blinded. Riv regained his vision quicker than the rest and saw
that hundreds of marines on what looked like innumerable terraces
surrounded them. The marines looked like shadows, but they were
real. Riv felt terror for the first time his life.

Hanging here now, flayed for what felt like
hours, unfed for days and only given the most brackish tasting
water, Riv felt a strange resignation. He was going to die here.
However, he had no idea where ‘here’ was or who these people were.
The robed man on the trireme hadn’t said a word, the shadows
dressed in all black and hooded had boarded his ship and ushered
his entire crew off and into black cells in silence, and the man
who had shackled him and whipped him had done so wordlessly. He had
no idea what was going on, yet the soft light of the candles
hypnotized him. He could feel himself surrendering.

It was then that he heard footsteps—three
men, maybe four—moving with pace but unrushed. They came towards
him from what seemed like an interminable distance. Riv tried to
lift his head to spy his captors. There were two shadow guards on
either side of him and he could feel the presence of another behind

Look at me.” A hard voice
commanded. Riv looked up and could just make out a man in gold. He
felt a hand grab his chin and pull his face up.

BOOK: Winterfinding
13.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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