Storm Breakers, The Stroms of Magic Book 3
By P.T. Hylton and Michael Anderle
Abbey slammed Dahlia down into the chair and leaned in close. “Tell me everything you know about Syd’s brother.”
Dahlia grimaced, but the slight smile stayed on her face.
It had only been ten minutes since they’d halted Dahlia’s execution. Abbey had been in attendance to watch the event, but Dahlia had saved her own life by revealing she had information on Elliot, the long-lost stormship sailor who’d once served aboard Thunderclap. Syd had been looking for her older brother for years, and she kept her head shaved as an outward display of her ongoing mission.
They’d hauled Dahlia to a small room in Liv’s nearby home. Dustin, Abbey, Liv, and Fannar hovered over the seated Storm Caller, who sat with her hands bound in front of her, an uncannily serene expression on her face.
Abbey clenched her fists, trying to keep from shaking with anger. After everything she’d been through—they’d been through—at Dahlia’s hands, again the woman had avoided death.
This was a woman who had helped Storm Raiders sack dozens of towns up and down the Kaldfell coast and beyond. She’d orchestrated the Barskall secret invasion of the Kaldfell Peninsula. She’d compelled the Barskall king to force his people into military service and addict them to seiderdrek, the potion that gave them enhanced speed and strength at the cost of increased rage and lack of control.
And again, the woman was avoiding her rightful fate.
Not forever, Abbey promised herself. She’d let Dahlia live a little longer out of respect for Syd, but the woman’s lifespan would be measured in days.
“Like I said before,” Dahlia reminded them, “I’m not going to tell you. But I will show you.”
“That so?” Abbey asked. “I am not going to tell you what I’m going to do to you with my sword, either. That way we’ll both have a nice surprise.”
Dustin crossed his arm and sighed. “Look, we can’t sail somewhere if you don’t tell us where we’re going.”
“And we’ve spared your life,” Fannar added. He held the seax, the dagger-like weapon that he’d intended to use to execute Dahlia, tightly in his hand. “That is a big show of trust. You need to give us something in return.”
Dahlia stared back at the Barskall for a long moment, then nodded.
Abbey crossed her arms and waited.
“This was fifteen years ago,” Dahlia began. “Perhaps a bit more—I lose track. Tor and I were Storm Raiding, but only far away from Kaldfell. We’d struck the Lost Isles a number of times, and we’d also raided in the area the Arcadians foolishly call the Frozen North. As if the mountains and the sea north of their lands were the edge of the world.”
She shook her head in disgust.
“Try to keep your revulsion at the Arcadians in check,” Abbey interjected. “What’s any of this have to do with Elliot?”
Dahlia continued. “It was around that time we first made our way to Barskall. The land was in the midst of a conflict between two warlords. We thought to raid the coastal villages, but we quickly discovered there was little worth taking—most were living in poverty—so I came up with another plan. I approached one of the warlords, a man named Ragnar, and made him an offer. We would help him defeat his rival in return for his promise to send Barskall warriors to Kaldfell in the coming years to help us defeat our enemies.”
“Did he accept your offer?” Dustin asked.
Dahlia shook her head. “Afraid not.”
“I wouldn’t take it personally,” Abbey told her. “He was probably just turned off by your face. Or possibly your personality. Or maybe your weird voice. Who’s to say?”
Dahlia ignored the comment. “But his enemy Elias did. So, with the help of Undertow and Summer Wind, we harassed Ragnar’s coastal strongholds, burned any villages that supported him, and helped transport Elias’ warriors quickly by sea. It was enough to turn the tide of the war.”
Fannar grimaced. “And so King Elias was crowned.”
Dahlia nodded. “The warlord became King. But before that could happen, he had to negotiate a surrender with Ragnar. The man still had his supporters, especially in the villages on the western coast, so Elias wanted to avoid killing him, if possible. It only made sense to build goodwill with those villages if he was going to rule them. Tor and I went with Elias to negotiate the terms of Ragnar’s surrender.”
“Ragnar ended up leaving Barskall, did he not?” Fannar asked.
“Yes,” Dahlia confirmed. “He agreed to exile. He would go west to a place called Gren, a land of ice and forests. A place he could begin a new conquest.”
Abbey and Dustin exchanged a glance. Abbey had heard tales of Gren, but she hadn’t been sure the place really existed. The storytellers in Holdgate told the children of the giants of Gren, jovial but stupid creatures who were quick to anger. In the stories, stormship sailors always outsmarted them.
One story in particular stuck in Abbey’s mind. A stormship was trapped in a Gren harbor with an enormous boulder blocking its only path to escape. A giant was on the verge of destroying the ship, but the hero of the story tricked the giant into eating the boulder. The ship sailed to safety as the giant laid on the shore suffering from a stomach ache, moaning.
Dustin had heard those same stories, and Abbey could see he was wrestling with the same thoughts, wondering if Gren was even real.
Dahlia continued, “Ragnar had a strange request. He was intrigued with the way we sailed and fought. He demanded that Tor and I give him a few of our stormship sailors so he might use them to train his people.”
A look of fury appeared on Liv’s face. “You didn’t. Tell me you give sell your own people to a Barskall warlord.”
“And how many lives were saved because of what I did?” Dahlia asked.
“Spare me.” Abbey leaned toward Dahlia. “You didn’t care about ending a war. You just wanted a Barskall army of your own.”
The Storm Caller shrugged. “Does it matter? I helped end a war.”
“How many did you give them?” Liv growled.
“We allowed Ragnar to select five of our sailors. Elliot was the one he really cared about. He’d seen Elliot fight. The man was an average sailor, to be honest, but he fought with the sea’s own fury. And Ragnar had taken notice.”
Abbey imagined what it would be like to be traded to an enemy warlord like livestock and taken to whatever mysterious lands were beyond the sea. “You said Elliot’s still alive. How do you know?”
Dahlia paused a long moment before answering. “I suppose I can’t be certain.”
Fannar raised his seax. “So you’re a liar then?” He glanced at the others. “Let me end her now.”
She held up her bound hands. “But I know Elliot. And I know the regard Ragnar had for him. Elliot was a survivor. For all I know, Ragnar’s army was wiped out by the legendary giants of Gren, but even if it was, I have a feeling Elliot would have found a way to survive.”
Abbey wanted to object to that line of thinking, but if Elliot was anything like his sister, Dahlia might be correct.
Liv scratched at her chin. “From what I’ve heard over the years, Gren is a vast land, mostly covered with ice. It would be next to impossible to find him there—if Gren even exists.”
“Oh, it exists.” Dahlia smiled. “I’ve been there. As part of the terms of surrender, Thunderclap herself transported a portion of Ragnar’s army there. I can show you exactly where we set them down, and I can show you the first town Ragnar attacked. I promise you you’ll never find it without me.”
Abbey sighed. That was all the information they were going to get out of Dahlia for now. Much like Elliot, Dahlia was a survivor. She’d do everything she could to preserve her own life.
It was time to tell Syd.
FROM P.T.>> Book 3 of the Storms of Magic series is almost here, and that means it’s time for a snippet.
I hope those of you in the paths of real storms this week are staying safe. Even watching on TV from a distance, these storms are scary. If the people I’ve chatted with online are any indication, my readers are a tough-as-nail lot. You’re all in my thoughts. Stay safe!
Storm Breakers picks up exactly where Storm Callers ended. That means if you haven’t read Storm Callers yet go do so before digging into this snippet.