This guest blog is a first for Myth, the Universe, and Everything,
as the following is an excerpt from an original short story by friend of the blog Andrew Schneider
being hosted at my home page, Virgil and Beatrice
-- the first piece of fiction written by someone other than me to be hosted there.
Andrew and I have worked together on a number of projects, from the old Empty Room Studios days to Living Kingdoms of Kalamar and Living Forgotten Realms.
He's a heck of a writer, and, tomorrow, he's launching his career as a self-published novelist with not one but two titles: Undercaffienated and Overexposed: The Tale of a Coffee Shop Princess
and Nothing Left to Wish For,
with a cover designed by the exceptional Sarah Schanze.
(That's the cover featured here.) The following short story excerpt takes place before Nothing Left to Wish For
; I hope you'll click through to the full story and check out the full novel!
You can learn more about Andrew's books in an interview with John "Ross" Rossomangno,
another fellow D&D writer. And now, without further ado, Andrew Schneider!
--"Cool, With Plenty of Water"
by Andrew G. SchneiderIt was a simple task.
Haul and cleat, steady the sail. "Six points to spinward, Mr. Harris." Steady my old bones on the rail and watch the arm of the galaxy stretch away into the sky. "We're to swing wide round that dune."
"Aye, aye, Mr. Briggs." Not captain, never captain, even if it's just the two of us.
I close my one good eye and listen to the sand playing over the hull, the cold wind cutting through my clothes. We're a small craft, nimble and smooth. Just me and the pilot, Jase Harris, though there's space enough for three.
"Ware starboard!" Mr. Harris sings out.
The bulk of the sky goes black behind the prow of a fat freighter, speeding through the deep valleys between the dunes. She's running dark and fast in the middle of the night, low and heavy on a dozen blistering thrusters. Contraband. Smugglers for sure.
"We have right of way, sir?"
A mammoth wedge of wood, steel, and sail bearing down without care or cause. She'll run us down and burn the evidence.
"Right o' way, Mr. Harris. That's the spirit." The kid's got talent. Got what it takes to be the best pilot in the Endless Desert. "Let's show these smugglers some proper piratical courtesy."
"Sir." Mr. Harris grins, his fingers dance across the wheel. Our little ship groans, her thrusters spin high and hot and we're rising, up and up. I throw my weight hard against the rail for counterbalance as we cant sideways, skate the side of the freighter and score a gash in her flank she won't soon forget. Skip off her tail and let a smattering of shots and shouts follow us into the sky.
Then the freighter's gone and we're left high and lonely. Naught but the wind for company. "You ever been to the Crescent Cities, Mr. Harris?"
"No, sir. Can't say I've had the pleasure."
"Then hand off the wheel and step lively, port side down." I call it one of the wonders of the world. A jewel, nestled in the broad bosom of the Endless Desert. Viridian. Tourmaline.
They call it a lake. A body of water as large as I've ever seen, sickle shaped and calm enough to flip the stars on their face. Trees and farms hug the outer edge and the inner rim, holding off against the ever-present sand. Here and there, like the bones of some buried giant, towers stretch up out of the green; wizards' playgrounds. Bah, wizards and their flying carpets, always reaching for the stars.
Seven cities, seven ports, and seven thousand ships in and out every day. Landing lights dot the sands, calling me home. "Drink it in, Mr. Harris. Topside's too pricey for the likes us. We'll be berthed down under."
Aye, my bones ache on nights like this.Read the rest of the story at Virgil and Beatrice.