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Snippet

Here’s a scene from the second Minivandian’s book.  My goal is to have it out before Independence Day.  Hope y’all enjoy.


 

DaddyBear the Minivandian held Ruarin’s hand as they walked across the gangplank connecting their ship to a wharf at Dovlinia harbor. He could feel his companion’s hand shake a bit, and her palm was cold and clammy.

“We should have waited for a better tide and taken a larger ship, my lady,” he said soothingly, “I hate to see you in such a state.”

“We would have sat for weeks in that reeking cesspool the Islanders call a port,” Ruarin replied, her tone betraying her discomfort, “I traded a little seasickness for getting home before the solstice.”

The pair stepped onto the wharves planks, moving aside to let other passengers disembark. Merchants from the Islands bustled onto the dock, then turned to wait for their wares to be unloaded. Soon, a small crowd gathered, made up of people from the ship and locals watching out of boredom. The dock was in good condition, but a grime of soot and salt lay upon everything that did not move. A lone seagull sat upon the top of a piling, watching the crowd for anything that could be stolen.

Ruarin let go of DaddyBear’s hand and gently touched his bearded face.

“Just let me look out on the water until the world stops moving under my feet, and then we can go,” she said quietly.

DaddyBear took her hand in his, then kissed it gently.

“Stay here while I get our things,” he replied, “If you need anything, I will be near.”

The Northman watched as a gang of men and boys walked up the gangway and began hauling bundles of goods and baggage from the ship to the wharf. Their clothes were not much more than rags, and their bodies betrayed a life of hard work and meager food. Thick iron rings encircled their necks, leaving marks on their skin from where it rubbed as they worked.

A tall, thin man in black leather breeches and a filthy woolen shirt stood nearby, bawling out orders to the workers as they unloaded the small ship. The short whip in his hand beat a tattoo against his thigh as he hummed to himself between shouts.

The ship’s master approached DaddyBear. He and his wife had done as much as they could for Ruarin during the three days it took to cross to Eire, and he hooked his head in her direction as he addressed the Minivandian.

“How is your lady, my lord?” he asked, his voice raspy from shouting orders during their entry into the harbor.

“She’ll be all right in a few moments,” DaddyBear replied, “Travelling by ship on rough seas just didn’t agree with her.”

“It’s not the first time I’ve seen a conjurer have trouble crossing water,” the sailor said with a knowing nod, “Perhaps she’ll do better next time.”

“Perhaps,” DaddyBear said. He pointed to the work gang unloading the ship. “What’s that around their necks?”

“The slavers put those on their chattel hereabouts,” the ship’s master said sourly, spitting on the dock, “Those men are truly damned. They’re worked to death, then replaced with some other unlucky soul.”

“I didn’t know Eire allowed slaves,” the Minivandian said, watching as several men carried a large pallet of cloth down the gangplank.

“I’ve only ever seen it here in Dovlinia, my lord,” the master replied, “and only in the past year or so.”

“I’ll have to ask Ruarin about it,” DaddyBear said, spying their baggage on the ship’s deck, “Come to think of it, I think I’d rather carry my own bags today.” The Northman waited until there was a break in traffic down the gangplank, then walked back up to gather their things.

 

As DaddyBear went back aboard the ship, Ruarin looked out at the small, rocky islands that lay a few hundred yards from the shore. As she watched, a large sea bird plunged down into the green water, then returned with a struggling fish in its beak. The air was filled with the sound of the surf crashing against the islands, the cries of the birds as the squabbled over some trifle or another, and the quieter sound of water lapping against the docks.

Ruarin’s stomach, which had been doing somersaults ever since they had left the port of Poole, was finally settling down, and it no longer felt as if the dock was rising up and falling beneath her. With a sigh, she looked about for DaddyBear. Spying him on the ship, she smiled.

“Always making sure things are done to his liking,” she said quietly. Shrugging, she turned and walked toward shore.

I’ll just take a step on my homeland, she thought, noting the brightly painted tavern signs at the end of the wharf, then I’ll wait for him there. It’s been too long since I’ve been home.

As Ruarin went, the tall slave boss watched her pass. He examined her from the bottom of her green woolen dress to the top of her auburn hair, and a grin parted his lips to show several yellow teeth separated by black gaps. Ruarin noted his leer, but ignored him, turning her head to block him from her vision.

Not to be deterred, the foreman called out in a thick Northlands accent,

There once was a lady from Eire,

Whose hair was the color of fire.

Her looks are so fine,

She ought to be mine,

I wonder if she is for hire?

 

Hearing this, Ruarin rounded on the man, her green eyes blazing and her cheeks flushed.

“How dare you!” she demanded, her tone harsh.

“Just a bit of fun, girlie!” the thin man said with a knowing smile, “I wasn’t getting your attention any other way, now was I?”

“You filthy bogshite! I am finally returning home, and the first man I speak to is a piece of garbage who insults me?”

“Now, now, no need to get testy, trollop!” he retorted, “I was just having a bit of fun.”

Ruarin’s eyes narrowed, and her hand went to the hilt of her dagger. “I ought to have the guards come and take you away, you scum! If you were even worth the effort, I might set your hair on fire for talking to me like this!” she shouted.

A look of anger passed over the man’s countenance, and he raised his whip hand and held it back is if to strike the Lady of Eire.

“You little tramp! I am Ignatz, Lord Ottvar’s gang boss!” he said in a menacing tone, his lip curling back from his rotten teeth, “You better learn your place before I GLERK!”

His threats were interrupted as DaddyBear the Minivandian jerked him up by the back of his shirt. In his surprise, Ignatz let his whip fall to the dock with a hollow thump. His boots, filthy from walking through the streets, dangled a foot above the dock.

Lifting the man up to eye height, the Northerner said, “Is there a problem, my lady?” His voice, though low, was filled with menace.

“This… gentleman decided it would be worth his time to harass me,” Ruarin said, “And when I objected, he decided to insult me.” At her words, DaddyBear brought the man’s face closer to his and shook him like a rat.

“You took it upon yourself to dishonor my companion and lady, did you? You insignificant little slaver, I ought to take that whip and lay your back open with it!” he snarled, his voice rising to a loud growl.

“Slaver? There are no slaves in Eire!” Ruarin exclaimed.

“Tell that to our little friend here,” DaddyBear replied in a more gentle tone, “He’s the boss of that gang that’s unloading the ship.”

Ruarin grabbed the thin man’s shoulder and turned him toward her. DaddyBear’s fist did not, causing the shirt to tighten around his neck.

“I just do my job!” Ignatz sputtered, “Lord Ottvar allows for slaves in Dovlinia now!”

“We’ll see about that,” Ruarin hissed, the tips of her fingers poking into his chest.

“In the meantime, what shall we do to him to atone for insulting you, my lady?” DaddyBear asked, shaking his prisoner once again, “Shall I beat him for you, or do you wish for parts of him to go missing?”

Ignatz’s eyes widened a bit more at that, and he began to struggle against his captor.

Ruarin considered the pair for a moment, then shrugged.

“No, if I wanted him hurt, I’d do it myself, and he’s not worth the effort. I think he’ll think twice before harassing a Lady of Eire again, won’t you, Ignatz?” Ruarin replied, poking him in the chest again.

Ignatz nodded emphatically, his words cut off as DaddyBear jerked him a few inches higher. Ignatz kicked at the tall Northman, but his eyes were beginning to roll into the back of his head as the front of his shirt cut off his air.

“Well, if that is what you wish, my lady,” the Minivandian said, “then I will leave him whole.” He took a step to the side of the wharf, dangling Ignatz over the water.

“But this filth needs a bath, so I’ll do him a service,” he said, releasing the almost limp slave driver and watching as he dropped into the harbor with a plop. Ignatz bobbed to the surface, spitting out water and grabbing at the dock’s pilings.

Turning, DaddyBear picked up their bags with one arm and offered the other to Ruarin.

“Come, my lady,” he said, “Let us get some refreshment, then I shall hire horses for our journey to your father’s home.”

“That sounds wonderful, my lord,” Ruarin said with an impish smile. She took the Minivandian’s arm, and together they walked down the wharf and stepped onto the soil of Eire.

 

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