The First Three Chapters of NL:TBE

Ebook_Cover_Kellinkston (2)

I hope the day finds you well, I have a little gift for you,

I figured now that Nocturna League Episode 5: The Black Eye is only 3 days away it would be prudent to release a teaser of sorts. I present to you the first three chapters in Nocturna League’s very first full-length novel! Enjoy!


Chapter One: The Point of No Return

This longer story of The Nocturna and her crew begins familiarly enough. Colette and Dunks are sparring in the ship’s small, gray gymnasium.

Colette, soaring with momentum, slides across a wall and pushes off to aim another hit. Dunklestein is just standing, one arm at his hip and the other with a pint of lager.

“How about this?” Colette flies forward with trained, acrobatic poise, her fist raised high to grand-slam her opponent.

Dunklestein only needs to raise his leg to intercept her and impact her speed against his knee. “How about what?” he asks as Colette buckles over in pain. With a desperate rebound, she tosses onto her back and shoots a foot in-between his legs. Again Dunklestein only needs to move his knee to the side to block the hit and follow up by weighing his foot down on her leg, locking her in place. Colette kicks with her other leg again and again, but it seems like nothing can move him. Dunks crosses his arms with a smile as he watches Colette flex up, wrap her arms around his leg and attempt to move it that way.

You’re…” Colette hisses. “You’re too fat, Dunks! Dammit!” She falls back to the plush floor, exhausted after ten straight minutes of this maddening exertion.

Dunklestein shrugs as he takes a gulp of his beer. “I’m not sure how much this is helping.”

“What?” She says between pants.

“I mean, this: our sparring. It helped you alright for a little while. You’ve gotten way better at fighting and you’re as fast n’ strong as most any man on board, but you’re just about at your limit, I reckon.” He takes his foot off her.

With a burst of energy, she shoots back up to her feet. “No! Not even close to it! Come on, another round!”

Dunks shakes his head. “I can’t be standin’ around hours each day kicking your pa’toosh, kiddo. I actually do have a job on the ship, and you seem to have gotten to a point where you can’t get any better.”

Colette tightens up in exasperation. “Don’t do this to me, Dunks. I’m trusting you… The Captain’s trusting you to do your job training me!”

“Yeah, but some of the boys on board have been getting a little rowdy when I’ve been gone.”

“The Captain can take care of them.”

He takes another sip. “He’s way busier than either us, Colette. All that nonsensical stuff he does from day to day is actually saving our lives without us knowing it.”

“Yeah, so what do you mean to say?”

Dunklestein finishes his pint, places it aside and addresses her. “He can’t be bothered with petty trouble like whatever-” he raises his hands to make quotations, “degenerate activity the other jobbers are getting themselves into. It’s all fun and games until someone loses their soul or gets split in half, except the boys do think that’s fun, so I gotta keep th’ peace.”

Colette points her finger as if she has the perfect response, but she lowers it back in line. “So you’re saying we’re done.”

Dunks shrugs again. “I’m saying I’ve taught you all you can learn from me. Maybe you should talk to The Captain about learning under someone else. Maybe Estradia.”

Gross.” She scowls.

“Or Boris.

“I don’t need to learn how to cook.”

“As a sparring partner.”

Colette cringes. “Thanks, but I think I’ll skip that.”

Dunklestein nods with a superior grin. “Then that’s that. If you really want to keep sparring, maybe learn a few pointers from some of the other folks on the ship. If you’re looking for a sounder kicking that I can give you, I hear the dude in Enforcement’s a right good fi-…” Dunks inhales sharply.

Colette’s indignant expression melts into a sort of blank curiosity. “Wait… Enforcement?”

Dunklestein flinches, realizing he said something he shouldn’t have. “Uh, nevermind.”

“You mean that room labeled ‘Enforcement’ on the third deck?”

“Nevermind, lass.”

Her features sharpen with intrigue. “The one that’s always locked, just like the lower decks?”

Dunklestein takes a deep breath. “You didn’t hear it from me, got it?”

Colette raises a blond brow and comes to a slow nod. “What guy in Enforcement?”

Dunks’ smile returns as quickly as it had left, and he bumps her on the shoulder with his fist. “Right. Now I’m going to hang with the boys. It’s usually around this time that they’re up to no good anyway.” He puts one foot out the door. “Bit of advice: even if you know about the guy that doesn’t mean he could help you. If you ask me you’re as far as a human girl can get.” He disappears out the door, leaving a contested Colette.

She tugs up the sleeve of her work clothes. Compacted, thick, trained musculature- the signs of a body put through incredible stress. She approaches the mirror and hums. Gone is the feminine softness she had only a small bearing of growing up, and to stay are the fruits of her training. Her fitness has gotten to a point that she’s rounding out like a bear. If someone didn’t inspect her closely enough, they might think her an effeminate male, or if they noticed her as a female, just overweight, when quite the opposite is true. She looks over the weight racks, those now-familiar tools of strain, wondering if she’s really at the peak of what her body will allow. Benching a grown man’s weight in kilos is more than a little impressive for a girl her age, but she must admit that her growth has slowed. A few weeks after the mist gauntlet incident she reached her physical max, a level that most would consider Olympian. Yet its been months since then, and she’s seen minimal improvements in comparison to that first month.

Colette can’t bear to think of the possibility that this might be as far as she can get. If she’s going to kill the overlord and save her town, her friend, and herself, she’s going to need something more. She thinks back to all the relics and magic and monstrosities she’s seen on The Eversea, and then she nods. She knows she’s going to have to go beyond a point of no return to get the power she needs… but how?

Colette leaves the gym and notices something gross that had flopped onto the deck and died some time ago- exuding a wonderfully-terrible stench. She gets her mop and starts cleaning when an explosion comes from the kitchen.Running from the event is a coughing Grancis, her hair tied into a messy, smoked bun.

“BE OF THE TAKING OF THE BREAK, APPRENTICE MEAT, AND AS FOR YOU, DEMON OF THE COOKING, YOU SHALL BE OF THE LEARNING TO BE OF THE RESPECTING!” Screams Boris from inside the kitchen just as flames spew out capable of cooking any fleshly creature.

“Burn in the fires of vengeance, crustacean tormentor scum! I’ll show you what real cooking is!” Another voice sounds from the kitchen as the flames rage out.

Grancis wipes her face of soot as she steps over to Colette.

“Having fun?” Colette asks as she wipes away a dozen-so eyes into the water.

Grancis giggles. “Yeah.” She stretches with the railing. “The flame… demon… thing that Boris trapped in the stove to cook with finally got out and-”

“LOBSTER IS NOT OF THE COOKING, DEMON OF THE COOKING, YOU ARE OF THE COOKING!” Boris yells out from within the flamethrower that is now kitchen

“For the last time, you bastard. I’m a fire elemental!” the other voice responds just as the fire blazes out like a geyser of death.

Grancis nods as the sounds of crashing and smashing ring out from the kitchen. “It’s been an eventful morning. How’ve you been?” She asks with a smile.

Colette nods as another explosion bursts from the kitchen and Boris starts screaming in aquatic anger. “I don’t know. Dunks feels like I’ve gotten about as good as… a girl can be, I guess.”

“Oh! That’s quite a compliment.”

She shakes her head. “No. Like, I’m not strong enough to kill the overlord, not yet; and if Dunks is right and I’m as far as I can go… like this, then I’ll have to find some other way.” Colette looks out to the shifting Eversea, continuously confounding and terrible to her.

Grancis’ smile dies the moment she hears Colette say “like this”. She knows where this is headed. “So… What do you intend to do about it?”

“Well, Dunks told me abo- uh, well, about a way I might be able to get better by training under someone else.”

Grancis hums. “Do I know this person?

“No, probably not.”

“Are they… on the ship?”

Yes.” Colette looks aside, hoping with every part of her that Grancis doesn’t pry further.

Grancis gains the sort of face an interrogator would have when testing for the weaknesses of a new captive- a very Captain-like look. “Oh?

Colette sighs. “Y-yeah.”

“Okay, Colette, but I don’t want you to give up something important just so you can get a little more strength… It’d be better to be the overlord’s wife and still human, I think.”

Suddenly, a spark lights in Colette’s eye and she looks to her friend. “Are you kidding me? I’d sooner die than be that bastard’s plaything. Why wouldn’t I sacrifice a part of myself, or even all of myself to kill him? Don’t you think it’d be worth it to spend one person to save hundreds more?”

Grancis bites her lip. “N-no, Colette. The people of the village were fine.”

Colette’s glare becomes considerably more vindictive. “Yeah, until I fucked it all up?”

Grancis takes a deep breath. “I would be lying if I said you weren’t the cause of a lot of the town’s problems.”

The ocean waves sing as the fire from the kitchen die down in the silence.

Colette puts her mop aside and leans over the railing. “Then… If I really am that much of a bother to everyone… why would you care that I decided to risk my life for ‘em?”

Grancis weighs her words a moment. “People are in charge for a reason, Colette. The overlord… may have… hurt us in the past, but as bad as he might be, at least he lets us live our lives.”

Colette stare on blankly. “You’ve lost hope, haven’t you?”

Grancis focuses her gaze on Colette, who only stares out to sea. “Colette, we’re best friends. I know I’d want you to talk me out of a bad decision. I’d rather live with you as a slave in that guy’s castle than see you turn into something like the guys on this ship.”

“…What do you mean?”

“Like, part animal, part human. A monstrosity. It’s unnatural.”

“So is slavery,” Colette says, peeking at Grancis from the side.

Grancis looks down in thought. “You don’t care that much about what you become, so long as its still you, do you?”

Colette thinks on it, and nods. “If you did it to save the people you love… wouldn’t you?”

Grancis sighs, scans her eyes over the ocean, but can’t quite find the words. “Be careful… Okay?”

Colette stares out at the misted horizon, scoffs, and finally turns to her friend. “Of course I will. Someone like me better stay on her toes if all she does is screw others over.”

“C-Colette! I didn’t mean it like tha-”

“Then how did you mean it? Was it a problem I was born… or that my mom got sick… or that I decided that I was tired of seeing you get bullied and that you needed a friend?” Grancis inhales with a skewed sob. Colette ‘s gaze is mercilessly direct, with absolutely no room for empathy. “Well?” Colette adds.

Grancis takes labored, poisoned breaths. “I-”

“APPRENTICE MEAT! I AM OF THE TAMING OF THE DEMON OF THE COOKING!” Boris yells out loudly enough for the whole ship to hear it.

“I told you I’m a flame elemental! You will rue this day!” Yells the now-muffled voice of the re-imprisoned elemental.

Grancis, the beginning of tears on the brim of her eyes, straightens up. “I… I have to go and clean up.”

Colette stares Grancis down for a few bitter seconds. “Yeah, fine.”

Grancis turns back to the kitchen and Colette back to the ocean. Colette leans into herself spitefully as she mutters to herself. As she wonders just how much of what Grancis said was true, the side of a ship appears in the mist a kilometer out. She fails to register just what this appearance means for a second, and then her anger flashes into horror. She runs for the deck alarm and hits it for the very first time.

A blaring, alien sound spouts from The Nocturna’s speakers, and crew-members of all sorts peek their heads from port-holes to behold the ship approaching rapidly. Colette looks forward at the new vessel. Made of wood, unlike the metallic Nocturna, and with a sinister red glow. Colette pulls in a long breath of eldritch sea air, equal parts salt and blood, and reaches for her revolver.

“That will be quite unnecessary, Miss Ketiere,” a measured, refined voice says from behind. Colette checks and spots none other than The Captain, a bottle of Dugal’s scotch in one hand and two glasses in the other. “Shooting one’s guests is usually considered bad form, though I’m sure a lady of your abilities could make it the new hot thing if she really desired to.”

Colette looks back with The Captain as the ship pulls up to the side and a floating aberration hails the two.

“Ahoy me hearties! I trust yee have the libations prepared?”

The Captain raises the bottle and clinks the glasses together. “As always, Captain Livingstone.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two: The Invitation and The Really-Quite-Obvious Trap

“Salt,” Colette addresses as the man of the other ship, looking like the ghost of a skeleton that was at one time a ship captain, floats down onto the deck equal the others.

“Cookie,” The Captain responds.

“Who’s this?”

“Allow me to introduce you to him.” The Captain places the two glasses atop the neck of the bottle and takes the ghost skeleton’s hand. “Captain Russhaw Livingstone,” The Captain says, shaking hands with the ghost like any mortal would to another.

The Captain,” Russhaw says with a distinctively ectoplasmic accent.

It may just be her imagination, but Colette has a hunch that this ghost captain is at least a little bit afraid of The Captain- the aberration seems uneasy.

“I trust you’ve come here to exchange more than simple pleasantries.”

Russhaw releases a hearty laugh, sounding like the screams of a city being drowned in the sea. “Of course, me hearty! Seems our beloved mayor’s been sending out a missive bounty for ye.”

The Captain hums. “I see… an attempt to have me put down and brought to justice, perhaps?”

Russhaw shrugs. “Ay cannah say f’sure.” He pulls from his ghostly bounds a nice-smelling pinkish envelope with The Captain’s name on it, written with flowing, graceful penstrokes.

The Captain takes the letter and shrugs. “All to be disclosed once we go up to the study, enjoy a few drinks, and read the letter together, yes?”

Russhaw laughs again and takes up The Captain’s shoulder as the two ascend the steps to his study and open the door.

“Captain!” Colette shouts up before he closes the door behind him and Russhaw.

“Yes?” he calls back down.

Colette shrugs out her arms as if she’s supposed to be let in on something, like just what the guy’s doing here, what she should be doing while they’re talking, or what Boris is cooking for dinner tonight – anybody’s guess.

The Captain shrugs back, and closes the door without a word.

“The hell,” she mutters under her breath as a few other crew members congregate near the side of the ship.

“Outta’ the way!” Engineer Luisoix yells as he hauls a huge bin of random crap that he got from under his bunk. “Outta’ the way!” He says again in desperation as a small skull peeks out from the tall side of the other ship.

“Ayyyyyy-” starts a small skeleton with his own bin full of crap.

“Ayyyheyyyyyy!” Luisoix responds in an equally annoying manner. The skeleton comes down with all sorts of other creatures, both living and dead, each with something to trade.

The unsure atmosphere shifts instantly to mercantilism as sailors from The Nocturna rush off to go get things of their own to trade, but Luisoix was ready the moment he spotted the ship.

“Tell me you have it,” Luisoix demands as he pushes his bin in front of the skeleton and Colette.

The small skeleton chuckles and digs around through his goods. “You mean…” with a flash he pulls out the latest issue of “Omniverse Biology” Magazine. This issue devoted entirely to beautiful pictures of aquatic life. “This?

Luisoix’s angler-fish lure perks up in a way Colette could only describe at the moment as “sketchy.”

“Th-that’s it! Oh yes! Yes!” A foaming Luisoix grasps for the magazine just as the skeleton pulls back with a grin.

“Gonna cost ya’.”

“Y-yeah, of course!” Luisoix desperately piles out all sorts of baubles, items of magic, a folder of Omni-deck(TM) trading cards, rare foods and medicines and a few magazines containing some especially questionable material that the narrator would not be all that comfortable describing.

The dwarf skeleton coos in wonder as he looks through the mountain of stuff in front of a confused Colette who is unsure if she should be fascinated or disgusted. “This stuff’s sorta normz,” the skeleton says with an unimpressed tone as he finishes his initial observation.

Luisoix trembles. “Come on! This stuff is priceless!

Sure, but I know how much you want it, right?” The skeleton opens the marine biology magazine just enough for a poster flap to unfold and float from the pages enticingly. Colette hums as Luisoix gasps in adoration: it’s a poster pin up of a colorful fish laying eggs in a smoothed out nest- it really is a pretty picture, Colette thinks, but it’s not that pretty. Several of The Nocturna’s sailors nearby exclaim in shock upon seeing the image- as if some priceless work of art is being displayed to a crowd of cultured onlookers. Colette assumes she just can’t understand the taste. It must be some pretty high-class art if they’re reacting this way. “I’m waiting,” the skeleton says.

Nice!” A salivating sailor from behind Colette says.

“All those eggs!” Another one says in a frustrated tone that reminds Colette of some of the boys back at the village when discussing Grancis.

Luisoix takes a deep, finalizing breath, and opens up the card folder. He pulls out a card that has the likeness of an angular, blacker-than-pitch figure that Colette thinks looks sort of like it has sharp, thin bunny ears- “a book character?”, she wonders as she looks over its wide, senseless smile and its glowing, soul-imprisoning gaze. There’s no way something like that could exist in real life.

The skeleton flinches and looks on in awe. “No shit… This real?”

“See for yourself!” Luisoix hands the skeleton the small, shiny card.

“I never thought I’d get to see a third gen Chaos… That is, if it really is legit… May I?”

Luisoix nods, and the skeleton slowly folds the card. Colette looks on in curiosity, assuming that the skeleton would rather keep the card undamaged, but after the skeleton crumbled the card into a ball, the card unfolds by itself, eliminating any creases and looking as good as the day it was enchanted with preservation magic hundreds of years ago.

The skeleton grips the card like the deed to a well-earned home. “Yeah, it’s real alright… This for the mag? Really?

Luisoix nods with a sobered up tone. “Like you said, I want it bad- besides, I’ve quit playing.”

“My man…” The skeleton scoffs, nods and hands over the marine life magazine. Luisoix’s composure erupts back into perverted euphoria as he takes the magazine, packs up his stuff and rushes off back to his bunk.

Colette watches Luisoix shut the door behind him and she turns to the skeleton.

“So people trade things between vessels.”

The skeleton nods with a few satisfying *clack* sounds. “Yeah. Luisoix and I trade each time Ol’ Stones and The Reaper have a drink to exchange news.”

Colette squints an eye. “The Reaper?” She asks in an amused tone.

The skeleton chuckles. “ Yeah, you know: “The Nocturnal Reaper”? What do you call ‘em?”

“Uh, The Captain?

The skeleton shrugs. “Yeah, makes sense I guess… So do you want anything or are you just gonna hold up the line?”

Colette looks behind herself and finally notices the four other sailors that have their arms filled with stuff for bartering. “Uh… what all do you have?” she asks, looking over everything.

“Well,” the trader starts as he begins pointing things out, starting with a bunch of vials filled with suspicious-looking fluids and dried things, “I got you month-long supplies of hash, rickity, deadeye, and a single shot of weir for the same value.” He points across a row of baubles next, “soul gems, filled or empty, last names, first names, eye colors, most any body-transfigurator short of seasortage, enchanted bullets for any thirty cal-”

“How about… that?” She points at a small, unassuming octopus plushie, smiling brightly as it wraps around a stuffed anchor.

The skeleton pauses amidst his exposition of wares, and sighs. “Ahh, you just want this?”

Colette looks to the kitchen and spots the bare silhouette of a bleak-faced Grancis wiping down sooted cookery. “It’s kinda… cute?” She asks as if it were a question. Colette’s not exactly sure what cute is per se, but she’s pretty sure this is it.

“Uh, yeah. Yeah I guess it is, but more importantly what do you have for it?

Colette looks to the side in thought and then reaches for her coat.

Half an hour passes, and finally Captain Russhaw Livingstone exits The Captain’s study with The Captain himself and they break up the parlay. The ghouls and ghosts return to the great wooden ship and they turn off back to the mist. Colette waves them off with a couple of the other more less-macho sailors as The Captain steps up next to Colette.

“Made some friends?” he asks, watching the vessel leave.

“Made some contacts,” she corrects.

“A most captainly way of putting it, my croissant.”

She looks over to him. “So, what’d captain calcium want?”

The Captain scoffs. “He wouldn’t appreciate such a nickname, I assure you. He’s quite sensitive about his non-mortality.”

She raises a brow in humor. “Terrifying.

“Most other captains would agree, though I find him a good drinking companion… He wanted to deliver a message from the Mayor of Wreckwind Port.”

Colette’s brow squints down in suspicion. “Wait… What? Isn’t that-”

“It is indeed the same mayor that took flight in her airship some months ago and attempted to blow us to smithereens as we made our daring escape.”

Colette hums the way one would when hearing about a scheming ex’s latest depravities. “So…—”

“So?”

“What is it?”

The Captain nods and turns to the others. “Sailors of The Nocturna. I have an announcement to make.”

A few doors along the various deck floors crack open to listen as others fly open to allow the flood of attentive crew members to get a good spot to hear from. Colette snaps around and sees, just barely, a scant line of darkness revealed inside the enforcement closet on the third floor deck- someone really is in there, and they just opened the door a sliver.

“Judging that this message I’ve received from captain Livingstone is true, Mayor Irefall of Wreckwind Port wishes to administer us a pardon. She desires I meet with her personally to discuss things formally during the Irefall Manor Ball. I’ll be attending this ball, will work out the negotiations, as assure our safe travel to and from the port from here on. We set our course for Wreckwind, do you understand?”

Salutes across the board.

“Yes, sir!” is the resounding response from the majority of the sailors in uncanny unity.

The Captain nods. “Very good then. Any questions before we set off?”

Itrim Kalamest slowly raises his hand, only to be given a dirty glare from Hoqq Lorenzo, that one constantly angry dude that has a harpoon gun for one arm and a wriggling, biting shark for the other. Itrim lowers his hand as quickly as he had raised it, figuring he’ll ask someone when the time comes.

“Excellent!” The Captain exclaims, “Then we’re off. Carry on.”

There are cheers and agreements abounding among the men as they go off to either go back to napping or ensure the ship’s readiness for departure, depending on their job.

Colette and Captain are left watching the scores of men meander off to their day-to-day activities.

She addresses him. “So… She wants to apologize?”

He straightens his cap. “Probably not the term she would use, but yes.”

“And you believe her?”

The Captain smirks, his bandages curling up slyly around his mouth. “Not in the slightest. I’ll have you to my study, Miss Ketiere.”

“Sure.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Three: Kolette’s allowed into The Kaptain’s Klub 4 Kool Kidz

Colette’s let into the cool, dark study of The Captain, rich with the scent of wreathed pipe smoke and some other imperceptible scent Colette seems to only recognize in this one room – like something from far off childhood.

“A drink?” He pops open a bottle of some caramel-colored fluid.

She squints an eye. “Didn’t you just have one?”

“That was scotch, this is rum- wildly different drinks. You support a properly rounded-out diet, don’t you?”

“Sure.” She takes a glass. “Now what d’ya need?” She leans into her chair with a satisfying, leathery *puff*.

The Captain pulls down his spectacles a slight as if to assume an incriminating glare. “You really have grown quite friendly with me. Allow me to remind you that you are still but a jobber upon this crew.”

She takes a sip. “And?”

“And as such you should address me with the respect owed to one’s superior. Do you understand?”

“We’ve been over this. I’m not being disrespectful, just friendly! You know, keepin’ it light.” She says this with a decidedly comfortable smile, as if this were her study, rather than his.

The Captain takes his own seat. “Light on proper formality, for certain.”

She smirks as she takes the glass to her lip. “So, sir, what did you need me for?”

The Captain raises his glass and puts down a decisive gulp. “While you are but a jobber, you are also my apprentice. I feel it’s right to let you in on our plan.”

“Plan. We’re going to Wreckwind Port for a specific reason other than receiving the pardon?”

The Captain scoffs with the lightness of a feather. “The pardon is intended to bait us, my dear. There is simply no way in or out of The Eversea that Miss Irefall would actually pardon me.”

She leans forward. “You have a history?”

He takes a long sip. “ ‘Epic saga’ would be more accurate.”

“So… a long history?”

“Precisely; the amount of stories I have of her and she has of me could fill volumes I’d imagine, but that’s beside the point. She’s has something up her sleeve and will definitely pull it out the moment it suits her best. She’ll likely see my sailors behind bars, and my head on a stake.”

“Whoa.” Is all she says.

The Captain nods. “Indeed. Once you get to know her she’s… an ambitious lady and is not quite so interested as you or I might be about making lasting friends.” he chuckles for some reason. “So don’t be deceived- she’s as captainly as they come… in comparison to other captains, that is, not in comparison to me- I’m far more captainly.

“Obviously.”

Obviously. So I fully intend on taking this pardon, if she does in fact intend to give me a temporary one just to have me lower my guard, but I won’t be led along like some fool. I’ll take the opportunity at her abode and steal her most prized possession. Something far more valuable than all the port and all its exports.”

Colette leans in a bit more after taking another sip. “Go on.”

“Pertalaine thinks she’s a clever one, as if no one would notice, could notice; but this upcoming week will be her downfall. In the end— ” He leans back into his chair, flipping one leg over the other. “She’s a degenerate like all the rest- only grasping for what she feels will fulfill her ambition… I suppose I shouldn’t step on her too much. We have many similarities, She and I… ” He scratches his chin. “But then again… Tell me, Colette, would you rather be wise, or be powerful?” He looks forward, to and through her.

She flinches.

He hums softly. “Something the matter, Miss Ketiere?”

She decides not to say it, but this is the first time he’s used her first name in a long time, if ever- she can’t remember. It sounds strange coming from him, anyway. “Uh, no, nothing… I think I’d… I’d like to be wise.”

The Captain pushes his glasses to the bridge of his nose, the spectacles glinting grimly in the porthole light. “Would you?

Colette looks aside in thought. “No. No I wouldn’t. I’d rather be powerful. If you’re powerful you can gain wisdom, but not the other way around.”

The Captain smiles. “So you think it would be easier to be strong and become wise, rather than to be wise and then become strong?”

She squints as she looks deep into her glass. “I… yeah. Yeah, that’s how it would work, I’m sure, because you would be strong enough to get any kind of knowledge, right? I mean, you could just smash into a library and read if you started strong, but if you started wise, you couldn’t guarantee getting as strong as the person who started strong… I guess.”

The Captain coos softly and thoughtfully, manifesting one of those rare moments that makes Colette feel like she’s just answered to seal her fate forever, and she may have chosen the wrong answer. “I expected that would be your answer.”

She draws back. “…Is that a… good answer?”

He nods. “It is an answer, certainly. We’ll see in time if it’s the correct one or not.” The two listen to a pair of eldgulls screeching outside on top of the deck. Colette never thought she’d find the sound of them comforting. “Thank you, Miss Ketiere. I think you really are ready,” The Captain adds. “While I’ll be taking you and Miss Vereyrty along for the party, you will be one of the few that will know my plan at length.”

Colette tenses. Finally she’s really on his side. “Thank you, sir.”

He puts aside his glass upon the chair-side table, carved with a curling, angry depiction of a kraken-beast. “We’re going to steal an object in her possession called the Black Eye of Vathhl the Beholder, said to be able to empower the bearer with the abilities of most any seasort.”

“Seasorts… like Boris and Dunks?”

“For instance, yes. It imbues, or perhaps more accurately, corrupts the bearer with the soul shard of… I suppose the patron of the seasort desired. Everything from the lowly starfish to the heraldic eldritch gods are offered up to the bearer, giving him a devious tool for any situation. What’s more, the shards offered by the eye are only temporary, and thus do not fully corrupt the wielder, unlike folks like Boris, who are overtaken and transformed completely by the thing affecting them.”

Colette hums. “Boris was human once?”

“Probably. Could have been born that way as well, or perhaps some other race that was corrupted. I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but for every day you spend on The Eversea, your perception of what is, or is not becomes… foggy. That said, this relic is what Pertalaine’s used for decades to stay at the top of both the official bureaucracy and the criminal underbelly of Wreckwind, The Eversea’s most profitable port by far.”

“So she can basically use the power of any seasort.”

“With some limitations, yes. We have little to worry about though, because once someone other than herself bonds with it, she will lose the gifts of the eye until she can retake it, which we will not allow. On the night of the ball, I plan to make a distraction that will draw the attention of both friend and foe with such ease that they will be helpless to ignore it. You will then make your way through any defenses she might have up to her bed chambers. It is there you will bond with the eye, take it, and we’ll make our escape. That is, unless you’re capable of getting The Eye earlier by some means.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small jar filled with clumpy white crystals, along with a smaller parchment with a strange inscription. “Here you are.”

She takes the thin, unlabeled jar and the paper slip. “What is it?”

“Occult salt- far better than regular salt when it comes to dealing with the unknown. Think back to when you were in the sewer with Engineer Luisoix. Remember that he was spreading something out to ward off the beast?”

Colette hums. “That morning was… I dunno, blurry. I don’t remember much of it…” She places a hand on her forehead. “Now that I think on it… yeah, Luisoix was real pissed when he found out it was sugar. So this is the salt stuff meant to ward off things?”

The Captain, his composure professionally measured, nods. “It works well on creatures of overwhelming evil or incorporeality. Demons, most undead things, spooks, spirits, phantoms and whatnot. The slip is to be attached to them to neutralize their anchoring to this plane of existence. She’ll likely have more than a few spirits serving her in her manor, so if you find yourself haunted, consider spreading a line between yourself and your hunter. Ideally you’ll trap them in a circle of the salt, carefully attach the slip, and that should take care of them. Just keep in mind that if your opponent is fully phantasmal it can just travel around the line and through the walls and floors of a place; something to recall if you ever find yourself chased by a ghost. Just be fast and remember that your opponent will not have to worry about the walls you do, and you should be fine.”

She rolls the slip along the small jar in her hand a moment and then tucks them away into one of her pants pockets. “Got it. I’ll keep it in mind.”

“Glad to hear it. Any questions so far before we go across the rest of it?”

“No. Fill me in,” She says.

“Glad you’re engaged; allow me to give you the details then… Aren’t you cold?”

Colette folds her arms; she doesn’t have her coat on. “No, please go ahead.”

The Captain shrugs. “Suit yourself. Here’s how it’ll work—”


Preorder The Black Eye for 75% off until the 30th by clicking here, or just search your region’s amazon store!

Hope you enjoyed and wish to hear your thoughts on the book after you’re done with it.

All the best,

Kell

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A Great and Mighty Announcement and Deal- Nocturna League #5 on MAR 30th!

Good day,

Now check this out!

Ebook_Cover_Kellinkston (2)

^The novel cover!^

Nocturna League’s first ever novel The Black Eye is now on it’s way to amazon.com, coming March 30th!

It’s Nocturna League’s first-ever novel at over 80,000 words! How very super exciting!

Pre-order to get it for only $0.99 before March 30th. Past that release date it will fall to the sitting price of $3.99.

More expensive than my usual stuff, yes? Well, that’s because of a lot of reasons, but we’ll just say it’s because I need money. *nervous  laughter as I shovel ramen into my mouth amidst junkyard dog attack* Like I said. I’ll still have free goodies off and on, but now that I have as many “magnets” as I do, I think it’s time to focus on making a living off of this.

I hope you can support this decision. *bow*

That said, do try to preorder and get it for 75% off. I’d be quite thrilled.

You can get your hands on your preorders by following the link below. Just click “buy on amazon” to get over to the page:

And no, sorry, no preview yet. Just wait until the 30th and you’ll get the full package of goodness!

Hope to get back up with you soon,

Kell Inkston

Nocturna League #5’s Rough Draft is Quite Done – Wonderful!

Good day to you,

In finer news than the usual, the rough draft of Nocturna League’s first novel episode has been completed! At 84,000+ words, it’s ready for the second part of it’s quest in becoming a novel readied for publication, and has been sent off to beta-readers.

Again, the offer’s still open if you’d like to join in and get a copy to read. Email me at kellr.inkston@gmail.com or comment by March 10th to get a beta-reading copy.

Just a little more patience, and you’ll have the completed version in your hands. As always, thank you so much for all your support. It’s your continued readership that keeps me going.

All the best,

Kell

Nocturna League #5 is nearly done – A call for beta readers!

Good day to you,

Progress with Nocturna League: The Black Eye has been moving along swimmingly. I’m over 70k words on the project so far, and the story is reaching its climax. By the end of February (if not much sooner) I’ll have a completed manuscript on my hands, and will need fresh pairs of eyes to look it over and comment about the quality of the story, the narration, the characters, and the experience as a whole wrapped up in a pretty bow.

If you’re interested in being one of the very first to see the manuscript, read on.

As a beta reader you’ll be doing things like:

-reading an unreleased novel for fun

-finding out things in the story that aren’t fun and telling me

-giving me ideas of things that might be more fun

 

And as for things you won’t need to do:

-spelling and grammar checks

-spending hours editing the flow of the manuscript

-crying over your keyboard (unless its from a super sad scene, maybe)

 

So basically, you get to do the fun parts! Don’t worry about the lower-order stuff, I’ll take care of all that when the time comes.

What I expect from you is to read the novel within a couple weeks, and then email me with your feedback. You can be detailed or prompt, but I do want some kind of reflection on the novel to draw from.

If you’re interested, just email me at kellr.inkston@gmail.com, comment on this post, or post on the facebook group.

I hope to hear from you soon,

Kell Inkston

 

 

 

An Edit of Sacrifice – New Ending and More!

Hi there,

It’s with mixed feelings that I unveil my plans for Sacrifice, released last year to good, though sparse reviews. After much musing on the story, I realized I wasn’t happy with the end. I’ve revisited it again and again, but I could never quite get it. Either it would come off as depressing or too juvenile depending on what form of the ending I used, but I now realize I wasn’t using every narrative card in my hand. Now I’m quite certain I have the winning formula.

Sacrifice - High Resolution

For the meantime I’ve pulled Sacrifice from all vendors. Sit tight while I prepare the new version; it should be out very soon.

And don’t worry, I’ll tuck the old version away in a very special place to keep it safe from the rain. If you really want to read it, just email me at kellr.inkston@gmail.com.

All the best,

Kell Inkston

Walking the Scar – Part 27 And also some Holst

Good day, reader.

Today I have the next segment of Walking the Scar, both here in this post and also linked on the StoryShift app if you’d like to vote on what happens next.

But before you rush off, I’d like to share with you some music.

Below you’ll find Gustav Holst’s The Planets. Please enjoy:

It’s one of my very favorite pieces, I hope you liked it.

Now then, onto the “chapter” of Walking the Scar.

-Part 27-

The middle road is sensible, Umo feels. There’s no need to let free that which can still hurt, and there’s no need to destroy that which poses no threat. Orders did not clearly dictate how to handle noncombatants after interrogation, after all.

“Just break his hands and send him on his way,” Umo says.

Ayternae smirks. “You’re a good guy, Sir.”

Beogarte looks over to the humidor. “As always you do me too much credit. Your view on the matter is sound. We shouldn’t kill someone that we could just as easily make a non-combatant.”

Ayternae nods. “I’ll make it so.”

      So he passes the word along to the humidor. Umo listens as a gasp of elated surprise reverberates through the small room, the voice belonging to none other than the captive- he was quite certain he would be killed.

      Another silence, presumably filled with hushed words, and then an intensity fills the air. Umo laxes into a seat as he hears a sharp cry with cracking sounds. He takes a sip of his nearby cup of tea as the continual cries of the captive ring through the train car. Exasperated breathing, more cracking, more breathing, and finally, those long, relaxing breaths as one comes to term with their new station as a cripple.

      Ayternae’s the first out, looking completely unaffected by his actions, and calmly takes a seat two away from Commander Beogarte. Next out is the captive himself, by this point flaring red, his pale features coursing with pain-stricken blood. Finally, leading the captive out, is Prestuma.

It’s rare that Umo feels truly sorry for someone, and this is one of those moments. As expected, Prestuma’s gaze is wide and receptive, as if an evil god had reached down and whispered the dark truths of the world into his ear. This isn’t the first time Prestuma’s hurt people, of course, but everyone in the squad knows he needs some time afterward to unpack it all in his head.

The remainder of the journey via train is uneventful. They pass way stations to refuel a handful of times, each time serviced by increasingly pale, increasingly western people. Umo listened to one that wasn’t even speaking their language. This is strange for him, considering Ulterians are shown to be a largely homogenous people except for the islanders in all forms of higher culture. He’s not sure if he should feel angry or threatened, but he can see Marco, who’s been awake for about an hour now, certainly is. As Marco yells at the westerners to go back home, Umo leans aside to Ayternae.

“You’ve been far west before. These are Ulterians, aren’t they?” Umo asks.

Ayternae’s expression is pleased as his cultural expertise is again brought to light. “They absolutely are. There’s many here who come from long lineages of both Ulterian and Barbarian parents. The dichotomy of Eastern and Western beings and interests were not nearly so defined even fifty years ago.”

Umo arches his head as he watches Marco toss an empty glass at one of the “Westerners”.

“Really? I sort of expected as much.”

“Yeah. My dad gave me a book on it once. Well, better put forced a book on me. Histories by Amswynn.”

Umo smirks. “Did you read much of Amswynn?”

Ayternae chuckles grimly. “Naturally, sir. My father would have me do little other than read on my free days from school.”

“I’m sure that was exciting.”

“Oh yes… They were all cultural and historical books as well. Amswynn and Bassanai became good friends of mine, I guess you could say.”

“As expected of a successful father who desires a successful son I suppose.”

Ayternae crosses his arms. “You’re probably right.”

They go further and further to the exterior. Dense verdant forests and rigid rock outcroppings swallow the oncoming landscape. The train, and as such their world becomes shadowed by the ever-present looming of the Western forests, reaching even past the border.

Conversations turn to mysticism and the darkness of the barbarian mind – rumors of depravity and cannibalism, the secret insect men and the profane overlords.

Slowly, Umo sees the change happen in his squad. The smiles die out. They stop drinking on their own whim. More time is spent inspect and brandishing weapons, keeping sharp for those few thin seconds they may have when drawing on a target.

Just as Ayternae slips his magazine back in place for the final time on this ride, the train exits the woods. Rather, they are still in what was the forest, but it has been removed via industry.

In the center of the curling destruction is a vast expanse, and in the center of their vision, the Westernmost city of glorious Ulteria: Yarseld.

“The Offland City, there it is,” Umo says.

“You’ve never been, have you?” Ayternae, still in the seat next to his, asks.

Umo shakes his head. “Drawings. Is it really as Westernized as they say?”

“It absolutely is. Magic shows, like the real sort, were a daily occurrence five years ago when I visited a few months with my father.”

Umo looks out again to view the city – those outrageously-high walls, shadowing over the West’s tall trees. “It’s as impressive as they say. It’s supposed to be impenetrable, isn’t it?”

Ayternae looks about to see if anyone is listening other than Beogarte. “So the engineers claim… but that estimate was based on their knowledge of magic and technology from about two hundred years ago.”

“…So the brief about siege magic.”

“One hundred percent accurate. My father’s known about this for weeks, not enough time to develop an effective countermeasure.”

Umo sighs. “By the Emperor.”

“Believe me, sir. Everyone in the know shares the same sentiments. We can’t lose our will to fight, however. The defense of this city is going to be filled with people’s finest hours.”

Umo looks back to the men, some sleeping, others chatting about their own topics, Honelon especially is engaged in a mutually-interested discussion with the captive. “I invite the Western Kingdoms to do their worst. This isn’t just a war of cultures, after all, but of technology and magic.”

They both stare on at the bright, awe-inspiringly walls. “The course of human history depends on this war, doesn’t it?” Ayternae says.

Umo puts his hands on his lap. “For our history, maybe. I wonder just how important this war is to the other dimensions.”

Strangely, this offhand comment makes them both feel a little better. Neither of them are all that concerned with lies far beyond, as they have no way to access that very western technology to begin with. They assume that if they don’t care much about the other realms, perhaps their own dimension is not all that consequential to others. Perhaps, somewhere, technology and cultural progress is championed, perhaps that somewhere is also at war, and hopefully, they’ll win.

The two ride along silently all the way to the rail station.

The massive walls fly by in a gust of steam and the train screeches to a slow halt. Yarseld’s inner city draws utterances of awe from the soldiers. The market is not crowded like the Imperial City, and there’s an air of consistent homey pleasantness in the decorum, but the faces of the men and women do not reflect their surroundings. Their expressions are intense, the tensions are rising as rumors of the approaching Western Force rise from the weekly papers.

The doors are opened and, with a violent plume of smoke coursing through the cabin, the conductor greets the men out. They take the captive with them, naturally.

The question now is of priorities. Umo takes in the atmosphere for a few seconds more as he comes up with his plan.


Want to decide on what happens next? Cast your vote using StoryShift!

All the best to you,

Kell Inkston