Thursday, November 8, 2012

Test of Freedom - Episode 6

Episode 6 - "Mr. Sherman and Hingle"
by Camille LaGuire

PARKIOL WAS ONE of the great cities of ancient Acteron.  It thrust out into the great Acton Bay, on a rise that marked the beginning of a ring of mountains that swept around the plains.

There wasn't much left of the old city.  An earthquake was said to have tossed half of it into the sea several centuries ago, and the rest had been built over by the king's engineers, fewer centuries ago.  Still, it had a feel of old glory around it, in bits of ruin thrust up here and there into the vibrancy of a very active city. 

When you came up the hill to approach it , you lost sight of the bay for a moment, then you hit a spot where the land fell away, and revealed a huge and full harbor.

Mary had never been south of Twilletsburg before, never seen the sea.  She'd seen what she thought were impressive ships coming up the Oak River Seaway, and on the lakes, but this was an amazing sight.  But then they passed the heights and went into the town, and lost the view.

They were met at the hotel by Lady Ashton's man, Mr. Sherman.  He appeared the instant they arrived; a nondescript man of about forty, whom you'd never notice if you didn't pay attention.  If you did pay attention, though, you could see the intelligence in his moving green eyes.  He would have made a good spy, Mary thought, and perhaps he had been, by his ability to disappear.

"Trent is here, as we'd hoped," Sherman reported.  "He says he might be for hire, but not for a week or more.  He just got into port."

"Did you tell him why we need him?" asked Mary.

"No, mum," said Sherman.  "I thought it would be best to leave that to you, since you know him."

"Where is he?"

"There's an inn near the docks called The Battle."

"Then let's go."  Mary was already tumbling down the road, though she didn't know which way the docks were.

"Please, Mary," said Lady Ashton.  "We've only just arrived.  We haven't even been into the hotel.  These horses are tired, and we'll have to arrange for a carriage to take us...."

"It'll be good for us to stretch our legs after being cooped up."

Lady Ashton looked firm, and Mary supposed that was reasonable enough, but she couldn't hold still herself if she had a place to go.  She very nearly turned and headed off alone, but then a voice interrupted her from near by.

"Hoy!  Hoy, Mary!"

Mary turned to see a young man dodging up across the street, reckless and nimble.

"Why it's Hingle!" she said.  Hingle had been Mary's contact during the war, and sometime accomplice.  He must be sixteen by now, but still looked younger.  "How are you?"

"I'm looking for work," he said.  "You know Cap'n Trent, don't you?  Do you think you can get him to take me aboard?"

"I don't know, but I can ask."

Sherman looked the young man over.

"If you can lift some of this luggage, I can give you some work right now," he said.

"Sure," said Hingle with a grin.  "I'd rather work for Mary than anyone."

She introduced him, and he grabbed off his hat as he met Lady Ashton.  But as he picked up the luggage, he kept glancing at Mary, and he nearly tripped over the curb following Sherman with it.

"You have an admirer," said Lady Ashton.

"Ah, but he's safer than most," said Mary.

"Are you talking about his safety or yours?"

Mary laughed.  "Oh, his.  Men have bad luck when they hook up with me.  Best to keep them at arm's length."

But that thought only made her think of Jackie, who'd had the worst luck of all.

She looked off to the south, in the direction she thought the islands might be.  All she saw were buildings, and she felt for a minute that her will could fly through them, fly to Jackie's side, if she only knew where he was.

But she didn't know.  She couldn't even aim her thoughts properly, so she turned her mind to a place nearer by, an in called The Battle, where she could find Trent, and a ship and salvation.

If her friends wouldn't hurry themselves, then she might as well go alone, and she set off for the docks without another word.  They'd catch up with her.

The Test of Freedom should be available as an ebook in December 2012. It will be slightly rewritten from the version you see here.

The first book in this series, The Wife of Freedom is at most ebook retailers.
Amazon Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Deisel, Kobo, and Smashwords

Also, Amazon International: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

No comments: