Excerpt from Chapter Six: The Wide Blue

The force of the current tugged at their craft, and the boat sped up as it passed along the edge of the whirlpool. Although he was a skilled rower, Ameron was not sure his efforts could bring them out of the spiraling waters in time. The spray of the ocean water in his eyes obscured his vision and broke his concentration. His hands now slipped on the oars. Was Danyen faring better? It wasn’t worth turning his head, wasting his energy.

They had made it halfway across, still riding the edge of the current. Seventeen more seconds and they would be free. Sixteen. Ameron glimpsed the waters behind the western edge of the whirlpool: calm and serene. If they could just reach it…

But it would be too much to hope. Better to row, to take action. Ameron heaved his oar out of the water and plunged it back in. In and out. Push and pull. Fourteen. Thirteen. The maw of the whirlpool grew larger in Ameron’s vision: his world became darker, more empty. They wouldn’t escape.

They would escape. Ameron had never let himself down, not for something like this. And to perish so easily—that would be unthinkable for a Journeyman of Ethria.

Eight seconds left. They neared the opposite edge. Then the boat pitched left with the current, and down.

The boat began its descent, and as Ameron turned toward the center of the whirlpool, its darkness encompassed him, like the mouths of a thousand wygriths. A wall of water grew around them as they descended, growing slowly taller. The sheer power of the gaping hole around which water and air swirled caused Ameron to freeze in awe. In his moment of weakness, Ameron’s oar fell from his hands and into the merciless depths below. The sailboat revolved with the mighty current, weightless in the jaws of the huge blue monster that now swallowed it. In this moment, Ameron knew they would not make it out.

Danyen shouted something to him, but in the roar of the ocean water, he could not hear for the life of him. For a moment, he gave up altogether. They had lost the struggle. Then Danyen gripped his forearm, and the warm touch of his companion reminded him of something, something from a very long time ago…

A flickering campfire, tattered clothes, sobs in the night. The touch of a hand upon his shoulder; the warmth of an embrace; a pair of eyes, quiet and blazing. The face of assertive wisdom and solemn joy. Lanak.

Lanak, Lanak. He had never given up on Ameron—so why should Ameron give up on his son? As the wind lashed at him and sea spray shot toward his face, and as Ameron stared into the eye of the whirlpool, he knew he would not let nature conquer him without a fight.

But it could not be his fight. There was only one option left to them.

Ameron pointed to Slenya, the Shard in Danyen’s belt.

“Use it!” he yelled, and although at first Danyen could not hear him, Danyen soon understood his meaning. Lanak’s son drew the blade. Immediately, water began to accumulate on the silvery surface of the weapon, and rapid gusts of wind circled it. And in this chaotic mixing of the elements—of water, of wind, of the metal of the sword and the heat of the forge that crafted it—the inscription on Slenya began to glow, a faint but penetrating luminescence from which Ameron could not rip his gaze. The sword held power.

Like Ikneth. The icy blackness, the horror. Slenya’s power suddenly frightened him, and he closed his eyes, unable to keep watching its luring magic. If he did, he knew he would desire it, would hunger for its strength. So Ameron shut his eyes to the world and the raging whirlpool that surrounded him and trusted fully in Danyen and the magic of the sword to save him.

In the fury of the roaring elements, Ameron’s hearing slowly faded, and his sense of smell and touch receded into darkness. He was losing consciousness.

The freezing water and whirling mist were the last things Ameron remembered.

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