Greetings, Loyal Reader!
Today I have an excerpt from a new Jason Cosmo story to share with you.
Relative silence here at the Update lately, as I have been working on several stories, including polishing up the two Jack Scarlet stories I posted to Smashwords. But this is the Jason Cosmo Update, so I assume you’re here for an update on what’s new with Jason Cosmo, fascinating as my other writings may be. I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at what I’ve been working in recent weeks, a Jason Cosmo novelette called Rainy Daze. It’s a story within the story, set between chapters of Hero Wanted. Like a deleted scene, except it was never actually part of the book. I intend to finish it soon and will publish the full tale at Smashwords when I do. For now, here is the opening of Rainy Daze:
A Jason Cosmo Adventure
True to Mercury’s prediction, it rained the next day. And the next. And the day after that. The downpour did not relent for five rainy days. The Longwash overspilled its banks, sweeping aside boulders and trees as it rampaged southward. The rising water forced us to abandon the track beside the river for higher ground. Alert for flash floods and mudslides, we picked our way along the hilltops. —Hero Wanted (Chapter 7)
“This is not good,” said Mercury Boltblaster.
“Do you mean the rain?” I asked. “Because I agree.”
It was unfriendly rain, heavy, cold, and stinging. A rain that soaked us to the skin while slowing our pace out of dismal Darnk from headlong flight to fretful trot to tedious trudge.
“I mean everything,” said the dusky-skinned wizard.
“Like you being hunted by the Dark Magic Society?”
“And me being the most wanted man in the Eleven Kingdoms?”
“Our violent encounters with the mercenary Black Bolts, that terrorist Zaran Zimzabar, and Natalia Slash?”
“All of it,” said Merc. “Plus having those two along.”
He jerked his thumb to indicate the other members of our party, riding a few yards behind as we followed the narrow river road up a muddy hill. I turned in the saddle for a better view through the wind-lashed raindrops. Sapphrina and Rubis were sisters, identical twins from Zastria, golden of tress, blue of eye, brown of limb, shapely of figure, and sopping wet. Sapphrina wore blue, Rubis red. Their scanty tunics, already so tight they might have been painted on, had shrunk and become partially translucent in the rain.
“I don’t see the problem,” I said.
“I’m sure you don’t,” said Mercury. “By the way, you’re about to ride off the road.”
I tore my gaze from the twins and nudged my horse back from the ledge. It was a steep drop down the hillside. Below seethed the raging, racing, rain-racked River Longwash.
“They’ve been no trouble at all,” I said. “And we did pledge to escort them to safety.”
“You pledged. I begrudgingly acquiesced.”
“Merc, they were kidnapped, sold into slavery, and chained up in a tower until we rescued them! Helping them get home is the only decent thing to do!”
“I didn’t say we should abandon them here in the wilderness,” said Merc, in a tone that suggested exactly that. “I said I don’t like having them along.”
I again glanced over my shoulder. Sapphrina brushed a long strand of wet hair back from her face. Our eyes met. She smiled. I smiled back.
“You won’t like it so much when the Black Bolts catch us,” said Merc.
I snapped my head around. “How do you know they’re still chasing us?”
“For one thing, this is the only road out of Darnk.”
“All roads lead from Darnk,” I said, nodding.
“It’s a saying we have.”
Merc scowled. “What does that even mean? There is only one road to and from Darnk. We’re on it, and so are the Black Bolts.”
“But we left them in Whiteswab days ago. For all they know, we headed east.”
“Deeper into Darnk?” Merc scoffed. “I doubt even I could withstand the stench of central Darnk—and I’ve ventured to some foul locales indeed.”
“The slime bogs are a bit rank this time of year,” I admitted.
“That aside, the Black Bolts know we were in Offal because Dylan left two of his men posted there while he led the rest to Whiteswab.”
“I didn’t see them.”
“Zaran’s men gassed them to sleep with the rest of the city.”
“Then how would they know we were there? The city still slept when we left.”
“Because I stole their horses for your girlfriends back there.”
“What?” I looked back yet again, confirming what I already knew. The sisters were indeed mounted on black horses matching those Merc and I took from the Black Bolts in Whiteswab. I hadn’t pondered the how and why of that coincidence until just now.
Catching my eye, Rubis blew me a kiss. I blushed and gave a shy wave back.
“Or do you disagree?” said Merc.
“I said those girls are a constant distraction and will likely get you killed.”
“You didn’t hear me, did you?”
We reined in our horses at the top of the rise.
“Arkayne’s hood!” said Mercury. He shook his head. “This gets worse and worse!”
Sapphrina and Rubis caught up.
“Why are we stopping?” asked Sapphrina.
“We’ve run out of road,” I said.
On a normal day, the road dropped from this rise down to a long level stretch beside the river. But not today. Swollen up and egged on by the relentless rain, the Longwash had overleapt its banks and elbowed its way ashore, claiming all the low ground for itself. For at least the next mile or two, there simply was no road, only a frothy roil of waves and eddies and whirlpools and bobbing debris.
“We can’t ride through that,” I said.
“No,” said Mercury. “We can’t. Nor can we go back the way we came. Nor can we wait here for our pursuers.”
“Then what can we do, wizard?” said Sapphrina.
“We’ll make through the hills,” said Merc. “That stream coming down there has the look of a trail.”
“Through the hills?” I asked, the words squeezing past the sudden lump in my throat.
“Yes,” said Merc. “You know, high ground, away from the river? We’ll needs beware flash floods and mudslides. And our progress will be slow. But it will at least be progress.”
“But those hills are haunted!” I blurted. “And cursed! And full of monsters!”
“Really?” said Merc. “Well, that’s just delightful. Follow me.”
MORE TO COME …
That’s all for now, Loyal Reader! Let me know what you think … if this is unrelentingly awful, there is still time to change it!