Flintlock: Book Three of The Cutlass Trilogy
We are thrilled to be bringing back this fantastic author, Ashley Nixon! Her first book in the Cutlass Trilogy was absolutely loved by our followers and we know that this book will be to! So first lets get to know a bit more about her:
Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren’t used as much as she’d like. She has a Bachelor’s in English Writing and a Master’s in Library Science and Information Technology. When she’s not writing she’s either working out or pretending she’s Sherlock Holmes. Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she’s loved everything Fantasy–resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the ‘geek’ tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go.
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Ashley Nixon’s news letter http://eepurl.com/bda8QH
Flintlock is the second book in the Cutlass Trilogy. It continues Barren and his crew’s story.
Barren Reed hopes to protect the Orient from his tyrant uncle, but his plans to make the King’s life a living hell aren’t supported by the Elders of the pirate community. As it stands, Barren has earned the Elders’ disdain for his carelessness, and they threaten him into exile if he makes one more mistake.
Barren’s not the only one feeling the Elders’ wrath—they don’t trust Larkin either. Worse, Barren can’t comprehend Larkin’s wish to have a relationship with her father, and the secrets she’s forced to keep create a tension that may pull them apart forever.
When the Pirates of Silver Crest begin to die, bullets laced with dark magic are to blame. With more and more of these weapons infiltrating the Underground, discovering who’s behind the dissemination is no easy feat. As fear and tension mount among the people of the Orient, Barren and his crew find themselves in a race against time to stop the spread of dark magic before the world of Mariana spirals into collapse.
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Cove saw the torchlight first, scattered across the landscape, then he heard the cries and clamor. Several people crowded into the courtyard, others looked down from their windows far above, but they all joined in to rise in discord and demand justice for the display before them. And a display it was. Five bodies hung by the neck upon the gallows that rose like a dark shadow at the very center of the yard. The bodies had been frightening when Cove first found them, but now, between their wounds and the decay, they were horrific. Before the bodies stood Ben Willow and at his feet was Dr. Newell, who rested on his knees, bent over at his waist as if he’d been hit. His thinning gray hair fell over his face, hiding it from view.
“Stop the carriage!” Cove ordered as they came upon the mob. Cove climbed out of the carriage followed by Hollow. They stood for a moment, only a few feet from the crowd. He could feel the hostility in the air and it sprouted from one thing, fear.
He scanned the crowd. It took a moment, but his eyes finally found the men and women he had been searching for. Jonas had succeeded; members of his crew and network stood at the brink of the throng, waiting. Ainsley, Ean, Maddox, Sayida, and Jeanna. They all nodded, and as Cove made the first break in the crowd, they followed.
There was resistance at first, and the wave of the crowd made him dizzy. There was nothing calm or nice about how Cove moved through the bodies, elbowing, thrashing, demanding entrance. And soon there was no struggle, for the men and women began to move aside, creating a path for him. He walked forward, drawing closer to the gallows. Silence descended, and now Cove could hear Ben’s voice.
“If you refuse to speak of what befell these men, how are we to believe you aren’t responsible for their deaths?”
He had not yet realized why the crowd had suddenly gone so quiet. Ben bent to grab a handful of Doctor Newell’s hair, forcing his head back so that his neck was exposed. Cove saw that the old man’s face was bruised and bloodied. A dagger flashed in Ben’s hand, and panic overtook Cove. He broke through the front of the crowd.
“This is madness!” the ambassador seethed. “Stop! I demand you stop!”
Ben straightened, letting go of Dr. Newell, who sagged to the floor of the gallows with exhaustion.
“Ambassador Rowell,” Ben drawled. He didn’t seem surprised to see Cove here. “You would halt the punishment of a man who has killed five men?”
The crowd reacted, shouting and throwing garbage at the stage, intent on hitting Dr. Newell. Cove moved, holding his side. His skin felt clammy and he was dizzy, but he maintained his focus. “Has this man had a trial? Has he been convicted of murder?” the ambassador challenged.
“This is all the jury Dr. Newell needs, and they have declared his guilt!”
The crowd cheered and the fire of the torches in the crowd swayed with agreement.
“What is going on here?” the voice boomed, but not in its normally cheerful manner. It was Matthew Dulcemer, the governor of Arcarum. The crowd parted even further for his large form.
“Governor,” said Ben stepping forward.
“Is this your crowd, Mr. Willow?”
The man hesitated. “They’re here for answers, Governor. These men were found in Dr. Newell’s office. You will see that their wounds are…rather unnatural.”
The governor’s eyes moved to the men for a moment, and he studied them. Then his eyes slid back to Ben. “What is to fear of a dead man?”
Ben set his jaw. “And what of you, ambassador? Can you argue with the men behind you? Surely even you must agree that such an evil must be stopped.”
“I do agree,” said Cove. “Which is why I brought the bodies to Dr. Newell in the first place.”
Ben smiled, his eyes alight with pleasure. Gasps escaped from the crowd. The air around them was thick with the smell of rain, and lightning began to flash in the sky. Cove wanted it to pour and douse the sick flames that had begun this panic.
“Say that again,” Ben demanded.
“He said,” Matthew’s voice boomed. “That Dr. Newell was only doing what he was instructed, and you, Mr. Willow, should also know that I was aware of this agreement.”
Cove was careful not to look surprised, but he felt it. Matthew had not been aware of such a thing.
Ben narrowed his eyes. “Why keep this a secret? Did you not feel the people of Arcarum had a right to know about this?” Some voices rose in agreement.
“The men were not found in Arcarum. They were found at sea,” said Cove. “Besides, we cannot infer anything from what we have here, and we should not spread fear needlessly.”
“But this is to be feared!” Ben argued, pointing at the men. “This is fear!”
“The only thing I see to be feared here is your disregard for what is right,” said Matthew. Ben didn’t look at Matthew. His eyes were on Cove, menacing and dark. Cove stepped forward to help Dr. Newell to his feet. He took a knife from his boot and cut the bonds from the doctor’s hands.
“Are you okay, John?”
“Yes,” he wheezed, leaning into Cove. “Thank you.”
“You’re bleeding, ambassador,” Ben said. Cove didn’t look at his shirt. He still felt lightheaded from the wound.
Matthew’s voice rose. “Go to your homes! You should all be ashamed!”
The crowd broke away slowly, and Cove helped Dr. Newell down from the gallows. Those who had come with Cove wandered to him.
“Take the bodies to the church. Alaster will know what to do,” he ordered. As they obeyed, Ben’s voice rose, catching the attention of those who remained in the courtyard.
“These are the bodies of pirates, are they not, ambassador?”
Cove paused and turned with Dr. Newell. “If they swore by the mark, we will never know,” he said. And they wouldn’t. The wound over their hearts had erased any traces of the tattoo. “We cannot make assumptions about things we do not know…that’s how people die.”
And he meant that as a threat.
Then he turned, moving past what remained of the crowd. He felt Matthew following close behind, like a thought he didn’t want to recall. Matthew was reminding Cove that he still wanted answers.
As Cove helped Dr. Newell onto the carriage, he turned to face Matthew. The governor didn’t look severe, but he didn’t look jolly either. No, the look in his eyes made Cove’s chest tighten up. It was a mix of fear and sadness. This was what it was like to be on the brink of losing.
“I expect a visit,” said Matthew. “And soon.”
Cove nodded, and while he was indebted to Matthew for what he’d done, he knew there was a profound change between them. Tonight had ensured that a seed had been planted in Matthew, in the people of Arcarum. Cove Rowell was not to be trusted.
Wow–that was terrific!
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