"I Have Been Drowned In Rain" by Carrie Vaughn
This story comes out Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine April 2017, issue #223.
This was a fun little sword and sorcery story. It has been awhile since I've seen sword and sorcery in short form. The story was a great little romp, just long enough to give a quick scene of what could be a great novel.
A party led by Jared, a knight, is stuck on the banks of the sea. It is pouring rain and there are no ships that are going out into the water at this time of the day. They have to find a ship and sail across the sea, but the catch is, all without getting caught.
The party consists of a knight, Jared, a thief, , a magician, Aldis, a princess, Mariana, and Kat. Kat is special. Kat is a mystery. No one knows anything about Kat. Kat was found in an alleyway being abused by three men when Jared spotted her and saved her. She joined them as a type of maiden for the princess, but also acted as a waif, and a servant of sorts.
Kat said mysterious stuff like she knew something the others didn't. She was always aloof at the same time. Like she wasn't altogether there. She stayed quiet, but when she talked it made everyone stop and take notice. Like when Kat told everyone that "rain is death."
Rain is death just went along with how Jared had been feeling. Jared had been having a bad feeling since they arrived at shore. He was so close to finishing his quest, but there was just something in the air he couldn't put his finger on. Were they being watched? Was the princess's identity not secret anymore? Was someone following them waiting for them to sleep? Was there a traitor in midst? Jared just didn't know and he hated the feeling of not knowing, but he trusted his gut.
When nightfall came and it was time for bed Jared set up a watch during the night. Everyone would take turns. Aldis offered to take first watch and Jared went to lie down for the night. Jared didn't think he would sleep, but he must have been more tired than he thought. He fell right to sleep. Something he wished he wouldn't of done. Something he didn't see coming, or did he?
I really liked this story. I love sword and sorcery and this was a nice bite-sized story. The story was a nice little scene length and introduced quite a bit for the shortness of the story. To me I wished it had been a longer story. To me that means it was a good story.
The author does delve a little bit into what started the quest and some information as to why the quest needed to be done. You weren't left wondering why the quest was being done. That made me hungry for more because I wanted to see how the quest ended.
The ending was considering that it was a short fiction work. With the knowledge that it was meant to be short fiction I could understand the ending. still wished it had been longer. I would of loved to see how the rest of the story developed. There was so much rich going on that the author could have expanded on things a bit more, but again, short fiction. Get to the point, and tell the story.
Overall, I could see this being a seed to a new novel. Of course everything turns into a series now a days, but I would like to see a stand alone novel with this story. Fun stuff!