Group Six and the River

Serena Brimstone, fierce Warrior Woman of the Northlands, awoke to find the enormous diamond she had recently claimed from a dying stranger embedded in her chest. But that wasn’t the oddest thing. Suddenly old sparring partners refused to fight her. Enemies throw down their weapons and profess their undying love for her. How’s a woman supposed to get into a good knock-down drag-out when all anyone will do is worship her?

When Serena and three Magicians are recruited by the enigmatic Leader to seek out a legendary wizard, and promised their hearts’ desires in return, she hopes she has finally found a way to be rid of the diamond and the adoration it causes others to feel for her. But things don’t go as planned for contentious new companions Serena, Orchid, Tresado, and Foxx (that’s with two x’s). They will need all their skills — and their senses of humor — as they deal with deception and betrayal, hungry river crocs, dart-wielding pygmies, an ancient water spirit, and a fabulous pleasure palace that thinks for itself.

Join Group Six as they journey up the River Talus on the magically-powered catamaran Enchanter in search of spells, swordplay, wealth, and a rousing good time!


It worked! Orchid thought.

The darts were being deflected by the water, but another problem presented itself. The Magic bubble drive was still at full throttle. The boat was still wildly spinning, and now its waterspout cocoon was rapidly filling with bubbles.

Fighting the G-forces, Leader released his grip on Serena and clawed his way to the stern. He was immersed in bubbles as he blindly pulled Tresado’s limp body off the tiller and dropped him to the deck. He then grabbed the throttle handle and shut down the drive. The boat stabilized immediately, and Leader stood up, adjusting the lapel of his tunic back to perfection.

“Well done, Orchid,” he said stoically. He leaned down and checked Serena for injuries. He plucked the small dart from her back and held it up. “Everyone appears to be relatively undamaged except for these.”

“I may be able to do something,” Orchid said, not taking her eyes from the swirling water she was controlling, “but I need to . . . just a minute . . .”

Orchid concentrated and asked more simple favors of Nature. The swirling water slowed and turned a frosty white. What had been a waterspout was now a teardrop-shaped twisted cone of floating ice that enveloped and protected Enchanter and her passengers. Now that she no longer needed to maintain concentration on keeping the waterspout going, she would be able to get to her herb kit and help the others.

“Ah,” Orchid said smugly, “damn, I’m good! Now let me . . .” Her smile faded as the deck started to tilt at an alarming rate, faster and faster until the bubble of ice surrounding the boat upended. The teardrop-shaped, hollow ice cube had decided on its own that it would rather float point-down in the water. Cargo and people, conscious or otherwise, all fell at once into the narrow end of their ice-shelter.

Leader, his face smashed against the tip of the mast, was upside down at the bottom of the pile. A mixture of supplies and comrades was heaped on top of him. The bright moonlight from the outside world filtered through weakly with a dirty green color. They were underwater!

“Orchid,” he mumbled, his words distorted by the varnished pole across his lips, “I am quite incapacitated. Is there anything you can do?”

Orchid was only half-buried. Foxx’s left leg was draped across her throat, and there were a couple of boxes pinning her feet, but she was able to function.

“Yeah, hang on. Don’t move.”

She concentrated again, this time with more deliberation. Water flowed up and over the wide patch of ice covering Enchanter’s twin keels, which bobbed upside-down. Orchid now persuaded the temperature to drop. She was not using Magic directly to lower the temperature, as someone using Absolute Magic would do. Her Worldly spell politely edged the existing heat away, allowing the cold to naturally move in and, just like that, the water froze, adding to the mass of ice. Over and over Orchid directed this action, gradually thickening the layers above the upside-down keel. At last, the weight became enough that the ship in a bottle slowly began to right itself.

Enchanter swung up onto her port side, then began a slow rising to fully upright. Barrels, boxes, and bodies tumbled back down to the deck. A small food cask rolled free and smacked into Foxx’s lifeless face.

That’s gonna leave a mark, thought Orchid. Twigs, I need a drink!