Here’s another excerpt from my steampunk/dark fantasy novel, BLOOD OF THE WINDMAKER. The story revolves around a woman named Katrya Millor, who owns a flying ship called the Arienna, the only way to get around — or make money — in a mountainous world. She aspires to become the captain of a government-commissioned carrier ship, the most technologically advanced piece of machinery this side of the mountain range. This scene shows Katrya coming face-to-face with a danger that most ship captains try to avoid at all costs: a greatstorm.
Her feet carried her all the way to the marketplace before the storm hit.
It rolled in out of the southwest like some kind of dark omen. Giant black clouds encased the city, smothering it. Devouring it. The streets of Praan, previously filled to bursting with happy, festive citizens, emptied within minutes. Women ushered their children indoors, and even the alley dogs found places to hide from the strengthening winds. Everyone knew the power of this kind of storm. Katrya, heart pounding in her chest, ran and tried not to panic. The last time a greatstorm had hit Praan, half the market had been destroyed. That had been months ago. Usually these things swirled harmlessly in the void between the mountains, but every now and again they threatened the great cities themselves.
Now is not the best time for a greatstorm. Not at all. Her frantic mind immediately went to the worst possible outcome. She could see the city crumbling off the mountainside like so many tiny rocks, the ships smashed to splinters, except for the carriers, which rode the high winds somberly toward the cities across the void . . .
Ien grabbed her arm in a rough grip, pulling her up short. “You need to stop panicking,” he said softly. The anger of mere minutes before had evaporated at the knowledge of the coming storm. Navigators could sense when storms were coming; after all, it was their fault storms happened. Katrya could see that the three of them were already halfway through the market to the dock. Ree broke Ien’s gaze and glanced down the street. She could just see the stone archway.
Ien still waited for an answer, gaze boring into her. He knew her better than anyone. His ice-blue eyes demanded that she calm down, but were still filled with understanding. Ree felt her shoulders relax; the tightness in her gut unclenched a bit. He’s right. She opened her mouth to respond, and it hit.
The dark cloud over Praan exploded. A scream ripped from her throat as what seemed like a wall of solid rain slammed into her body. It felt like chunks of ice piercing her skin, tugging at her clothes, her hair. The empty street became a battleground of whirlwinds and flying objects. “Katrya we need to get inside,” she heard Nola shout over the deafening torrent. Her mind flashed to Mack and the Arienna. No, no, no.
“Ien, can’t you do something?” she screamed back at him. Overhead, the clouds only darknened, and using the crook of her arm, she tried to hide her face from the near-scalding pain of the freezing rain. From behind her arm, she peeked out and tried to see through the tempest, all the while taking one step forward, then another. She couldn’t see beyond a few feet; the dock and the stone archway were hidden by sheets and sheets of pounding, unforgiving rain, and the wind lanced her skin. She closed her eyes again. She felt Nola’s hands on her shoulders, dragging her back, towards a more sheltered alley. Before she squeezed her eyes shut and let Nola pull her to relative safety, she barely saw swirling darkness begin to descend on the harbor.
Let me know what you think. I’m always open to suggestions/constructive criticism. Thanks!