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Graveyard Gods by JK Daniels (Joseph Daniel), BA (Bryan Arneson), Steve Higgs (Raider and Rapier book 1)

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Graveyard Gods by JK Daniels (Joseph Daniel), BA (Bryan Arneson), Steve Higgs (Raider and Rapier book 1) Online And Download

Overview: The currents sweep east, but the dead float south. This corpse laden tide carries with it the destinies of a tomb raider, a knight turned captain, and an empire fraying at the seams.

A grave robber who dabbles in the alchemical arts, Edmond Mondego has spent the last seven years in search of a God Grave. He hopes to find magic within to relinquish his murdered wife's soul to the land of the living. What he finds instead is an imprisoned goddess stripped of her power but in full possession of divine secrets, including a rumor: every five years, one living soul is returned to the Emperor of the Gilded Islands.

Meanwhile, the Lord Captain Augustin Mora, newly appointed commander of His Imperial Majesty's Ship Intrepid, guards the forbidden waters for his Emperor. Edmond's profane plundering of a God Grave and the machinations of the admiralty send Augustin on a quest to capture the tomb robber. But an enemy from his past muddies the waters, and Augustin is forced to reunite his old knight's guild and put hand to hilt once again.

And so, Edmond sets every ounce of cunning and guile to raise himself through the ranks of nobility, evading Augustin Mora and all manner of assassins; he has only one goal—to convince the Emperor to use the magical boon for his wife's soul, and, failing that, to take the throne for himself.

Graveyard Gods by JK Daniels (Joseph Daniel), BA (Bryan Arneson), Steve Higgs (Raider and Rapier book 1) Read Online And Download Epub Digital Ebooks Buy Store Website Provide You.
Graveyard Gods by JK Daniels (Joseph Daniel), BA (Bryan Arneson), Steve Higgs (Raider and Rapier book 1)

Graveyard Gods by JK Daniels (Joseph Daniel), BA (Bryan Arneson), Steve Higgs (Raider and Rapier book 1) Read Online Chapter One

In the shipping lanes of the Gilded Isles, the winds blow where they will, the currents sweep east, and the dead float south. The corpses in the mist whisper deathly tales, a quiet keening of coarse cloth scraping fragile skin, and the swishing of grey waters murmur taunts to stoppered ears; those who witness the tide's lament are left wondering, where do the bodies go? 

There was plenty of wonder to be distributed among the shaking bones of the sailors patrolling the forbidden waters—a desolate stretch of the Western Sea, south of the great city of Carabas. The second night of their patrol followed the coolest midsummer on record. From where he stood, hands gripping the lacquered taffrail of his new charge, His Imperial Majesty's Ship Intrepid, Lord Captain Augustin Mora was the first to spot the body. 

“Abaft twenty degrees!” he shouted, his commanding voice cutting through the mist. “Body in the water!” 

A few of the sailors peered over the railing. The lookout called down, “Just a bleedin' floater, captain! Not one of ours—poor blighter.” 

Augustin turned towards the main deck, his hand moving to the hilt of his rapier. Augustin's frame was trim and agile, a fencer’s body, with well-muscled forearms that strained against the sleeves of his uniform. He had tanned skin and black hair tied back into a short tail. His dark eyes were shrewd and piercing beneath a curved brow, like the gaze of a falcon. His thin nose hunched neatly over a trimmed mustache, and a closely cut beard of bearskin black framed his face, marred only by two gray hairs that hid like ghosts on the right side of his square jaw. He gripped a tricorn hat with one hand against the wind as a breeze tugged at the golden tassel indicative of his station. 

Augustin strained to see in the mist, then settled to face the direction where he knew the first mate would be keeping eye. “Cristobal,” he called. “Eyes on, if you please!” 

He heard the muted sound of creaking wood beneath firm footsteps, a low murmur of conferring voices below, then Cristobal called across the ship, his heavy Dumasian accent rolling like thunder. “Hard to tell, Lord Captain! Looks like pirate work, though. Missing his fingers.” 

Augustin gave a curt nod. The pirate clans had been raiding the southern island of Dumas all winter. With the seasons change it made sense that they’d follow the mist North. Many of the clans relied on the heavy fog of the Western Seas to ambush the merchants who sailed between the domains of the Gilded Isles, but Augustin couldn’t believe even pirates would be so foolish as to cross forbidden waters. Then again, Commodore Severelle recalled the other patrol ships, he thought. If the Intrepid was caught out of position by a pirate clan moving in force, well, even for an Imperial Frigate that wouldn’t be as much a fight as it would be a massacre. 

“Nay—that's the Signerde, that is,” came the growl of another voice. “The drowners delight in makin' their prey suffer 'afore they gut 'em. Filthy blighters—a pox on the lot of 'em.” This, Augustin recognized, as the voice of crewmaster Agreo—the man had been in line to be first mate before Augustin was given the command. He had not taken Cristobal’s appointment gracefully. 

Augustin lost track of the body in the curling mist and hurried down the stairs to the main deck. He spotted crewmen leaning over the railing and peering into the sea. Cristobal loomed over the edge like an enormous gargoyle—the man stood nearly seven feet tall with arms as strong as the foremast. A knight, his former commanders had told Cristobal he was an ‘intimidating presence’ in a skirmish. Which, Cristobal had confided, served as another way to say, “target.” The gigantic Dumasian had been shot and stabbed more than any man Augustin had met. Even through the mist, Augustin could spot the first mate's ear—or, rather, more appropriately, the place where an ear would have gone, had it not been claimed by the wild swipe of a Kurkek pirate's toothed cutlass. Cristobal's left arm hung slightly lower than his right—his range of motion compromised by a stray musket ball to the collar bone in the battle of Borgo Tortrugha. By Augustin’s count, Cristobal had been shot six times that day. Even with the aid of their Lord’s alchemists, the first mate had never healed completely. 

In comparison, Agreo was as useful as a buoy made of sour pebbles. Where Cristobal was tall, muscled, and strong jawed, Agreo was short, round, and snaggle-toothed. Where Cristobal was blunt and affable, Agreo was disagreeable and fractious. To an extent, Augustin could understand the crewmaster’s foul temper. Agreo's brother, some well-known Baron who traded in seal silks, had been the first choice to receive the captaincy when the Commodore had given it to Augustin instead, and judging by the evil eye he gave his new captain, Agreo seemed unlikely to forget. 

The Crewmaster’s grudges notwithstanding, it was small wonder the crew had gathered around so quickly. There wasn't much to do in this damned mist. It had not taken long for the newly minted Lord Captain to learn that ‘patrolling the forbidden waters’ largely amounted to sailing in circles while fending off bouts of boredom. Augustin had asked Commodore Severelle why these waters were forbidden, but the wiry older man had evaded any clear explanation, and Augustin Mora remained uncertain. However, the Admirals weren't ones to send ships, especially not frigates like the Intrepid, on frivolous ventures, and the Commodore had at least been clear that this order did come from the Admiral. Whatever crypt, shipwreck, or creature lurked beneath the seas South of Gamor, it was deemed worthy of the attention of a 44-gun frigate and its 150 crew. 

By now, the sailors who weren't below deck enjoying their time with dice and bitter drink had stopped their rotations around the ship to peer into the murk. 

The body drifted lazily on the water, facedown, hair floating on the current like gossamer strands of spider lace. 

“Gives me the chills,” said Cristobal, shaking his bald, one-eared head. “How come they do that?” 

“Do what?” said Agreo. “Float?” 

Cristobal shook his head. In answer, he tore a large splinter from beneath the railing and tossed it into the water. 

The captain, the first mate, and the crewmaster all watched as the wood drifted away on the westward currents, crossing paths with the corpse as it continued South. 

“That,” said Cristobal, teeth clenched. “Isn't natural for a body to float against the current.” 

“Bodies float South. Everyone knows that. Been that way for fifty years.” Agreo snorted. “Haven't been at sea long then, have ye?” 

This, of course, was true. Augustin had walked the deck of the HIMS Intrepid for only two weeks, trading his horse and spurs for a captain’s hat. His rise through the ranks had been swift, but not unpredictable, and despite her efforts to hide it, he saw his mother’s hand in the appointment. Augustin disapproved of his mother’s political games, but he had taken the commission, nonetheless. Augustin’s lips tightened as he remembered the snide look on Commodore Severelle’s face while the man dubbed him ‘Lord Captain’ Mora, and Augustin hoped his mother's games and bartered affections wouldn't end with his head on a pike. 

Still, though Augustin was only in his twenty-ninth season, and Cristobal was near enough to the same, and though they had spent a month training together under the same captains, Cristobal and Augustin were still struggling to put nearly three decades of land-living and warm nights aside. 

It will be worth it, Augustin thought, watching the mist swallow the bloated body as he suppressed the feeling of shame within him. It will be worth it for Isobella. The first time he'd seen her was a formal dinner nearly six years before. She had made eyes at him, parting her lips and blowing on her soup in a way that straddled the line between playful and indecent, and the memory of it still warmed him. He had feigned shock at the revelation that she was a hellcatcher, a demon hunter, a slayer, but inwardly he smiled. He, a freelance knight with nothing but time and the open road, and her a demon hunter on patrol, had spent weeks on the road together, sharing a fire and a bed. The memory of her departure smeared and blurred in his mind. He would not think of it. Not here. Not now. Instead his mind stepped forward another year to when he saw her again, at a gala tournament hosted by the Admiral of Gamor. Palatial gardens and sweeping ballrooms larger than his family’s entire estate, and a pier overlooking the titanic ships of war that commanded the seas of the great isle. An estate fit for royalty. Her father’s estate. Despite their wants, it was clear that she understood duty just as he did. As things were, they could never be together. For Augustin to even have a chance at Isobella's hand, he'd have to impress her father, the Admiral Fernand de Morecraft. He’d have to be nobility. 

Am I mad? Augustin thought, not for the first time. The Admirals stood second only to the Emperor himself. Each ruled one of the Gilded Isles. Their daughters, even scandalous hellcatchers, were fit partners for powerful Commodores and to secure alliances with the continental powers, not landless Lord Captains with only a single frigate to their names. Even the Intrepid wasn't really his—not until he paid either five years worth of wages, or was gifted it by the Commodore for distinguishing himself in his command, and it was rare to win a ship that way, especially a 44-gunner. Unless, of course, you had a plan. 

Almost by instinct, Augustin touched the breast of his officer’s coat. Folded letters crinkled within its inner pocket. Each had been sealed in white wax and stamped with the symbol of a lily. Five letters from five knights. His brothers in arms. The Order. It wasn't that Augustin didn't trust Agreo or the rest of the sailors—they were all Emperor's men, after all, but in Gamor, as well as the rest of the islands, one could never be too careful. One thousand swords in one's charge could be offset by a single blade at one's back. 

“Captain!” called the lookout, his voice caught somewhere between hoarse whisper and alarmed cry. “Eyes to starboard, sir!” 

“What you shoutin' at the captain for!” Agreo called back. “Give your directives to the crewmaster first you gutted trout! I'll decide if it's important enough for captain's ears.” 

Despite this, Augustin joined Agreo in a brisk walk to the opposite rail. He frowned, hand on the pommel of his rapier, watching the mist; at first he spotted nothing. But then... 

“A boat,” Agreo said, softly. “See it?” 

Augustin leaned forward, one hand still on his rapier as the other gripped the rail. The knuckles on both hands whitened. For the faintest moment, a gusting breeze swept the mist into a dance, lifting its skirt and allowing Augustin a peek. 

He spotted the silhouette of a tiny fishing boat drifting in the water. It looked like one of the fat bottomed vessels the village fishermen called a ‘dogger.’ Three figures huddled together on the dogger’s deck, whispering among themselves and gesturing wildly towards the ship. 

“Ahoy there!” called Cristobal. “Declare yourselves!” 

The gesticulating of the figures intensified. 

“Crewmaster Agreo, have we found the source of our body?” said Augustin, turning his head slightly towards the sailor, but keeping his eyes fixed firmly on the trespassers, lest he lose them in the mist. 

“Villagers in these parts don’t fish this late a’night. Leastwise in forbidden waters,” said Agreo. “They're up to something. Should I sink 'hem or grapple 'hem?” 

The old sea dog was eyeing the deck cannon with a hungry look, but Augustin shifted his gaze to the coiled grapples at Agreo’s feet. “Bring her in,” he said. 

Cristobal shouted at the barge again. “Name yourselves!” he bellowed. “These are forbidden waters—you're trespassing!” 

Another silent pause hung in the air, almost as if the three huddled forms pretended not to hear. Then, a nasaly voice called out, “Whose authority?” 

Augustin frowned. The only frigates in the Gilded Isles were all under the Emperor's authority. Pirates preferred smaller, nimbler ships, and forays from the naval forces of the continental powers had all but ceased with the Glutted Accords, nearly fifty years ago. 

“We're Emperor's men!” Cristobal called back, an edge to his voice. “Who are you?” 

“Your emperor can suck a briny fist!” a voice shouted in return. 

The crewmaster, the Lord Captain, and the first mate all bristled at this. Despite their differences, and various interpretations of the word “duty,” they were men with honor staked in the good name of Emperor Baltasar II. 

“The gun?” asked Agreo, raising an eyebrow. A couple of the men busy untangling the grappling hooks from the rope stopped their efforts and looked up, hopeful. 

Augustin weighed the request. The insult caught in his throat, but his duelist heart knew baiting words when he heard them. No, something wasn’t right here. “They'll answer for the insult, but we'll not sink a trio for the foolhardy words of one,” said Augustin. “Mercusi would frown on such an overstep.” 

Cristobal nodded quickly, curling his fingers as if he were grabbing something near his heart and tossing the air away from him in a gesture to ward off evil. For Cristobal, invoking Mercusi, the god of justice and duty, would be enough. The big Dumasian indicated the men should continue readying the grapplers. 

“Didn’t see the other two in any hurry to contradict him,” muttered Agreo, spitting into the sea. 

Cristobal called, “What business do you have here?” The mist fell around the dogger and the three men seemed to be whispering again. 

One of the men gripped the arm of another, trying to tug him back. Just then, though, a shrill voice called out from the mist, “Our only business is that of flint and steel. Death to the Emperor!” 

A flurry of motion rose from the dogger’s deck. Then, a thunderous flash as a pistol fired. 

Graveyard Gods by JK Daniels (Joseph Daniel), BA (Bryan Arneson), Steve Higgs (Raider and Rapier book 1) Read Online Only First Chapter Full Complete Book For Buy Epub File.

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