Fearghal Rowe, a knight sent undercover as an exile to investigate the source of the high priestess’s dark dreams about a growing threat to the Empire, finds himself the leader of the exiles that survived the treachery of the Delilah Dorne’s captain. If they are to survive the coming winter, they need to gain entry to Braktisor’s sole settlement of Blackcliff. To do so, they first need to deal with a band of cannibals that has been terrorizing the town.
But with dwindling supplies, few weapons, and betrayal from within their own ranks, it will take more than a miracle to survive Bitter Moon. It will take sheer force of will.
The Age of Crows is a serialized story. New installments are released monthly. Bitter Moon is the second installment in the series. Bitter Moon includes a plot synopsis and character notes from Frost Moon, the first installment in the series.
“Your zombie was devoured by one of those crab things, and you are happy about this?” I ask.
“Of course I am. I sent it off to find one of the beasts and it did what I wanted it to do. Now we just need to go hunt it and kill it.”
“What do you want it for?” asks Edward.
“Locomotion? You intend to ride the thing up to the gate?” I ask.
Alamati cackles. “No, no. Locomotion for the war ghoul.”
“I am not going to like this at all, am I?”
“No, Fearghal Rowe. No you will not. But it will be glorious!” Her innocula flutters around her head. “And our guests have arrived.”
“Guests? Don’t tell me—”
“Why are they here?” says Gurmal as he watches a small group of Teena’s followers approach the camp.
“Because we need them here now. And I need her to help me with the ritual.” She leans toward Gurmal and whispers. “But once the ritual is complete, I’ll have no need of her anymore.”
“I understand, Membawa’Belenahn.”
“You always do, Kind Gurmal.” Alamati walks toward Teena and extends her arms. “Welcome, Sister, to my terribly under-equipped encampment. I’d offer you a place to sit, but all we’ve got are rocks and sands.”
“We have not much more than you, Membawa’Belenahn,” says Teena as she hugs Alamati. “But soon we will have much more.”
“Indeed we will, Sister. Now allow me to make introductions proper.” She turns and takes my hand to pull me closer to her. “This is Doctor Fearghal Rowe.”
“He looks rather…militant for a doctor,” says Teena as she examines me.
“Military doctor,” Alamati lies. “Spent his time cutting men down and patching them up in equal measures.”
“Let’s hope he remembers how to do both, considering what we have to deal with.”
“I remember everything, my lady,” I say.
“We have the good fortune, Sister, of having the company of my dear Gurmal and sweet Neesa,” says Alamati as she waves at both of them. “Neesa has been hoarding arrows since she learned what happened to you and the others in that foul place.”
“Witch hair bow,” says Teena, eying Neesa’s weapon. She turns her attention to Gurmal, who has started to don his armor. “And witch-blood armor? Membawa’Belenahn, you have been preparing.”
“Someone in this fool camp had to,” she says. She waves Dex over to her. “And this is my pretty Dexter.”
“Indeed.” Teena licks her lips lasciviously.
“Charmed to make your acquaintance, madam,” says Dex with a bow. He takes her hand and kisses the back of it. “I am at your service.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“That there is the flute player I told you about.” Alamati rolls her eyes. “Not much of a fighter, but he’s got the Gift, which gives us one more advantage in this. That one is Edward the fisherman, whose going to help us gather up the sharks. And then that is Bruce and Harold. Oh, and the cripple in the corner over there is Alex.” She feigns a whisper to Teena. “Doctor wouldn’t let him die after the crab took his legs.”
“So what good is he?”
“I’m sure we can find something to do with him.” Alamati winks at Teena.
“What is this about sharks?” asks Edward.
“Well, it’s like this. Teena and I have a task before us. We need something big enough to batter down that gate. Something that won’t mind being peppered with arrows while it does its business. That means a war ghoul. Now usually, these things require lots of corpses. But seeing as how we are lacking in corpses, and seeing as how I don’t see any volunteers to become corpses, we need to improvise.”
“Wait…just…wait,” I say. “You’re going to take a bunch of…sharks and do what with them?”
“You may want to take a nap through this, doctor. Might be a bit much for your disposition.”