The release of Submerged is less than two weeks away and I have started to share teaser chapters. You can read chapter one here. The second chapter in the book introduces Coralyn Cur’En, a spoiled warrior princess who is about to have her life changed. Some of you may remember her character introduction post I made a bit ago (you can find that post here) and she was one of the most fun to write. She’ll be sticking around for the remainder of the series and I can’t wait to show y’all what I have planned for her! Happy reading 🙂
It was her wedding day.
Correction. Today was supposed to be her wedding day. It wouldn’t be, couldn’t be, not if she had anything to say about it.
She stared up at him, the man who wanted to ruin her life, smoothing the emotion from her face. She had to appear calm, rational, nothing like the inner storm raging within her. He was foolish if he thought she would meekly follow his orders. She never followed orders. Not even from this man, Sto’Ne Cur’En, her people’s wisest elder, their leader, Admiral of the Kombu and Grand Wave Master of the Three Oceans. The Sea King. Her father.
She placed a hand flat against his chest, silencing him as he opened his mouth to speak. Her mother she ignored. Mother always took his side in politics and would be of no help to her now. This battle was between her and her father. And she would win. She always did.
“I know what you’re going to say, so I’ll save you the trouble. I won’t do it. Don’t bother trying to make me.”
“Save me the trouble? You’ve been nothing but trouble since you came into this world squalling.” Despite the stern tone to his voice, his eyes twinkled at the memory.
“This isn’t the time for your jokes,” Coral scowled. “I’m not doing this, and you can’t make me.”
“Coral, remember your responsibility t—”
“Drown my responsibilities. I don’t care about the people, I care about me!”
Her father’s deep green eyes darkened and his face looked murderous, but his voice was deadly soft in his reply. “All your life you’ve been a spoiled child. I’ll admit the blame is mine because I love you too much to ever deny you anything, but in this you cannot have your way. How can you say you care nothing of your duty to your people? Your words are blasphemous. You are their future Wave Master. Like it or not, you can’t change these facts, my child. You will marry the boy and you will marry him today.”
Had he yelled at her and shown his fury she might have felt she could persuade him to her favor. His calm words and sad expression at his final words however were something foreign and gave her pause. Surely this couldn’t be happening…could it? She thought she’d have more time. She thought she’d convince her father to wait, that the timing was wrong, anything to grant her more time. Instead he stood resolute, adamant that she not only wed the boy but that she do it today, within the hour. Rather than the fury she’d expected, the emotions that came were hopelessness and utter despair. How was it that in one short morning her life could be turned completely upside down?
“What happened to you over there? What did the First of the Sand Sea say to you?” She’d asked him these questions and more upon her father’s return the day before, but he had brushed them aside and retired to his chambers, choosing instead to discuss matters privately with her mother and Tiburon, Commander of the First Fleet and elder sibling to her betrothed. Coral had felt slighted by the brush-off but had let the matter rest. That is, until her father had woken her this morning by sending a tiny fleet of Noori to dress her for her wedding day. A wedding that had only previously been discussed as a far off possibility and definitely not an imminent outcome. There had been three of them, elbows deep in her hair before she had even washed the sleep from her eyes. She had yelled at them then, just a bit and she wouldn’t have felt bad but then one of them started to cry and why was she to blame for the the girl was an obvious sodden mess? In any case, she’d sent them all away from her room with summons to bring her father. His actions demanded immediate explanation, but now all she received were more orders.
Something had happened on her father’s trip to land, something that had frightened him enough to begin war strategies, something that was now forcing her into a marriage she didn’t want.
When her father didn’t answer she finally turned in desperation to her mother for help.
“Why are you letting him do this to me?” She tried to keep her voice steady and soft. Her mother was a pushover, but she didn’t abide whining. “Talk sense into him, please.”
“Listen to your father,” she replied. Her eyes shone with sympathy, but her lips pressed into a firm, thin pink line that slashed across her copper skin.
“Just tell me why.” There was no keeping the whine from her voice now. On the verge of tears, it was everything she could do to keep from falling to the floor and succumbing into an all-out tantrum.
“Something happened while you were over there. Something is making you do this to me! I want to know why. I demand to know why.”
Her father grabbed her by her elbow and held her chin up with his other hand so that she was forced to meet his eyes.
“I will tell you nothing because you are a child. You are my child, and I will make the decisions that I feel are best for you. You will marry Mano. You will do it in one hour’s time. And there will be no further discussion on this matter. As for what happened to me on my trip, suffice it to say that it is my business, business that I will choose to share with my child when I deem the time right. Not before.”
He let her go and his face softened, but the empathy in his expression only served to fuel her anger. How dare he? How could he think to look at her now, his eyes pleading forgiveness? He sighed and looked to her as if all the weight of the world were crushing down on his broad shoulders.
“Coralynn, I only want to protect you, to protect all of us. I have to make decisions that are for the good of the people. You will marry Mano because it’s the best thing for you and for all of us. I hope in time you’ll come to see that.”
“Then help me understand. Tell me why this has to happen today. Tell me what’s happening.”
“Enough.” His hand slashed through the air across the wide expanse of his chest. “There isn’t time, Coral. Do as I say or there will be consequences.”
She stared at him. He’d never threatened her before. He was a massive man, towering over everyone by several inches. His tan shoulders rippled with muscle and were curtained by his flowing hair, impossible to tell which strands were white with age and which came from the Lock. Multi-colored stones danced along the bottom strands of his hair, and his green eyes flashed fire. She knew she favored after him, everyone said so. When she was younger she’d wanted nothing more than to grow up to be exactly like the man she idolized. The man who was at this moment breaking her heart. She would never forgive him.
“I hate you,” she whispered.
She watched his shoulders slump, knew that she made the weight he carried that much greater. She didn’t care. She was glad he was hurting. Glad because she was hurting too.
“You don’t mean that.” Her mother’s eyes widened and her jaw slackened for a moment before she gritted her teeth. She stepped toward her but the Sea King placed a gentle hand on her mother’s shoulder before pulling her away. He paused at the doorway to Coral’s chambers, opening his mouth as though he would say something before giving his head a little shake.
“I’m sorry, Coralynn. Eventually you’ll come to understand.”
I won’t. Not ever.
He shut the door behind him and Coral sank down to her bed, shoving the delicate silk wedding wrap to the floor in the process. She watched it fall to the floor in a crumpled mess and thought about her options.
She’d never directly disobeyed her father before. Disobeying his wishes meant going against the orders of her commander, and she was too much of a soldier to do that. And yet…he had told her she must marry Mano, but he hadn’t said she had to stay put before the ceremony. She sprang to her feet and shoved away the fluttering hands of the two Noori who had lingered to help her prepare for her big day. Born without any sense of their wei, the Noori fulfilled any number of household positions as well as roles in medicine and education. But without a sense of their wei they were forbidden to become soldiers. The two women looked distraught but said nothing to stop their future Wave Mistress as Coral tip toed out of her room.
Her temporary floating home was a network of long, intricate hallways she had memorized as early as she had learned to walk, and she didn’t give a thought to where she was headed as she followed the gentle rumble of her father’s wei. All of her people had wei, even the Noori, and each person’s had a distinct hum. Her father’s, strong and staccato as a heartbeat, pulled on her own. He would most likely feel her presence, but she could hope he was distracted enough not to notice. She stopped just outside the war room, noting the wei of the three present inside. Her father, his captain, Tiburon, and Ailani, High Elder.
“We need to draw anchor and sail for Aina. Immediately.” Tiburon’s voice carried through the door. Her tone was desperate, urgent. Tiburon was Mano’s older sister and had just recently been promoted to captain. Even after his marriage to Coral, Mano would still be out ranked by his older sister. The two were fiercely competitive, but it was hard to tell if his sister’s rank made Mano upset or not. It was hard to tell anything about Mano. Yet another reason Coral dreaded their marriage. Being married to Mano was bound to be as mentally stimulating as a conversation with a blowfish. She just had to make her father see that.
“I see wisdom in the words of your young commander,” Ailani answered. Coral could picture the sharp gaze of the steely ancient and focused her attention on her words. “There is nasty business afloat in the Sand Sea. Best to put our distance.”
“Thank you, Elder,” Tiburon stuttered, the surprise evident in her voice. “I can have us set to sail within the hour.”
The Wave Master’s response was a low whisper. He must have felt her wei, yet her father didn’t end the meeting. She dared closer to press her ear against the door. What sort of business was Ailani referring to? Coral knew only the basics of the Sand Sea. They were a ruthless people, although their army, if one could refer to it as that, was nothing but a group of mismanaged idiots. More of interest were stories of the Shadow Dancers, fierce land dwellers capable of besting one of their own. She wondered if her father had met with one of them during his travel to land.
“All the more reason to sail home today. Time is not our friend and there is too much to prepare for. You said yourself we should be on high alert. And after everything that’s happened…I’ll never forgive myself if I allow something to happen to Lana, to the Noori on board, the children…” Tiburon trailed off, grumbling to herself the way she often did when she bit her tongue in the presence of the Wave Master.
“You’re right, Tiburon. We’ll sail for Aina.” The Wave Master’s deep voice cut off Tiburon’s reply, and the joy Coral felt at his words died when he continued, “After the wedding.”
Coral knew that last bit of the message was meant especially for her. Her father had felt her wei, had probably known she stood listening just outside the door this entire time. She sighed. There was no getting out of it. She was about to become a wife. She turned on her heel and stomped back toward her room.