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The Autumn Empire: A LitRPG Adventure (Kingmaker Saga Book 6)

The Autumn Empire: A LitRPG Adventure (Kingmaker Saga Book 6)

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War comes to Gneiss Glen.

The Howling Wind is crossing the narrow sea, bringing old enemies who have grown formidable with time. To stop them, Terran and his friends must race to collect powerful artifacts and level up the settlement before they run out of time when only the clash of steel and magic will determine who rules Kingmakers.

Main Tropes

  • LitRPG
  • Epic Fantasy
  • Secondary World


War comes to Gneiss Glen.

The Howling Wind is crossing the narrow sea, bringing old enemies who have grown formidable with time. To stop them, Terran and his friends must race to collect powerful artifacts and level up the settlement before they run out of time when only the clash of steel and magic will determine who rules Kingmakers.

Intro Into Chapter One

Chapter One

The unruly sea battered the skiff, throwing spray into Arabast's face as he powered through the shifting waves. Gray clouds threatened rain. Arabast glared upward as if he could ward them away, as another breaker pounded the bowsprit.
"Come on, Vanessa, you've never failed me before," he said, hand on the tiller, directing the enchanted rudder to cut across the five-meter waves.
Arabast reached into his jerkin for another elixir. It'd been three days since he'd left Salt Luck. The first half of the journey he'd been able to steal a nap during the night when the ocean was like a gentle swing of a hammock, but a storm had moved in as he neared the city of Däethspegll on the eastern coast of Moranne, forcing him to constant attention.
The old dwarf hummed a tune under his breath. The words of the pirate shanty were lost to time, but the faint memory made him grin as the waves slapped another round of spray in his face.
"Remember when we snuck into that armada under the cover of night, stole their ill-gotten gold. Damn if that sailor up from below takin' a piss didn't make it a close one when he spied us climbing down the ratlines. You flew faster than their fastest galley, Vanessa, quicker than the wind. Saved both our butts," said Arabast, wiping away the crusty salt on his beard. "Gonna have to ask you to do it again. Don't know how this'll work out, but I couldn't just sit on my ass and wait for the cursed Howling Wind to show up. No, Vanessa, I might be a cultured head of state now, but we both know the truth of how we got to where we are."
The enchanted skiff, which Arabast lovingly called Vanessa, had been hidden in a cave near Salt Luck, covered with a Forget-Me spell that would keep prying eyes from remembering that they'd seen it. While he'd given up the pirate life and thought he'd never use the old boat again, he couldn't part with it, not in case there was ever a moment when she might shine again.
He knew that Offworlder, Terran the Tenacious, wouldn’t approve of the journey. Too risky. If they captured him, he could spoil a lot of plans, expose the defenses. While Arabast didn't know everything, he'd spoken to a few former Salt Luckers about progress in the Glen. The Offworlder might look fresh faced and have the arrogance of the fate blessed, but he had a keen eye for strategy.
"Aye, Vanessa, no matter what happens, we can't be caught, even if that means I gotta take the long drink," he grunted, squinting away the rain, which had picked up, pelting him with cold, hard droplets.
He'd been cutting through the troughs of the waves as much as possible to avoid getting spotted by a patrol boat, but he was sure he was nearing Däethspegll, since he'd seen a few coastal birds flying overhead, so he risked a ride on the crest, hoping that if any ships were in range they wouldn't notice his sailless enchanted skiff.
Arabast spit rain when he crested the wave. Däethspegll bay was packed with ships, hundreds. An armada he'd never seen the likes of.
"It not gonna be enough," said Arabast, grinding his teeth. "Not even if we had all of Dagrath and every last Shade by our side. Gods above and below. They're gonna murder us."
The old dwarf was quick with a warhammer, but he was even faster with figures, calculating the numbers that could be carried across the unruly sea by an armada of that size. The Howling Wind would field an army ten to twenty times the size of the force in Gneiss Glen, and that was assuming that every warrior was equal. The cavalry of the Wind was legendary for its ferocity in battle.
Arabast was so focused on the ships in the bay he didn't see the war galleys coming up fast on his port. Three of them. He'd been so flabbergasted by the numbers that he'd forgotten to dive back into the troughs. A sailor on the front of the first galley was leaning over the bowsprit, pointing at his skiff, shouting back to the helmsman.
"Blast! We've been spotted, Vanessa," he said as he yanked hard on the tiller. The boat dove into the trough, skipping across rain-beaten foam. "Give it yur all!"
The boat responded to his wish. Arabast poured his energy into Vanessa through the tiller. It'd already been a long, arduous journey, and he was nearly out of elixirs, but there was no time for caution.
Crossbow bolts sang past his ear when the waves brought him level briefly. Arabast twisted his upper body, giving the sailor the fig, before refocusing on the skiff. The three war galleys tacked hard, but they were restrained by the wind, while Vanessa could head as the crow flies, or at least a speedy dolphin.
The old dwarf thought he'd easily outpace the war galleys and the threat of crossbows, but an explosion ripped through the air above his head, sending fire down upon him, singeing his beard. Only the thorough soaking of the skiff prevented it from catching flame.
"Got a spirited mage, do ya?" laughed Arabast as he fell into the next trough, cutting hard starboard in case they were trying to time his ascent. He was rewarded for his caution when a second blast of flame hit at the peak of the wave where he would have been had he maintained course. The only problem with this tactic was it allowed the war galleys a chance to close the distance.
"Come on, Vanessa, I need every bit of speed you've got," he said, grunting with effort.
A crack of lightning left spots across his eyes. He wiped away the rain with his forearm. Arabast risked a glance backwards, regretting it instantly. He'd expected a sailor with a crossbow and a fire mage, but he saw neither. A blonde woman in powder blue robes stood at the rail, seemingly untouched by the storm. Behind her was a massive warrior wearing a bird helm of the Howling Wind, but Arabast's eyes were only for the woman.
...turn around, we only want to speak with you...
The seductive voice whispered in his head. Hearing it was like sliding into a bed of silken sheets.
"No, I need, must turn," muttered Arabast, only half aware of himself, the rest entranced by the woman on the war galley. The skiff was heading at a diagonal away from the ships, but no longer at the previous speeds. The war galleys were catching up rapidly.
...we mean you no harm, turn around...
Arabast gritted his teeth as a storm raged in his head. "I...can't."
...we'll treat you kindly...
Without his will driving the skiff, it slowed, allowing the war galleys to catch up. The blonde woman at the rail let her lips curl up at the corners, and Arabast felt like she was going to swallow him whole.
The enchanted skiff, while slower now, was still moving at a decent pace, but the lead war galley came aside, and a sailor leaned over, wielding a long pole with a hook on the end.
Arabast fought the hold that the woman had on him, but she was too strong. She'd placed her hooks in his mind, just like the sailor was about to do to his boat. He risked a glance up. He knew without a doubt that she was an Offworlder by the arrogance in her gaze. He'd seen the same in Terran, but at least he'd proved to be a good soul. This woman, allying with the Howling Wind, there could be nothing good about her.
The hook caught the edge of his skiff, searching for purchase. The woman seemed to be blocking him from escaping, but he found he could make other motions. Arabast grabbed the hilt of his dagger, the smooth metal slick with rain. Before she could stop him, Arabast shoved the dagger into the meat of his thigh.
The pain slammed through his brain like a tidal wave, washing away the hold the woman had on him. He managed to force his eyes open in time to see the hook catch the underbar of the gunwale.
"Got him!"
Arabast punched the wooden hook, snapping the pole at the connection between metal and wood, then poured his rage into the skiff.
"Fly, Vanessa, fly!"
The skiff's sudden surge surprised the crew. He made it a dozen meters before crossbow bolts hit the hull, one right next to his leg.
"Ha! You're not gonna do worse than I've already done myself," he said, gritting his teeth from the pain of his self-inflicted wound.
...stop fleeing, you must turn, now, turn, now...
The old dwarf shook his head. Her silky words wormed their way into his mind, so he leaned on the dagger, twisting the blade in his thigh, sending shoots of red pain through his vision, erasing her hold on him.
Arabast had enough sense to make evasive turns as bolts and shots of flame burst overhead, but in the attempt to capture him, the war galley had slowed, giving him a chance to outpace the larger ship. Within a few minutes of constant speed, skipping across the rolling waves dangerously, he was out of range of their crossbows, and the last ball of flame from the mage exploded harmlessly behind him. The woman kept trying to weasel into his mind and retake control, but the bouncing of the skiff and the dagger, still firmly planted in his leg, kept her from taking hold. But it wasn't for another hour that he dared to glance behind, or even think about taking the blade from his thigh. Luckily for him, he had a healing draught, which he threw down the hatch once he felt safe enough to remove the dagger.
After that, he set his jaw, pointed Vanessa east, and flew as fast as his will would allow. He might be three-quarters dead when he returned to Salt Luck, but he'd bring the news of the Howling Wind's armada, and their Offworlder allies, back to Gneiss Glen.

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An interesting story with wonderful characters, who face difficult challenges in this unpredictable adventure.