American library books » Other » In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens (most motivational books txt) 📕

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To those who feel lost at sea, may you find a safe harbor


Tal closed his eyes as he bent over the bow and willed himself not to vomit. Deck bobbing beneath his boots, his belly flipped as he gripped the glossy wood of the ship’s railing with white knuckles.

Don’t throw up. Don’t throw up. Don’t throw up.

Tal hated the sea. He hated this trip. He hated that his older brother would tease him endlessly if he found him retching over the side.

He sucked in a breath through his nose, then gagged. The acrid stench of smoke from the burning derelict floating next to their warship singed his nostrils, and Tal’s grasp tightened as bile bubbled in his gullet.

This was a disaster already. He’d warned his family about the dangers of him leaving the castle and gallivanting around the kingdom. They hadn’t listened.

Opening his eyes, he wiped the ocean spray from his pale face with his sleeve, the fabric soft against his cheeks. He hooked a finger in his collar and tugged, hoping to relieve the pressure at his throat from the gathered fabric. It didn’t work.

He should go below to his bunk in the crew’s quarters and hide until they reached the port. Maybe he could write the queen a letter detailing everything that had gone wrong thus far. Maybe she’d let him come home. He had seen her vacillate when they left the docks the previous day, her usual steely resolve slipping a fraction when he waved from the stern.


Tal snapped his head up and swayed away from the railing. The high sun threw sparkles on the water, and Tal squinted and lifted his hand to block the piercing light as he searched for the source of the call. His dark hair tangled and fell into his eyes, and he brushed it away only for the wind to push it back.

“I’ve asked you not to call me that.”

His brother Garrett swaggered toward him, the laces of his own shirt unknotted, the collar flung wide open. He moved with the natural pulse of the ship, as at home on the deck as he was in their family castle. He slapped Tal heartily on the back. “Old habits.”

Tal straightened his posture, and though Garrett was seven years older, they almost matched in height.

“Fine,” Garrett said, draping his arm over Tal’s shoulders. “Don’t look so sour. I understand. You’re sixteen and don’t want to be babied by your older siblings.”

The fourth child of five, Tal was accustomed to being teased, but now at sixteen he had a sinking feeling he’d always be coddled by his three older siblings. The trio were all set in their royal roles, while Tal’s remained uncertain. His sister, Isa, was the eldest and next in line to be queen. Garrett was the head of their kingdom’s navy. His other brother, Kest, was a renowned scholar.

Having been sequestered in the castle since he was a boy, Tal lived in their shadows. His coming-of-age tour would be his best chance to grow into his own, but it would be especially difficult if he never managed to arrive at the starting port. He was both anxious and eager to start. Anxious because everything could go wrong, and eager to get it over with. Of course, Garrett had had to stop to investigate a burning boat.

Tal craned his neck to peer toward the smoldering vessel they’d come upon. Attached to their ship by a plank of wood and several ropes, it drifted along their port side. The fires were mostly out. Sails hung limply from the masts, torn and singed—a lonely ghost unmoored and unmanned, haunting the inlet until a storm dashed it on the rocky shores or until it took on water and slowly sank to the depths. He didn’t know why his brother had approached the ship when the crewman spotted it from the crow’s nest. Duty, he guessed. For all of Garrett’s gregariousness, he was staunchly loyal and followed their mother’s edicts to a fault.

The derelict listed dangerously, and shouts erupted from Garrett’s crew. His second-in-command strode over to them, her boot heels clicking, brown hair swinging from a high ponytail.

“Commander,” she said, addressing Garrett, “we’ve found something interesting.” Shay held up a coin between her fingers. Her dark eyes drifted to Tal. “Your Highness.” She bowed her head.

Garrett raised an eyebrow as he plucked the coin from her hand. He flipped it into the air and caught it in his palm, before studying it intently. He grunted, then passed it to Tal. “What do you see?”

“It’s not ours,” Tal said, turning the coin in his fingers. “The stamp is from Ossetia. It’s not uncommon to find currency from bordering countries this close to home.” Tal squinted, running his fingers over the raised edges of the face. “It’s not worn, but the seal isn’t current, either. This shows the previous king’s stamp.”

“Good eye. You’ve been studying.”

Not by choice. Isa was to be married to Ossetia’s prince once Tal and Garrett returned. To prevent an incident, Tal’s tutor had been shoving Ossetia’s history and culture at him constantly. He didn’t appreciate it, since there were other things more pertinent and certainly more interesting to study.

Magic, for one.

“Not newly minted, but not circulated.” Garrett tossed it back to Shay.

“What does it mean?” she asked.

“I don’t know yet.”

“There’s a chest of them.”

Garrett’s eyebrows shot up. “A whole chest of gold? Abandoned? Well, then, this is interesting.”

“There’s more,” Shay said, shifting slightly.

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