Here’s an excerpt featuring the villain, Cavat. Many readers have spoken highly of Cavat as a character, which I suppose is good, since every story needs a fine villain. We begin in the point of view of a minor character, McGiff, a smuggler with a noose around his neck, forced to transport Cavat into enemy territory. It comes from Chapter 27.
McGiff began to tremble. The Fahrian had no reason for letting him live, and every reason to kill him. “I’m willing to help, ya know. Ya might be needin’ the boat again.” McGiff fought to keep his voice steady. “You’ll be needin’ me, too. She’s tricky ta keep runnin’.” Sweat rolled down his face; his shirt stuck to his skin. He took a deep breath and cursed his fear.
The approaching fishing boat suddenly held his attention. She was half again the size of the Leaky Bottle. He glanced at Cavat, then back to the boat. He squeezed the wheel. Yer a cold one, Mr. Orphan Guard, but I’ll not let ya kill me on the quiet.
As the boat came alongside, McGiff cranked the wheel hard to port. “Help!” He shouted.
The Leaky Bottle heeled, veering toward the passing fishing boat. Cavat almost lost his footing.
“Help!” McGiff cried again.
A shout of alarm came from the other boat. Its whistle sounded.
Cavat ran at McGiff, who kicked at him, but Cavat’s punch found its mark and McGiff sagged unconscious, hanging by the cord, his knees dangling above the deck.
Timbers cracked and splintered as the bow of the Leaky Bottle smashed the fishing boat’s side. The collision threw Cavat down the companionway.
More shouts came from the fishing boat. Her whistle held a constant blare. Cavat reached from the shadows of the companionway to spin the wheel to the right. McGiff’s limp arm, still tied to the wheel, helped hold the turn. The two boats fought past each other, boards snapping. With a final groan of wood on wood, the boats separated.
Cavat reached to the wheel, staying low. He halted the starboard turn and judged a course by the treetops. Water gurgled below. No matter, not much farther.
The other boat’s whistle continued to sound alarm, but it soon fell well astern. Cavat came out from the companionway, but remained hidden, the smuggler’s body draped against his back, the blue face staring over his shoulder, tongue protruding, eyelids half closed. Cavat pulled his knife and cut McGiff’s hand free of the wheel.
The blaring whistle would alert the whole riverside, but Cavat felt confident no one on the fishing boat had gotten a good look at him. When a bend in the river put the other boat safely out of sight, Cavat cut the line above McGiff. The body slid to the deck.
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