In a world of steamships and Progress, no one who sails due south across the Wild Sea ever returns.
No one knows why.
Dale Mortensen intends to solve the mystery. With the help of an old sailor and a reformed playboy searching for his missing sweetheart, he locates a captain and crew ambitious—not to mention crazy—enough to undertake the journey across the Wild Sea.
The Infinity and her crew sail south, but the truth of what really lies on the other side of the horizon is more amazing—and terrifying—than anything they can imagine.
It’s the adventure of a lifetime—and it may just get Dale and his friends killed.
Find out how this Young Adult steampunk adventure unfolds chapter-by-chapter every Thursday! Click here to start from the beginning. Or if you want to read it at your own pace, buy the ebook for $6.99 from Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords or Sony, or get it as a trade paperback from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Book Depository.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HORIZON
E. R. PASKEY
THE NEXT FEW DAYS WERE A NONSTOP Rail ride of activity. As Dale learned later, Commissioner Blackwyn succeeded in getting the drop on Gregor Sivak and arrested the head of the Mining District in his office with little fuss. He escorted Sivak—along with Mr. Obo and Miss Underly, whom he wanted for questioning—to the Rail station amid cheers from miners who had no idea what was going on but were delighted to see Sivak go.
With Sivak in jail and under guard, Blackwyn then turned his attention on the Four Families. He had barely begun his investigation before Mr. Wimple folded like a house of cards struck by a breeze. Wimple, terrified of Sivak but more terrified of being painted as the mastermind behind decades of Disappearances, told Blackwyn and the judge everything they wanted to know. Sivak had inherited the Mining District from his family, but he was too ambitious to be content with it. He wanted to be the most influential man in Rift City.
To that end he had cultivated friendships with the heads of the Four Families, and he had soon determined he could bend Wimple to his will. The Disappearances had begun as a means of keeping Rift City under control—with a side benefit of ridding Sivak and Wimple of anyone they disliked. Most Disappearances were for specific reasons, but over the years they had chosen people at random to frighten everyone further. And that was not counting the occasional accidental Disappearance, like that of Naya’s little brother, where an unfortunate soul happened to be in precisely the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Revolution printed all of this up and distributed it throughout Rift City, and the fear that had permeated the city for so long gave way to the horrified realization that this evil had been human—and rooted in their midst all along.
Four days after the meeting in the Square, Raphael married Elena in a little ceremony before the judge. Only a few people were in attendance, among them Dale, Naya, Minh and Yutha, Hawk, several of Elena’s friends, Theroux, and to everyone’s surprise, Mrs. Weatherby and Corwin.
Dale was not entirely sure how Corwin managed; were he in the same circumstances he did not believe he could watch Naya marry another man.
The day after the wedding, he cornered Naya in the little kitchen in her flat. Mrs. Azlynn occupied her rocking chair in the parlor, humming to herself as she stitched away on her latest project. Dinner was over, and Naya was clearing up.
“Naya.” It did not show on his face, but Dale’s heart was pounding and his palms were sweaty. It was now or never; Peabody had announced he would be attempting a return trip through the Rift in three weeks—and he had invited Dale to come with him.
“Hmm?” Naya smiled over her shoulder at him as she stacked plates in the washtub.
“Will you take a walk with me?”
Her gaze flicked from the dishes to the parlor before she nodded. “All right.” She wiped her hands on a dishtowel and bustled out to fetch her coat and hat.
Dale ducked into the parlor. “Gran, I’m taking Naya out for a walk.” His right hand slipped into his pocket and curled around the object resting there.
“Are you now?” The old woman eyed him up and down before nodding sharply. “Don’t keep her out too late.” Her tone was curt, but she was smiling.
Naya returned, oblivious to the interplay that had gone on in her absence, and Dale held the front door open for her. He shut it carefully behind them and a grin suffused his face when Naya comfortably looped her arm through his.
They set off down the walkway at a leisurely pace. The air was damp with an oncoming storm, but it was not yet raining. For a while, Dale just basked in the comfort and pleasure he found in Naya’s company. He had not seen much of her since that day in front of the Hospital; there had been too many other things that required his attention.
Also, he needed time to gather his thoughts. Everything had seemed so clear that morning, but now that she was actually at his side, the words jumbled inside his head and his tongue refused to cooperate.
Eventually, Naya broke the silence. “I hear Captain Peabody is leaving for your world in two weeks.”
“Yes,” answered Dale, relieved he could at least manage monosyllabic answers.
Naya bowed her head and her feet stopped moving.
Finding himself brought up short, Dale shifted to face her. “Naya?”
Her head came up with a jolt. “You’re going with him, aren’t you? Back to your water and sunshine and all of those things you’ve told me about?”
Dale stifled a groan. This is not at all how I wanted to broach the subject. His free hand flew to the back of his neck. “I’d like to. I mean, I miss sailing and everything, but—” he broke off, alarmed to see tears welling in Naya’s dark eyes.
You know she loves you, a voice in his head reminded him. But does she know that you love her?
“But what?” asked Naya in a watery voice.
Dale held her gaze. “I want you to come with me.”
Naya inhaled sharply, and Dale shook his head in frustration. “This isn’t going quite how I planned, but…” He gathered both of her hands in one of his and pressed them to his chest before finding her eyes again. “I love you, Naya Azlynn. I would like you to be my wife.” With his free hand, he fished in his pocket for the ring he had purchased that morning and held it out on his palm. “Will you marry me?”
“Dale…” Naya’s eyes dropped to the ring before her eyelashes fluttered and she looked back up at him. She heaved a tremulous breath and Dale swore his heart stopped beating.
“I know you love me,” he said desperately. “You have to. You braved your worst fears to save my life. I’m—I’m offering you my heart and my life. You’d like my world,” he rushed on. “I can’t promise you riches, but I can promise you a better life.”
“Dale.” Naya squeezed his hand tightly, her eyes sparkling with more unshed tears. “I love you, too. I do.” She managed a shaky smile. “I think I loved you from the moment you smiled at me in Professor Hodges’ class. And I’ve thought about it, and I—I think I’d like to see your world.”
Despair threaded through Dale’s elation. “But?”
Her beautiful face contorted in misery. “What about Gran? I’m all she has—I can’t just leave her!”
Is that all she’s worried about? Dale’s face cleared and he smiled down at her. “We’ll take her with us.”
“What?” Naya gaped at him and tried to free her hand from his grasp, but he held on fast.
“I’ve already spoken to your grandmother, and though she’s not entirely happy about flying through the Rift, she’s willing to do it for you.” Dale caressed her wrist with his thumb, his smile turning shy. “For us.”
Naya swayed a little on her feet, her eyes now impossibly wide. “Gran gave you her blessing? When?”
“The morning after you saved my life, before I brought her to the Hospital for safekeeping.” Dale watched hope dawn on Naya’s face—a beautiful sight he would treasure for the rest of his life—and held the ring out to her again. “So, Naya, will you marry me and make me the happiest man in Rift City?”
Naya nodded, her eyes still bright with tears. “Yes.” She swallowed and said in a stronger voice, “Yes, I will.” She let Dale slide the ring onto her finger. “And I’ll go through the Rift with you, even though—” she sucked in a deep breath, “—even though I confess the idea scares me to pieces.”
“Thank you.” Dale’s heart was so full he thought it might actually burst inside his chest. Looking down at his fiancée, he cupped the back of her head with one hand and drew her into a kiss. He gave not a fig for what anyone else on the walkway thought.
He had imagined what kissing Naya might be like; it was nothing compared to the reality. The bounds of propriety made him pull away sooner than he would have liked, but to his surprise and delight, Naya grabbed his collar and pulled him close again.
“I wanted you to kiss me after we got away from the river,” she confessed breathlessly, when they parted. “I was so afraid I was going to lose you that night.”
Dale kissed her again, because he could, and then tucked her into his side as they resumed walking. “I’m grateful that you found us.”
Naya held up her hand to admire her ring in the light of the closest walkway lamp. “I’m going to be your wife.”
His voice deepened. “Yes, you are.”
“Mrs. Dale Mortensen.” She looked up at him in happy amusement. “And you’re really going to take Gran through the Rift?”
“She said she’d go.” Dale grinned, a faint blush burning his cheeks. “Said there was no way she was going to miss out on seeing your children.”
“I hope they look like you,” said Naya firmly.
“With your hair.” Dale was sure the tips of his ears were red now, but he met her eyes. “I love your hair.”
They smiled at each other for a moment, and then Naya nodded over her shoulder. “Let’s go home and tell Gran, shall we?”
Home. Warmth blossomed in Dale’s chest. He covered Naya’s hand on his arm with his own, larger hand and directed their footsteps back the way they had come. “Yes. Let’s.”
Find out how this Young Adult steampunk adventure unfolds chapter-by-chapter every Thursday! Or if you want to keep reading right now, buy the ebook for $6.99 from Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords or Sony, or get it as a trade paperback from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Book Depository.
Copyright © 2013 E. R. Paskey