Cover Art

Tyche let me have a sneak peek at the cover art for Tantamount, but we’re not allowed to show anyone else just yet. It’s not time. Which if you’re anything like me is extremely frustrating. Especially when someone says you can’t see it but they can. I only just found out who the cover artist is myself, but I’ve been doing my best to find out who it was through subtle hints hidden in emails and social networking posts. But no such luck.

This got me thinking though. There are some people who just do not do well with being told no. People like, oh, say Nel Vaughn, skipper of the Tantamount. If someone were to tell her no, that she wasn’t allowed to do something, her reaction would be…well, something like this.


Note, the following scene is not an excerpt from the Tantamount, but may involve characters featured in it. Consider it a teaser.


The Illumination

‘What is the meaning of this?’

Nel and the captain looked up from their discussion, the dwindling store of coin to the ship’s name being the sore subject of the day. To Nel’s mind their kelpie navigator looked irate. But then Quill never looked happy.

‘The meaning of what, Mister Quill?’ the captain inquired.

‘This!’ Quill slapped a scrap of parchment down on the chart table. At first Nel assumed it was one of Quill’s maps, any damage to them from some crew member’s carelessness would bring a wrathful response down. But it wasn’t, it was some sort of illumination, an artist’s rendering. She started to look closer, it was massive in scale but minute in its detail. A suspicion began to form in her mind, one only enflamed when the captain snatched the paper away.

‘Captain, did you…’

‘No. Me? No, never crossed my mind, what are you looking at? Don’t be looking at that, Nel.’

‘Captain,’ Nel growled, holding out her hand. ‘Let me see that.’

‘See what?’ the captain looked at her with wide eyes, blatantly tucking the illustration away in his inner coat pocket.

‘Did you know about this, skipper?’ Quill came to stand beside her, the kelpie’s tail lashing out in broad sweeps behind him.

‘I did not,’ Nel confirmed, surprised to find herself and Quill aligned against the captain for once. ‘Captain, what have you done?’

‘Nothing, Nel,’ the captain protested, backing away, edging towards his own cabin at the other end of the chart room. ‘Nothing you need to see, nothing to worry about.’

‘I am worried. You’re worrying me. Quill, what was in that hells damned picture?’

‘Silence, Mister Quill, the captain warned the navigator, shaking a finger. ‘Now is not the time, nor the place, for such a revelation.’

‘Quill?’ Nel glared at him.

‘It was about us,’ the kelpie might have been glaring at the captain. He looked like he might be tempted to remove the admonishing finger with his teeth if the captain wasn’t careful.

‘Us? What do you mean us? The ship? Was it about the ship?’

The kelpie grimaced.

Nel took a half step towards him. ‘Was it about us, Quill? Were we in it? I thought I saw…’

But Quill refusing to be drawn any further.

‘Damned kelpie,’ Nel muttered. ‘Captain…’

The door to the captain’s cabin slammed closed, followed by the sound of a bar being set across it. Nel stared at the solid timbered obstacle, swearing under her breath.

‘All in good time, Nel, my girl,’ the captain called out through the door. ‘All will be made clear soon, I promise. But you must patient. It’s not time yet. Not time at all.’

Nel ignored that. ‘You’ve seen it,’ she said to Quill.

Quill shrugged.

‘And you’re not going to tell me anymore. Even though you went to all the effort of bringing it here?’

‘Apparently now is not the time, skipper.’

Nel glared at her navigator.  ‘Fine,’ she said. ‘You want me to wait, I’ll wait.’

There was a muffled thump, followed by what may have been swearing on the other side of the door.

‘The captain does not believe you are going to wait,’ Quill said. ‘Neither, for that matter, do I.’

‘I said I’d wait,’ Nel told him. ‘For just so long as it takes me to pull an axe out of the hold and turn our good captain’s door into kindling. My cabin doesn’t have a door, no reason his shouldn’t either.’

Quill looked at her, glanced over at the bolted door, considering. He pulled out a chair. ‘I will wait here, skipper. For your return. This promises to be entertaining.’

Nel shook her head, halfway out the door. ‘Damned kelpie.’


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