The sun shone.
Slowly, Dusk stirred, surprised he was alive. When he had closed
his eyes, he felt sure he would end up standing in front of the
Thousand Hells, where flames wrapped scalding hot sheets around
black iron gates.
But this was assuredly the land of the living, lit by the sun and
plagued by thirst. Dusk coughed and rolled over, grimacing at the
dryness in his throat. When was the last time he’d had something
‘Too damn long,’ he whispered, or tried to. What came out was an
incoherent, sticky retching. He tried rolling over, and almost toppled
into the sea. Slowly, he braced his hands against the raft and felt
along the edges, trying to judge its size.
The answer he got was no more encouraging than anything else.
The raft measured almost three arm-lengths on each side. He would
have to curl almost double to lie on it.
How had this happened? Only a day earlier he had been aboard
The Widow’s Nest
. She had certainly been the fastest of the ships available
inAnniporHarbour, whereDusk had arrived to return home after long
years of being fostered by the Grand Thaumaturge. The winds had
been against them for most of the journey, but the oarsmen had seen
them safely past the rocky coast and into the open sea.
Then the storm had come.
For a moment, panic tried to grip him. He could die quite easily
here, far away from any form of civilisation, and certainly far away
from Dragon’s Nest, where they all waited for him. Night, all kind
concern for her younger brother. His father, Lord Fell, soberly proud
of his son’s decision to study magic across the sea in Annipor.
But the panic soon slid off. It simply could not gain purchase
when pain and thirst were already fighting for dominance. The
throbbing in his head seemed much more bearable if he closed
He wasn’t entirely sure when he woke next, but he woke up under
the stars, and a rushing wind that at least cooled him. He coughed,
harshly, and tried to lever himself up into a sitting position.
get some shelter from the sun,
he thought. Talking seemed like too much
of an effort now.
I should get something to drink.
Painfully, he turned his head and stared out across the dazzling
surface of the ocean. None of the waves showed any inclination of
Isobelle Carmody Award
for Creative Writing