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Carousel Seas

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Carousel Seas

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Author: Sharon Lee
Publisher: Baen, 2015
Series: Kate Archer: Book 3

1. Carousel Tides
2. Carousel Sun
3. Carousel Seas

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
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Welcome to Archers Beach in the Changing Land, the last and least of the Six Worlds, where magic works, sometimes, and the Guardian husbands the vitality of the land and everyone on it -- earth spirit and plain human alike.

Kate Archer, Guardian and carousel-keeper, has been busy making some changes of her own, notably beginning a romantic relationship with Borgan, the Guardian of the Gulf of Maine, Kate's opposite number, and, some would say, her natural mate.

Oh, and she's been instrumental in releasing the prisoners that had been bound into the carousel animals -- which she's inclined to think is a good thing...

Until a former sea goddess sets up housekeeping in the Gulf of Maine, challenging Borgan's authority; endangering Kate and everything she holds precious.

...because the goddess has fallen in love in Borgan; and she'll stop at nothing to possess him.

Archers Beach is about to suffer a sea-change -- and the question is whether Kate can survive it.



By ways unseen, she came to the sea.

There, she paused, caught by the murmur of the surf, to overlook the undulating surface, and the drowning reflections of stars.

She had been afraid, but now she was content, with the damp breeze caressing her cheeks, and the whisper of moving water in her ears. Her head felt bright and empty, like a room made ready for a tardy guest.

She breathed in, tasting salt; and sighed, tasting desire.

It was good, the sea.

Yet, for all that it was a sea, and good, it was not her sea; so much she knew. It was very nearly everything she knew, now that she was free...


She considered the thought, and so recalled a dreary, long expanse of fog: imprisonment.

An imprisonment that had ended without warning; the ties that bound her exploding; ejecting her into a maelstrom of chaotic forces. She had narrowly escaped dissolution, snatching up what power she might before a sizzling bolt singed her hand, awakening her to danger.

She ran, then; ran for her life.


Until instinct brought her to the sea.

Which was not, so said her heart, her sea.

No, she thought, gazing out over the breakers, and the white mists rising from their lacy skirts to the stars; this was no sea... no sea...

This was no sea...

...such as she... knew.

She knew... the ways of the sea. Of a sea. She knew the silken caress of water against naked skin; the sweet rocking of the waves; the exuberant crash of breakers. The sea... belonged to her, and she to it. Neither could thrive without the other.

And, yet... this was not her sea.

That certainty burned in the bright empty space of her mind. She felt the truth of it in her soul, even as she longed to step into the waves, to immerse herself, and become one with the waters. Surely... surely even a stranger sea would shelter her?

She stepped forward, until the frothing edges of spent breakers twined 'round her ankles like crystal chains. From... somewhere--perhaps the past?--she heard a keening, and felt a shiver of fear.

But that, she knew, was nonsense. She need never fear a sea.

She waded further out, bending to stroke the silken backs of swells.

Power petaled over her skin, soft and damp, smelling slightly of mud. She straightened, the energy she had stolen stirred watchfully at the base of her spine.

From the rolling waters before her rose a woman, yellow-haired, and pale of skin.

"My name is Daphne," she said, and her voice was as fair and as strange as her seeming. "The sea brought your scent to my sister and me. We would make common cause with you."

Common cause? she thought. A seductive swell stroked her waist; she yearned toward it, aching; lost for a moment...

...which would not do. She was at risk here, with her bright, empty head, and her meager supply of power. Sternly, she forced herself to regard the yellow-haired woman, who stood motionless among the moving water. Fair face, and fair words, and the woman wanted something from her. There was a slender safety in being needed. Best, then, to learn more.

"What is your cause?" she asked the yellow-haired woman. Her own voice was high and lilting, like bird song. She smiled to hear it.

Before her, Daphne also smiled, showing the pointed teeth of a goblin.

"Our dominion has been torn from us by a usurper. We would have it back."

Goblins were not trustworthy; she knew that. And yet this tale of having lost dominion... resonated. And she knew, though she did not know how--very well she knew in what manner to deal with a usurper.

"I am interested," she said, and again the goblin smiled.

"My sister and I offer you safe passage, and our protection, while we explore these matters further," she said.

The sea sealed the promise; she felt it in the busy current, and bowed.

"It is done."

She clasped the white, webbed hand of the goblin Daphne. Her own was long and tan and free of webbing.

The odor of mud grew stronger as Daphne manipulated her magic, binding them together.

"We go now," said the goblin, and drew her beneath the welcoming waves.

Copyright © 2015 by Sharon Lee


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