Vitriol by Bex Hogan – Part Seven: An Isles of Storm and Sorrow Short Story

Today I am sharing something really exciting! Myself and a few other UKYA bloggers have teamed up together, along with the amazing Bex Hogan to host a treasure hunt for a short story called Vitriol, which is set between the events of Viper and Venom.

Vitirol follows a member of The Maiden’s crew, Shard. Once loyal to Captain Adler, now his only loyalty lies with himself. The line of succession passes to one who kills the Captain, and if it’s been done before, it can be done again… 

If you haven’t had a chance to read this incredible series, here is the synopsis of book one – Viper to capture your interest.

He will make me a killer. Or he will have me killed. That is my destiny.

Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles.

But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.

He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father.

She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

About Bex

Woman smiles

Raised on a healthy diet of fantasy and fairy tales, Bex Hogan has spent much of her life lost in daydreams. Writing her stories down was a natural progression and now she enjoys sharing her time between living in the real world and escaping to her imagination. A Cornish girl at heart, Bex now lives in Cambridgeshire with her husband, two beautiful daughters and crazy cocker spaniel. She might be found riding horses, talking to her plants or eating marzipan. Or not.

Warning: As this story is set between Viper and Venom it does contain spoilers for Viper (if you haven’t read Viper, I do suggest you go read it, as it’s amazing!)

Vitriol – Part Seven

Chapter Three

Shard stood on the beach, waiting. He had sent a sea vulture from the nearest settlement, and now watched as the small dory made its way from the Maiden to the cove, several Snakes aboard. He could laugh at how smoothly his course was sailing.

He glanced over at Choke, through his swollen eyelid. Her piercing eyes shone back at him.

‘You ready?’ he asked her.

‘Of course. Worry about yourself,’ she replied. ‘We only get one shot at this.’

‘Relax,’ Shard said ‘The Mouse won’t know what’s hit her. She’ll never suspect a thing.’

‘Perhaps I should rough you up a little more,’ Choke mused, staring at Shard’s black eye and cut lip. They’d decided it was important he looked like he’d put up a fight, that overcoming so many hadn’t been too easy a feat.

‘I think you’ve already had enough fun.’ But despite his tone, Shard wasn’t really cross. He was as close to jubilant as a man could be. Though he wasn’t returning with Karn, he had the next best thing. Choke and three bandits – men loyal to Karn. Given that the Mouse probably expected him to return empty handed, this was more than enough. The idea that they might have come with Shard willingly would never even cross the Mouse’s mind.

The truth was, they all looked battered. Karn had made them beat each other until he deemed them suitably bloodied to convince anyone that a tough fight had been fought. All they needed was to convince the crew that Shard had fairly captured them, and have them thrown safely in the brig until the time came to break out.

And they had the perfect time in mind.

The Snakes were close now, and so there was only one last thing left to do.

‘See you on the other side,’ Shard said to Choke and hit her hard round the head with the hilt of his sword, knocking her clean out. They’d decided it was the easiest way to get her aboard with the fewest questions asked.

Shard lifted her over his shoulder and turned to the three bandits who were tied up beside him.

‘Ready?’

They nodded as Shard took hold of the rope joining them all, and adopted an air of despair.

This was how Bronn found them as he jumped from the dory into the surf and strode up the beach towards them.

His look of utter disbelief maddened Shard. How sick he was of being underestimated. How ready he was to put Bronn in his place.

‘We got your message,’ Bronn said, ‘but I confess, I had to see it to believe it. How did you do it?’ His eyes scanned the cove. ‘And where’s Raze?’

Shard did his best to look grief-stricken. ‘Choke killed him. He fought to the end, I wouldn’t be here without him.’

Bronn stared at him for longer than Shard thought was strictly necessary. ‘His loss will be honoured. Come, let’s get you back to the ship.’

With a quick gesture, the Snakes took hold of the bandits, and Bronn relieved Shard of Choke. But even when they were back on the dory, Shard felt Bronn’s eyes on him constantly, burning his skin with their intensity. Jealousy, Shard thought, was such an ugly emotion.

He received a hero’s welcome; everyone was impressed with what he’d achieved. Choke and the men were thrown behind bars, while Shard was brought ale and sweetbreads, as the crew both celebrated his victory and commiserated over the loss of Raze.

But the Mouse still didn’t show her face. He’d expected she would be the first to admit she’d been wrong, that she would come and praise him for delivering the prisoners. Eventually, Shard asked Ren where she was.

Ren had given him a strange look, like it was an obvious question. ‘Tending to the prisoners. Last I heard she was brewing a tonic to soothe Choke’s head.’

The rage built like a storm inside Shard. How dare she? How dare she see them before him? Was he not injured? Should she not be brewing him a tonic?

‘If you want her, she’ll be in the surgeon’s quarters. She might give you some second salve if you ask nicely,’ Ren said, walking away with a slight chuckle.

Shard didn’t appreciate being mocked. Or ignored. And there was no way he was going to seek the Mouse out, when she should be the one searching for him.

Want to read part eight? Then unscramble this anagram to find the name of the next blogger!

Asnel monkshood squab

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