Dungeons and Dragons Spelljammer Memory’s Wake by Django Wexler

Dungeons and Dragons Spelljammer Memory’s Wake by Django Wexler | 1.55 MB
272 Pages

Title: Dungeons & Dragons: Spelljammer: Memory’s Wake
Author: Django Wexler

Description:
Set sail for the stars in this official Dungeons & Dragons novel set in the worlds of Spelljammer: Adventures in Space !
In the colossal void of Shatterspace, besieged by bloodthirsty marauders and brimming with monstrous aberrations, the only constant is power: The deft will escape the slow. The clever will outwit the naïve. The strong will take from the weak.
Axia wishes she could be grateful to have spent her life-or what little she remembers of it-on an asteroid so far from anything of interest that even the greediest spacers see fit to pass it by. Her days may not be as exciting as the swashbuckling stories of her favorite books or as dramatic as the pasts she’s imagined for herself, but they’re as safe as Shatterspace can manage. So why does something inside her long for the stars every time she sees a spacefaring spelljammer vessel?
When Axia survives a sudden assassination attempt, she is cornered by Kori and Nia, a pair of pirates who offer her two options: flee with them to Wildspace, where they can keep her hidden among their crew, or die. It’s an easy choice with death at her doorstep. But even in the vastness of the Astral Sea, Axia quickly realizes that her new friends haven’t been entirely honest about their motivations.
It turns out, Axia is the spitting image of Blacktongue, the long-disappeared captain of one of the deadliest pirate crews in Shatterspace. And Kori and Nia have a plan to claim the mysterious treasure that the pirate queen vanished while pursuing. To survive, Axia will have to fill Blacktongue’s bloodstained boots and embark on a more perilous and thrilling adventure than any she’s dared to dream.

About the Author
Django Wexler is the author of flintlock fantasy series The Shadow Campaigns, middle grade fantasy The Forbidden Library , and YA fantasy The Wells of Sorcery. His latest is the fantasy comedy How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying. In his former life as a software engineer, he worked on AI research and programming languages. He currently lives near Seattle with his wife, daughter, four cats, and a teetering mountain of books. When not writing, he wrangles computers, paints tiny soldiers, and plays games of all sorts.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Chapter One
The sun hung directly overhead, forever unmoving, like a copper penny nailed to the vault of the empty blue sky. Sweat trickled down Axia’s neck in spite of the broad straw hat she wore, and Flotsam huffed and complained.
“I know,” she said, shifting on the splintery box of the battered old cart. “You’re hungry. We’re almost there.”
The giant hamster huffed again, shifting in his harness and making the cart rock. Axia laughed.
“Quit it!” she told him sternly. “Tsorik wants another load by the end of firstshift.”
Flotsam grumbled but kept plodding along. The trail wound back and forth between the ridges that ran along the Edge like an old woman’s wrinkles. When Axia looked over her shoulder she could see the Bowl, like a parti-­colored cloth of browns and greens, with Harbor’s cluster of buildings an ugly little wart in the center. Out here the soil was too rocky for farming, and there was little to either side of the track but stones and scrub. Perfect for staying away from prying eyes.
“Not that we’re doing anything wrong,” she told Flotsam. “Not really wrong, anyway. Tsorik says cheating Vylgardr out of a few pennies of tariff is practically a public service.” She tugged gently at the reins. “Come on, here’s the turn.”
Flotsam pulled the cart over a last little hillock and into the clearing, wheels crunching over brown, drying grass. Bits and pieces from past deliveries were scattered about, odd-­shaped chunks of wood bleaching in the endless sun. There were crushed pots and broken pans, lengths of fraying rope, scraps of canvas too tattered for mending. Axia wore thick-­soled boots to guard against the rusty nails buried in the turf.
The latest delivery was in a loose pile, like it had been tipped from a giant’s trash bin. Planks and timbers, rails and spars, all shattered and jumbled up together. Once it had been a ship, sailing proudly among the stars and soaking in the sight of who knew what wonders. Now it was all junk, fit only for scavengers.
Like me. Axia gave a glum sigh, then shook her head vigorously.
“Zat’s enough of zat,” she said, in a parody of Tsorik’s accent. “Feelink zorry for yourzelf never earned anyvon a copper!”
She hopped down and fetched water and feed from the otherwise empty cart, filling Flotsam’s tin bowl and pouring a pile of pellets beside it. Tipping her hat back, she took a swig from her own canteen and let a little more splash onto her face, droplets running back into her tightly bound hair.
“Eat up,” she said. “Still a long day till darkshift. With any luck we’ll get to go into town!”
Flotsam squeaked his approval, already stuffing food into his cheek pouches. Axia patted his furry flank and went to the pile of debris, pondering what to load first.
There was an art to this, Tsorik always insisted. Intact planks or lengths of spar were most valuable, but she’d already picked most of those out on her previous visits. That left broken, damaged oddments-­the carved end of a bed, snapped in half; a piece of capstan; something that might have been a chunk of figurehead. Axia sorted through each piece, figuring how to pack the cart without overstraining Flotsam.
Toward the back, there was a stack of broken decking, the wood shot through with wormholes. That would make it weak, apt to snap under pressure or just rot to pieces. Axia hesitated, but Tsorik’s instructions had been clear-­bad timber was preferable to empty space on the cart.
“It’s sort of pretty,” she said, holding up a piece like a slice of cheese. “Maybe someone can use it as-­”
Something moved in the wreckage. Axia shrieked and hopped backward as a muscular, hard-tipped tentacle lashed out at her. Its base was a stony shell attached to a chunk of decking. Jammer leech. The things were a nuisance at the best of times, but when they were hungry they could be positively menacing.
Flotsam surged forward, dragging the cart behind him. The leech’s tentacle snapped out again, but the hamster ignored it, biting down hard. Shell crunched, and the leech spasmed and went limp.
It took a few moments before Axia’s heart stopped hammering. Flotsam waddled over, cart squealing behind him, and nuzzled her face with his soft pink nose. Axia put her arms around the hamster’s neck and gave him a squeeze. Something stung, and she noticed a long, shallow cut on her forearm where the leech had caught her. Flotsam’s broad pink tongue flicked out, licking the blood away.
“Quit it, dummy,” Axia said, squeezing him again. “The last thing I need is a vampire hamster. You’d have to go live over the Edge!”
Flotsam squeaked, not liking the sound of that. Axia pulled herself to her feet, still a little shaky. There was still space at the back of the cart, but the thought of picking past the dead leech to fill it with worm-­eaten timber was suddenly unappealing.
“Come on,” she told the hamster, climbing aboard. “Let’s go home.”
Tsorik was angry, of course.
“Stupid girl,” he said again, watching her unload the cart. “Was it your memory you lost in the crash, or your good sense? Maybe everything inside your head is broken, eh?”
“My memory isn’t broken,” Axia said, mostly to herself. Tsorik wasn’t listening. She grunted as she picked up a spar and walked it over to the pile. “There’s just nothing in it.”
“Pfah.”
Tsorik jabbed angrily at the ground with his stick. He didn’t need it to walk, really, but he liked to affect an aged frailty when he thought he could get away with it. His ruff of hair was certainly snow white, but there was still a spry strength in him. Not that you’d know it from how much he helps out around here, Axia thought, probably unkindly.
“I’ll make another trip,” she volunteered as he continued to glower. “I might get half a cartload.”
“No, you will not make another trip,” he sing-­songed. “Because next you go to town, pick up order from Zhar the butcher. Hah, butcher.” He spat on the ground. “Zhar the miser, they should call him, the way he squeezes me. Client will be here before darkshift.”
Axia exchanged a glance with Flotsam and gave a long-­suffering sigh. Tsorik whacked the ground with his stick again.
“None of that! Is there no gratitude in the world? So soon you forget what I did for you and begrudge me a little work?”
It was a familiar refrain and, Axia had to admit, an effective one. However much she might grumble, it was a fact that she owed him her life in more ways than one.
The first thing she could remember was darkness and the smell of rot and rust. She’d been trapped under a debris pile very much like the one she’d combed through today, heavy spars pinning her in place, splinters cutting her skin. Her panicked screams had gotten Tsorik’s attention, and her first sight in the world had been Flotsam’s fuzzy face as he pushed the wood aside. Tsorik’s significantly less comforting face had followed, frowning as though discovering screaming girls in his rubble pile were an everyday annoyance.
But he’d given her a blanket and a bowl of soup, and taken her back to his little shack to recover. When he discovered Axia knew nothing about herself, not even her name, he’d grudgingly agreed to let her stay another day in exchange for a few chores. Axia, still half-­crazed with fear, had jumped at the chance to make herself useful lifting and carrying, and so their partnership had begun.
That had been three years previously. Since then, she’d had a lot of time to sit and think, sifting through her memory. She knew things-­how to speak Common, which end of plants went into the ground, how to tie a sailor’s knot-­but as for where she’d come from or how she’d wound up under a rubble pile in a wrecker’s field, she had not even a hint.
Tsorik wasn’t bad, all things considered. He didn’t beat her or starve her. She was just getting a little tired of his attitude.
Someday. There wasn’t anything else attached to that thought, no plan, only a wish. Someday. Things would change, even if she wasn’t sure how.
Unloading the rest of the cart took until nearly midshift. When she was finished, Tsorik gruffly beckoned her over and unwrapped the hasty bandage on her arm. He pronounced the wound barely a scratch and bound it up again while berating her for panicking over “von leetle barnacle.” Axia managed to refrain from saying it hadn’t been leetle at all. She accepted a paper bag with a couple of pork-­and-­glowberry sandwiches and climbed back onto the cart to take Flotsam into town.

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