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Pinquickle's Folly

The Buccaneers


About The Book

The first adventure in the New York Times bestselling fantasy trilogy from the legendary million-selling author and creator of Drizzt Do’Urden.

In Pinquickle’s Folly, New York Times bestselling author R. A. Salvatore returns to his signature world of Corona, introducing a dynamic new part of the southern coast never written of before as a great starting place for readers in the DemonWars Saga: The Buccaneers.

The first adventure in the Buccaneers trilogy begins in the free sea outside of the control of the usurping Xoconai empire, where the dwarven powrie pirates and merchants sail. But the golden-skinned Xoconai have begun to encroach upon these waters behind the rapacious attacks of the frigate Crocodile, helmed by Captain Aketz. But when forced to submit, these sailors choose to live, free to do as they please, without some fool or another pretending to hold power over them.

Fantasy master R. A. Salvatore brings together a misfit band of Xoconai, powerie, and human sailors—once enemies, now fierce friends with a common enemy, and the spark of rebellion in this action-packed piratical adventure.


Chapter 1: The Whispering Swells CHAPTER 1THE WHISPERING SWELLS
The two figures moved slowly along the uneven and rough stone stairway that ran up the side of the high hill. Although winter was on in full, the vernal equinox still several weeks away, the sky was cloudless and the air comfortably warm. The smaller of the pair, a young woman named Quauh, her Xoconai face coloring beaming in the brilliant sunlight, hopped lightly from stone to stone, moving as if she had too much energy within her lithe frame to maintain such a casual pace.

The other, an old man, kept moving slowly and steadily. He had seen nine full decades of life, and making this climb at all for one of his age was quite a remarkable feat. But he kept going, his breathing steady, calmly lifting one foot before the other, using the rope line strung down on the side of the eight-foot-wide trail for support.

The Basin Overlook was quite deserted this day, with most of the people in prayer in the many golden-domed temples through the Tonoloya Basin.

“Come, Lahtli Ayot,” Quauh said when she went over the last step, only a short rising path before her to the highest point of the Basin Overlook. She glanced back to make sure her old uncle, or lahtli, was moving well, then verily ran up the last expanse to the circular clearing, which offered a full view of the great homeland of the Xoconai. She closed her amber-colored eyes and took a deep breath when she entered that circle, basking in the smells of the desert flowers carried on a strong and warm wind from the northeast this day. She was only a few hundred feet above sea level, she knew, but still, in this low basin, the view… ah, the view.

To the west, she saw the distant sea, some eight miles away, the far horizon indistinct and hazy from the ocean mist layer that was so common this time of the year, as winter surrendered to spring. She let her gaze linger there, for always and ever was Quauh called to the great ocean. Eventually, she turned a slow circuit to the right, to the hills in the northwest that formed the northern barrier of the basin, a similar distance from her as the sea. She turned her gaze to the greater mountains lining the east, smaller ones nearby, but moving back more than a hundred miles to high peaks that were still capped in snow. She finished her circuit, turning to the southwest and the haze, and a line of hills that completed the basin wall.

Every view proved beautiful and distinct, showing several large cities within these mountain barriers, clusters of shining golden domes and decorated minarets, and thicker bell or horn towers.

This was Tonoloya, the land of the Xoconai, some thirty thousand square miles of oceanfront, deserts high and low, with a palisade of mountain peaks protecting it on every side that was not the sea—and on the sea, the Xoconai feared no enemy.

When she completed her panorama view, Quauh turned back to the rise, smiling widely to see her uncle plodding along. He wasn’t even breathing heavily—the man had mastered the art of pacing himself. Quauh had seen many people much younger than Ayot grab at their sides and gasp for breath as they tried to climb the stairs, or the S-shaped trails that intersected them several times for those who preferred a more leisurely climb.

For the first time, it seemed, since they had begun the climb, old Ayot looked up at her.

Even with the cloudless sky, the sun beaming upon him, his facial colors seemed so dim to Quauh, reminding her that he was so very old and likely had so little time left. She remembered when his nose was brilliantly red, given to blue at its base, and with white wings spreading out to his cheeks. Colors that shone with the inner life and light of a mundunugu warrior. But now that nose was dull, more ruddy than red, and the other colorings might have been gray mud on the face of a sidhe goblin instead of the brilliant facial colorings of a proud Xoconai.

“Ah, Quauh,” he said as he approached, and he drew out her name distinctly with each syllable: Coo-wow.

He always did that. That was the old and formal way to speak her name, instead of the fast Coo-ah she heard more often from her peers.

“This may be my last climb to this place of the spirit,” Ayot said.

He always said that, Quauh told herself, but she did wince at his tone, for this time, she found that she believed him, and that made her sad.

He walked up beside her, closed his eyes, and inhaled deeply. “All of Tonoloya in one breath,” he said, keeping his eyes closed and seeming very much at peace.

“There is no better place in the world,” she replied.

“Where else has Quauh been in the world?”

“South,” she protested.

Ayot opened his eyes and chortled. “Barely out of Tonoloya proper. Barely beyond the basin wall.”

“Why would one ever wish to leave?”

Now Ayot openly laughed, though it was more of a wheeze, and one that led to some phlegmy coughing.

“You have changed your mind, then?” he asked eventually.

“I know not, Lahtli.”

“Because you are scared.”

“I am not scared.”

“Terrified,” he taunted. “And why wouldn’t you be? It is a choice that will forever change your life, of course.”

She wanted to deny his observations, but she knew that he was seeing right through her. She had been offered a great compliment and a commission—a full commission!—in the Tonoloya Armada. She would be assigned as first mate on a ship for a bit, but within a couple of years would almost certainly be given her own ship to captain!

“It is three thousand miles to the other ocean,” Ayot said. “The sidhe call it the Mirianic, I am told, but you will know it as Tauilueyatl. Do you think it will be as pretty as Laktliueyatl?” He nodded to the west as he asked, to Laktliueyatl, the Sunset Sea.

He had used those names of the oceans purposely, she knew, to emphasize the great distance between them. Sunrise Sea and Sunset Sea, the seas that bordered the fledgling Xoconai empire of Mayorqua Tonoloya after their glorious conquests of the sidhe goblins in the east. The prophecy had been fulfilled, for now the sun rose over one ocean to shine on the empire, and set beyond a different ocean, shining still, unto the last, onto Tonoloya.

“I have heard that the waters are darker in the east,” Ayot said after a long silence, he and his grandniece simply taking in the views and the wonderful aromas of the desert flowers. “And colder.”

“Are you trying to talk me out of leaving?”

“Hardly!” the old man said, coughing and wheezing with laughter again. “Nay, child, you must go. What is left for you here?”

“My family.”

He shrugged. “Here you will serve on a warship that will never see war. Or on a fishing boat—perhaps you will even be given one to captain, eventually. But look at what is before you in the east, my lovely niece. You, Quauh, will almost surely become the youngest captain in the Tonoloya Armada in memory—and I have a very long memory. This honor offered you will bring pride and glory to your father and mother, and opportunities that you will never know if you stay here in the quiet west.”

“I will miss them so terribly,” she admitted. “I will miss this place—I will miss you!—so terribly. My heart will ache.”

“With the golden mirrors, it is only a month’s journey,” Ayot reminded.

“The magic of the mirrors is reserved. The augurs will use them to bring me to the east, indeed, as that is official military business. But to come back?”

“You will be Captain Quauh of the Tonoloya Armada.”

“The magic of the golden mirrors is for the augurs and to move the armies. And for the very important leaders.”

“Captain Quauh only to start,” said Ayot. “Commander Quauh soon enough. Admiral Quauh, in time. Within a decade, I predict.”

She giggled. “You predict it because you are my lahtli, who loves me,” she whispered to him.

“No,” he quickly answered. “I do love you, but I do not lie to you. You have a gift, girl. No one hears the sea beneath their feet like Quauh. The rolls and the swells talk to you. They tell you of the storms. They warn you of reefs, they show you a place of becalming long before you foolishly enter the dead wind and dead current waters.”

She snorted dismissively.

“Yes, you doubt me because you do not understand what others hear from the whispering swells!” Ayot told her. “It comes so easily to you, whether it is the water, the wind, the color of the sky, or all three. Or perhaps in the movements of the fish or the great whales, or the squawks of the various birds. As it is so easy for you, done without conscious thought even, you assume that it is easy for others. But there you are wrong, my dear girl. What you have is a precious gift, and it is so very rare. Why else do you think the commanders of the armada have made this offer to you?”

“Because so few want to go to the far east, where it is thick with ugly sidhe who wish us harm. And fewer still wish to sail in the cold waters of the Mirianic, with its fierce storms and sea monsters, and lanes full of the red ’n’ black sails of the buccaneers.”

“Bah!” Ayot snorted, seeming more full of energy than since he had begun the climb. “Nonsense! Every fighting sailor wants to go there, for that is where reputation, rank, glory, and gold are to be made,” he told her. “You know this to be true. As you know that you have a gift, a great sense of the sea, any sea. My dear, dear Quauh, you are going. You cannot decline this great honor and opportunity. We will all miss you as dearly as you miss us, of course, but any who counsel against you answering this call will forever carry the guilt of causing such limitation on you, Quauh. This is your glory. This is your destiny, and you will be remembered through the ages if you fully realize it.”

Quauh started to respond but blurted out a sob instead and fell over dear old Lahtli Ayot, hugging him close and wetting his shoulder with her tears.

She believed that he was right, and even dared to hope that such a path of ascension might indeed lie before her if she took this first, giant step. As an admiral, a commander even, she certainly could gain access to the distance-stepping magic of the golden mirrors to come home to visit the Tonoloya Basin.

But that wouldn’t be for years. Her tears now flowed because she knew without a doubt that if she accepted the commission and departed the next day, as was demanded of her, this would be the last time she shared with Lahtli Ayot. It would be the last time she heard his wisdom, or felt his love, or looked upon his old and wrinkled face with its gracefully dulling colors.

How could she leave, knowing she would never again see this man, who had taken her into his home soon after her sixteenth birthday a few years before so that she could be exposed to and learn of the huge armada ships in the great ports of the basin?

Ayot was really her great-uncle, the brother of her grandfather, but he had become Quauh’s second father these last six years.

How could she leave, knowing she would never see him again?

But how could she not?

“Promise me that you will be fierce when you must be,” Ayot whispered in her ear. “The sidhe are filthy and they are dangerous and they are clever. Do not be fooled.”

He pushed her back to better regard her, holding her by the shoulders, his expression hardening. “Promise me, gentle Quauh.”

She shook her head, revealing her confusion.

“Promise me that there will be no gentle Quauh in the east,” he clarified. “I have seen you run far out of your way to flip a floundering turtle upright. I have seen you catch a great fish with your bare hands, then kiss it and set it back into the water to swim free. I know that your mother bought a pig for slaughter and wound up serving a stew of vegetables, because that pig became a little girl’s pet.”

Quauh beamed a smile. “We did eat it.”

“You ate it after it died of old age!”

Both laughed, but Ayot’s face hardened almost immediately, and his voice went very even and grim.

“Do not ever lose that quality of mercy, but neither misplace it,” he instructed. “No mercy to the sidhe monsters.”

Quauh didn’t even know where to begin with that. She had never met a sidhe and had heard of them only in war stories. Apparently, these wild goblin creatures came in many different flavors, and none of those seemed very appealing.

“With every dead sidhe, the world becomes a more glorious and beautiful place,” Ayot told her.

She nodded.

About The Author

As one of the fantasy genre’s most successful authors, R. A. Salvatore enjoys an ever-expanding and tremendously loyal following. His books regularly appear on The New York Times bestseller lists and have sold more than 30 million copies. Salvatore’s most recent original hardcover, The Two Swords, book three of The Hunter’s Blade Trilogy debuted at #1 on The Wall Street Journal bestseller list and at #4 on The New York Times bestseller list. His books have been translated into numerous foreign languages, including German, Italian, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Turkish, Croatian, Bulgarian, Yiddish, Spanish, Russian, Polish, Czech, and French.

Product Details

  • Publisher: S&S/Saga Press (April 16, 2024)
  • Length: 448 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982175443

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“An enthralling epic adventure.”—Terry Brooks

“Wild adventure, unique magic, stunning suspense, and unforgettable characters.”—James Rollins, bestselling author of the Sigma Force series and The Starless Crown

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