A reader just wrote me, asking where he could find the epilogue for Cowry Catchers. The link to "After the End" in the ebook was broken and he had been all over the website looking.
Oops! I totally overlooked the deletion of that page along with the old Cowry Catchers website. I've also had a request to post the interviews with the voice actors that disappeared along with the old feed. I will get to that eventually, but I feel like the epilogue is kind of an emergency. It's present in the print and audio versions (both Audible and podcast), but ebook readers currently have a broken link.
I'm going to send Amazon an updated version of Book 5 with the epilogue included. I'll ask them to push it out to previous purchasers, but there's no guarantee they'll do that. In the meantime, here it is, and hopefully people looking for it can find it.
Obviously, if you haven't read Cowry Catchers HUGE SPOILER ALERT. This is the epilogue!
Epilogue…or The Next Chapter
Nothing was stirring when Gerard and Silveo got back to the ship with the sun just peeking over the horizon. Gerard suspected the Fang had had a wild night of incoming refugees. Two of the sailors on watch greeted them with excitement and relief, but Gerard only wanted his bed. He was grateful that Silveo didn’t try to talk to anyone.
When they reached the cabin, Gerard closed the door and leaned against it. The silence beat at him. He felt like he had water in his ears.
Silveo tugged on his hand. “You fought with her all night, didn’t you?”
“Why are you staring at me like that?”
“You were dead.”
“Only for a night.” He was trying to make a joke out of it.
Forever. You were dead forever.
“Gerard, you need sleep. Shelts are going to be asking all kinds of questions. Come on.”
Gerard let himself be led into the bedroom. He sat down on the edge of the bed and took off his boots. Silveo was tugging his coat off, one arm at a time. “You know what the worst part was? For me, I mean?”
Gerard shook his head. His bandaged arm was throbbing. He hadn’t even felt it during the fight with Morchella.
“The worst part was you trying so hard to hang onto me, and I just couldn’t stay. You were trying to hold me in my body, and I just…couldn’t.”
Gerard nodded. He didn’t want to think about that.
“Being mauled by a griffin,” continued Silveo, “that wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. After he broke my back—”
“Silveo!” Gerard buried his head in his hands.
“Sorry. Gerard, I’m sorry. Lie down. Sleep.”
Gerard was afraid he would dream about wind chimes, but he didn’t. He woke much later to soft lamplight. Someone who was not Silveo was standing by the bed. He jerked away.
“Sorry, sorry!” It was Lu. “Silvy wanted me to have a look at your arm, make sure you’re not bleeding to death.”
“Mumph.” Gerard ran a hand over his face. “What time is it?”
“Getting near sunset.” He could tell that the ship was moving. The cabin window cover was open just a crack so that he could see the evening light outside. He felt the breeze across his cheek.
“Here.” Lu put a ship’s biscuit into his left hand. “Eat something, and let me see your arm. Silvy said a wyvern bit it.”
A mixture of blood and straw-colored fluid had soaked through the bandages. Lu said it didn’t smell like corruption. She washed the wound and redressed it.
“Did Silveo tell you he can talk?”
Lu flashed a grin. “I’m not sure he’s stopped talking since he stepped out of the cabin. Dinner is within the quarter watch. We’d all like to hear your side of the story.” She hesitated. “Silvy says he died.”
Lu left him to bathe and dress. When he finally emerged from the cabin, Basil was waiting to pound him on the back. “Gerard! I knew you were magic! I said it, didn’t I? Magic!”
Gerard smiled weakly. Basil was guiding him off down the hall. “Silvy is talking! Talking! Like with a tongue sort of thing! He says it’s something you did, which doesn’t make any sense to me, but then I never really understood the alpha bond.”
“Something I did? It’s something the Firebird did,” but Gerard’s words were drowned as they entered the dinning cabin. There was a happy roar of voices and the clatter of cutlery.
Silveo spoke in his head immediately. “Gerard! I’m sorry Lu woke you; I thought you might be bleeding.”
Gwain started talking to Gerard simultaneously. “Good to see you up and about. According to Silveo, you have slain the largest wyvern in Wefrivain.”
Several other shelts were slapping him on the back. Gerard looked around at them, smiled, tried to explain that he hadn’t slain anything, that Silveo and the Firebird had done all the slaying.
Silveo was half standing on his chair at the end of the table. “Come on! Come eat! Come listen to me jabber.”
“I do that anyway,” said Gerard.
“Yes, but out loud.” Silveo was radiating goodwill. He was dressed in cloth-of-gold coat, with bright red pants and shirt. He had gold ribbon in his tail.
Gwain had two black eyes, and he was moving stiffly, but he looked profoundly content.
“Is Merta alright?” asked Gerard.
Gwain nodded. “Someone stuck a sword in her thigh, and she lost a lot of blood, but she’s awake and eating this morning.” He grinned even more broadly. “She’s got a cousin on board she didn’t know was alive. All told, we’ve added more than four hundred new shelts to our crews.”
Gerard said he was pleased to hear it. He found that he was suddenly very hungry. Silveo was telling Basil and Lu about being picked up and carried into the Great Lodge by Morchella’s wyvern and subsequently killing it.
“So, apparently the Firebird Monuments have some sort of healing properties,” said Gwain to Gerard. “There’s mention of that in the old stories.”
Gerard tried not to laugh. “Healing properties? Gwain, Silveo was dead and then he burned up.”
Gwain nodded. “Have you ever heard of salamanders?”
“They’re creatures that live in fire, and they—”
Basil’s laugh interrupted him. “Gerard’s dad? As in Lord Holovar?”
“Well, yeah,” said Silveo. “I wasn’t picky at that point.”
“What did he say?” asked Lu.
“Not much. I don’t think he recognized me at first. He and Jaleel—that’s Gerard’s little brother—helped get Gerard inside, and then Gerard’s eyes rolled back his head, and I thought he was going to break his back the way he was thrashing. Then he almost stopped breathing. We took him into a bedroom and laid him down. That was about the point when Jaleel realized who I was. Then it was question and answer time.”
Basil grimaced. “That must have been awkward.”
Silveo shrugged. “I didn’t care. I thought Gerard was dying. Fortunately, Dakar’s daddy turned up with the antidote. Mad as a barrel of lemurs on sweet leaf—but he did help. He looked like a shelt, but he wasn’t good at it, not like Morchella. He smelled like a wyvern, and you could tell there was something wrong with him. Gerard was alright by morning.”
Silveo paused. “Gerard, what did your father want to talk to you about? I meant to ask, and I forgot. Was he angry about me?”
Gerard hesitated. “No, he wasn’t angry.” Aloud, he said, “I promised father that if we survived, we’d stop by Holovarus on the way out of the crescent.” He glanced at Gwain. “No one else has to come, of course. We can meet you in the Sunkissed Isles.”
Gwain shrugged. “I don’t mind. It’s not much out of the way. I’ll see what the other captains think.”
Gerard looked back at Silveo. “I suppose I could take Felbane and just go alone—”
Silveo looked nervous, but he covered it with a laugh. “Of course, we’ll all go. Maybe this time, we’ll even stay for dinner.”