Today, I'm spotlighting Encante, a novella by Aiyana Jackson available on Amazon.
Deep under the ocean, Simeon Escher, protégé to the leader of the order of Loth Lörion, finds himself an unexpected guest aboard the submersible, Narwhal. Home to a crew of humans, and strange mer-folk few people are aware exist, Simeon is swept up in their quest to find a world within a world, a possible safe haven from the insidious reach of the Kabbalah. Yet how can he think about his mission when the captain's niece fills his every thought, distracting him from all that’s important to him, including his own fiancée.
‘“I have trouble sleeping,” he told me, as if by way of explanation. If he was in any way drunk, his words showed no sign of it. “I come here for the ambiance.”
I glanced around us. “I can well understand why. I’m afraid I was having a similar problem. Forgive me; I should not be wandering the ship alone.”
“And why not?” he asked. “You are our guest; if you see fit to wander the ship alone at night, I say let you. Wander wherever you choose.” He laughed as if something were painfully amusing, and I wondered if perhaps he was a little tipsy after all. “I’ll say nothing to stop you,” he assured me. “Hell, I’ll encourage you.” He leant closer to me. “I’d even suggest you try the places I couldn’t show you earlier.”
“So there were areas you kept hidden.”
Axel snorted. “Areas? People more like. My uncle is concerned you will not understand the . . . racial demographics of our society.”
“You mean the encante?” He nodded. “There is more to your relationship with them than Everett would have me believe, that much is plain. It has been obvious since I arrived, if for no other reason than this is my fourth visit to Idele, and I have never before seen one of them. I have never even heard mention of their race, on this world or any other. They are of a lower class?”
“Class?” Axel exclaimed. “Franklin Garrett is of a lower class; Bridger Quinn, is of a lower class. Even Reuben Williams, our third mate, the man in whose bed you should even now be sleeping, is of a lower class.” Axel shook his head. “The encante are not separated from us by class, Mister Escher, but freedom.”
“You mean to say they are slaves?”
“Of course they’re slaves. You think they wear those god forsaken machines of their own volition?”
It took me a moment to catch up. “The tails?” I considered the implications of a species who could breathe underwater and swim at great depths, living in a submersible with ready access to open water. “They keep them from escaping somehow?”
“Yes, one of Amos Newton’s finest inventions, don’t you think? A device which allows its occupant to swim outside the ship enough to remain healthy, perform maintenance and other duties, but which incapacitates them should they try to stray too far.”
“Newt, as my uncle calls him. He finds it humorous, what with the majority of Newton’s research having to do with our amphibious cousins.”
“That is truly abominable.” I caught myself. “My apologies, it is not for me to criticise your—”
“No, sir, you’re quite correct, it is abominable.”’