“High Water Mark”

It’s July of 1863. Fresh off of a long chain of battlefield victories, seventy thousand Confederate soldiers led by General Robert E. Lee have ranged north into Pennsylvania to take the offensive. The Union general, George Meade, has ninety thousand men with him, but he’s been in charge for all of three days. If Lee can humiliate the Union here, at their greatest strength, the North may lose enough support that they sue for peace and the South will have won the American Civil War. The forces blunder into each other in a tiny town called Gettysburg.

As the two armies fortify their positions at the end of the first day, three women steal out of the Confederate camp and defect to the Union: Jessie, a skilled slave who sees the opportunity for self-liberation; Miriam, an apprentice looking for a sign she’s worth anything at all; and Seraphine, the paladin who crossed an ocean to answer their prayers.

They are protected by a guardian angel, the Shekinah, said in the books of Enoch to be the bride of God. But when the cannon batteries roar, and the enemy invokes unholy entities of their own, even the smallest advantage… even if it’s just a pitcher of water… may decide the fate of a nation.

“High Water Mark” is a story about the reductive powers of violence and how destiny is often not what we think it will be. It appears in Paladins of Valor, an anthology with 13 other tales of knightly heroism spanning many worlds and many eras.

Paladins of Valor is available on Amazon here.