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Dindi is kidnapped to be the bride of a shark... To escape she must untangle a terrible curse caused by a love and magic gone wrong.
This stand-alone novella is set in Faearth, the world of The Unfinished Song. Available here ONLY.
The Unfinished Song - This Young Adult Epic Fantasy series has sold over 70,000 copies and has 1,072 Five Star Ratings on Goodreads.
Check out the first book in Helen Harper’s Blood Destiny series: Bloodfire.
Mackenzie Smith has always known that she was different. Growing up as the only human in a pack of rural shapeshifters will do that to you, but then couple it with some mean fighting skills and a fiery temper and you end up with a woman that few will dare to cross. However, when the only father figure in her life is brutally murdered, and the dangerous Brethren with their predatory Lord Alpha come to investigate, Mack has to not only ensure the physical safety of her adopted family by hiding her apparent humanity, she also has to seek the blood-soaked vengeance that she craves.
A sound came from outside and the waiting pack straightened their shoulders and puffed out their chests as if they were one. I did the complete opposite and tried to hunch down. The wooden doors at the right of the hall swung open and twenty or so people, all dressed from head to toe in designer black, came casually striding in.
As if they owned the place, I thought, gritting my teeth and hunching down lower.
The Brethren stopped and lined up in front of us. All of their hands were resting lightly on weapons that hung from their belts. Even from my lowered position I could see the glint of steel. Flexing their authority, no doubt. I looked fixedly down at the floor instead.
A tall gray haired man stepped forward, eyes sweeping over all of us. The room was so quiet that I fancied I’d be able to hear Anton’s balls finally dropping behind me. I risked a glance up at their new leader. He wasn’t what I’d expected. No obvious outpourings of power or charisma. He didn’t look weak physically but neither would I have thought that I couldn’t beat him in a fair fight. This was just a guy – and an old guy at that. I studied him carefully. There was certainly an air of grace and elegance surrounding him and he held himself with confidence and the suggestion of strength but still…I didn’t see it. Maybe it was a shapeshifter thing.
He started to speak. “The Brethren brings condolences for the loss of the Cornish pack’s alpha. We know that he was a good leader who kept the Way and held you together. Do not fear that we will not uncover the truth of what happened.” His slate gray eyes slid over the room. “His death was untimely and – unexpected.”
I blinked at the sudden unexpected rise of tears and my throat constricted and felt tight. John had kept us safe, all of us safe. He had never treated me differently, despite my non-shifter status, and had even spent a ridiculous amount of time training me to fight so that I could hold my own against the rest of the pack should they suddenly decide that having a puny human amongst them was them was too much insult to bear. And there were some who thought that way – Anton behind me for one.
A memory rose unbidden of my ten year old self and John outside the keep.
I had been crouched down, throwing dagger in hand, shaking in fear.
“Mackenzie Smith, if you give into fear then it will rule you. Take the fear and turn it into focus. Use that focus wisely. Feel for the creature and prepare your mind.”
We had been hunting a small wyvern that had been terrorising local farms. The Cornish pack was generally peaceable and didn’t engage in much fighting (well, very few people or even Otherworldly things came to sleepy Cornwall to fight) but John had insisted that this was the time I put my training to the test in the real world. I had straightened up slowly and targeted my thoughts towards the clump of trees at the far end of the field. No fear.
A huffing sound had vibrated towards us. I had blocked out everything else and focused on the noise, willing the wyvern to leave the safety of the brush and come out.
“That’s it,” came John’s voice. “You WILL do this.”
I remember gripping the dagger tighter and taking a step forward, probing the trees with my eyes until I spotted a sudden movement on my far left. I took a step forward, and then another. Without warning the wyvern had burst out of the copse and flown like a dagger towards me, staying low to the mossy ground. I kept hold of the fear and, as the creature swooped close, I swung up, gripped onto its leathery neck and hung on with one arm. The wyvern had screeched in rage and dragged me up. It had veered one way then another, trying to shake me off before a taloned claw came swiping round to scrape me off. I had raised my leg and snap kicked the claws out of the way. I felt hot inside and knew that the fire, if I let it, would burn out of control. With my free hand I felt for the soft space in between the beast’s shoulder blades and sank the dagger in. Of course once the wyvern tail-spun down I had belatedly realised I was far too high and that hitting the ground was going to be very hard and very painful.
“Focus the fear and fan the flames,” I had whispered to myself, before letting go of the wyvern’s neck at the last minute and rolling to the side to avoid being squished.
My technique had been sloppy and careless but John had run towards me with a huge grin splitting his face. He’d gathered me up in a bear hug.
“See? See? I knew you could do it. You might not be a shifter, girl, but you have got skills, and power. You’re amazing.” His eyes had shone down at me with pride and I had realised in that moment that nothing else mattered. I had killed the wyvern and he was proud. It didn’t matter that I was human; I could focus my mind with more skill than most shifters and I had taken down the little dragon when half of the pack would have been too scared to try. I belonged.
Later we had stripped down the carcass together and burnt it. I still had a tooth from the creature’s mouth in the small chest where I kept my meager valuables. John had not let me fail at anything – but now he was dead and I had failed him.
Not without some effort, I zoned back into the present and realised that the gray eyed man was still talking. “These are dangerous times and you are without an alpha. For thirty years we have left you in peace. We respect the Cornish pack and the work that you do keeping this corner of the country safe, however we also offer you an opportunity to brighten these sad days. We will aid you by conducting the ceremony and appointing a new alpha, as is our responsibility. We will hold evaluations and interviews with every single pack member to ensure the appropriate alpha is chosen.
“And we also extend you an invitation. The best and the brightest among you may join us, come to London and become part of the Brethren, the shape-shifter elite. We have spaces for new recruits. This is your opportunity to join in the battle to keep all of this world, not just Cornwall, safe from all harm.”
A tremor of excitement and fear ran through the assembly. Well, that was interesting. Not only would the individual pack members be able to leave and join other packs around the country but they now could also become part of the so-called elite. I knew that just as there would be many shrinking from this challenge, just as many would rise to it and demand it. My brow furrowed. No doubt the Brethren were really just looking for cannon fodder. I felt my hackles rise while forcing myself to acknowledge that this could be a good thing. As much as I might despise them for their reported brutality and aggression, the Brethren could be doing me a massive personal favour. A new alpha would keep my geas in place, and the Brethren’s recruitment drive would surely allow me to see off the likes of all those troublesome shifters who still couldn’t accept me. And who were probably champing at the bit to show off anyway. I was still contentedly sure that Julia would be named alpha – otherwise why else would her Voice now be working?
Without false modesty I knew that, despite my human shortcomings, Julia was right and the pack benefited from at least some of my skills. I might not able to shift but I was pretty much the best they had in any fight, to the extent that since I’d turned into a teenager and gone into defense full time they hadn’t lost any shifter to anyone or anything. Apart from John. I grimaced and shoved that thought away before it overwhelmed me.
Beside me, I could hear Tom panting like a puppy, patently desperate for approval. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he jumped up then and there screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!” Never mind, I’d manage to convince him otherwise later.
Forgetting that I was supposed to be keeping my head down, I scanned the ranks of the other Brethren shifters. I was curious now about what their feelings were about taking in some of their distant country bumpkin cousins. My eyes travelled down the line. There was a bored looking blonde haired woman with a stance that suggested predator –wolf perhaps – then a slight dark man who was obviously a fox judging by the calculating cunning in his eyes, then there was…uh-oh.
The next shifter was looking right at me. Green gold predatory eyes gazed into mine expressionlessly. I snapped my eyes back to the floor and stopped breathing.
I’m no-one, no-one worthy of attention, I whispered silently, trying to quash the rising panic. I couldn’t endanger the rest of the pack by being discovered. Every sinew in my body screamed but I forced myself to keep my eyes and head trained on the ground.
Don’t look up. Don’t look up. Don’t look up. Seconds passed. Minutes.
I’ve recently written a new novella, Hood and Fae, that’s included in this new fantasy bundle, Faery Realms. Hood and Fae will be part of my upcoming Urban Fantasy series, Daughters of Red Riding Hood. Find out more about the Faery Realms set below!
FAERY REALMS: TEN MAGICAL TITLES (Multi-Author Boxed Set, novels & novellas)
*Purchased individually, these books cost over $15 – List price $9.99 – Save 90% – Now on sale for only $0.99 cents!*
Enter the magical realms of Faery with these ten award-winning, bestselling fantasy authors. Each title in this sampler collection offers a new and different world full of mystery, love, and most of all, fae enchantment!
Over 1400 pages of stories, with *exclusive* titles from Alexia Purdy, Tara Maya, and Anthea Sharp! Together, these books have over 250 5-star reviews on Amazon and 150 5-star reviews on B&N.
Best for ages 13 and up.
THE FAERIE GUARDIAN – RACHEL MORGAN
Kickbutt faerie Violet is about to graduate as the top guardian trainee of her class, but when an assignment goes wrong and the human boy she’s meant to be protecting follows her back into the fae realm, a dangerous plot is set in motion. (298 pages)
THE WITHERING PALACE (A Dark Faerie Tale 0.1) – ALEXIA PURDY *Exclusive Content*
Untold darkness rules the Unseelie realm of the Land of Faerie. Hidden in this vast area, Aveta, the future queen of the Unseelie Army, perfects her gifts over lifetimes. Learning that magic isn’t the only way to manipulate the world around her, this naive girl grows into a woman of strength and cunning, ultimately becoming one of the most feared leaders in Faerie.
Rylie’s life is turned upside down when a stranger knocks on the door, claiming to be her real mother. Soon she will have to face the terrifying fact that not only is she a faery, but one that has been promised to the dark prince. (240 pages)
FEYLAND: THE FIRST ADVENTURE – ANTHEA SHARP
High-tech gaming and ancient magic collide when a computer game opens a gateway to the treacherous Realm of Faerie. Jennet Carter never thought hacking into her dad’s new epic-fantasy sim-game would be so exciting… or dangerous. But behind the interface, dark forces lie in wait, leading her toward a battle that will test her to her limits and cost her more than she ever imagined. (65 pages)
BLOOD FAERIE – INDIA DRUMMOND
Unjustly sentenced to death, Eilidh ran—away from faerie lands to the streets of Perth, Scotland. When she discovers a human murdered by one of her own kind, she must choose: flee, or learn to tap into the forbidden magic that cost her everything. (264 pages)
HOOD & FAE (Daughters of Red Riding Hood) – TARA MAYA *Exclusive Content*
Roxy Hood is just trying to make ends meet to pay her mom’s medical bills. Sure, Roxy takes on some jobs of, ahem, dubious integrity, like pretending that she can speak to the dead. But hey, that’s harmless. It’s not like a malignant ghoul is going to attack her. Or a sexy billionaire will show up trying to buy her red jacket. Or a werewolf will attack Granny Rose. Because that would be whacked.
THE DARK FAE – TERRY SPEAR USA Today Bestselling Author
Alicia can recognize the mischievous fae when they show up to “play” with the humans. Only now she’s faced with one highly annoyed dark fae and she’s certain he knows the truth about her. She can see him, which means her life is forfeit. (184 pages)
EHRIAD – JENNA ELIZABETH JOHNSON
Cade MacRoich is Ehríad, an outcast of Eile. While hunting Otherworldly monsters in the mortal world, he discovers Meghan, a young woman whose magic seems very familiar … Three scenes from Faelorehn – Book One of the Otherworld Trilogy, told from Cade’s perspective. (84 pages)
ONCE (Gypsy Fairy Tale) – DANA MICHELLE BURNETT
Harmony’s life will never be the same… Every day is just as normal, and just as boring, as the one before it… And then the Carnival comes to town. Suddenly, Harmony’s small town world is overtaken by the handsome Kieran and she discovers that not all fairy tales are pretend. (140 pages)
FAE HORSE: A Faery Tale – ANTHEA SHARP *Exclusive content*
Accused as witch, Eileen flees for her life. When a strange black horse appears, her only hope of escape, she mounts it—to discover the cost of her ride may be more than any mortal could bear. (20 pages)
“It was fast paced, entertaining, witty, and even swoon-worthy at times. Rachel’s characters were fun to follow, and Violet is sarcastic and strong and a force to be reckoned with—everything I love in a female lead.” –Cover2CoverBlog review of The Faerie Guardian
“Turmoil, heartache and unexpected romance – all three are immersed into this tale of the Fae.”— Craving YA Reads review of Dark Promise
“The plot was fast paced and interesting … I can’t recommend the rest of the trilogy enough.” –The Mad Reviewer on Feyland: The First Adventure
“All in all, this is hands down one of the most unique Fae stories I have ever read before- India Drummond has truly created a beautiful world.” –Avery’s Book Nook review of Blood Faerie
“Enter the World of the Fae: Magical worlds aren’t just for young adults, I enjoyed this tale and look forward to reading the other books in this series.” –ParaNormal Romance Reviews of The Dark Fae
“I thought this was a great, quick summer read! Great story combined with bits of mythology and Irish folklore. I read the entire trilogy in a few days.” –Kristin David on Ehriad
“Once I started this book I could not put it down, I had to know what happened next.” ~ Amazing Book Come To Life review of Once (Gypsy Fairy Tale)
Henrietta and the Dragon Stone is a new story of young adult epic fantasy adventure by award-winning author, Beth Barany. Book 2 in The Five Kingdoms series of the continuing adventures of Henrietta The Dragon Slayer. What if everyone you loved was threatened by a force you couldn’t see or fight? Henrietta the legendary dragon slayer wants to return to her village for a heroes’ welcome. But an unknown sorcerer rides after her and her Dragon Stone and aims to destroy everyone she cares about. Can she claim her newfound powers sparked by the Dragon Stone and keep her loved ones safe, or will the sorcerer destroy everyone and everything she loves?
The Dracontias, dra-con-ti-as, emphasis on the second syllable, is the most powerful gem in all the Five Kingdoms, and more powerful than all the other so-called Kingdom Stones. This one and only Dragon Stone unifies the kingdoms and empowers its user. But beware its one fatal flaw.
—from the Fire Wizards Compendium
Early Winter New Moon (Mitte Moon), Oro Islands, One of the Five Kingdoms
King Singfan sucked in a breath, stretched the crossbow, and held it steady, tracking the beast.
Time was of the essence. If he didn’t kill this dragon and obtain the Dragon Stone on the great dragon’s forehead, he’d have to start all over again. Unthinkable. Impossible.
He had to renew this king’s body during this night, while the stars were aligned just so, and the moon hung below the horizon.
The girl Dragon Slayer, that Henrietta, was performing exactly as he’d expected. She’d taken the proffered reward and given him the secret dragon lore, confirming what he needed to know. She crouched nearby, ready to do his bidding.
King Singfan breathed out, steadying his aim, and smiled.
Inside of him, Bjirn Eyvindir smiled, too, at Singfan’s glee. Hidden to everyone, Eyvindir had occupied the body of King Singfan for seventy-five years, a long king’s rule—longer than anyone on the Oro Islands could remember. If they did remember the length of King Singfan’s reign, Eyvindir by King Singfan’s hand had made sure they didn’t remember for long, and didn’t remember anything ever again.
King Singfan had given him free reign to run his magic through the man and control his every move. The man was his best and most perfect servant. Eyvindir wasn’t going to end the arrangement anytime soon. He’d planned this renewal too long for the moment to go awry.
The dragon hovered above the enormous cave floor about to settle, its scales flickering and iridescent in the torchlight. King Singfan held his breath, steadying his strong stance and perfect aim. He readied the powerful crossbow.
Before he could loose the arrow, Henrietta yelled “You can’t!” and shoved him to the hard-packed ground.
The dragon slayer pinned his arms against his torso with her legs, heavy on his chest. He struggled beneath her weight.
“How dare you!” he snarled. “We had an agreement.”
How had she slipped past his guard?
With every second that ticked by, he felt his power draining from him like water down the drain, no doubt shifting his appearance. But his voice held strong and loud. He gathered courage in that. There was still time to kill the dragon and obtain the Dragon Stone.
“I can’t let you!” she shouted, glaring down at him.
Suddenly, her friends appeared at her side.
“Who’s this?” the injured bard, Jaxter, asked.
“The king,” Henrietta growled.
Little did she know who she was truly up against.
“How dare you!” Eyvindir protested again.
But his voice sounded strange. Gurgles, high-pitched clicks and garbled words were all that he could manage.
How did the dragon slayer’s friends arrive at the cave? He’d left them under guard at the castle.
“Magics! I don’t trust my eyes. Franc?” the dragon slayer shouted, as if she were yelling right into his ear.
“I have not ever seen this old man before, but I have heard whispered tales,” Franc, the knight, said. “What is he saying?” The knight he’d sent to retrieve the dragon slayer, crossed his arms, and frowned down at him. The betrayer.
“I don’t know, but we have no time for tales.” Henrietta bound the king’s wrists and ankles together with a rough rope.
He wriggled, but to no avail. Something sharp stabbed his back.
“Don’t move!” Henrietta barked.
Eyvindir glared at her, through King Singfan’s eyes, furious and unable to move his body, his faculty for speech gone. How dare she! He’d miscalculated the girl slayer. He’d waited too long to act. Frantic, he reached in his mind for his power, but it was too late.
The moment when the moon was just so, right below the horizon, was gone. The shine of the rising moon grew brighter.
The dragon spun to settle, flapping its wings. He’d missed his moment. Torches lay on the ground where his cowardly men had fled. The dragon slayer’s friends had had a hand in that, no doubt, yet he’d dismissed them as weak. Another mistake. How could he have so miscalculated? He brushed the thought aside. He didn’t make mistakes. He drew strength from that knowledge.
“You won’t get away with this!” the king hissed and spat, his voice fully recovered. “The dragon must die, or the Five Kingdoms die. The Oro Islands Kingdom is the first kingdom and must be renewed!”
The dragon slayer frowned, confusion and panic written on her face. Good. He drew more strength from her fear and uncertainty. He may be still tied up, but that state couldn’t last long.
She turned to her friends. “Franc, Jaxter, is this true?”
“Whispers only,” the knight said.
“I don’t know,” the bard said. He leaned on his staff for support.
“What do you mean, you don’t know?” the dragon slayer said and clenched her fists. Her heart revved up a notch.
Her panic rippled off her in delicious waves. Excellent.
“I didn’t ask for this responsibility! I don’t want this responsibility!” the dragon slayer cried.
The bard coughed and struggled for breath, leaning heavily on his staff. Most excellent.
Eyvindir pulled power from the skinny young bard’s weakness and from the dragon slayer’s doubts.
The weakened bard managed to speak. “It’s been so long, the story’s been told many different ways, but one of the legends says that the dragon must pass every peak of the wave, at the emptiness of the moon, in the year of the waning ruler, by the hand of a dual heart awakened, bounded on all four points.”
“But what does that mean?” the dragon slayer yelled over a loud hum, her panic at a near-fever pitch.
“I don’t know!” the bard shouted.
“Why didn’t you tell me all this before?” the dragon slayer said, her voice high-pitched, frantic.
“You never asked,” the bard replied.
“But you knew who I was facing.”
“The legend doesn’t say the name of the dragon. I just realized who it meant.” The bard hung on to his staff.
“But still you should have told me! You know all the tales.”
The dragon slayer sounded at wits end. She was weakening. Perfect. He sucked in more of her fear as sustenance to rebuild his strength.
“You should have asked!” the bard said again. “Besides I thought you knew them as well as I did! What is wrong with you? This is what you do, save people and kingdoms from dragons!” Jaxter coughed.
Eyvindir reveled in the bard’s increasing weakness and in the argument brewing.
“Stop! We don’t have the time to argue!” the fire girl, Paulette, yelled. The sneak somehow saw through his facade back at the castle. She would not last a day under his new reign.
“What?” the dragon slayer said.
“The dragon is changing,” the knight said.
The beast’s crystal scales shifted through the primary color spectrum. A second dragon arose from the first, consisting only of a matrix of rainbow light.
Eyvindir would regain the upper hand. He drew ever more strength from everyone’s confusion and fear. Clarity blossomed anew. The moon wouldn’t rise for another hour. He still had time. The dragon slayer’s surprise betrayal would delay him no more.
“You have to kill it before it disappears for another millennia!” Eyvindir yelled, his strength growing from their pain. He could wriggle in the ropes. Soon his power would reawaken and then he would easily break his flimsy bonds. “You must! I command it!” But his last words were drowned out of his own hearing by a roar from the beast.
“Shut up!” the dragon slayer managed to shout over the din.
How was she able to do that when he couldn’t even hear himself? He yanked the ropes.
“He’s right, or something like it has to happen every millennia so the dragon can come back,” the bard said.
“I can’t,” the dragon slayer said, her voice hoarse.
“What do you mean ‘you can’t’?” the bard asked. “You are the Dragon Slayer!”
“I can’t.” The dragon slayer’s cheeks were wet. Splendid! Her life force was depleting.
Any moment now he’d be renewed and free. He used all his years of experience to yank her life force from her. She had to obey him. All his plans rested on her demise, now that he’d taken what he needed from her.
The dragon nudged the dragon slayer with its large head. The dragon slayer stumbled back. She was weakening. The beast nodded slowly, its Dragon Stone glowing green then red on its forehead.
Was the beast communicating with the dragon slayer? Couldn’t be. The beast was for him only. Power flooded through him hot and molten, anger strengthening him.
“Dragon slayer, you must kill it,” Eyvindir shouted. “The fate of the island is in your hands. The fate of the whole Five Kingdoms!”
“Jaxter?” the dragon slayer turned to the bard as if to confirm his words.
“He may be right. Do you trust me?”
“What kind of question is that?” the dragon slayer asked.
“A question that demands an answer,” the bard said in a voice so soft Eyvindir wasn’t sure he heard correctly.
He glared at the stupid dragon slayer. How could he have miscalculated? He’d planned for every contingency. Nowhere had he predicted that the dragon slayer would be strengthened by the new web of connections around her, her pesky friends. She was a loner. That was to be her downfall. He’d made sure of it.
“What do I need to do?” the dragon slayer asked. Her friends must have answered because after a pause she said, “I need your help.”
Damn the old gods and all the lore of his people.
The dragon slayer barked an order cutting through his curse. “Paulette, get to the dragon’s tail. You’re fire. On my mark!”
“What?” The fire girl shouted too close. She hovered over him. “And leave him?”
“He can’t do anything. Go! Time fades, and so does he,” the dragon slayer ordered.
“You must not! The Dragon Stone is mine!” But his words croaked out in sputter. He felt more than saw the new moon rising and his life-force, his prana, ebbing out of this body.
The King Singfan identity, his soul, had been quiet, letting him take command. Eyvindir rallied King Singfan’s soul to lend him strength.
The dragon’s hum deepened and filled the cavern with a low vibrato. It flapped higher and brightened, both the dragon of light and the real dragon. Its scales shot sparks, which exploded against the cavern walls. Two dragons melded into light, too bright to peer at directly. Fire and wind swirled into a funnel and exploded into a white light and blinding bang.
“No!” He shouted, but he couldn’t hear his own voice.
“Don’t stop!” the dragon slayer yelled above the storm.
From all directions, explosions like a fireworks hammered him. Bound as he was, he managed to bend double to guard against the pain, but his efforts were useless. His skin crawled as if ants wriggled under his skin. Pain pierced all layers of his being—both the body and the magics layers.
“Stop!” Eyvindir tried to yell, but it came out like a series of croaks. No, it couldn’t be. He couldn’t move his body.
Then in breath, he lost all sense of feeling. Impossible.
He was able to sense his life force being jettisoned out of his body and into the night sky, on its way back to where his actual body rested inert in his fortress far to the north and east. Through his cloud of shock, from his vantage point in the sky far above, he spied his body, actually the body of King Singfan who had ruled the Oro Islands for over seventy-five years, burst into flames. He felt nothing. He was frozen in shock. The male body that had been the Oro king’s was now cinders, a miniscule pile of ash.
Panic almost scattered his prana into a million trillion irretrievable bits. Only his mighty skill as the oldest living sorcerer saved him. He’d heard rumors of such things. But no, he could not die. Unacceptable. He mustered his focus. His actual ancient body existed within reach.
He focused on his prana, a faint thread of light, a line leading in a northeasterly direction, through the clouds, across the sea, to his obsidian mountain enclave. He didn’t follow the thread to nestle in his sleeping form in that cold room. Not just yet. To do that would admit defeat. He would not let an upstart dragon slayer ruin his plans.
But she had. He had wits enough to admit that.
For a moment he burned white hot with rage and felt an unbearable pain sear his energy body. His anger, intricate and quite useful, connected to his identity, his soul. But now his anger was burning his life force, his prana connection, to the only body he now had.
He brought his attention back to the island city of Plumaria and hovered over it. He quickly allowed dirty white cloud particulates to drench his rage. He had to focus. He had to retrieve the remnants of power from that flimsy old pile of dust that had been the Oro king. He had to find another body to use and fast. Before she got away with the Dracontias, the precious one and only Dragon Stone.
The search for and habitation of a suitable body only took him an entire day, but he finally accomplished his task. Withdrawing his powers from the dust pile, he spied the body he needed in the Plumaria castle’s sick room. His low simmering fury and tenacity built up over three centuries of scheming had made him strong. With his powerful focus, he propped up the dying soul, revived it, and pushed his will and identity into the young man’s heart.
In a breath, he healed the youngling’s body to temporary vibrancy. The body wouldn’t last, so he had to hurry. There was not the time to pick a more robust body. That took preparation, study, and careful calculations. He didn’t have the time for that. He had to get back what was rightfully his.
Once more in control of a vibrant body and pliable identity, he followed the rumors of the slayer’s departure all the way to the piers. That she-slayer was supposed to do his bidding. Failure hadn’t been an option. Perhaps seventy-five years in the Oro king’s body had made him sloppy and dulled his normally exceptionally high acuity and brilliance.
His complacency must have been how she had tricked him, how she’d deceived and betrayed him. He hadn’t been blindsided by a female since his sister had stolen the royal crown from him over a century ago.
Never mind the mistakes of the past. This dragon slayer, this Henrietta, had destroyed his ambition to rule over the Oro Islands for the next one hundred years and beyond. In that time he had planned to seize control of the other four kingdoms using the might of the Dragon Stone, combined with the other four kingdom’s crystals and stones he’d meticulously collected over the centuries. His life’s calling entailed ruling over all the Five Kingdoms. No one was going to come between him and his destiny again.
She would pay for ruining his plans.
He’d end this before she ever left the city of Plumaria. The child-woman, Henri Etta, was no match for him. He couldn’t be destroyed that easily.
He directed his new body through the marketplace, causing havoc. Then he rushed up the pier and delighted in the feel of youth in his limbs. A crazy thought flitted through his mind—that of the faraway and long ago carefree youth he once was who’d loved the freedom of birds and spent hours watching them in flight.
Then he saw her, waving and nodding to the peons who thought she’d liberated them. He swatted away memories of his flimsy faraway past. His pace quickened. She could not take his dream away. No one could, especially no woman. He was to have complete control of all the Five Kingdoms.
Once he had the last object of power, his plans would click into place.
She’d taken the most powerful gem in all the Five Kingdoms from him, and she would pay. With her life.
Today I’m excited to share an excerpt from Penny Blubaugh’s fantasy novel, Blood and Flowers.
Three years ago, Persia ran away from her drug-addict parents and found a home with the Outlaws, an underground theater troupe. This motley band of mortals and fey,puppeteers and actors, becomes the loving family Persia never had, and soon Persia not only discovers a passion for theater but also falls in love with Nicholas, one of the other Outlaws. Life could not be more perfect.
Until an enemy with a grudge makes an unfair accusation against the group and forces them to flee the mortal world and hide in the neighboring realm of Faerie. But in Faerie, all is not flowers and rainbows—with blood thirsty trolls, a hostile monarchy, and a dangerous code of magic, the fey world is not quite the safe haven the Outlaws had hoped for. And they must decide what’s more important: protecting their right to perform or protecting themselves.
“In case you don’t know, you use a thin paste of the flour water to stick the poster down. Put them on boards, telephone poles, newspaper boxes – whatever. The paste dries hard but clear, and it’s a bitch to get off.”
I slapped one of our flyers on the wood covering the broken window of Clem’s Furniture Store (furniture long, long gone) and demoed to Lucia. Then I handed her the paste tub. “Your turn.”
Lucia worked carefully, setting her flyer next to mine. The double whammy. The manicured nails on her scarred hands were perfect, cream with ebony tips. Her hands were graceful and when they moved, her scars flared in the just turning on streetlights. She finished and looked over at me. “How’s that?”
I had to make myself stop watching her and look at the side-by-side flyers. I don’t know what it is about Lucia. She always makes me wish that we weren’t the same sex, or that I was attracted to women.
Our flyers said:
Outlaw Puppet Troupe
The Bastard and the Beauty
A play of love, dislike, and anti-corruption
Place: You’ll know it when you find it
Date: Now and them
Time: Eight o’clock, usually. At night. But things can always change.
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Check out this young adult fantasy novel from Katie O’Sullivan, Son of a Mermaid. The sequel is coming this May!
Shea MacNamara’s life just got complicated.
After a freak tornado devastates his Oklahoma farm, the fifteen-year-old orphan is whisked away to Cape Cod. Struggling to make sense of his new surroundings, he’s trying hard to deal with feelings of abandonment… and the emotions stirred by a girl he meets along the shore.
Kae belongs to an undersea world hidden from drylanders. The daughter of royal servants, she knows the planned marriage of her Princess to the foreign King should put an end to the war between the clans. But two things stand in the way of lasting peace: the ambitions of the foreign King’s regent, and rumors of the Princess’s bastard child.
Sparks fly when she meets Shea, but could the cute drylander really be the Son of a Mermaid?
The blue-green coolness swirled around him as his body tumbled down through the water, arms and legs flailing as he struggled to hold his breath. Millions of tiny bubbles of precious air traced the path of his descent, escaping from his clothing and through his nose.
Eyes wide even as the water rushed past, he watched a huge school of shimmering minnows part down the middle as they swam around him, surrounding him like a silvery box. Turning his face upward to the surface, he could see the blue sky receding further and further as he sank deeper into the water’s depths.
His throat and lungs burned from the effort of holding his breath. Darkness pressed hard against his eyes, and swirls of strange colors danced in front of him as his whole body strained against the lack of oxygen.
I need to breathe, he thought wildly, his whole body feeling like it was on fire. I can’t hold out much longer. His feet finally hit the mucky bottom with a thud, coming to a stop as the mud swirled around his legs.
There, hovering before him in the water, swam a beautiful woman with flowing golden hair…and a green fish tail that sparkled with golden flecks among the scales.
Her big green eyes looked so familiar, like the ones he saw in the mirror every morning. She smiled at him, reaching out to take his hand. His head pounded as searing pain ripped through his throat, as if his entire body would tear apart any second from the effort of holding his breath.
The mermaid squeezed his hand and nodded. The pain receded as Shea stared into her eyes, lost in their green depths. As she nodded to him again, he opened his mouth to exhale the stale air that pounded like a jackhammer in his lungs. Large bubbles rushed to the surface as he struggled to breathe, but there was no air to be had. Only salty ocean water rushing in to fill his mouth, his lungs, his body…
Shea woke with a start, clawing at the sheets and disoriented for a full minute before remembering where he was. At the Hansen’s house. Because his own home – the farm where he’d lived and worked all his life – was gone, swept away and crushed by the freak tornado.
Enchanted castles and charming princes thought to exist only in stories come to life in this classically twisted fairy tale that combines the timeless quality of generations old folktales with the challenges of the modern world.
The woods of Elorium appear ordinary to Andi Grace, until birds start talking and elves answer doors. Along with three others, Andi has been whisked out of her world and finds herself the reluctant guest of the perplexing millionaire, Mr. Jackson—a stranger willing to help get them home, but who’s keeping secrets of his own.
Discovering unexpected family connections to this fairy tale land, the group must rely on each other as they dodge evil fairies and battle giants, intent on keeping them in Elorium.
Faced with characters short on whimsy and bent towards treachery, Andi, Quinn, Fredrick and Dylan are forced into fairy tale roles to find the way home. But in Elorium, happily ever after is never guaranteed.
With the ground approaching quickly, Fredrick pulled on the toggles to stall his decent. Several yards from the ground, his parachute jerked sharply up, leaving him breathless and twisting in his harness. Glancing skyward to see what he’d snagged on, Fredrick stared into the angry eyes of the giant.
A distraught Quinn was clutched in his fist, crushed between his fingers so tight she looked limp and lifeless. Yanking on the cutaway handle, the shoot detached from his harness and Fredrick dropped to the ground hard, smashing on to the giant’s right foot.
Reflexively, the giant kicked, sending Fredrick sailing into the side of the tower where he bounced against the unforgiving stone and crumpled into a heap. The ground jumped and slid under Fredrick as the giant approached. He clawed at the grass, willing the ground to quit rolling. He’d done some serious injury to his chest that sent stabbing pains through his torso every time he tried to breathe.
The giant’s shadow fell over him from the rising sun and Fredrick rolled to his back in time to see the disgusting blackened bottom of his bare foot descending on him. Moving quickly and smoothly, his hands didn’t seem his own as they drew the machete from its sheath and thrust upwards, connecting with sole of the giant’s foot.
His skin was tougher than Fredrick anticipated, and he leaned into the blade, feeling it slide through the skin and into the muscle beneath. Blood welled around Fredrick’s hands and spilled over him as the weight of the giant continued downward, threatening to crushed him.
The giant howled in pain and kicked out in a panic, wrenching the knife from Fredrick’s blood slicked hands. The massive foot swung out of his line of vision just in time for Fredrick to watch him throw his hands in the air, releasing Quinn. She arced high and sailed over the side of the floating island.
Fredrick wondered why—later, when he had time to reflect—he started thinking he was some kind of superhero, and apparently one that flew. But at the time, he simply sprinted for the side of the island and launched himself into space, desperate to catch Quinn before the ground rushed up to meet them.
Hell hath no fury like a selkie separated from his true love.
The gate to the sea creature realm is finally open. Yara wants to bask in the glow of her budding relationship with Treygan and explore Medusa’s world, but as the new leader of Rathe her powers are needed to save a sea creature she’s never met.
Rownan assumes the worst is behind him when he returns home to be reunited with his wife, Vienna, only to discover she’s gone. She traveled to the evil realm of Harte to find another gateway to Earth and was never heard from again. Rownan claimed he would go through hell to be with her, and now he must prove it.
Rownan, Yara, and Treygan will put their lives and souls at risk by traveling to the most dangerous realm of all. Love is supposed to conquer all, but no one has ever conquered Harte.
Terror strikes the Celtic inspired kingdom of Nemetona when barbed roots breach the veil of a forbidden land and poison woodsmen, including 15-year-old Lia’s beloved father. Lia and three others embark on a quest to the forbidden land of Brume to gather ingredients for the cure. But after her elder kinsman is attacked and poisoned, she and her cousin, Wynn, are forced to finish the quest on their own.
Lia relies on her powerful herbal wisdom and the memorized pages of her late grandmother’s Grimoire for guidance through a land of soul-hungry shades, fabled creatures, and uncovered truths about the origin of Brume and her family’s unexpected ties to it. The deeper they trek into the land, the stronger Lia’s untapped gift as a tree mage unfolds. When she discovers the enchanted root’s maker, it forces her to question everything about who she is and what is her destiny. Ultimately, she must make a terrible choice: keep fighting to save her father and the people of the lands or join with the power behind the deadly roots to help nature start anew.
Nettles stung Lia’s flesh. She pressed her fingers against her mouth for relief. This is what I get for letting my thoughts wander. Grandma wouldn’t have been so careless while harvesting sting-leaf. She wouldn’t have let the villagers’ opinions prick at her mind, no matter how many called her mad for crafting remedies in the old ways.
Koun whined and nudged Lia’s arm with his nose.
“I’m all right, boy.” Lia gazed into her hound’s violet eyes and then turned her attention to the friendlier mallow plant. Its white flowers matched Koun’s coat and its leaves and roots promised a soothing balm for the nettle’s bite. She’d make another batch of salve for Da, too. He swore her “potions” kept his hands fit enough for hewing wood and soft enough for holding Ma. Her ma could use a bit more mallow infusion for her soaps, as well, and she’d take a bundle of clippings to Granda—
Her thoughts scattered as Koun shot from the garden. Lia whirled around to the pair of horses charging up the path. She squinted in the dusky light and recognized Da’s friend, Kenneth, on one of the horses. Then her insides went cold. Across the other horse’s back lay Da’s limp body.
She dropped the harvested mallow and sped from her garden toward them. Ma’s scream shot like a bolt through her, but Kenneth’s words, “He’s alive,” offered Lia a morsel of hope.
Kenneth carried Da into the cottage, and Lia caught a glimpse of her father’s torn and bloodied clothing. “I’ll fetch Granda,” she cried, and hurried to her filly.
Clad in her usual boy’s breeches and high leather boots, Lia raced her horse down the path with her heart pounding in rhythm to the hoof beats.