Haven by Katherine Bogle

HAVEN

by Katherine Bogle

Genre: YA Fantasy

Princess Haven was never meant to be Queen.Her immortality has saved her time and time again, but when the last of her royal family dies at her feet, she is next in line to rule a nation on the brink of war. With no formal training on how to be Queen, Haven must rise to the occasion with the help of her best friends, and personal guard, or risk losing everyone she has ever loved.

With war to the West, and no escape to the East, the evil tyrant Kadia sets her sights on the six kingdoms. Haven’s neighbors are quick to fall under the swords of Kadia’s shadow soldiers, leaving a sea of bodies and a clear path to Haven’s only home. Haven must make a choice; take her people and flee to the foreign Republic across the sea or lead a last stand against a powerful dictator.

Continue reading “Haven by Katherine Bogle”

The Lost by Holly Barbo

 

THE LOST

Book 5 of the Sage Seed Chronicles
by Holly Barbo
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Long-lost artifacts lure people from a lost population out on a secret quest. At the same time, an unexpectedly strong winter storm forces Erin to take refuge in an isolated cabin. Unbeknownst to her, this was the last known location of the missing items that Kai, one of the lost, is looking for.
Dismayed to find Erin at the cabin, he reacts in the only logical way: Kill any witnesses to protect his people.
With a ferocious blizzard ravaging the realm, will the sages be able to prevent bloodshed? And what would it take to avoid war with THE LOST ones?
Prologue: The Penal colony on Obsidian Island
Bure glared at the old man, his whole body vibrating with his effort to suppress his frustration and be civil. He wanted answers and would prefer not to beat them out of the coot. The guy was older than him but looked tough. “How do you get out of this place? I’ve been all over this valley and I’ve not found even a crevice of a cave or a finger hold to scale the walls. You’ve been here awhile. Tell me!”
The grey-haired fellow met Bure’s eyes with a calm confidence. “I’ve watched you. I know. We all search this valley when we first arrive until we come to the same conclusion. So son, tell me, what part of ‘Once you’re in Obsidian Island there is no getting out’ don’t you understand?”
He chuckled when he saw the flare of rage in Bure’s eyes. “It’s true. There’s no exit. Look all you want. Let me tell you what you found: The walls of this crater are glass smooth and very hard so you can’t chip any climbing grips. The trees aren’t tall enough to reach the top if you climbed them. The stream that feeds this valley starts as an artesian spring in the small lake over there and exits in a seep at the west end of the basin. If it didn’t, this whole crater would be a lake with an island in the middle.”
Bure’s growl interrupted the recitation. “Yeah, well, what about that stone uplift?” He gestured to the huge column of stone rising from the floor of the basin.
The veteran mused, “It’s interesting, isn’t it? A former resident of this place had been a geologist. He said that before Obsidian became extinct it was trying to rebuild itself. That huge stone column is just as smooth and unscalable as all the other walls. It’s high enough that birds perched on the edge are beyond bow range, and even if you could get up there, you still would be out of reach of the outer walls.”
Bure snarled.
The older man shook his head. “It isn’t so bad a place when you accept the inevitable. You’ll see. There are resources to build a life here. We’ve all tried to escape and take revenge against those who sent us here but there’s no way out.” He studied the fuming young man. “So, what did you do? What laws did you break? My guess would be murder.” He watched as the new man clenched his fists.
Now the seasoned inhabitant threw back his head and laughed deeply. “Thought as much. I know the signs. I’ve been in this extinct volcano for nearly thirty years; killed a witch, I did. Murder is against the law on this world and one of the sure ways to end up here.” The old man’s gravelly voice took on a harder edge. “This crater is the exception, so don’t get ideas, son. I may be older than you but I’m fit and can defend myself. I can still kill you if you push me to it.”
Bure’s scoff of disdain was cut short by an unnervingly strong hand around his throat. The older man laughed with a mad glee, “You’ve heard the phrase, ‘I brought you into this world and I can take you out’? It’s very true, son. I’m Kald … your daddy. So nice of you to provide this little family reunion. Welcome to Obsidian Island.”
 

Holly’s world is shaped by her love of family, the beauty of the natural world and an irrepressible creative drive. She has always been curious and sees life through questions. These four characteristics color her writing voice and her stories frequently evolve from her asking “What if….?” Her tales tend to have non-urban settings with nature contributing to the plot, building discordant themes inside a seemingly peaceful refrain.

My motto: Weaving Alternative Worlds with Threads From Today.

Angels Fly by Donna Simonetta

ANGELS FLY
by Donna Simonetta
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Romance

Two years after her husband’s death, Kelly believes her romantic life is done. Until she reconnects with her girlhood crush on social media, and as fate would have it, he lives across the street.
James is over the whole true-love thing. His grasping ex-wife tore that belief out of him, when she left him for a rich, old man. Then he finds out his first love moved to San Diego too, and their attraction burns as hot as ever.
What they don’t know is that Fate didn’t bring them together – the Guardian Angel Corps did, led by two unlikely Cupids – Kelly’s late husband and Zane, a rough and tumble, 19th century cowboy. When a Fallen Angel decides to tear Kelly and James apart, cherubs and harps aren’t going to cut it, and Zane’s unique skills might be just what they need to get a second chance at their first love.

“Grace and Janie bullied me into signing up on one of those social networks, and I’m wondering if anyone’s tried to get in touch with me.” She flashed a bright smile at her old friend. “I sent a friend request to Susie Davidson, and I want to see if she’s responded.”
“Susie Davidson,” Grace’s voice dripped with disdain. “We didn’t badger you into doing this so you could reconnect with Susie Davidson.”
“Hey, what’ve you got against old Susie? She was an integral part of our nerd squad in high school,” David said. “Right, Kel?”
When she didn’t reply, he glanced over at his old friend to see her frozen at her computer; all the color drained from her face. “Kel, what’s wrong?”
“I didn’t hear from Susie, but I did get a message from James Flynn,” she whispered.
David jumped to his feet and peeked over her shoulder at the computer screen. “Yummy James Flynn from Rye?”
Grace snickered. “Sounds like a sandwich. I’ll have a Yummy James Flynn on rye. Hold the mayo.”
Kelly and David swung their heads in unison to stare at her.
“What? It’s not my fault you two come from a town named after a bread.”
David shook his head mournfully and intoned, “Californians.”
“Native, baby.” The blonde woman grinned playfully. “And don’t you New England Yankees forget it.”
“What does he say, Kel?” David asked with interest.
Kelly gulped. “He wants to get in touch and maybe meet for a drink.” She twisted her head to look up at David, her eyes huge in her pale face. “He lives here, David. In San Diego.”
“Oh. My. God. You have to meet him, and if you don’t, I will,” David said.
He managed to bring a small smile to Kelly’s previously stunned face. “I don’t think you’re his type. Sorry.”
“What do you mean? He prefers brunettes?” David winked. “A man can hope—you don’t have to be such a dream dasher, Kel.”
“Is there a picture?” Grace asked, as she strolled over with her wine. “I’ve got to see the man who’s got David drooling, and you looking like you’re about to pass out.”
“I’m not drooling,” David protested.
“Oh, please, darling.” Grace pretended to wipe the corner of his mouth with a cocktail napkin.
“Okay. Maybe slight droolage, but James Flynn is totally drool-worthy. At least he used to be. Is there a picture of him now?”
Kelly shook her head. “Nope. Not much of anything on his profile, it looks like he just registered.”
David raised his eyebrows. “And he contacted you right away? In-ter-es-ting.”
Grace got the bottle of wine from the terra cotta bottle holder on the kitchen island, which separated Kelly’s computer area from the kitchen in the large open living space. She topped off all of their glasses.
“Call me Nancy Drew, but I sense a mystery here. What’s the story with Yummy James Flynn from Rye?

AmazonB&NThe Wild Rose PressGoodreads 

Average of 5✯ over 5 reviews on Amazon.com


✯✯✯✯✯Great read for summertime or anytime
By JoeS Verified Purchase
I loved this book! Well-developed characters and a unique story that’s a breath of fresh air among a sea of same-old same-old offerings. So many stories follow one of a few basic plots, but Angels Fly takes a charmingly different tack. You’ll laugh and you’ll cheer. If you’re looking for a good read, look no further — and let’s hope there’s more to come from Zane and company.

✯✯✯✯✯A Page Turner – couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next !

By CarpeDiem Verified Purchase
It more than met my expectations ! Great read – great escape book. Loved the twists and turns! Great characters and great story. Enjoyed the setting in San Diego too. Take a moment and check out this book ! Enjoy.

After years working in the business world, my love of reading led me to get my MLS, and I currently work part-time in a school library, a job that allows me lots of time to explore my other love – writing romance! I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.
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Snow in July by Kim Iverson Headlee

SNOW IN JULY
by
Kim Iverson Headlee
Official genre of book: Science Fiction – Fantasy crossover
Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre has been granted what every man wants: a rich English estate in exchange for his valiant service at the Battle of Hastings. To claim this reward, the Norman knight must wed the estate’s Saxon heiress. Most men would leap at such an opportunity, but for Alain, who broke his vow to his dying mother by failing to protect his youngest brother in battle, it means facing more easily broken vows. But when rumors of rampant thievery, dangerous beasts, and sorcery plaguing a neighboring estate reach his ears, nothing will make him shirk duty to king and country when people’s lives stand at risk. He assumes the guise of a squire to scout the land, its problems, and its lady.
Lady Kendra of Edgarburh has been granted what no woman wants: a forced marriage to an enemy who may be kith or kin to the man who murdered her beloved brother. Compounding her anguish is her failure to awaken the miraculous healing gift bequeathed by their late mother in time to save his life. Although with his dying breath, he made her promise to seek happiness above all, Kendra vows that she shall find neither comfort nor love in the arms of a Norman…unless it snows in July.
Alain is smitten by Lady Kendra from the first moment of their meeting; Kendra feels the forbidden allure of the handsome and courtly Norman “squire.” But a growing evil overshadows everyone, invoking dark forces and ensnaring Kendra in a plot to overthrow the king Alain is oath-bound to serve. Kendra and Alain face a battle unlike any other as their honor, their love, their lives, and even their very souls lie in the balance.
Alain’s friendship with Sir Ruaud, his polished manners and speech, fighting skills, and scars—it made less sense than ever that he could be a squire. “Who are you, really?” she whispered.
His back stiffened, and he released her hand to give her a curious look. Finally, he smiled. “A complete fool.”
She arched an eyebrow. “Hardly that, if you possessed the wit to locate me. I mean, you must be a knight. Don’t bother to deny it. There can be no other reasonable explanation.”
He regarded her for a long moment. “Yes. I am a knight.”

“But why the disguise?” She recoiled as an unpleasant thought returned. “Sir Robert didn’t send you to test my virtue, did he?”

“Mon Dieu, no! Never once did that cross his mind.”
She felt her brow wrinkle. “How can you be so certain?”
“I have known Sir Robert my entire life.” His smile turned enigmatic. “He would never resort to such a ploy.”
“But he would send you and Sir Ruaud ahead to look me over, is that it?” Her ire rose on the wings of indignation. “To determine whether I am a worthy match for his lordship?” His smile inverted to dread. “Hah. I am right.”
Denying him a chance to reply, she shot to her feet. Her instinct suggested escaping into the maze, but fear of becoming lost in the mist pushed her toward the tower’s door. The bolt’s heaviness prevented her from locking him out, so she concentrated on making best speed. Pounding footsteps warned her of Alain’s pursuit.
He caught her wrist while she was still on the stairs, but she yanked it free and continued up. On the landing outside the upper chamber, she had to pause for air. He joined her before she could escape.
“Please, my lady,” he said between breaths. “Let me explain.”
“What’s to explain? Sir Robert sent you to scout me out, and you agreed. You Normans are a despicable lot. Every last, stinking one of you! I thought I had met one who wasn’t.” She blinked hard to fight off the welling tears. “I was wrong.”
Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, and assorted wildlife. People and creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-twentieth century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet. She has been an award-winning novelist since 1999 (Dawnflight first edition, Sonnet Books, Simon & Schuster) and has been studying the Arthurian Legends for nigh on half a century.

The Reweaving by Holly Barbo

THE REWEAVING

Book 4 of the Sage Seed Chronicles
 by
Holly Barbo
GENRE: YA Fantasy
A major event of cataclysmic proportions threatens Ose. The damage done by false gossip and accusations has infected people’s minds, and a misguided but deadly witch hunt hinders the remaining sages’ ability to concentrate on correcting the planet’s imbalance.
Their one chance to save the civilization comes with the next eclipse, but there are too few of them left, and very little time. The people, the weather, and even the planet itself seem to fight them at every step.
Can Drune and the other sages reweave the fabric of their world before the eclipse tears it apart?

Chapter 1: Plotting
Bure adjusted his seat in the saddle. His hands were chafed raw as the Great One’s security had bound him to his horse and had set their pace to cover as many miles as possible during each day. They thought they had him confined and under control. He knew they were comfortably complacent in their plans to exile him on Obsidian Island. He sneered to himself. They underestimated him. He was Bure: the smartest, strongest and most resourceful man in the whole realm. They would regret their treatment of him when he became the Great One. It was only a matter of time.
It was he alone who had devised the potent contact poison. The memory of its musty yet acidic smell came back to him and he smiled. He had tested it on a number of stupid animals before he used it on his aunt. She had been getting too nosey anyway, and her death just proved that his formula worked.
Bure’s eyes narrowed at the memory. It had been the final test, and its success proved that the Ancients smiled on his endeavor. He felt some people were different, and he set about eliminating them. There was something odd about them. He didn’t understand why they seemed distinct, but whatever it was, those people had to go. So they died. It was as simple as that. Too bad that some citizens held those individuals in high esteem.
Since he couldn’t be everywhere at once, he had recruited his brother, Targ, and cousin, Wras. He told them that their victims were witches, and they were more than happy to track down the people on his list and use his poison as he directed. It was a marvelous plan. Then Targ died of his own clumsiness and Wras unraveled — spilling information about Bure’s brilliance to the authorities. He’d take the personal pleasure of killing his cousin as soon as he became the Great One. Eliminate weakness and inefficiency.
He figured it out. First, he would overcome the men around him. The security force thought that they were safe and that fact meant they would relax their vigilance and slip up. He’d get loose and kill a couple. He’d been talking to them every chance he got. They were now aware of his brilliance. He had always got ahead because of his natural skills. This time would be no different. They would see that he was a superior leader. By the time they got through Tight Valley, the security team would be his.
Tonight would be his night, as tomorrow they would travel beyond the valley and reach Kunscap. His eyes glittered in anticipation. With their loyalty switched to him, he would establish himself as leader of the realm. His new forces would capture the Great One and those loyal to him and then take them all to Obsidian Island. He was merciful that way. They would live the rest of their life in the extinct volcano, never to escape. Then he would round up that little bitch Erin and those remaining on his kill list and take them to Obsidian to keep the old leader company.
Once he had the reins of the realm in his hands, things would settle down. He had it all figured out. He went over his plans in his head. Tonight, things would change.
The Lost, book 5, will be available fall of 2016.

Holly’s world is shaped by her love of family, the beauty of the natural world and an irrepressible creative drive. She has always been curious and sees life through questions. These four characteristics color her writing voice and her stories frequently evolve from her asking “What if….?” Her tales tend to have non-urban settings with nature contributing to the plot, building discordant themes inside a seemingly peaceful refrain.

My motto: Weaving Alternative Worlds with Threads From Today.

Angels Fly by Donna Simonetta

ANGELS FLY
by
Donna Simonetta
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Two years after her husband’s death, Kelly believes her romantic life is done. Until she reconnects with her girlhood crush on social media, and as fate would have it, he lives across the street.
James is over the whole true-love thing. His grasping ex-wife tore that belief out of him, when she left him for a rich, old man. Then he finds out his first love moved to San Diego too, and their attraction burns as hot as ever.
What they don’t know is that Fate didn’t bring them together – the Guardian Angel Corps did, led by two unlikely Cupids – Kelly’s late husband and Zane, a rough and tumble, 19th century cowboy. When a Fallen Angel decides to tear Kelly and James apart, cherubs and harps aren’t going to cut it, and Zane’s unique skills might be just what they need to get a second chance at their first love.
James held Kelly’s hand as he walked her to her apartment building from his car. While they were still in shadows, before they reached the bright light of the entrance, James stopped and turned to face Kelly. He cupped her face in one of his big, rough hands and rested the other lightly on her waist. He traced her cheekbone with a feather light touch of his thumb, and Kelly couldn’t help but turn her face into his hand like a kitten. She did manage to stop herself before she purred, and was pretty darned proud of that achievement.
She felt his hand at her waist tighten, and he dropped his forehead down to rest against hers. When he spoke his voice was low and gruff with emotion.
“Tell me to leave right now, Kel, or all my good intentions to go slow this time are flying out the window, and I’m going to ask you to invite me up to your condo.”
Kelly’s voice was quiet. “I’m not ready for that yet.”
He left his forehead resting against hers, but rubbed his head slowly back and forth. “I know. I should just go, but I can’t bring myself to leave.”
Kelly swallowed, and extended an olive branch, since she wasn’t ready to call it a night yet either. “I think I’m ready for a kiss, though.”
He lifted his head away from hers, and the happiness and blatant hope in his voice made her smile. “Yeah? Really?”
“Yeah,” she replied and stood on the tips of her canvas deck shoes to bring her mouth closer to his.
James bent his head and pressed his lips gently to hers.
Her heart pounded and her blood heated in her veins. It had been such a long time since a man had kissed her—and this was James Flynn. Her first love. She snaked her arms up around his neck and pressed her body closer to his.
After years working in the business world, my love of reading led me to get my MLS, and I currently work part-time in a school library, a job that allows me lots of time to explore my other love – writing romance! I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.

The Dragil: Broken Magic by Holly Barbo

THE DRAGIL: BROKEN MAGIC
Quick Reads Book 3

 by Holly Barbo
GENRE: YA Fantasy

A YA fantasy adventure. Original Dragilio art by Ian Styer.
When Willum, an apprentice book maker, has a nasty fall, he loses all of his memories…including the strictures concerning protective magic for the exquisite miniature dragons called Dragilios. Not knowing he is breaking the magic law, and sending the little Dragil, Malle, into deadly peril, he draws the friendly, little dragil.
The moment the picture is finished the protective spell shatters. Her anguished cry as she disappears restores his memory.
Devastated at what he has done and wanting to right the wrong or die trying, Willum undertakes a dangerous quest into the malignant world of the giant leather-winged dragons. Can he find her in time before she is ripped apart and eaten? If he stays too long in that lethal land, he becomes stone.
The hourglass sands are slipping away toward the doom of the boy and the fragile little dragil. Can he save them both?
The bright sunshine was muted behind the curtains when he woke to the sound of a door opening. A girl of about seven years nudged it wider and brought in a tray. There was a small dragon-like creature fluttering in behind her. It landed on the window sill and closed pale blue wings edged in gold scallops. Though the wings folded against the creature’s back, they weren’t solid in color, but instead resembled those of a butterfly in their delicate patterning. It cocked its head and studied him.
The child set the tray down on the table and poured water in a glass. She glanced at the little blue-winged dragon. “Raik told me you were awake. You’ve got to be thirsty. You’ve been out for days. Both Mother and the healer thought you were going to die.” She brought the drink to him. “Slow, now, or you will either choke or throw it back up. Sip it.”
The moisture felt so good on the parched tissues of his mouth and throat that he struggled to resist gulping the welcoming fluid. Sighing with pleasure, he looked at the child. “Thank you. What’s your name? Where am I? What happened to me?”
The little girl blinked and her jaw dropped in dismay. “You know me! I’m Isolde, daughter of Guarin, master papermaker and owner of this bookbindery. Remember?”
He began to shake his head but changed his mind when the movement activated a headache. “No.”
The child turned and with “I’ll be right back!” ran from the room. During the few minutes she was gone, he carefully turned his head to look for the small butterfly-winged dragon that had eased his pain with her croons. Finally, he spotted her asleep in a shadowed shelf near a braid of garlic and assorted pots. His pleasure at seeing her seemed to be felt by the creature, as in the next few heartbeats she yawned and stretched.

Holly’s world is shaped by her love of family, the beauty of the natural world and an irrepressible creative drive. She has always been curious and sees life through questions. These four characteristics color her writing voice and her stories frequently evolve from her asking “What if….?” Her tales tend to have non-urban settings with nature contributing to the plot, building discordant themes inside a seemingly peaceful refrain.

My motto: Weaving Alternative Worlds with Threads From Today.

Sage Seed Chronicles by Holly Barbo

THE SAGE SEED CHRONICLES

Review tour for book 1 – 3

by
Holly Barbo


GENRE: YA Fantasy

There are no monsters on Ose. People can be monstrous enough.

Disaster strikes the beautiful world of Ose. Marisily is one of the Sages who can help heal the planet when nuclear winter pushes the civilization back to the brink of destruction. Only she doesn’t know her own powers yet.
It is survival of the fittest as vicious outlaws destroy all that remains, kidnapping, enslaving and killing those weaker than themselves.
With a bounty on her head, alone and betrayed by her own father, can a young woman find the strength and wisdom necessary to rally the good people of Ose and rebuild their culture?

Sari worsened as the day wore on. She was too weak to fight off the effects of the abuse and the fever at the same time. Marisily was at her mother’s side when she died. She closed her mother’s eyes and wrapped her in a clean sheet. Then she sat at her mother’s side and rocked back and forth as the tears rolled down her cheeks. Eventually, her sobbing breaths quieted and she wiped her cheeks.

Dazed, Marisily resumed her duties. She had made a stew in the afternoon with the thought that the broth would be nourishing for her mother. Now she served it to her father for dinner. Jed came in from his workroom and started eating when Marisily quietly said, “Mother’s dead. I have prepared her for burial.”

Jed gave his daughter a long look before he answered. Marisily sensed he was considering saying something that she wouldn’t like and she steeled herself for it, but when he spoke all he said was, “I am sorry to hear that. She was a good wife. The only thing she didn’t do was give me a son. I’ll move her body to the workshop before I go out tonight.” He scooped another piece of meat from the stew and chewed thoughtfully. “Daughter, I don’t think I can continue to support you. I will give you a choice. Rory, the herder, needs a wife. He’s a friend of mine. I don’t believe he has ever cleaned his place and though he is eight years older than me, he is lusty enough to keep you busy. I think he could take you to wife tomorrow. Or you could leave. It makes no difference to me. As your father, I don’t need to give you a choice, but since I’m grieving the loss of your mother, I will be generous. If you are still here tomorrow morning, I’ll know your decision is to wed.” He finished his meal and pushed back from the table. “I am going into Morraton to meet with friends. I’ll bring my new wife home after I bury Sari tomorrow.” Jed put on his heavy coat and smiled to himself as the door closed behind him. He didn’t believe his daughter had enough warm clothing to survive. She would either set out tonight and freeze to death or would stay and leave with Rory tomorrow. It didn’t make any difference to him. She would be gone either way.

Marisily cleared the table, giving her father time to go down the trail to town, keeping an eye on the window until he disappeared from sight. There was no way she was going to remain. Angry at her father’s offhand comments, total insensitivity and arrogance, she was also fully aware of her danger. Marisily had been very lucky that her father had given her a choice. She had been thinking about where she would go. There was a place that she had seen several years before. At the time, Jed had been gone on a journey to obtain yarns spun in Osily. Sari and Marisily had ranged miles from the cabin picking berries. They had separated, to cover more area. Marisily thought hard about where that place was. They had meandered through the foothills during that gathering trip.

She brought out her coat, and put on all of her warmest clothes as well as a few things of her mother’s. Her father would never allow her to leave with anything he deemed his property and that included everything in the home. Marisily knelt by her bed and, rolling back the rug, she removed the floorboard. She pulled out a heavy, knitted hat, scarf and gloves that she had made for her mother’s upcoming birthday and donned them. Her mother would be happy that she was using the gift to survive. Quickly, Marisily emptied her secret cubbyhole of her journal and other small treasures. Gathering what she could carry that she felt her father wouldn’t miss, Marisily stepped outside and disappeared from her childhood home. She had no intention of ever coming back.

There are no monsters on Ose. People can be monstrous enough.


A virulent disease sweeps through the budding civilization on the planet Ose. As people are dropping like flies, the healers’ guild is not making headway in finding a cure.
Just as every hope seems lost, young Ree comes into her sage powers. Despite having to fight the disapproval from those who think her too young and inexperienced, she comes up with a cure from unusual natural sources.
The race is on to get ahead of the epidemic. Time is tight, and a swindler’s “miracle cure” makes matters worse.
With Ree and the healers’ lives in danger, is the whole planet doomed?

Ree smiled and turned away to scan the verge of the grassland where it met the woods. There seemed to be a very subtle movement in the tall stalks as the inconsistent breeze moved the tassels of ripe grass seeds. Ree gazed with casual curiosity at the wind-kissed grass. Her nonchalance gave way to amazement as she realized she and Catri were not alone. Slowly, she sat up straighter and reached out to Catri.

At Ree’s touch, Catri opened her eyes and looked at the young woman’s alert posture. “What is it?” she whispered.

Ree barely breathed the answer, “I’ve never seen any animal like this. It’s beautiful, but what it is, I don’t know.”

The answer did not come from Catri, but instead was spoken inside of Ree’s head. “I’m a lyrix. We are ancient inhabitants of this world. My name is Raow. We prefer to stay hidden. There are few of us left now, but at one time, long before the race you call the Ancients arrived, we were the psychic species that held this world together.” Raow had both Catri and Ree’s undivided attention.

Catri, who had also heard the creature’s voice in her head, spoke first. “Your kind is legend. Stories from the Ancients refer to you, but I have never heard of anyone seeing you. Thank you for this gift.”

Raow continued to focus on the younger woman, though he didn’t seem to mind Catri’s involvement in the conversation. Ree studied the fascinating animal. Raow was about twenty inches high at the shoulder. He was covered in fur from his four paws to the tips of his pointed ears. His tail was no more than five inches long and he had a ruff of fur from under his jaw to behind his ears. Raow had intelligent, gold eyes. The rest of his coloring seemed to shift and change with what was around him as if he was a figment of their imagination. But Raow was quite real.

Ree spoke, all the time keeping his gaze. “I’m honored that you decided to make yourself known to us. Can you tell us why?”

Raow returned her scrutiny. “We lyrix choose who sees us and who will be accepted as part of our family. Ree, we share a special type of kinship. You are a sage with barely awakened powers. This is so new, you haven’t become aware of it. I’m here to provide guidance in these skills and to be in your life when you need me.

Something is shaking Erin’s world. Freak storms and disastrous earthquakes ravage the land, and perfectly healthy people are suddenly dying. Are these harmless coincidences or deliberate, connected events?
Erin’s parents die of a mysterious fever, but she isn’t fooled. It is clearly murder. Why would someone want to kill a weaver and his wife? Besides, Erin can feel that same malevolent energy hunting her down. Is that a new skill she didn’t know she had?
With no time to grieve, Erin leaves home and joins a merchant caravan for protection and to give herself time to solve the puzzle.
Who killed her parents? Why are they trying to kill her, too? And why is the planet unraveling?
There was a breeze in the moonlit forest; the shadows shifted and blended as the branches moved. A young woman raced between the trees, oblivious to the branches that tore at her hair and clothing. In her haste, her feet slipped on the leaves and decaying foliage, adding to her terrified flight. The slender girl whirled behind a tree and crouched low. Her large, blue eyes darted back over her trail, searching the flickering shadows for her pursuer. Her breathing was ragged. Where was he?
She tried to catch her breath so she could listen, but her heart was racing like a stampeding elk; her breathing was so choppy that her whimpers escaped her throat in short, ragged bursts. She looked around the tree at the terrain she had just covered. Was that a movement back there? With a gasp, she darted back behind the tree and staggered into motion. She knew he was following. Goose bumps raced up her arms as she tore over the small rise, her heart pumping like a smithy’s bellows.
Something brushed her cheek. At first the soft touch didn’t register through the overwhelming terror of her flight but it came again, this time with a voice. ‘Erin. It’s all right. You’re safe for now. Erin, hear me.’
The light contact came again and abruptly broke through her mind. Startled out of the nightmare that had gripped her, she opened her eyes and, with a shuddering breath, looked up into the gentle eyes of the merlin falcon that was standing beside her head.
“Thank you, Keir.” Her breath hitched as she spoke. She rose up on one elbow and reached up to touch the bird, but her hand quivered with the remaining adrenaline that still coursed through her blood. “That was . . . terrifying.”
The bird bobbed his head. ‘The nightmare is understandable. The murder of your parents is bad enough, but there’s also the fact that you have new abilities. Erin, you’re sensing the dangerous person who is seeking you. I am sure of it, and that had to play into your dream. But that person isn’t near. My kind have been watching. Rest. Dawn will arrive soon. There are some miles to go yet to get to Ree. She will have some answers for you. Rest. You are safe for now.’
Erin’s nod was a little shaky. She could feel the sweat from the nightmare drying on her skin. “You’re right. It was so real, it’ll take me a few minutes to be clear of it so I can sleep. I’m sorry I woke you, Keir.” She shook her head and her long hair slipped behind her shoulders. A few strands still clung to the sticky sweat on her face. Erin raised a hand that was steadier than it had been moments before and brushed the hair away from her forehead. “I know Ree will at least be able to advise me, because she’s a wise woman, and right now I need all of the advice I can get.” She looked off through the trees. “I think we are no more than several hours away.” Erin sighed then sank back down and pulled her blanket around her. “Thank you, my friend. You get more rest too,” she said with a smile.
Keir made a small sound in the back of his throat before flying to a low branch above her. ‘I may be gone when you wake but I will not be far. Just keep going to Ree’s home.’
BOOKS 4 & 5 OF THE SAGE SEED CHRONICLES
A major event of cataclysmic proportions threatens Ose. The damage done by false gossip and accusations has infected people’s minds, and a misguided but deadly witch hunt hinders the remaining sages’ ability to concentrate on correcting the planet’s imbalance.
Their one chance to save the civilization comes with the next eclipse, but there are too few of them left, and very little time. The people, the weather, and even the planet itself seem to fight them at every step.
Can Drune and the other sages reweave the fabric of their world before the eclipse tears it apart? 

Long-lost artifacts lure people from a lost population out on a secret quest. At the same time, an unexpectedly strong winter storm forces Erin to take refuge in an isolated cabin. Unbeknownst to her, this was the last known location of the missing items that Kai, one of the lost, is looking for.
Dismayed to find Erin at the cabin, he reacts in the only logical way: Kill any witnesses to protect his people.
With a ferocious blizzard ravaging the realm, will the sages be able to prevent bloodshed? And what would it take to avoid war with THE LOST ones? 

Holly’s world is shaped by her love of family, the beauty of the natural world and an irrepressible creative drive. She has always been curious and sees life through questions. These four characteristics color her writing voice and her stories frequently evolve from her asking “What if….?” Her tales tend to have non-urban settings with nature contributing to the plot, building discordant themes inside a seemingly peaceful refrain.

My motto: Weaving Alternative Worlds with Threads From Today.

The Crown Prophecy by M.D. Laird

THE CROWN PROPHECY

 by

 M.D. Laird

GENRE: YA fiction, fantasy, supernatural

COVER DESIGNERJC Clarke @ The Graphics Shed 

Eve Franklin is a normal teenager until she visits a hidden world with her friend Will Farley, a Guardian of Arkazatinia, and her life takes an unexpected turn. Eve asks a question which alters her destiny and sets her upon a course fraught with peril. Her path is not all adventure and Eve finds adjusting to her new life difficult. Lonely and unhappy, she seeks the friendship of Calab, a moody and heavily conflicted demon, whose advice is … unconventional.
As the threat against her becomes imminent, Eve must learn what she can about the Crown Prophecy to prevent the Crown falling into the hands of the enemy. Can she trust Calab and can she learn what she needs to know in time? 

Chapter I

February 2003

“Where are we going?” asked Eve as she followed Will through the front door. The gravel crunched under his heavy footfalls as Will made his way quickly to his father’s car parked in the driveway.

“It’s hard to explain,” he replied as he climbed into the driver’s seat and slammed the key into the ignition. “Just get in.”

Eve climbed into the car’s passenger seat. She had barely closed the door before she was pinned in her seat as Will accelerated away from the house. She quickly pulled on her seatbelt. “Are we going after that thing? That man?” she asked.

Will sucked in breath impatiently and said, “We’re going to ask for help from some people called the Procnatus.”

“Who?”

“It’s complicated,” replied Will, “you won’t understand.”

“Why?” asked Eve, who was now feeling thoroughly confused with the turn the morning had taken and Will, who was clearly under pressure, lacked the patience for explaining anything. She pushed him nonetheless and said, “Tell me.”

“They’re like another species. They’re called thorian,” replied Will in almost a growl, a surge of irritation had struck him as he narrowly escaped a head-on collision with a truck while overtaking another car. “They look like us, but they’re not human. They’re stronger and faster, and they’re immortal.”

“You’re right, I don’t understand,” said Eve, feeling her breath quicken and wishing she had brakes in her foot well as Will—who had passed his driving test only days before—almost hit another oncoming vehicle. “What are they?”

“I told you; they’re another species.”

“That makes no sense. How can there be another species of people?”

Will drove the car into a multi-storey carpark; he pulled the ticket from the machine to raise the barrier and sped up the levels to find an available space. After parking, they ran down four flights of foul-smelling stairs, entered the street and tore towards the train station. Will purchased two open returns for the next train to Milton Keynes, and they headed for the platform.

“It’s delayed,” he said, eying the departure board. “We have twenty minutes.”

“Good,” said Eve. “You can tell me about these magical beings.”

“Hush,” hissed Will, motioning for her to enter the empty waiting area. “Keep your voice down. Look, I will tell you, but you need to keep it to yourself.”

“Sure, whatever,” said Eve. “It doesn’t sound like something anyone would believe anyway.”

“No, you’re probably right,” Will said. He gave her a thin smile before continuing. “There is a world located above our world, and it is home to the thorian who I mentioned earlier and some others. The world has continents like our world; the one we are going to is called Arkazatinia. It is split up into wards, each controlled by a different group of thorian who have a ruler. We’re going to see the Procnatus thorian ruler.”

“So why are we going to Milton Keynes?”

“We’re going to use an entrance to their world in Milton Keynes, there are others, but that’s the only one I know will take us right where we need to be on the other side. I haven’t been many times, and I don’t want to struggle to find my way around.”

“Okay,” Eve slowly replied as she tried to sift through the mass of questions filling up her consciousness. “So, they look human? And they can pass to our world? So, I could know one?”

“It’s possible—they are really good-looking.”

“Really?”

“I haven’t met many, but they were stunning … this is our train.”

The two left the waiting area and joined the small crowd gathering on the platform to board the train. The train was relatively quiet, and they managed to find an empty table. A couple and a small child, who was busily colouring a fairy princess, occupied the table next to them. Eve and Will sat opposite each other.

“What is the world like?” she asked.

Will glared at her to keep her voice down and looked at the family next to them who, amidst colouring and chatting amongst themselves, seemed not to have noticed. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a sleek pocket watch that appeared to be coated with some fluid-like substance. He opened the reverse of the watch to reveal a small control panel, which housed a screen displaying the words ‘NORMAL MODE’, Will pressed a red button on the touch screen panel and the screen now displayed ‘SECURE MODE’.

“We can talk now,” he announced. “I have cloaked us so we’ll look like we’re not speaking.”

“Okay,” said Eve slowly. “I’m so confused, what is your part in all of this?”

“My family and I are guardians; we help to make sure Arkazatinia is kept secret—hence the speakeasy.”

“Speakeasy?”

“Yeah,” Will smiled. “My great grandad was American and was a young man during prohibition; he called the watch the speakeasy because it was easier to say than vox dissimulatrix.”

“You mean to tell me that this space age cloaking device has been around since the twenties?” exclaimed Eve.

“Well, not this model,” replied Will, “but others like it. My grandad had an actual Victorian style pocket watch; it is quite cool—very steampunky—my dad still has it. There have been many devices modified to conceal speech; that’s more or less what vox dissimulatrix means … oh, hang on.” Will switched the watch back to normal mode as the conductor approached them to check their tickets before turning back to secure mode and continuing. “I was given a speakeasy when I turned sixteen. When every member of my family reaches sixteen, they become a guardian, and we’re given the task of keeping the supernatural world a secret.”

“How? Do you turn up when something strange happens and cover it up like some secret government agent?”

“More or less,” smirked Will. “At least, the adults do, I’m only seventeen so I’m still in training.”

“Why doesn’t the supernatural world just be more careful and then you wouldn’t have to cover stuff up?”

“Most want their world to be kept secret, but there are a few who cause trouble in Lycea—that’s what they call our world. It is the role of the guardians to seek out the rogue Arkazatines and deal with them.”

“Deal with them?” asked Eve. “You mean you kill them?”

“Or send them back and have them arrested under Arkazatine law,” replied Will coolly. “Whatever it takes. To be honest, it sounds more exciting than it is; it is actually quite rare that we have to deal with anyone.”

“Right.” Eve shook her head in disbelief. How had she known Will all her life and never known any of this until today? “So, this supernatural world,” she said. “What is it called again?”

“The world is called Anaxagoras, the continent we cover is Arkazatinia, well, we cover part of it anyway.”

“Ok, Arkazatinia, why hasn’t it been found by our world? How can a whole world exist on Earth and we don’t know about it.”

“It exists on Earth, but on another level. It’s invisible to humans. I don’t really know how to explain it—I’m not sure if anyone does. Have you heard that sub-atomic particles behave differently at a quantum level and that some scientists have even suggested that it is evidence for an alternate dimension? That is perhaps the smallest hint of that world.”

“Wow! So one day scientists could just stumble across it?”

“They might do; some humans can detect the supernatural world, some people have ‘gifts’. Humans just write them off as being eccentric, but there have been some people who have managed to pass over. They are usually sent back home after their memory has been erased.”

Eve pressed her hands to her head as she imagined plausible explanations for every UFO disappearance she had heard of—did she just think this was plausible?

“This is hurting my brain,” she said. “I need coffee.” Will switched the watch to normal mode while they made their way to the buffet car to order coffee. On returning to their seats and with secure mode safely on, Eve took a sip of her coffee before continuing her interrogation. “These people we’re going to see? What are they called again?”

“The Procnatus.”

“Yes, why are we seeing them? Are they in charge?”

“No,” he said, “their government, the Imperium, is in charge of Arkazatinia, but my dad always told me to speak to the Procnatus first in an emergency as they’re the most rational.”

Will had spoken calmly though Eve could see that his eyes were betraying a hint of anxiety and she stopped her questioning.

They continued the rest of the journey in silence. Will gazed out of the window, the anxiety, which had settled on him briefly, had left his eyes and his expression gave nothing away. Eve felt a surge of anger rising in her stomach as she imagined all the lies he had told her and all the secrets he had kept from her. She swallowed the feeling and thought instead of everything that he had told her and everything she had seen that day. The world was so different from yesterday; yesterday supernatural beings were the subjects of fantasy: books, movies and TV dramas, but now they were real. She squeezed her temples to push a sharp pain that had formed behind her eyes into a dull ache.

Will shook Eve gently as the train arrived at Milton Keynes Central Station; she rubbed at her neck, which was now sore from dozing off with her head on the window. Her headache, at least, had subsided.

“It’s not far,” he said, leading Eve out of the train station and into the streets. They walked for around ten minutes with Will using a map feature on his pocket watch to guide them. “We’re here,” he announced as they approached a large glass fronted building.

“They live in a theatre?”

“Their guild occupies the same level as the theatre; they’re not in it.”

Will opened the reverse of the watch to reveal the control panel; he selected a new menu, and a lock replaced the speech display. Concealing the watch from view, he entered a password and instead of the theatre, they saw a beautiful neo-classical building fronted with massive columns.

“That is amazing!” exclaimed Eve. “It looks just like the British Museum and it doesn’t…what? What is it made from?”

Eve stared at the material used to construct the building, it looked like stone, but it moved, only slightly, but it definitely moved!

“I was shocked the first time I saw it,” laughed Will. “All of the buildings in Anaxagoras are built from this, it’s like an organic material, and it can move and change shape. It’s because rocks and metals in this world are alive.”

“Are you serious?” Eve spluttered. “So, the building could just decide to change shape if it feels like it?”

“It’s alive in the same sense that a tree or a plant is alive,” chuckled Will. “They don’t just have rocks wandering around. They can manipulate the material to join with other materials to form and hold the shapes they want. It doesn’t grow like a tree or a plant or erode like a rock, so it has zero maintenance.”

“Your watch thingy, that fluid isn’t just some weird case, it’s actually the metal?”

“Yes.”

“That’s amazing! What is it called?”

“All the materials have different names, and I don’t remember any of them, apparently the guild has a great library.”

“With real books or are they alive too?”

Will laughed as he rang a bell at the door of the Guild of Procnatus and said, “No, the organic matter used to make books dies just as it does in our world.” An incredibly handsome man answered the door; Eve felt her mouth fall open at the sight of him.

Will also seemed slightly fazed, but recovered quickly and said formally, “Good afternoon, I’m William Farley, I’m a Guardian of Arkazatinia, and I request an urgent audience with Lord Thalia.”

The man glanced towards Eve, who blushed heavily. He did not react and looked back towards Will and asked, “Who is this? Another guardian?”

“No,” replied Will, maintaining his cool, “I shall explain all to Her Lordship.”

The man invited them into an elegant waiting area. Despite the grand exterior, the building did not have a vast entrance hall or high ceilings and instead showed a practical use of the great space. Both Eve and Will, expecting a breathtaking scene, found it a little disappointing. They were invited to sit in the waiting area chairs, which had the same ‘living’ properties as the building. Feeling a little creeped out, Eve preferred to stand.

“Did you say Her Lordship?” she asked.

“Yes,” Will said, “they have male and female lords.”

“Weird,” replied Eve.

“Why don’t you sit down? The chairs won’t hurt you.”

“You said it forms new shapes with other material,” replied Eve, jumping away from the wall she had leaned on without thinking. “I don’t want to become part of a chair or a wall.”

“They wouldn’t use it if it was that easy,” Will laughed, “they need a skilled alchemist to change them.”

“I’ll stand all the same,” shuddered Eve. “It would be like sitting on a chair made from bugs.”

Her eyes ventured towards the organic floor, and she began to shuffle uncomfortably. Will started to laugh, but quickly silenced himself as the door opened and a young woman entered. She appeared to be around nineteen or twenty and was incredibly beautiful.

“This way,” she said, indicating for them to follow her through the door.

She led them down a corridor rather grander than the entrance hall. The walls of the corridor were filled with portraits and news clippings of scientists and scientific feats through the ages. The walls were lined with display cabinets containing a trove of apparatus, gadgets and what looked like random junk. It should have looked cluttered, but its beautiful arrangement could easily pass for an exhibition.

The girl led them into a large office and motioned for them to sit on two chairs in front of a solid oak desk. The office was like a library/laboratory hybrid. The walls were lined with thousands of leather-bound volumes, and more cabinets displayed everything from crude tools to microscopes and numerous planetarium and orrery models. Eve and Will sat (Eve was relieved to find that the wooden seats did not appear to move) and were surprised to find the girl had sat opposite them.

“You’re Lord Thalia?” stuttered Will, blushing furiously.

The girl smiled. “Pleased to meet you, Guardian,” she said. Eve studied her face; she was as fresh-faced as a skincare model, but her eyes appeared to be as old and wise as an ancient scholar. Will started to speak, but something about her gaze hushed him, she said gently, “I am not accustomed to visits from guardians, Mr Farley, nor am I accustomed to visits from humans who should be unacquainted with our world. I assume you have a good reason for this interruption?”

Will nervously swallowed, he felt his heart beat faster and stammered, “I did not know where else to turn, my father has been taken … by … by a demon.”

Thalia raised an eyebrow and betrayed a mix of alarm and confusion before quickly regaining her composure. “I sympathise, Mr Farley, really I do,” she said, “but we have a protocol and channels to follow. Surely you’re aware that Arkazatinia is controlled by the Imperium?”

“Yes,” said Will, lowering his eyes, “but my father always told me to go to the Procnatus in matters of urgency as you are the most rational.”

She smiled, it was a warm smile and she said, “It’s kind of your father to say so. I may be able to be of some assistance in this matter. Have you eaten?”

Will relaxed a little; Eve had not noticed how tense he was until he did. He replied, “We had coffee on the train.”

Thalia pressed a button on a panel on the desk.

“Yes, My Lord?” came the crackled reply.

“Mark, could you arrange for some refreshments to be brought to my office and ask Mikæl to attend?”

“Yes, My Lord.”

“So,” said Thalia, leaning back into her seat, “tell me about this demon.”

Will and Eve glanced at each other before Will regaled Thalia with the events of the day. “My father, Andrew Farley, had been working in the garden before I got up around ten this morning when Eve phoned and said she was on her way.” His cheeks reddened and he felt a little foolish, but Thalia listened patiently and he continued. “Anyway, Eve and I went into the garden; I’d made my father a coffee and was taking it out to him when—”

Will stopped as the door opened and another handsome male entered with a tray of food and drinks. Eve stared at the man who was even more beautiful than the man who had answered the door. Breathe, she told herself.

He grinned and set the tray on the desk, he spoke in a jesting tone, “You called, my queen?”

Thalia smiled at him and said, “William Farley and I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name—Miss?”

“Eve Franklin,” said Eve, her cheeks burning.

“This is Mikæl Livius Salinator; he is my head Consiliario or consul if you will.”

“And head tea boy and bringer of scones,” Mikæl said, he winked at Eve and she blushed furiously.

“Mr Farley was filling me in on a schedule twelve incident that occurred earlier today in Lycea. Please continue.”

Mikæl appeared intrigued and perched on the edge of Thalia’s desk and folded his arms. Eve peeled her eyes from his bulging biceps when she realised that she was not breathing.

Will continued, “Eve and I had taken a coffee to my father in the garden and we saw that he was speaking to someone, it appeared to be a heated discussion. I asked Eve to wait inside, and I approached my father. I noticed that he was speaking with a demon—it was humanlike with eyes like green glass and its nails were like talons.”

“That’s an Asmodeus demon,” observed Mikæl. Thalia showed no reaction.

“I called out to my father to ask if everything was okay,” continued Will, “and the demon grabbed me and said, ‘I could take him, I could take him somewhere you’ll never find him.’ My father shouted at him to let me go and said he would do what he asked. Eve heard the raised voices and came into the garden. The demon moved from me to her, he taunted me and said that he could easily kill her. I shouted at him to ask what he wanted. He laughed at me and squeezed Eve around the neck. I tried to fight him off, but he threw me across the garden.

“He said that he had a message for the Imperium; he said, ‘you tell the Imperium that we want our seat and we will attack Lycea until we have it. We will start a war with the Imperium, with Lycea and with anyone who gets in our way. Here’s some incentive for you, I’ll kill your little girlfriend.’ I picked up a garden fork and drove it into his back and he let her go. He just laughed at me and said ‘you have spirit, little guardian, I like that. You pass on the message; tell the Imperium if they want to keep Lycea safe and get their guardian back, then we want our seat.’ Then he grabbed my father, leapt over the fence and left.”

Eve pulled down the collar of her sweater to reveal the bruises the demon had left behind. Thalia had stood and was pacing nervously as she listened.

“This situation could have been avoided if the Imperium weren’t so stubborn,” she said. “I can only see things becoming worse.”

“What do you mean?” asked Eve.

“Our government, the Imperium,” replied Mikæl, “thought it wise to exclude the demonic officials from the court. Demons have always been part of the Crown Alliance, the Crown was like our monarchy, and now we have the Imperium the demons are not included and they’re not happy about it. It’s a dangerous situation because the Imperium is unwilling to cave on giving a seat to the demons and the demons will up the ante.”

“I’m sorry if I sound a bit dumb, but,” said Eve, “demons have officials and want a say in parliament? That makes no sense to me; I mean, why do they care? They’re evil; they can do what they want, right?”

“It’s a common misconception,” said Thalia, “demons aren’t inherently evil, like everyone they are both good and bad. They have a role to play in the world like everyone else and that role is to provide balance. They challenge people, tempt them from righteousness to test who proves worthy to enter paradise. The demons were angels once, but they tired of the oppression they faced under Heaven’s strict rules and started a rebellion, which got very messy and saw them cast out. They formed Hell, their own system and lived by their own rules.

“They did eventually make a truce with Heaven, but they were never invited back—it seems they preferred Hell anyway. However, they did agree that they would work with Heaven to test for worthiness and have done so ever since. Demons now live and work between Hell, Anaxagoras and Lycea. The Imperator is of the opinion that the demons do not belong in our world, and he wants them cast out of Arkazatinia. He does not seem to realise the consequences of excluding them, the demons had been oppressed before and waged war on Heaven because of that. Even Heaven had to compromise with them eventually.”

“So, what now?” asked Will. “How can I get my father back? Do I need to speak to the Imperium?”

“That is what protocol commands we do,” replied Thalia. “I fear involving them will serve only to make matters worse. Mikæl, your thoughts?”

Mikæl was on his feet, he was fiddling with the instruments on the display cabinets. He answered, “Taking hostages and revealing themselves to humans is out of character for demons, it seems they have grown quite desperate in their rage against the Imperium. I agree involving the Imperium will only fuel their cause against the demons and we risk the life of your father. Mr Farley, whatever action they deem appropriate is unlikely to be a course, which will prioritise the life of one man. The Imperium has already proposed war against the demonic forces and if we involve them, it will not end well.”

“What option is there?” asked Will anxiously.

“We have always had an accord with the demons,” answered Thalia. “I shall visit Prince Calab, the head of the Asmodeus demons, and try to reason with him.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?” exclaimed Eve. “They could kill you!”

“He may not listen to reason, but I shall not be harmed,” she replied calmly. “Mikæl, will you accompany me?”

“Of course, my queen,” he smiled.

“I want to go too,” said Will.

“If you’re going, Will, so am I.”

“I will make the arrangements,” said Thalia, pressing the call button on the control panel desk. “Mark, could you arrange for transport to convey four to the Guild of Asmodeus and call ahead to advise we seek an audience with the prince.”

The transport Thalia had requested was a vector. It resembled a horse-drawn carriage, but required no horse and propelled along silently at great speed. Eve could not identify a power source, but assumed it had some sort of battery as it had an electronic control panel programmed with the destination. The vector sped away from the guild so fast that Eve could only see the distant landscape of Arkazatinia, anything closer blurred. It was charming and very like the English countryside.

“Is your home based on the British Museum?” asked Eve.

“It is a similar classical style,” she said. “The guild has changed many times; we usually model other buildings of interest to us. The last model was based on the Pantheon though having a round building limited the available space considerably. When I was much younger, I had a thing for large empty spaces but as I have gotten older, I have realised that we actually need to use indoor space for more than ‘gazing in awe’. We kept the columned frontage and changed the rest of the building and the interior so that it was more practical.”

“It’s gorgeous,” Eve smiled.

“Thank you,” Thalia smiled back.

“Does everyone live at the guild?” asked Eve. “I’m sorry, I’m being nosey.”

“Not at all,” grinned Thalia. “And no, many live out in Eurasia or in Lycea. The guild is mostly home to the younger generation and the troublemakers who can’t be trusted outside and would otherwise end up on the wrong side of Mr Farley’s sword.”

Eve’s curiosity was piqued and she had a ton more questions; however, she worried that she was becoming an annoyance and bit her tongue.

Despite the speed, it still took almost an hour to reach the Guild of Asmodeus. The guild was also built in a classical style and was smaller than the Guild of Procnatus but just as impressive. A demon met the group at the door. He had the same eye colour as the one who had attacked Eve and Will that morning. Eve guessed the species of demons shared characteristics, which was how Mikæl was able to ascertain who had attacked them.

The demon led them through to an impressive library, Eve gasped—the library was so vast she thought it must house every book ever written. Sat in an armchair aside an open fire was the demon who had attacked them. His face made Eve gasp and although he appeared much calmer than he had that morning, his appearance was quite terrifying. He looked to be no more than twenty and had a lovely mop of black, curly hair, but his thickset features and a cruel twist to his mouth gave the impression of an ancient evil lurking within. He could have passed for human, albeit an unattractive one, had it not been for his eyes. They were like brilliant green emeralds or marbles, or as Will had described—like glass. He also had long, deadly claws, which protruded about two inches from the end of each finger.

“Calab,” smiled Thalia, extending a warm greeting.

Calab looked somewhat puzzled when he noticed Eve and Will, but returned the greeting. “Thalia,” he said, kissing her cheek, “a pleasure as always.” He invited her and Mikæl to sit by the fire, motioned for Eve and Will to sit at a desk behind them, and said, “Thalia, I must say I am somewhat concerned that you have arrived here with the two humans. Are you doing the Imperator’s bidding now?”

“Not if I can help it,” replied Thalia. “Mr Farley came to me as his father had instructed him to seek out the Procnatus rather than the Imperium in times of need. I have not contacted the Imperium and I rather hope we can avoid doing so. It won’t help your cause Calab; it will only give them further ammunition against you.”

“What choice do we have?” asked Calab angrily. “The other princes and I, we won’t be without rights and without a voice. We have existed peacefully in Arkazatinia for thousands of years, Thalia, we don’t deserve this.”

“I am on your side, Calab; I have been very vocal in my opinions of your lack of presence in court. The Imperium has tried to have me voted out because of that. Fortunately, it wasn’t supported.”

“Yet our exclusion was supported?”

“It wasn’t—isn’t. The Imperium has not put it to a vote, I have implored them to do so, but they refuse. The other Arkazatines are supportive of your seat.”

Calab bit his lip and relaxed into his chair. “Why are they so determined to run us out?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” said Thalia. “But I do know that acts of war and attacks on Lycea will not help and you risk alienating your allies.”

“Including you?”

“Calab, you know we won’t have a choice,” she said sadly. “We have to protect Arkazatinia and protect Lycea from threats from Arkazatinia. We have been friends a long time; I’d hate to see us fall out. The Imperium is the problem, I’ve already moved for a vote of no confidence in the regime. Please let’s tackle this through the appropriate channels; let us spare lives and the exposure of our world.”

Calab took a deep breath. “Charon, release the prisoner,” he instructed the demon who had let them in. Charon nodded and left the room. “You’re right as always, Thalia.” The demon gently took the thorian’s hand in his taloned hand and said, “I have acted irrationally and out of desperation. I will listen to your counsel, but if your method does not amount to change, then we will take action.”

Thalia nodded and said calmly, “I understand; however, I would urge you to speak with me before making any decisions.”

The door opened and Charon entered with Andrew Farley, who looked furious.

“You’re free to go, Guardian,” said Calab, turning Will and Eve. “I assure you he is unharmed and I offer my apologies for this morning. I would not have killed you, human; I was merely trying to be heard.”

Eve nodded and gave a thin smile. She thought she would be filled with hate for the demon who had left her bruised and fearing for her life; however, she was surprised to find she sympathised with his plight.

“That’s all well and good,” snapped Andrew, “but what happens the next time you don’t get your way. It’s only a matter of time before you kill someone!”

Calab snarled at Andrew. “There will be a war if the Imperium does not allow us the same rights as everyone else and unfortunately, wars have casualties!”

“It isn’t just you,” Andrew snarled back. “Guardians haven’t been given a seat either. We’re supposed to risk our lives defending our worlds and we have never had a say. It baffles me that you thought the Imperium would be concerned for my safe return. If my son had gone to them, he’d have done them a favour and given them a reason to take action against you.”

Calab shuffled in his seat, his brow furrowed with irritation, “Well, it seems everyone has drawn that conclusion,” he said dejectedly.

“You would too if you thought anything through!” continued Andrew.

Mikæl stood and said sternly, “We should not be quarrelling amongst ourselves. The Imperator clearly has an agenda and fighting amongst ourselves or endangering the lives of the innocent will not help anyone.”

Thalia looked thoughtfully at Mikæl and said, “Mikæl is right, he does have an agenda. I don’t know what it is but it involves more than just levying and wasting taxes.”

“So, we rally our armies and start a rebellion!” stated Calab.

Thalia shook her head and replied, “We shouldn’t be so quick to resort to acts of war, we first need to try and settle this by non-violent means.”

“I will go along with you, for now, Thalia, but,” said Calab, “there will be a war, I feel it, and you will need to decide which side you’re fighting for when it happens.”

Coming soon to Nook & iTunes
MD Laird is from a small town in the north of England. Her hobbies include drinking tea, eating biscuits and daydreaming … lots of daydreaming. When she is not reading and writing, she is daydreaming.
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The Healers by Holly Barbo

THE HEALERS

 by
Holly Barbo

GENRE: YA Fantasy

There are no monsters on Ose. People can be monstrous enough.
A virulent disease sweeps through the budding civilization on the planet Ose. As people are dropping like flies, the healers’ guild is not making headway in finding a cure.
Just as every hope seems lost, young Ree comes into her sage powers. Despite having to fight the disapproval from those who think her too young and inexperienced, she comes up with a cure from unusual natural sources.
The race is on to get ahead of the epidemic. Time is tight, and a swindler’s “miracle cure” makes matters worse.
With Ree and the healers’ lives in danger, is the whole planet doomed?

Ree smiled and turned away to scan the verge of the grassland where it met the woods. There seemed to be a very subtle movement in the tall stalks as the inconsistent breeze moved the tassels of ripe grass seeds. Ree gazed with casual curiosity at the wind-kissed grass. Her nonchalance gave way to amazement as she realized she and Catri were not alone. Slowly, she sat up straighter and reached out to Catri.

At Ree’s touch, Catri opened her eyes and looked at the young woman’s alert posture. “What is it?” she whispered.

Ree barely breathed the answer, “I’ve never seen any animal like this. It’s beautiful, but what it is, I don’t know.”

The answer did not come from Catri, but instead was spoken inside of Ree’s head. “I’m a lyrix. We are ancient inhabitants of this world. My name is Raow. We prefer to stay hidden. There are few of us left now, but at one time, long before the race you call the Ancients arrived, we were the psychic species that held this world together.” Raow had both Catri and Ree’s undivided attention.

Catri, who had also heard the creature’s voice in her head, spoke first. “Your kind is legend. Stories from the Ancients refer to you, but I have never heard of anyone seeing you. Thank you for this gift.”

Raow continued to focus on the younger woman, though he didn’t seem to mind Catri’s involvement in the conversation. Ree studied the fascinating animal. Raow was about twenty inches high at the shoulder. He was covered in fur from his four paws to the tips of his pointed ears. His tail was no more than five inches long and he had a ruff of fur from under his jaw to behind his ears. Raow had intelligent, gold eyes. The rest of his coloring seemed to shift and change with what was around him as if he was a figment of their imagination. But Raow was quite real.

Ree spoke, all the time keeping his gaze. “I’m honored that you decided to make yourself known to us. Can you tell us why?”

Raow returned her scrutiny. “We lyrix choose who sees us and who will be accepted as part of our family. Ree, we share a special type of kinship. You are a sage with barely awakened powers. This is so new, you haven’t become aware of it. I’m here to provide guidance in these skills and to be in your life when you need me.

The Founders, book 1 in The Sage Seed Chronicles, is currently available on Amazon. The Unraveling, book 3, will be available June 7, 2016.

The Reweaving & The Lost, books 4 & 5, will be available fall of 2016.

Holly’s world is shaped by her love of family, the beauty of the natural world and an irrepressible creative drive. She has always been curious and sees life through questions. These four characteristics color her writing voice and her stories frequently evolve from her asking “What if….?” Her tales tend to have non-urban settings with nature contributing to the plot, building discordant themes inside a seemingly peaceful refrain.

My motto: Weaving Alternative Worlds with Threads From Today.