The Snow Series by Marita Kinney (Christian Fiction) @MaritaKinney


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Christian Fiction


the snow series

A collection of 3 Books Christian Fiction novellas “The Snow’s Meltdown,” Don’t Rescue Me,” and Seed of Discord”
What happens when everything seems perfect and peaceful, but all of a sudden you, your family, or your surroundings is threatened by something or someone that will rob you of what you’ve always know? This happens to many people, from all walks of life, each and every day. No one is exempt from the trouble that can cause one to have his or her own personal meltdown.
Some are able to overcome their meltdown? Others, however, are not so fortunate. They find themselves stuck, trying hard to deal with the meltdown of loss, pain, and hurt. Such is the case with the characters in Marita Kinney’s novel. Will the Snows break under the pressure or will they be able to overcome?

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About the Author:

Marita L Kinney is a Amazon Best-Selling Author and a woman of many talents. A published Author, Life Coach and Motivational Speaker, Marita has inspired thousands of people to overcome adversity with triumph through faith and perseverance. While facing several life changing challenges herself, Marita had enough faith to conquer tribulations, coming out victorious. She is best known for her Christian Fiction novellas and heart felt inspirational books. Loving God with her whole heart, she has vowed to live a life of transparency winning souls to Christ with the realness of her journey and the relatability of her testimony.In March of 2009 Marita published her debut book entitled The Unspoken Walk”. Capturing the true essence of what it means to turn “lemons into lemonade”, she has taken the harsh lessons of life and developed a plan for successfully living.

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Young Adult Fantasy Featured Book: In the Light of the Eclipse by Bryan Caron


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Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance


eclipse_book_cover.jpg

Where God so loved the world, Heather (or as few have dared to dub her “the goddess of condemnation”) holds a much crueler hand over her inhabitants. Every seventeen years, under her ever-watchful eye, an eclipse renders her land dark, taking the soul of everyone over the age of seventeen to the land of the unknown nothing. In its wake, Heather bestows the gift of a child upon the land. Some believe this child has special powers; others believe she inhabits the souls taken by the eclipse. But no matter the belief, one thing is certain—without the child, the land would crumble.

Most accept the eclipse and live every breath with a love unmatched by any other. This is especially true of Zoe, whose seventeenth year of breath nears ever so close. Born under the eclipse, Zoe understands her life is a gift and that she will return that gift in kind—whenever that day may be (that is until she falls in love and discovers the dark secrets hidden in the heart of Heather).

Still others yearn for a longer life and curse Heather’s name. One such person was branded the name Kayla on her day of breath eighteen years ago. Unable to comprehend the meaning of such viciousness, Kayla believes such a sacrifice is unnecessary, even for the worst of mankind. Little does she know that a mysterious traveler may hold the key to ending the eclipse forever.

Zoe and Kayla are best friends.

This is their story.

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Excerpt:  

From Chapter Two – A Secret Morning Swim

(Read Chapter 1 at http://publications.divinetrinityfilms.com)

On the morning that marked the beginning of Kayla’s eighteenth year of breath, Zoe got up an hour before the rooster’s crow and headed into Industry Quarters. She had never walked the streets at night before so it was a bit scary, but also quite amazing. The smell of baking bread was at its strongest and the bright glow of the full moon turned the artwork all around her into a fluorescent wonderland. It made it all the more brilliant to lie back in the shadows and watch a couple of kids turn paint into such beautiful pictures. She almost wanted to join them in taking brush in hand but she had something much more pressing to do, and time was of the essence.

Zoe inched her way through the slightly wilted bushes surrounding Kayla’s house and pressed her hands firmly on the glass of her bedroom window. Kayla never locked her window so it was quite easy to open and crawl in without rousing her, though she hoped the change in noise level from the roar of the machines didn’t do it for her. Thankfully, Kayla was still asleep when the room returned to silence. Zoe snuck up to Kayla’s bureau and shoveled her swimming suit, towel and a change of clothes into her pack, a task that took longer than expected (it couldn’t just be any old clothes; it had to at least look good together). When she was happy with what she had chosen, Zoe tiptoed back to Kayla’s bed and kissed her cheek.

“Wake up, sleepy,” she whispered into Kayla’s ear.

Kayla groaned and rolled over. “Go away.”

“Kayla, wake up,” Zoe said, shaking her shoulder.

When Kayla finally realized who it was, she sat up quickly and looked around as if her caretakers were hiding in the walls, waiting for just the right reason to take her to Quorum Circle for punishment. “Zoe,” she whispered. “What in Heather’s name are you doing here? What time is it?”

“It’s time to give you my gift.”

Each year, to mark the day of a person’s first breath, caretakers and friends would do something special for that person, from taking over that day’s chores to whisking them off to Serenity Lake for a grand snorkel, so long as it was something that was unique to the presenter of the gift. For this, the last gift Zoe would ever give Kayla, she wanted to do something more amazing than life. She pulled Kayla out of bed.

“What are you doing?”

“It’s a secret. Come on.”

Kayla felt a little blushed walking the streets of Industry Quarters in her sleeping gown, especially when they passed Henry (who had a not-so-secret crush on Kayla) sweeping flour out of his caretaker’s factory.

“Where are you two lovely ladies headed off to so early?” Henry said.

“No time to chat,” Zoe said, keeping from making eye contact. If she had, she would have felt obligated to stop, and Zoe was in far too much a hurry to do that. Henry did it for her.

“Just wait, I’ll come with.” Henry set the broom against the inside of the door and jogged after them. “Wait up.”

Now Zoe had to stop. “You can’t come, Henry.” Her hand was outstretched, keeping him from coming any closer. Kayla was pulled in behind her.

“Why? What’s the big deal?”

“I’m giving Kayla her gift. This is for her and I alone. So if you don’t mind…”

“Her gift? What could you possibly be giving her this early?”

“None of your business,” Kayla interjected. She stepped around Zoe, who felt a little honored and shocked (though she didn’t know why). “Now be a good little boy and get back to work. Go on.” She waved her hand. How Kayla could get away with that was beyond Zoe, even if Henry was a year younger than her (and no more than a couple of months older than Zoe, for that matter). Maybe she was using his infatuation against him.

Then again, maybe not.

“No. I want to see what this is.”

“We aren’t moving until you leave,” Kayla said.

“That’s fine. I have all day.”

“We don’t,” Zoe whispered to Kayla. She acknowledged her, but with only the slightest turn of her head so that Henry might not notice.

“I don’t want to have to get physical,” Kayla said. Her voice was strong, commanding. “But I will if I have to.”

“Do you promise?” Henry said, which disgusted Kayla to no end.

“Just leave us alone.”

“Tell me where you’re off to and maybe I will.”

“No.”

Henry shrugged. Zoe grew ever more irritated. The sun would be up soon; once it was, her gift would be ruined. If she weren’t such a lady (or had been taught to be such by her caretakers), she probably would have popped him one (or urged Kayla to, in the very least) just to make her point. Luckily, she didn’t have to.


About the Author:

Bryan Caron is a multi-talented, award-winning artist with works in several mediums, including print, film and design. After acquiring a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and an associate’s degree in computer graphic design, Bryan studied filmmaking and film editing while working at a performing arts studio in San Diego, California. He took this knowledge to write, direct and edit films under his banner, Divine Trinity Films. Soon after, he would team up with the Fallbrook Film Factory, a non-profit film consortium, to continue his growth in the areas of writing, directing and editing, all the while fleshing out his talents in fiction writing (publishing Year of the Songbird and Jaxxa Rakala: The Search in 2013), working as a graphic designer, and beginning his first blog: Chaos breeds Chaos.

His works as writer and director include the short films My Necklace, Myself (Best Screenplay, Short Film, 2009 Treasure Coast International Film Festival) and 12, the feature film Secrets of the Desert Nymph, and the commercial Charlie’s Ticket, which ran on dozens of television stations and in movie theaters in San Diego County to advertise the Fallbrook International Film Festival. Works as editor include the short film Puzzle Box and No Books, the first of several episodes he has edited for the online sketch-series, Treelore Theatre.

Bryan currently resides in Riverside County.

www.divinetrinityfilms.com

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Science Fiction Spotlight: The Days After – Big River by J. Richardson


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Dystopian, Science Fiction


the days after big river

Clay started his day as normal, on the wide river in the fascinating city of New Orleans. By the time the owner of the paddle wheeler, Annie Belle, had returned the morning tour passengers to shore, it was apparent that something was very wrong. What disaster could have caused such chaos on the shore? His instinct sends him right back to the safety of the river he loves.

The captain’s long time friend and assistant, Louis, leaves on a desperate mission to gather his wife and son, with a promise to catch the big paddle wheeler up river. Clay’s newest crew member, the tour hostess, Angel and her small daughter have no option but to remain onboard.

In the days after, as the new and changed world is revealed, the four new friends and the two children will travel a perilous journey. Up two mighty rivers and nearly a thousand miles, they will work together to reach the haven of Clay’s brother’s farm. Will the river defeat them or be their savior?

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Excerpt:

Muddy colored sheets of water spilled over, frothed into a creamy foam where the blades dipped into the churning current. The paddle wheel pushed the two-level boat along the big river. William Clay Allen, the owner and operator, guided the vessel with both hands on the polished wooden ship’s wheel, he smoothly navigated the waterway that he was so familiar with. Clay did not wear the suit of a captain; he wore his denim jeans, a long sleeve navy blue T-shirt and canvas boat shoes. His dark blue cap snugged down on a head of thick black hair and was lettered Annie Belle, the cap shaded a face that was pleasantly weathered and tanned. Dark brown eyes were hidden behind aviator style sunglasses and watched cautiously as the shoreline approached.

Graceful blue letters repeated the name Annie Belle on the sides of the long boat that was freshly painted white. Below the name, was New Orleans, La. This craft was not the huge commercial type that carried hundreds of visitors along the river for dining and touring, sometimes even over night excursions. This well-maintained riverboat never carried more than twenty five tourists, either on the three hour early trip that included a light brunch or the afternoon trip that offered sandwiches and snacks. The many windowed cabin area on the first deck was encircled with a walkway and rails. If you took the narrow stairs to the second level, you walked out onto a flat deck with a strong safety rail. The small wheel house, the control cabin, sat next to the stairway at the bow of the boat. A framework stretched from the boat’s bridge to the aft and a heavy canvas top could be rolled out to cover it. Mounted at the opposite end of the deck was a viewing scope that allowed observation of activity on and around the river. A long row of wooden benches, facing back to back, with ornate wrought iron backs and legs were bolted down in the center of the deck. Freshly painted black, they were not very comfortable but did give the passengers a place to sit and have a high perch view. The Annie Belle was not a fancy hulking cruise boat; it was Clay’s livelihood, his life and also his home.

For the last hour or so, as the morning tour came to an end and the boat glided back into the busier area along the river, Clay noticed that something was different. The day was bright and clear and the usual waterway traffic passed him by, on the land…what was it? It was very still, the heavy land traffic was not in motion. In the lulls between the noise of barges and tugs and towering freighters, he could hear occasional shouts and car horns that honked from the shore, but he saw no movement other than hazy figures that scurried around. He picked up the hand held walkie-talkie and spoke into it, “Louis, could you come up to the helm? Hey, bud, are you there…would you come forward please?”

The radio crackled and then a voice, “Gotcha’ boss. I’ll be up shortly.”

More and more folks stood upon the decks of the assorted boats that passed in both directions and looked out with curiosity at the shore. He was seeing some vessels that seemed to be stopped silent in the water. Clay maneuvered the paddle wheeler with skill, they would be at the long pier that allowed his passengers to disembark in about twenty minutes.

A short stocky man with cocoa colored skin, stepped into the small space that housed the ship’s wheel and controls and Clay. He wore jeans, a T-shirt and dark blue cap just like his friend and boss. “What’s up, you think? It looks like a power outage or something in the city. Weird thing though, I don’t see any vehicles moving.”

“Yeah-h,” said Clay. He took his sunglasses off and scanned the bright blue skies, “I don’t see any storm clouds. It’s clear as a bell today.” The sunglasses went back on, “Well, we will be at the dock shortly. Go ahead and help Angeline get the passengers off.”

“Okay, we will find out what’s happening when we get there, huh?” Louis smiled and moved towards the cabin area.

Elizabeth Angeline Babin Cook stood behind the bar and wiped vigorously at the polished top. Her auburn hair was piled up in a tousle of curls on her head, a circle of comb teeth secured the curls and made neat rows in her shiny tresses. Thick lashes covered her amber colored eyes as she looked down at the job she was intent on. Her slim figure looked pleasing in the same jeans as her boss and her co-worker and she wore the appropriate canvas boat shoes. No T-shirt however, a soft navy blue blouse was tucked neatly in her jeans. Gold hoops dangled from her ears, a small cross on a chain was at her neck, no wedding ring or any rings on her fingers and a Timex watch circled her wrist. Louis’s wide hand slapped the bar and made her jump.

“Angel, we are close to port. Let’s round ‘em up, girl.” Several of the morning tourists peered out the windows, and a few sat at tables and munched on cookies from a round tray of assorted sweets. A small girl with hair the beautiful color of her mother’s, popped up from a stool behind the bar. A tiny pair of glasses rested on her turned up nose, she removed them and laid them on top of the sketch pad where she had been engrossed in drawing.

“Louis!” she grabbed him around his knees.

He lifted the petite beauty and gave her a hug, “Hey there, Allie girl. How’s my baby today?”

Louis sat her down and announced in a smooth voice with just a touch of a cajun accent, “Okay, folks, we will soon be at the dock. Be sure to gather all of your belongings and prepare to disembark.”

Angel looked down at her daughter, “Put all your supplies in your backpack, honey. Do you need to make one last restroom visit?” The little girl skipped towards the bathroom on the opposite side of the cabin, her loose bright printed top flounced around. She didn’t like clothes that fit her body close; she would tolerate jeans with an elastic waist and she liked the slip-on canvas shoes.

The foghorn blared out as the Annie Belle slowly edged next to the long pier. The murky water lapped against the heavy pilings. The wooden pier would take the tourists all the way into their towering luxury hotel that had a view of the river from every room. The passengers looked around curiously, they noticed that something was not quite right, but they moved up the long pier towards the hotel. Louis and Angeline, now Clay stood and told them thanks for coming and have a nice day. It was just the normal thing, the routine. As the people walked away from the ship, they gazed around, questioning and confused.

Angel had been busy until they docked, she stood by the rail and scanned the shore. Now she noticed the chaos. No cars moved around and it was clear that many had slammed into others, steam and smoke spiraled up in dozens of places and she saw an actual fire or two that blazed. People ran in all directions, shouts and a few panicky screams could be heard rising above the sea of dead autos. She heard no sirens, where was the fire department…the police? Allie dashed out and tugged at her hand. Her daughter was only five but very precocious, “What is it, Mommy? Is there a bad car wreck?”

She pulled the little body up next to her. “Maybe,” she answered with a doubtful voice. She looked at Louis and over to Clay, the question in her eyes, “My god, what….”

Clay only hesitated for a moment, “Louis, I think we need to get back out into the bay, away from the shore.” He turned to move to the helm and Louis immediately turned to follow.

Angel said, “Hey, wait, we need to get home. We need to get off…” her voice trailed away as she looked back at the mass confusion on the shore and wondered, how would they get home to their tiny apartment.

Clay turned and said, “Angel, I don’t think that would be a good idea right now. Let’s get back out on the river and I can get you closer to home, by the waterway.” He hurried on towards the helm and Louis moved to pull up anchor and untie the moorings.

Angel stood in stunned silence until she felt the slight roll of the deck. She snapped to and led Allie into the cabin. What in the world could be happening? This was just crazy. She tried not to let her little girl see how frightened she was. Rather nonchalantly, Allie sat down on the carpeted floor, took off her backpack, pulled out her art pad and placed her glasses on her nose.

Clay eased the long vessel away from the land. He could not be one hundred percent certain, but he was not near as baffled as his pretty new bartender slash hostess about what might have happened. Angeline had just come to work on the boat a couple of weeks earlier. It was early and the season would get busier. He and Louis just could not do everything, especially the small hospitality and courtesy things that folks expected. She seemed to be smart and competent, not to mention nice to look at. He didn’t mind sweet Allie being on board, at all. If her mother didn’t have to pay child care, it made him feel not so guilty about her mother’s small paycheck,

The boat slipped ever so slowly along, he noticed no break or change in the havoc on the land. His mind recounted the many times his brother Daniel…old doomsday Dan, he called him…had lectured and raved about the various scenarios that would change the world or worse, end the world. Dan was absolutely sure that this below sea level, coastal city was not the place to be. He was sure that the ocean levels would rise and take out all the coastal cities in the world. Every apocalyptic event from the financial collapse of America to massive earthquakes filled the brother’s list of possible catastrophic happenings. Even though, Clay and Dan and their parents had always lived on or near the river in Louisiana, the paranoid brother had moved away from the Gulf Coast, about three years earlier.

A believer, a “Prepper”, Dan relocated to a small community in South Dakota that was very near the Missouri River. The Missouri flows right into the Mississippi River and Dan said, “When the S—hits-the-fan, you can navigate all the way to my place. That’s why I chose a place south of the locks and dams on both rivers.” A software developer, he worked from home, which was his several acre farm and built up his supplies and preparations for the doomsday event that he was confident would come. He never gave up and tried consistently to persuade Clay to leave the coast.

The expert hands barely moved the handles that extended from the wooden wheel. Just as Louis walked up beside him, he thought, Well, old Dan, I am afraid one of your nightmares has finally come true. The man didn’t say anything to his boss, just waited for him to speak.

Clay let his breath out in a long exhale and shook his head, “I think that crazy old Dan might have not been so crazy, my friend. Something way out of the norm has happened. When the vehicles go dead, it’s electrical…like the whole electric grid is down. Only certain things would affect the cars, anything computerized. It could have been natural, like a solar flare or it could have been man made, an EMP. It may have been deliberate, intended to do just what it did, knock out the electric grid, cripple the world.”

In amazement, Louis stared into the face of his friend, “You mean everywhere!”

“Maybe not everywhere, on the other hand, possibly not just America but the world. We won’t know for a while, something is very bad wrong. I do know that.” said Clay.

Louis took off his cap and slapped it on his leg. “I trust you, you know that. If this is possible, I have to get Penny and Jacob. I am going to take the dinghy and head back down river.”

Clay said, “It’s going to get more and more dangerous out there, Louis. You take plenty of fuel and get your wife and boy, catch back up with us. I will move as slow as I can and stop if I can, I will be watching for you.” They clasped hands in a tight shake. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a key to a padlock, “Take that .38 and ammo from the gun closet. You be careful and stay safe.”

“Clay, what about Angel and the girl?” said Louis.

“No way that I could put her on the shore, not until we see what the situation really is. She will have to stay on board for now,” he replied.

The friend smiled, “Good boy. You stay safe and I will see you upriver.”


About the Author:

j richardson

J.Richardson was born in what she refers to as her beloved Texas. She has lived there all of her life and raised her family. Her children, grandchildren and one great-grandchild are scattered across the state. These days, she and her husband of 47 years, split their time between home and their summer cabin in Colorado.

Her first e-book was published this year. A life filled with rich experiences and small adventures has been the inspiration for her writing. Much of that experience derived from the partnership with her spouse in building four homes in four different locations, from scratch; from a log house in the woods of east Texas, to a lakehouse and a farmhouse, and finally, the cabin in Colorado. J. says that she is a fascinated observer of people and their endless diversity. She believes the internet is an amazing source of information and her favorite part of writing is the research.

A pen name claims ownership of her fiction writings because they are often close facsimiles of her friends and family. She admits, however, they are just as often, products of her imagination and characters she has known. The author’s favorite reads are mystery and humor, lately her passion and interest is in the fictional and real life details of prepping for disaster. She quotes, “I have strong political and patriotic views, but try to avoid them in my novels because anger is not my forte’. I always look forward to hearing from my readers.”

Connect with J. Richardson:

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Email richardsonjo66@gmail.com


Western Romance Spotlight: The Cowboy’s Bride by Danielle Lee Zwissler @danielleleezwis


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the cowboys bride

In this novella, Tessa and Jake knew each other since they were infants. It took one drunken night for them to realize they were meant to be together forever. Life didn’t see it that way. It takes an arch, a romantic cowboy, and a promise of forever for this couple to finally get their perfection.

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Excerpt:

From the middle…
At three o’clock, Jake once again rode up on Midnight, dressed in a suit and white Stetson. This time, he had a rose attached to his lapel. And one long, stem white rose in his hand. Tessa watched him as he stood, waiting for his bride. She nearly screamed as she watched him. He was calm, cool and collected. She was a nervous mess.
She ran her hands down her hair and clutched. Just then…


About the Author:

Danielle Lee Zwissler was born in Dover, Ohio. A small town in Northeast Ohio. Her love of romance and cowboys have helped enrich her life and love of reading.
She is also big fan of William Shatner, Harry Potter, and all things Harlequin.
Her first novel, “Her Last Chance”, debuted in 2010 with Firefly & Wisp Books. And then shortly after the sequel, “The Art of Seduction”. In 2011, an up and coming publisher, “Books to go Now!” published a trio of short-stories called, “Trio of Sin”.
Since then, Danielle has been featured in several anthologies, and 5 erotica books under her pen name, Heather Lane.
Currently, Danielle is working on several fantasy as well as a few western romances.
Her latest set of books are all part of a series called, “Cowboys & Cowgirls”. This series features five books, all of the western nature, with sexy lead characters and several subplots. The first in the series is “The Cowboy’s Bride” which is now available on paperback as well as ebook. Then the rest of the series will go as followed: Served, Cowgirl Up!, Cowboy Up!, Dakota Falls, and then Tiegen’s Bride.

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Fantasy Book Feature: The Pegasus’s Lament (The Swordmage Trilogy) by Martin Hengst @mfhengst


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Fantasy – General, Fantasy – Epic, Fantasy – Sword & Sorcery, Fantasy – Coming of Age


the pegasus lament

A desecrated tomb, a missing relic, and cold-blooded murder. The streets of Dragonfell are awash in blood and the King has called on Tiadaria, the last swordmage, and Wynn, her quintessentialist companion, to uncover the nature of the darkness.

What they find is more dangerous than they could ever imagine and from a source they’d have never expected. Now Tiadaria must defeat an enemy that knows her almost as well as she knows herself.

The survival of the Human Imperium is on the line and time is running out for the last swordmage and everyone she holds dear.

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Excerpt:

PROLOGUE

The lovely maiden of summer had matured, growing into matronly autumn. She would stand guard over Solendrea as long as possible before the ice queen of winter descended, stripping the trees bare and laying out their naked bones against the cold grey sky. The first hint of that frigid air hung on the wind, buffeted by the magnificent white dragon’s wings. Forty feet across and nearly twice that long, Stryne would have been a terrifying sight to behold if anyone had been able to see him. His command of the Quintessential Sphere kept him hidden from prying eyes. Any stray mage or magical being wandering nearby would have to know where to start looking to find him. Even the beating of his impressive wings was too high above the ground to be felt or heard. He was alone, as he had been for hundreds of years.

Movement on the ground caught his attention, and he dropped his long neck to look more closely at the spot that held his interest. There was a minuscule speck of black moving across the landscape. A shadow moving across a deeper shadow, barely discernible, even with his magically augmented vision. It was the Warleader of the Xarundi. He had hovered in this same spot, day after day, week after week, for four years. He was careful, watching and learning. He would bide his time until it was perfect.

During the Age of Dragons, when Stryne had been free, and his brothers and sisters in command of the entire continent, the Xarundi had been a surface-dwelling race. In the interim, the wolf like warriors had fallen far and fast. No doubt due to the meddling influence of the humans. The dogs called them vermin, but humans were much worse than vermin. They were an infectious disease that, unchecked, would destroy anything it came into contact with.

The Xarundi had lost nearly as much to the humans as the dragons had. However, the dogs had been fortunate enough to retain their lives. Stryne was the last of his kind.

During his entombment in the ice, he had been forced to endure the loss of each of his kin. As the spark of each psychic link to the rest of his kind had died out, he had experienced what it was like to be truly alone. Turning his thoughts away from that painful memory, Stryne instead looked toward the slightly darker smudge in the foothills that was the entrance to the Xarundi’s subterranean empire. The Warleader began each day standing in the entrance tunnel to the cavern complex, and then would set out on his daily duties. Duties that Stryne would often survey from high above.

As long-lived as dragons were, they were gifted with incredible amounts of patience. A dragon could plot and plan and scheme for decades before settling on a course of action. Stryne was unique in that patience had never been one of his strong points. He preferred action over inaction, which was what brought him to the Warrens in the first place. There were still creatures on Solendrea who remembered the reign of the dragons and possessed long enough lives to remember old alliances and affiliations. The gargoyle who had given him the information about the Xarundi had also been imprisoned by the humans. Though the manner of his imprisonment was different, the result was the same. A burning hatred for humankind and a desire to see them eradicated.

Reestablishing his alliance with Sleeper had given Stryne what he needed most–information. Gargoyles had an uncanny ability to know everything about anything. Stone was everywhere on Solendrea, and the gargoyles could commune with the stone as easily as men could speak to each other. Sleeper’s assistance had been invaluable. Now, as he hovered over the foothills that hid the extensiveness of the Warrens, the dragon was ready to enact the first phase of his plan. The Xarundi wanted the humans destroyed as much as, if not more than, the dragon did. They would be well suited as allies.

Folding his wings against his back, the dragon dove, feeling the cold wind rushing against his sides and belly. The tip of his tail whipped back and forth in the air that screamed past. Dropping the spell that made him invisible, Stryne spread his wings. They snapped taut, catching the air and pulling him backward as they met sudden resistance. The powerful sweep of his wings ripped leaves from the trees at the edge of the clearing and bent the grass underfoot. The Warleader leapt backward at Stryne’s sudden appearance. Four-inch claws slipped from their sheaths and glimmered in the light of the pale moon that was just beginning to rise.

Stryne neatly backwinged, dropping to the ground and folded his wings against his back. He wrapped his tail around his haunches and lowered his neck, looking at the Warleader with glowing violet eyes. To the Warleader’s credit, he didn’t flinch under that regard. Instead, he stared back with his own pools of luminescent blue fire. Though his claws were still extended, the Warleader hadn’t made any aggressive movement. Instead, they stood in the clearing maybe twenty feet apart, staring at each other.

“Greetings, Warleader,” Stryne said in a passable, if unpracticed, approximation of the Xarundi tongue. “Though the manner of my appearance was sudden, I mean you no harm. I wish to parlay.”

The Warleader cocked his head to one side, his ears twitching as the dragon spoke. There was a long pause before he replied.

“Respectful greetings, Great One,” the Warleader was speaking hesitantly, as if feeling out the words as he said them. “You speak the tongue of the Xarundi as it was in ages past. I fear there may be misunderstanding betwixt us.”

“Then let us use the language of the lesser races,” Stryne replied in the low tongue. “I don’t wish there to be any mistake about what I offer, or require. I am Stryne the Forsaken, Dragonlord of the East and the last of my kind. I come with information for you and a proposal.”

The Warleader’s claws slipped slowly back into their sheaths. “I am called Xenir, of the Xarundi Combine. What information do you bring?”

“I know who you are, and I know how you came to live in this place you call the Warrens. An interested third party, a gargoyle named Sleeper, directed me in finding you. You are familiar with him?”

The Warleader nodded, and Stryne continued.

“I was exiled under the ice, far to the north before your kin released me from my prison. One of them, your High Priest, was captured during the ensuing battle.”

Xenir nodded. “Few of the war party I sent north returned with life and limb.”

“You didn’t know I was there. You sent them because you had a vision of a powerful relic buried in the ice.”

“Yes.” Xenir’s tone was unapologetic. “Had I known you were the relic, I’d not have sent the war party.”

“No, I suspect not.”

“If you wanted my life as penance for the war party, I’d be dead by now. So why are you here?”

“I seek not penance, Warleader. We share a mutual interest in seeing the human plague eliminated. I offer a way for both of us to get what we want.”


 About the Author:

Martin F. Hengst resides in South Central Pennsylvania with his wife and two children. He is a proud member of both the Association of Independant Authors (AIA) and the Alliance of Independant Authors (ALLi).

An avid reader since childhood, he attributes his love for fantasy and science fiction to his father. Martin’s passion is creating intricate stories with intimate details set in fantasy lands that exist only in his readers’ dreams.

If you’d like to keep up with the world of Solendrea and the extraordinary people and places that exist there, visit: www.solendrea.com. You can also follow Martin on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Email can be addressed to: martin@solendrea.com.


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