Phoenix Telyn Gwndal has finally accepted the Majik that’s her birthright. But when her mission to finish her father’s quest sends her into the beleaguered Borderlands, she’s about to discover Fate has quite different plans from the ones she’s made — and they involve a man she’s already promised herself never to love, and a proud people she can’t turn her back on. Can Telyn escape Destiny’s designs with her heart still intact?
“The Green Man” — Excerpt from PHOENIX RISING (Legends of Tirum, Book 2) —
Excitement pulsed a fiery song through her veins as she urged Bloodcloud toward the forest surrounding Phoenix Hall. She had no fear of its darkness — her Bathron eyes would grant her vision even in its darkest corners and brambles. And, if Kishfa rode with her this night, she’d have the Phoenix Book in her hands before the morning light.
Bloodcloud, however, didn’t appear as thrilled about their destination. At the edge of the forest, he shied up and danced away from the path several steps on two powerful legs, nearly throwing her from her seat on his back. Gripping his flanks hard with her knees, she leaned into him until he was forced to drop his weight back down. Yet, he refused to move forward, digging in with the tenacity of a pack mule.
Telyn’s brow furrowed. She’d never seen him act like this before. Bloodcloud was a trained warhorse, and until now, she’d have sworn he didn’t have a skittish bone in his whole body. If he backed away, it was for a very good reason.
“Come now, old friend,” she crooned to him as she stroked sure, calming hands over his softly bristled coat. “What bothers you? Is there Majik in these woods?”
“Now there’s a fool’s query if I ever heard one!”
Telyn’s head snapped up at the sound of a new voice. She’d swear she was alone out here. There shouldn’t be anyone within a league of this place. But there, just in the shadows of a large roan tree, leaned the form of a man — if indeed he was a man, and not some form of spirit come to haunt her. He was whipcord thin and dressed head-to-toe in what looked like moss, leaves, and brambles. Between his crossed arms rested a long bollstaff decorated in what appeared to be shiny eggshells, silverflower, and crane feathers. Every sense she had went on alert as the anaqueri at her side hummed to life and began to sing a familiar tune — impending battle.
“Who are you?” she demanded, uncertain she was willing to battle what might turn out to be some specter of this place. “How did you get here?”
He straightened, and stepped forward into the light, blocking her path into the forest. “Those would be questions for me to ask. You, after all, are the stranger here.”
This was becoming more confusing by the moment. “You mean you… live here?”
His eyes — a deep, forest green that blended into the darkening wood behind him — glinted with cold humor. “These wood be my home, and all that is seen. For I, Warrior Maid, am the Jaran Green.”
“The Green Jaran?” Telyn barely held in her scorn. The Green Jaran was a myth — a tale told to children to frighten them into good behavior.Said to be the lingering spirit of one of the Old Gods, the Green Jaran supposedly guarded the wood and all it housed, and often stole naughty children, whom he made into his goblinesque servants in punishment for their wicked ways. “Who are you, really?”
His gaze narrowed in cold fury that gave her pause. “Trust not your own eyes?”
Telyn frowned as she let her gaze travel over his unusual appearance. He certainly looked the part of the Green Jaran. Hadn’t she just learned the impossible about herself? Who was she to doubt the man before her?
“All right. So you’re the Green Jaran. However,” she paused, considering the wisdom of her next words. She had no idea what kind of power he truly had. Then, she shrugged. If he meant to kill her, there wasn’t much she could do to stop a god, after all. “I’m not a child. You can’t frighten me.”
He flicked her words away with one long-fingered hand. “You’ve come for the Book.”
She gaped. “How… I mean…”
“I know much about all who venture through my wood. But you, I have known since the moment of your birth, and I knew that one day, you would come. You have come for the Book.”
After what he just said, it would be foolish to deny his words. “Aye.”
“Then you should be terrified.”