Today my friend Tara West is visiting the blog. She is the author of the Whispers series and of the Keepers of the Stones series. As you know, I’m into stories with witches and magic, and her new release, WITCH FLAME, is right up my alley.
Witch Flame (A Keepers of the Stones Novelette)
Photography by Nichelle Nolan at http://charligalcreations.carbonmade.com/ Cover art design by Maiarcita at http://maiarcita.deviantart.com/
From the bestselling author of the paranormal Whispers series, comes a new fantasy saga…
Feira, a fledgling witch just discovering her own powers, must battle warriors and monsters before she and her true love can find a safe haven away from the vengeful eye of a jealous goddess.
Bonus origin myth included: The Beginning of Time
This short story is a prelude to Curse of the Ice Dragon, Keepers of the Stones, Book One.
From Chapter One:
Feira hesitantly stepped forward, eyeing the woman with trepidation. Her bronze, leathery skin was covered in so many lines and dark spots, she resembled an old, weathered map. Gnarled hands that looked more like claws, clutched the rounded top of a twisted and bent walking stick. She wore no covering to conceal her nearly bald head, which was dotted with only a few fine tufts of white hair. The rest of her was draped in a heavy brown robe. The only other adornment on the woman’s body was a large silver ring with a bright ruby stone in its center. Despite the old woman’s frightening appearance, Feira was compelled to trust her, for she sensed compassion and understanding deep within the woman’s heart.
After all, the Elements had led Feira here for a reason. Though Feira was only a child, she’d been gifted with a wisdom beyond her nine winters. She knew this woman would help her.
“I am Feira,” she said while straightening her shoulders and leveling the old woman with a direct stare. “Who are you?”
“I am Akahi.” The old woman leaned further over her bent cane while squinting her eyes. “Feira is an odd name. Where did you come from?”
Feira nodded north, beyond the jungle and toward the direction of the cool winds. “The Werewood Forest.”
The old woman gasped. “The dark forest? No, child, you did not come from there.” She shook her head while clucking her tongue. “Where is your mother?”
Feira swallowed the rising knot of sorrow that welled up in her throat. She wiped her watery eyes with the backs of her hands. “She went to the Elements.” Her voice sounded small, even to her own ears.
The deep lines embedded in the woman’s twisted face seemed to soften. “What of your father?” she asked in a voice laced with pity.
“He forgot about me.” Feira’s shoulders fell as she recalled the day Odu had walked out of their small hut without sparing either of them a second glance. Mother had crawled into her bed, crying beneath the furs for days. The time had come for the old man to continue his quest. What he was after, Feira did not know, and neither did Odu for that matter. But he said he’d know when he found it. Of one thing Feira was certain: she would never see the man she’d called her father again.
The woman edged closer to Feira. “What has happened to your hands?” She nodded toward Feira’s blackened fingers.
Feira shrugged. “Flame came out of them.”
The woman’s mouth fell open, and for a long moment, she simply stared at Feira. “Flame? Do they pain you?”
“Only a little,” she said as she stuffed her fingers into her pockets. Feira knew her hands looked hideous, and the weight of the woman’s stare made them feel even more so.
“Can you do more than make flame come from your hands?” The woman asked, her voice laced with incredulity, and something more— fear.
Feira looked up at the woman and nodded, afraid now that if she said too much, she’d drive the woman away.
“Can you heal broken things?”
Feira nodded again as she thought of the barn that had caught fire after a winter storm. Her mother had sobbed for the loss of the structure, so Feira had toiled an entire fortnight, healing the wood board by board. If only she’d been strong enough to heal her mother, but she was in too many pieces. Feira had only enough time to kill the giant before more of the monsters descended.
The woman leaned even closer, so that Feira could smell the sweet and pungent scent of her breath. “Can you lift things without touching them?”
Feira answered by pulling one charred hand out of her pocket. She pointed at a small boulder and called upon the Elements. The boulder shook and trembled as the air around it grew thicker, lifting the object above the ground. Feira lowered her hand and settled the stone back in its resting place. She turned her gaze upon the woman, who was looking at her with dark, wide eyes.
“Come with me child.” The woman latched one of her gnarled hands onto Feira’s shoulder. “You are not safe out of doors.” Then she turned her soulful gaze toward the sky. “Oh, Heavenly Elements protect us. If the Goddess finds this child, we are both dead.”
A former Texas high school teacher, Tara enjoyed coaching her writing team and even the hectic deadlines that came with running the school publications. After taking a break to raise her baby girl, Tara now works from home as a cover artist.
In her spare time, Tara loves to read, exercise and spend time with her family and friends. She contributes the cover art for her Whispers novels and has designed covers for over 500 other books.
Book four in the Whispers series, Visions of the Witch, is out now! Tara is currently working on book two in her Keepers of the Stones fantasy saga. Book one, Curse of the Ice Dragon, and the prelude, Witch Flame, are available now.
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