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Dale Ibitz, Author
The war between nature's gods continues to rage on Eyidora and Haley, descendant of the Air Eyid, struggles with her own battles. But has she put her trust in someone who may be just as dark and dangerous as Ian, the descendant of Fire himself?
The war between nature's gods continues to rage on Eyidora and Haley, descendant of the Air Eyid, struggles with her own battles.
She's mired in a battle with Ian, the Fire Eyid descendant, bent on destroying Eyidora through fire. She battles her feelings for Tuggin, the stone-faced Eyidoran witch assigned to protect her, never knowing if he's trying to protect her, or trying to kill her.
But Haley's biggest battle of all comes when she meets Luke and Telsa, twins with undeniable strength. Haley invites them to join her on her mission to find the Land Eyid stone. Has she put her trust in someone who may be just as dark and dangerous as Ian, the descendant of Fire himself?
I hated my dreams.
I stood in my bedroom, shivering in my white nightgown, my bare feet cringing from the cold seeping through the rug. My teeth chattered, and I clasped my arms around my chest. Dreamstate shadows smudged the mauve-striped curtains, obscured the gray walls, and caressed the back of my neck with a damp kiss.
Nomer, the Land Eyid, glared at me with his hands on his hips, his gray beard quivering and his gut exploding over his belt. Because I was Eyid-emos, descendant of the Air Eyid, the gods of nature were free to come and go inside my head: sometimes snarky, sometimes pouty, and usually demanding.
I wondered if Nomer planned on staying long; the gods were a power-drain, leaving me sick and wobbly if they stayed too long inside my head. My stomach muscles clenched, anticipating a bout of nausea.
“Git to Tamoor, girlie,” Nomer barked. “And find it.”
Before I could finish my question, he snapped his fingers and vanished, his cackle echoing back from the shadowy depths of wherever it was the gods went after their head invasions.
My eyes snapped open and I shivered again, even though I was tucked in my bed in Allaire Hall, buried under a mountain of quilts. I exhaled, and my breath ignited into a cloud of vapor in the frigid air. Dying coals winked a few last breaths amidst a pile of ash in the fireplace. I blinked a few more times, letting the reality of waking up on a globe called Eyidora instead of my bed on Earth sink in, just like I’d done every morning for the past several months. Though I loved nature-bound Eyidora, its medieval state really sucked on winter mornings.
While I wiggled my cold toes and contemplated running across the stone-cold floor, the dreamstate shadows drew back their hazy curtain. Dawn’s sleepy light poked its rays through the window, laying the rosy-patched groundwork for another sunny day across the floor. A spasm clenched my gut for a moment, and then vanished. Thankfully, Nomer hadn’t stayed long, and that little spout was about as sick as I was going to get.
I sat up and inspected the vacant spot where Nomer had been standing. “Nomer?” I called, though I knew the god of land had winked out of my head as quickly as he’d winked in.
I climbed out of bed, and the cool air of the Airey Mountains sifted beneath my nightgown and clawed up my legs like an icy-nailed cat. I rubbed my arms, casting my gaze around the room for my slippers, which I’d misplaced… again. Abandoning the search, I checked over my shoulder to be doubly sure I was alone, and then yanked my nightstand away from the wall. Using a haircomb, I pried away a loose board, reached into the shadowy space, and pulled out a necklace.
I had no clue where Tamoor was, but I had a clue what ‘it’ was.
I sat on the floor, the cold stinging my butt through my nightgown, and caressed the milky stone of power, the Air Eyid stone. ‘It’ had to be an Eyid stone. I’d bet that Nomer had just ordered me to find one of the missing Eyid stones in Tamoor. I’d also bet that Tamoor was in Lak ‘Heika, the region of land.
I needed all four Eyid stones — land, water, air, and fire — to complete the Web of Harmony, stop the war between the Eyids, and bring harmony back to nature. The war took its toll on both people and the globes: lightning storms, earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, and drought. In the past few months I’d almost been crushed by boulders and trees, zapped by lightning, and set on fire. I’d seen people die. And, supposedly, I was holding the key to stopping the war. My face suddenly felt as cold as my butt.
It looked like I would have to go to Tamoor.
I gazed into the creamy depths of the stone of power lying heavy in my palm. I had the Air Eyid stone.
Ian, descendant of the Fire Eyid, had the Fire Eyid stone.
Slipping my necklace over my head, I jumped to my feet and paced the length of my room. I’d thought Ian, with his sexy, dark hair, eyes sharp as jade, and a Jersey Boy-jacked body, had been a hall god on Earth. He’d duped me into thinking he liked me, and tried to dupe me into giving him my Air Eyid stone. But his heart was as black as his hair, with a burnt-out, corpse of a soul. I swallowed to lubricate my parched throat. And I, in my pathetic innocence, had almost given him my Eyid stone.
Then he’d revealed his plan to me, a plan that would eliminate the Water Eyid, turn Eyidora into desert, destroy humanity, and devastate all seven globes in the planetary chain. He planned to become a new god in this new Eyidora. And then he tried to kill me. Just because I didn’t agree with him. Just because I refused to let him to destroy Eyidora. Just because I refused to hook up with him.
Now we were working against each other, each trying to find the other two missing Eyid stones before the other. A tremble worked up the backs of my legs and skittered up my spine. I shuddered once, violently, and then took a deep, calming breath. If Ian caught wind of where I was going… and why… My swallow clicked in my throat.
He would hunt me down and kill me.
I straightened, dug my nails into my palm, and lifted my chin.
I’d beat him once. In fact, I came close to killing him. I could beat him again.
It was hard keeping secrets from him, though. The gods weren’t the only ones who could ransack my head while I slept; other Eyid-emos could connect with me through dreamstate as well. And Ian was a constant nightmare, alternating between taunting me about trying to save the globe and trying to persuade me to join him. The guy was numb-nuts crazy.
Still, part of me was glad he wasn’t dead. I’d been called a lot of things — childish, selfish — but I wasn’t a killer, evil soul or not, and I was relieved not to have the weight of murder pressing my chest.
But would the globes be better off if I had killed him?
I didn’t want to think about that. I closed my eyes, and the still-childish part of me longed for my mom. There was one place I could go to feel close to her. I bolted from my room and scurried down the hall. Head down, focused on reaching the Portrait Hall – where I hoped I could sort out my nightmares and insecurities – I rounded the corner and smacked into a very firm, very warm obstruction.
An exotic, coconut scent invaded my head and warmed my veins. My breath evaporated in a tiny gasp, a mental sigh popping like a bubble inside my head. A tongue of electricity caressed my spine, and my stomach muscles spasmed. I didn’t need to lift my gaze to know what I’d just run in to.
I stepped back. We stared at each other in the cold hallway, and that faint buzz of electricity I felt whenever I came into contact with Tuggin skittered over my body. My conflicted feelings about him battled in my chest, taking a couple of nicks at my heart. While my body initiated a melt-down sequence when I gazed at his ice-blue eyes, longish, dirty-blond hair, and over-all Greek Godiness, my brain registered several shortcomings in the demeanor department. Emotionally he was a void – a zero, a big, fat nothing – and snarkier than a hornet trapped in a used pee cup. Not to mention that he disliked me. Immensely.
His black tunic brushed against muscled arms and wide chest, which narrowed down to a pair of solid hips and long, strong, legs. I bit my lip, trying to not think about what lay beneath those clothes. I tried to douse the heat slipping through my gut, but the flare of nostrils indicated Tuggin had already spied the taint of my infatuation. I sucked my lips between my teeth. Damn, but he was serious hall-god material.
Tuggin leaned against the wall with his arms crossed. His gaze held the warmth of a glacier and the softness of boulder. I tried to meet him glare for glare, the trickling warmth that had ignited my spine a moment ago icing over.
As my Menta-protecter, Tuggin always knew what I was feeling, and what I was thinking. Mentas were trained to fight, to influence people’s thoughts, and to read emotions. Those powers made them pretty well-suited to protecting Council members and Eyid-emos. That was, of course, before the war had erupted generations ago, and those Council members and Eyid-emos who weren’t killed went into hiding. At that point, the Mentas took control of Eyidora.
Those powers also enabled Mentas to become very adept at assassination.
And Tuggin was dammed good at his job; he’d saved my ass on more than one occasion.
I lifted my chin. I was descendant of the Air Eyid, and I had the same powers as Tuggin. And I was learning to use them. Uncle Sal had been teaching me to block lunta intrusion so that no one could force me to do anything against my will. Hiding my emotions, however, was impossible. My emotions always seemed to erupt, no matter how hard I tried to empty my body of feeling.
Tuggin’s gaze melted down my body like butter, then slid back up, coming to rest on my necklace. Goose bumps collided against my skin. I wrapped my arms over my chest, aware that my nightgown didn’t hide much, and wished I’d at least grabbed a bathrobe. And why hadn’t I used the comb to brush my tangled hair rather than pry the board from my wall?
“Going somewhere?” he asked.
I sighed in response to his lilting voice; an alien, seductive voice that had the power to seduce a nun from her convent. Realizing I was melting, I straightened my spine and lifted my chin. Again.
Concentrating on even breathing, I was glad that he’d asked an innocent-enough question, one that I could answer easily. At least he wasn’t grilling me about dreams and Eyid messages, which I liked to keep secret. It was extremely difficult to lie to Tuggin.
“The Portrait Hall,” I said, and licked my lips.
Tuggin raised an eyebrow. “You have been in dreamstate. What message have you received from the Eyids?”
How did he know these things?
I chewed my cheek for a minute, debating whether to answer him. His alleged duty as a Menta was to protect me, so wherever I went, Tuggin went; whatever I knew, he demanded to know. And whatever I thought, well… he could mind his own damned business.
I kind of thought that whole protection racket was an excuse to spy on me or, as I’d been inclined to believe, neutralize me. Whatever that meant.
I tucked my hair behind my ear. “I’m going to Tamoor to find it.”
“Do not be obtuse, tenya.”
I clenched my teeth. “I’m not a little girl.”
“Then do not behave as one. Besides, you are not of age.”
I waved a hand. “So, I won’t be eighteen for a few months. Who’s counting?”
Tuggin’s eyebrow shot up again.
I finally answered his original question. “To find an Eyid stone. Happy?”
Well, duh. Tuggin was never happy. I doubted Tuggin felt any emotion at all, except annoyance and anger, usually directed at me.
I said, “The question was rhetorical.”
Tuggin considered me for a long moment. “We depart in three days.”
He brushed past me, my body reacting on automatic-tingle-pilot, which annoyed me. I gave his back the finger as he strolled down the hall. Then I sped down the corridors until, breathless, I reached the Portrait Hall.
The high ceiling accommodated life-sized paintings of my ancestors, who all seemed to stare down their noses at me, as though I was insignificant, a failure, a loser.
Ignoring them, I stopped at the painting of my mom, and caressed her name: Effy Allaire.
I didn’t remember my birth mom. I didn’t remember being whisked to Earth when I was two years old. The only thing I remembered was the Earth-kin woman I’d called “Mom” until my seventeenth birthday, when I’d tumbled unceremoniously back to Eyidora and been forced to take up the mantle of Air Eyid-emos, which entailed a butt-load of responsibility, like finding the Eyid stones and stopping a war.
My adoptive mom had vanished.
There were no paintings of my dead father.
There were no paintings of my missing brother, Axel.
My fingers shook, and I clenched them behind my back.
“Mom?” I whispered, my voice echoing in the grandiose hall. “Am I good enough to beat Ian? Am I strong enough to find the Eyid stones and stop this war?” I hesitated. “Do I have what it takes to be Eyid-emos?”
The hall’s answering silence deafened me.