2016 Book Excellence Award Finalist
After a thousand years, Lady Alexin (Alex) Dumwalt breaks the spell around Seaward Isle, a ring of storms so powerful no one could leave the island. She joins the exodus of Elves, Dwarves, and mortals to Eledon, the World of the Elves on the other side of the entry point. But Alex faces a difficult decision. Her Water Elf grandmother expects her to stay in Eledon, but Alex was born and raised as a mortal. Her mixed blood, Elf and mortal, means that she must choose between staying in Eledon or following the other mortals who will soon leave for the mortal world through a special entry point created for them. What will she do?
Preview: Chapter 1
The fate of Seaward Isle and all its inhabitants weighed heavily on Alex’s mind as she trudged up the stairs at her cousin’s fortress in Southport. Her thoughts wavered between doubt and fear—doubt she could achieve what was being asked of her and fearful of the consequences should she succeed. Her black boots scraped against the stone steps leading to the turret, and she straightened her brown uniform as she reached the top landing. There, she was greeted by bright sunlight, forcing her to shield her blue eyes from the glare. The wind caught her long, black hair and blew it into her face.
Across the rooftop, her blond-haired cousin, Prince Darin of the Water Elves and Lord Odin, the leader of the Elves on Seaward Isle, stared out to sea as a line of storms moved in closer to shore. She stopped short of them and saluted by placing her right hand over her chest and curtsying, the proper greeting to the two most powerful Elves on the island.
“Good morning, Lord Odin…Prince Darin.” She nodded to her cousin who returned a nod of his own.
“Good morning, Alex.” Lord Odin smiled—his long blond hair shone in the sun and his blue eyes twinkled. “I hope you don’t mind doing this experiment.”
“Sure, no problem, but I don’t think it’ll work.”
“Of course it will. Think positive.” He put his arm around her shoulders. “Sit over here by the turret. You’ll have the best view.”
“Thanks.” Alex squinted in the sunshine and sat in a wooden chair at the base of the turret, staring down at the beach far below her.
“By the way, Prince Darin and I took the liberty of bringing the storms closer to shore.” He pointed to the line of dark clouds less than a mile away, where thunder rumbled.
Alex grimaced. “Why didn’t you stop them?”
He shook his head. “I can’t and neither can Prince Darin. We can only move them around.”
“What makes you think I can?”
“I know you can. I have the utmost confidence in you.”
Although grateful for the vote of confidence, Alex paled, and beads of sweat formed on her upper lip. For a thousand years, Elves, Dwarves, and mortals from different lands and times remained stranded here because of the storms. Now, they were so close she could see them as never before. Sweeping winds churned black clouds into a boiling rage—pierced by long fingers of lightning as sheets of rain fell into the turbulent sea. It was a terrifyingly beautiful sight.
“You may begin, Alex.” Lord Odin stepped aside.
Alex paused, flinching as lightning flashed. After a few seconds, she looked up at Lord Odin. “What am I supposed to do? Tell it to stop?”
Lord Odin raised his eyebrows. “Yes, well…let me help you. Close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Relax. Inhale and exhale.” He breathed in and out. “Now, imagine yourself flying through the storms…see the dark clouds…feel the rain as it falls…watch the waves roll by.”
As he spoke, Alex closed her eyes, holding her arms out to the side—her body tingled, as if raindrops pelted her skin. Playfully, she swished her hands to increase the size of the waves, and they grew at her command. But she opened her eyes and caught a glimpse of a ship’s white sail, tossed high as it crashed against the barrier rocks.
“Oh no! Stop!” Alex leapt to her feet and bolted past her cousin, running and jumping down the stairs.
“Alex, there’s nothing you can do!” Lord Odin shouted as she ran away.
At the front gate, Alex rushed past two guards, nearly knocking one over. She careened to the left and sprinted to the beach, a block away. Wind tossed her hair, and she swiped at it with her hand. Her heart pounded as tears ran down her face. Once on the beach, she slid to a stop, yanked off her boots, and ran towards the water.
A heavy-set man, knee deep in water, pointed out to sea. “Someone’s in trouble out there.”
“I see him.” Alex’s heart sank—it was another failed attempt to escape Seaward Isle, and it was her fault.
“I’ll get the ghost patrol, Miss Elf.” The man left the water, shivering as he did.
The ghost patrol was the nickname for the Coastal Police unit designated to help shipwreck victims on the beach. At least one wreck occurred each week, sometimes more, but more dead bodies than live ones washed up on the sand.
As she swam, Alex saw a child waving frantically from the ship, screaming for help. She choked on a mouthful of water and coughed as the cries grew more desperate. She couldn’t bear to listen anymore, so she put her head down and swam harder.
When she reached the ship, she pushed the broken mast aside and climbed aboard, finding the bodies of a man and a woman with two children. She pressed her lips together and knew they were dead without touching them—their glow of golden energy was gone. The left side of the ship was badly damaged, but she moved to the bow where she found the only survivor—a young boy; she guessed he was seven. His black hair dripped with water, and his thin body had several cuts and bruises. He burst into tears when he saw her.
Alex embraced him, rubbing his back to comfort him. “I am so sorry.” Her eyes filled with tears, knowing he was now an orphan, just like she was. “Are you hurt?” She pushed him away to examine him.
“Mi papa say time to go to America. He say we see nana there and become rich, but we no make it.”
Her jaw dropped. She’d heard of America—her foster father came from there. “But you can’t get to America from here. What’s your name?”
“Carlitos…we come from Havana.” He sobbed and held up his arm with a rope tied tightly around it.
Alex wiped her face dry. “Carlitos, my name is Alex. Can I help you?”
Alex slid her assassin’s knife from her wrist cuff and flicked it open. Carlitos gasped and opened his eyes wide. His reaction made her stop to reassure him. “I won’t hurt you.” She cut the rope from the ship and tried to remove it from his arm without cutting it, but he cried out.
“No, it hurts.” He backed away, but Alex grabbed him and brought him closer to her.
“Stay still and don’t look.” As soon as he looked away, she slid her blade under the rope and cut it. She set her blade down and removed the rope with a quick swipe. Carlitos winced, but didn’t cry out and looked down at his arm as blood oozed.
Alex clamped her hand over the gaping wound. “I told you not to look.” He turned his head away again and tears fell as he began to shake.
Alex closed her eyes. “Heal.” She said in Elfspeak, a form of mental telepathy to command her blue light to heal without anyone hearing her. She opened her eyes and saw a faint blue light glowing under her hand, healing the wound without leaving a scar.
Carlitos peeked when she lifted her hand. “You fix me.” He smiled a little.
His wan smile brought some joy to her heart. “Don’t tell anyone. It’s our secret.” She put her finger to her lips.
“Fix them.” He waved at the bodies. “Fix them!”
“No, it’s too late. Their energy is gone.”
Carlitos put his hands together and fell to his knees. “Please…you must.”
“No, I told you I can’t help them. Their energy is gone.” She picked up her blade and folded it up, sliding it away into her wrist cuff, once again out of sight.
The little boy wailed, cradling his mother’s face in his hands. Alex didn’t know what else to do and looked away, glancing towards shore.
“They’re coming for you.”
On the beach, a dozen men hauled out their rescue equipment—a rowboat, long ropes, towels, and blankets, as the crippled ship drifted closer to shore. Two men rowed out to the wreck, now about three hundred yards out and tied a long rope to it. They climbed aboard, shaking their heads at the bodies. After checking on Alex and the little boy, they signaled to the men on the beach, and the broken ship was slowly pulled to shore.
Once beached on the sand, a man stepped up with his arms outstretched. “Give him to me, Miss Elf. He’ll be all right. This happens all the time.” He bit his lip when he saw the bodies. “I almost ended up like them. This island is nothing, but a trap. At first, you’re so desperate to leave you’d try anything. But there’s nothing you can do. It’s not so bad here once you get used to the place. We’ve got food, water, and shelter. What else do we need? We’re all going to die one day. I guess I’ll be here.”
“What are you going to do with him?” Alex nodded at the boy.
“Don’t worry about this fine lad. We’ll find him a good home. What’s your name, son?”
“Name’s Sam. You’re in good hands.” He patted his shoulder. “Now, Miss Elf, don’t go swimming out there the next time. We’ll take care of it.”
“All right. Thanks.” Alex helped Carlitos out of the ship, but Sam continued to stare at her until she blushed. “Is something wrong?”
“Well, you look like an Elf; you even got that blue hair in your ears like their kids, but your hair’s black and your ears aren’t pointed. How come?”
“My father was mortal.” Self-consciously, she tugged her hair over her ears to hide the blue hair.
Sam chuckled and raised his eyebrows. “Lucky man. Come on, lad. Stop shaking. Are you hurt?”
“She fix me, but she scary.” Carlitos eyed her warily.
Sam chuckled. “Used some Elf magic on you, did she?”
Carlitos nodded and showed him his arm. “Arm cut here, but now nothing.”
Alex groaned. She climbed off the ship, watching the other men place the bodies on the wagon.
Once the crew left, Alex plopped down on the beach near her boots and sat quietly, her hands on top of her head and tears on her cheeks. A few minutes later, her cousin, Prince Darin strolled up and sat down next to her.
“It’s all right, Alex.” He placed his hand on her shoulder.
“No, it isn’t. Four people are dead, and there’s another orphan on Seaward Isle, thanks to me.”
“What are you talking about?”
She sighed. “I did what Lord Odin said to do, and I made the waves grow bigger, but a ship crashed on the barrier rocks before I could stop it. The only survivor was a little boy.” She covered her face and shook her head.
“Hold on a minute, you made the waves grow bigger?”
Alex nodded and sniffled. “Yes.”
“Then you can do it.” He raised his eyebrows.
“Control the storms. Alex, you can do it. You must stop them the next time.” He clenched his fist.
She looked at him and then out to sea. “I guess.”
He exhaled sharply. “What do you mean, you guess?”
“I don’t understand how I do it.”
“I don’t care if you don’t understand it.” He scooted closer to her. “You must do it again, so we can all escape from this…prison. Do it for them, if for no one else. At least do it for that little boy.” He paused. “You’re the only one who can, Alex.” He ran his hand over his blond hair. “You must try again…please.”
Alex forced a tight smile. “All right…for you…and him.”
He patted her on the back. “That’s better. Get back to the house and clean up. Lord Odin will be in the parlor waiting for you.” He stood up, brushing sand off his uniform and helped her to her feet. They returned to the fortress in silence.
As soon as Alex got to her room, she checked her blade and cleaned it. Then she bathed and put on a clean uniform. Even though she’d been dismissed as a soldier, she still dressed like one—she didn’t have any other clothes to wear and no money to buy any. For years, she’d been a soldier in the Northeast Forest Army, an elite tracker known as the Black Elf.
Before she left her room, she leaned in closer to a mirror and stared at her right ear and then her left. A tuft of fine blue hair grew out of each ear canal. Although less than a half-inch long, the hair stood out like a beacon. She had no idea why all young Water Elves carried the marking and recalled with a grimace that two men had called her, Miss Elf. Until now, she’d been raised as a mortal and never considered herself to be one of them. Maybe she was.
Alex went to the parlor to meet Lord Odin. She saluted and curtsied to him, blushing. “I’m sorry I ran out, Lord Odin. You were right—there was nothing I could do.”
He cupped her face in his hands. “Prince Darin told me that you thought you caused that shipwreck. You didn’t.” He kissed her on the forehead. “Did you really make those waves grow larger?”
He raised her chin. “Good, you can do this. Make them smaller this time. Follow me.” He turned to the door.
Alex followed behind, the knot in her stomach tightened, as she feared another failure.
A few moments later, Lord Odin turned to her. “I want you to understand that this is very important to me. I only have a few months left.”
“A few months?” Alex gasped. “What’s wrong? Are you sick?”
“No—no, it’s not my health. It’s my seat on the Council of Elders.” He sighed. “I never thought I’d be here this long and it has a heavy cost—it’s been almost a thousand years. After that, my seat will be declared vacant, and they’ll look for a replacement.”
“Why didn’t you say so before?” Now this ordeal made sense to her.
Lord Odin simply smiled and continued up the stairs.
At the top of the fortress, they met Prince Darin, who slapped Alex on the shoulder like an old comrade-in-arms. They went to the turret, where Alex sat down and rubbed her hands together with renewed determination.
After taking several deep breaths, Alex pulled her hair from her face and blinked several times, wiping her sweaty hands on her britches. Leaning forward, she focused her attention on the storms, but her thoughts wandered to the little boy, Carlitos.
“I can’t concentrate, Lord Odin.”
“Here, start over. First, sit all the way back in the chair. Close your eyes and inhale slowly to a count of four. Yes, that’s it. Now, exhale-two-three-four. Inhale-two-three-four and exhale-two-three-four. Now, feel the wind and rain. Inhale…and exhale. Now make the waves smaller.”
Alex closed her eyes as Lord Odin spoke. This time, her imaginary flight through the storms came easier. She lowered her hands and calmed the waves.
“Stop the storms,” she chanted and tapped her foot two times. “Stop the storms.” Tap-tap. “Stop the storms.” Tap-tap.
To her surprise, a small break in the storms appeared, but when she paused, the storms returned. She didn’t know where the words had come from or why she tapped her foot, but when she started her chant again, the clouds thinned and a patch of blue sky appeared through a clear break in the storm line.
“Sun, come out.” Alex tapped her foot. Sunlight burst through the clouds. She squinted at the bright light and screamed excitedly. “I did it!”
Lord Odin clenched his fist. “Yes, you are the Spell Breaker.”
Prince Darin squeezed her in his arms. “You did it, Alex—I knew you could do it.” Tears fell from his eyes, and he ran over to embrace Lord Odin. They danced and whirled about in pure exhilaration.
Alex grinned at the two distinguished Elves expressing joy like children. But a strong sense of foreboding came over her. It seemed too easy. Now that the spell was broken, the people of Seaward Isle were free to leave, but to where? Where should she go? This island had always been her home. What did she do?
Teah Mist‘s review
Lady Alexin lifts the curse that causes the storms to keep the inhabitants of Seaward Isle prisoner for centuries. However while many are glad of the change it brings much strife to Alexin who is left standing between two different paths and wondering which is the better path for her. I personally really enjoyed this book because I liked how there were so many different fantasy elements like gods, elves, curses, and more. The book reminded me a bit of the lightning thief as they both have half-blood characters and gods. I have to say that if you enjoyed the lightning thief then you will really enjoy this book.
“I received a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review”
Top Customer Reviews
By L. Kemer on July 28, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition