Read an Excerpt
The Faerie Path #3: The Seventh Daughter
Book Three of The Faerie Path
By Frewin Jones
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2009
All right reserved.
Tania stared through the arched stone window at the vast blue skies of Faerie. She could hardly believe that her sisters; her mother, Titania; and her beloved Edric were alive, and that they had all managed to get back into the Immortal Realm. They were safe for the moment in the upper room of Bonwn Tyr—the brown tower that stood in the parklands between the deep, dense vastness of Esgarth Forest and the expanse of the Royal Palace.
Her joy at their miraculous escape did not last long—she saw immediately that something was badly wrong in Faerie.
Zara stood at her side. "Some great evil has befallen the land," she said. "High summer should lie over Faerie. It is not yet the Solstice Day, and yet the trees are withering as if in the grip of a premature autumn."
Tania had been in Faerie only a few days ago, and then the slender aspen trees surrounding the tower had been in full leaf and the grass had grown thick and lush on the hill that sloped down to the palace. But now the aspens were dying and the ground was brown and yellow, the grasses shriveled as if from a whole season of drought. Farther away, the leaves of the forest were shrouded in dark, autumnal colors.
"What did this?" Tania asked indismay.
"It is the influence of the Sorcerer King," said Queen Titania, coming up behind her. "Sickness and death follow wherever he treads. Let us hope that the whole Realm is not so badly affected." The Queen's eyes glinted. "But while the Royal House of Faerie survives, Faerie will never be completely ruined."
Tania leaned from the window, peering through the bleak branches. Her heart quickened. "There are some Gray Knights down there!" she hissed in alarm. "Two of them. In the trees."
Edric caught hold of her arm and drew her back. "Don't let them see you," he said.
"Why should we not?" declared Cordelia. "It is time to take the battle to the Sorcerer King. Let us destroy the evil creatures and be done with it."
"I'm not sure it's such a good idea to pick a fight right now," Tania said. "They don't know we're in Faerie. We should try and keep it that way for as long as possible."
"Tania is right," said the Queen. "We'll make our way to the palace without being seen. If the Sorcerer King's forces are alerted to our presence, it will make our search for Oberon all the more difficult." She looked at her daughters. "But we should take a few moments to assess our injuries." She frowned. "Cordelia, your arm is bleeding."
"We have no time for licking our wounds!" Cordelia exclaimed.
"Yet it would avail us nothing were you to faint from blood loss," said Sancha. She stooped and tore a strip off the hem of her skirt. Reluctantly, Cordelia allowed her sister to bind the cut on her left arm.
"And now let us be gone from here," said Zara. "But there is only one way out of the tower. How are we to pass the guards unseen?"
"By giving them some other quarry to chase," said Cordelia. "Come, I will show you how we may escape." She walked to the winding stone stairway that led down to the ground floor and up to the flat roof. She stared upward for a moment, then looked uneasily back at them. "We must prepare ourselves for the worst," she said. "It may be that we will find Eden's body on the roof."
A terrible, horror-struck silence filled the tower at that dreadful thought. Titania put her hand over her mouth, her eyes hollow with anguish.
Eden had led Zara and Sancha and Cordelia here and had opened a hole between the worlds—but she had not followed them into the Mortal World. It seemed all too possible to Tania that the Gray Knights that had been pursuing them had killed her.
"If she is dead, then we must bear the pain of it," Sancha said, her voice trembling. "But let us pray it is not so."
Cordelia began to mount the stone steps. Titania followed, and Tania could see the dread in the Queen's eyes as she climbed toward the hatchway in the roof. Tania and Edric came next, and finally Sancha and Zara. The trapdoor had been forced open and smashed—damage that Tania guessed had been done when Eden and her sisters had fled here with the Gray Knights on their heels.
Tania's heart thumped sickeningly and a horrible pain grew in her stomach as she approached the broken trapdoor. But when her head came out into the open, she saw that the flat stone flags of the roof were bare, save for a ring of blackened markings like fire scorches on the stones.
"Eden did not die here," Cordelia said.
They all came up onto the roof. "Was she captured, mayhap?" Sancha asked. "Could it be she is their prisoner?"
"She may have escaped them altogether," Zara said. "She is very powerful."
Edric touched Tania's arm. She turned to him and saw that he was staring southward with an appalled look on his face. Titania had moved to the southern side of the waist-high stone balustrade, her body stiff and tense, her hands tightened into white fists at her sides as she gazed at the Royal Palace.
Tania let out a gasp of shock. A scene of utter devastation met her eyes. The Privy Gardens that lay between the parklands and the palace had been laid waste. It was as if some hideous disease had passed over the flower beds and lovingly tended groves of trees, leaving only bare bones and blasted earth. The fountains were dry and many of the statues that decorated the pathways had been broken or knocked down.
Beyond the blistered gardens, a haze of dirty gray smoke hung over the palace. Here and there from blackened windows and collapsed roofs, spirals of darker smoke curled into the sky. The palace was vast, and Tania could see that much of it was still undamaged—the high red-brick walls of countless towers and turrets and buildings and halls still standing proud along the river's winding course—but the Royal Apartments, the parts of the palace that Tania knew best, had been seared and scarred by fire.
"How has the Sorcerer King wrought such destruction is so short a time?" murmured Zara, coming up beside Tania. "In but a few brief days . . ."
"I knew that he was mighty in evil sorcery and that he would wish harm upon us," said Sancha. "But not like this . . . not like this . . ."
"The menagerie is deserted," Cordelia said, shading her eyes as she peered to that part of the gardens. "If he has harmed the animals, I swear I will cut the very heart out of him."
"Perhaps they got away," Tania said. "I can't see any bodies or anything."
"I pray it is so." Cordelia turned away. "There is work to be done." She moved to the far side of the roof and let out a series of lilting high-pitched whistles.
A few moments later a pair of crows came flapping up from the trees and landed on Cordelia's outstretched arm. She spoke briefly to them in a low voice. They each gave a single caw in response and flew away.
Excerpted from The Faerie Path #3: The Seventh Daughter by Frewin Jones Copyright © 2009 by Frewin Jones. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.