He'll destroy the world. But first he has to save it.
The Nine Kingdoms bleed. Leaderless, ravaged, the land awaits deliverance from Poired Dyrth's devastating campaign. But what if one blight can only be cleansed by another?
The promised Fierian is known by many names. Judge. Destroyer. Scourge. And now one other: Haegan, Prince of Seultrie. Once a cripple, now a gifted Accelerant, Haegan can no longer run from the truth. But neither can he be reconciled to it. He knows only one thing for certain: as the only able-bodied heir to the Fire Throne, he must return to the Nine and fight for his people.
But there are insidious forces at work. When reality itself falls into question, Haegan struggles to know where to fight, whom to trust. Caught between duty to his country and duty to the world, Haegan must see clearly enough to choose the right path to save the world.
About the Author
Ronie Kendig is an award–winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. She married a veteran, and together their lives are never dull with four children and two dogs―a Maltese Menace and a retired military working dog. Ronie's degree in Psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters.
Read an Excerpt
Somewhere over Zaethien
The bloody image of King Zireli fell away as Chima lifted into the ash-riddled air. Smoke and flames streaked into the skies, not only of their own violent will, but wielded at the hand of a master accelerant. Searching. Hunting for Haegan as he fled the hopeless battle that had cost his parents their lives. He squeezed his eyes shut against the devastation, his hands gripping the raqine's dense fur. But no distance or expanse could separate him from the visage of his father in death.
Zireli's son, heir of the Fire King, Haegan glanced back to the smoldering keep. In that heartbeat, he saw the Deliverers standing amid the ruin. Remembered as acid on his tongue the terror they had struck in him. And the furor as they forbade him from killing Poired.
Why? Why would Abiassa stay his hand? Deliverers were her justice embodied. All-powerful. All-knowing.
And they had forbidden him from slaying the beast who had ravaged the kingdoms. Terrorized the people. Murdered his father.
Everything in him wanted to turn back. What justice was there when Abiassa allowed evil to go unchecked? Had not the Council of Nine said Haegan was the Fierian, Her chosen warrior? Was it not his role to mete out her retribution?
He dug his knees into Chima's side, forcing her to angle to the left. To bring her around and head back to the keep.
White-hot fire shot through his wrist. Haegan screamed as the pain blazed across his arm. Glowing. Red. As if an ember itself had embedded itself in his forearm.
You are forbidden, Fierian. This is not yours to do. The Deliverer's reminder scorched his mind as its touch had his wrist.
A throttling-staccato angry purr rippled through Chima. Even with the wind tearing at his ears, Haegan heard her refusal. He turned his face to the sky and let loose a cry of anguish and frustration.
Chastised. Defeated. Humiliated. Haegan, prince of Zaethien and all the Nine, hunched forward over the sleek red neck of the raqine and stared down at the limp body of his sister slung in front of him.
Be well, sister, he thought as they glided away. Months had passed since she had first drawn him, unwitting, into her scheme. What were you thinking, Kae? What madness seized you?
Though anger tinged his thoughts, Haegan staved off the desire to blame her, even as behind them Zaethien burned, Zireli's Jujak army routed.
Grinda. Where was he? Where were the Valor Guard?
His heart seized at the thought. His father's own warriors, the fiercest among the armies of Zaethien. Their might would be needed to subdue this enemy. To bring justice to the deaths of the Fire King and his wife.
Tears stung Haegan's eyes. But he dashed them away. No time or tear could be spared.
The enormous noise drew his attention to what lay below. Trees ... a dark cloud hung over them.
His heart hiccupped. "No," he whispered, the lone word caught on the icy breeze of the wind as he beheld the giant birds that rose from the forest. Not just a flock. Scores! Such that he could not count nor could he see beyond. Beneath them, flames pursued the frantic creatures.
Though he could not hear the taunting laugh now, it filled him. Consumed him. Horror and awe stabbed ice into his spine at the sheer power of the display below, though he was no stranger to the incipient's abilities. On the bridge, with the king's body sprawled between them, Poired had even manipulated Haegan's own thoughts against him. And now — though Poired must be a mile away or more — pockets of fire erupted in once-quiet sections of the forest.
He was driving the birds after them.
Squawking, wings flapping in wild panic, the birds had no pattern. No destination save one: away.
Yet they were coming straight at him and Chima.
His heart raced, watching the sea of black harried wings snapping harder and harder.
A ball of heat blasted past him.
Haegan gave a shout.
Chima banked to the right, hard.
Digging his fingers into her fur, he held on for life and limb. Buried his sister's body between himself and the beast as his world tilted to the side. Nothing but a vast expanse of icy and ash-laden air existed between him and a brutal impact upon the hard earth.
Haegan gritted his teeth, feeling the pull of Primar's gravity against his limbs. They would fall to their deaths. End this battle for the Nine with a great splat upon the fields south of the Throne Road. Poired would win, killing all the Celahars within the span of one hour.
"Chiiiimmmaaa," Haegan ground out, his limbs aching from holding on.
Her body, undulating with power and agility, rippled beneath him. She leveled off, and he breathed a sigh of relief. He reached for a better hold to haul himself back into position.
Pain pierced his shoulder blade — a bird pecking at him. Haegan cried out. "Away with you!"
Another dove at him.
Haegan ducked, but was too late. A stab of the beak took a chunk of his cheek. "Augh!" He covered his head with one arm, not daring to loose his grip on Kaelyria, who lay unmoving, still.
A black blanket descended on him. Wretched birds squawked and flapped. Their wings snapped his own long blond curls in his face. He pressed his chest against his sister's back, only to feel claw and beak drilling into his spine.
Chima banked hard right. Haegan's legs swung around, dangling. Even as he hung off the raqine's side, Kaelyria barely stretched over the neck aright, Haegan noticed the birds were not merely attacking him. They were picking chunks off Chima's back.
Anger rose within him. She was a mighty raqine, breathed into existence by Abiassa Herself. Her kind had faded from the lands, save Chima, Zicri, and Ebose, his brother. It was his task to protect her.
Haegan could wield — but it was as effective and accurate as lobbing a cannon from within a cyclone. Neither could he predict what he would hit or how hard. But ... there had to be something he could do.
A volley from Poired shot into the sky.
Six birds went limp, stunned or singed by the heat wake, and plummeted to the earth. Haegan frowned, watching over his shoulder as they fell to their deaths.
Arms trembling, he held on tight, though he tried not to injure the mighty beast. But with each tremor — both of chill and exhaustion — that twitched his muscles, Haegan felt his grip slipping. Fear washed through his body, threatening.
As he struggled to regain a solid seat atop the raqine, he noted his sister sliding. In the opposite direction. Kae! His heart beat faster. She had been so perfectly situated. Why must she start slipping now?
Even as he wondered, Haegan saw Chima's muscles ripple beneath Kaelyria's body.
"No!" Haegan shouted, his voice lost in the wind. "Chima, stop!"
But another twitch and Kaelyria slid free.
As if finally relieved of the burden and glad for it, Chima shook out her spine. Clinging by a fistful of fur, Haegan cried out. His feet dangled over the lands that were but a blur of greens fading to browns. "Augh!" His throat went dry. He swallowed "Chim —"
Haegan lost his grip. He dropped through the air, his only thought for Kaelyria. He swung around, his body tumbling.
A bird pelted him. Angrily pecked and squawked.
But then fell away.
Haegan saw her. Saw his sister — so far. She would hit long before he did. "Chiiiimmaaaaa!" he howled, terror gripping him tight.
Something large struck him in the back. He flipped up and over, momentarily flying upward. Until ...
His body surrendered once more to the exertion of gravity's mighty claw. But when he tipped back toward the earth, he saw a miracle.
Chima dove, spiraling straight toward Kaelyria. She swept over the princess and glided up easily from the dive. When she sailed out in a graceful arc, Kaelyria was gone.
And still I fall. It would serve him just to die this day. When he had so miserably failed his mother. His father. When he had been stopped from killing the man responsible for so much death and destruction.
Haegan surrendered to the call of Death, unable to shake two thoughts: it would have been easier to have the Deliverer end his life on the bridge, and Chima had been right to shake him from her back. He had not deserved to fight with so noble a creature.
In the battle of Fieri Keep, he had done only one thing well: failed.
But then — a pair of black-as-night eyes locked onto him. With two mighty, thunderous flaps of her wings, Chima shot through the air like an arrow. Straight at him.
Screaming tore at his ears. A din so consuming, he could not shift away from it. Needles peppered his face and hands. Painful. Numbing. Haegan pulled his head up — and saw nothing but a white-gray blanket. He blinked and groaned.
And immediately, he lifted.
He threw his hands to the side and grabbed on.
He glanced around, his wits slowly clearing. Chima. Though he now knew where he was, there was something more. Something ... What? He could not sort his thoughts. He shook his head.
She gave a low, chortling response, her wings locked as they glided miles over the lands. He flipped over and caught hold, only then realizing he could not feel his fingers. They were blue. Ice clung to the tufts of her fur.
Haegan noticed the sun had vanished. Blue skies had given way to blankets of gray etched in white. Where are we?
Haegan took in their surroundings. Compass points were impossible to determine in the thick blanket of white that covered the sky and terrain.
He felt the word as much as thought it. Felt the fear. This wasn't just a passing storm. Like the one that had overtaken his life, this one was here to stay.
"Ch — Chima," Haegan spoke, his teeth chattering against the cold. Every twitch of his muscles hurt. Shivering hurt. Trembling hurt. It was too cold.
But his sister! Forget the pain — had Kaelyria died?
Grief tore at him like the sharp teeth of the wind. Seeking warmth as much as comfort, Haegan lay against Chima's warmed body. Patted her side. "Just get us to Asykth, Chima. Get us back to your home."
But even as he spoke, icy rain broke free from the clouds. Drenched him. Needled him. In moments, he could neither see nor hear. His own thoughts were a chaotic storm as well, tangling and tumbling over one another.
Chima pressed on, her wings flapping harder. Her shoulder muscles pumping fervently as the storm made flight difficult.
As he lay there, Haegan saw the icicles forming on the tips of Chima's feathery wings. Not for the first time did he wish he could wield with as much skill as his father. Warming Chima would be simple for a trained accelerant. But to him, Fierian, destroyer of worlds ...
He curled his hand away from her fur. Should he try? Could he contain the Flames? Abiassa, Chima struggles. I know you tasked her protection to me ...
But if he did not control it — he would burn her alive.
Kill himself in the process.
Yet, if he did not try ... they would die regardless.
He stretched his hand toward her wing. Touched the cartilage support. Took a breath for courage. Please, Abiassa.CHAPTER 2
Afraid to blow them up — it would not be the first time lives had been lost because of his so-called gift — he hesitated. Ice became snow. The air itself seemed to be snow. So thick, Haegan could not see his own hand. He ducked, burying his face against his arm and her spine. He looked at his fingers, close to his face, as he thought to mutter words he had never been taught, yet that sat on his tongue, ready to usher him into his role as Fierian. A role he rejected. Wanted no part of.
But as he realized his heart was slowing because of the freezing conditions, he feared for Chima. Perhaps just a whisper, then. Eyes on his hand, Haegan parted his lips. "Ïmnaeh ... waeït —"
Though no glow erupted, heat wafted between his lips and knuckles. The beginning of embers. Haegan smiled. Pressed his hand to Chima's back and whispered — slowly — the words. Over and over.
Chima chortle-purred her appreciation.
Haegan slumped against her, focusing on her pleasure. On her warmth. With death pushed back and held at bay — for now — he could not shut out the painful truth of the situation — because of him, Seultrie had been taken. His father killed. Poired had won.
He sagged in defeat. His mind ran rampant through the last few months, terrorized by its own paths. Kaelyria's attempt to stave off the attack of the kingdom's enemy. Blazes, she had meant well, but she had unleashed a terrible burden upon him. One that had been at best unfair, and at worst painfully cruel.
Yet he could not fault her, could not lay at her slippered feet the whole of the blame. Would not. He'd lost her — Kaelyria was dead. That was his fault. Darker, more sinister forces were at work to destroy their family's legacy. To tear down the will and purpose of Abiassa across Primar.
And I am the Fierian, destroyer of the very worlds I seek to protect. Those which have been my home and my hope. His father and grandfather and countless ancestors had been tested in battle and proven mighty enough to rule as the Fire King. They fought against tyranny and many little Poireds through the years.
Now he was the one who would destroy all they fought to protect. All he had been raised to esteem.
An escape must exist. He must find it.
Without warning, Chima dropped altitude. Haegan fisted the fur at her neck, noticing the icy shards that cut into his hands. He winced but knew better than to release her, lest he fall to his death.
He squinted around. White sheets of frost and snow drenched his visual field. The sky blurred as snowflakes stuck to his eyelashes. His cheeks burned from the frigid temperature. Though he pried his hand free, his fingers forbade him from uncurling them. With a groan of pain, he focused on heating them.
Again, Chima descended. What had she seen? Were they at last coming up on Ybienn? The flight had consumed hours that felt more like years, for the fright and freeze that had eaten at his courage and strength.
Haegan stretched to the side, trying to see around Chima's broad skull. For a time he saw nothing, then looming gray shapes resolved about them. He strained forward —
A massive rock flew by.
Haegan jerked back, his heart thundering.
He glanced behind them, only to find the face of a mountain glaring back. He whipped around, startled. Disoriented. Where had Chima taken them?
Thwap. Thwap-thwap. Thwap.
Strange, but to his ears each flap of her powerful wings seemed louder than normal. And ... multiplied, as if a half-dozen raqine beat the passage between the cliffs. Haegan frowned, glancing to the side, where naught but white greeted him. Echo? It sounded like —
Chima rattled. Banked hard right.
Haegan grabbed tight, his heart in his throat as she dropped several dozen feet. Tucked her wings.
His heart rapid-fired. What was she doing?
They angled left. His hips slid in that direction. Was it terrible of him to be glad he wasn't fighting to maintain his own seating when his sister had fallen? Vanished. His stomach revolted, churning at the thought. "Chima!" he shouted, angry. Vindictive.
He tangled both hands in her fur, seizing any semblance of a grip. But she canted. His legs lifted up, his body inverted. A strangled cry scaled his throat. His back arced. Air whipped at him.
All at once, with a mighty snap of her wings, she stopped short.
Haegan sailed through the air. The weightlessness terrified him. Though he screamed, the roar of the wind suffocated sound. Terror snatched his ability to think. He fell through grayness and snow. Wind buffeted him. He tumbled over again, his blurring mind reaching for Kaelyria.
Pain exploded through his temple. Breath yanked from his lungs. Fire scored his hands and elbow. Gray clapped to darkness and a halo of snow enveloped him.
Haegan blinked. Found himself staring up at the angry storm. Everything hurt.
Wait. Not true. Nothing. He felt absolutely nothing.
He pried himself off the ground, surprised that his hands dropped several inches before finding terra firma. Propped up, he grunted against the half-dozen aches that permeated his muscles. The excruciating pain of frozen fingers. The inability to shiver because he was too cold. Hunched beneath the pain, he glanced around. Saw nothing but grays and darker grays. Even his breath had gone so cold that it failed to plume before his face.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Accelerant"
Copyright © 2016 Ronie Kendig.
Excerpted by permission of Gilead Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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