After tackling her first mission and coming to terms with her power of empathy, Andriana discovers her first battles were only a taste of what is to come. She and her knight, Ronan, have admitted their feelings for each other, but their bonds are tested when Dri is captured by their mortal and spiritual enemy—Sethos—and his master, Keallach, emperor of Pacifica. Andriana is certain Keallach can be convinced to follow the Maker's plan and join the other Remnants … but in time, she must decide whether she really can pull him back to the Way, or if Sethos's web of darkness has slowly and thoroughly trapped them both … forever.
About the Author
Lisa T. Bergren is the author of over forty books, with a combined count of nearly three million copies sold. She has written bestselling children’s books, award-wining YA (River of Time Series: Waterfall), popular historical fiction, contemporary fiction, women’s nonfiction, and gift books. She is a writer residing in Colorado Springs, CO, with her husband and three children. You can find out more about Lisa at LisaBergren.com.
Read an Excerpt
Remnants: Season of Fire
Book 2 in the Remnants Series
By Lisa T. Bergren
BLINKCopyright © 2015 Lisa T. Bergren
All rights reserved.
I found the ship we want. A merchant vessel with supplies for Catal, the Far North." Chaza'el cast a worried glance back through the maze of crates — three times taller than we were — and then to us again. "One little problem — she's loaded with soldiers."
"Perfect," Vidar said, crossing his arms. "It's been a little dull around here."
I smiled at him, my eyes tracing the lingering bruises on his olive skin, then sighed heavily, wishing again Niero was with us. He'd know how to go about this — seeking to free Kapriel from the island prison, as well as how to board a ship loaded with sailors who wouldn't exactly welcome us.
"You're sure that's the one, Chaz?" Vidar asked, gesturing toward the ship. "The one you saw in your vision?"
The shorter man nodded once, and his dark, silken hair washed forward and back. "And as far as I can tell, it's the only one heading out any time soon."
"We're too obvious, all together," Killian groused, pushing his blond dreadlocks over a shoulder. He looked at Ronan, my knight, who had assumed leadership in Niero's absence. "Send me. And Bellona. We'll slip in, spring Kapriel, and bring him back to you. The rest of you can find shelter in the meantime."
Ronan's green-brown eyes hovered over Killian a minute, then at the rest of us. "Look, I know this seems like the most idiotic thing we've done. But Kapriel is the key to us winning this war. Niero said so. He's the only one who can really go head to head with Keallach. And if he's ill ..." He looked at each of us in turn again and we seemed to collectively hold our breath. "We all need to go," Ronan said, "because we all might not return." His lips clamped together and avoided my gaze. "We're never going to be closer to Kapriel than this, right? Anyone disagree that this is where the Maker has led us?"
We all shook our heads, even Killian, clearly miserable at the idea of putting his Remnant in such danger. But ever since we'd seen the broad band of the blue ocean, we'd felt the undeniable pull toward Catal and Kapriel, as impossible as it seemed.
"Get down," Bellona suddenly growled. Her long, brown braid hit my shoulder as she whirled to crouch beside me.
We ducked, and a second later heard two men walk by, just one crate away from us. They were laughing under their breath and murmuring to each other. We'd seen the whistles every worker wore around their necks. The dockyard's air filled with the sound of them, long and short blasts, a wordless language that sounded eerie and foreign to our ears. I had no doubt that there was a unique blast for alarm — a call that would send some of the gray-clad soldiers stationed on each corner, armed with automatic weapons, after us.
The men paused on the far side of the crate that separated Chaza'el, Killian, and Tressa from them. My fellow Ailith were breathing shallowly, eyes wide, backs to the crate. We all had our hands on the hilts of our weapons, but my ears strained for the bits of conversation from the dockworkers. They were speaking in low tones about the Far North, the merchant ship Chaza'el said we had to board if we were to get to Catal today. Only the transports and supply vessels were allowed around the island; any others were immediately destroyed.
I could feel Ronan's stare. Ever since we'd kissed, he seemed somehow more present. Vivid. Like he was an extension of me, in a way. I met his gaze and his brows knit together. He vacillated between concern and understanding what I was after — to learn more from the two dockworkers nearest us. If either felt alarm, I'd be the first to know it.
An empath, Niero had called me once. It was my gift to feel what others felt. Just as it was Tressa's gift to heal, Chaza'el's he gift to see the future, and Vidar's gift to know light or darkness in another. We knew that somewhere ahead of us was Kapriel, with a miraculous power of his own; and others too. If they yet lived. I knew it as surely as Ronan did that this — this mad need to get to Kapriel, our brother, our prince, and free him — was what we had to get done.
"Shoving off soon ..." said one of the dockworkers as I dared to edge closer, crawling down low in order to hear better.
"Yeah. All the freight's loaded already," said the other.
Their conversation over, they turned to go and I slowly pulled back, freezing as they came into view — with me in plain sight — but they passed on. My heart hammered in my chest, but I grinned. I rolled to my side, and around the corner of the crate. Ronan gripped my upper arms, half in consternation at the risk I took, half in hope I'd gained good information.
"We have to get aboard tonight. They're to leave soon," I whispered.
"Bellona and Vidar," he said, "make your way over to the Far North and see if you can spot a way for us to steal our way aboard."
The two nodded and immediately moved out, each carrying a dagger in their hands. If they came up against a dockworker, they'd be best dispatched in silence. Ronan and Killian watched their progress, ready to spring to their aid if necessary. The rest of us stayed down.
"What if we got into some crates?" Tressa asked, pushing her red ponytail over her shoulder. "Like we did in Castle Vega?"
"It sounds like they're all loaded already," I said.
She sighed. I knew what she was after — avoiding a fight. And I couldn't blame her. She found it nearly impossible to hurt another — with her gift of healing, it felt completely wrong, regardless of how much danger she faced. I had encountered something similar. As my empathy gifting grew, I knew what it was to feel what my enemies felt, and their fear or fury tangled with my own heart in alarming fashion. The mere thought of it sent bands of panic around my chest, and I fought to breathe. But I couldn't help it. Were Tressa and I as much an impediment as a boon to the Ailith? Might we not endanger the others, in their efforts to protect us as well as themselves?
Chaza'el caught my eye. He studied me, searching me, seeing me in a way that I hadn't often been seen. It reminded me of Niero, and my heart panged anew with worry for our lost leader. Was he all right? Hurt? Even alive?
"We are on the Maker's path," Chaza'el said, a hint of compassion in the lines of his moon-shaped eyes, as well as within him. "And this is his next step for you, Andriana. I've seen it."
I nodded, once, not really feeling like I wanted to get into it. But his choice of words — you, not us — and then the cold wave of hesitation from him, gave me pause. What else had he seen in his vision? We'd already lost Niero. Were we about to lose others on this mission too?
Chaza'el moved away, edging past Ronan as if he didn't want to stay close to me, giving me further opportunity to question him. Ronan absently ran his fingers along his ribs, where I'd seen the massive bruise days ago, even as he watched our companions make their way through the labyrinth of the dock's crate.
"Hey," I said, touching his hand lightly. How're you healing?"
"It's getting better," he said distractedly. But he dropped his hand.
"Can you still see Bellona and Vid?"
"No. They disappeared a couple rows away from the ship."
I listened to the whistles that continued to fill the air, and prayed we wouldn't hear an alarm.
* * *
Two hours later, we all moved over toward the ship, with Bellona and Vidar leading the way. After sunset, the docks grew mostly quiet, with only the wash of waves against the docks; by nightfall, the workers' whistles and wheeling gulls all grew silent. Every so often, we heard a short whistle, and I came to understand that it was a sort of clock — the means for guards on duty to know how much time had passed ... and how much was left before their watch was over.
Vidar gestured for most of us to hide along a line of triple-stacked crates, and Ronan and I took up opposite guard flanks, watching for patrolling guards. I grabbed Vidar's arm as he passed me. "Anything?" I whispered, wondering if he sensed any of the Sheolite nearby.
He shook his head, and I released him. For this being enemy territory, we'd run into very few that alarmed Vidar, and our armbands remained oddly neutral. Mostly, Vidar said he sensed a vague void, which seemed to unsettle him more than the looming cold threat that the scouts and trackers brought with them.
He and Bellona went on alone, slipping to the edge of the docks row by row. Under the light of a half-moon, I could see their shadowy figures pause a moment, then one leaped out over the water. Vidar. He grabbed hold of the heavy rope, wound his legs around it, and shimmied up the arc toward the ship. When he was a third of the way, I saw Bellona leap for the rope beneath him and do as he was doing — climbing her way up to the ship, but at a greater speed.
I smiled. It galled Vidar that his knight, Bellona, was better at such things than he, and I could almost hear the stifled wisecrack forming in his mind now.
He was nearing the top, and I held my breath as his dark form disappeared against the broad side of the ship. "C'mon, Vidar," I whispered.
I could hear Tressa and Chaza'el praying, probably a much better use of en energy. But I couldn't bring my mind to anything but staring s hard as I could, trying to discern one shadow from the other.
There, I thought, watching a lump slide over the edge of the rail. Shortly afterward I saw Bellona lift herself up and over in a far more graceful manner. But they were both aboard.
I smiled and dared to take a breath. "They're on," I whispered, and felt the others' relief meld with my own.
Then there were sounds of a fight — gasps and groans that carried across the water — and we all waited through long, slow seconds for an alarm whistle or sailors to come running to the aid of those who were attacked. But none came.
"They'll call us in a moment," Chaza'el whispered, a second before Vidar whistled lowly.
A shiver ran down my back. "Are you going to be doing that a lot?" I whispered back to him.
He smiled without showing his teeth. "If the Maker is generous with what he allows me to see." He turned to follow Tressa and Killian, and I trailed them through the maze of crates, staying low as they were. Before leaving the relative safety of each row of crates, we paused, made sure we were clear, then scurried to the next bank of them. Ronan brought up the rear.
Killian, Tressa, and Chaza'el took to the rope without hesitation, and I was getting ready to leap from the tar-covered led wood to the rope next, when Ronan grabbed my arm and yanked me to the side and down.
The hair on my neck stood on end as I realized my armband had grown cold.
I'd been so focused on the Ailith that led us ... I'd missed that there were Sheolites nearby.
"How?" I whispered. Ronan hovered over me, his face an inch from mine. We both stared in the same direction, to an opening between the crates. "How'd they know we were here?"
"Maybe they didn't until now," he whispered back. "If the Maker smiles, they won't. C'mon." He grabbed my hand and led me, hunched over, away from the ship, and I saw what he was doing. If we couldn't join our fellow Ailith, we'd either distract our enemies with a chase or hide again.
The moon disappeared behind a bank of clouds and the dockyard became twice as eerie. I could barely see anything ahead of us and couldn't imagine how Ronan knew where to go. Maybe he was feeling his way forward.
I nervously glanced down each aisle we passed, my eyes wide and straining in the pitch-dark. I glimpsed the ship, with new lanterns glowing beside her, illuminating her prow. But there had been no soldiers or Sheolites near her. "Ronan," I panted, feeling my arm cuff turn from the chill of warning to the painful icy cold that demanded I flee, or prepare to fight.
"I know," he said, turning to face me. His words came out strangled. He pulled me to the next corner. "You keep looking left. Draw your dagger." Then he stood in front of me and slowly withdrew his sword, trying to remove it silently from its scabbard. I knew he'd be watching the aisle in front of us and to the right.
The flesh around my armband ached with the numbing cold. Only one person had made it this frigid before.
"Sethos," I whispered, the name distant to my own ears.
The moon emerged from the drifting clouds and Ronan and I both heard the low laugh of the man. I peered over Ronan's shoulder as my knight moved into a defensive position. All we could see was the dark robe and hood, Sethos's face hidden in shadow.
"To the left," I grunted, seeing the two scouts, one carrying a lantern.
"And to the right," returned Ronan. I knew there were others, behind us, without looking.
Sethos laughed again and tugged on a glove, as if straightening it. "Come, Ailith. You are surrounded. Surrender your blades and accompany us. The emperor seeks to speak with you. He intends you no harm. At least not yet."
He dared to walk right up to the point of Ronan's blade, his hands outstretched, as if approaching in peace. I saw teeth flash in a smile, though I still could not see his eyes hidden beneath the hood.
"I should end you now," Ronan growled.
"You realize it would only result in your own death," Sethos said in bored tone.
"At least I'd die satisfied, knowing that I took you with me."
I glanced nervously from one side to the other, seeing the others were steadily closing in. Those with the lanterns set them down, and edged nearer, swords drawn. Was Ronan really intent on fighting our way out of here? Would it even be possible?
"You'd risk your own life, yes," Sethos said, his hooded head shifting as if he was looking me over. "But you won't risk hers. Bring them," he sniffed, turning in an assuming whirl of red fabric and striding away from us.
Ronan glanced over his shoulder at me, a knot of agitation and grudging defeat. "It's all right," I said, putting a hand on his shoulder. "We will fight another day. For now, we must try other methods."
Slowly, he crouched and laid his sword on the ground. The Sheolites had their hands on us in seconds, one grabbing my wrist and slamming it against the crate to force me to drop my dagger. He then roughly turned me around, put my hands against the crate, and methodically searched my body for other weapons. There was no lust in him, only single-minded duty. He set one dagger after another on the crate by my left hand, then yanked me to the right, handing me to two others. They each grabbed hold of an arm and rushed me forward. Sethos had already reached the end of the crates ahead of us, his form a dark silhouette backlit by another lamp.
Madly, I thought through one move after another that could take both my guards down. But I knew it would be a short-lived victory. Others would catch us again in a few paces. The only way to get through this was to face Keallach. I could see him standing beside Sethos in a clearing at the edge of the yard. There were twenty or more guards around them, and my last vestiges of hopeful escape disappeared.
"Andriana," Keallach said softly, as we appeared before him. Four men stood with oil-burning lamps on rods in inter- vals around us. "And Ronan."
We remained silent.
"I am glad to see you alive," Keallach tried again with a tentative smile.
I reached out to search him, and knew truth in him. He was genuinely glad. It took me aback.
"We didn't know if you'd died in the desert or in the mountains. There are still men out there, trying to find you. We lost your trail. But I feared the worst."
The worst? What was worse than Keallach's minions capturing us?
"Where are your companions?" he asked.
"For all we know, they are dead," Ronan said.
"I doubt that," Sethos said, pulling back his hood. His long, dark hair was in a braid, as all Sheolites wore it. He turned to four scouts in red behind him. "Search all quadrants of the docks. Quickly."
"It surprised us, when I sensed you here, tonight," Keallach said quietly. "What brought you here?"
"We sought an escape from Pacifica," I pretended to admit, stalling for time, hoping our companions were safely hidden aboard the Far North, and the Sheolites would not think to search the vessel.
Excerpted from Remnants: Season of Fire by Lisa T. Bergren. Copyright © 2015 Lisa T. Bergren. Excerpted by permission of BLINK.
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