After a fierce battle with Draewulf, Nym barely escaped with her life. Now, fleeing the scorched landscape of Tulla, her storm-summoning abilities are returning; only . . . the dark power is still inside her.
Broken and bloodied, Nym needs time to recover, but when the full scope of the shapeshifter’s horrific plot is revealed, the strong-willed Elemental must race across the Hidden Lands and warn the other kingdoms before Draewulf’s final attack.
From the crystalline palaces of Cashlin to the legendary Valley of Origin, Nym scrambles to gather an army. But even if she can, will she be able to uncover the secret to defeating Draewulf that has eluded her people for generations? With a legion of monsters approaching, and the Hidden Lands standing on the brink of destruction, the stage is set for a battle that will decide the fate of the world.
This time, will the Siren’s Song have the power to save it?
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Book Three in the Storm Siren Trilogy
By Mary Weber
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 Mary Weber
All rights reserved.
I pull harder on the air currents while staring at the broad-black man beside me. I still can't keep my focus off him — the fact that he's real and alive and truly here with me — planted firmly on the airship's deck as he surveys the Tullan earth flying by beneath our small war-fleet. The red dirt and rocks have long since changed with the landscape below to brown and green shadows, blending together like a muddy painting as the airship vibrates and the sound of the droning engine competes with his soldiers' shouts.
Eogan doesn't move to give orders or shout back. Just stands there in his torn red Bron suit in the same stance he's been in ever since finishing his kingly duty of checking on his men and assessing the full extent of our losses. And, if my suspicions are correct, interrogating Lady Isobel and Lord Myles in the dining room where they're being detained.
His handsome face barely shows the strain.
Even his skin and clothes, stained with the blood of wraiths and men from the battle we're fleeing, only serve to make his twenty-self look fierce as hulls.
I bite my lip and steady my legs, weakened from my aching chest wounds. And keep my gaze level on him. This king who spent the 4past few months as my trainer, stealing every bent piece of my bleeding soul only to break those pieces with his own confessions — resetting them.
He is the choice I made over this world and the Tullan people.
He is the chance I took. And I'd take it again in a heartbeat.
For the hundredth time in the past four hours, the thought emerges that I don't know if that makes me selfish or weak or daftly insane, but there is the bittersweet truth of it.
* * *
Four hours earlier
I reach up and push fingers into Eogan's jagged black hair, then pull him closer as he studies me with a gaze that says he knows how unsure my heart is. And how heavily it's breaking. For Colin's homeland of Tulla and its people we've just abandoned to Draewulf. For the entire Hidden Lands.
The airship we're being whisked away on lurches, then rises higher as Eogan's green eyes pierce mine, and suddenly I swear he's pulling back the lid on my soul, and in the process he's accidentally exposing his soul. Which, if the flash of grief is any indication, is aching just as bad as mine. Even if he still doesn't know how to acknowledge it — or what to do with it.
Next thing I know his mouth is present against mine, his lips searing, burning my bones, setting my soul to crash into his earthen heart like sea storms in winter. Bringing with it a hint of his calm to flow through my sliced-bleeding chest where I'd clawed my flesh open in my attempt to get the dark ability out. Willing me the belief that love can fix a multitude of worlds and souls and wounds — promising to send my hope soaring for 5 what goodness our world can still produce. And for the hundredth time around this man I am completely undone.
I have to resist turning back to survey the burnt sky and red rocks of Tulla, or look for Draewulf's ships amid the smoke. Are they pursuing us? "What happens if Draewulf reaches Cashlin first?" I whisper.
"He'll take over the queen and her Luminescent ability."
"And then what — come for Faelen's King Sedric?" Will his Dark Army come?
"Then he'll come for me," Eogan says.
My hand flutters to find his against the cold metal. "I won't let him. We'll hide you."
His smile is soft as he shakes his head. "I've been hiding the past four years and it didn't do any good. The only way to defeat him now is to fight."
"And if he kills you next time?"
He falls silent. Enough so that I look up at him. "If he kills me, then he'll come to Faelen," he says quietly. "But not for King Sedric."
I frown. "But the prophecy —"
"The right to rule was given to five Uathúils — monarchs. And the line of Faelen's royal blood was always the strongest. A lin-eage that belonged to the original rulers of Faelen." He pauses and softens his gaze, reaching his words deep into my soul. "Sedric's ancestors weren't Uathúils, nor were they the original kings. The Elementals were."
The airship shudders, and the sensation is answered by a matching quiver beneath my skin. In my veins. In my chest's torn-flesh that is threatening to make me feel woozy. I blink and frown harder at him. And swallow as the voice of the witch who was Draewulf's wife rattles in my chest. "And whatever you do, don't let him take the final one."
When I look down, my left hand is twisting even tighter into the crippled stump owner number fourteen made of it. As it squeezes, a tiny black line emerges through the vein beneath its skin, and for a fleeting second the feeling of dark hunger edges my lungs.
Like the distinct imitation of a spider testing my sinew before beginning to reweave her web.
Eogan's voice emerges again through the wind and sea salt and snowcapped air. "When he comes to Faelen, it'll be for you. Because you're last in line, Nym."
* * *
I inhale and open my mouth. Then shut it.
Eogan's gaze shifts to study mine before it falls to my shaky fist. "How is it?"
I swallow and glance away and crush my fingers to give a fresh burst of wind. "It's weak, but the power's definitely there. It's growing."
"That's not what I meant." He nods at my chest.
"Still hurts, but it'll be fine." I hope. I haven't looked at it since the sight of the shredded skin nearly made me vomit hours ago.
He slips a hand over my arm as if to test to see if I'm lying, because clearly he knows me too well. The span of a heartbeat goes by before I feel his soothing ability wash over me, and this time I welcome it, embrace it, allow my body to rest in it a moment.
His face turns the slightest bit gray and weary. "And without the dark ability, how is it?"
"Better. Calmer." I allow a smile. "More myself."
He snorts. "So, ornery as hulls then. Lovely."
I'm debating smacking the arrogance off his face, except he glances away — quick I almost miss his expression in the dying sun. It's thick with tension and hope and something suggestive of attraction.
I smirk. Until two seconds later when I nearly jump out of my skin as the nearby airships sound their horns.
five airships altogether, counting ours. The captains alerting each other we're all here. We're all okay, and we're all flying as fast as possible through the icy air to the strange kingdom of Cashlin, which we've never seen, to rescue a Luminescent queen we've never met. In hopes we'll reach her before Draewulf is done ravaging the land of Tulla we've left only hours ago.
I peer down at my own blood-torn red dress. Just like earlier, I don't have to look behind us to know the black smoke from the battle is still climbing. I feel it billowing up and clawing at the sky. Like spirits from the grave. Moving over the moun-tains along our right — reach beyond them to Faelen and the Elisedd Sea.
Suddenly my stomach is twisting again over what those wraiths are doing to the people we left behind in Tulla. What they're doing to Rasha, Cashlin's princess and my friend. If only we'd acted faster, stronger — only I'd been more decisive and moved against Draewulf on the flight there from the kingdom of Bron —
Eogan's lips flicker sad. "Don't."
He raises a perfect brow at me. "I know you're thinking it again, and don't."
"Really? Because I was thinking how very much like a bol-crane you —"
The airship beneath our feet lurches and drops down on the currents, wobbling so hard I have to grab the deck railing to keep my balance this time. Litches.
"We'll get Rasha back, I swear. And like I said, I was wrong about you being able to kill Draewulf. Once you'd destroyed me, he wouldn't have had my block to contain him and would've suc-ceeded sooner. So stop skinning yourself over it. Better to focus on asking me your questions, don't you think?"
I frown at his daft piercing gaze. The conceited stare that says he knows what else I've been thinking and is simply waiting for me to get around to it while he stands here. Blasted oaf. The questions come flooding back anyway, though — me being Draewulf's final target. About my Elemental heritage. About what I am and what my parents must have been.
I snort, purse all hint of amusement from my lips, and don't ask anything.
His short laugh catches in the breeze, and next thing I know the sound has sent my lungs running for air — aches and attitude melting with it. Because it's the rich chuckle that's his and his alone. Draewulf could never mimic or claim it even when he possessed Eogan's body — how no one recognized it was the shape-wearing Eogan's skin based on that missing clue is ridiculous.
Even so, I allow a barrage of ice flecks to impale his jagged black bangs swagged across his left cheek. He pushes a hand through them, which only succeeds in making them stand up like a rooster tail, making me chuckle too.
And just like that, the air is thick with it again. He doesn't even feign differently, just swerves his admiring gaze across my messy-tattered-figure and reaches for me. He tows me close until I can feel his warm breath fighting the wind for the right to snag my hair.
For less than three seconds I actually pretend to bat him away before giving in to the comfort of his arms and skin and uniformed chest. Because whatever I regret about having to leave the Terrenes and their people to fend for themselves, I will not regret this. Him.
"I missed you," I whisper.
"I rather missed me too."
I pinch his bicep and he yelps — I fold in tighter between his arms and try as hard as hulls to hear his heart beat beat beating over the airship's droning. I'm answered with another surge of calm that flows through my skin to coat the very lining of my veins and rib cage.
"I'm glad you're you again," he murmurs into my hair.
"Are you just going to repeat everything I'm thinking? Because I was about to say the same for you."
He laughs, although it's weaker this time. "To be honest, I'd rather erase everything you're thinking." He tugs my chin up until my eyes connect with his. "Except for this." He presses his lips to my forehead. Where they stay.
Where we stay for what feels like hours.
Until a soldier's shrill voice rips apart the moment. "Look ahead! To the mountain peaks."
We're almost there.
I feel Eogan swallow and sigh before he releases me and turns to the soldiers assembling across the deck. There's a new weariness in his stance.
"I should help them. Except ..." Except his gaze says he's not about to leave my side any more than he's already had to.
"I'll help too."
He nods toward those soldiers who are shoving aside the ignored wraith bodies from Draewulf's Dark Army piled outside the dining room wall. Or what's left of the bodies. Apparently the 10 living dead can only be stopped by dismemberment beyond recognition, which means the pieces are still leaking greasy black blood all over the deck.
It calls a shiver up my spine. Because even their blood still feels alive. As if the sorcery that made them is still here, still feeding off their flesh.
Still hunting us.
My skin prickles and the sensation of Draewulf's presence suddenly rushes across the distance to slither inside my blood and just about bowls me over. "I'm coming for it," I feel him murmur. "For all of it. I'm coming for you."
What the —? I gasp and fog spurts up past us as the ship dips. I peer behind us through the misty dim at the Tullan black smoke.
Eogan pauses. "Nym?"
I shake my head. "It's nothing. I just —"
A muffled boom shakes the metal beneath our feet, and the next second a blast of air attacks my face and body and sends the ship shuddering.
What in blazes?
I look over in time to see one of the four nearby airships plunge down. The resounding boom is followed by a terrible shredding that's loud enough to drown out the roar of our own engines. Oh hulls no. I lean over the railing and watch as the neighboring ship begins spinning below us, slowly at first, until it picks up speed and twists in the air.
I glance up at Eogan, then around at the faces of the soldiers as they rush to the railing. My gut swirls in horror right along with that ship.
"Is it Draewulf?" someone shouts.
"Or the Cashlins? Are they targeting us?"
Eogan's fingers move almost instinctively from my waist to my arm, and I tighten my left hand's deformed fingers into a fist. We're rewarded by a flash of light igniting the dark sky, followed by a ripple of thunder that is still weak and weary sounding, but at least my abilities are coming back.
Eogan presses down on my wrist — to will me his calm but to ignite my power. I lift my hand and let the air currents slide over it, cold and smooth like ocean tides on white sand. And beg the Elemental in my blood to stir faster, stronger. To shiver alive and recuperate quicker.
The nearby ship keeps lilting and falling in spurts.
"It's not working." Oh litches, it's not working.
I turn to Eogan. And pause. Because suddenly it's not just me — wrong with him too. Eogan is weakening. Whatever energy he's giving out, it's draining him and his skin is turning ashen.
I pull my arm away and grapple for control of the wind beneath the dropping airship, but it's nearly impossible, especially without interfering with the flight of the one we're on or the three farther out. The wind around us begins wailing, the atmosphere growing violent. I cling with one hand to the rail while my other works to steady the air.
Until the failing airship below us tilts up midspin and exposes the source of the shredding: the ship has a gaping hole in its side.
The soldier closest to me gasps. "Sabotage."
"No, it was weakened during the battle, and the force of the wind at our speed has taken its toll." Eogan points to where the airship's metal sheeting has peeled back. "That's not man or magic caused. It's a design flaw."
The soldier respectfully looks away. Eogan would know such a thing better than anyone. He's the one who created them.
It doesn't matter now though because the ship just keeps spin-ning faster. Like a child's pinwheel.
Another boom rocks the air from my chest as one of the metal planks peels off the ship's side and flies up to rupture the balloon.
The moment freezes.
Every soldier lining the deck near us freezes.
As if we all know the horror that is to come for the soldiers and child captains on board that airboat.
It drops like a rock from the space nearby.CHAPTER 2
Bleeding hulls," Eogan bellows.
Pieces of the ship's balloon rip and tear off and flail up wildly past us as the thing falls, sinking down down down. Like one of the paper boat-kites I used to take out to fly in storms when owner number three wasn't looking. Those ships always sank as soon as the rain hit them.
Oh please, no.
My prayers are too late. My stomach clenches and ignites as a burst of flames and heat billows up through the dark, announcing that the ship and its occupants have hit what appears to be a thickly forested ground.
Suddenly my insides are lurching and my nausea is twisting into fear as a loud tearing sound rips through the space above me. This time it's closer. Louder.
Without looking up, I know it's our ship.
Eogan's large guard, Kenan, swears, and I glance up at the giant balloon overhead to where the Bron soldiers have used metal ropes and tethered themselves to posts as they scamper about. A few minutes ago they were almost done repairing the rip Draewulf put in the balloon.
The hole has just split wider with the shifting winds and a spike of metal from the other ship's hull that flew up and impaled it.
Eogan grabs for me, pulling me against him, and yells for the men to hit the deck or tie onto something. The airship lilts and drops, and I swear bile comes up my throat.
From somewhere nearby, Kenan yells, "Tell the captains to go faster."
"We've just passed over the river separating Tulla from Cashlin," Eogan says. "Any faster and this ship will shred apart like the one we just lost. Have the fuelers open the vents all the way to keep the balloon filled, and have the men who're roped on clear the rest of the bodies from the deck."
Excerpted from Siren's Song by Mary Weber. Copyright © 2016 Mary Weber. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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