The Beautiful Snow Spirit Who Loved a Human Boy

page-3first-bloom-2kin-kan-one-1000An excerpt from First Bloom, Lily Carwyn’s 11th First Kiss Romance, available at the Palace in the Sky Bookstore.

Kai-Lynn wandered alone for many days after that. She traveled to rarely visited places through the ice canyons and under the mountains where primal ice drips pure into shimmering pools of lime, cyan and gold. There she rested, gazing up into the cold glow of caverns and tunnels, imagining once again the face of her foolish human boy and wondering what he was thinking at that moment.

There was a hint of recognition on his face. But how could that be? Humans couldn’t see snow spirits. Even if for some reason this human boy could, how could he recognize something he had never seen before?

The other snow spirits became worried about her. Humans had been living in the frozen north for many generations by now. Their affairs had never concerned the fairies of ice and wind before. What made this young spirit so interested in the life of a mortal boy herding and harvesting on a snow-blown farm? As they watched her staring off into space they could think of no way to help her. They shook their heads in wonder.

How could they help her? Kai-Lynn was struggling to understand what she had experienced herself. Even if she tried to tell them what happened, they wouldn’t understand. And that’s only if they believed her in the first place.

What frightened her more than anything else was that she had been seen by a mortal, and that he did not run away from her like most mortals did. In fact, he chased her! After all, to a human boy, a snow spirit must appear a ghost. Why would any mortal not flee from a ghost? Human beliefs held the touch of a departed spirit was a fast ticket to the world beyond. Was that boy foolish enough to risk his life to pursue what he saw? Would he ignore danger just to see Kai-Lynn’s face again?

Or was it something else?

And how was it that he had seen her in the first place? Was he spirit? Is it possible he was a spirit of snow trapped in a human body somehow? Kai-Lynn had known many other spirits. Many of them were boys appearing to be the same age as Banleo. Was he one of her own kind playing some kind of a trick on her? It would explain many things, but she still couldn’t quite bring herself to believe it was that simple.

In fact, it couldn’t be that simple!

Perhaps she had been right about Banleo. Perhaps she was not imagining what she thought she saw in his wild hair and eyes. If he wasn’t a spirit of some kind, he was the closest to a spirit any human Kai-Lynn had ever seen.

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Musical Stories: Jessica Halloran’s First Day of High School


kin-kan-one-1000Jessica walked through the glass doorway. The air was cool and the room had a faint “new” scent. The entryway floor was made of white and gray tiles, and carpeted hallways led in both directions. On the far wall was a huge trophy case as tall as the ceiling. Jessica peered inside.

Her wide blue eyes looked over silver and gold trophies and plaques. The highest two shelves of awards were too high for her to see, but there were four shelves below those.

The proud arrangements of achievement covered the wall. Green and gold ribbons flowed from each. Jessica moved sideways along the glass case as she read each the engraved plaques: First Place Band, Founder’s Day Sweepstakes Award, Best Showmanship, Battle of the Bands Open Division State Champion, Conservatory Trustees Award, Holiday Band Championship, Grand Marshal’s Award, Pageantry and Musicianship Award, Best Show Band, Host Honor Musicians National Merit Scholarship. Some were three and four feet tall!

In the center of the display was a polished wood and gold-engraved plaque. The face of a lion was emblazoned in its center. It read “Tree Shores High School Golden Lions Marching Band and Drill Team” across the top. Underneath the logo were the words “Scholarship, Musicianship, Excellence.”

“Wow…” Jessica exhaled in awe. Some of the awards had a picture of that year’s band. Every picture had at least three dozen gold sousaphone bells towering over the back row of formations of what looked like hundreds of musicians.

There’s more people in those bands than in my whole junior high school! Jessica thought. I hope I’m good enough to play in the band here. She looked down each of the halls, but didn’t see any people.

I must be really late by now. Seeing no other signs with directions to the band room, Jessica decided to try the hallway to her right. She walked past several classrooms, but they all had numbers above 100. She reached the end of the hallway and turned to the left, beginning to hurry as she looked for room 74.

As she neared the end of the hallway, she saw that one of the doors was open! Maybe someone was here!

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First Kiss Romances: Pop Star and Paparazzi Attraction

pic-1000It felt nice to be home, better than I thought. Now that I was home, I could just forget everything that happened before spring break and during spring break and just start fresh. I actually had the itch to do a concert; I missed performing. I called my agent to see if he could set something up, and there was room for one more set on stage at the annual farmer’s market festival called Freshfest.

It usually featured a mix of local amateurs and maybe one headline act. The festival was in a week, and one of their big names had to drop out. I had him sign me up for it. I only had a week for rehearsals, but I was only doing three songs, so it wasn’t so bad. Having a concert to look forward to and prepare for made me feel like I was coming alive again. My Feather page went nuts.

But the moment I started deciding what I wanted to wear for the concert, I started to think about Clark again. He liked my thrift store style. So did I, and I decided to bring it back for my comeback concert. Would he be there? I would think so, he’s paparazzi. And he’s a fan. Was he still a fan? No, I knew I shouldn’t care if he would be there or not. I was starting fresh, right? Freshfest. Ha, I didn’t even.

Of course I went back to the hotel once or twice. I went there on the pretense of eating in their restaurant so I could once again eat my favorite hot fudge sundae. And people knew I was Saffron this time, and followed me around and took my picture and asked for my autograph. There were also reporters asking where I had been hiding all this time, what I thought of Bryce and Heather, other stuff like that.

I didn’t answer a single question. I just sat there and enjoyed my hot fudge sundae. But I didn’t see Clark hiding behind his camera anywhere. When I got out to the lobby, he was just coming out of the employee lounge, or whatever that place is called. I rushed up to him, only just remembering that I was being swarmed. So I said, “I need to speak with the hotel manager, please.”

He said nothing, but led me back into the door he came through. As soon as the door shut behind us, I said, “I want to talk to you.”

He looked around to make sure there was no one around, then sat down at the table. “I heard you’re doing Freshfest.”

“Are you going to be there?”

He nodded. “It’s a good opportunity for some extra cash if I can get a unique picture.” Then he looked at me, softening a little. “You seem like you’re back to normal.”

“Yeah. I’m feeling a lot better. I took out my tablet. “I’ve been trying to write my own song lyrics.”

“Yeah?”

“I want you to read some of them.” I felt a lump in my throat, but I slid the notepad across the table to him. He looked at me as if to see if I was serious, then he opened the notepad and started reading quietly. He nodded once in awhile, and even started smiling.

Then he laughed a little. This is terrible.

“I know.” Maybe if I made it seem like a joke…

“You couldn’t think of a better rhyme for ‘time’ than ‘grime’?

“Nope!” We were both laughing now.

“It’s a good start.”

 

Guest Post: Skylar and Aaren’s First Kiss?

oasa-1000

It was from him. I felt a rush of nerves. What did he have to say to me now, and that couldn’t be said on the messenger? He had to run out and catch me with an insult before I left? Still, I asked Mariah to wait before getting into the car. He came out a few minutes later, and I saw something in his hand as he approached. Without saying anything, he handed it to me.

It was a rose.

“Oh!” I gasped as I took it. My heart thudded hard and I could feel it in my throat.

Then I realized it was one of the nylon flowers from my dress, and I breathed. “Oh. I didn’t even know it fell off.” I hesitantly added, “Thanks.”

He nodded. He kept walking toward the parking lot. I turned to Mariah so we could get going, but she just stood there and grinned.

“What?” I asked.

She replied in a singsong tone, “He liiikes you.”

I couldn’t help but burst into laughter, easing my nerves. “Him? You mean the guy I had a screaming match with not two hours ago? He hates me, and I can’t stand him.”

“He returned your flower to you,” she said, continuing the annoying voice. “It’s like the prince bringing the slipper back to Cinderella. He liikes you he liiikes you.”

“It’s a fake flower, not a fancy shoe. And he was on his way out anyway. It’s not like he made a special trip.”

She smiled knowingly. “But didn’t you say he borrowed that knight costume from the drama club? Why would he go home in it? And no guy bothers to chase a girl to return anything unless he likes her.”

Her question stunned me into silence as we got into the car. She kept humming the “he liikes you” tune. I decided to ignore her, rolled my eyes, and looked out the window. As we drove out of the lot, I was shocked to see Aaren—he was just sitting on the curb, slouched over, his fingers running through his hair. I instinctively duck out of sight as we drove by, which just made Mariah laugh.

What was going on?

I had thought that the way I felt around him was pure adrenaline-powered anger. Then he handed me a rose while dressed as a knight. I don’t think I felt anger. I think it was something like excitement or hope. But to have a crush on him would be completely ridiculous! He was a horrible person! Was I so shallow to feel this way about a guy who’s only good qualities were his looks? Honestly, I really wanted to call you to talk about it, but I felt so stupid about it and thought I’d get over it quickly.

The Demon Contagion Strikes

“Look at her eyes…” Talitha whispered. Jessica’s irises were becoming pallid. The blue color was slowly fading to a sickly pale white.

“There are no shortcuts,” Shannon exhaled through clenched teeth, wincing at the sudden strength of the gauntleted hand on her arm. Jessica’s fingers were growing thinner and sharper. She keened. It was a rasping howl-like sound. The hide bit only distorted it.

“This is a demon contagion. Death with a purpose,” Shannon finished.

“But, Reina’s powers are all based on–”

“Healing the living!” Shannon shouted. “You can’t take the powers of life and use them to nourish death!” The Huntress returned to gathering the small quantity of herbs in front of her. “Reina’s powers would dissolve half of Jessica’s blood, and we’d be forced to fight the soulless thing left behind.”

“We can’t fight one of our own!” Ranko exclaimed, horrified at the mere suggestion.

“Oh yes we can,” Shannon replied. “There’s no way I’m going to allow this blight one foot closer to Escator and all those people. Those children.”

“Shannon, we can’t just–” Talitha’s soothing voice was overwhelmed by the Huntress’ icy, piercing glare.

“I will not abide another savage loose under this moon. So help me, if she turns–” Shannon choked on her next breath. She blinked back tears and opened her mouth, holding her duty back as long as she could. Her face reddened and her eyelids swelled. She inhaled deeply and used all of her breath to utter the words.

“I’ll kill her.”

“Are you nuts?!” Ranko almost yelled.

“I’m sure we can find another way!” Talitha pleaded.

“And take the risk of her infecting both of you? I’m not going to allow it. You have no idea how insidious these creatures are. Left to their own, they will destroy every last living thing they touch. This pestilence feeds on itself. As it festers it grows stronger, capable of turning creatures not so easily defeated or as mindless as simple borcine livestock. Would either of you care to face a hornwing surrounded by a cloud of death against which there is no defense?”

Jessica rolled back and forth. Her breathing was shallow and frantic. Shannon gathered the black and gray ash-like powder into her hands.

“If she turns she won’t be Jessica any more than those three monsters we just fought.”

“What about you?” Ranko asked. “If you try something, she’s going to infect you too!”

Shannon began to smudge the sooty powder all over Jessica’s face. Jessica wheezed and coughed through the cershay hide as the particles got into her nose and mouth.

“What is that?” Ranko asked, watching as Shannon covered Jessica’s face and the edges of her hair with black streaks.

“Wolfsbane. Get back.”

Talitha backed away. Ranko moved towards her War-Hammer.

“You’re going to catch whatever she has!” Ranko warned.

“I’ve fought them before, and I’m not so easily infected,” Shannon replied through her teeth. Her eyes were slits.

“What are you going to do?” Ranko with increasing concern. The Night Warrior pulled an arrow from her hunting quiver.

“Hey! HEY!” Ranko challenged.

Shannon stopped, holding the arrow in one hand, it’s razor edge close to Jessica’s side. She looked up at the Crimson Champion with a nonplussed expression. The Warrior of the Storms had used the extra few moments to retrieve Thundercaller.

The Warrior of the Forest heeded Shannon’s advice and backed away. Right to the edge of a surprisingly elaborate network of thin, spindly roots only a few inches underground. Growing at the corner of the Barley Road as it turned south was a big, looming, black-leaved viperbark tree.

To anyone else, it would have reminded them of graveyards and unhappy times. But the Storyteller was delighted. She resisted the urge to give the morbid-looking plant a warm hug.

Viperbark toxin was a perfect way to defuse any conflict, and obligatory peace conferences were one of the Storyteller’s specialties. The roots passed directly under both the Huntress and Jessica.

“What’s the deal with the arrow, Shannon?” Ranko asked in a deadpan voice with a slightly threatening tone.

“I’m doing my duty,” Shannon replied with a steely glare.

“That’s my friend on the ground there. Now I don’t know all about your magic and your duty to some pack of wild animals or whatever, but I’m going to tell you a little something about my duty. You put that arrowhead anywhere near her and there’s going to be a bolt of pain coming your way. Right from this Hammer. And I don’t care how fast you think you are. You ain’t as fast as me.”

The Storyteller worked quickly, considerately and silently persuading the sour-natured tree to assist her in the name of its brothers. Gently and ever so quietly, Talitha began to coax its roots to the surface.

LadyStar No Savage Under This Moon is a standalone adventure starring the Greatest Fighting Team of Teenage Girls Ever Assembled!

Available now at the Palace in the Sky Bookstore!

The Vicereine Arrives

“Unhand her at once or you’ll answer for it!”

Enken’s voice rang in the small room. The guffaws and jeers subsided quickly. The looks on the faces of the patrons were part confusion and part surprise at being challenged. The crowd parted between the two.

Enken knew it was a risk, but he was fairly certain if he didn’t do something quickly Jessica was going to panic, and given the weapon she was carrying, that might lead to something well and truly impossible to explain.

The burly man who had first accosted Jessica handed her to one of his accomplices, who held her roughly by the neck and arm.

“And what kind of scrawny champion do you fancy yourself?”

Unlike Jessica, Enken was schooled in swordsmanship and single combat. He went to his sword but refrained from drawing it. “I am a member of the Thesian Mission and personal aide to her Excellency the Vicereine. Do as I say!”

“And I am prince of the seven lands with a hornwing to ride along the riverbank.” The man drew a dull rusted knife. “Let’s see which of us bleeds more.”

The men cheered. Wagers were shouted. Music played louder. Jessica twisted and almost pulled free until a second man arrived to restrain her further. Teko looked as if he were about to bite one of their hands off. Enken and his opponent circled.

Even the Innkeeper was shouting responses into the growing din. Right after he shouted “I’ll take that bet but only if I get the second dance with the fair maiden!” there was a sudden cry of surprise. The sound of the musician’s squeezebox deflating preceded total silence.

The lamps inside the room actually dimmed. The table of patrons nearest the door had emptied. Its former occupants wended their way through the crowd to the farthest corners, carrying their flagons and looking back over their shoulders as they scurried away.

“I’ll be a–” the Innkeeper muttered, just before his face almost literally exploded into a forced smile. “Excellency! How good of you to join us! Have a little of our apple wine. It takes the chill off a dusky winter’s–” He sounded like a man desperately trying to distract an executioner from the stroke of midnight.

The Vicereine of Kulnas herself stood in the doorway.

LadyStar Storyteller is the second book in the Seven Rings of Ajanel Series, the origin story of the Greatest Fighting Team of Teenage Girls Ever Assembled!

Available now at the Official LadyStar Bookstore!

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Jessica Halloran’s First Battle!

“Hearken to me!” he shouted.

Talitha heard Jessica gasp. He was only yards away. She hoped none of the men would see them. After all, they didn’t know any of these people and so far, the only evidence they had this boy wasn’t one of the wicked people they had been warned about was Jessica’s story about how dreamy he was. Talitha knew Jessica would give just about anyone the benefit of the doubt if they were “cute.” If they were “super-cute” all bets were off.

A small group of men gathered around him. “This is our time, my countrymen! This is our moment! Remember what you fight for! I have seen her in the light of morning! Fight bravely and with Thesian valor, and her favor will be upon you!”

“You’ve led us to our deaths, Enken! There can be no victory here!” Some of the other men murmured in agreement. Talitha noticed the troubled look on her friend’s face.

“Enken…” Jessica whispered.

“She will not forsake us!” Enken shouted back, trying to encourage the others.

“She is a delusion! Your stories of angels coming to save us are just that! Stories! Let us retreat at once and live to fight when we at least have a chance of victory!”

Now it was a competition between Enken’s rival and the boy himself. The men he was exhorting to bravery all seemed to be much older than he was. Talitha wondered what had earned him the ear of so many older soldiers. Several looked at least old enough to be his father.

“You cannot be afraid! You–”

A shout and a cry of pain interrupted the boy’s words. A fiery arrow plunged into the arm of one of the men and he spun away with a ragged growl, reaching for the wound. They had waited too long.

Enemy fighters bore down on them from the opposite side of the camp. There were at least a dozen of them. They would have been evenly matched had Enken’s men not been gathered in a small group. Archers took out half of the gathering before they had a chance to react.

Once again Talitha was overcome by the feeling of dread. She noticed Jessica was barely able to control herself. She knew her friend was trying to decide if she should run to Enken’s defense, or remain hidden and hopefully avoid a battle neither of the girls were prepared for.

Enken only had moments to prepare. Then he did something that dissolved every rational thought in Jessica’s mind in a scarce instant. He produced the pink ribbon from Jessica’s dream and held it to his lips. He closed his eyes as if gathering strength. Thunder and fire raged all around him.

Jessica held her hand over her mouth. Tears streamed.

Enken drew his sword and charged into the teeth of an overwhemling force of enemy soliders, roaring his defiance. Talitha had never been much of a military tactician, but she knew there was no chance he could survive.

LadyStar With This Ring is the first book in the Seven Rings of Ajanel Series, the origin story of the Greatest Fighting Team of Teenage Girls Ever Assembled!

Available now at the Palace in the Sky Bookstore!