Sarah King makes her debut with Of Ash & Shadow, Book One of the Triskelion Series.
The Fae stole everything from Wyn.
Her home. Her family. Her soul.
Now they want Her help. A murderer for hire, but this mission – kill the Shadow Queen, the boogeyman of the realm – is a suicide mission. At best!
If she doesn’t say yes, they’ll steal more of the small family she’s piecemealed together since dragging her ass out of Faerie three years ago.
Guided by a vaguely familiar dark elf, Wyn must traverse the Shadow Court, a barren wasteland with toxic air populated by nightmarish creatures.
Faerie warps everything it touches.
And helping them? Means giving them the last part of herself.
Trigger Warnings: Abuse
On Sale NOW!!
E-book, Paperback, and Hardcover now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Winter Fae ice was a trip.
With a limited shelf life. And terrible withdrawal.
Wyn followed the trail of one opalescent silver-blue drop down a thick icicle dangling like a dagger. She nicked it off the tip and raised it above her mouth. The driblet shivered. Was her hand causing the tremors? Sweat slicked through the short bristles of her buzzed hair, down the back of her neck to suction cup her shirt to her scarred flesh, making the fresh welts itch.
Wyn’s head fell back, heavy as the blade of a guillotine. Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest whirled above her, on a dizzying carnival ride. She forced herself to breathe as shades of green blurred with the bright blue of the sky, twirling and twisting like dancers across the stage.
Summer breeze wailing in her skull, she pressed her palms into her ears. The symphony of the forest’s dissonant backbeat almost drowned out the solo of her prey’s footsteps. Almost. Wyn’s heart was a piston, revving her pulse until it pumped the fae magic like super-heated diesel through her veins.
Too much, too much, too much.
Memories clawed their way from the depths of her mind, a mountain of maggoty reanimated bodies. Winter fae ice was a drug. A poison. Turning visions of her past into festering creatures with one purpose – to torture her, to bend her to the drug’s will.
Hell on steroids.
The fae’s first mistake? Passing through the ever-disintegrating barrier between the Faerie realm and Earth. It’s second wrong choice of its ever-shortening life? Slitting the throats of two innocents. Innocents Saul vowed to protect.
For Saul, who did not eat, Wyn suffered this defilement.
For Saul, holed up in his quarters, Wyn fought the memories dredged by the drug.
For Saul, who spoke with no one but their healer, Wyn bore the scorching blaze of wind shearing across her nerve endings, her body as tender to the July air as the prey she hunted.
Four torturous, hot and humid days she hunted her prey up the East Coast, but here, the game would come to an end. A human adept at killing Fae, Wyn was unstoppable under the influence of Winter Fae ice. At least, for an hour.
She stumbled into the trunk of the nearest oak. Beneath her hand, her flesh sizzled. Earth was a world on fire to the Winter fae she hunted.
The initial high ebbed, settling into the flow of dirty magic tainting her blood. Her heartbeat ceased its mismatched rhythm, and the tilt-a-whirl of the trees slowed to the natural sway of a forest in a constant dance with the wind. Enthralled, she picked out the rustle of the forest melody she wanted, when its footsteps ceased, leaving its hummingbird quick breaths as the last drifting notes.
Riding the high of the fae’s magic took focus, patience, mental resolve, all of which she’d learned under her Commander Cyrus’s tutelage. Without these, she would slip into the biting grip of memories.
Wyn’s lips drew back like a wolf who’d caught a scent trail. She sniffed the fetid stench of the fae’s fear, and said, on a giddy bubble of breath, “Olly-olly-oxen-free.”
A shockwave blasted through the trees, lifting Wyn into its glacial embrace, and threw her against the sharp bark of the nearest tree. She fell with a thud, the air knocked from her lungs. Her arms quivered. Inhaling in short bursts broken by hacking coughs, she waited for the dizziness to pass.
Patience paid off. It bolstered her spirit, the knowledge that the fae tired from the unbearable temperature. Needing the cold to survive, it expended precious energy on the blast of arctic air to keep its core temperature at a life-sustaining level. A fact Wyn hoped would tip the scales her way in their final battle.
Wyn’s head cocked to the side, movement too quick, too birdlike for a human. One hour to soar, three to come down. She would pay the price later. For now, she hunted.
Avoiding fallen branches with cautious, controlled steps, she hid behind one of the thick tree trunks. Ahead, the large aspen and ash trees gave way to a field dense with wildflowers, once pale and pink, now frosted in silver and blue. Peering round the trunk, she caught sight of her prey. Lithe and tall, the fae was a living ice sculpture with skin the same glistening shade of silver-blue as the ice it wielded. In one fluid movement, it sat, back pressed to the trunk of the tree farthest from where Wyn crouched.
Wyn stashed her pack, took to the tree in front of her, a hefty ash burdened with frozen branches, hissing at the price she paid for fae grace. Taking advantage of the canopy camouflage, she wound her way around the large field. Finally over the silky-haired fae, she slid her dagger from its sheath on her thigh.
Inhale. Exhale. Drop. Thud.
The fae somersaulted away from the tree into a crouched position. Scuttled backward. Too weak for flight – its last option was to fight.
Wyn circled, foot over foot, torso sideways to present a smaller target, dagger pointed at her enemy. The fae mimicked her, step for step. Frost dripped from its fingers. Power radiated off its body in waves, like ripples across a lake.
Two heavyweights, they waited for the other to strike first.
The fae bared pointed teeth.
It zigged. Wyn zagged, thrusting and catching the fae across the leg. A loud screech pierced the quiet. Black smoke billowed from the wound. The acrid scent of burning flesh wafted across the field.
Speed and strength equal, they fought through the haze. Wyn’s dagger was a blur, taking little bites out of the fae’s flesh. Etched grooves into every limb. Black ichor oozed. The fae’s movements turned sluggish. Wyn’s lips kicked up on one side, grin turned into a feral snarl.
Then, the fae faltered – swayed from blood loss, gaze glazed, feet stumbling back one, two, three steps.
Wyn pounced, landing on the fae with all the force of her small frame, carrying them both to the ground. Straddling the creature, she dug the tip of her dagger into the tender flesh above its arctic heart.
“This is for the family you slaughtered, and for the man who watched them die, and the world you and your kind destroyed,” she said, her voice sharper than the weapon she wielded. She leaned closer, adding one name to the list, the name she added to every list, before she killed a fae. “And Dylan.”
Copyright © 2020 by Sarah King