November 5, 2019

Parting Worlds - Third Chapter Reveal!

🌟Happy #teasertuesday 🌟

Are you ready for another Parting Worlds chapter reveal?! Only TWO weeks left until on sale! I'm SO excited 👏

If you missed the first chapter reveal or the second chapter reveal, just click to go read them now :) Otherwise, keep scrolling to read the entire third chapter!

When we left off, Nymia and Aerewyn had narrowly escaped a run-in with a group of human men. Nymia was terrified. Aerewyn was intrigued. Now the two sisters need to make it back to faerie lands before any of the priestesses realize they're gone--a feat that proves more difficult than it seems!

As a little reminder, Parting Worlds goes on sale on November 18th and it's available to pre-order!

               

Without further ado...

The third chapter!!

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Her.
Let's leave her be.
Nymia goes rigid behind me, and I know a lecture is imminent. I'm surprised she manages to hold off for another twenty minutes—though the silence is hardly relaxing. We don't move as the humans disappear from sight. We hardly breathe until we're confident they're so far away they'll never hear us. I'm about to make a joke to ease the tension, when Nymia's voice slices through the quiet.
"Her! Did you hear that, Aerewyn? Her!"
I wince. "I'm sure he meant that in the generic sense."
"Oh, really?" Nymia retorts. I don't want to turn around to face her, but my body acts on its own, spinning with defiance. The bravado deflates the moment I meet her panicked eyes. "You don't think maybe he saw your hair in the breeze? That he saw us? That he saw you? And then you used your magic!"
"Humans can't see magic."
"They can see objects vanishing from plain sight!"
I chew my lower lip, not sure what to say.
Nymia arches a pointed brow. I hate when she does that.
I hate it more when she's right.
"Okay, okay. Yes, he saw us—maybe. But he didn’t say anything. And now they're gone. And we're perfectly safe. Humans know faeries exist. It's not like we're some great mystery. So what if he saw?"
For a moment, I think I've won.
Then her nostrils flare.
I sigh.
"So what? So what!"
"Nymia."
"His bloodhound has our scent."
"Nymia."
"You saw what they did to that phoenix. We could be next!"
"Nymia." I grip her shoulders and squeeze, forcing her to listen. "We're okay. We're fine. They're gone. And once we're home, they'll never be able to find us, not with the protection wards the priestesses weave." Her breathing slows. The fear in her eyes eases and the color returns to that of the midday sky. There's still an edge of fury, but I decide to press my luck. Because, well, I always press my luck. "We just need to make one quick stop first."
"Aerewyn!" She recoils.
"Come on. Let's go see what it is."
"Aerewyn—"
But I've already leapt from the branch to sail back toward the ground. Nymia's better with wind magic, but I'm better with water magic. As her breeze surges to try to soften my fall, I reach deep into the earth for an underground stream I sensed earlier, and call forth a geyser. The spray explodes through a crack in the dirt, rising up to meet me. By the time I land, there's a small pool waiting to catch me with a splash. Nymia lands elegantly by my side, descending like a bird from the sky as her blonde tresses flutter like wings in the breeze.
A spray of water mysteriously slams into her face.
"Aerewyn!"
"What? I lost control of the magic…" My smile gives me away.
Nymia flicks her fingers. Before I have a chance to move, a cyclone whirls, lifting the water from my shallow pond into the air along with the mud, whipping me from all sides. Within moments, I'm drenched and covered in muck.
She just shrugs.
I roll my eyes and jump to my feet, calling on the Mother's sun to warm my faerie clothes until the dirt is dry enough I can wipe it all away. For now, it'll do.
"What is it?" Nymia asks, staring toward the human trinket I hid within the vines.
"I don't know," I murmur and step closer to brush the leaves aside, then pluck the golden circlet from their folds. The metal is braided with such precision I almost wonder if a faerie crafted it with magic instead of a human using tools. There's an aura of refinement and elegance. I fold the sharp point with the ruby back, playing with the hinge, not quite sure how the mechanism works. "Is it a weapon?"
"But it's so small."
"A weapon for children?"
"But he was a young man."
"Maybe something for hunting?"
Nymia shivers. "I don't like it."
I do—but she already knows that. I like everything I'm not supposed to.
"We should leave it here. What if they spelled it? What if they can track it?"
It's possible.
Erick's face fills my thoughts—the warm twinkle in his eyes, the soft grin. I don't think he meant ill will, but with humans there's no way to be sure.
Still, I find my fingers clamping down on the metal, securing it safely within my palm. "I'm taking it."
Nymia groans, but she doesn't protest. And when I start running, she follows. We both know where I'm going.
To my cave.
Well, our cave, technically, though I don't think Nymia likes it there very much. It's where we store all the treasures from our adventures, safely within faerie land, yet close enough to the outskirts the priestesses haven’t found it. We spelled it a long time ago, so no matter how far we travel, we can always find it—as though there's a string tied to our hearts, leading us back, leading us together. It's our safe spot, if we get separated or lost and need to find our way back. I use that gentle magical tug as a guide and race across the forest.
The entrance is hidden behind a waterfall, only accessible with magic. I call upon the Mother as we near, and the liquid curtain parts down the middle, splitting into two to reveal the shadowed doorway behind. Blowing icy air through my lips, I freeze a narrow pathway across the surface of the pond. Together, Nymia and I dash across the ice and slide into our hideaway. My sister murmurs the words for faerie light. A golden globe of casted sunlight bursts to life, illuminating every corner of the cavern as it rises to hang near the apex of the dome. I skim the shelves I magicked out of stone, searching for the perfect spot for my newest acquisition.
Magical items go on the left—the dragon scales we found in a cave, a chunk of unicorn horn broken off during a territorial fight, griffin feathers, a giant's nail clippings, one razor-sharp siren tooth, and so much more.
Human items go on the right. I have far fewer of these, which I think makes me covet them more. There's a rusty knife blade with a twisted-iron handle. A square of silk cloth with frayed edges. A few broken straps of leather with metal buckles. A white jug with a crack down the side, interrupting colorful latticework. And my most prized possession, a smoothly polished animal horn, hollowed out and edged in gold. I'm not sure what any of it is for, really, but that's what makes it so intriguing.
I nestle Erick's trinket beside the horn.
I think it's my new favorite.
"Can we go now?" Nymia asks, a shiver in her voice.
I spin around to face her. "What's wrong?"
"I just have a bad feeling."
"Like your dreams?"
Nymia swallows and nods.
Sometimes, my sister wakes in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, screaming. Sometimes, she whimpers and thrashes, smacking me with her flailing limbs. Sometimes, she casts a storm in her sleep, waking to the crack of her lightning as it flashes across the sky. The priestesses say she's having premonitions—dreams sent from our gods. I believe them. I've always known Nymia is stronger than she gives herself credit for.
The other girls in our training year used to laugh at her. They said she was broken, like that boy said about that dog earlier today. They said she wasn't whole, that part of her was missing. Though they weren't afraid of Nymia, they soon learned not to cross me—a little mischief is, after all, the sort of thing I live for. The first time I heard them gossiping, I cut one of the girls' hair off in the middle of the night. The second time, I sent another floating down the river on a lily pad. The third time, I dropped a nest of fire ants on a few of their beds. There wasn't a fourth time.
Nymia told me not to—that I was making enemies.
I told her I didn’t want friends like that anyway.
That's when we became sisters. Technically, all the priestesses-in-training are kin. We're all children born of the Mother and the Father, connected by our magic, if not by blood. But Nymia is the only one I call sister, and same with her for me. We chose each other a long time ago, and nothing will break us apart.
I hold out my hand and she takes it.
That's enough exploring for one day.
"Home?" I ask.
"Home."
Before we leave, I cast another glance over my shoulder, eying the trinket for a moment longer, wondering why the sight of it brings a warm blush to my cheeks.
Then we're gone.
We run toward the river and kneel beside the bank, grasping a leaf between our palms. I use my magic to stretch it wide and long. Nymia uses hers to stiffen the veins. We set it on the water and climb in, then let the current carry us away. It’s a ten-minute trip before the sacred grounds slip into view, a bright patch of rainbow in otherwise green terrain. Flowers of every shape and size cover the expansive meadow, as brilliant as the most vibrant sunset, as welcome as the dawn. I urge a branch to stretch out across the water and grab the wood to reel us toward the shore. We climb out before anyone can see, and scurry through the trees, pretending we've been here the whole time.
It works.
Almost.
We're through the trees and into the outer edge of the sacred ground when a voice stops us, drawing everyone's attention.
"Aerewyn! Nymia!"
I wince. Drats.
"Yes, Priestess Sytrene?" I murmur in what I hope is a demure way as Nymia and I spin with our heads bowed.
Just as the year has four seasons, so do we as Mother's children—spring faeries, summer faeries, autumn faeries, and even winter faeries with skin as white as snow, twinkling like the surface of an icy field. Priestess Sytrene is the most powerful of us all, gifted dominion over the season in which Mother is at peak strength—the High Priestess of Summer. She's the oldest too, though you'd never know it by the warm bronze of her hair and the perfectly unblemished tan of her skin. Her flowing robes made of ivory magnolia petals match those of the other priestesses, in style if not always in color. But the golden circlet nestled above her brow, adorned with five glittering diamonds, the center of which shines yellow like the sun, names her our leader.
This can't be good.
"Where have you been?"
I blink and tilt my head to the side, one word racing through my thoughts—deny, deny, deny. "Whatever do you mean?"
"I mean, why did I feel the weight of two little faeries catapulting themselves through the protection ring and into human territory earlier today when they were supposed to be studying the forests?"
Nymia sucks in a breath, but I haven’t given up hope. "It couldn't have been us. We didn't travel that far."
"I saw you in the scrying water."
Double drats!
How much did she see? The humans? The dog? Our cave?
No.
Definitely not.
If she'd seen any of that, she would've never waited for us to come home on our own. She would've retrieved us immediately. There's still a chance we can get out of this…
"We went beyond the boundary?" I ask meekly, switching to ignorance, another favored tactic.
Priestess Sytrene isn't impressed. She watches me tiredly, a slight frown upon her lips. "If you couldn't sense your passage through the magic, we have a much bigger problem on our hands." Her gaze slides to Nymia, the easier target. "I want the truth."
"We, um…" my sister mumbles, unsure.
"It's my fault," I cut in. "It was my idea."
Those sharp amber eyes cut back to me. "I'm well aware of that, Aerewyn."
A few of the priestesses over her shoulder smile, amused probably, by a sight that takes them back to their own youths. That's not what bothers me—it’s the snickers of the other girls, laughing quietly to each other, sharing glances laced with innuendo.
"We were chasing a phoenix!" I blurt.
Beside me, Nymia sighs.
"A phoenix?"
"Yes! I saw it last night while everyone was asleep, so I begged Nymia to come with me. I know we're not supposed to go over the boundary, but it was right on the other side. We didn't go very far. And we got to see it molt!"
Take that, I think, wrinkling my nose toward the other girls.
Priestess Sytrene straightens. "You saw it molt?"
I nod enthusiastically.
"Where?"
"In a tree."
"Out in the open?"
"Yeah. I thought that was odd, too."
A worry line digs into her forehead, out of place on a woman I've only ever seen controlled and serene. As soon as it's there, it's gone. "Regardless, you know the rules, Aerewyn. You both do. No magic for a week."
"A week?!" I cry. "A whole week?"
Nymia groans, taking the punishment without protest.
"It's not safe to go beyond the reach of our protection. And it would do you both well to remember that, especially in times such as these. Now, come."
We follow her across the clearing. My cheeks burn with shame as the other girls watch and whisper, smug looks on their faces. The deeper into the meadow we walk, the more our home comes into sight. The outskirts are just open fields, but in the center of the sacred lands, the grasses weave into covered huts and the sloping hills hide secret homes. Gardens come and go, but the most important garden of all lies in the very center of our home—the garden of souls. Within that hallowed circle, ringed by a living wall of fire that burns day and night, are unborn faeries. Some have lived a hundred times, born and reborn as the gods see fit. Some have never once opened their eyes. All wait for their turn, protected by our magic, existing only as flowers until the day the Mother and Father deign to gift them life.
It's the most magical place in the world.
It's also my least favorite—a fact I'm reminded of as Priestess Sytrene dips her hand into the flames, channeled directly from the sun, and pulls a ringlet of smoldering metal free.
Our magic is a gift from Mother.
And only she can take it away.
I sigh as the band slides over my wrist, still hot, and gasp. It doesn't burn—pain isn't the goal. It's the emptiness I feel, the absence, that makes me draw in a sharp breath. The sensation of being cut off from Mother isn't something I'll ever get used to. No matter how many times I'm disciplined this way, the shock always stings, like a slap to the face.
Priestess Sytrene uses her magic to tighten the cuff until it's small enough I won't be able to slip it off. I give Nymia an apologetic look as another one is secured to her wrist.
A whole week without magic.
What in the world are we going to do?


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Thanks for reading!

If you want to keep going, click here to read the fourth chapter :)

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