Please welcome today's guest author Kevin James Breaux. Kevin is the author of Soul Born and Blood Divided.
Keep reading for a chance to win a Soul Born Saga Gift Box filled with goodies!
The following is an excerpt from Blood Divided by Kevin James Breaux.
Late that night, after her husband was asleep, Tala opened her
eyes, staring straight up into the heights of their enormous canopy bed.
Draped with vibrant orange silk, the family heirloom sat in the middle
of the royal bedroom, flanked with two wrought-iron candelabras of which
all but five candles total had burned down to the end.
Tala spent many of the first days she lived with the king
decorating his bedroom; it clearly required a woman’s touch. Lining the
room were many tall lush plants, so many so that the room appeared green
when one squinted their eyes. Atop a shelf in the one corner was a
collection of rare antiquities that the king had collected from various
elven tribes, including the jawbone of a lizard man that an elven
chieftain gave him as a thank you for King Ethan’s aid after a flood
decimated the chieftain’s lands. Tala always sneered at it whenever her
husband was not in the room—it did not go with her décor—but she was too
polite to ask him to remove it.
Although she had not lived with her people for a long time, she
still held true to a few of their customs. One such tradition was
beating the walls with dried Orange Sparkle Blossoms, a flower that was
indigenous only to the north of Kel Tora Castle on the border with New
Maejika. It was said to keep the spirits from entering the room, but
Tala mostly did it because it left a fresh smell that made her feel like
she was sleeping in the wild.
The king knew well of her love of the outdoors, and thus sprinkled
wild flower petals on the bed daily. It was a testament of his love for
her; one she always repaid kindly with a morning kiss.
The mere thought of explaining where she was going, what she had to
do, it made her feel almost as uncomfortable as seeing the man who
called himself Khaos just the other day. With no other option in sight,
Tala decided to sneak out in the middle of the night.
It had been many years since Tala vowed never to return to
Drae’Qu’s lake home, but Khaos’s appearance forced her to break that
vow. Like it or not, Tala knew the enigmatic fairy would provide her
with some beneficial information in this moment of stressful perplexity.
Tala slithered from the bed like a snake shedding its skin, slowly
sliding out of the sheets. The candlelight caressed her sweat moistened
naked skin, making it shine and sparkle as if covered with thousands of
tiny jewels. Tala drew a deep, silent breath and quickly dropped onto a
rug on the floor next to her side of the bed. She placed her hands on
the floor and sat in a crouch for a moment. She looked around the room.
Tala had planned her exit carefully before retiring for the night with
her husband. At the far end of the room was a window she had left open.
It was her sole means of escape; she would exit where the cool breeze
Underneath the window, about twenty feet below, was the balcony of
the royal hall. Another fifty or so feet beneath that was the royal
garden and fountain, a place Tala knew very well. The fountain itself
was a sculpture of a pair of women back to back. They held hands out to
their sides and spilled water from their mouths at a forty-five degree
angle upward. She always thought it was a beautiful sculpture, but very
silly too. The pool of the fountain was very large and reached toward
the castle some. She had swam in it a very long time ago, so she
recalled its dimensions with some clarity. Tala knew it was deep, but
she was unsure if it was deep enough to handle a dive from the height of
the balcony. Tonight she would find out.
She stared at the window intently. Her muscles tensed. Her eyes
moved to a pile of dirty clothes she had hidden her satchel underneath.
Inside the pack was simple attire, something she could wear to blend in
with the townsfolk. At the bottom of the pack was a pair of hooked
knives, a rope, and a small water skin.
Tala could hear the guards walking outside the bedroom and even
some of the ones outside the window on the grounds. To her advantage,
elven hearing reached much further at night, when most of the world
around was silent and still. She waited for a clear sign that the guards
were distant, then made her move. Sprinting toward the window, her bare
feet slid across the chilled stone floor. A tiny shiver of anticipation
shot across her body. Without breaking stride, she bent forward and
scooped up the satchel from its hiding spot, finally slinging it over
her shoulder. Then, with one clean motion, she jumped up to the
windowsill, landing still and quiet. She brushed her yellow-green hair
from her face and peered down to the balcony. No guards as far as her
eyes could see. A gust of wind blew so hard she was forced to brace
herself on the cold, lifeless stone behind her. Once she regained her
balance, she took a final glance back at her husband in bed across the
room. He laid still, sound asleep.
With a hop, Tala jumped down to the balcony. It was a quick fall,
but it still caused her heart to race. She landed softly on the hard
stone balcony, as only an elf could, with only the slightest thud. Tala
snapped her head to the right and then the left. As she feared, a guard
approached from far away. Knowing she had only a moment to act, Tala
backed herself into a shadowy corner, until her body was completely
engulfed in darkness. How embarrassing it would be, she thought, to get
caught leaving through a window in the middle of the night, naked. How
would I explain myself to my husband? It has been years since I did
this. What would the king think? Unfortunately, it was all a risk she
had to take to get the answers she needed.
The guard rounded the corner and passed with his back to her. His
footfalls chimed a clunky metallic rhythm as he walked. A sound, she
thought, that was loud enough to wake the dead. Humans and their silly
need for heavy armor; she shook her head. After waiting for the guard to
round the next corner, she confidently stepped from the shadows.
Tiptoeing softly to the railing, Tala gazed down at the moonlit,
sparkling water inside the fountain.
Not wanting to waste another moment, she threw her backpack down
into a fully grown rose bush below. After a short elven prayer passed
her lips, she stepped up to the railing and dove down to the water.
Tala hit the water, creating only a minute splash. Immediately
after piercing the water, she arched her body, pulling her head back
hard toward the surface. She could feel the skin on her knees tear as
they scrapped open at the bottom of the fountain. The structure was
shallower than she remembered, leaving a fresh sense of relief where the
fear of dying once sat in her chest.
Tala breached the water slowly, moving her head steadily as an
alligator would while patiently watching its prey. A pair of guards
marched by the garden, neither aware of her presence. The crystal clear
water rippled around her body as she swam to the furthest end of the
fountain. After swiftly pulling herself out of the basin, she scurried
into the shadows toward her backpack. Her wet bare skin tingled against
the night air; it had been a long time since Tala had taken a
refreshing, nude swim. The sensation was exhilarating, revitalizing her
with an energy she had not felt in many, many months.
Once dressed, Tala crept from tree to bush, taking care to keep
hidden in the shadows. She worked her way from the castle to the town,
where she stepped out onto the street as if she had always been there.
The town was normally quiet at this time of night. Only guards and the
occasional traveler were seen about. Security was relaxed due to the
nearly nonexistent crime in Kel Tora. Acting as if she had done it every
night, Tala walked out of town through the gates past the guards.
It did not take Tala long to jog out to the fairy’s home. As
always, she was cautious, making sure no one followed her. Few knew of
this small lake’s existence, let alone its importance.
Unlike other bodies of water in the forest outside of Kel Tora,
this lake held one of Mother Nature’s most precious secrets. It was the
hidden dwelling of one of the last surviving fairy kind. Although
invisible to human eyes, the lake shimmered with a pale blue radiance at
night, its illumination a product of the magical energy from the
fluttering of the fairy’s wings.
It was the fact that she knew what the shimmering light belonged to
that made her feel slightly sick to her stomach. The lake held many
memories for Tala, both good and bad. Slowly, old emotions began to
overwhelm her, squeezing her between the sensation of wanting to cry and
the urge to empty her stomach. Kneeling on the soft soil beside the
water, Tala breathed deeply and rhythmically. After a few moments to
calm herself, she felt better.
“Drae’Qu, I’m here,” she called out while wading into the water.
The water’s radiance grew with intensity until the fairy emerged
from the center of the lake. The fairy looked like a tiny human, a sight
that most would find odd, yet Tala had grown so used to, she gave it no
mind. As she flew, the fairy’s butterfly-like wings created a tranquil
fluttering sound. Although the wind whipped the fairy’s long, wavy,
light blue hair around, it did not move the silver ribbon that slithered
around her otherwise uncovered body as if it were alive.
Drae’Qu buzzed around Tala a few times before settling into a hover
beside her face. After staring deep into the young elf’s eyes a moment,
Drae’Qu spoke in her native tongue, a voice that sounded like a dozen
children screaming all at once, mismatched in time.
“How long has it been, Avatar?”
“Over ten years,” Tala sheepishly admitted, looking away. “Please, do not call me that.”
“I knew you would return this week. The balance has been tipped. There is great evil coming to our lands.”
“I fear the evil is already here. I saw him.” Tala paused. “You should’ve warned me.”
“My knowledge is limited to these shores. Opal left over twenty years ago.”
“So it’s true. This man, Khaos… is the son of Karn and Opal?”
“Yes,” the fairy answered gravely.
Tala dropped her head down, facing the water out of frustration. When she lifted it back up, the fairy waited eagerly.
“Tell me, how did your children accept the knowledge that they were Karn’s children as well?”
It was this moment that Tala had hoped to avoid all these years.
She did not want to tell them the truth that their father was not the
king, instead the long dead hero Karn. The King of Illyia had raised her
children since they were babies. He had provided them with everything
they needed, from shelter and food to education and sophistication. She
did not feel it was fair to him. He had given them so much and asked for
nothing in return.
“I have told them nothing.” She hoped to at least wait until after her husband passed to reveal this secret.
“You promised to tell them on their sixteenth birthday!” Drae’Qu snapped.
“Look, I’m sick of these responsibilities, Drae’Qu! That’s why I stayed away for so long.”
“Try to avoid them as you may, but you are one of Nature’s Avatars.”
Tala hated the title—with it came unreasonable responsibilities
that she felt had ruined at least half of her life. She wanted nothing
more than to be a normal girl, rid of all of this.
“What more could you ask of me, Drae’Qu?” Tala insisted. “I have lied! I have killed! I have done everything you desired!”
“You have been rewarded for your services too,” Drae’Qu said with her tiny arms crossed.
An uncomfortable silence passed between them as Tala and the fairy, stared at each other.
“What should I do?”
“You know the legend. The child of Karn will unify nature and man, bringing peace to the lands,” Drae’Qu reminded her.
“I always figured it was Lucien, that one day he would become King
of Illyia,” Tala replied. “Now I am not sure which child. Could the
legend be about the child of Karn and Opal?”
“Tala, I am sure of this: Khaos is pure evil. What worries me now is the safety of your children,” the fairy added.
Tala had not thought that Lucien or Autumn would be in serious
danger. Now the sick realization that Khaos may have come to kill them
drilled deep into her chest.
“I will bring Autumn to you tomorrow. She needs to know the truth.” Tala gave in.
“What of your son?” Drae’Qu asked.
“He loves his father so much. This news may devastate him, and I need his strength now more than ever.”
“It is, in the end, your decision.”
A moment passed before Tala spoke again. “Can you do me a favor now?” she asked shyly.
“Would you like to see…?” Drae’Qu began to ask.
“No,” Tala interrupted. “No visions today. I need an animal spirit.”
The fairy perked up; she enjoyed using her magic in every way.
“It has been a very long time since you took the spirit of an animal. What was it last?”
“A bear,” Tala answered, recalling the memory.
“Yes, a bear. What spirit would you require this time?”
“One that can fly high and fast.”
All of Kel Tora was resting silently. The townsfolk slept
comfortably in their homes, and guards stood casually on alert while the
remainder of Kel Tora’s army slept off another night of drinking. One
of the royal guards, an older veteran walking the outside perimeter near
the balcony of the royal hall, watched as the large bird flew the night
sky. The falcon glided effortlessly atop the wind, flapping its
feathered wings only once in a great while. The guard watched as the
falcon seemed to point itself directly at the castle. He muttered hushed
words of confusion to himself, not understanding where the feathered
creature could be going. Perhaps it was just going to crash into the
coarse stonewalls, he thought. The guard repositioned himself to get a
better view of the falcon’s path. As he did, it became obvious to him
that the bird was flying directly toward the king’s chambers.
The old guard jolted out of his relaxed state and ran as fast as
his weary bones would let him through the royal hall. The sound of his
heavy metal armor and metal-encased boots alerted other guards who raced
to his position.
“What is it, Deter?” one guard yelled as he realized the loud footfalls belonged to a friend.
“I just saw a bird fly directly into our lord’s room!”
“It looked like a falcon!” Deter yelled as they ran through the castle.
“A war falcon?”
“I pray not!”
The two guards ran up the staircase and down the halls of Kel
Tora’s most inner sanctum. As they approached the king’s chambers, the
number of guards increased. Outside the king’s room stood six stoic
guards. They were dressed in dark red-orange colors, even though Kel
Tora’s royal guard’s colors were black. All in service of the king knew
that any soldier wearing the dark red-orange sigils belonged to Kel
Tora’s elite Vermillion Force. They were a complete mystery: all were
young, strong, and silent. No one knew their names or where they
resided, only that they were loyal—dangerously loyal.
Both royal guards slowed their pace and identified themselves
before reaching a comfortable distance from the king’s chambers.
“State your business,” one of the elite Vermillion Guards said coolly.
“I was walking outside the hall when I witnessed a falcon fly directly into our lord’s window.”
No sooner were the words out of his mouth did one of the elite
guards knock slightly on the door before shoving it swiftly open. Two of
the six elite guards turned and entered the room, while the other four
held their positions facing away from the room. As the two guards
stepped into the dark room, Tala greeted them. Emerging from the shadows
wrapped in a shawl that barely covered her, Tala moved directly to the
guards as they stood cautiously.
“Lady Tala, we have word that a falcon may have entered your window. Is everything… satisfactory?”
Tala slid up the shawl slightly to reveal just the bottom most
point where her legs met her hips; had the candles in the room or
torches in the hall been any brighter the two royal guards may have been
able to view the most intimate part of her anatomy.
“As you can see, I’m not properly prepared for guests.” Tala spoke softly.
“Please, accept our apologies, milady.”
“The falcon you saw is one I’m training as a gift for my husband.”
“Then all is well?”
“All is well… as long as you did not wake the king,” Tala whispered
as she turned away from the guards, giving them a full view of the
curves of her buttocks.
The elite guardsmen quickly exited the room and stepped back into
formation. After the guards shut the door, Tala unraveled the shawl that
hid her body. Feathers that had only seconds before lined her
transformed body dropped softly to the floor while others still clung
sideways to her body. She could not help but giggle as one falling
feather brushed against her ankle before landing on her foot.
Tala collected the extra feathers and placed them carefully aside,
out of view. After surveying the room for any proof she was up, or even
worse, out, she stepped up to the bed. Her husband lay still, asleep as
she left him—lucky for her he was a deep sleeper. Tala climbed back into
bed, wrapping her body up against his in a spooning position. She
breathed a sigh of relief. She had much more to worry about than just
waking the king now.
Blood Divided (Soul Born Saga #2) by Kevin James Breaux
There exists an ancient elven proverb, dating before the time of man.
Life and death, like day and night, meet at a point where they blend
into one. It is that brief moment when anything is possible.
There was a time when four sparks of life burned brighter than the sun
itself. Megan was born with power, Lucien born with station. Autumn was
born full of life, while Nathan was entwined with death.
Peace has come and gone... The conflicts of old have
returned-rejuvenated and driven. This is the beginning of the end. The
children of Karn have come of age, and now they will take part in
shaping the fate of Illyia.
Will they join forces, or with blood will they be divided?
Thank you Kevin for joining us here today at From the Shadows!
To learn more about Kevin James Breaux and his books, please visit his website. Also, don't miss our interview with Kevin here.
**Soul Born Saga Giveaway**
We are giving away a Soul Born Saga Gift Box with:
(1) Soul Born signed
(1) Blood Divided signed
(1) Soul Born cover print
(1) Blood Divided post card signed
(3) plastic knights
(1) $25.00 gift card to Amazon.com
To enter, please leave a comment on this post and include your email so we contact you if you win. This giveaway is to US mailing addresses only. Giveaway ends June 6, 2012 midnight EST.
Kevin has generously offered to gift Kindle copies of Blood Divided to 10 From the Shadows readers. Entry in the above giveaway will automatically enter you in the Kindle giveaway. One entry, two great giveaways!