Eternal Wanderings – Blitz

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Urban
Fantasy / Celtic Fantasy
Date
Published:
April 1, 2019
Publisher:
eSpec Books (Paper Phoenix Press imprint)
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Mortal.
Immortal. Musician. Mage. 
On
a journey from the boroughs of New York to the heart of Tir na nÓg, from
innocence to the deepest darkest crevices of her soul, Kara O’Keefe found power
and strength in the discovery of self. But with that peace came a hard truth.
As a bridge connecting many worlds, none of them held a place for her.
She
must find her own way, forge her own path.
To
honor a vow to Granddame Rose, a matriarch of the Kalderaš Clan, Kara joins the
Romani caravan, only to find herself even more of an outsider than before.
While she strives for acceptance, and to honor her vow, little does she know
she has once more become a lure to an ancient and deadly enemy, drawing danger
into the midst of her unsuspecting hosts.
Once
savior of the world, Kara must now save herself and the innocents around her.
She
has come into her legacy, but where will destiny take her?
****
Based
on the Eternal Cycle Series of Novels:
Yesterday’s
Dreams
Tomorrow’s
Memories
Today’s
Promise
****
Includes
six bonus short stories.
Excerpt
Chapter
One
As
Kara O’Keefe followed Sveta through the portal leaving Tir na nÓg she staggered
and nearly fell to her knees. At the heart of the Land of Youth, in Goibhniu’s
court of Mór Halla, she had not grasped the scope of the change the Naming had
wrought in her, but upon crossing into the mortal world it became clear. In
joining the pattern of her life to the Great Wall, she had also connected her
soul to the race of Tuatha de Danaan. She had known this but had not felt the
impact earlier, deep as she had been in their magical realm. Beyond those
bounds, she felt the links like silken threads trailing back to each and every
one of her new kin. Not restricting, just connecting.
To
think months ago she’d been nothing more than a simple, if gifted, music
teacher from Queens, New York, struggling to save the house she’d grown up in.
About as far as one could get from joining the magical ranks of immortal elves.
It
was one thing to know she bore a Sidhe soul, their second-most cherished one at
that, but to feel the connection to her people…to know to her very core where
they were, in rough direction and distance, if not precise location…the awe
nearly overwhelmed her.
She
drew a sharp breath and resisted the impulse to examine those threads more
closely, in search of one in particular.
Sveta
looked back at Kara’s gasp, concern and confusion mingled in her gaze.
“It’s
okay,” Kara murmured. “I just stumbled.
“Thank
you for waiting for me,” she added.
Sveta
nodded but said nothing, clearly anxious to be away. Kara followed the young
woman down the path leading to the Romani camp, fascinated by the long fall of
her blue-black hair and the swish of her full skirt. As beautiful as it was
with its bright colors and bold patterns, Kara couldn’t imagine wearing such a
thing in the day-to-day. But this wasn’t New York or even Dublin. Things would
be different among the Rom. Kara did not have the first clue just how different.
A
little nervous, she reached up and fingered the rune-engraved copper pendant
hanging from its leather lanyard around her neck. She wore it in memory of
Granddame Rose, a reminder of both her promise and Rose’s sacrifice. The case
containing Kara’s violin, Quicksilver, lay comfortingly across her back and the
sprite, Beag Scath, had settled down to cuddle beneath the curtain of her hair.
The rest of her scant things had already been taken to the caravan.
It
felt odd to leave her parents behind. In many ways, she loathed to leave them
or Tir na nÓg, but, even if not for her vow to Granddame Rose, leaving was the
prudent thing to do. Everyone needed time to come to terms with this reordering
of their reality—herself included.
Though
born mostly human, Kara O’Keefe possessed a Sidhe soul. And not just any soul,
but that of Anu, twin to the goddess Danu, from whom all other Sidhe had been
reborn. It was difficult to come to grips with that, particularly when in the
midst of the Tuatha de Danaan—the Children of Danu—not all of whom were pleased
to welcome her as one of their own, despite evidence they could not refute.
After
the Battle of the Knock—where the demigods Olcas and Dubh attempted to besiege
the gates of Tir na nÓg—Granddame Rose had offered Kara a place with the
Kalderaš Clan, an offer seconded by the rest of the clan on the night Kara had
first played for them. Astounding, really, given the insular nature of the
culture. Accepting that place now seemed the best way to distance herself, as well
as to fulfill the vow she had made.
Rose’s
grandson, Tony DeLocosta, had been possessed by Olcas. At the same time as Rose
had offered Kara shelter with the Rom, she had also made her vow to free Tony.
Physically, Kara already had when she defeated the demigods, but Tony’s soul
remained in torment at the memory of the atrocities committed using his body,
including the murder of his grandmother by his own hand, if not his will.
The
Rom had already collected Rose’s remains…and her grandson. Kara had the sense
that none of the clan were too happy about that, but the Rom took care of their
own. That was one of the first things Rose had ever said to her: Family before
all others.
The
Rom clearly weren’t too comfortable about honoring their offer to Kara, either,
but hadn’t denied her. She wouldn’t have blamed them if they had, given the
turmoil that seemed to follow her. First in New York, then again in Tir na nÓg.
She never invited it, but it came just the same.
As
they approached the caravan, Kara was puzzled by the faint haze and scent of
acrid smoke on the air. She reached out and gripped Sveta’s shoulder. “What’s
going on? I thought we were leaving…”
The
woman flinched and her gaze shrouded further as she turned to look back, her
eyes darting to view the far side of the clearing. Kara spied a fresh cairn
just this side of the tree line, and beside it, Granddame Rose’s traditional
wagon, or vardo, engulfed in flame. One of the Sidhe stood beside it,
containing the sparks and embers with a mage shield.
Kara’s
brow dipped down and her grip on Sveta’s shoulder tightened. “What’s going on
here…and where is Tony?”
“Dinlo
gorgio,” —stupid outsider, Sveta muttered beneath her breath as she spat on the
ground, her tone sharp and her expression offended. “That one is already tucked
in his wagon, ready to leave. As we should be…” She looked like she might say
more, but Markos, leader of the Kalderaš Clan, called out harshly in Romani
from the head of the caravan. At the sound of his voice, Sveta shrugged Kara’s hand
from her shoulder and continued on.
“Now
is not the time,” she muttered. “We must be away before night falls.”
Frowning,
Kara glanced back at the burning vardo. She waved farewell to the Sidhe
guarding the flames then followed, climbing into the wagon Sveta indicated.
Kara still felt the leader of the Rom scowling back at them from the seat of
his vardo. Inside Sveta’s wagon, three young boys stared at Kara from the
built-in bunks lining the walls. She jumped as the door closed sharply behind
her, but the boys did not laugh or even giggle. They continued to watch her
with dark, solemn eyes as the wagon lurched and began to move. Grimacing, Kara
braced herself against the wall before moving to sit at a bench inside the
wagon.
She
wondered if claiming a place with the Kalderaš Clan had been wise after all.
~*~
The
urge to howl gripped her. The need to turn back and fight shook her, but the
fleeing one resisted. In their kind, the instinct for survival ran stronger
than any other impulse. She broke the bond of her pack to preserve her kind
through the young within her. As rarely happened in their long existence, one
of the Bás fled lest their race meet its end. Slinking through the brush, she
dropped her jaw and drew hard on the air. She tasted nothing of those who
hunted her, nothing of choice prey, but something tinged the air temptingly
close. Huffing slightly, she crept forward, parting the brush to peer out. A
corporeal creature knelt in the clearing, arranging sticks in a peculiar manner
before kindling a flame and settling into a sack upon the ground. The Bás
narrowed her gaze and watched. This one was a pale shadow of their chosen prey.
No power well. No essence. Just a hint of energy not worth the effort to claim,
and most certainly not sufficient for nesting the Bás’s young. Still, the
creature drew her. Tickled the memory of the Black One and how he had hidden
his spirit within another like a whelp returning to the nest. The Bás were
mostly creatures of spirit, not earth. Could she hide in such a manner? Such a
concept filled her mouth with a foul, bitter taste, but the need to survive
gripped her harder and shoved. The Bás dropped low and slinked forward. Muscles
rippled in subtle waves, and a low trill sounded deep in her throat, unbidden.
The Bás stilled and dropped her belly to the ground, but the not-prey did not
bounce up or flee.
She
watched and drew herself forward. Again, she sampled the air. This one had the
faintest of flavors that spoke of shared blood with the Daoine Maithé—in their
own tongue, the Good People. To the Bás they were the cursed ones; just as to
the cursed ones, the Bás were the Namhaid—or enemy.
The
not-prey likewise had no sense of self-preservation, unaware that death stalked
nearby. The Bás crept closer yet. Close enough to touch. She ran light fingers
over soft, weak flesh and rough coverings. She leaned forward for a closer
sampling of scent. A gentle tugging came as spirit clung to spirit.
On
impulse the Bás hissed and drew back into a crouch, razor-sharp teeth bared and
claws extended. The creature slumbered on, faintly snoring, as if safe and
secure in its own den. It took long moments for the Bás to calm. She moved
about the clearing in a not-quite stalk, skin twitching beneath its pale,
velvety pelt and eyes searching for other threats.
Slowly
she settled, again squatting close to what had become now-prey, of sorts, for
instinct now spoke to the Bás most insistently. Again, memories of the Black
One rose. Might the Bás hide within, as he had? Reaching out, she laid a hand
to the other’s flesh, once more felt the tugging of their spirits as they
twined. Following an impulse, she lay herself down upon the slumbering one,
form aligned with form. The now-prey twitched as if deep in a dream. A moan
flowed out on labored breath just tinged with fear. Limbs thrashed in jerking,
uncoordinated motions. The Bás’s purr increased as the now-prey sought to free
herself from the melding. Too late, the hunter murmured as she gripped that
captured soul tight and sank deeper into the other’s body. She savored the bite
of her host’s panic as they became one.
About
the Author

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Award-winning
author and editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the
publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. In 2014 she joined
forces with husband Mike McPhail and friend Greg Schauer to form her own
publishing house, eSpec Books (www.especbooks.com).
Her
published works include six novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories,
Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court, The Redcaps’ Queen, and Baba Ali and the
Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the
solo collections Eternal Wanderings, A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea,
Flash in the Can, Transcendence, Between Darkness and Light, and Eternal
Wanderings, the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the
senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm,
Side of Good/Side of Evil, After Punk, and In an Iron Cage. Her short stories
are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.
In
addition to her literary acclaim, she crafts and sells original costume horns
under the moniker The Hornie Lady, and homemade flavor-infused candied ginger
under the brand of Ginger KICK! at literary conventions, on commission, and
wholesale.
Danielle
lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail and three
extremely spoiled cats.
To
learn more about her work, visit www.sidhenadaire.com or www.especbooks.
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