Being the Chosen One could kill her ...
Victoria Saveron knows two things for certain. Dark forces want to kill her, and her friends have cooler powers than she does. Katrina can shapeshift and Tellen can tap into destructive magic currents.
Everything else is uncertain and rumors abound.
Victoria might be the Chosen One, whatever that means. Her father might be able to help them, but only if they can find him. Coldhaven's villagers might be able to offer them food and shelter. Some fool might be running around unlocking Darkland portals to raise an undead army.
The further Victoria and her companions get on their journey, the more dangers and betrayals they face. They must awaken Vic's true powers or forfeit the world.
This is Book 1 in the Redeemer Chronicles series. It's followed by The Holy War and Reclaim the Darklands. Audiobooks are available for books 1-3 singly or as a combination title. There is also a prequel series called Aeris Legends. The first story is called The Huntsman and the Healer, but even that is preceded by a very short story called River's Edge Ransom.
Release date: October 28, 2018
Publisher: Julie C. Gilbert
Print pages: 141
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Behind the book
So, this book might seem a wild switch of gears if you are reading the Aeris stories in chronological order. But this is where it began.
In order of being written, they go 4-6, 1, 2-3
Cover went through a few permutations.
Julie C. Gilbert
Temporary Camp, Foot of the Karnok Mountains
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that my life has gone the way it has. Some people are just doomed. I—Victoria Amaryllis Saveron—am not a complainer, honest, but there comes a time when one has to examine the hand dealt by Fate and draw some conclusions.
My conclusion is this: life’s not fair.
Let us examine the cards I’ve been dealt.
Cards one and two: a dark maternal heritage and a paternal legacy of eternal strife. Without going into the sob story, I’ll simply say my parents’ short love story and marriage wasn’t exactly favored by the Saroth—Mom’s folks—or the Arkonai—Dad’s folks.
Marina Castaloni-Saveron—Mom—was a witch. I mean that in the most literal way possible. I’m not talking about a society of old ladies with bad complexions, creepy cats, and a depressing taste in clothes. I’m talking about an ancient and powerful, often dangerous, people with Gifts beyond this world. Mom was the black sheep, which means she secretly taught herself the healing arts and devoted herself to helping those in need.
Given that, naturally, Daniel Saveron—Dad—descends from the Arkonai, those proud guardians of the Bereft—those without magical powers. I asked him why they’re called Bereft if they never had any powers to speak of. He grunted and said I’d understand one day. I really hate it when he says things like that. It makes me feel like a stupid child. Why can’t he simply answer questions like a normal human being? Never mind that he’s not normal.
Cue sappy music.
Short version: Dad met Mom because he was tricked into hunting her by Uncle Jack, Mom’s crazy younger brother. I’m told nearly everybody has a crazy Uncle Jack. Not sure I believe that, but I do know I have an uncle, his name is Jack, and he’s definitely nuts and evil. Someday I’ll have to ask him why he impersonated an Arkonai Huntmaster to put a hit on his sister. That’s just wrong. It’s no way to treat anybody, especially not somebody related to you. I don’t have a sister, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t hire somebody to kill her if I did.
After a patient hunt and rousing chase, Dad inevitably caught his prey, solved the mystery in time to avoid killing her, got past the whole awkward sorry-for-almost-killing-you phase, and successfully won her hand. That made nobody happy—except Mom. She was ecstatic to marry for love, though her former fiancé was rather put out, her family officially disowned her and put a bounty on her capture, and Dad’s family snubbed her.
The Saroth are obsessed with bloodlines, lineage, and birth order, so they tried to arrange her marriage to Marcus Polani. Personally, I’m happy not being his daughter. Katrina Polani’s a decent person, but she bit down hard on the whole I-am-better-than-everybody-else-because-I-have-magic Saroth nonsense.
With all the cheery goodwill going around, it’s no surprise my parents fled to the woods to hide out, raise a family, et cetera. A horde of zombies attacked my parents when I was a cute, squishy baby. My parents prevailed in that fight, but Mom and I were both bitten. Why the blasted creatures bite is far beyond me. They carry supernatural swords, yet they insist on biting. It’s so uncivilized. Stupid zombies. Then again, I’m not sure why they bother conjuring the swords since they always lose their arms.
Mom could heal herself or me, not both, so she saved me. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like if she’d saved herself instead. Of course, I wouldn’t be around to see it, but she could have done so much more with her life. Dad found a powerful friend to make a pair of magical bracers that kept me from turning into one of those nasty little biters, hence the metal bracers—that often look like simple silver bracelets—and the thick leather gloves I wear. I don’t really have to wear gloves on both hands, just the one that’s gray and corpsified, but I find it less conspicuous to wear the pair.
Card three: I should be dead. The optimist in me says that fact—namely that I’m not dead—is an accomplishment by itself, but the pessimist says that’s only delaying the inevitable.
Card four: people want to kill me. It’s not my fault I have two magical bloodlines within me. As far as I know, they’ve practically canceled each other out. Otherwise, I’d have cool powers like Katrina’s ability to shapeshift or Tellen’s ability to fry things with lightning.
What did I get? The most useless power ever. I glow when zombies or other dangerous or exceptionally powerful supernatural beings are near. The glow is not everywhere, thank goodness, but the whites of my eyes, my teeth, and my bracers light up like beacons if something possessing strong magical properties—especially dark ones—draws too close. These days, more often than not, that’s when something is trying to kill me.
Card five: my two closest friends, Katrina and Tellen, hate each other. Hate might be too strong a word, but it’s easier than saying they “have a strong aversion” to each other. I’ve already explained that Katrina’s Saroth through and through, so as Fate would have it, Tellen’s an Arkonai. He’s an outcast among his people because of his destructive magical abilities, but that doesn’t mean his upbringing didn’t leave him with a well-developed prejudice against Saroth.
Dad says the idea that every Saroth delves into dark magic and every Arkonai sticks solely to light magic is complete rubbish. Though I hate to admit it, I think he’s right. In any case, Katrina and Tellen are both cool with me because their masters—respectively, the great Saroth Shapeshifter, Talini, and the current Arkonai Supreme Huntmaster, Jordan Lekros—sort of ordered them to be my companions. I think they—the elders—know something they’re not telling any of us.
Card six: I have no idea where the heck I’m going or how to get there. This whole crazy thing started when my father disappeared on another one of his hunts, leaving me with Katrina and Tellen. I sense a conspiracy. The first few days went fine. Then, yesterday we were having a nice game of darts when my bracers lit up, my eyes felt like they were on fire, and light poured from my mouth like airy drool.
Zombies came, zombies died, we swiftly packed parcels, and ran like cats with our tails on fire.
Card seven: I have a very uncomfortable feeling this is going to turn into one of those crazy quests to save the world. Since when did I sign up to be a hero? Somebody up there must have messed up the roll call.
Temporary Camp, Foot of the Karnok Mountains
Vic looks worried. She tries to hide her feelings, but any Saroth with the smallest Minder capabilities could read her. I am uncertain about whether or not she knows where we are going. Some say quests must have an object or end goal in mind. For now, the goals are simply to stay alive and find Vic’s father.
My young friend bears the mark of the Chosen Redeemer, but she does not yet realize it. I would like to tell her of the prophecy, but Father has forbidden it. I do not agree with him on this matter, but I shall honor the order for now. My ultimate task has always been to protect the interests of my people. Father has been meeting with the Dark Man again, and while he—Father—has a mind of his own, I fear the Dark Man’s influence is growing. A time may come wherein I must tell Vic everything I know, but for now, I will keep silent.
Vic’s marked for greatness, so she might as well have a large target painted on her head. Yesterday’s attack confirms this, but I am just realizing what that means for me and my people. A world without zombies is a worthy cause to fight for but destroying every link to the spirit world may destroy magic itself. I do not know what the Arkonai think about that, but my people will stop at nothing to prevent the Chosen Redeemer’s coming if it heralds the end of magic.
As panic rises in me, I remind myself that nobody knows how the Chosen Redeemer will rid the world of the Darkland creatures. Destroying the link to the spirit world may not destroy magic. That is simply one possibility.
I wrench my thoughts away from my young friend’s destiny back to the present. Poor Vic. She is not a subtle person. If she feels something or thinks something, her expression and demeanor will declare it. Her crystal blue eyes cannot hold a secret inside, and she does not have the luxury of turning herself into a bug to avoid confrontations. Perhaps that is why her father has not enlightened her. He was once very highly regarded among the Arkonai huntsmen. He might have even become Supreme Huntmaster if he had completed the contract on Vic’s mother. Instead, he chose a different path. Despite this, he must know more than he has told my friend.
Since the initial clash with the zombies at Vic’s home, we have avoided trouble. While this is good, I sense maleficent attention directed our way. I am not trained as a Minder, so for me to feel this sense of dread when thinking of Vic or our quest, something big must be happening. Vic did well in that fight, but she falls far short of the ideal warrior. For one thing, she does not like killing things, even the undead. Only crazy people enjoy killing things, but even the magic-less Bereft know there is a certain satisfaction one can draw from removing a zombie’s head.
Interestingly, I do not believe Vic even knows she can fight well. Of course, I could not sit back and simply observe her in combat, but I believe she might have done most of her fighting with her eyes closed. She’s an odd one, our Vic.
Normally, I know my role well. Kill this. Fetch that. Deliver a message. But this time I am uncertain whether I am to be guardian, guard, or childminder. I gaze around at the old trees rising up around us. The afternoon sun shines through clearly enough, but I know we will not be graced with its presence long. Though the weather remains hospitable enough to make foot travels easy, the night air will have a biting chill to it.
A Shapeshifter is never truly without a natural habitat, but the woods have always been regarded as an Arkonai realm to dominate. Tellen’s off somewhere exploring, which suits me just fine. I do not trust the Arkonai boy. He claims to be here on orders from his master, but I do not trust his master either. I possess ulterior motives. I can only imagine what intricate plans have been conjured by the devious Supreme Huntmaster. Father has taught me to never underestimate any Arkonai. Personally, I find blood feuds pointlessly stupid. The world is dangerous enough without keeping the second most powerful people as close enemies.
Corruption has seeped in from somewhere. The Arkonai blame us, and I fear they are right. Though skilled fighters and in possession of mysterious powers, the Arkonai lack the keen interest in the arcane arts necessary to open Darkland portals. My people are usually not stupid enough to open those because they can be difficult to close, but sometimes ambition outpaces good sense.
Beyond the portals, fabled armies of undead await a mortal master’s commands. The promise of power, though alluring, also comes with dire warnings of destruction. On the whole, my people could wage an effective war against the undead, but it would be a massive inconvenience. Vic would worry about the Bereft. No doubt the Arkonai would defend them to the last hunter, fools that they are.
The destruction of the Arkonai may be the intended plan. But who would be so bold? It has a certain level of creativity and elegant simplicity, but it still smacks of insanity. Only one bearing the Blessing of the Lady of Light could successfully control a large army summoned from the Darklands. Legends say the Lady of Light, goddess of good, loved a mortal man in ages past. Though she could not shed her immortality to be with him, she rained down blessing after blessing upon him. When war came upon the land—thanks to a previous zombie-happy crazy Conjurer—the Lady’s mortal lover took up arms to fight.
In the final battle, the man fought brilliantly but was fatally wounded. Unable to stand his suffering and not wanting to watch him turn into a slathering creature someone would have to behead, the Lady of Light imbued the man’s bracers with enough power to stave off the eternal night. In the process, she gave him enough power to control the army and send them back through the portal into the Darklands where they belong. The magic bracers were handed down generation to generation before being lost to time.
Few believe that fable, but it does sound eerily familiar. If the wrong people believe the story, it could mean a lot of trouble for us.
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...