Authors: Elianne Adams
Tags: #Fantasy, #Romance, #Fiction, #SF Romance, #Science-Fiction, #Paranormal Romace, #Erotic Romance, #Adult
Rise of the Phoenix
Book 2 in the Return to Avalore Series
Return to Avalore Series: in reading order.
(short story prequel) Free when you join my
Call of the Dragon
(book 1) Buy it on
Rise of the Phoenix
One Upon a Fiery Christmas
(book 2.5) December 2014
Copyright © 2014 by Élianne Adams
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Cover Art by
Fantasia Frog Designs
ISBN 978-0-9939003-1-0 (EPUB)
Evan peered over the knoll into the Erritrol camp. For two weeks he’d sought the enemy in these dark, foreboding lands, and he was more than ready to go home. His clothes, damp and filthy, clung to him like a second skin, and smelled of the rotted vegetation he was lying in, perfect for masking his scent. He had finally found the enemy, and he didn’t want to chance tipping them off until he could get his men together for the retrieval. All he had to do was confirm that the scymin was in the flea-infested compound below, and he could go. So what was he waiting for? Scanning the area from one end to the other, he tried to find the source of his unease.
He had to get the scymin back. The beasts had used the gryphon artifact to find his mother, the last queen of Avalore. They had used its power like a compass to lead them straight to her before slaughtering her in their home, sending their people into three decades of pain and misery. No one, not even the Elders, had seen it coming. Had they been more diligent, and less trusting, his mother might have survived that night, but they hadn’t, and he’d be damned if he would sentence his sister to the same fate. Avalore was just beginning to rebuild itself and heal now that Rhiannon was home again.
Mud-caked tents surrounded two dilapidated shacks that looked as though they could be broken down and moved in a heartbeat, which wasn’t surprising considering the difficulty he’d had finding the camp. Something was wrong. No Erritrols wandered down below or even patrolled the outskirts. If it weren’t for the bitter copper coating his tongue and the putrid stench of the beast assailing him with each draw of foul air, he would think the camp deserted. It was a trap. One he would not fall for.
Nothing moved or made a sound. Even the leaves in the trees around him didn’t rustle in the breeze. He skimmed the area for something, anything that would tell him what had the hair on his arms rising and the phoenix within him flapping its mighty wings.
There. A subtle movement at the far edge of the clearing caught his attention. Such a tiny variance in the natural flow, but it had his heart hammering and his breath catching. What the hell was
doing there? Brienne had been with Erritrols when they’d met in the Dark Lands, but the way she was skulking between the tents wasn’t right. What was she up to?
Get the hell out of there, Brienne.
Had it not been for his superior vision, Evan might have missed the slight movement. She had managed to subdue her colors to the point of almost extinguishing them. She had to be wearing a gridom stone. Nothing else, to his knowledge, had the power to dim the bright energies of an Avalorian woman. She’d worn one the only other time he had laid eyes upon her.
Things would be so much easier if he could use the telepathic speak of their people to warn her, but Brienne had gone out of her way to ensure they had never made that mental connection. So desperate to be away from him, she had run from Avalore after the Elders had announced Evan to be her mate. She hadn’t even had the decency to tell him she was leaving. The only reason he recognized Brienne at all was because she had helped save Rhiannon after his sister had taken darkness into her soul in an attempt to protect him and his men.
As dire as the situation had been, Brienne had
refused to speak with him, choosing to relay information through Drake, his Second, rather than allow him even one moment—one word. He would have liked to thank her at least
Without her help, all would have been lost.
His phoenix rose, talons digging deep as it strove to reach its mate. It had been quiet and brooding ever since he had seen Brienne in the Dark Lands weeks ago. All it knew was that she was out there somewhere and Evan had allowed her to walk away. Now, the phoenix wanted control and fought Evan’s hold.
From the treeline, two hulking figures moved close behind her. Could she not see or sense their presence? Both stood well over six feet with massive claws. One had a ring, only a little lighter than its dark brown fur, circling its neck and wrists—an Ikabrol. More mature than the Erritrol, and more deadly.
Didn’t she realize the grave danger she was in? Power came to him sizzling and popping, flooding him until he had more than he could hold.
Adrenalin pumping, he formed a thick layer of energy beneath him, expanding and building it with nothing but a thought, propelling himself high into the inky night sky.
Going into the camp without his men was careless, stupid even. He knew better. Circling around, he sought a way to get her to safety without alerting the slumbering beasts. The last thing Evan needed was to have them awaken and realize their compromised position. They would disappear into the night again, and weeks of recon would be lost.
Evan’s heart hammered hard against his ribs. If those vicious creatures caught up with Brienne, they would tear her apart without giving her a second thought.
His phoenix struggled to break free. Furious at its inability to protect what it saw as his, it surged forward with more strength than Evan anticipated, screeching long and loud. Any hope Evan had to surprise the slumbering beasts disappeared.
In an instant, the entire camp burst to life. Beasts roared as they scrambled out of their tents. Dark energy crashed over him as it swarmed into the valley, the oily sludge prickling at his skin as it rushed past and into the compound. From the treeline, a dozen Erritrols emerged, snarling and circling as they sought the phoenix. How had they managed to remain hidden?
Brienne froze for a moment, before ducking into a tent from his view.
She wanted nothing to do with him, a fact she had made clear, but he wasn’t about to stand by and watch her get killed. Whether she accepted it or not, she was his mate and she would have his protection.
Landing in the thick of the depraved creatures wasn’t a problem, or at least it shouldn’t have been. Cloaked as he was in a thick layer of energy, they should not be able to see him at all, yet not one, but two of them turned and faced him.
The taller of the two sneered, its lip curling up in a snarl, revealing long, pointed canines. White puffs of air blasted from their nostrils with each breath they released into the cool night. The beasts grunted to one another, fists clenched at their sides, yet neither made a move toward him.
A deep, throaty growl erupted behind him, sending an icy chill racing down his spine. The dark power of the enemy pulsed in the air. Whipping around, he narrowly dodged the charged ball of energy hurtling straight for his chest.
How the hell was he was going to get himself out of this and keep Brienne alive at the same time?
Black, soulless eyes bore into him. Not counting the two he now turned his back on, four more Erritrols gathered before him. Each of them drawing energy with every putrid breath they took. Their brown matted fur blended with the mud-speckled tents, but the heat each creature generated made them easy for his phoenix to find.
“Where is the woman?” The Erritrol’s grating voice made Evan clench his teeth.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Evan stepped on the balls of his feet, ready to spring into action.
The beast’s eyes rounded, and it growled again, the hair at its neck rising. “Show yourself, coward.”
If they’d had any doubt as to where he was, they had none now.
“I can smell her. Where is she?” It took another step closer, its long, yellowed claws clicking together as it clenched its massive fists.
Dropping all pretense of cloaking, he let the beast see him. If he could distract them long enough, Brienne could get away. “Even if I knew, do you really think I’d give her up? To you?” Heat built in his core, flowing through and over him like lava. Deep inside, the phoenix snapped its pointed beak, struggling against the restraint Evan held. Thermal images took shape as his vision changed to accommodate the lethal bird.
“Find her and bring her to me.” The Alpha roared, sending two smaller males scurrying away to do its bidding.
Leaping to the side, Evan sent a massive ball of bright orange energy careening toward the large male. It whistled as it flew through the air to slam into the Erritrol’s massive chest.
Howling, the creature fell to its knees. Wisps of smoke and the smell of burnt fur clung to the air. A half scream, half roar reverberated through the camp. “Get. Him.” The words were barely audible above the snarling growls.
From the corner of his eye, Evan caught the drag of dark energy from the air to one of the beasts behind him. Bracing himself, Evan spun just in time to see it released into one of their own, incinerating the beast in one strong burst.
What the hell?
If he didn’t know better, he would say the Erritrol was trying to help him. The question was why? The only ones the Erritrol ever helped were themselves.
Heavy silence fell upon the gathering as all eyes turned to the massive beast readying for attack. “Run, you stupid idiot.” The gravelly voice rumbled at him.
Not waiting for the fallout, Evan shot up into the air, scanning the area as he did, hoping to catch a glimpse of Brienne. He didn’t want to linger any longer than he needed to, and he would probably curse himself a fool many times over, but he wouldn’t leave her behind.
He had circled twice before finding her at the edge of the clearing, making her way to the treeline. Why didn’t she take to the sky? The energy they might throw at her could only reach so far before it dissipated. An ear-splitting roar cut through the air, and her steps faltered. Then, after nothing but a moment’s hesitation, she sprinted back toward the ravaged camp. Brows furrowed, she glanced up at the sky. She’d heard his screech, she had to have, and now she was looking up instead of focusing on the threat at hand.