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       ivy granger 05 - hounds bite, p.1

           E.J. Stevens
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ivy granger 05 - hounds bite

  Hound’s Bite

  E.J. Stevens

  Hound’s Bite

  E.J. Stevens

  Published by Sacred Oaks Press

  Copyright 2016 E.J. Stevens

  All rights reserved

  Publisher’s Note

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

  Kindle Edition, License Notes

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  Table of Contents

  Pronunciation Guide

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Chapter 54

  Chapter 55

  Chapter 56

  Chapter 57

  Chapter 58

  Chapter 59

  Pronunciation Guide

  Pronunciations are given phonetically for names and races found in the Ivy Granger series. Alternate names and nicknames have been provided in parentheses. In some cases, the original folklore has been changed to suit the city of Harborsmouth and its environs.

  Ailinn: ah-lynn

  Aleya: uh-LEE-yuh

  Arachne: uh-RAK-nee

  Athame: ah-thaw-may

  Banshee: ban-shee (Bean Sidhe, Bean Sìth)

  Barguest: BAR-guyst (Bargheist, Black Dog)

  Bean Tighe: ban tig

  Béchuille: beh-huh-IL (Bé Chuille)

  Bema: BEE-muh

  Bheur: ver (like air)

  Blaosc: BLEE-usk

  Bogey: BOH-gee

  Boggart: BOG-ert

  Boitata: boy-TAH-ta

  Brollachan: broll-ach-HAWN

  Brownie: BROW-nee (Bwca, Urisk, Hearth Faerie, Domestic Hobgoblin)

  Bugbear: BUG-bayr (Bug-a-boo, Boggle-bo)

  Bwca: BOO-kuh (see Brownie)

  The Cailleach: kall-ahk (The Blue Hag, Cailleach Bheur, Queen of Winter, Crone, Veiled One, Winter Hag)

  Cat Sidhe: KAT shee or kayth shee (Faerie Cat, Cait Shith, Cait Sith)

  Ceffyl Dŵr: keff-EEL dore (Kelpie King, Ceff)

  Chir batti: CHEER bhut-TEA

  Clurichaun: kloor-ih-kon (clobhair)

  Cu Sith: KOO shee

  Daeva: DAY-va

  Demon: DEE-mun

  Djinn: JIN

  Draugr: DROW-ger

  Duergar: doER-gar

  Each Uisge: erk OOSH-kuh (Water Horse)

  Elphame: EL-faym

  Emain Ablach: EH-van ah-BLAH

  Faerie: FAIR-ee (Fairy, Sidhe, Fane, Wee Folk, The Gentry, People of Peace, Themselves, Sidhe, Fae, Fay, Good Folk)

  Fear Dearg: far DAR-rig (The Red Man)

  Fionn mac Cumhaill: FIN mac COO-will

  Forneus: FOR-nee-us (Demon, Great Marquis of Hell)

  Fragarach: FRAG ah roch

  Fuath: FOO-ah

  Gaius Aurelius: GUY-us aw-REE-lee-us

  Galliel: GAL-ee-el (Unicorn)

  Ghoul: GOOL (Revenant)

  Glaistig: GLASS-tig (The Green Lady)

  Gnome: NOHM

  Goblin: GOB-lin

  Griffin: GRIF-fin (Gryphon, Griffon)

  Grindylow: GRIN-dee-loh

  Gwarwyn-a-throt: GWAR-win-uh-THROT

  Gwynn ap Nudd: gwin-AP-need

  Hamadryad: ha-ma-DRY-ad (Tree Nymph)

  Harborsmouth: HAR-bers-MOUTH

  Henkie: HEN-kee

  Hippocampus: hip-po-CAM-pus

  Hob-o-Waggle HOB-oh-WAG-gul (Brownie, son of Wag-at-the-Wa)

  Hy Brasil: HY bra-ZIL

  Ignus fatuus: IG-nus FATCH-you-us

  Inari: i-NAH-ree

  Jenny Greenteeth: JEN-nee GREEN-teeth (Water Hag)

  Kelpie: KEL-pee (Water Horse, Nyaggle)

  Lamia: LAY-me-uh

  Leanansídhe: lan-awn-shee (Lhiannan Sidhe, Leanhaun Shee, Leannan Sìth, Fairy Mistress)

  Leprechaun: le-pre-khan (leipreachán)

  Loup garou: LOOP guh-ROO

  Mab: MAB (Unseelie Queen)

  Manannán mac Lir: MAH-nah-nahn mac leer

  Mauthe doog: MOW-thee DOO

  Melusine: MEL-oo-seen

  Mermaid: MER-mayd (male Merman)

  Merry Dancer: MER-ree DAN-ser (Fir Chlis)

  Murúch: mer-ook (Merrow, Moruadh, Murúghach)

  Nixie: NIX-ee

  Nuckelavees: NOOK-uh-LAY-veez

  Oberon: OH-ber-on (Seelie King)

  Peg Powler: PEG POW-ler (Peg Powler of the Trees, Water Hag)

  Peri: PER-ee

  Pixie: PIK-see (Pisgie)

  Pooka: POO-kuh (Phooka, Pouka, Púca, Pwca)

  Redcap: RED-kap (red cap)

  Roca Barraidh: ROH-ka BAR-rah

  Saytr: SAY-ter

  Selkie: SEL-kee

  Shellycoat: SHEL-lee-cote

  Sidhe: SHEE (see Faerie)

  Succubus: SUK-you-bus (male Incubus)

  Tech Duinn: tek DOON

  Tezcatlipocan: tehs-cah-tlee-poh-cahn

  Tir na nOg: TEER na NOHG

  Tir Tairngire: TEER TEARN-geer

  Titania: ti-TAY-nee-uh (Seelie Queen)

  Troll: TROHL

  Tuatha Dé Danann: tootha DAY da-NAN

  Tylwyth Teg: TILL-with TEEG (Seelie Court)

  Unicorn: YOU-ni-korn

  Unseelie: un-SEE-lee

  Vampire: VAM-pyr (Undead)

  Will-o’-the-Wisp: WIL-oh-tha-wisp (Gyl Burnt Tayle, Jack o’ Lantern, Wisp, Ghost Light, Friar’s Lantern, Corpse Candle, Hobbledy, Aleya, Hobby Lantern, Chir Batti, Faerie Fire, Spunkies, Min Min Light, Luz Mala, Pinket, Ellylldan, Spook Light, Ignus Gatuus, Orbs, Boitatá, and Hinkypunk)

  Ynis Afall
on: un-NIS AH-fuhl-on

  Yue Fei: yweh-fay

  I come from battle and conflict

  With a shield in my hand;

  Broken is the helmet by the pushing of spears.

  I will address thee, exalted man,

  With his shield in distress;

  Brave man, what is thy descent?

  Hound-hoofed is my horse, the torment of battle,

  Whilst I am called Gwyn, the son of Nud,

  —The Black Book of Carmarthen

  Chapter 1

  The night was broken by howls that sent icy claws skittering down my spine.

  “What the Hell is that?” I asked, gloved hands reaching for my blades.

  Ceff lifted his hands apologetically, mouth struggling to form words in a way that wouldn’t upset me. I could read his discomfort in his stiff posture and the tightening of the skin around his eyes.

  Torn had no such concern for my feelings.

  “You didn’t think you could enter Faerie without consequences, did you, Princess?” Torn asked with a mocking sneer.

  So much for friendship. Apparently, returning to Harborsmouth had brought out Torn’s snarky side.

  The doors to Faerie had been sealed by Mab, Titania, and Oberon when they disappeared more than a century ago. The faerie paths no longer led to the Seelie and Unseelie lands. Lucky for me, I’d found a key to a hidden back door.

  At least, that key had seemed like a stroke of luck at the time. I’d needed a way into Faerie, to the wisp court that promised clues to my father’s whereabouts. Not that my journey had been easy. Nothing worth fighting for ever was.

  The ability to come out of hiding? That was worth fighting for. I was tired of slinking around the shadows of my city.

  The problem was that, even though I’d been raised human, the supernatural gifts I inherited from my father, Will-o’-the-Wisp, continued to grow like wildfire—burning me in the process. With no one to teach me how to control my growing powers, I’d broken the one rule that all fae live by. I used my powers in public, without glamour, and risked exposing the secret of our kind to humans—a crime punishable by death.

  It didn’t take the fae uppity ups long to send a faerie hit squad to take me out. The Moordenaar, a group of elite assassins, shot me full of poisoned arrows. I died. Thankfully, I had a magic apple up my sleeve—an apple that resurrected the dead, and not in a creepy, zombielicious kind of way.

  So, yeah, I died, but I got better. Take that faerie assassins. Ivy Granger: 1, Faerie assassins: 0.

  With the fae believing I was dead, I used my father’s key to enter the wisp court. As I said, it hadn’t been easy. I did things there that were sure to give me nightmares—more than I already had—but I’d foolishly believed that the worst was behind me.

  Surviving a trip through the land of the dead and into Faerie and back again—homicidal relatives and all—had left me hopeful. I’d learned how to control my powers. My friends and I had survived. Heck, I’d only been back a few minutes and already I’d managed to heal the wisps, who had been living in Jinx’s father’s junkyard, of their iron sickness. It was starting out to be a good day.

  I should have known better.

  But I had so many reasons for being hopeful. I was returning to Harborsmouth after demonstrating my newfound control to the Unseelie Court. The ruling fae had decided that I was no longer a threat to their existence. That meant no more hiding. For once, no one was trying to kill me. Even my relationship with Ceff was in a good place. My life was supposed to go back to normal.

  Another hungry howl pierced the night, and I grimaced.

  “This is no time for games, Torn,” I said. Getting an answer from a cat sidhe was like following the metal ball in a game of Mouse Trap. I was pretty sure that Torn was allergic to straight answers, but I was sick of playing the mouse. Our journey to Faerie had been an exhausting one, and I was short on patience. The sooner we fought the big bad monster coming our way, the sooner I could go home and drop into my bed. “Did we wake the Hound of the Baskervilles, or what?”

  Ceff and Torn exchanged a meaningful look, faces grim. I flashed Ceff a grin, hoping to lighten the mood, but he shook his head.

  “Torn is right,” Ceff said. “It would seem that our trip to Faerie was not without consequences.”

  “What consequences?” I asked, throwing my blade laden hands in the air. “Will one of you just tell me what is out there? A heads-up might make killing the howling monster a little easier. Knowledge is power, yada yada.”

  “You will need more than mere blades to fight this enemy,” Ceff said.

  I ground my teeth while mentally stabbing a picture of my cryptic boyfriend with my “mere blades.”

  “Are you saying we should run?” I asked, eyebrows raised. “Because you should know me better than that.”

  “What he’s saying, Princess, is that you woke up something too big for the three of us to defeat alone,” Torn said.

  That made me pause. We’d fought faerie queens, pyro demons, a lovesick necromancer, and a psychotic lamia, to name a few. I may not have come through those battles unscathed, or with all my guts still on the inside, but at the end of the day, we’d won. With my friends at my side, and a new arsenal of wisp powers at my fingertips, I felt nearly invincible.

  I looked to Ceff, hoping he’d grab his trident and join me for some quick monster cleanup. I may not be on the clock for this one, but I didn’t let hungry fae prowl the streets of Harborsmouth. And if Torn was right, I’d somehow let this one follow us out of Faerie. No way was I turning tail, no matter how tired I was.

  But Ceff didn’t reach for his weapon.

  “We need allies,” he said.

  “And larger weapons,” Torn said, with a wink.

  The cat sidhe looked excited, which was a clue that I wasn’t going to like the answer to my next question.

  “And what monster do we need to gather our allies and weapons against?” I asked.

  “Haven’t you guessed yet, Princess?” Torn asked, eyes gleaming. “We’re not just facing one howling beast.”

  Ceff turned to me, closing the space between us. In the moonlight, I could see my reflection in the dark pools of his kelpie eyes—eyes that were tight with worry.

  “What are they?” I asked.

  Ceff’s voice was low and reverent, and tinged with the taint of fear.

  “The Wild Hunt.”

  Chapter 2

  I’d unleashed the Wild Hunt.

  “Is it true what they say, that the Wild Hunt is led by Herne the Hunter?” I asked, trying to make sense of our predicament, and failing miserably.

  Giggles lodged themselves uncomfortably in a throat gone bruised and dry.

  You’d think after learning that my father was Will-o’-the-Wisp the king of the wisps and that my mother was Mab the Queen of Air and Darkness, I’d be more accepting of the fact that the Wild Hunt was real. I’d sat and had tea with the Celtic lord of the dead and his mistress the Morrigan, for Mab’s sake. I guess there are some things that never stop making your mind spin and your heart race, no matter how jaded and world-weary you become.

  That might not be a bad thing. I had a nagging suspicion that the day I got used to gods and faerie royalty popping into my life, was the day I’d end up dead.

  “Yes, Princess,” Torn said, licking his lips. “But the Huntsman is the least of our worries.”

  “We have something more to worry about than a pagan demigod?” I asked.

  This was just getting better and better.

  “It is true, though Herne is not a man to underestimate,” Ceff said, staring into the darkness beyond the junkyard. “Gwynn ap Nudd, as Herne the Hunter was known before Mab set her hooks into him, has always been a formidable leader in battle.”

  “Whatever, Fish Breath,” Torn said, waving his hand. “I’m not saying Herne is a pushover, what I’m saying is that we should be planning the best way to face off with his hunting party.”

  “I’m gues
sing we’re not talking about some beer drinking guys in orange vests,” I said.

  “No, the Wild Hunt is much more interesting than that,” Torn said.

  “And by interesting, you mean dangerous,” I said.

  “Deliciously deadly, in fact,” he said with a wink.

  Great, that was just great.

  “So what are we waiting for?” I asked.

  I knew better than to run from a fae hunting party. I could feel it in my bones, but standing here like easy prey wasn’t much better. Plus, Ceff and Torn had mentioned needing backup.

  A horn sounded, joining the baying of hounds, and ripping the air from my lungs. After taking a moment to force my body to remember to breathe, I turned to see Torn smile.

  “That, Princess,” he said. “We were waiting for that.”

  “Which was?” I asked.

  “The call to arms,” Ceff said.

  “One sound of the horn signals Herne’s hunting party to come to him for orders,” Torn said. “He’ll round up his deadly host, and when he is ready, he’ll sound the horn thrice.”

  “And what does three signal?” I asked, rubbing my arms against a sudden chill.

  Ceff turned his face to mine, and I knew I’d regret asking that question.

  “The beginning of the hunt.”

  With the horn still ringing out its death knell over my city, we turned and ran.

  Chapter 3

  “Where are we headed?” I asked.

  I knew Ceff and Torn. Though their motivations varied, neither one of them would be interested in running from the Wild Hunt. Not without good reason. Ceff’s sense of honor was much too strong, and Torn was way too curious to flee from an enemy as interesting as the Wild Hunt. I assumed we were about to gather those much needed allies.

  I just hoped we still had any.

  When we’d left Harborsmouth, I hadn’t been so sure of our survival. I also hadn’t been at liberty to tell Jinx what we were doing. It didn’t matter that she was my best friend. Jinx was human, and that meant that telling her about a secret back door into Faerie, and my father’s key to open that door, would have put a target on both of our backs.

  I’d already been killed by the Moordenaar. I didn’t plan on being on the pointy end of their arrows ever again.

  But right now, I was more worried about facing the wrath of Jinx. If she found out that I’d lied and taken off to Faerie without even telling her, the Moordenaar wouldn’t be the only archers to be wary of. Jinx was a damn good shot with a crossbow.

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