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Rebel faerie, p.1
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       Rebel Faerie, p.1

           Rachel Morgan
 
Rebel Faerie


  Rebel Faerie

  Rachel Morgan

  Rebel Faerie

  By Rachel Morgan

  * * *

  Copyright © 2017 Rachel Morgan

  * * *

  Cover Design by Rachel Morgan

  * * *

  Summary:

  The unthinkable has happened.

  The fae world's biggest secret has been revealed.

  Now two worlds stand on the brink of war ...

  Join Emerson and her companions in this race to save two worlds and the people they love in the final Creepy Hollow adventure!

  * * *

  This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or, if real, used fictitiously.

  * * *

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission from the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For more information please contact the author.

  * * *

  Mobi Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9947154-5-6

  Epub Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9947154-6-3

  ***

  Prologue

  VIOLET

  It was embarrassing. Violet could hardly believe Ada had managed to corner her, Ryn and Dash inside a circle of jagged glass. They were guardians, for goodness’ sake. Before the former Head Councilor publicly exposed all guardians with Griffin Abilities, she and Ryn had been two of the best. And she liked to think they’d only got better since then. Fighting Ada should be easy!

  But it was her glass statues that were the problem. Ada herself—who turned out to be a wispy woman with blonde and pale pink hair now that she’d removed her mask and hooded cloak—could turn anyone to solid glass with a single touch. Those statues had become animated and were now fighting for Ada, their movements as fast as if they were still made of flesh. What worried Violet the most, though, was whether the touch of these glass soldiers was as lethal as Ada’s touch. Violet wasn’t sure, but she couldn’t take the risk. And that meant she couldn’t get close enough to properly fight off these beings.

  All around them across the small floating island known as Velazar II, the battle between guardians and Unseelie fae raged on. The veil had somehow resealed itself instead of being torn further, but rather than abandon their cause, this only made the Unseelies fight harder.

  Two glass soldiers lunged toward her, drawing her attention away from the outer battle and back inside the circle. She ducked down, rolled to the side, and sprang up again, an arrow materializing at her fingertips. The bow appeared in her other arm, and within a second, her arrow was flying straight at one of the soldiers. He shattered into thousands of glittering shards as the other soldier, closer now, swung at her again. His shoulder almost grazed her arm, but she jerked out of the way just in time. As she spun back around, her bow raised a second time, Ryn’s glittering sword came down upon the glass man’s head. He broke apart almost instantly.

  Then something changed. The dozens of jagged glass pieces forming the circle began tumbling over one another, heading for the center of the circle. Ada’s little fighting ring was growing rapidly smaller. Violet tossed yet more magic at the encroaching glass soldiers as she backed up a few steps, closing the space between her, Ryn and Dash. Ryn swung his blade again, and a spray of splinters flew through the air as another soldier went down.

  “Stop!”

  As Violet ducked to avoid the splinters, she looked to where the shout had come from and noticed someone racing away from the battle and toward Ada. Emerson? she wondered, surprise jolting through her. It certainly looked like her, but what was she doing here of all places? The soldiers inched closer, and the glass circle grew smaller, and Em’s shouts reached Violet’s ears: “Stop! Ada, stop! Ada, please!”

  Unable to pause long enough to shout a warning at Em, Violet gripped two guardian knives in her hands and threw them at her nearest glass opponent. With a quick twist to the side, he dodged the one, but the other struck his chest, turning him to a pile of glittering shards.

  “Please! They’re my parents!”

  At first, the words made no sense to Violet. Then she raised her eyes. She looked beyond the glass and saw Em’s desperate face looking straight past Ada and into the circle. At her. At Ryn.

  And Violet’s world came to a standstill.

  They’re my parents.

  Her brain rejected the words immediately. Em obviously didn’t mean what it sounded like she meant. This was a trick to get Ada to stop her attack. A trick that made no sense, but still a trick. It isn’t true, Violet’s brain repeated.

  But as she looked across the floating island at the girl who’d stumbled so unexpectedly into her life, she saw several things at once: She saw her son’s face, full of terror after waking from a nightmare. Younger and more boyish than Em’s face, yet undeniably similar in this moment. She saw Calla and Chase whispering together, always out of Violet’s earshot. Whispering that had only begun after Em disappeared. She saw Calla’s absolute insistence on finding Em and bringing her back at all costs.

  She saw—a glass arm sweeping straight toward her face.

  A blade flashed through the air, severing the arm from its body. The glass soldier fractured and fell in gleaming pieces to the ground. Violet barely saw it. Her eyes were trained on Em as Ada threw her onto the ground and launched herself at the girl. “No, no, no!” Violet gasped.

  Dash shouted something and moved in front of her, blocking her view of Em. His words were an indistinct echo as she tried desperately to see past him. “Vi!” he repeated, grabbing her shoulder and shaking her. “You have to keep fighting!” He whirled around, shoved another glass soldier back with the edge of his crossbow, then shot him. He jumped back quickly, pushing Violet out of the way as glass fell to the ground near their feet.

  Violet steadied herself, looking back around immediately to where Ada had Em pinned to the ground. Don’t you dare touch her. The thought flashed fiercely through her mind as she narrowed her eyes, raised her arms, and took aim the moment the bow and arrow appeared. She let go. A second later, the arrow struck its target.

  Ada cried out and looked around at the arrow protruding from her shoulder. Violet wasted no time fitting a second arrow against the glittering bowstring. As Ada rolled out of the way, someone tugged urgently on Violet’s arm, causing her arrow to shoot into the sky. “We have to jump!” Ryn shouted at her. “Over the glass. Now!” She looked about and saw that every opponent within the circle was gone—and the encroaching glass shards that had formed the circle were about to reach them. “JUMP!” Ryn yelled.

  She hesitated only a moment before bending slightly, then launching away from the ground. She cleared the glass easily, as did Ryn and Dash. “Where is she?” Ryn asked, whipping around immediately and looking back to where Ada and Em had been moments ago.

  Violet didn’t have time to answer as yet more guardians who’d been turned to glass rushed toward them. She felt oddly detached from the scene as she fought back with weapons and magic, never getting close enough to let anyone touch her. It all became a confused blur as her mind spun in the background, trying to figure out how Em’s words could possibly be true. Guardians, glass people, Unseelies, Guild transporter pods.

  Transporter pods. Those definitely hadn’t been there when this fight began.

  After finishing off another animated statue, she looked around, searching for Em again. There! She couldn’t see Ada, but Em was running toward what remained of the glass circle. “Em!” Violet yelled. The girl looked up, her eyes searching until she found Violet. She altered direction, kept running, and then—

  Violet cried out as a bright bolt of ma
gic collided with Em. She rolled several times before coming to rest face-down on the ground. Violet started running, but someone caught hold of her arm and tugged her back. She barely had time to try and pull her arm free before she was forced to the ground. A man in a Guild uniform loomed over her, and before she could react, something snapped painfully around her wrists. Guardian handcuffs, the golden sparkling kind she’d never be able to get off. As two guardians pulled her roughly to her feet, she heard Ryn yelling, “Emerson!”

  Crapping crapping crap, what had he seen? How badly was Em injured? Was she dead? Violet struggled against her captors with all her might, managing to get an elbow in one guardian’s face and a foot in the other’s groin before a third appeared to assist in subduing her. Within seconds, her ankles were bound as well.

  “Em!” she shrieked, craning her neck to see what had happened to the girl. And finally, Violet caught a glimpse of her, sitting up, her hand pressed against her side. Their eyes met for one moment before the world tipped to the side and Violet was tossed into a transporter pod along with Ryn and Dash. Several guardians jumped in after them, and the clear glass pod sealed itself shut. “No, wait!” Violet gasped. She paid no attention to the guardians moving to their positions within the pod, two facing the front, three facing the captives. She rolled onto her side, pushed herself up, and shuffled in a wriggling fashion toward the glass. She pressed her bound hands against it. “Em!” she screamed as the girl clutched her side and stumbled toward them. The pod rose a few feet into the air and began moving away from her.

  “Turn this damn thing around!” Ryn yelled from beside Violet.

  But the guardians, of course, didn’t listen. Em was running after them now, shouting something, but she would never catch up to the pod. She dropped onto her knees at the edge of the island, still shouting. As the pod gained speed and shot away through the air, Em’s kneeling form grew smaller and smaller, and Violet’s heart was somehow full and broken at the same time.

  She let her hands slide away from the glass as she looked at Ryn. “You heard what she said.” Her voice came out hoarse. “You heard it. Please tell me you heard.”

  “I heard it.” Though his hands were also tied, Ryn raised them and gripped Violet’s arm. His eyes pierced hers. “How ... how could she be …”

  “If someone used a shapeshifter?” Violet suggested. “Like ... like with my father ...”

  “But a child, a baby, can’t control their shifting. It couldn’t have been that.”

  “Changeling,” Dash moaned from several feet away. He had a gash across his forehead and another on his arm just above the handcuffs. He dragged himself toward Violet and Ryn. “There was a man in the Unseelie prison. Zed. He explained everything.”

  “Zed?” Ryn repeated, his tone sharp.

  “Stop talking,” one of the guardians snapped at them.

  “He told Em she was a changeling,” Dash continued, ignoring the guardian as he dragged himself closer. “He told her he stole her from a faerie guardian couple … and replaced her with … a human. He didn’t say who her parents were …” he collapsed against the curved glass of the pod “… but she must have found out.”

  Violet’s chest rose and fell rapidly as her breath came in gasps and her eyes filled with tears. “I can’t believe it. I can’t …” She shook her head as Ryn’s fingers slipped away from her arm and he pressed his bound fists hard against his chest.

  “It’s really true,” he uttered.

  “Victoria,” Violet whispered. “She isn’t dead. She didn’t die. And she was there, with us at the haven, and we let her go—”

  “I told you to stop talking!” the guardian repeated.

  “And I told you to turn this damn thing around!” Ryn shouted right back. His voice shook. Violet could see the agony on his face, the ache of everyone’s heightened emotions assaulting him.

  The guardian who’d shouted turned to the others and sighed. “Please tell me you’ve gathered enough power.”

  “Just about,” one of them answered. Then: “Yeah. Definitely enough for a few hours.”

  The other one said, “Me too.”

  The shield separating the rebels from the guardians vanished.

  Knowing what was coming, Violet reached quickly for Ryn. She tugged his arm, and he looked around at her. “We’ll find her,” she said, raising her hands to touch his face. Then the stunner spells flashed across the pod, and Violet knew nothing but darkness.

  Part One

  One

  Cold perspiration settles on my brow as I follow a golden haired faerie through a busy clearing in the Creepy Hollow forest. We leave the chilly night air behind and enter the stuffiness of a guardian-filled bar. I spot other types of fae here and there—some with scaly skin, some with pointed ears, a woman with horns protruding from her forehead—which makes me feel a fraction better. But far too many men and women with swirling black patterns inked onto their wrists fill this place. I push my hands into the single front pocket of my hoodie, finding Bandit hiding there in his small furry mouse form. I wish I could hide too.

  Boisterous laughter pulls my attention to the left. A guardian man and woman fall against each other while listening to someone relate a tale in animated fashion. Behind them, a man sitting alone in a booth reaches casually into the air. A knife appears in his grip, golden enchanted light glinting off its blade. He uses the knife to flip the cap off the bottle of whatever he’s about to drink. His eyes catch mine for a moment before he lets go of the knife. It vanishes, and he lifts the bottle to his lips.

  “This is madness,” I whisper to Calla as we make our way casually toward the bar. “Everyone’s going to realize we don’t belong here.”

  “They won’t. This place is open to anyone in Creepy Hollow who feels like relaxing after a hard day’s work. Sure, it’s mainly frequented by guardians, but no one will look twice at the two reptiscillan women who’ve just walked in.”

  I swallow and look down at my hands, which appear to be covered in fine blue-green scales. “Are you absolutely sure that’s what they can see?” I know that’s what I can see, but if Calla isn’t projecting her illusion far enough, then any of the guardians inside this bar can see exactly who we are. And while they may not recognize Calla—it’s been almost twenty years since she fled the Guild—they’ll almost certainly recognize me: the Griffin Gifted girl whose enchanted voice can command anything. The girl who caused quite a fuss when she escaped the Guild recently and led numerous guardians into a fight with a bunch of Unseelie faeries at the edge of a cliff.

  “Hey.” Calla turns to face me. “Are you still doubting my ability? Even after we walked unseen past dozens of Unseelie guards and escaped that strange grey place?”

  I raise both eyebrows at the memory of how we came exceptionally close to not escaping the shadow world. A guard came along to put a magic-blocking band around my wrist, but Calla tricked him with an illusion. We got out of my cell and made it into the castle under the cover of invisibility. We hunted through almost every room for the black traveling candles before realizing Roarke must have moved them all. Knowing those candles were our best option for escaping the shadow world, I told Calla we had to keep searching. Finally, we found the room Roarke appeared to be using as his operations center. We listened in as he shouted at one of his guards. After he dismissed the man and stormed out, we snuck inside—and found ourselves caught in a spell that flipped us upside down and suspended us in the air in the room’s doorway.

  Guards came running. Roarke came running. Calla managed to cut us free from the spell that held us in the air. Mayhem ensued as we hunted through drawers while Roarke and his guards—who could follow our movements even though they couldn’t see us—tried to hit us with their magic. I found the candles inside Roarke’s gigantic desk, and Calla and I escaped with partially singed clothes, a few minor wounds, and our lives intact.

  “Well, no,” I admit to Calla. “I’m not doubting your ability. But our escape didn’t
exactly go the way we planned.”

  Her lips twist into a smile. “No plan ever goes the way it’s planned.” She looks around. “Ah, there he is. Just stick close to me, Em. I swear I will not let a single person inside this bar see you as anything but a reptiscilla.”

  As we approach Calla’s guardian contact Perry, I do my best to push away the concerns cycling repeatedly through my mind. What has the Guild done to Vi, Ryn and Dash? Did Ada survive after I pushed her from the edge of Velazar Island? Do I still need to be worried about Roarke coming after me? What happened to Aurora after I fled the Unseelie Palace?

  Stop, I tell my overworked mind. Vi, Ryn and Dash are the priority, and that’s why Calla and I are here inside this bar. As she keeps telling me, we’re going to get them back, and everything will be fine. I shove away the tiny voice that tells me that’s not the way the world works.

  Just ahead of us, Perry is sitting on a stool at the bar, asking for a drink. Calla trips forward, knocks into Perry’s shoulder, and catches herself against the bar. “Oh, excuse me,” Perry says, turning swiftly. “I’m so sorry.”

  “No, no, I’m the one who should be apologizing,” she says with an easy laugh. “My mind is elsewhere, and I wasn’t watching my feet. Oh, hey, don’t I know you?” she adds, her smile spreading wider as she leans against the bar beside him. “I’m from the Reptiscillan Protectors Institute. I think we collaborated together on that case with the invisible leprechaun.”

  Perry’s smile freezes. “Calla?” he asks with lips that barely move.

  “Don’t. Be. Weird,” she instructs.

  Perry lets out an unnatural laugh.

  “You’re being weird.”

  “Hey, so, how are you doing?” A forced smile pulls his lips up. “It’s been too long. I’ve been expecting you to message me for ages.” He lowers his voice. “For hours. I’ve been checking my amber every minute for hours after hearing from one of our mutual friends that Em was taken and you followed her and our favorite Unseelie faerie.”

 
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