Call of the Huntress
(Corthan Legacy, #2)
Publication date: May 11th 2021
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
A soul half-healed, a huntress caged, a soldier reborn. Three lives scarred by battle, scattered by death, and shadowed by spirits. But Fate’s call will not be denied.
Captain Khoury has more lives than a cat. But when he wakes in Seal Bay to find Cara and Falin gone, his promises to them haunt him as surely as Sidonius’s hands around his throat. Regardless of the vengeful spirit’s threats, he knows where his destiny lies.
Cara’s soul is not fully healed and her magic is damaged, leaving her even more vulnerable than before. Although finally free of Sidonius, she discovers that sharing a mind is like being a prisoner all over again and someone else holds the key.
Falin knew a sacrifice was needed, knew it should be her. But instead of dying, she finds herself trapped in a life she no longer owns. Her rebellious will cannot surrender and she pins all her hopes on a ghostly ancestor’s shady deal.
Falin strode back to Sorchia’s, jaw tight with determination, more a huntress now than she’d ever been. The motherly presence fluttered like nerves in her stomach. It was agitated by the thorn barriers in her mind, irritated at the huntress’s refusal to merge with Cara. But even it could do nothing against the huntress’s will.
Sacrilege was the least of Rebeka’s crimes. The treasonous attempt on the high priestess’s life ensured that any Sister worthy of her blade would be out seeking vengeance. It was true Falin had done things outside the letter of the Law and she had not sworn fealty to the Mothers, but she was faithful to the high priestess.
If there had been another way to spare Cara the memory of this quest, Falin would have done it. Imprisoning Cara, who had been a prisoner all her life, felt wrong but it would have been far worse to make her experience what was coming firsthand.
After the sun had set so no other Sisters might see her leave, she took a last look at Sorchia. The priestess’s face was soft and serene, the lines of time not quite so deep now. Dark lashes brushed her cheeks as her breath moved in and out like a tide between her parted lips. She looked healthy, Falin needn’t have worried.
Falin quietly gathered up her weapons, then leaned over and placed a kiss on Sorchia’s hair, soft as the brush of butterfly wings so as not to wake her. She hated leaving Sorchia, but Rebeka had to be put down and there could be no Sister’s Oath for Cara.
Tiptoeing out of the hall using the door by the river, she slung her sword on her hip and tucked her knife in her belt. Khoury’s dagger she slipped into her boot. It was time to go hunting.
From the river’s edge, the huntress loped south of the village and picked up the trail just past the sparring ring. She didn’t track Rebeka. She didn’t need to. She only had to follow the wolf’s mind to find where both of them were. The moon was lowering in the sky when she noticed a small, flickering light in a clearing ahead. She was surprised at the risk Rebeka took lighting a fire. The dark-haired woman was, as usual, overconfident.
How could Rebeka assume I’d let this go unanswered? she wondered. Have I become that soft? She knew the answer to that and it didn’t please her.
A shadow detached itself from the brush and rubbed against her legs.
“Good job, girl,” Falin said, squatting down to scratch the shaggy ruff of fur behind Lela’s ears.
Hunt? Lela thought as her pink tongue lapped Falin’s chin in greeting.
“Yes, it’s time to finish this. But not you. You need to wait here.”
Disappointment trilled along the connection she had with the wolf. A hunt was a family affair, after all.
“It’s not really a hunt,” Falin murmured, her hand on the furry neck. “I need to…prove something.”
Falin wasn’t sure what she was getting at but the wolf seemed to understand that this was a game of power, a contest between alphas.
Lela bumped her shoulder against Falin’s leg affectionately. Good hunter, the wolf’s mind purred. Then Lela settled herself back down in the brush to wait.
“If I fail, you can’t let her go back to the Haven,” Falin said. “Keep Sorchia safe.”
Not fail. The wolf licked her lips which Falin interpreted as agreement.
Falin unfolded from her crouch and drew her sword with a heaviness in her chest she didn’t recognize. It wasn’t guilt she felt. Maybe responsibility. A sense of duty that sat on her like chain mail. She closed her eyes to search her own feelings, ensuring that all Cara’s softness was contained. Weakness had no place here. Rebeka would kill her as soon as look at her. But there was nothing in her heart except thorns and blood and the bruise on her ego from Isabel’s soft words.
Falin stalked through the forest toward the campfire, pulling determination around her like a cloak. Once upon a time, she might have breathed a prayer for the Mothers’ blessing, but she would not invoke them now. She did not want to owe them any favors. She had grown wary of the cost of their affection. The night in the glade, they revealed their plans to her and she would not subject herself or Cara to that kind of slavery.
She picked her way silently through the brush. Rebeka was awake, staring into the fire that flickered between them. Falin paused, settling herself one last time, adjusting her hold on her sword. Then, she stepped into the flickering light.
“Hello, Rebeka,” she said, her voice throaty and calm.
The Scout looked up, her face calm as if she’d been expecting Falin’s arrival. “So you came after all. I was beginning to think you’d lost your nerve… Falin.” Her voice was laced with unadulterated hate.
A born and bred Jersey girl, Stacy eagerly left the Garden State for college, as was the family tradition. And after graduating from University of Pennsylvania with a psychology degree, she married a Marine and soon developed a distinct fondness for travel, U-Hauls and Southern hospitality. She returned to Jersey after a decade of that nomadic life with two children, a slight addiction to coffee and a hunger to create something of her own.
She still lives in New Jersey with a neurotic dog and a queenly cat. Even in the hectic wilds of suburbia, she manages to find time to wander the wooded trails and sandy beaches that soothe the soul. Her favorite things are furry four-legged critters, hot coffee and books that make you forget where you are.
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