Author: Helen Henderson
Genre: Fantasy / Romantic Fantasy
Revenge set Ellspeth, captain of Sea Falcon, on the path to her destiny, but prophecy controlled the journey. Despite his insolent attitude, she is attracted to the dark-haired dockworker she hires to help unload the vessel’s cargo. The supposed dockhand reveals his true identity as Lord Dal, the last member of the Council of Wizards, and her passenger. His presence on board ship brings with it more than an impossible liaison. Bringing him back from near-death releases Ellspeth’s latent powers and threatens her captaincy. For to have magic she must give up the sea.
In accordance with an ancient prophecy, Dal allows Ellspeth to be handfasted to him without her knowledge or consent. However, the prophecy doesn’t state whether she will return his love. A likelihood threatened when Dal is captured and stripped of his powers by fanatical clerics bent on ridding the world of magic and those who wield it. His one chance to survive is to keep secret the key to breaking him—his feelings for Ellspeth.
Trapped within the Oracle’s Temple, Ellspeth must choose between her own survival, saving the future of magic… or love.
For any reader who loves dragons, enter to win a PDF of the novella, Magic and Steel, one of the tales in the upcoming release, First Change: Legends From The Eyrie. Click on the Readers Bonus button on the bottom of the page on Helen’s Blog.
Ellspeth paused to capture the last wisps of the dream before they faded away. It remained just out of her reach. Only the laughter remained and the last thing he said.
“Husband.” She snarled and pushed Dal away hard enough that he almost stumbled into the banked fire. “He called you my husband.” Ellspeth hesitated at the look that crossed Dal’s face. Was it relief or anger at being found out? She couldn’t tell. “Answer me Lord Dal, on your clan’s honor. Did Semelen handfast us? And why?”
Pain darkened Dal’s eyes. He snatched a small leather carry case from within his pack. One shake and a rolled parchment fell into Ellspeth’s hands.
“I tried to explain several times, however, you weren’t ready to listen. All you wanted was revenge for Jon.”
Ellspeth noted his tone was void of all emotion.
Dal spun on his heels and strode toward the outer chamber. “Read the parchment, then we’ll talk,” he said over his shoulder.
Ellspeth saw his gaze fix on the snow whirling outside, his body rigid with tension. Wondering at his reaction, she looked at the beribboned scroll in her hand. Maybe I shouldn’t read it.
The obstinate part of her mind answered in less than a breath. ”You wanted to know what he’s been hiding. The answer is in your hand.”
Unable to fight her curiosity, she untied the knot. Released from its binding, the paper unfurled of its own accord. She took one last glance at Dal and scanned the tight script.
“If I read this right,” Ellspeth said, each word clipped in anger, “that… that…” Two strides covered the distance between her and Dal. She waved the parchment, the ribbons fluttering like blood-red waves. “He had no permission to handfast us,” she yelled. Her strident words echoed off the rock walls.
Ellspeth saw Dal’s jaw clench in his effort to keep his emotions under control.
He took a deep breath. “Semelen did what he thought was best to protect me—and you. It may have been without your knowledge, but you did ask for his blessing. And that is what he gave.” Dal took several more deep breaths, although the tension remained in his frame.
“Our paths entwined long before the handfasting,” Dal said. “Our minds linked the day I used your magic to save the ship. You connected to my soul when you called me back from the void. Semelen’s actions, while deceitful, didn’t change anything.”
“We are not joined. I am not a mage.”
The intensity of Ellspeth’s outburst forced Dal to step back. She didn’t try to contain the cold rage emanating from her body. Semelen might be beyond her justice; however, there was one other who was part of the deception. Her hands reached for the hilt of her knife.
Dal retreated ahead of her advance until the cavern wall stopped him. He mouthed a prayer commending his soul to the fates, and then lowered his head.
Want to read more of Windmaster? Excerpts and a free read of the first chapter is on the Windmaster’s page on Helen’s blog
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A former feature-story writer and correspondent, Henderson has also written fiction as long as she could remember. Her heritage reflects the contrasts of her Gemini sign. She is a descendent of a coal-miner’s daughter and an aviation flight engineer. This dichotomy shows in her writing which crosses genres from fantasy and science fiction to historical adventures and westerns. In the world of fantasy, Henderson is the author of the Dragshi Chronicles and The Windmaster Novels.
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