I finally have the links for you to pre-order The Reckoning! We are now only two weeks away from the grand finale in The Legend of Oescienne series and I can't wait for you all to read it :D. Below, you will find the links that are available (I'll be uploading the final draft on Google Play closer to the release date, so that link isn't available yet). Also, we're having a launch party for those of you local to the Central Coast. Details are all below!
Join author Jenna Elizabeth Johnson as she celebrates the release of the epic conclusion to her Legend of Oescienne series. There will be an author reading, Q and A, games, prizes, snacks, and free posters!
Hello everyone! Earlier this week, I sent out my May newsletter which included the cover reveal and prologue for The Legend of Oescienne - The Reckoning! In case you missed it, here they are! The projected release date is June 16th, so mark your calendars and here's to hoping this final project stays on schedule! And now, I present to you, the prologue for the final chapter in the Legend of Oescienne series. Happy reading!
THE LEGEND OF OESCIENNE
Birth of a Leader
Copyright (c) 2018 by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
cold breeze whispered across the vast tundra,
ruffling the short, tough grass that grew there.With the frigid sea and even colder mountains
to the north and west, the gusts that danced across the Great Red Tundra of
Ghorium made even the summer months almost unbearable.And it was that relentless wind that now battered
at the minds and nerves of the company of warriors who tried so desperately to
capture what few precious moments of rest they could.At some point in the night, however, exhaustion
had finally won out.Only a few hours
stretched before dawn, and the war encampment was silent, not a single living
thing stirring.All, that is, except for
the young soldier.
He lay there, listening to the low wailing of the wind as the
stench of burning bodies and the freshly spilled blood of the battlefield stung
his nose.Not even the persistent cold
had dampened the horrible smell, and it clung to him as assuredly as the red
lichens clung to the broken rocks scattered across the plain.Something else, however, had woken him from
his fitful sleep, but he could not tell what.A stray gust howling down the shallow river bed?The sudden snort from one of his comrades
fighting against dark dreams?Or maybe a
tundra predator, slinking through the night searching for an easy meal.That last thought had him shivering.The animals that dwelled in this part of the
world were dangerous, no matter their size.Yet, with plenty of fallen allies and enemies nearby, it made no sense
for a predator to be hunting for live food.
The young man shifted, knowing these weren’t the reasons for
his restlessness.He had realized early
on that his motive for traveling to Ghorium to fight the evil brewing there
went beyond the typical duty any normal soldier was called to perform.True enough, he had ventured east with his
friends and allies to do his part in wiping the Tyrant and his accursed
soldiers from the face of Ethöes.But
now that he had endured the horror of the battlefield, watched those same
friends die beneath the enemy’s power and wrath, there was only one thing left
he could do, if he wanted a chance for even the slightest glimmer of hope.
His was an important mission, one he had made in his heart
mere hours ago.One he could share with
only a scant few he had sworn to secrecy.A call to duty that required him to rise early and sneak away before his
remaining friends realized he was gone. With swift efficiency, the warrior climbed
to his feet and made ready for his task.The sun was still hours from rising, but he used his instincts to guide
the way as he tread quietly over the soggy, semi-frozen landscape of the
northern wastes of Ghorium, trying desperately to block out the soft moans of the
dying men, dragons, and beasts scattered for miles around him.The haunting images lingering from the
previous days rose up to torment him as he made his way ever northward.With a shudder that rattled his teeth, he
shook off the worst of them, playing his plan over and over again in his
mind.He had to succeed.He must.If not, then all would most definitely be lost.After all, his plan wasn’t a complex
one.He just needed to buy them
time.Just a little more time …
Somewhere across the distance, a man screamed.A final lament to Ethöes to spare him the
pain of his passing?A plea to give him
a little more courage, a little more strength, so that perhaps he might rise at
dawn to fight again?Or perhaps just another
tired soldier haunted by his own demons.Whatever it had been, the spine-tingling screech stopped the young man
short, his heart thundering in his chest, adrenaline coursing through his
blood.After several seconds, his feet
fell into a quick pace once more, his body crouched low.
The dim light of several small fires, some kindled by the
soldiers to keep warm, others the evidence of the Morli attack from the evening
before, acted as beacons leading the way to the outer wall of Vruuthŭn, the
black city where the enemy waited.Vengeance
and the driving need to help the people of Ethöes pushed him, where fear and
fatigue would have caused another to give in.With a single-minded focus, he climbed over one berm after another.
Finally, he reached his first destination: a larger pocket in
the otherwise monotonous landscape.Here,
several of the men, fellow allies fighting for his cause, slept.They all wore stained and tattered uniforms,
some of them too old and gray to wage war, others younger than himself.But they were here, along with countless
others like them.Fighting to defend
their freedom, the freedom of Ethöes, even if they ought to be home in their
cabins smoking a pipe by the fire with their grandchildren, or out pulling
harmless, midnight pranks on their neighbors.These men rested fitfully, their bodies tired but their minds always
waiting for the next attack.
As he studied them, the soldier’s eyes fell upon a young man
about his own age and height.Perhaps it
was the fact he lay curled up near the center of the group that caught his
attention, or maybe it was that even in the dim light of predawn, he could see
that this young man resembled him.For
several seconds, he studied the sleeping warrior, noting his dark blond hair
and strong features.He was perhaps a
few inches taller than himself and a bit broader in the shoulders.When they were both awake, standing side by side,
people believed them to be brothers.A
smile curled at the corner of the soldier’s mouth as memories of their youth
played through his mind.The two of them
had grown up in the same province, though they had come from very different
families.That fact hadn’t kept them
from getting into mischief together, however.
Sighing against the remorse that threatened to push aside his
determination, the soldier pressed his hand to his own chest, splaying his
fingers.The young man asleep on the
cold ground below him was dressed in the simple rags of a stable hand, while he
wore the fine clothing of a prince.
But war has made us equals, he thought.Though
I have always believed it, and so have you, war has so bitterly made it
fact.For no man, prince or peasant, can
escape death, my friend.
A soft exhalation of breath snapped the restless soldier’s
attention back to the present.One of his
comrades had awoken, his dark eyes trained on the young man standing over
him.He nodded once to the warrior, and the
man silently roused five others.The rest
of them, including the sleeping figure in the middle of the group, were left
undisturbed.Seven fighters ghosted away
from their makeshift camp and headed toward the base of the city a few miles
away.As they marched, the men gathered
more willing fighters, those who woke to find the small party pressing forward
with purpose, their own spirits inspired by the sight of the young warrior clad
in armor emblazoned with the royal crest of Oescienne.He could not turn them away, not when he
sensed in them the same driving need to destroy the demon king who wished to
enslave them.This was it, he knew in
his heart.This was their final stand,
and they would take it alone if they had to.If they were lucky, if Ethöes smiled down upon them, their attack would
come as a surprise, and they would gain the advantage while the rest of the
The sun peeked above the horizon in the east, a brilliant eye
of red, its light a burning condemnation; an omen for what they were about to
face.At some point along their short
journey, someone offered horses.The
young soldier took the reins and mounted blindly, his mind focused on one thing
and one thing only.He must destroy
Cierryon, the monster who had killed his king.
The frozen fortress loomed in the distance, an impenetrable
castle set high atop a mountain and guarded by a city full of enemy soldiers
and Morli dragons.He knew the odds were
against them, but he was so very tired.Tired
of the pain.Tired of the ache in his chest.Tired of being surrounded by death and
hopelessness.He could endure it no
longer.So, he had decided to face this
enemy on his own, with only those he trusted most by his side and those ready
to scream their final battle cry.As the
rest of his army slept on, their dreams as black as his own, he guided his
horse swiftly and silently across the barren landscape, the frozen mountains rising
like the demonic visage of the god Ciarrohn in the distance.
Without warning, the scene shifted, and the young soldier was
falling.He braced for impact, wondering
how he had been unseated from his horse, but the ground never came up to meet
him.Instead, he plummeted through a
black void, and in a fierce moment of fear, he wondered if he’d been struck by
an arrow shot from one of the Tyrant’s men.Was this death, then?He had so
desperately hoped death meant the end of agony and fear, but the terror was
just as strong now as it had been earlier.
Flashes of memory bombarded him as he fell, memories of the
several bloody battles he’d fought so far.Visions of his friends dying beside him, struck down by sword, spear, and
axe, or incinerated by a blast of fire from one of the hideous Morli dragons
overhead.The Korli dragons on his side
fought fiercely, but they were no match for the numerous Morli.He screamed against the horror of it all,
wondering what he had done in his mortal life to deserve such a tormented
His body twisted in the void, and new memories flickered
before him, only, these recollections hadn’t happened to him yet, had
they?Familiar, so very familiar, but so
distant they seemed to be the afterthoughts of dreams from long ago.His head filled with the sounds of metal
clashing upon metal, the screams of men and horses and dragons.He spun around and around and around, lost in
this place that did not exist, until finally he caught a petrifying glance of
the wicked, shadowy face of his enemy just as a searing pain sliced down the
side of his face and neck.
Far away in Lidien, in a manor house nestled in the hills
above the city, the Tanaan dragon Kehllor woke gasping for breath, only to
curse when his head came into contact with a stone wall.Growling, he lashed his tail in frustration,
then gave a great sigh of relief.Good.Despite the slight headache
his thrashing had caused, it had only been another dream.There was no great battlefield littered with
corpses, no relentless, ice-laced wind barraging his senses, no terrifying
monsters manifesting around him.While
he waited for his blood to cool and his pulse to slow, Kehllor puzzled over the
nightmare that had torn him so rudely from his rest.He had no idea where the dream had come from,
but it wasn’t a new one.Well, that
wasn’t entirely correct.The scenes in
this one differed from the others, but the theme had been a recurring one over
the past several nights.But why he
would walk in that world as something other than a dragon was beyond him.Pushing a blast of hot air through his
nostrils, he tilted his head as he considered it.The others in the dream, the ones that looked
a lot like elves, seemed familiar somehow, but like the memories that haunted
his sleep, he could not place them.
A new sound, this one real and not imagined, disrupted his
thoughts.It was a soft rapping of
knuckles against a wooden door.
“Master Kehllor?” a timid female voice inquired.“Are you well?”
Ah, yes.The dragon
blinked rapidly, the sharp edges of the nightmare growing dull as his
surroundings took shape.A spacious,
sparsely decorated study rose up around him.There was a desk, large enough to accommodate a dragon, a small
fireplace in one corner and bookshelves lining the walls on one side.The space was comfortable and welcoming,
despite the fact it did not belong to him.This was the home of the dragon Raejaaxorix, and he had recently become
its new tenant.And clearly, he had
fallen asleep in the study late the night before instead of making his way to
the much more appropriate sleeping chamber.That explained why he’d smacked his head against the wall in his haste
to escape the dream.
“Master Kehllor?” the woman asked once again.
“I’m f-fine,” he managed, his voice a bit raspy.
“I heard sounds of distress,” the housemaid announced, her
muffled words growing louder.
Kehllor gritted his teeth.How embarrassing.Hopefully, the
woman hadn’t been too disturbed by his night terrors.She had lived in this house with Jaax before
him, after all, so surely she was used to dragonish ways.
Clearing his throat, Kehllor responded, “I’m well,
Neira.I have bad dreams from time to
time.Nothing to concern yourself with.”
There was a long silence, then what sounded like a huff of
breath.“Very well.If you insist.”The shuffle of the Nesnan woman’s footsteps
heading back down the hall brought Kehllor some relief.He wasn’t much one for holding long, or even
short, conversations.And the last thing
he wanted after waking up from such a disturbing dream was to take part in a heart-to-heart
with the overly-concerned housekeeper.
Kehllor struggled to shake the last vestiges of the dream
from his mind.The memory of it had
faded, but the sense of unease clinging to his scales lingered. Only time would take care of that, Kehllor thought,
so he sat up and stretched his muscles, sore from spending the previous day
checking the borders of Lidien with a few other dragons active in the
Coalition.It was now his duty to ensure
the Crimson King’s soldiers stayed beyond the city’s magical boundaries.They had moved in close, frighteningly so,
but as far as Kehllor could tell, the ancient magic keeping their enemies at
bay held, and no one had breached the walls.He only hoped those boundaries remained strong.Yet as much as he wished for the Tyrant’s
loyal servants to disperse and be on their way, he secretly thanked Ethöes
every day they continued to prod at the enchantment surrounding the city.The longer they stayed distracted by Lidien’s
power, the more time Jaax, Jahrra, and Ellyesce had to get as far away as they
Kehllor furrowed his brow as he counted back the days since
his friends had fled the city.One,
maybe closer to two, months ago.Surely
they were in Nimbronia by now.Had the
trip been an easy one?Or had some of
the Tyrant’s soldiers slipped away to pursue them?Kehllor could not know for sure.If they could just reach the city of the
Creecemind dragons before the Crimson King’s army caught up with them, then
they would be safe once again.At least
for the time being.
The sweet melody of a songbird drew the golden dragon’s
attention away from his reverie, and he glanced toward one of the study’s
windows.The diamond-paned panel was
cracked open and through it he spotted the small creature, a heartsong sparrow,
singing its hymn to the waking world.Despite his troubled thoughts, Kehllor couldn’t help a reptilian
smile.He hoped the bird’s presence was
a good omen.
The feathered creature finished one more chorus, then with a
chirp, it leapt from the redwood branch it had been resting on and flitted off
into the forest surrounding the hill.Kehllor
peered beyond the treetops and caught a glimpse of the great bay, the distant
peninsula growing less gray as the morning’s sunlight flooded the world.
Taking a deep breath and letting it out through his nose, Kehllor
stood and exited the study as quietly as he could.If he remembered correctly, the Coalition
would be meeting later in the morning, and his presence would be expected.The Coalition of Ethöes had been convening
more often of late, and although he loathed being around so many arguing and
angry people, he understood the necessity for their frequent gatherings.Jaax, their previous leader, had given up his
position in order to flee the City of Light with Jahrra, the human girl
foretold by the Oracles.And they had
not gone without a nice dose of controversy.Before leaving Lidien, a rumor claiming Jaax to be a liar and his ward
to be a fraud had spread like wildfire through the city.And Shiroxx, the very dragon who had fostered
Kehllor for so long, had played the lead role in stirring the pot.
Kehllor’s upper lip curled in disgust.He knew the red Tanaan dragon was somehow
responsible for spreading the lies, but he couldn’t prove it.Besides, before leaving for Nimbronia, Jaax
had dismissed her from the Coalition.Unfortunately, he hadn’t dismissed her co-conspirator, Rohdann.Although not as ruthless as Shiroxx, the
black Tanaan dragon was her puppet.He
would do anything she asked, and he had a knack for turning suspicion away from
The savory scent of cinnamon and butter distracted Kehllor
enough to forget about Shiroxx and Rohdann and all his other worries for the
time being.He stepped out into the
hallway and headed for the common room.A fire burned brightly in the great hearth, and soft morning sunlight
spilled in through the south-facing windows.The common room was quite large, providing plenty of space for a dragon
and his company.Long tapestries, thick
carpets, and stuffed furniture for the non-dragon guests decorated the space
tastefully, complimenting the green-flecked flagstone floor and granite
walls.Kehllor took a moment to
appreciate his current position in life.For so many years, he had been under the thumb of Shiroxx, owing
everything to her simply because he had not known any better.He couldn’t remember much of his past before
the red dragon found him wandering the desert region of the south.Some traumatic experience had erased it from
his mind, and if not for Shiroxx’s kindness, he’d have no life at all.
No, he corrected himself
bitterly, it wasn’t out of kindness that
Shiroxx found me and took me under her wing.I’ve been nothing but an instrument to her.A tool to be used to get what she wants.
It had taken Jahrra’s patient persistence to teach him that
not everyone was his enemy and that there were such things as real friends to
be had.Despite all he had gained and
learned in the past year, however, he couldn’t help but wonder where he had
come from and what his life had been like before forgetting it all.The dream, still lingering in the recesses of
his mind, pushed its way forward once more.He wanted to forget it, for it only made him anxious, yet he was also determined
to puzzle it out.Where had he been in
that strange nightmare?And why had he witnessed
events from another’s eyes?And what had
been that terrifying presence he and his companions had been so determined to
defeat?Perhaps it was a vision of the
past, or more likely, the future.Could
he be some sort of seer and not even know it?And if that was the vision of the future, whose eyes had he been seeing
this future through?
A cold dread filled his stomach as a new revelation occurred
to him.The demon in the dream.Could it be the enemy that the Coalition,
that Jaax and Jahrra, wished to defeat?A
terrifying visage of the Crimson King, perhaps.Or more precisely, the demon-god who possessed the Tyrant’s body.Why on Ethöes would Kehllor be dreaming about
a battle with Ciarrohn?
With a shudder, the golden dragon cast the disturbing thought
aside.He would eat whatever wonderful
breakfast Neira was preparing, then he’d venture into the city to listen to
another long session of Nesnan and Resai diplomats bickering with one
another.The very thought made his back
teeth ache.He grew weary of staying put
and doing nothing, but Jaax was counting on him to lead the Coalition.
“But we are getting nowhere,” he whispered aloud to no one.
Kehllor went over the past several Coalition meetings in his
head, sifting through the information pouring from a variety of sources outside
of Felldreim.Checking the borders for
weaknesses took off some of the edge, but as the dreams grew more vivid and
more frequent, and as more evidence of the Tyrant’s growing power leaked in, Kehllor
was beginning to feel trapped.He was
aware of the armies being forged throughout Ethöes, troops of soldiers and
farmers and merchants alike, willing to fight against the evil growing in the
east when the time came.Anyone and
everyone ready to defend the last threads of freedom the world possessed.He also had an idea of their numbers, and
those weren’t too impressive.And there
was no guarantee Jaax and Jahrra would convince the Creecemind to join their
cause.Without the ice dragons of the
north, the Coalition and her allies stood no chance against the Crimson King’s
army and his Morli dragons.
Kehllor ruminated over breakfast, then all the way to Essyel
Hall in the heart of the city.By the
time he reached his place at the head of the massive meeting room, an idea had
begun prickling at the back of his mind.It was almost ludicrous, but the longer the Coalition’s new leader
considered it, the more appealing it seemed.He had spent much of his life in the southern part of the continent and
had come to know the people who lived there.People the rest of the world ignored.But maybe, just maybe, these people understood the threat Cierryon posed
as well.And just like that, a plan
blossomed to life.
“This could be the answer to our troubles,” he whispered
under his breath as the great hall filled with boisterous Coalition members, “especially
if it works.”
Hey everyone! This Memorial Day weekend I'll be hanging out with some of my favorite people at Phoenix Comic Fest - fellow authors Jacob Devlin and Katie Salidas! Before the event, I thought you might like to learn a little bit about these amazing authors, so I asked them five questions to help us all get to know them a little better ;) ...
When Jacob Devlin was four years old, he would lounge around in Batman pajamas and make semi-autobiographical picture books about an adventurous python named Jake the Snake. He is the author of THE CARVER and its two sequels, THE UNSEEN and THE HUMMINGBIRD. When not reading or writing, Jacob loves geeking out at comic book conventions, spoiling his niece, and blasting Italian rock music in his car. He does most of these things in southern Arizona.
1) Where are you from?
I've lived in Southern Arizona most of my life, but spent a few wonderful years in Virginia and consider it like a second home as well.
2) What do you write?
Most of my work (and everything I've published thus far) is MG/YA adventure fantasy. Usually my writing bends a fairy tale or legend somehow, and there's always a strong emphasis on familial love.
3) What are you working on right now?
I'm revising a middle grade adventure fantasy about two siblings who have to hunt down a dragon to rescue their uncle, a famous survivalist who knows everything about bears and nothing about leathery winged beasts.
4) Why do you write?
My mom used to read to me when I was in the hospital with Lymphoma as a
6-year-old, and every book was an escape. It still is for me. Reading, writing, creating opens up spaces for people of any age and any background to grow, heal, or dream.
5) Tell us some of your favorite things ...
Food. Especially brinner. I swear I eat breakfast for dinner more than I eat breakfast for breakfast.
Going to the movies! Especially if it's a new MCU movie.
Katie Salidas is a
best-selling author known for her unique genre-blending style that led the
award-winning Paranormal Dystopian Thriller: Dissension.
Host of the Indie YouTube
Talk show, Spilling Ink, nerd, Doctor Who fangirl, Las Vegas Native, and
SuperMom to three awesome kids, Katie gives new meaning to the term
Since 2010 she’s penned
four bestselling book series: the Immortalis,
Olde Town Pack, Little Werewolf, and the RONE
award-winning Chronicles of the Uprising.
And as her not-so-secret alter ego, Rozlyn Sparks, she is a USA Today
bestselling author of romance with a naughty side.
Where are you from?
What do you write?
& Urban Fantasy
What are you working on right now?
Secret project that will be revealed at Phoenix Comic Fest….
Howdy eager readers! I know many of you have been waiting patiently for the release of the fifth and final book in the Legend of Oescienne series. I have a date in mind, but I'm still keeping hush-hush about it until I get all my files back from my fabulous Beta Readers and my marvelous editor. Once I get a chance to look at their suggestions, I might be able to lock in on that release date with more confidence. Until then, I have another snippet for you! Now, if you are signed up for my newsletter, then you should have received this sneak peek last week, but in case you missed it, here you go! This is a scene featuring dialogue between our two main characters, Jaax and Jahrra, and I feel it sets the tone for a good portion of the book. Enjoy and feel free to leave a comment telling me what you think!
- J.E. Johnson
The Legend of Oescienne
Copyright (c) 2018 by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
Rest, Revelry, and Rumination
As the evening stretched on, and as the elves began weaving their tales, Jahrra found their camaraderie did nothing to take the edge off her own restlessness. After only two stories were shared, she stood up and moved to stand casually near the edge of the great circle of light cast by the bonfire. When the third storyteller reached the exciting part of his tale, she slipped deeper into the darkness and headed toward the river’s edge. A large rock ledge stretched out from the tall bank of the Hrwyndess and hung over the rushing water some thirty feet below. She stepped out onto the slab of stone and turned her face upward. Closing her eyes, Jahrra breathed in the rich, cool air and let the light of the silvery moon bathe her face. What she wouldn’t give to take all her racing thoughts and shove them into a box where they couldn’t escape, if only for a few minutes.
A soft rustle broke into Jahrra’s moment of solitude, but she did not jump. Instinct, or maybe just years of experience, told her who approached.
“You are missing some very good stories,” Jaax drawled from behind her.
Jahrra turned and gave him a half smile, not putting much effort into it. So much for avoiding her friends for the rest of the night. The fire some fifty yards away had grown larger, she noticed, taller than the dragon cast in shadow standing so close by. Ale and more food was being passed around as well, and where she had left Dervit, some of the younger Hrunahn warriors had moved in. From what she could tell, it was the limbit who was weaving the tales at this point, not the elves. The upward curve to the corner of her mouth was more genuine this time, though her moment of joy did not last.
Jahrra turned back to face the rushing river below, not in the mood to take part in the merriment. “I’ve heard all of Dervit’s tall tales before,” she replied.
Jaax arched a brow, attention narrowing in on his ward. “Even the one about the piglet stuck in the fence?”
If the Tanaan dragon had hoped to cheer her up with his light tone, he was mistaken. Jahrra continued to stand there on the ledge of granite, arms crossed, the heel of one boot propped up against a small boulder. He knew when to leave her alone, and when she needed someone’s quiet presence. In this case, it was the latter, though Jaax wasn’t too keen on remaining silent and Jahrra would never admit she needed him.
“You seemed rather withdrawn during dinner. Care to talk about it?”
Jahrra shook her head, the river below mimicking her current mood. Now he wanted to talk? Despite her obvious desire to be left alone, Jaax wasn’t about to give up so easily.
“Jahrra,” he pressed, tone harder than before, “talk to me. In a matter of weeks we’ll be in Dhonoara, preparing for war. If anything is bothering you, now is the time to broach the subject.”
All he got in return was a derisive snort. As if she didn’t already know all of this. When he drew breath to speak again, Jahrra turned to look at him, the barest hint of desperation and fear dominating her expression. The dragon went utterly still, his eyes holding hers. He would not look away, not until she spoke her mind. She needed to say whatever it was that bothered her, but whatever it was needed to be removed the way a thorn must be drawn from the skin.
“I can’t celebrate with you and Ellyesce and Dervit. I can’t sit by that fire and laugh and joke and tell stories with the elves of Hrunah. I don’t know how any of you can.”
There, she’d said it. It hadn’t been about Ellyesce’s secrets earlier, and it hadn’t been about Jaax’s continued insistence on keeping her in the dark. Those had only been catalysts to her fear; excuses for her to purge her soul of the dark emotions lingering there. Only, her argument with Jaax and Ellyesce hadn’t assuaged her restlessness. Not at all.
Jaax lifted his head, all humor gone from his face. When he spoke, his voice was pitched low, but a gentle patience suffused his words. “You cannot celebrate because you are having a hard time envisioning a future that will bring happiness.”
Jahrra whipped her head back around, then bent to pick up a stone. She drew her arm back and launched it into the turbulent water below.
“We are walking directly into war, Jaax. Death is almost guaranteed, especially for us.” She indicated herself and her dragon guardian with a wave of her hand. “The Crimson King will know of me by now, and he’ll know you travel with me. I’m guessing he’ll know who Ellyesce is as well and Dervit ...” she trailed off, took a shuddering breath, then pressed on, “Dervit has been incredibly lucky so far. All of us have been. I don’t know how much longer our luck can hold out.”
Jaax hummed low in his throat, but said nothing.
“I don’t mean to sound cynical, and I hate that I’m fixated on what could go wrong, but the closer we get to whatever destiny Ethoes has planned for me, the more it grates at my nerves.”
“Jahrra, you have every right to feel that way. And even though your destiny seems to have been preordained, you still have a say in which choices you will make each day.”
Jahrra sighed, then fell into a crouch, arms wrapped around her knees. She wanted so badly to cry, to purge herself of the fear, pain, and anxiety, but she fought against that weakness. Her next words were so quiet, Jaax would have missed them over the rush of the river and the boisterous laughter of their elvin friends had he not possessed the sharper senses of a dragon.
“I don’t want to die,” she murmured.
Fear and fury and wrath wrapped their steely bands around Jaax’s heart at the tone in her voice.
“Don’t worry, Jahrra,” he vowed, moving closer to her. “I won’t let you die.”
When he was near enough for Jahrra to reach out and touch his shoulder, Jaax settled down upon the ground, his clawed fingers curling around the edge of the steep riverbank. The moonlight shone down through the gap in the trees, staining the world in shades of cool white and shadow.
“Can you make that same promise about yourself?” she finally asked. “About Dervit and Ellyesce, too?”
Jaax shook his head ruefully. “No, I cannot. But I will promise to do everything in my power to defend you and our friends. You have my word on that.”
She turned her head, blond hair slipping from her shoulder, the pale moonlight above turning her eyes to silver.
“And you have my word that I will do the same.”
As the revelry carried on behind them, Jaax and Jahrra sat in companionable silence, each lost in their own thoughts as the peace of the night wrapped around them, sealing their words together like an ancient vow neither time nor distance could ever break.
I haven't posted here in a while, but I've been busy with writing and all my other authorly jobs of late, but I hope you'll be pleased to hear I plan on having the fifth and final book in the Legend of Oescienne series out by the end of this summer (hopefully much sooner!). I don't have an exact date yet, but I'm getting close to finishing up the first read-through draft, and after that, things should go a little more quickly (depending on my editor's and Beta readers' schedules, of course). BUT, my awesome cover artist, Randy Vargas, has already begun work on the final cover and I've seen the rough draft (I love it!), so things are starting to get real ;). It's been a very long journey, and writing this final book has had its ups and downs (and is still having them), but in the end, I hope to offer you all an epic, and satisfying, conclusion to the series. Only time will tell! For now, here is the quote and a snippet I shared in my newsletter last week. Happy reading and stay tuned!
THE LEGEND OF OESCIENNE - THE RECKONING
Copyright 2018 by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson
* * * * *
Denaeh waited in the rocky outcropping above the campsite, her brilliant red cloak hidden behind a thicket of holly bushes as late afternoon light cut swaths through the lingering mist. Night was approaching, bringing with it the cold, and she had so badly wanted to kindle a fire to keep warm. But being so very close to Jahrra and her travel companions, she couldn’t risk being found out quite yet. Practically on their heels or not, she still did not know the identity of the third member of their party, the one with powerful magic who had been cloaking himself, or herself, since the Mystic first realized her quarry did not travel alone.
You will know soon enough, she thought grimly. As much as she wished to uncover this stranger’s identity, part of her quailed at the knowledge. A mage that powerful could prove a true threat to her, and if this individual held the same opinion of Mystics that most did, then she had good reason to fear openly joining their party.
Above, Milihn let out a quiet complaint. Denaeh tilted her head upward and pursed her lips.
“I know, old friend,” she murmured. “We won’t be traveling alone much longer.”
Or, she added to herself with a touch of foreboding, we’ll be dead and won’t care.
Sighing, Denaeh closed her eyes and cast her own magic out, the way she had done outside of Cahrdyarein and Nimbronia, using the elements to spy on the three travelers. Only three now because Jaax had taken a different road. At least she could find comfort in the fact that the brooding, tiresome dragon wouldn’t be present when she finally made contact. Knowing him and his shifty moods, he might just as soon burn her to a crisp before giving her a chance to speak.
Tucking such dismal thoughts away where they couldn’t pester her, Denaeh returned her attention to the present. Her power tripped over tree roots as it headed downhill, zipping through veins of frozen water and creeping through solid stone. Eventually, it found the campsite she sought and Denaeh was given a murky view of a tiny crevasse in the mountainside. It was a good location to pass the dark hours of the night: veiled from the game path by trees and shrubs, as well as several tall slabs of granite. Black, charred wood still smoked in a rudimentary fire pit and sleeping rolls littered the ground nearby.
Denaeh got the impression that all three inhabitants had gone off into the surrounding woods to hunt, scout, or take care of the typical evening ablutions. A further push of her magic proved as much. Jahrra was down by the creek, trying to get clean, her limbit friend nearby fishing for trout. Once again, she could not sense the third member of their party, but she imagined he was checking the perimeter of their camp.
“If you want to search their packs, now’s the time,” the Mystic muttered to herself.
Taking a deep breath to bolster her nerves, Denaeh descended the hill swiftly, stepping carefully to avoid tripping or making too much noise. Milihn glided past her on silent wings, searching for a perch so he might act as lookout. It took her nearly ten minutes to reach the floor of the narrow canyon and, casting one more sweeping glance behind her, she slipped into its mouth.
A soft whicker drew her every muscle tight as a bowstring, but she relaxed when she noticed a trio of horses eyeing her curiously from where the canyon walls split to form the crevasse. No, not horses. A pack horse and two semequins. One was a brilliant, solid white, his intelligent eyes assessing her. The other she recognized immediately. Breaking into a smile, she approached them slowly, clucking her tongue and holding out her hand. The marble gray pressed his velvety nose to her palm and inhaled.
“Hello, Phrym,” she crooned, scratching his forehead as he rumbled deep in his chest.
Careful not to dally too long with the horses, Denaeh turned and started rummaging through the packs. It was horribly invasive of her, but she was hoping to find something, anything, to reveal the identity of the powerful mage. The first pack she went through held dried food items, the second, clothing. Shirts and vests and pants Denaeh judged to be Jahrra’s. The third bag contained tools and utensils used to prepare and cook camp meals.
Frustrated but undeterred, Denaeh turned back to the horses. Their saddlebags were piled nearby along with some larger cases the pack horse must carry. Swiftly, Denaeh rifled through those as well, finding spare weapons, more spare clothes (including some fine dresses that must belong to Jahrra), as well as more extra food. She moved onto the saddlebags, aware of the time draining by. If she didn’t wish to be discovered this day, she had to move fast. The first set of saddlebags were Jahrra’s. They held some leather-bound journals full of her sketches of animals and plants, as well as other small treasures. She swiftly moved through the others.
Finally, Denaeh picked up the last set of bags, taking only a brief moment to appreciate the intricate design worked into the leather. She unsnapped the button and something solid and rectangular fell free, nearly crashing upon her toes. Curious, she set the bags aside and lifted an age-stained, wooden box. The Mystic brushed her fingers over the carved pattern, her nerves prickling a little. There was something terribly familiar about this box, but she couldn’t say what. A small golden hook looped through a metal latch kept it tightly shut. With deft fingers, she flicked the clasp open and carefully lifted the lid. The hinges creaked a little, but not so much to cause alarm. What was inside the box, however, stunned her. Astral cards, and not a false set. As she picked them up, gingerly shuffling the beautifully painted cards between her hands, she realized the magnitude of this find. These were real Astral cards, at least two or three centuries old. Maybe older. As she gazed upon them in awe, drinking in the rich artwork, she noticed a small mark in the bottom left corner of each of the inner faces of the set. She narrowed her eyes, then felt her heart kick up its pace as recognition pulsed through her, along with an ancient, zinging current of magic. Very familiar magic.
She dropped the deck, both hands flying to her mouth as her eyes widened in astonishment. She knew these cards. She knew them. Not just a very fine set of old Astral cards, but a gift bestowed upon someone a long time ago. A gift both to show a deep appreciation for the intended as well as a way to convey an even deeper regret. She fell to her hands and knees, frantically raking her fingers through the leaves in search of the box and its spilled contents. Memories and emotions spun in Denaeh’s mind, but before she could calm her whirling thoughts long enough to consider what this all meant, before she could grasp one of those frantic memories and pin it in place to study it more closely, she was interrupted.
The familiar creak of a bowstring being drawn taut was the only warning that she was no longer alone. Instantly, her every movement stilled, the hands pushing aside the leaf litter below halting to a stop. Even her slow breaths came to a standstill as her heart pounded against her ribcage. How had she been so easily caught off guard? Her magic was unfurled, giving her input from at least a half mile in every direction, aided by the powerful mage diamond tucked into one of the hidden pockets of her bodice. Yet, somehow this person had gotten the better of her. So Denaeh waited, her heart pounding in her ears, as the archer made up his or her mind whether or not to let their deadly arrow fly.
Look for more snippets and quotes in the coming weeks and months on my Facebook page!