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Firebrand
Book One Of The Firebrand Trilogy
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-121-8
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Medieval
eBook Length: 192 Pages
Published: July 2013



From inside the flap

Carlan Andrassis is a Firebrand, one who can create and control fire, as well as a lord of the second most powerful House in the Ten Kingdoms. He is also a young man with a dark secret that makes him afraid to use his power. But as a terrible plot plays out around him, he must learn to conquer that fear, or be destroyed by it.

Jada Suvari is a Firebrand as well, and daughter of the High King of the unified kingdoms of Garden. A spoiled, willful young woman with a quick temper, her world revolves around herself and her whims. But when a little harmless flirting with a handsome young knight leads to danger, Jada finds herself forced to face a truth inside her own heart.

Firebrand (Excerpt)


CHAPTER ONE

Carlan sparked a blue flame and watched it dance across his fingertips. He was sitting on the far side of the hill so he couldnít be seen from the manor house, not even from a third floor window. It might still be too close, but there were times when he tired of skulking about in the woods. After all, this was his home too.

Marlina slipped out from between the trees and started across the yard toward him. She was a beauty with long, dark red hair falling to her slender waist and eyes as blue-green as the sea. She was smart too, and could ride a horse like she was born to it. She was his everything.

Carlan put the spark out. He refused to allow even so small a spark of the fire when she was near, much to her annoyance. There were few things he wouldnít do to please her, and that was one of them. It was simply too dangerous, for reasons he was unwilling to share, and he didnít want to take such a risk.

"What were you doing while you were waiting for me?" she asked.

He supposed that she had seen the fire before he put it out but, for the sake of not starting that argument again, he pretended otherwise. "Nothing."

"Nothing?" She raised a brow, making him worry she might bring the subject up in any case and ruin the day. But she only smiled. "Youíre alive. Youíre breathing. Thatís hardly nothing."

Carlan rolled his eyes. "All right, so Iím breathing. Satisfied?"

"For the moment." She sat in the grass beside him. "Though, someday, I think I should like to do something besides sit here and breathe."

"Such as?" He put his arm around her shoulders.

She thought a moment, and then laid her head against his chest. "Such as flying away somewhere."

He smiled, loving the feel of her so close to him. "And where do you want to go today?"

"Waterfall."

"Why Waterfall?" This was her favorite game and one he willingly played along with. Truth was, she was not likely to go anywhere except perhaps back to the Lowlands when the time came for her to be married. But Carlan didnít like to think of that.

"The way you spoke of it, it sounds so beautiful."

"It is beautiful. All right, Waterfall it is. Maybe Iíll even take you up to the castle, introduce you to Her Royal Highness. Sheís a bit temperamental, but if you want to see fire power, you wonít get a better show."

He almost regretted saying that last part, for surely now she would want to speak of his fire again and why he kept it hidden so. That was a story he had no intention of sharing.

Marlina was quiet a long moment. Then she sat up and turned to look at him. "Letís really go."

"Sure, weíll go right now."

"No, Iím serious. I want to go for real, not pretend. Letís take a gryphon from my fatherís stable and just go."

"What?" He laughed, though he could see by the set of her jaw that she was serious. "Run away? We canít do that."

"Why not? What do we have to hold us here?"

"What about our families? Donít you think it would hurt them if we up and disappeared like that?"

"We could write to them and let them know weíre all right."

There was something in her eyes, something frantic, that dissolved any lingering amusement within him. "Whatís wrong?"

"Time is leaving us behind, Carlan. We arenít children anymore. If we stay here, weíll have to give up our dreams, give up each other. That day is coming."

"What are you talking about?" He leaned over and lay a hand on her shoulder. "Did something happen?" A band of fear constricted his heart. Heíd heard that in the Lowlands marriages were arranged young, but surely, even if her father had chosen a husband for her, it would be a few years yet before she had to leave.

"Nothing happened," Marlina said. "But you know as well as I that we can never be together; not here."

Carlan averted his eyes from her intense gaze. Heíd never come right out and lied to her, though he had kept secrets. But to tell her the truth now would hurt her and he had no wish to do that. It was bad enough that they should sneak around this way to be together, but for him to run away with her, a Lowlander, he could never bring such shame to his House.

A shadow fell over them. "Well, look what we have here."

Carlan was on his feet in an instant, putting himself between Tarel and Marlina. "What do you want?"

"Why, nothing, little brother, nothing at all." He gave Marlina a long look. "At least, not right now."

Carlan had the urge to knock that nasty smirk right off Tarelís face, but he restrained himself. Young men of good breeding were not supposed to get into fistfights. Not that he thought he could win a fight with his brother in any case, but sometimes he was sorely tempted to try.

"Why donít you leave us alone?" Marlina said, glaring at him. "We arenít interested in what you have to say."

Tarel placed a hand to his chest and gasped. "You wound me." He dropped his hand to his side with a chuckle. "You might want to watch how you speak to me, Lowlander, you may come to regret it."

"Iím not afraid of you."

"Really?" Tarelís eyes glinted dangerously. "Maybe I should remedy that." He took a step toward them.

A chill rushed through Carlan. It was his fire, rising to the surface, to the defense. He pushed it down before it could become more than a cold feeling in his gut. Heíd not let it loose, not again. Never again.

"Tarel." A sharp voice spoke. Tarel stepped back as Gaden came around the side of the hill. "What is going on out here?"

"Nothing," Tarel said. "We were only talking, isnít that right, Carlan?"

"Right," Carlan said.

"Go back to the manor, Tarel," Gaden said. "Iíll deal with these two."

"Whatever you say, Brother." With a sly grin, Tarel turned and sauntered off around the side of the hill.

Gaden looked at Carlan, who averted his gaze, and then at Marlina. "What am I going to do with the two of you? You could have at least had the common sense, if not the decency, to keep your little trysts to the seclusion of the woods. This is no place for that kind of behavior."

"We werenít doing anything wrong," Marlina said. "Tell him, Carlan."

Carlan focused his gaze on the ground. She simply didnít understand. She couldnít. Being the son of a lord put certain strictures upon him. Such as not speaking out to Gaden in front of outsiders, not even her.

"Go home, Marlina," Gaden said. "I wonít tell your father you were here."

Carlan continued to stare at the ground, aware that she was looking at him, giving him one last chance to defend her. When he didnít, she turned without another word and ran into the woods.

Gaden fixed Carlan with a stern frown. "Iím telling you for the last time that girl cannot be here. You have to tell her to stay off our land. Including the woods. You arenít supposed to see her."

"I know, but itís so hard. I... " He looked up to meet his brotherís gaze. "I love her."

Gaden clasped a hand around the back of Carlanís neck "Youíre young yet, and there will be other loves, hard as that is for you to imagine now."

"I... I donít know how to tell her that."

Gaden sighed. "This is my fault. I should have put my foot down against your friendship years ago, before it ever got this far. Iím putting my foot down now. Youíre becoming a man, Carlan, and you must take on a manís responsibilities. If something... unfortunate should happen between the two of you... Well, you canít marry Marlina and something like that would put a black mark on House Andrassis. You donít want that, do you?"

Carlan shook his head. He knew his brother was right, but that didnít make the thought of losing her any easier to bear.

"Come along, little brother," Gaden said, his expression softening into a smile, "you donít have to deal with it today."

Together, the two brothers walked up the hill toward the manor house. Three stories high, with crenellated towers, vine-wrapped balustrades, and spiral turrets, the manor was a miniature replica of the kingís castle in Ferelden, the capital city of the kingdom of Sovereign. It had been built some twenty years past as a wedding gift for the kingís sister and her new husband.

Mother met them with a terse smile as they came through the front doors, which were emblazoned with a vine wrapped rose wreathed in flames, the crest of House Andrassis. Carlan tensed upon seeing his motherís expression, fearing that Tarel had told her about Marlina.

"I must go out for the evening," Mother said, pulling on her gloves. "But I expect to be home in time for last meal."

Carlan would have liked to ask her where she was going, and why, but was constrained by his low position in the family. Firebrand though he was, and the first in three generations, he was still the youngest child and so could not question his mother.

Gaden had such privilege, being firstborn and Head of the House, but would never take it. "I hope all is well, Mother." This was as close as he was like to get to asking her if something was wrong.

"We shall have to wait and see." There was tightness around her sapphire eyes; a sure sign of worry.

Carlan glanced at his brother, silently urging him to question her further. The corners of Gadenís mouth dipped into a frown as he gave a slight shake of his head. Their mother seemed to notice none of this, for she was looking out the open doors as she tugged on her other glove.

A carriage, bearing the family crest and drawn by two snow-white mares, pulled up at the foot of the stairs. With a sweep of her skirts, Mother walked quickly down the steps. The liveried driver hopped down from his high seat to open the door for her, then held out an arm to help her inside. The door to the carriage was closed, and the man climbed back to his seat. With a flick of the reins, he directed the mares down the dirt road to the gates.