The Attack – An Exclusive Excerpt of Wings of Caligo

Here’s another exclusive excerpt of Wings of Caligo:

“But Matt wasn’t looking at me anymore. He was glancing around warily. “Ken,” he said in a low, tension-filled voice. “Why are the cabbages dying?”

I looked where he was pointing and saw frost creeping up the plants, coming from the road. It meant only one thing. There was only one person who affected the air in this way. He was coming.

“No, no, no!” I cried, twisting about looking for the source of the cold and shoving Matt toward the trees. “We’ve got to go! Lord Ricard is coming!“

A force slammed into my back, pummeling me into the ground. Dirt met my face and a deep growl snarled out from whatever was pinning me to the ground. A nasty, musty smell registered in my brain, and I knew what it belonged to. It sniffed up along my ear, hinting at its plan. Death crawler. Definitely a large and very dominant one.

“Matt…” I said slowly, wondering how it had snuck up on us. “Run.”

I knew exactly what I had to do. Flip it over and crunch the life out of it. I could feel the adrenaline welling up in my veins, instinct urging me what to do. But I never got to do it. Unfortunately, Matt had other plans. He threw a cabbage at its head, distracting it.

“Hey, ugly face. Pick on someone your own size!” he yelled tauntingly. The crawler screeched at him angrily, releasing me from under its huge paws. It stalked toward him, hissing. He gulped. I don’t think he had quite thought through his plan. Now that he had its attention, he had no idea what to do.

“Uh, Ken,” he called, dropping the second cabbage in hand. “Now would be a good time to do something fairy-like.”

I didn’t have time to agree as I rolled under the creature and drew the dagger from my hip. I slit its throat from side to side, hot blood dropping on my face as it wheezed a last growl and fell on top of me dead. I threw it off and stood as more dark growls filled the clearing. There were three more advancing toward me and one going after Matt. My job was getting more difficult by the second.

The dagger clutched in my hand was itching for more blood. It got its wish as it buried itself into the flank of the nearest creature. I retrieved it as I ran past, heading for the one still pursuing Matt. The two I hadn’t dispatched yet were still on my tail. But I never reached my destination.

I was grabbed from behind and the cold edge of steel put up against my throat. The breath was knocked out of me and I felt fear awaken within me as another terribly familiar scent filled my nose.

“Well, well. Who are we?” a snide voice hissed in my ear. “Don’t you know it’s a crime punishable by death to kill a death crawler in my lands, beautiful?”

“Zeke,” I breathed in horror, now realizing just how much danger we were in.

“So you know my name,” he said, sounding disgustingly pleased. “Say it again.”

“What?”

“My name,” he said, pressing the blade harder against my throat. He inhaled along my ear lasciviously. “That of the future king. It sounds so delicious coming off of those lips of yours. Say it again.”

I nearly gagged at the lewd innuendo in his voice. But I knew I needed to buy time so I could make a move. “Zeke,” I muttered in a breathy whisper.

“Oh, I like that,” he said. “What’s your name, señorita? Why don’t we adjourn to a more hospitable location? You may yet escape your punishment if you please my every desire-“

His words turned into a shriek as I stabbed the dagger into his thigh and jerked it upwards, elbowing him in the gut. I attempted to run to Matt who was fending off the remaining crawler by beating the hell out of it with a piece of wood. But Zeke anticipated my move and yanked me back against him.

“If you think that’s enough to throw me off, bitch,” he growled at me, all traces of playfulness gone, “then you’ve got another thing coming. Think of this more as… foreplay.”

“I’d rather die!” I hissed struggling to break free.

“All right then,” he said, sounding even more pleased. Evidently he liked the idea of killing me even more than the other activities he was proposing. “Even better.”

I felt the blade start to move and squeezed my eyes shut. Game over. I wouldn’t even have time to shift before he slit my throat. I heard a yell from far off. Matt’s yell of panic barely registered through my brain as I prepared for the end. I hoped he didn’t go after Zeke after I was gone. Then we’d both be dead.

But fate intervened. “Enough, Ezekiel!”

I sagged in relief as Lord Ricard’s voice rang out into the clearing. I had thought that was going to be it for me. Zeke stopped and a hiss escaped past his lips. Disappointment radiated off of him. “Tough luck, señorita. Looks like we’re going to have to continue this later.”

He threw me to the ground and I landed with a splatter into the mud. My blood and the neon purple blood of the crawlers mixed beneath me. I was healing rapidly but I could still feel where the knife had cut into my neck.

Two figures on horseback rode toward us. The one on the black horse stopped a few feet in front of me. I couldn’t see anything beyond the dark green brim of the hood. For a second I thought it was Dare, but I quickly discounted the thought. The figure was enormous. As an opponent, they would have the advantage of size. Not good. I was outnumbered as it was. I’d have to be fast if I took them on. The person said nothing and held back as Ricard rode forward.

The king was on his albino horse and he didn’t look happy. His eyes traveled over the dead crawlers, Zeke, and then onto me. I glanced away before he could look me directly in the eye. I would be thoroughly done if he realized who I was. It was too late now to change my face with my powers.

Matt was visible from the corner of my eye. He was all right, his eyes fixed on me with worry. I spat out a mouthful of dirt and nodded to let him know I was okay. He nodded back and fixed his murderous glare on Zeke’s back.

“Dad,” Zeke drawled, throwing his arms out in a dramatic welcome that I suspected was meant as a diss. “I didn’t know you were out and about.“

“Save it,” Ricard snapped dismissively. “Who is she?”

“I have no idea,” he replied airily. “You usually don’t care who I kill since I’m not your worthy heir, so I didn’t know I had to ask. Who are you, sweet cheeks?”

“Leave her alone,” Matt said loudly, causing the remaining crawler in front of him to start growling again. “She was protecting me-“

“A human?” Ricard said, sounding surprised. “Here in Caligo? Interesting. I’ll get to you in a second, boy. Your name, girl?”

“Amarylis Mina,” I lied with no hesitation, roughening my voice. I had had that alias prepared from day one since I had gotten here. It was so ingrained in me it sounded perfectly true. I didn’t dare glance up at either of them. Zeke still hadn’t seen me from the front, so he had no idea who I was. If he saw me, he’d recognize me, and I’d be trapped.

“And what were you doing killing death crawlers? It is punishable by law-“

“They attacked us first, sire,” I said, cutting across him. “Self- defense.”

“The death crawlers are under our command, peasant. They wouldn’t attack without being provoked,” Ricard replied snottily. But I could tell he meant it. He thought they were totally in his control. That wasn’t good.

“Do you really think I’d go attacking a scourge of crawlers for kicks?!” I snapped. “They probably smelled Matt and came after us.“

“The human is of no consequence,” Lord Ricard snapped back, sounding bored. “You should have let them proceed. What were you two doing out here anyway?”

I bristled internally at that comment on Matt’s behalf, but knew I’d better keep my mouth shut for his safety. “Cabbages,” I muttered through gritted teeth. “Wild cabbages. We’ve got to eat something, sire. There’s nothing else-“

I cried out in pain as Zeke delivered a sharp kick to my ribs.

“Don’t talk back to the king,” Zeke spat.

I bit my lip to hold back further sounds. He had cracked a few of my ribs, but they were healing rapidly. He must have been wearing steel- toed boots to inflict such damage. He had smashed the skin, too. More blood trickled through my clothes into the mud, joining the blood coming off my chin. I curled up into a ball, waiting for the agony to stop. Tears escaped from my eyes as the pain started fading from my mind.

A soft nuzzling on the side of my face caught my attention. It was comforting in a way, as it was sniffing me. Hot breath blew on my neck. I looked up to see a very large set of nostrils paired with a huge set of familiar brown eyes staring back at me. Another warm puff blew on my face. I forgot the pain for a moment, shock taking over my mind. I recognized those eyes.

“Cerberus,” I breathed. The horse mouthed lightly on the end of my nose with affection. I almost smiled but then froze as realization washed through me. If this was Cerberus, then where was his master?

I glanced up slowly through my lashes, sincerely hoping I wasn’t making a huge mistake. The dark figure didn’t move as the horse continued to inspect the top of my head. But I could tell they were watching me closely, just by the downward tilt of the hood. I cocked my head, trying to get a better look. It was hard getting past Cerberus who was still sniffling at my cheeks.

A hauntingly familiar pair of dark green eyes met mine for a split second, glowing even though no light fell upon them. They widened and I forgot to breathe. Trepidation washed through me as I came to the blunt realization of who was before me. Dare hadn’t realized who I was until that moment just as I hadn’t recognized him…”

I hope you enjoyed that sneak peek! Wings of Caligo is going to be published on August 17th, so make sure to pre-order your copy here.

Sneak Peek At ‘Wings of Caligo’

Hello and happy Tuesday! Whew, what a week it has been so far! My internet was out all weekend, so I’m still catching up with all of you. But as soon as I got it back, I had to bring you what I had previously promised!

Here’s the exclusive preview from my upcoming novel ‘Wings of Caligo’, book one in my ‘Legends of Arestina’ series. I hope you enjoy it. I’ll be posting more teasers in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Wings of Caligo The Prologue…

***

Nothing could have prepared me for this. My heart pounded in terror as the truth hit me. I was done for.

Blood curdling howls spilt the night as I tore through the dense forest undergrowth, trying to escape my fate. The death crawlers were right on my tail now, hunting me to the ground and screaming for my blood. I pushed my legs to go faster trying to outrun them, but it was too late.

I should have listened to my father when he said not to go out at night. I had snuck out here to the forest thinking I would be safe to watch the rising moon. How wrong I had been. Now I was running blindly in the dark for my life.

Tree branches hit me in the face as I tried to escape. The death crawlers’ lime green eyes were made for seeing in the dark. Mine couldn’t see two feet in front of me let alone see where they were. The beasts had come up behind me and attacked without warning. I knew they were chasing me down, but who knew how close they were to catching me. But then I didn’t need to question it anymore.

I cried out as a force slammed into my back, throwing me to the ground face down. I whimpered as its disgusting panting rang in my ears, sniffing up and down my neck. A low growl sounded as the rest of the pack caught up. They were all around me now, preparing for their meal.

Slowly lifting my head, I saw thirty sets of lips drawn back over their teeth. Poisonous green drool leaked down from their jaws, echoing the equally venomous toxin in their claws. Their leathery bald pink and black skin reflected the moonlight and they closed their wings, settling down after the chase. They thought they had caught me. They thought they were going to enjoy their meal. They were probably right.

I tried to sit up, but I was pushed down into the mud as the alpha dug its claws into my shoulder. I was too scared to cry out as they raked my arm, leaving bloody marks all the way down. This was the end of me and I knew it. I was good as dead. Within a minute, my body would go into shock from the poison and shut down. But oddly enough, that was the last move they made to kill me.

I sat up in confusion as the alpha moved off of my back and sat down, eyes narrowed with a growl. The rest echoed that noise sitting in unison, watching me with unnervingly glowing eyes.

It hit me then that they were waiting for me to die. Death crawlers never left their victims alive. So if they weren’t going to eat me, what were they planning to do? There was only one explanation. They had been sent to kill me, probably on the orders of the King of Caligo. That’s where they had come from; over there in that barren wasteland, across the Divide. They had come for the princessa; that being me.

But there was one snag in their plan. I didn’t seem to be dying. I looked down at my arm, seeing with shock that the marks on my skin were fading. In a few seconds, they were gone, leaving only jagged red scars in their place.

I gulped as another growl passed through the hunting pack, all watching me heal with unblinking eyes. They seemed just as astonished with my healing as I was. But the leader wasn’t done with me. It couldn’t fail its master by leaving me breathing. It stalked toward me, a low snarl on its jaw.

In that moment, my life flashed before my eyes. I had only lived seven short years, happily unaware of the danger that lurked in this forest. Being a garden fairy, my days were blissfully happy, playing with my friends and the creatures of the flowered fields. Those days were now to be cut short by my own stupidity of venturing out into the woods alone.

But also in that moment, a new power surged through me: a will to live. And into that will surged an ability I had never known.

I collapsed forward onto my elbows, my back erupting into mind-bending pain that had nothing to do with the enemies surrounding me. The pain seemed to be directed by a force inside my own mind that I had never experienced before. It screamed for vengeance and exploded out of my control.

My limbs started to elongate, fur sprouting from my hands. My bones jolted in new directions as I disappeared entirely, this new force taking over my being. An animalistic feeling gripped me and it was calling for the destruction of my enemies. The urge to shred them limb to limb took over and by the time I stood tall in this new four-footed form, it came to fruition.

The crawlers all stood stunned as I threw my head back into a raging howl, warning them of their oncoming demise.

I leapt onto the leader and tore off its wing, dragging my sharp claws across its throat. To the rest that didn’t run came similar fates, their neon purple blood splattering to the forest floor. They breathed their last breaths at my teeth and claws. I showed them no mercy. By the time I was done, they barely resembled the same creatures that had surrounded me moments before. Mangled corpses surrounded me, satisfying my inner animal and personally repulsing me.

I stared around, now coming back to my own mind, horrified by what I had done. Yes, those things had been planning to kill me, but I had all but shredded them into pieces. I backed up with a low whine, now hearing that it wasn’t like my own voice. It was that of a dog’s, high with fear.

Even stranger was the instinct to chase down the rest of the crawlers who had all but fled from my blood lust. What was I?! I was no garden fairy anymore; dark black fur over my skin and ears pointed up toward the sky. Looking back at myself, I saw a long black tail in the same color over my back. In my horror, snapping my jaws together, I realized what I was.

How had I become a wolf? A low whimper broke from my throat as I panicked. The world spun as I collapsed, my consciousness giving out to the fear. I disappeared into the void, mind recovering from the ordeal. But what I didn’t know was that this was only the beginning of my journey. Life as I knew it was about to end, the truth coming to light. Nothing would ever be the same.

***Can’t wait to have it?! Pre-order Wings of Caligo on Amazon to have it the instant it’s released! Here’s a little more about the novel:

My life is a lie

Imagine being born into a secret so important that entire kingdoms could come crumbling down and evil would reign if you told the truth. I may be a lumina fairy, but no one can know my secret: my true nature. I have to hide who I am every day of my life, even from the man I love. And worst of all, he’s supposed to be my enemy. Obscura faeries, lumina fairies; who am I supposed to be loyal to? My country or my heart? Danger is hiding at every corner and old adversaries threaten to tear everything I hold dear to pieces. It’s either truth or Dare, and my choice could devastate us all…

Wings of Caligo, book one in the Legends of Arestina Trilogy, is an action packed adventure filled with twists and turns that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Between black magic curses, wolf shifters, sword fights, and a romance that will endure until the end of time, readers will be transported to the Bermuda Triangle for a fairy tale twist that they will never forget.

Wings of Caligo touches on real life issues such as bullying, bigotry, racial boundaries, poaching, and human trafficking. Parental discretion is suggested for readers under the age of thirteen due to topics of sensitive nature.

Ten percent of all proceeds from the book will be donated to Agape International Missions, a ministry dedicated to ending human trafficking.

Get it on Amazon

Also, have you read Still Death? You can read it for free now if you sign up for my email newsletter. It’ll send you the download link immediately so you can read it whenever and wherever you like!

Copyright 2018 Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel. Please do not reproduce or copy this text without written permission from the author…

Is There A Difference Between Fairies and Faeries?

Hello everyone!

Today I’m going to be answering a question that I get quite a bit about my Legends of Arestina series. What is the difference between a fairy and a faerie? Unlike what most people assume, there is quite a lot of difference actually.

In most cultures, fairies are considered the more amiable of the two creatures; whereas the faeries are known for their mal-intent. The word ‘fairy’ is derived from the Latin word ‘fatum’, which can mean ‘fate’. ‘Faerie’ is a word derived from the Gaelic ‘fear shidhe’, which translates to ‘man of the shee’. Some also say that there is a difference with the faeries being from the realm of the fae.

They also tend to differ in appearance with the fairies being of a more human, and usually more attractive appearance. The faeries, however, usually have an evil intent and are often portrayed as thieving creatures.

So in short:

Fairies – Good creatures.

Faeries – Evil or mischievous creatures.

I kept both definitions and myths in mind when I created my winged world on the mystical Island of Arestina. In that world, the distinction lies between the two fairy and faerie races who discriminate against each other: the lumina fairies vs. the obscura faeries. As the novel plays out between the two kinds of peoples, it begins to beg the question of individuality to decide your true nature, as opposed to what race (or species) you are. To learn more about the Island of Arestina, click here.

Well, I hope this answered your questions. If you have any more, please make sure to drop them in the comments so I can answer them!

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to sign up for my email newsletter. When you sign up, you’ll immediately get a copy of my novella STILL DEATH and I frequently email out freebies and goodies to my readers!

If you’d like to read Wings of Caligo, click here

Hope you have a fabulous day,

Author Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel

NOTE: the terms lumina fairies and obscura faeries are copyrighted content from the Legends of Arestina series. Please do not use without the author’s permission.

References:

Thedifferencebetween.net

Art by https://pixabay.com/en/fairy-faerie-mushroom-drawing-1606164/