If you haven’t read Witch Song (book 1) go read it. It’s great! My review will be up soon.
Witch Born by Amber Argyle (Witch Song #2)
Brusenna thought it was finished.
She defeated the Dark Witch, saving the Haven Witches from imprisonment and death. She found love and a place to belong.
She was wrong.
Haven is not the sanctuary it appears to be. Even love is in danger of slipping away like water through cupped hands.
Some things can’t be saved.
A new threat merges with the old as the Witches’ dark history begins to catch up with them. Only Brusenna knows the extent of the danger and how to stop it, though doing so might cost her everything.
Including her life.
Will Brusenna be required to make the ultimate sacrifice?
Amber Argyle, the author, organized a book preview. She has the first 6 Chapters of her newly realeased book posted on different blogs today. Here are the links to the first 4 chapters. If the posts aren’t up yet they will be soon. 🙂
Chapter 5 (part 1). Traveling
Lightning flashed, dressing the island in white. Stinging rain pounded against Senna’s face. She crossed the Ring of Power and shot inside the trees again.
Spared? Dying?By the Creators, what had the Heads meant? What was happening to her?
Senna wanted to run straight out of Haven and hide. She darted off the path, into the dense foliage. Gasping, she collapsed against a tree. With her forehead pressed up against its moist bark, she tried to slow her galloping heart. Her injured hand pounded in rhythm to the blood pumping through her.
Suddenly she stiffened and the hairs on the back of her neck rose. Someone was watching her. She stole a look around, but saw nothing besides shadows skulking from the light.
Was it one of the attackers from the other night? She shouldn’t have wandered off alone again. All the trees around the Ring of Power were inhabited. But in her desperation to get away, she’d left the inhabited quarter. She was alone now, in the dark forest.
She saw no movement, no hint of anything. She cursed herself for leaving her seed belt in her tree house, but she hadn’t wanted to risk getting the seeds wet. Unable to bear it anymore, Senna backed deeper into the foliage. The plants in front of her suddenly shivered. She opened her mouth, a scream on her lips.
She let out all her breath in a rush. “Joshen?”
He was breathing hard, as if he’d run to catch up to her. “What happened? Why did Drenelle haul you into the Council Tree?”
“How did you know about that?”
He shifted his feet uncomfortably. “Reden and I both disagree with the Heads. Merely guarding the entrance to the island isn’t enough. You’ll be watched by one of us at all times.”
She gaped at him, partially horrified by the lack of privacy, partly relieved she wasn’t alone.
Before she decided which emotion was stronger, Joshen wet his lips and stepped closer. “Was that earth tremor—was that really you?”
Hugging herself, Senna nodded. “I heard music.”
He pulled her deeper into the buttressed roots of the tree and put his hands on both sides of her to shield her from the rain. “You think this has to do with Espen giving you her song?”
The cold had settled so deep in Senna’s bones she wasn’t sure she’d ever be warm again. She tugged up Josh’s shirt and pressed her cold hands against the hard muscles of his stomach. She heard his sharp intake of breath, but he didn’t push away. She snuggled her cold nose against the crook of his neck.
When she didn’t answer, he tipped her face up. “Senna?”
She met his gaze as the rain splashed off his hood onto her face. “I don’t know. Maybe.” She told him everything—well, almost. She glossed over the part where she’d overheard the Heads saying she would die. Joshen was unbearable when he was worried. “All my life I’ve been surrounded by secrets, forced to hide while the world falls apart around me.”
When he didn’t respond, she pulled back. Lightning lit up the sky, illuminating his face. His brow was drawn. “What secrets?”
She wiped away a rivulet of rainwater dripping from her nose. “All I know is the Heads are hiding something from me. I plan to unearth those secrets, and then I’m going to save Tarten.”
Joshen closed his eyes as if he were in pain. “How?”
The enormity of the task nearly crushed her. “I don’t know yet.”
He was silent for a time. “It’s late. I need to get you home. Come on, I’ll see you there safely.”
He walked with her toward the inhabited quarter.
From off to the side, Senna saw a flash of movement between the trees. “Joshen, did you see that?”
He glanced up sharply and stepped in front of her. “What?”
She studied the shadows. Joshen couldn’t have been the one watching her earlier, because he’d been chasing after her. “Just before you came, I thought someone was watching me.”
He cursed softly. “Powder’s damp. Worthless.”
He pushed her in front of him and pulled his knife free. They crossed the barren Ring of Power. She only stopped long enough to grab her abandoned boots. She hesitated when she saw the lantern light in her parlor. A lecture was surely waiting for her inside.
Joshen squeezed her hand. “You want me to go in with you?”
Senna shook her head. “It’s probably better if you don’t.”
His broad shoulders drooped a little. He had to know Senna’s mother didn’t like him.
“Don’t worry. She doesn’t like anyone. Me included.”
“I or one of the other Guardians will be here in the morning. Bolt the door and stay inside until then.” He kissed her piously and stepped back, then waited while she mounted the steps. She knew he wouldn’t leave until she’d locked the door.
Through the window, she watched him go, but her gaze was drawn back to the darkness. Shefelt someone out there. She stepped back and pulled the drapes closed.
Behind her, Senna’s mother used a dried leaf to mark her place in her book. “Why are you barefoot?” She found a towel and tossed it to her daughter.
Senna dropped her boots by the door and started cleaning her feet.
“The rest of Drenelle’s class came home long ago.”
The words that hung unsaid made the air hard to breathe. Senna considered telling her mother everything, but she didn’t want to relive that conversation again. Besides the Heads had asked her not to tell anyone; she’d already broken that promise by telling her Guardian, but that was Joshen. “I spoke to Joshen for a moment afterward.”
“Guardians aren’t to have contact with Apprentices.”
Senna said the one thing she knew her mother wouldn’t argue with. “Reden and Joshen feel I’m still in danger. They plan on watching over me.”
Obviously flustered, Sacra took one look at Senna’s wet bandages and hauled out her healing kit. “That doesn’t explain why you’re late.”
Senna sat at the table, her cheeks burning as her mother cut away the soiled, damp wrapping. She knew what her mother thought—that she’d sneaked away to meet Joshen—but she couldn’t tell her the truth.
Sacra inspected her daughter’s wound. “There’s a very good reason Guardians were not allowed on the island before now. Your studies come first.”
“They do.” Senna’s palm was wrinkled and waxy. The stitches stuck out, black against her pale skin. The puckered wounds almost looked like the pursed lips of an old man.
Sacra applied a strong-smelling salve and started rewrapping the hand. “See that it stays that way. Because if that changes, so will your privileges.”
“I’m sixteen, Mother. Old enough to be married.”
Her mother tied off the bandage. “Senna, I don’t think you’re ready for this. The only man you’ve ever known is Joshen. And you’re so very young. How can you know what you want when you’re still discovering who you are?”
Senna cradled her hand against her chest. “He’s a good man, Mother. Why won’t you give him a chance?”
Sacra repacked her kit, each item in its place. “This isn’t about Joshen. This is about you. If you’re not strong enough without him, you’ll never be strong enough with him.” Leaning forward, she rested her hand on Senna’s arm. “You owe it to him, to yourself, to become the woman you’re meant to be.”
“Just because you failed doesn’t mean I will,” Senna said coldly.
Sacra’s gaze went distant, it was like she wasn’t here at all. “Failed? Yes, I failed. Your father. Your sister. You.” Her pain was almost visible, as if grief had been etched on her skin. “So you should learn from my mistakes instead of repeating them.”
As though some unseen weight bore down on her, Sacra took a labored breath. “It’s healing nicely. Try to keep it dry this time.” She trudged up the stairs.
Senna watched her go, regret building in her chest. Long ago, someone had told her she should pray that she would never experience the hurts her mother had, that she shouldn’t judge her mother without knowing those hurts. “Mother, I’m sorry. I just…have you ever heard the music that wasn’t really there? Have you ever danced with that music and found yourself somewhere else entirely?”
Sacra half turned, tears shining bright in her eyes. “Traveling? No. Such a thing is of legend.”
Traveling…Senna straightened. “What legend?” Legends were sometimes based on fact, after all.
Sacra shook her head. “The legends of women long dead.” She started back up the stairs with a set in her shoulders that indicated she would speak of it no more.
The open, loving relationship Senna had once had with her mother seemed far away and long ago. All Senna felt now was the hollow ache where once light and warmth had been.
After hanging up her sodden cloak by the stove, Senna went to her own room. Traveling. If her mother knew the name for what Senna had done, then so did the Heads. Why hadn’t they told her? Why were they keeping things from her?
Perhaps because by Traveling, she could unearth the truth they were hiding. Which meant she had to try it again. She had to go back to that hidden land.
She changed out of her damp clothes one-handed, put on a fresh shift, and crawled under her blankets for warmth. She imagined herself as a grain of sand at the mercy of the Four Sisters. It came easier this time. No sooner had she let her mind relax than her soul left her body again.
The wind caressed her skin and wrapped around her with the sound of high strings and the tinkling of hundreds of raindrops. Her senses wanted to dance with the music, to sing and be sung to. Though she’d only experienced this once before, her soul seemed to crave it.
She danced across the waters, her feet kicking up drops that sparkled with captured moonlight. She flew with birds, the wind tickling hair and feathers, like she was simply one of them in a different form.
But her joy ground to a halt when the barrier shimmered to life before her. She didn’t want to cross it. Not just because it couldn’t exist, but because she somehow knew they would be waiting for her. But she had committed herself to finding answers, and this was the only way she knew how.
Going through the barrier felt a little like crossing a curtain of honey, but it didn’t seem as thick this time. It was as if it was somehow diminished.
The wind set her down in water up to her ankles. The rocky shore bruised her feet and the chill water splashed the hem of her shift. Trying to discover where she was, she cast her senses of the Earth Sister outward.
An island. Westward, beyond the ocean, was more land—a desert, mountains. Just as she drew upon the Plant Sister, the ground vibrated beneath her feet, and she heard Witch song again. The rocks and dirt stirred beneath her. No, not stirring—shifting. Shifting away from her, as if she’d grown so heavy the ground couldn’t bear her up.
All at once she realized her danger. She bolted out of the water, but with every step she took, the ground only sucked her in faster. Faster and faster she sank until she was buried up to her waist. She called for the wind to carry her away. It surged around her, whipping her hair around her like something alive.
But the wind wasn’t strong enough to lift her out of the mud. All at once, rain pelted her, making the ground softer beneath her feet. Plants and vines reached out to snag her arms, immobilizing her as the dirt swallowed her up to her breasts, then up to her neck.
She was going to die.
She screamed, her mouth filling with dirt. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move. Using the last air in her lungs, Senna sang.
The trembling ceased, and the plants loosened their grip. Senna clawed her way out of the rough hole and staggered to her feet. Her injured hand ached fiercely, and she was covered in welts and scratches. Breathless, she sang for the wind to take her home. She was lifted from the mud and hurtled across the skies into her own bed, into her own body.
Here are the links to the rest of Chapter 5 and 6. Enjoy!
GIVEAWAY! Amber Argyle has provided an eBook of Witch Born for me to give away. If you haven’t read Witch Song you can win that eBook instead. Enter the rafflecopter below. Good luck!
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