SHE THOUGHT THERE COULD BE NO FUTURE FOR SOMEONE LIKE HERE UNTIL SOMETHING BLOOMED IN HER HEART - A PHOENIX.
Disabled and rejected in her community, Sersha has never had a best friend. Until one day, a phoenix enters her world, tied to her heart in a way no one can break.
Now, this great fiery beast has adopted her as his best friend and he wants to take her away from the world she’s known until now.
But Sersha’s village is in trouble and unless she can learn to work with her phoenix friend right now, they might both lose the future they were counting on.
Will Sersha’s big heart be enough to forge a bond between them?
For lovers of DRAGON SCHOOL, CROWN OF FEATHERS, WINDWALKER: FORBIDDEN FLIGHT and HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE comes a new serial novella series from USA Today bestselling author, Sarah K. L. Wilson. Like your favorite streaming show, these stories are perfect for busy people who still love to read but are pressed for time.
SERSHA & KaZMAREV
"But wouldn't it be the height of selfishness to keep him for myself?"
"For justice, we rise again!"
The best part of being voiceless is that I’m great at listening. I hear everything people say, and I hear the things they don’t say.
The worst part is how hard it is to warn people when they are making mistakes.
My cousin Mally was making a mistake, but since she was across the bustling common room from me, I couldn’t just call to her with a convenient excuse to come over here like my aunt Danna might. I could try to sign, but she’d have to be looking at me for that to work.
Instead, I gritted my teeth and finished cleaning the pine table while the wind outside howled its destructive intent and rain lashed against the small diamond-paned windows of the Hog’s Head Inn.
This morning when I’d risen, the sky had been dark and portentous with clouds bubbling over the horizon like the foaming head on the house brew behind our bar. By noon, the good folk of our seaside town had begun tying down everything that could blow away. By suppertime, everyone was hunkered at home or here in the warm firelight of the inn.
Brave laughter and boisterous talk betrayed them, though. Voices betray people all the time. They think they are using them as shields to hide their fear, or anger, or disgust but they’re like wet parchment. One good swipe and the defense is gone.
I don’t have that problem.
I have no words to hold up to hide myself from the world. But I also have no words to slip on my tongue and accidentally reveal my true heart.
The loud boasting of the sailors my cousin was flirting with betrayed the fear they felt for their boat, hastily docked when the rain began to whip the shore like a broken cur. Even the dancing fire and warm stew couldn’t fully drive the grip of fear from their hearts.
The calls of “More mead!” from Tyndale the blacksmith – my sister’s betrothed – were meant to hide his growing irritation at her flirtation. And that flirtation was meant to disguise the panic she was feeling as she realized she’d never leave our village now that she was getting married.
And despite the loud tune of the pipes playing over the howl of the wind, despite my aunt Danna’s booming laughter as she poured at the bar, despite the stomp of feet and the clapping of hands as couples took up the dance, we were all just little people teetering on the edge of being swept away by the hand of nature, by her feckless rage, by her defiant flinging of water and air against our rocky shores.
I shivered. I was scaring myself again. I did that sometimes. I glanced at Fon reading a scroll by lantern light behind the bar. He kept chewing his lower lip and I wanted to chew mine, too. It was that kind of night.
I was the only one to notice Tyndale stand up with a dark look on his face as he wiped mead from his lips with the back of his hand and squared his shoulders. And I couldn’t give a cry of warning as he made his way purposefully between the dancers with black murder in his eyes.
I dropped my rag and hurried to intercept him, but crowds don’t part for voiceless kitchen girls the way they part for burly blacksmiths and I wasn’t even halfway to him when paused and drew in a breath.
One of the sailors had his hand on Mally’s waist, fingers splayed across her back. She was winking at him wickedly and laughing. Some barmaids might do that to get an extra coin, but I knew my cousin – who was just a year younger than me. This was what she lived for. She loved it when they wanted her and loved it when they fought. She loved it when her winks caused more trouble than a decree of war from a king. And since she wasn’t married yet she was going to keep tugging that neckline down over her ample figure and tossing her curling chestnut locks over her shoulder and winking like she was the goddess who caused the storm outside. Because this was her favorite game and it was almost over.
No one was ready for Tyndale’s reaction except me. I saw it building all night.
“Get your stinking fishy hands off my betrothed!” he roared, face red and mottled.
The pipes stopped.
The dancers spun to a halt.
The sailor got to his feet.
Violence lingered just out of earshot. I could feel it there, ready to pounce.
And the inn door crashed open and we all jumped. My breath caught in my throat like a fishbone and my cousin Fon behind the counter let out a squeak of surprise.
The door swung drunkenly on its hinges, squeaking, pummeled by the wind as my Uncle Llynd and cousin Gandy hurried inside. Rain and fierce wind whipped around them, soaking the floor, slashing through their clothing, and driving across the wooden floor. Their hair hung in sodden clumps as water cascaded from their clothing.
Usually, they stood watch just outside the inn to keep trouble out. But right now, Cousin Gandy was supporting a man as tall as he was. The man was shrouded in a dark cloak, his face half-covered with a bright woven scarf. He clasped at his belly where blood poured between his fingers, shockingly scarlet. Everything he wore was too fine for this place – the cloth and ornamentation suggesting a faraway place. I swallowed down a wave of sudden fear. Foreigners brought trouble on their heels.
In Uncle Llynd’s arms, a dark-skinned woman hung limp like a dead fish, her face grey in the bright light of the inn but splashed with the crimson of fresh blood. Her short hair was dark and didn’t disguise the subtle peaks of her ears or the sharpened features of her elfin face.
I’d only ever heard of the elfin before – never seen one with my own eyes.
Someone screamed – a little too late, as if their fear had only just caught up with them.
“Sweet fires preserve us,” one of the pipers moaned.
The door banged against the wall again, a plaything of the wind, straining at its hinges. I hurried to fight it closed as my aunt Danna rushed out from behind the bar.
“Inn’s as packed as a barrel of saltfish,” she said authoritatively. “Put them in the girls’ room.” She caught my eye. “Sersha. Go with them.”
I gave the door one last push, leaning all my weight against it until I heard the click of the latch, and then hurried after them, soaked to my skin and shivering after that single brush with the storm.
“I told you that wind was an ill one,” one of the sailors muttered. The common room was so still that it carried over us all like a curse. “It carries with it malediction on all who are touched by the fingers of its wrath.”
He couldn’t have imagined then how right he would turn out to be.