For those of you who don’t know yet, book 3 of my (Morgan G Farris) series, The Chalam Færytales, is coming out this summer! Right now, it’s with my AMAZING editor and we’re working on fine-tuning it to get it ready for its worldwide debut.

In the meantime…

I’m as impatient as a five year old on Christmas morning so… I just had to release an excerpt. Mind you, this is UNEDITED. Raw. In the buff, if you will. But it’s a little taste of what’s to come in book three.

I hope you love it!

(WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. If you have not finished The Purloined Prophecy [book 2 in my series], you DO NOT want to read this. Don’t do it. I’m telling you. You’ll hate me. There. I said it.)

The Chalam Færytales, Book III Excerpt

The snow bit through his gloves, burning his trembling knuckles as they ground into the white expanse. His breath came in shards, puffing clouds around his beloved’s face as she lay trembling beneath him. He kept his head low, below the fray, his body covering hers as best he could as arrow after arrow whizzed over them. The last one had been too close for comfort, the dribble of blood on her cheek already drying on her skin.

“Through the trees!”

“Don’t let them get away!”

The Haravellian soldiers shouted their commands as the king and queen of Navah lay sprawled in the snow, hiding from the sudden attack. Ferryl could feel Adelaide’s heart pounding in time with his. Not the embrace of lovers, the desperate grip of two people dodging the arrows of the enemy.

The icy ground was taking its toll on Ferryl’s hands as he pinned his wife beneath him, though sweat beaded his brow. He dared to lift his head just enough to see exactly what was happening.

“Rebels,” he spat, catching sight of the attackers as they jumped from one tree to the next, hiding behind the fat, snow-covered trunks, firing their arrows with deadly aim.

Beside him, a Haravellian soldier fell with a thud, his eyes frozen in shock, his blood staining the snow, a crimson pool slowly growing beneath his throat. And around him in a pillar of black…those were…

Moths.

Black moths.

By the hundreds.

His eyes grew wide as he took in the sight of the minuscule beasts that had once plagued him, tormented him. The sunlight glinted off their wings—iridescent despite their sheer blackness. So similar to the moths he had once seen that morning on the mountain in Haravelle, despite their darkness. More than moths. More than insects, they were…

I don’t think they’re really moths, he heard his wife say to his mind. He turned his attention back to her where she was pinned beneath him, only to narrowly dodge another arrow as it whizzed just above his head.

Ferryl gritted his teeth, took the risk and grabbed the fallen soldier’s bow before jumping to his feet, pulling Adelaide into a sprint with him.

This way, he said for only her benefit. She followed without hesitation, letting him shield her with his own body as they sped through the icy forest.

She landed by a fat sycamore, her breast rising and falling rapidly, her back to the fat trunk. Ferryl covered her body with his own, peering around the tree as her hot breaths caressed his neck. Just one shot… if he could just get in one shot…

Ferryl, she said, her words breathless even in her mind. Ten of them. There were ten rebels that he could see. And their black arrows met their targets much too easily. But Ferryl had not trained all his life for nothing. Perhaps these were Midvarish wraith beasts. Or perhaps they were just boys. They moved too rapidly to tell. Either way, Ferryl and Derwin had met one of them in Ramleh only a few months ago. Met and killed him. Today would be no different.

Ferryl, he heard again, turning to meet her eyes. But Adelaide was not looking at her husband. And when he realized her gaze was fixed behind him, the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end.

Ferryl whirled, facing his enemy whilst simultaneously pressing Adelaide against the sycamore. Hiding her. For as long as he could, Providence save him, he would protect her. Because the world did not yet know that she lived. The world did not yet know that the lost princess had been found.

And Providence help them all when they did.

No, this was just a random rebel attack as they journeyed south to Navah. It had to be.

The world did not yet know Princess Adelaide of Haravelle lived.

“Hiding something, princeling?” said the man. No, not a man. A beast. A wraith. A devil incarnate. A demon made flesh with teeth as black as obsidian and skin as rough as boot hide. He grinned—if you could call it a grin, and his eyes glittered with the promise of a swift death.

“How rude of me,” the man went on, and Ferryl used the moment to press Adelaide more closely behind him. He dropped the soldier’s bow, inching his hand for the hilt of his sword. Adelaide’s breath was a steady constant at his neck. “I suppose you’re not a princeling anymore. Daddy’s dead.”

Ferryl bore his teeth, unsheathing his blade, the metal singing as it extended before him, the steel glinting off of the sun-kissed snow, momentarily blinding them both.

“What is that you’re hiding so fiercely?” the beast asked, cocking his black head to one side. Blood dripped from his thick hands, a shock of crimson against his charred skin. The blood of Haravellian soldiers, no doubt. Ferryl took a moment to thank Providence that King Aaron and Queen Avigail’s carriage was far ahead—hopefully out of danger.

The beast-man bore no weapons. At least not any that Ferryl could see. Ferryl was not sure whether to be relieved or terrified. But he let the bastard speak. Let the bastard buy him some time while he made a plan. While he figured out how in Sheol to keep Adelaide safe while he killed an impossible foe.

“What a pity that you should lose your whore so soon after losing your dear father,” the man purred.

And Ferryl lunged. Whether blind instinct or lustful rage, he couldn’t be sure, but he would be damned if he let this beast get the better of him. And he sure as Sheol wasn’t about to let him take his wife.

So Ferryl lunged. And parried. He whirled and spun. He called on every skill by which he had been trained and every ounce of the strength in his bones.

But it was not enough. Not against a man who was more than a man. Not against a demon.

Ferryl cried out as the beast brandished a sword from his back, slicing through the air with deadly accuracy, aiming right for his heart. It missed, but only just. And when Ferryl whirled to parry, that’s when he realized—

“Adelaide!” he called out, panicking that she was not there. That she was not at the tree. He realized his mistake the moment the beast started laughing.

“Not doing a very good job of hiding your precious princess,” he said. And then he lunged. So fast… the beast moved so fast Ferryl hardly had a split-second to react. He lifted his sword but it was too late.

No, it should have been too late.

The beast should have killed him. Skewered him. Like a stuck pig.

Instead the beast fell, toppling to the ground like a sack of potatoes. And from behind his gargantuan form, Ferryl saw the reason for his foe’s sudden demise.

“I am not a princess,” Adelaide growled, ripping a dagger from the beast’s back. “I am the queen of Navah.”

The beast groaned, clutching his side where the black blood pumped in thick rivers across the snow. Ferryl wasted no time; lifting his sword above his head, the beast’s head was severed with one fell blow.

Black, oily blood sprayed her face, neck, and hands, her breaths heavy but steady, yet Adelaide stood resolute, eye to eye with the king of Navah. Eye to eye with her husband. The tremble of the dagger in her hand the only sign that she had done the unthinkable. The only glimmer of any fear in her veins.

A moth—a butterfly landed on her shoulder, its wings glowing fierce and radiantly ruby against the backdrop of fallen snow. And Ferryl could have sworn it bowed. Bowed. But he couldn’t be sure before it flitted away.

“Where did you learn—”

“Your Majesties!” cried a soldier, cutting Ferryl off. “Here, John! They’re over here!”

Adelaide said not a word as she let the soldiers guide her back to the road and the carriage that awaited them.

***

© Copyright 2019 Morgan G Farris. All rights reserved. If you want to share any part of this online (websites, social media, etc.), please, credit me (Morgan G Farris) in the description with links to digital stores to let people know where they can purchase the books online.

Insider Info

So here’s a Pro Tip: if you’d like to read this book for FREE BEFORE it comes out, I am opening my ARC team for a limited time. That’s right, you can read this and ALL OF MY FUTURE BOOKS for FREE before they are released when you join this team. I’m not kidding. No strings attached. All I ask is that you leave an honest review of my works on Amazon and Goodreads once you’ve read them. Think you can handle that? Then join us!

So I wrote this novel… and I didn’t know where to stick it in the canon of my fantasy series, The Chalam Færytales. Why? Because it’s a companion story. It’s parallel. Going on at the same time as the main story. But it’s not the main characters.

It’s delightfully feisty and…tiny (this is a pun. Read the novel and you’ll see why. But I digress…). And those who have read it say it’s their favorite in the series so far.

So I did something insane.

I’m releasing the novel a chapter at a time over on Patreon. Unedited. Raw. In the buff. You get it. I’m releasing it to the world in all its unpolished glory. A sort of peek-behind-the-curtain, if you will. In fact, if you join my Patreon at the $5 level, you’ll get access to this novel today (not to mention support the curation of all manner of færytale artisans: authors, musicians, artists and more — the people who bring a bit of magic to the world.)

But for now, I thought I’d share the first chapter with you. A little taste test. I hope you love it as much as my Patrons do. And I hope you’ll join Patreon so that you can keep reading!

Also, just FYI, there is some language ahead. You’ve been warned.

The Perdurables

The Chalam Færytales, Lost Novel by Morgan G Farris

© 2019 Morgan G Farris. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. In other words, don’t share this without permission. I have hunting dogs. We will find you.

 

Chapter One

The attacks—they always happened in the open air—the wind in her face, the skies clear and cool, and she a target, a beacon. A fool. She banked hard left, dodging a branch as she made for the cover under the canopy.

The attacks always happen in open air, she scolded to herself. This one would be no exception.

She flew as hard as her wings could carry her, not daring to risk the time it might cost her just to look over her shoulder, to see how close they were. The forest stretched before her—a maze of shadow and moonlight, flora and rot. She could not fly hard enough, her own breath shards of ice in her lungs.

She didn’t need to look to know how close they were. She could practically taste the foul air around them as she sped through the night, cutting through the air, around trees like a human weapon—a blade, honed for killing. Four. There were four of them this time, damn it!

Maybe they were the murderers, but she was no blade. And she was certainly no human.

But tonight… maybe tonight she was a shooting star, outrunning the darkness that chased her.

The darkness that had chased her for as long as she could remember.

She picked up speed, a streak of lightning through the damning darkness.

~

“Holy Eloah, Meren, you look like shit!”

“Thanks, Ash,” she said, brushing past her friend. She plopped down on her dandelion fluff cushion, helping herself to a huge cup of water before so much as taking a breath.

Asher stood in the doorway with his arms crossed, furrowing his brow. No, not furrowing his brow. His brow was in a constant state of furrowed. Because he was always miffed with her for one reason or another. Like the brother she never had. Or wanted. She rolled her eyes, keeping her attention on her glorious cup of water, kissed with just the perfect amount of honeysuckle nectar, ignoring the ache in her back.

Fast. She had had to fly fast this time. Too fast. Her wings seemed to scream in protest.

She picked broken leaves from her thatch of curly hair. One of these days, those bastards were going to catch up with her.

“What happened?” Asher scowled, his legs spread shoulder-width apart, his face set in a determined grimace.

“You know what happened, Ash,” she said, not bothering to look at him. But that midnight hair of his, that skin rich and dark, those thick arms peeking out from under his sleeveless oak leaf tunic—he was hard to ignore for long. There weren’t any of the legendary warrior færies left—all of them either murdered or tortured decades ago. But Asher with his human-like weapons he had fashioned himself out of bone and stone, Asher with his short temper and feral need to prove himself—he was as close as it came. One of those weapons—a bone blade so jagged she doubted it left much that was recognizable when he was done with it—hung menacingly from his belt.

“Tell me anyway,” he said, glaring at her from across the odd-shaped room.

She picked at the vines growing around her cushion, silently reminding herself to prune soon lest her little nook in the chalam tree become overrun with the nuisance growth, still not bothering to meet his pointed stare, uninterested in another one of his lectures. When he let the silence grow long and damning between them, she finally sighed through her nose, taking another long drink before she said, “I don’t know how they always find me.”

“I do.”

“Here it comes,” she said, but he ignored her, pushing off of the jamb.

“You’re too brazen, Meren. You take too many risks.” He crossed the room, one step at a time. Asher always opted to walk instead of fly when he was frustrated. She lifted her gaze to his, but showed no remorse, no apology. “It’s not safe for you out there.”

“We can’t hole ourselves up in this coven forever, Asher. Jotham is wrong. We can’t keep pretending like nothing is going on. There are more of us, I know it.”

“We’re not pretending like nothing is going on.” Another step. Another. Closing the gap between them. Towering over her like he was…

“Stop acting like you’re my father, Ash.”

That comment—he didn’t like that comment one bit. He knelt before her, gripping her chin a little too firmly, his face—his entire countenance shifting to something… Something she wasn’t sure she liked.

“I’m not your father,” he said, his tone menacing, reprimanding. “But you’ll forgive me if you scare the shit out of me too often.”

She breathed a laugh, unable to move her face for his fingers still firm on her chin. But the way he was looking at her…

“Stop,” she said, jerking her chin from his grip.

She could feel his searing gaze on her for a long moment before he finally sighed, pushing on his knees as he stood again.

“You can’t keep hoping you’ll be fast enough to outfly them, Mer,” he said, taking to her hearth, stoking the flames to life.

“I’ve outflown them every time,” she said, watching him as he gathered a loaf of bread that was probably too hard to eat.

His back was still to her as he said, “That is beside the point.”

“I’m faster than you, Asher. And I’m faster than they are. They’re not going to catch me.”

He turned to face her, the knife in his hand like an extension of his arm. “And what happens when they do?”

It was the concern in his eyes—sincere and suffocating—that kept her from exploding into a fit of frustration. It had been that genuine concern that had kept her from killing him most of the time.

She stood to her feet and padded across the shiny wooden floor, putting a hand on his shoulder.

Friends, that’s what they were. What they had always been. What they would always be.

“I’ll be all right, Ash,” she said as kindly as she could.

To her surprise, he seized the moment to close the remaining distance between them, to set down the knife he was using to slice the stony loaf and put his warm hands on either side of her face. “I worry about you, Mer.”

“I know,” she said, brushing him off. “It’s annoying.”

He breathed a laugh through his nose, the small gesture changing his whole demeanor. “When are you going to let me take care of you?”

She nodded to the loaf of bread. “What do you call that?”

“Sustenance,” he said. “You seem incapable of so much as boiling water.”

“I am not,” she protested.

He laughed and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into a bone-crushing hug. His fiery wings flickered softly—a cat swishing its tail as it lazed in the sun.

She absently watched those wings over his shoulder before she pushed out of his arms, pressing a smacking kiss to his cheek and then trodding to her bed, plopping down on the fluffy feathered mattress.

He turned back to bread and set about buttering a slice.

“I’ll be much more impressed when you learn to make me toadstool soup,” she quipped.

He kept his back to her. “That will never happen.”

“Why?” she protested.

He looked over his shoulder, a sly grin on his mouth. “Because it’s disgusting.”

“It is not!” she barked, incensed. It was, in fact, her favorite. And had been since she was a youngling.

“You have terrible taste, Mer,” he said, still buttering the slices. She stuck out her tongue at his back and those formidable amber wings of his, lined in black, sliced with patterns of gold and crimson.

By no means a cook, Asher was, at least, somewhat aware of her needs. She was starving, after all. Which was why, she supposed, that she let him come in here, let him act like this was his home, his things. Let him feed her like she was a helpless færyling.

Just as he had always treated her like a helpless færyling.

She rolled her eyes and flopped onto her belly, turning the giant page of a book she had found on one of her ventures—a mortal story. Of prophecies, and kings, and wars, and epic love.

“I still can’t believe you made me lug that stupid thing in here,” he said over his shoulder.

It was true. The book was not færy-sized. No, it was a human book she had found. Found and then sweet-talked Asher into helping her heave it up the side of the tree and into her little home. Which, consequently, was hardly large enough for the book. She had turned it into a platform, a dais of sorts, on which she sat as she read it. Asher had suggested she throw a cushion on top and call it a bed. She had merely rolled her eyes and set about reading it.

And it had fascinated her. Page by page, she hadn’t been able to put it down.

“Why do the humans call these stories færytales?” she asked absently as Asher drizzled honey from the comb on a slice of the crusty bread. “They don’t even believe in færies anymore. They think we’re butterflies or moths or something.”

“Eloah knows,” he said. “Humans are strange.”

Strange, perhaps. But intriguing. And as Meren read more of her book, she couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to meet a human. To help them as the færies once had.

To be a true færy of the Light.

He turned to face her at last, bringing her a slice of honeyed bread, biting into one of his own. “Jotham wants us to meet tomorrow,” he said around the unnecessarily large bite in his mouth.

She ignored the sight of him chewing the food and took a bite of her own. She swallowed before she said, “Why? So that he can tell us to keep hiding? Keep pretending like they won’t find us as long as we stick together?” She savagely ripped another bite, frustration mounting as she chewed on the tough bread. The butter and honey did little to hide the fact that it was as hard as a rock.

“It’s a good plan, Mer.”

“It’s a coward’s plan,” she quipped.

“I suppose you have a better one,” he said, but she didn’t answer. “That’s why you went out there tonight, isn’t it?” When she still didn’t answer, he sighed. “Meren, what is it that you think you’re going to find?”

“More of us, Ash. I know there are more of us.”

“There aren’t,” he said, standing to his feet. “They’re all dead. Just like you will be if you keep going out there.”

“So this is it?” she barked, standing to her feet. “This is our life forever? Hiding here, hoping we won’t be found?”

“It’s better than dying, isn’t it?” he yelled.

“Hardly!”

“Meren—“

“Ash, I’m tired of this! I’m tired of hiding away like a coward. I’m going to do something. I have to do something!”

He crossed the space between them, gripping her shoulders in his calloused hands. “You are one færy, Meren. One. What exactly do you think you will do?”

“Whatever it takes,” she said, and pushed out of his grip.

***

Chapter I

It had been love—deep, abiding, earth-shattering love—the kind about which færytales are written and wars are fought.

So she could think of no logical reason why he could not remember it. Or her. In fact, she could only gape as she watched him ride, the morning sun casting buttery shafts of light across his back and through his unruly golden locks as he galloped away, growing smaller and smaller with each clomp of the horse’s hooves.

She could think of no logical reason why the crown prince did not remember her, at all.

It had been a strange morning, to be sure. Had anyone told Elizabeth that she would wake up and tend to her duties in the stables, only to find that her dearest friend in all the world—a boy she had grown up with on the grounds at Benalle Palace, the man she had fallen in love with over the course of those years—suddenly had no earthly idea who she was, she might have scoffed and said such things only happen in stories. Færytales. Fables.

Not reality.

But here she was, staring off into the golden plains of the Navarian countryside, watching her beloved ride away like a stranger.

A strange morning, indeed.

Unsettling, really. No, not unsettling. Crushing. It was crushing dread that bloomed in the pit of her stomach.

What had happened to him?

Start reading the epic færytale today!

Crown Prince Ferryl, heir of Navah, had arrived at the stables like he always had every morning from the time they were children. And he had headed straight for his blood bay stallion, Erel, just as he always had. To ride. To greet the morning with a race, with a trek to the forest, to start his morning off with his Lizybet. Just as he always had. Every morning from the time they were children.

But unlike every other morning in her memory, this morning, Ferryl had not greeted his Lizybet with a cheerful salutation. Or a warm embrace. Or by pulling her into his arms and kissing her soundly—as had become his habit of late.

No, this morning, Ferryl had merely spoken to her as if he had never met her before.

“What’s this, then?” Elizabeth had asked, her back to the prince as she fussed with a bucket of oats in the shadows of the stables, surprised that Ferryl hadn’t already snaked his arms around her, planted his lips at her neck, whispered little sonnets of love and need and desire. A flirt, that’s what he was. He had always been a shameless flirt. “You make me meet you out here at the crack of dawn and don’t even have the decency to greet me with a good morning?”

Yes, Elizabeth had always spoken to the crown prince with a healthy measure nonchalance. And cheek. Such is the nature of the relationship between a prince and a servant who had known each other since they were young children.

“I beg your pardon?” Ferryl had asked.

A puffed laugh and then, “You’re in a silly mood this morning, Ferryl. Addled from lack of sleep, is it?” She grinned, biting back a smile as she kept her back to him. The heavens knew she certainly hadn’t slept much last night, for yesterday had been…like a dream. So she waited…waited for the quip, the punch line that would not come.

“My lady, I’m afraid you must have me confused with someone else. As it is though, I must get my steed saddled. I am expected in the city this morning.”

“The city?” she asked, whirling to finally face him. “But I thought—” It was only then that she had begun to understand. At least as far as she could understand. Something…something was fundamentally different about Ferryl.

His eyes, usually so violently blue as to make a sapphire pale in comparison, were hazy, cloudy. Like a foggy autumn dawn, like the mists settling over the ocean. And in his countenance she did not find the familiarity that a decade and a half of friendship could afford. No, in his countenance she found a stranger.

She swallowed back the barrage of retorts she had thought up and heard herself instead say, “The city. Of course, Ferryl.”

It was then that a grin found his sensuous mouth. And in a gesture so familiar, he pushed his hand through the messy thatch of blonde hair spilling on his brow. For a blessed moment, relief tapped on her soul. Relief at the sight of that effortless smile, that familiar gesture. But that fledgling little bud of relief was short-lived, dying a sudden death when he said, “Do you always address your superiors in such a manner, then?”

She found she had no retort and instead stared with mouth agape as he continued. “Indeed, it would not bother me, but seeing as you are new here, ah, what did you say your name was?”

“Lizy—I mean, Elizabeth,” she stammered. “My name is Elizabeth.”

A smile. A smile that could melt chocolate, damn him. He slipped his hands in his pockets. “Well then, Mistress Elizabeth, seeing as you are new here, I feel that I should inform you that while it might not bother me to be called by my given name, were you to make such a mistake around my mother, I’m afraid the consequences might not be so pleasant.”

“Of course, Your Highness,” she managed, the title strange, foreign on her tongue. She could not ever remember a time when Ferryl had insisted she use such a formality.

With a tremble in her hands, she made her way to the wall of saddles that she might retrieve Ferryl’s. Never mind that she had never once had to saddle his horse for him considering he had always insisted on doing it himself. Never mind that she couldn’t have lifted said saddle with her scrawny arms if her life depended on it. She made her way to the saddle wall anyway, acting on instinct like…well, like a stable hand. For while she might have been a stable hand in name, she knew no more about the beasts than Ferryl apparently knew about her at the moment.

Ferryl, still a gentleman even when a stranger, noticed her ineptitude and quickly came to her aid.

His nearness was simultaneously unsettling and so achingly familiar that she had to close her eyes for a moment just to breathe. She had loved him for so long, so many years, that now, this unfamiliarity was…well, it was gut-wrenching, to say the least. She had half a mind to just grab him by his jerkin and kiss the sense back into—

“Are you all right, Mistress Elizabeth?” he asked. It was only then that she realized she was standing before the saddles. Eyes closed. Just…breathing. Awkward behavior for a stable hand, to be sure.

“Uh, yes. I’m fine. I—”

“Here,” he said, making to retrieve his own saddle, his solid arms pulling taut his gauzy white shirtsleeve. She found she could not tear her eyes from him, not even as his deft hands strapped the heavy leather onto the back of the sleek stallion, not even when he finally met her eyes again.

“I’ll be off, then. It was a pleasure to meet you, Elizabeth.”

She couldn’t remember what a proper response should be. Couldn’t think past the desire to yell, to cry What in all the realms of Sheol is wrong with you?

Oblivious to her inner turmoil, Ferryl mounted Erel and turned that he might ride out of the stables and into the sunrise with nothing more than a nod of his head and a lingering chuckle on his mouth.

And then he was gone, leaving nothing but a thousand screaming questions in his wake.

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