Here we have an excerpt from Legends of Windemere: The Compass Key. I’m noticing that people weren’t interested in War of Nytefall, which doesn’t bode well for future releases. Anyway, we’re getting a look at what Sari has been facing in the 5th volume of my freshman series. Not everything is as it seems.
Sari glances around her new surroundings, abruptly aware that everything has changed in the blink of an eye. The ice-covered room has been replaced by a serene landscape that she vaguely remembers visiting as a child. She finds herself standing at the edge of a waterfall with a lush forest at her back. The lagoon below her glistens in the sunlight and there is a family of deer drinking at the grassy shore. Distant splashing catches her attention and she turns to see vibrant fish swimming toward her. Flapping bodies of every color dive over the edge and harmlessly splash into the pool. The colorful fish circle around the lagoon before racing back up the steep waterfall.
“It’s beautiful,” Sari whispers, leaning over the edge.
“It looks like you’ve moved to a resting spot,” a familiar voice says. “Just in time too.”
The gypsy spins around and hurls a dagger at Kayn, who lets the weapon sink into his chest. With a cruel smile, he brushes it off like an errant hair and reaches toward Sari. Filled with rage and panic, she swat his hand away and leaps off the edge of the waterfall. A geyser erupts from the lagoon and catches the gypsy, turning into a hand and holding her safely out of reach of her former lover.
“I told you to get out of my mind!”
“Are we really going to go through this again?” Kayn groans in exasperation. He draws his bastard sword and sits cross-legged on the ground. “I can wait until you’re ready to speak. Even after you wake up, I’ll be patiently sitting in your happy place. This dreamland is really impressive, Sari.”
“I’m never going to talk to you,” she venomously spits. The hand carries her down to the base of the waterfall where the curtain parts. She hops onto the slick rocks and lets the rhythmic pounding of the water relax her.
“Funny thing about hate is that you can’t avoid it,” the male gypsy says with a chuckle. His voice cuts through the roaring waterfall, so Sari can hear him. “I’ll sit here and fester like an open wound. One day you’ll wake up bitter, angry, and ready to slit the throat of the first person who looks at you funny. By then you will have driven your friends away, including your precious big sister.”
The waterfall explodes and sends bubbling droplets of liquid everywhere. Fearing the blue-haired girl’s wrath, the deer retreat into the forest while the fish dart back upstream. Kayn yawns before getting to his feet and diving off the cliff. He gracefully lands on the lagoon, standing a few feet away from Sari who is covered in whirling water. Before he can speak, she waves her hand and slashes Kayn across the chest with a blade of ice.
Sari scowls when the young man’s wound disappears. “I’m not playing games. You betrayed me and left Luke for dead. I will despise you until the day I forget you ever existed.”
“But you played so nicely with the others.”
“I never wanted to kill them,” she contends as she jumps across a path of stones to reach the shore. “What do I have to do to make you go away? I obviously can’t kill you and you’re not going to leave of your own free will.”
“Stop talking like I’m in control,” Kayn states as he leaps to the shoreline and grabs her by the wrist. For a brief moment, his handsome face becomes pale and seems to melt. “This is your mind. Everything that is happening is controlled by part of you. All you have to do is take full control.”
Sari focuses on Kayn, struggling to will him out of existence. A wave of nausea rips through her stomach and she falls to her knees. Her former lover continues to grip her wrist, but he loosens his hold enough to let her arm relax. The gypsy takes advantage of his light touch and yanks herself free. Sari rolls into the lagoon, emerging an instant later with fists of hardened water surrounding her hands. Lunging forward, she smashes Kayn into the ground and continues beating on him with all of her strength.
“I want you out of my head!” Sari shrieks at the top of her lungs. She stops when the ground cracks beneath his broken body. Gasping for air, she lets the water slough off her hands and back into the lagoon. “Please let me out of here. I’m done facing my demons. I want to go back to my friends now.”
“Not until you learn,” Kayn says, his crushed body rising from the ground. The forest fills with the disturbing sounds of mending bones and inflating organs. “You would freeze all of your friends to death if we let you out now. You need to control your emotions before you are returned to the waking world.”
Scared and angry, Sari charges at Kayn with daggers spinning in her hands. She is nearly on top of him when the hilt of his bastard sword strikes her in the face. The girl stumbles forward in blinding pain, her nose broken and bleeding. She screams and curses when she feels Kayn’s weapon slice up her back, her clothes mending over the injury. Whirling around, Sari tries to block the next attack, but is sent hurtling into a tree by a brutal kick to her stomach. Her knees quivering, the defiant gypsy remains standing and stares at her enemy.
“If you kill me, you’ll die too.”
“I’m not really alive, my love,” Kayn hisses. He gets within reach of Sari and grabs her by the hair, his sword pressing against her neck. “You’re a worthless, pathetic, whining child. No courage to face your demons and strengthen your spirit. The world would be a better place without a champion like you. I’m sure Gabriel will be able to make a replacement that can surpass you in every way.”
“I guess you’re my self-loathing too.”
“Hate covers a lot of ground.”
Sari closes her eyes and waits for the feel of steel slicing into her throat. Instead, she tenses when a choked cry erupts from Kayn and his sword falls away. The blade smacks the gypsy’s bare foot, causing her to open her eyes in surprise. She smiles when she sees Luke standing in front of her, his sabers still embedded in her former lover’s back. For a moment, she is ready to rush to the blonde half-elf and tackle him into the lagoon. Then she remembers that she is still in her mind and decides to take a few steps away from her rescuer.
“Things are going to get worse, aren’t they?” she groans while the forest tracker removes his blades from the corpse. The body sinks into the ground, but she can still feel its presence lingering on the foul breeze.
“You failed to face your hate,” Luke whispers in a distant voice before looking up at Sari with eyes of pure white. “Now things get interesting.”