The Fox

FEBRUARY 21st 2017

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Maer Lakrius feels content and secure in his role of a second-born child in the royal household until the battlefield of Vanas rips his reality apart.

Helpless to prevent his older brother’s death, Maer returns to the kingdom defeated, and must face not only the weight of his loss, but the burden of becoming Emberya’s Crown Prince. A burden, made even worse by the changes in the world Maer believes only he can see.

Unknowingly, the young prince’s fate becomes entwined with that of a woman—an 18-year-old mercenary with a past she would rather forget, and struggles eerily similar to Maer’s own.

But with the continent and their different lives lying between them, will the Winds succeed in bringing the two individuals together or will the ethereal, dark tendrils of the world destroy them first?

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** EXCERPT**

Quite early into his test, the prince began noticing the way the leaves of the undergrowth would sometimes rustle, coupled with unfamiliar cries of wildlife he had failed to identify. In the beginning, the sounds had been unsettling. He had grown up surrounded by nothing but domesticated animals, and even during his brief travels and the battered return he had made with the host through the mountains that separated the village of Vanas from Emberya, there had been no wildlife to see. The bird—eagle, as he had learned later from an antique tome—circling over the battlefield in Vanas had been the sole exception.

It was the way things were there.

It was the world Maer had known.

But the Forest of Perseverance was different. Perhaps the name related to more than just the impressive, tall trees and vivid greenery.

As he became more observant, Maer had spotted a few critters known to him only through the history books he had been forced to learn as part of his general studies. Species that were either extinct or so exotic that running into them without planning to was nearly impossible.

Yet here, they were in abundance.

Most still remained hidden from his sight, but the squirrels and odd blue-tinted rabbits—too quick for him to catch—were enough to make the prince believe in the uniqueness of these woods.

He closed his eyes, ignoring the roughness of the bark as it pressed into his back, and waited.

There was nothing but the light wind weaving through the branches far above his head. The heat and humidity covered him like a blanket, the bitter fact that he would pass out in this very spot, his limp body waiting for the trainers to rescue him, since he was too stubborn to sound the horn just yet, transforming from fear into something that was almost tempting.

As if acting on some odd impulse, the prince closed his eyes and drifted into a half-dazed sleep.

A different kind of rustle than that of the steady breeze caught his attention.

Maer’s eyes shot open, quickly regaining their focus.

Without dwelling on how much time he had lost, the prince gripped the bow, his finger already on the lever that would spring the mechanism to life. He leveled the weapon at the sound, his breaths perfectly silent as he aimed, and willed the last remnants of predatory sharpness into his mind.

Bushes swayed on the right edge of the clearing opposite where Maer sat, slumped against the tree. The prince exhaled, his eye aligned with the straight line his arrow formed as it waited to be released. Blood pumped in his veins, an unusual sensation, similar to adrenaline, but not precisely the same, spreading through his body—as if every single nerve suddenly came to life.

A dash of turquoise, reflecting light like the richest of silks, appeared among the greenery, and Maer’s hands trembled as the animal came into view.

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