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The Erlkin’s Lair

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Overshadowed by the triumphs of her mother and half-sister, Jasmine must find the strength to master her magic before the Erlkin destroys them all.
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Author: H. M. Prévost
Description

Genre  Young Adult Fantasy

Tags  Fantasy, magic, parallel world, sorcery,

Release  April 5, 2013

Editor  Rosalie Skinner

Line Editor  Greta Gunselman

Cover Designer  Charlotte Volnek

Words  63804

Pages  275

ISBN  978-1-77127-298-8

Price  $5.95


Back Cover

Jasmine is an ordinary fourteen-year-old who loves archery and track and field…until she receives a letter from Avalon, the half-sister she never knew existed. According to Avalon, their mother didn’t die in a car crash two years ago. She was abducted by the Banished, a family of outcasts from a world filled with magic.

Jasmine leaps into a portal that takes her to a harsh desert landscape whose inhabitants are as unforgiving as the land itself. Quickly, she joins forces with Ramzi, a boy awaiting sentencing for a crime his father committed. Jasmine discovers that like her mother and half-sister, she belongs to a tribe of Sensitives, and learns to harness her mental abilities. But when strange symbols appear on her hand, more questions emerge about her past. There is another kind of magic flowing through her veins, yet its origins terrify her. If she is going to find her mother and capture the Banished—who have forged an alliance with a terrifying creature called the Erlkin—Jasmine must come to terms with her heritage, learn to control her magic, and find inner strength she didn’t know she had.


 Excerpt

 

A boy emerged from behind a massive tree, confronting her with fearsome tiger eyes. A turban covered his head. He wore dark clothing, a long cloak draped his shoulders, and she guessed they were about the same age. He brandished a cane of twisted black wood. October growled, and Jasmine curled her fingers tighter around his collar. If October didn’t like this guy, she probably shouldn’t either.

The boy thumped the ground with his cane. “Who are you? Why are you in Avalon’s Grove?” he demanded.

This place was named after her sister?“I just got here. And I-uh…” She tried her best to keep her voice steady. What did she know about the people of Gabalan and how hospitable—or hostile—they were to people from her world? Nothing.

Tall and wiry, he could hurt her if he wanted to. She couldn’t outfight him, but she might outrun him. He glanced at October with the faintest hint of uneasiness.

“This place is sacred,” he went on. “No one is allowed here except the Keepers. Answer my question. Who are you?”

Her first day here and she’d stumbled onto forbidden ground. Great. She better watch what she said. Which magical tribe did he belong to?

“You came from the Rift.” He stabbed a finger at the desert. A patch of air shimmered over the first dune, like a mirage on a highway on a hot summer day.

“Yes. From Earth.”

“Earth.” He almost spat out the word. “It’s where we send our criminals into exile.”

Wonderful. Earth was a prison colony to them. Not good. Not good at all. “I’m Jasmine, Avalon’s half-sister. What’s your name?”

“Ramzi, son of Safeer.” He stood tall, as if the name should mean something to her.

Did he think she’d tremble? Bow down in submission? “I’m here to find my mother.”

“Avalon had no sister,” he said with absolute certainty, raising his cane like a weapon.

She didn’t want to find out what it could do. Time to make a run for it and find somebody a little friendlier to help her out. Jasmine bolted into the grove, October bounding behind her.

“Stop her!” Ramzi shouted.

Who was he yelling at?The words had barely escaped Ramzi’s lips when long, slithering shapes slid down from the trees. Fifteen feet long, deep green and covered in leaves, they snaked toward her and October. One of them brushed her ankle and she screamed.  

He was shouting at these vines. Snakes. Snake-vines.

The first one reached October, pulling him down, winding around his ribcage. The Snake-vine reared its head and opened its mouth, revealing rows of glistening brown thorns. The coils tightened, and October yelped. He bit furiously at the Snake-vine, but it continued to wrap itself around his body.

Horrified, Jasmine stopped running and turned toward the dog. A second Snake-vine wrapped around October’s neck, twisting until it reached his muzzle.She had to save him. Jasmine ran back to him, seized the vine and pulled as hard as she could. It didn’t budge. October’s panicked eyes disappeared under the leaves.  

“Make them stop!” she screamed at Ramzi. “They’ll kill him!”

Ramzi’s unfeeling eyes bored into her own. Green, writhing foliage covered most of October’s body. His hind legs thrashed. She cried out as a Snake-vine looped round her ankle. Before the coil tightened, she jerked free.

Fury mounted inside her, dwarfing her fear. Do something. An electric charge gathered in her veins. Keira’s lightning bolt, the one stored inside her. The electricity strengthened. Focus, Jazz. Send it straight at the Snake-vine. She did what Keira had done, aiming her finger like a pistol. The bolt fired into the writhing mass that covered the dog.

An eardrum-splitting screech burst out of the Snake-vines. Deep black burns seared their bodies. Their grip on October loosened.

Another Snake-vine rose beside her like a cobra. Her heart lurched. She had no other lightning bolts. Her only option was to run. She feinted to the left and dashed through the Blossom Trees.  

“Don’t let her get away!” Ramzi shouted.

Jasmine sprinted ahead. Beetles the size of footballs emerged from hollows beneath the Blossom Trees, scuttling swiftly into her path. She charged, dodging the shiny black creatures. They left a strange glistening substance behind them. It gripped the soles of her sneakers.

Her shoe stuck to the grass, and she ploughed face first into the earth. Beetles scurried at her face, their mandibles clicking, clicking, clicking. Hungry black eyes fixed on her. Struggling like a fly in flypaper, she hauled herself to her knees.

Get off the ground or you’ll end up like October! She pictured his face disappearing under the Snake-vine. Jasmine staggered to her feet, lost her balance, and fell against a tree. Fist-sized flowers cascaded around her. Branches rustled, and a Snake-vine slipped across her chest, pinning her to the trunk. Thick as a python, it crushed the breath out of her lungs. The beetles kept coming, massing at her feet, their mandibles piercing her rubber soles and the hem of her pants. She smashed her heel into one, splitting open its shell.

A scream peeled out of her throat. Terror gripped her. They were going to eat her alive.    

Ramzi arrived, breathing hard. He waved his cane at the huge insects and they stopped. They remained close by, clicking, clicking, clicking, and climbing over each other in their eagerness to reach her.

She heaved her upper body against the Snake-vine. “Get it off me!”

“Give up,” Ramzi said smugly. “You’ll never get free.”

Jasmine fought harder, her heart beating so fast she thought it would stop dead in her chest. The Snake-vine raised its head, hissed, and snapped its thorny mouth.

“Its venom can kill,” he said.

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