Tempest reborn, p.1
Tempest Reborn, p.1Part #6 of Jane True series by Nicole Peeler
The story so far…
At the end of Eye of the Tempest, Jane found herself the champion of her supernatural brethren, cast to battle an ancient evil. Forces working for her nemesis, Morrigan, wanted to awaken the Red and the White, beings that took the shape of dragons and who thrived on chaos and destruction.
In Tempest’s Fury, Jane traveled with Anyan and the Original, Blondie, to Great Britain in order to keep Morrigan from her goal. There, Jane learned more about her supernatural heritage and the structures that kept it both secret and secure. Morrigan, however, threatened both. Her behavior became increasingly erratic, including very public attacks that risked the secrecy of their species.
For Morrigan was keeping her own secrets. She’d merged with the Red, whose corporeal form was mostly destroyed by the former champion, Blondie. But the dragon had found a way to resurrect herself by merging with another. Morrigan/the Red could shapeshift between Alfar and dragon, or a hybrid of both.
Having a way to resurrect themselves, the Red’s goal was now to awaken her consort, the White. Jarl, Morrigan’s lover who murdered his own brother, King Orin, was the Red/Morrigan’s chosen vessel for the White.
Jarl, however, was less keen on merging with a dragon than Morrigan, and had to be kept under armed guard while Jane, Anyan, and Blondie were themselves busy trying to keep the bones of the White out of Morrigan’s hands. Morrigan needed those ancient relics to resurrect the White, and so Jane’s mission appeared simple: Keep Morrigan away from the bones.
Nothing was ever simple in the Great Island, however, the supernatural name for Great Britain, as both the Alfar who ruled and the rebels who wanted their own power both sought to use Jane against the other. Anyan and Blondie managed to keep her mostly safe, but besides those two, there was really no one she could trust.
A lesson she learned the hard way after a trap was laid for the Red, using the White’s bones as bait. Everything was going according to plan until the rebel leader’s brother turned against them, releasing Morrigan’s minion, Graeme, whom they were keeping prisoner. He also brought Jarl to Morrigan, so that she could complete the ritual and resurrect the White.
Before Morrigan/the Red could complete the ancient rite, however, Blondie – already grievously wounded herself – killed Jarl. Thinking themselves triumphant, Jane turned to the Red…
Who, in dragon form, lashed out her tail, sending Anyan crashing onto the pile of bones. A few chanted words later, and the Red’s magic hit like a nuclear strike. Struggling to her feet minutes later, Jane was relieved to see Anyan still breathed.
Her relief was short lived, however, for when her lover sat up and blinked…
His eyes were the green, slit eyes of a dragon. Jane’s great love shifted into a dragon and flew away with the Red. And then she discovered her greatest ally, Blondie, was dead.
Leaving Jane all alone.
The agony was excruciating, a white heat at the center of my consciousness. Like that pinprick in space that pulls everything into its ever-widening gyre, the black hole inside me expanded.
Only moments had passed since Anyan, in the shape of the White, had flown away with his consort, the Red. The bones that had once held the White’s spirit lay scattered in front of me. The ivory shapes blurred as unshed tears glazed my vision.
Behind me, Magog, the raven, raised her voice in mournful ululation, keening for the woman she knew as Cyntaf, and I knew as Blondie. My friend and my mentor lay a corpse in Magog’s arms.
Meanwhile, my grief beat its own cadence, an infernal drumming reminding me, at all times, of my losses.
Blondie dead. Anyan as good as. Blondie dead. Anyan as good as…
For I knew better than to hope. I’d hoped once before, looking down into my first love Jason’s staring blue eyes, that reality could be malleable. But reality was always exactly that – real, no matter what we told ourselves or how many delusions we tried to build. Like sandcastles, they always crumbled.
[My child,] came the voice in my head.
Creature, I sobbed, feeling its love wrap around me. It, too, was unimaginably stricken by Blondie’s death. It felt she was a daughter, and one of the only remnants of a time long ago, before time began, when the world had been a different place.
Many of Blondie’s memories were its memories, and they died with her.
We mourned then, crooning into each other’s minds.
[Join with me,] it pleaded, and I instantly understood. We would live together in my mind, until we could function again. We would support each other, and we could heal.
I will never heal, I told the creature, that pit of hopelessness I knew so well yawning in front of me.
In my own mind, I took a step toward that pit.
But the creature was there, appearing as a single great eye. It flooded my consciousness as it went everywhere, wrapping around me, cocooning me…
Awake, I slept.
The pyre had long since burned out, but we could still imagine the heat on our face. Behind was more heat – Gog, Magog, and Hiral were pressed behind me, literally guarding our flanks, our back.
Combined together, an amalgamation of creature and Jane, we hadn’t moved in a day.
Instead we let the cool, wet English air blow the ashes of our friends and enemies against our cheeks, into our long, black hair, and we refused to think. We lived in our memories – a steely gray gaze, the flash of a tattooed bicep, the touch of a strong hand, a wave of power so unique it could only be our child…
The part of us that was the creature touched the part of me that was Jane again, a mental stroke as if to assure the other we were there.
Because alone we might break.
Our friend, daughter, ally was dead, and our lover was gone. Blondie had fallen at the claws of the Red, while Anyan had become the White.
We’d watched Blondie burn, thrown on the same pyre as the allies of the Red. Lyman, the rebel leader’s brother, and Jarl, the Alfar we had thought our greatest enemy, had burned with her.
It wasn’t logical to build an extra pyre when one would suffice.
Together they’d all turned to ash as Jane and the creature leaned on each other, together, here in this body where we could take shelter.
‘Jane?’ came the squeaky voice of the gwyllion, Hiral. ‘Are you about ready to leave?’
We ignored him.
‘She hasn’t moved in twenty-four hours,’ the raven, Magog, told her lover, the coblynau Gog. ‘Nor eaten. Nor peed. Nor slept. ’
‘Is she blinking?’
‘Rarely,’ replied Hiral.
We ignored them all.
‘What do you think is happening?’ Gog asked, his voice concerned. For even though he and Magog had originally been set to spy on Jane, the creature knew they’d come to like the girl.
‘No idea. What should we do?’ Magog said.
‘We’ve got to keep her from the Alfar,’ the gwyllion said, referring to the official supernatural leaders of the Great Island, or what the humans called Britain.
‘We can’t do so forever,’ the raven responded in her singsong Welsh voice. ‘She is the champion, after all. ’
The part that was Jane stirred nervously, but the creature responded with a warm rush of power. Nothing would keep us from our grief.
‘They’re going to want her to, er, champion,’ said Gog.
Hiral snorted. ‘I don’t think she could manage “champion”. ’
Magog’s retort was sharp. ‘Don’t mock. She’s lost everything. ’
‘She has people, doesn’t she? Do we contact them?’ Gog was, as always, kind and practical.
‘The Alfar wi
The gwyllion spat. ‘They won’t have my hide. You get me names, I’ll get them word. ’
Gog and Magog looked at each other, whether in agreement or in fear was anybody’s guess.
‘But if she goes, what will we do to fight the Red and the White?’ Gog’s question was fair.
‘Don’t be stupid, coblynau. Can she fight as she is now? She’s like your girlfriend with clipped wings – useless. ’
Gog put a protective arm around Magog, as if to ward off Hiral’s cruel jape.
In the meantime, we went inward. We were tired of the others’ words, tired of their concern. We were in mourning…
More memories came flooding in, at our beckoning. The first time the girl who would break our world used her magic. When we realized the dog was a man. The first time…
There were sounds around us. A car arriving. It had come once before.
‘Is the halfling recovered?’ came a new voice. A cold voice.
Alfar, we recognized.
Our friends remained silent.
‘Well?’ asked the voice again.
‘No,’ said Magog. ‘She’s not moved a muscle since you first saw her. Nor said a word. ’
A lean, handsome face appeared before us. Griffin’s dark hair brushed his cheek and we thought of the feel of wiry curls under our palm, and a pink Mohawk that defied gravity.
‘Jane. Jane! Are you in there?’
We settled further in, so far that even the sharp sting of a slap across our face didn’t faze us.
Tempest Reborn by Nicole Peeler / Fantasy have rating 3.2 out of 5 / Based on16 votes