I'm excited to announce my new serial: Forgotten Kingdom. It's a fantasy romance serial and you can read it episode by episode on Kindle Vella. As a treat, here is the first episode:
Forgotten Kingdom- Episode 1
My sister's cry echoes down the hall. I chance a peek through the drapes, my heart leaping into my throat. Nothing but the foggy meadow greets my eyes. The dark snarls of the trees at the forest's edge stand like sentries to what lies beyond. This is happening too fast.
I'm the daughter of a midwife. Birth happens on its own schedule. I know this from the countless bedsides I’ve attended with my mother. But tonight I wish it wasn't so. My sister's child will be here soon. Too soon.
Night is coming.
Another agonized scream hits me, and I leap into action.
It's quick work to throw my cloak around my shoulders and grab a basket. One foot hovers over the threshold when my mother's voice stops me.
I pause and take in the sweat on her brow and her damp blonde hair tied back in a bedraggled ribbon. She carries a basin of murky water. Her eyes convey her exhaustion and dread, but the set of her mouth tells me she won’t accept the reality.
"We're out of purple clover," I tell her. My voice is gentle even when urgency floods through me as Gretchen roars again. "The baby will be here shortly. We need more."
Mother places the basin on the table and grasps her smock in her fists.
"She doesn't need it yet. The babe won't come until daybreak."
The floor above me creaks as one of my other siblings paces. No one will sleep tonight.
"You can go at dawn."
"Mother, you know as well as I the baby will be here before dawn."
Her hand clutches my wrist.
"Elina, don't say that. Tonight is the Reaping."
"It's just a superstition.” I free my wrist and squeeze her shoulder, ignoring the sinking in the pit of my stomach at her words.
I step outside and let the wooden door close between us.
My feet carry me across the meadow, and I draw my cloak tighter around me against the late autumn wind. A storm will be here soon.
It's just a superstition. The words echo in my head. I won't wonder if I believe them.
Our village has long told stories about babies born on the night of the Reaping. In some, the babes are replaced with changelings. In others, they are spirited away as sacrifices to—them. But it is absurd. The legends about that other realm and the beasts that dwell there are just that—legends.
Tales we use to blind ourselves to reality.
But the misfortune of our village is not a curse. It is the neglect of our bumptious king who stays wrapped in his palace. Because of him all of our younger sons go to war and border villages like this one are forgotten.
I twist the charm of my necklace and can't quite banish the thought that I'm thankful my birthday falls a few days after the Reaping.
I feel like a ghost drifting in the gloaming light as I head into the ever darkening trees. Night is arriving swiftly. I hurry my steps to make it back in time.
The bridge appears through the fog like some unearthly specter. Snowflakes fall on my nose as I stare at the thick, never ending fog that drapes the far edge of the bridge. I try not to think about what lies on the other side as I pick my way down the riverbank and pull up handfuls of the purple clover that grows there.
"A young girl like you shouldn't be alone on a night like this."
I whirl, dropping my basket and reaching for the dagger hidden in my belt. No one stands behind me. My dark curls come loose from their tie as I spin again, listening for the snap of a nearby twig or sound of breath. No way did I imagine the wisp of a voice.
Nothing stirs but me and my heart beating wildly in my chest. I lower the dagger.
"Be still, child. I mean you no harm."
The voice comes from the far side of the creek. But all I see is the bank of the river and the fog. I stand to my full height.
"Show yourself.” My command snaps something into place. The shadows twist.
I gasp and drop my dagger.
The beast before me laughs.
Continue reading on Kindle Vella.