C. L. Schneider
Indie Book Spotlight: Wynter's Fury (Storm Bloodline Saga Book 4), by Emmy R. Bennett
The war that ended my grandmother’s wrath has opened up a new fury—mine, bringing with it, more discord. It isn’t over, not by a long shot. When I’m done, the shadows of the underworld will bow to me, and I will put an end to this malevolence once and for all.
I understand why they hid such a secret; it wasn’t for protection or to save me, but to prevent me from becoming next in line…
Chapter 1: The Mole A high-pitch sound impales my thoughts with voices blending simultaneously together as I drift back into consciousness. The ringing is intrusive, making my brain ache as shouts and screams stab my mind. The deep nightmare and reality meld together as I find myself waking on the floor. My eyes jolt open, and I try to focus on the chaos that’s abruptly pulled me from the depths of darkness.
Without warning, debris falls on my head, cutting my cheek. The slice is deep, and I cover the slash with my hand, smearing the blood. A sound of metal clashes with concrete, and I look up to see two soldiers going at it, prompting me to roll out of the way, so I move under the table. The same table where we all sat around eating before I was knocked out. Knocked out. My memory skims the past.
He gave me a pill saying, “Your second lesson, dear. Don’t trust anyone. Did Jeoffrey not teach you anything?”
Where is he? I look around, crawling from one end of the table to the other, veering out to find him. This small battle that started in the war room is his doing, I have no doubt. But why? Why would he betray us? I think further back when we first arrived, and I knew then something was off. I should have caught on to him sooner. The memories churn my stomach. My, the web we weave.
Familiar looking feet tap around the floor with a second pair, and I peek out to see Dad fighting Ian in a dance of swords. I focus on them clashing. The scrape of metal, their grunts, a fight to the death. My grandfather—the traitor—looks to be enjoying himself. Anger builds as I watch the battle play out. Is he the mole? This doesn’t make any sense.
The last time I saw my grandfather before he gave me the pill to knock me out, he was said to have a meeting at Ashengale castle. What meeting? Was it a trap? Maybe this man I look at fighting my father isn’t really my grandfather at all. I mean, if it’s him, he’d have the power to end this charade.
My attention is grabbed by a woman’s shouts and I look to my right. My grandmother, Eleena, is sparring with Geneviève. Is she a mole, too? A fireball grows in her hand and she aims it at her opponent, but Gen vanishes, appearing behind my grandmother, kicking her forward. Nice move. They play cat and mouse gracefully. What’s going on? Why is my grandmother fighting Geneviève?
A loud bursting roar calls out, and an enemy stretches forward, with a sword in the air, coming straight for my neck. I dip out of the way as the blade hits the stone floor with a loud ping. Garrick acrobats over to the random foe who attempted to sever my neck, and slices him in half, then turns in time to stop another blade aiming for his throat. He and his opponent push off and circle.
My instincts kick in, and I blast the guy Garrick is fighting with fire, burning him. He goes up in flames and disappears into ash, but it doesn’t seem to faze anyone, except Garrick. He nods, taking off to engage his next opponent. It’s an all-out civil battle in the war room.
I watch Eleena prepare another ball of fire, getting ready to hurl it towards Geneviève’s back. Time to move. In that instant, I roll out from under the table and without hesitation form a fireball of my own, blasting my grandmother from behind. The surge startles her, and she turns, focusing her anger on me.
She smiles. “Well, it looks like we woke the beast.” She throws her flame at me instead, allowing Geneviève to take cover.
I dart out of the way, using the skills I’d forgotten I had. I’m not a vampire, but a dragon shifter, and my power grows. I can feel it. How can I stop this battle, without allowing my anger and rage to take over? Shifting is not an option. Think, Wynter, think.
Eleena releases another fireball and misses, destroying a column a few feet away from me, which lands on our allies. My rage escalates. Fear no longer triggers the icy blast of my past. I know what to do.
The adrenaline intensifies and in one fell swoop, I cast ice at everyone’s feet, which grows over their ankles, traveling up their legs and stopping at their necks, halting the surge.
Geneviève, Garrick, and my dad relax, along with the guards protecting the attempted coup. Sounds of fallen debris scatter in bits and pieces across the floor as the room begins to settle in stillness.
I glare at the man I’m supposed to call grandfather and then to Eleena. They both appear stunned.
Eleena’s eyes glow green with rage and not the blue I’m used to seeing from the Storms—although she’s not from that bloodline, anyway. “Thought we killed you,” she seethes, stretching her neck, as the ice grows tighter around her.
“So, my first assumption is true, then… You are not who you appear to be,” I reply, pacing forward slowly.
“Surprise, surprise,” Ian interrupts. “I should have known, Iknes Shaw poison wouldn’t work with you.” He glances to Eleena. “See, I told you.”
Really? That’s something I didn’t expect. I file that away for later. Question is: why? Why would they think Iknes Shaw would kill me? Anyone in their right mind knows a Deagon can’t be killed any other way but through the heart. Thoughts of my aunt Fran poisoned as a little girl comes to mind.
His grin angers me more and I straighten. “Who sent you?”
He ignores me, and I twist my palm in the air as though I have a doorknob in my hand.
Ian laughs. “You think that is going to make me talk?”
“Who wants me dead, besides Sarmira?” I ask. I feel my eyes burn with rage. Do not shift. It’s what he wants, I’m sure of it.
“Wynter,” Geneviève says, nudging my arm. “Your eyes are glowing.”
I’m taken aback by her comment and release the pressure around Ian’s neck, allowing him to speak. “They don’t want you dead. You would be of no use to them otherwise.”
Eleena looks a little surprised by Ian’s confession.
Who is this impostor referring to? “The question is…why? What does she want with me now? She’s nowhere near me.”
His sly grin grows. “Oh, I see, we’re on the subject of Sarmira still.”
I tilt my head in confusion. “Who else would ’they’ be? Yes, I’m referring to Sarmira and her demon puppets.”
“Oh, you didn’t know?” he cackles out an annoying laugh.
Eleena, too, looks annoyed and narrows her brows at him. “Have you gone completely mad?” She tries to squirm, pulling her head upward. “What are you doing? Stick to the plan.”
“Oh, my dear,” Ian boasts, looking over at her, “I haven’t told you the entire arrangement yet. He made sure not to clue you in, that somehow you would mess things up.”
“When were you going to let me in on your little secret, Miles?” Eleena looks angry.
Miles? I know that name but where? I need to think. “Okay, enough,” I say. “I’ll ask again, if it wasn’t Sarmira, then who sent you?”
“I do say, I quite enjoy you stewing in rage and uncertainty. He was right about that, at least.” My hand grows hot, pushing flames to my fingertips, before forming a ball of fire. “Start talking or I start barbecuing.”
“Wynter stop,” Dad interrupts. “He’s egging you on.” Dad brings me down from my fury, sort of the way Cory did, only with outspoken words, rather than soothing pacification.
Miles, who still looks like my grandfather Ian, squeals in a creepy, wicked way. “Oh no, please go on. Throw it!”
“Do you have a death wish?” my dad asks. I see his eyes glow.
Is he going to try and compel this guy?
Glancing at Eleena, I see her struggle to break free, and I enforce the ice around her neck. Ian notices, and his conniving grin fades.
“Now that I’ve got your attention…speak. Who are you, Miles?” I glance at him, then back to her, trying to remember where I’ve heard his name. He hasn’t revealed his identity yet. Faces I remember, names not so much.
He appears surprised by my question. “What? Are you blind? I’m your grandfather, of course.” He grins again. “Now, let me go, and I won’t punish you for holding me against my will.”
I’m reminded of Cory. He always told me my power comes from my emotions. This time, I’m in control. I cluck at his answer. “You’re not my grandfather. You and I both know it. You may look like him, but he would never try to kill me. I’ll ask again. Who. Are. You?”
He glances to Eleena, and her eyes narrow at him. I’ve seen that look before. My stomach churns with bile. No, it can’t be…
My eyes flit between them, and I raise my chin. “We’ve met before, haven’t we?” I turn my head to look at Dad, and he furrows his brow. Then I look at Geneviève. It doesn’t matter if they don’t catch on yet, because both these masqueraders will be dead before anyone reacts. Lifting my chin, I say, “I know who you two really are, hiding behind the faces of my grandparents. Very clever, indeed and you didn’t think I would catch on?” My hand again ignites in fire.
Miles grins. “You weren’t supposed to wake up.” He turns to Eleena. “She’s stronger than she looks.”
Miles adds, “A minor detail that can be adjusted, I’m sure he will be pleased to hear this.”
My voice grows loud. “Who sent you.” I blast a warning shot to the wall behind him, and Miles cackles more, unmoved by my theatrics.”
“Wynter?” I hear the unease in Dad’s voice. The flames in my hand flicker.
Miles’s eyes widen. “Doesn’t matter. You’re going to kill us, anyway.”
I nod. “Yes, you’re right.” I stroll closer. “What have you done with them?” I demand. The blaze in my hand grows.
I sense Genevieve, Garrick, and Dad tense, and notice the uncertainty in their eyes.
“Oh,” he says, in a snide tone. “Are we negotiating now?” Miles’s eye twitches and his mouth firms.
“Wynter, you’ll melt the ice,” Geneviève whispers, standing behind me.
“I’m counting on it.” My lips curve into an evil smile. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had Trek flesh and bone.”
I hear a loud gulp come from Miles.
“Trek?” Geneviève looks at the frozen goons. I can see a glare of anger in her eyes, as well.
“Impossible. I would have smelled them,” Dad says. The tension in his voice thickens.
“Me too,” Garrick concurs.
“I’ve not a clue as to how, but they’ve masked their odor well. Only a Trek can pull off such a feat…. Though I’m guessing, in order to get past the gates of Ashengale, they needed some pretty heavy salve to cover the scent. They’re Trek all right, Dad. Well, at least this one is.” I pierce a stare at Miles, waiting to see if either of them fidget at my words. If I’m right, they will change to their true form in defeat.
Miles quivers. “I don’t care if you drink my blood, go for it. Better yet, take my essence. I’d like to see you try.”
“Oh, I won’t drink your blood. I’m not a nytemire like my father.” I turn my head to Dad and he looks confused. Come on, Dad, catch up. Only a select few know Dad’s true identity is that of a shifter. His cover has always been to hide behind the façade of a nytemire.
Tilting my neck to the side, I glance back to Ian. “First, I’ll cook you until the meat is tender—raw meat gives me heartburn.” I lick my lips. “Then when your flesh is ready to fall off the bone, I will consume you like a delicacy.”
I have a surge of temptation rising within me to shift, and I realize I’m not as stable as I thought. The dragon side of me will take over if I don’t stay in control of my feelings. I begin to undergo the emotions I had when I devoured the last Trek, who’d posed as Rory’s mom. I feel my veins burn as the black lines appear down my arms.
Miles shivers. I’m not sure if it’s the ice he’s encased in, my words, or both, but I definitely have this fraud's attention. His façade fades, revealing his true form.
My body cools just in time. Nothing like playing chicken at the last second. But for family, I would have done it, if it meant saving them.
I give a slight nod, squinting. “I remember you now. You and Lira staged a ruse in the Grengore Mines.” I turn my head. “Miles impersonated you, Dad.”
I hear a growl deep in Dad’s throat, and Geneviève puts out her arm to hold him back.
I clench my fists in anger. “One more time. Where are they?” My voice is loud, the words concise.
Miles laughs again, and I watch his eyes roll in the back of his head.
“No,” I hear Dad yell and he lunges forward.
“He’s going to warn the others,’” Genevieve says.
I grin. “Not if I can help it.” I blast the man, charring him to a crisp. “Dinner anyone?” I grin wider, turning to the other fake. “Your turn.” Fire begins to grow in my palm once more.
“Wait,” she pleads.
The flames in my fingers dissipate. “I’m listening.”
“Release me and I’ll show you.”
“Nuh-uh… tell me where Dragonscale is, or you suffer the same fate as Miles…Lira.”
She swallows hard, transforming back to her original state. “He…he’s…”
“Spit it out!”
Gasps are heard from many who survived the battle in the war room.
“Yes, because otherwise I would have inherited his powers.” The flames in my hand return.
She squirms, as though she didn’t know that piece of information. “How do you know that?”
I straighten my shoulders. “Why am I answering to this con artist?”
I look back at Dad. He grins, saying, “Answer my daughter. Where are they, Lira?”
Lira gasps for air as more pressure from the ice creeps up her neck. “The dark witches can’t find Eleena—”
“The dark witches? What do they want with her?” I release some of the tension from the ice.
Lira firms her lips before curving a snide smile. “You don’t know?”
I shift my chin upward and scowl. “Know what?”
She looks to Dad, as if for approval. I veer his direction. “Dad, what are you not telling me?”
“I’m not sure myself.” He folds his arms and circles around her. “Yes, Lira, do tell. What do you know?”
“Eleena comes from old blood, like me.” She stares at Dad. “You of all people should know that.”
He doesn’t take her bait, and so she continues, “She and I used to be friends, until…” “Until what?” I demand.
She raises her eyes at me. “Until she married Ian.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“You really don’t know, do you?” She glances to Dad, and Geneviève, then Garrick. “My, my, such secrets this family holds...”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” My patience is running thin.
“Your grandmother may consider herself a light witch, but she was born to the House of Shadow-Raven.”
“You’re lying,” I press. “I’ve never heard of such a coven. House of Ashburn is on the council board. They represent all witches, whether light or dark.”
“Am I?” I can tell she’s observing our reaction. “Let me put it to you this way, she isn’t just an old friend.” She smiles, enjoying holding us in suspense.
“Go on,” Dad presses. He unsheathes his sword. “I’ve had just about enough of your manipulation. I’m losing patience.”
She sneers. “I’m quite surprised Eleena has kept this sneaky little secret to herself.” Lira pauses to gain a reaction, but no one moves. “She’s my younger sister.”
“I don’t believe you. Besides, you haven’t proof,” Dad scoffs. He swirls his sword and circles her. Lira ignores his threats and directs her attention to me. “Perhaps not, but what if I told you that your grandparents’ marriage was arranged? Ask your great-grandmother Sara, if you don’t believe me.”
Her words sink in. Why would my great-grandmother keep this from us? Aunt Fran isn’t here to corroborate this tall tale either. I bite down on my tongue to avoid saying too much. “I’ll ask again, where are my grandparents?”
Lira firms her lips and doesn’t say a word.
“Garrick, when was the last time you saw Ian, in the form of Dragonscale?” Dad asks.
“Not since the day he flew through the caverns with Wynter.”
“They have them, Dad.”
He nods. “I know. I’m beginning to see that. Take her to the dungeon and let her stew.” He brings forth chains a guard has been holding. “Perhaps dispelling your magic will keep you secure. We don’t want you getting away again,” he adds.
She laughs. “You can’t possibly think valiancium steel will work on me.”
“By itself, no,” he says. He supplies a choker to accompany the valiancium chain fused with liquid onyx. “But this will.” Dad gives a gratifying grin.
Lira’s eyes grow big, and I watch her struggle. Without warning, the ice cracks and Lira springs free. She’s quick, and before I have time to react, Lira gathers strength, blasting a sonic boom so powerful, it reminds me of Moyer’s magic back at the mansion.
I’m flung backwards, smashing into the wall behind me. My body aches and my head throbs. I feel something wet behind my skull. Blood. The pressure is painful as I cover my head with my hands. Lira is nowhere to be found.
Most everyone is lying on the ground, either hurt or dead. Genevieve stirs, but Dad isn’t moving. “Dad?” No answer.
I crawl to him. “Dad?”
Geneviève struggles to reach him, too, stretching out her hand to help.
I begin to hear some of the others come to, with moans of pain. Much like last time, I hear the agony. I watch a few ghostly spirits pass by, but not Dad. This is a good sign, and I hold onto that.
“My lord,” Garrick calls. He slowly gets up and comes to Dad’s aid.
Geneviève puts her two fingers to his neck. Her breath is heavy, and I can see she, too, is severely injured.
“He’s breathing,” Geneviève says. I can see relief fill her face. “He’s still alive. Wynter, can you heal him?”
“Yes, of course.” I bring my hand over his head but nothing comes. “What’s going on? Where are my powers?” I look at my hands. “They’re not glowing.”
“Wynter?” Genevieve calls again. She looks at me with a questionable expression. But she isn’t looking at me, but through me. I turn around to see my body lying unconscious on the floor.
About The Author
Emmy R. Bennett lives in Northern California with her husband, two children and their dog. She also has two adult children living out of state.
When she isn’t at her desk writing, she’s spending time with her family, gardening, crafting, or reading.
Emmy grew up in a Lutheran household. Although she’s strong in her faith, she believes everyone has the right of free will, in their beliefs.
She loves to study genealogy and her family line has been traced back to the Vikings. It’s one of the many inspirations from which she’s drawn to write.