The Fall of the Stone – 2nd Excerpt
And last one for now. Two excerpts should be enough. If they aren’t, I might as well publish the full book here, 😉 lol. I am excited about this third book in the Stone series. The story is scheduled for release in August 2023, and you can pre-order it on Amazon.
This story will conclude the series. However, I am already planning spin offs about several harpies that have appeared in The Path, The Rise, and The Fall of the Stone. I can hardly wait to start that project too, but first things first, getting The Fall of the Stone ready for the planned release.
Sometimes there’s a reason why a past life should remain forgotten.
Callie has no recollection of her past immortal life. Now that Daniel and she have moved in together, there seems to be no need to remind her of the glorious harpy she used to be … Until the winged statue in their garden turns out to be more than it seemed, and they are hurled back into the world of harpies, the cruel MerFolk, vicious sirens, and a mysterious being that thrives on fire.
With human bounty hunters on the loose, going after them for the Church, enemies abound and safe places dwindle for everyone involved. Soon, the vast ocean might provide a last haven, unless its depth reveals the danger lurking below.
When Daniel and Callie get separated, each stuck with different unearthly creatures, events drive them away from each other, and a reunion seems to be further and further away from what they hoped.
This time, the Stone alone might not be enough to save them all.
Characters in this Excerpt
Rue: a harpy who appeared in The Rise of the Stone
Daniel: the human who ended up in their fantastical world by mistake in The Path of the Stone
Azalea: a mermaid
Rowan; a merman, and Azalea´s father
(Note: the following text was written a few days ago, so you could call it an edited first draft. When the editing process begins, this piece will also be updated, but we’re not at that stage yet; so if any authors are reading this, please take that into account and be gentle) 🙂 😉
Not so far away, Rue flew over the ocean, carrying Daniel, Azalea, and Rowan with her. Like Temida, and after what Rowan had told her, she also deemed it safer to fly far from the coast, hoping that whatever had caused the waves to conquer the high cliffs, couldn’t reach them here.
Rue wasn’t so talkative, which the others had already noticed. She had always been a harpy of few words and gave action more importance than words. Even in her mortal life, she had always abhorred the people who were good at crying out injustice but did nothing to combat it. She believed in converting words into action, and her strong stance on it had earned her isolation and few friends during her mortal life.
Nonetheless, the harpies valued her for it, and they all trusted her 100%. The immortal world had given her more worth than her human life had ever done, and Rue had never forgotten that. It had made her indifferent to people. Not that harpies cared much about humans, but Rue cared even less. She loved her harpy sisters and she would give her life for Azure, their queen, without hesitation. Everyone knew that with Rue by their side, they had a loyal ally.
Daniel didn’t know her at all, but he sensed her inner strength. Like Azalea and Rowan, he knew she was reliable.
The sea was calm, and he hoped it would remain that way. After the wild waves had crawled up on those cliffs, he wanted no more of that strong magic, or whatever it was. His past sojourn in this world of monsters had taught him enough and he had long stopped scoffing at the notion of magic. It was real, very much so. He could only hope that Callie would understand that and embrace it too. Especially her.
Soon, they would be reunited. He could hardly wait to talk to her, tell her all he knew. Oh, to be finally honest with her without the fear of ridicule; talk about her past, that past which he had kept from her, for how would she have believed him, living in the non-magical 21st Century world? Now, in the world of harpies, forced to accept true magic, he could reveal everything at last.
He loved her for who she was, and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. That last realization struck him hard. Never before had he uttered the words “the rest of his life,” not even in his thoughts. But Callie was different, and now that he could finally share all of it with her, not just the present that they had, but also the past adventures that had brought them together, he felt that their bond would be complete.
“Don’t go too far,” Rowan warned Rue.
“You agreed that it was safer.”
“Yes, but we have to keep the coast in our line of vision.”
“Too many dangers.”
“I’m aware, but enlighten me, please. Now is not the time to be vague.”
Azalea and Rowan exchanged a cautious look, and the latter nodded in encouragement, Azalea began, “We know that sirens have a lair nearby.”
Rue had heard about sirens and their voracious hunger for human flesh, but they didn’t disconcert her, for they presented no threat to harpies. In many ways, they were physically the same, except for their feeding habits and animalistic behavior, as far as she knew.
“They are dangerous, especially now that he is here.”
Daniel knew that she meant him, they all did. He was the one who had salvaged the Stone in his last adventure here, and for a reason he couldn’t comprehend, these creatures regarded him as some sort of savior.
“Let me guess, they want the Stone,” Rue commented with a sigh.
“I’m not sure they want It, but the fact remains that we all need Its power. However, right now they have bigger issues.”
“Such as?” Daniel inquired.
“Human hunters. The Catholic Church pays high sums of gold for the capture of a siren or any other fantastical creature. They fear us and want to wipe us off the earth. It has never presented a huge threat to us since they can’t find our lairs, but things are different now.”
“Humans have figured out how to avoid the sirens’ song. Several colonies have already been wiped out and many were captured.”
“Can you blame them?” Rue remarked. “For once, I have to side with the humans on this. Sirens eat them. They eat them alive!”
“I dislike sirens as much as anyone else,” Rowan said, “but they are attracting unwanted attention, and now we all are getting the human hunters on our backs.”
“I have never seen any of them,” Rue scoffed.
“Their ships are out there, looking for us,” Azalea explained. “They caught our princess, Tiani, and thanks to Daniel, she was freed.”
“Yes, and in return, your folk imprisoned him,” Rue snarled.
“Our kind is cruel,” Rowan admitted. “We won’t argue that, but we have our reasons.”
“Father, how can you even defend…” Azalea began, but Rowan interrupted her and said, “We’ll get to that.”
A loud rumble sounded deep below the water’s surface and the waves rose higher, falling with a deafening splash.
“What is that?” Daniel asked, concerned.
“The sirens have power over the sea,” Azalea clarified.
“You mean magic?”
“No, they’re just in tune with the ocean.”
“Whatever it is, it sounds dangerous,” Rue commented, flapping her wings hard to fly higher.
“Are the sirens after us?” Daniel asked, hoping he was wrong. He didn’t feel like dealing with creatures who could have him as a snack.
“I don’t think so,” Rowan said. “To me, it seems as if they’re trying to stop us.”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know much about your enemies,” Rue growled.
“They’re not our enemies,” Azalea protested.
“Azalea,” her father warned, and she stopped with a knowing look in her eyes.
“What?” Daniel said. “What is it?”
In silence, they flew on. It surprised him that not even Rue wanted to pry more out of him. She seemed to be entirely focused on getting them home safely. When they were close enough to Bangor, she turned and steered toward the coast, relieved that they would finally be home. The cliffs rose ahead of them, theatrical giants that faced the relentless waves, their sharp edges rounded after centuries of the ocean’s pounding.
The view of the dramatic coastline inspired a feeling of calm in all of them. Home was waiting. Safety would be theirs soon enough.
An arrow shot through the sky, invisible to the human eye, racing through the thin air so fast that even Rue noticed it too late. It sank into her torso, piercing her flesh and organs. Unable to keep her heavy load, she dropped at once. At an alarming rate, they gravitated toward the churning waves. Blood oozed out from Rue’s chest and dropped into the water below them.
Rowan and Azalea dove in with grace, but Daniel fell on his back and the hard impact hurt his flesh and bones as if someone had hit him with a wooden board. Rue fell in head first, her blood mixing with the cold water. Azalea dove toward her and grabbed one of her claws while Rowan went after Daniel. Both MerFolk’s legs had transformed into sleek caudal fins. Effortlessly, they glided through the water, and despite their situation, Daniel could now fully appreciate how this was truly their world. Both MerFolk brought them to the surface to help them breathe. Rue gasped for air. Azalea helped her float to save her from exerting herself, and soon enough her blood pooled around her like a scarlet frame. The arrow stuck in her chest. Daniel had no medical skills, but it seemed to him that it had just missed the heart. He didn’t even know what truly killed a harpy, but it was obvious that she was in pain.
Now what? In the distance, he saw a dinghy set off from the rocky coast, heading towards them, and it was pretty clear to him that these were some of the human hunters they had mentioned a little while ago. There was no doubt in his mind that they had shot the arrow. If anyone could now go after them, he was sure that the Catholic Church had placed a bounty on their heads. The promise of wealth had driven many to kill what was deemed dangerous or unwanted. Azalea and Rowan had seen them too and understood the situation they were in.
“We have to dive. Daniel, we can give you oxygen as we go down. I just don’t know if Rue will have the strength,” Azalea said hurriedly.
“Try,” he said. They couldn’t leave her here!
Rue whimpered again, clearly in deep agony. She was losing a lot of blood, and Daniel feared that a major artery was hit. What else could cause such copious blood loss?
The boat raced toward them, spurred on by two people who rowed as if their lives depended on it, and perhaps it did. He surmised that they were likely two poor fishermen who saw a chance at earning some much-needed gold. Rue was considered just a threat. Those people didn’t know harpies, didn’t know Rue, Azure, Meena, Temida, or even what Calliope used to be. They didn’t see the human that was turned into an immortal, coming to terms with what they now were. They didn’t see anything but a monster. It had always been that way.
Both Azalea and Rowan pulled them below the surface, taking him by surprise because he couldn’t even catch his breath. He closed his mouth to stop water from flowing in and he held his breath as long as he could as the MerFolk guided them through their underwater world. A veil of blood followed Rue as Rowan dragged her with him. The water was ice cold but anything was better than falling into the hands of the hunters in the wooden vessel above.
Azalea turned and brought her face close to him. Gills had sprouted on both sides of her neck, and her skin was now completely dark blue. Her black hair flowed around her like a shroud. The weight of the clothes on her didn’t encumber her at all and the skirt drifted smoothly around her long fin. She pressed her lips on his and blew air into his lungs. Oxygen, accompanied by immense relief, poured through him. A little further, Rowan was doing the same to Rue, but he saw that she was struggling. The more air he blew into her, the more she bled, and finally, she pulled away from him and slowly shook her head, resigning herself to her fate. She removed her hands from his and floated away from him, back to the surface. Daniel pulled away from Azalea and went after her, but Azalea grabbed his shirt tail and drew him back.
No! Not Rue! In despair, he shook his head, watching helplessly as she rose to the surface. Far above them, they saw the silhouette of the boat and the shadow it threw into the water. Violently, Daniel shook his head again, but Azalea had him in a firm grip, refusing to let him go. With terror, they watched as the fishermen pulled Rue’s wounded body into their boat. Even so deep below them, they could still hear the muted sounds of their victorious cries.
“Rue!” Daniel’s silent scream went lost underwater, and Azalea covered his wide-open mouth with hers to breathe more oxygen into him.