Happy #teasertuesday! We are finally coming back around to Bound Beauty, my third Wylder Tales novel! Can y’all believe Craving Beauty was first published five years ago? It was simply titled Vynasha at the time and I had envisioned it as a duology. A novella and sequel later and we’re finally back to finish the series, December 21st. I’ve already been super busy with piecing together the story, and am excited to finally conclude this trilogy. For those of you who don’t know, Wylder Tales is a loose prequel series to Silver Hollow and the Borderlands Saga. So there will be certain peoples and words that might jump out at you if you’ve read either. If you weren’t aware, keep an eye out 😉 Oh, and just for fun, if you’d like to learn more about the world of Wylder Tales, check out this website!
Wylder Tales #3 Teaser
Her life belonged to the wyld and forgotten creatures of a cursed Wylderland. Vynasha had known this to be true, ever since a beast from the castle escaped and ravaged everything in its path to reach her.
“Careful, you’ll lose focus if you are distracted,” Erythea’s soft voice interrupted.
Vynasha blinked and her hold on the furry creature’s mind waned. She winced as the rodent hissed at them, before scurrying away. Its white fur blended perfectly with the snow.
Erythea giggled and propped her grimoire in the crook of her arm as she approached Vynasha. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have spoken up.”
Vynasha accepted the girl’s offered flask and greedily drank the thinned mead. This always happened after they spent hours practicing.
She could only imagine what the rest of the village might say if they learned the truth behind these “hunting trips.” Vynasha was supposed to be teaching the little Iceveins to read the forest like a good little wolf. The truth was something they would never accept. Then again, the village remained in Vynasha’s debt, as Grandmother liked to say. And none had forgotten the power behind her call, the night she and Wolfsbane howled at the moon.
“Do you think we should begin testing your ability with two at once?” Snowflakes melted against Erythea’s silver hair. The girl smiled as Vynasha handed back the flask, then slipped the strap over her shoulder. “You’re getting better at holding their will to yours. Good thing too, if we can ever hope you’ll match the enchantress’ ability.”
Vynasha eyed her little friend as she helped Erythea clean up evidence of their bloody ritual. She clenched the ruby studded dagger in her split palm with more force than necessary. Vynasha had yet to decipher the runes etched into its side, but Baalor’s words had left her wondering.
“Whoever gave you this must have thought a great deal of you.”
“We’ll try it with two, tomorrow,” Thea affirmed. “I’m convinced this is part of how Soraya was able to curse so many at once.” The girl snorted. “Well, that, and a scary amount of power.”
Vynasha stretched out aching limbs and pushed her loose curls behind her ear. “Power will only take you so far.” This much she was certain of. Ever since her failure to heal little Wyll… Vynasha no longer blindly trusted in power. They knew better now, thanks to Erythea’s grimoires.
Thea slipped the book into her pack and together, they began the journey home.
No longer did Vynasha mourn thoughts of Whistleande Village and the cabin she built over her family’s ashes. Home had been her nephew’s strained heartbeat against her ears and winter looming like Death over them, whispering, “Give him to me. You cannot hide forever.”
Erythea’s sigh interrupted Vynasha’s darker thoughts. The girl was always chattering about every thought which entered her head. “I’ve never seen spring, did you know?”
Vynasha blinked and for a moment, saw the valley of Whistleande, carpets of fuchsia heather and sage grass.
Thea touched stray branches, infusing blue tendrils of energy into the sleeping buds. “My majik is tied to the earth like Mother’s. It wants to end this winter and let things grow.” She glanced over her shoulder at Vynasha with a crooked smile. “Did you know the last true spring hasn’t come in an age?”
Vynasha pressed her claws into her palms. “Since the curse,” she whispered. Her voice held a rasp she couldn’t shake, ever since the fire. Not even her transformation under the curse could hide what she was before.
“Are you alright?” Erythea reached back to grab Vynasha’s hand, concern in her gaze. Eyes too old for so young a face.
Vynasha nodded, though her attempted smile fell false.
Thea squeezed Vynasha’s hand. “We practiced too long today. Come, Grandmother’s stew will make it better.” She leaned in until her shoulder brushed Vynasha’s arm and teased, “The twins say the pack should return for the festival soon.”
Vynasha couldn’t help but tense at what her young friend didn’t say.
She hadn’t seen him in three moons, not since she agreed to stay and live with his family.
“What are you thinking about?” Thea asked.
Vynasha fought the urge to groan and forced a calm she didn’t feel. This was another thing they had practiced. “I’m thinking if we stay out here any longer, we’ll freeze to death.”
Thea laughed. “What a silly idea! I don’t believe any of our pack has frozen to death before.” The girl winked and leaned into Vynasha’s side. “I may not shift like the others, but Grandmother says I still have wolf’s blood.”
Vynasha wrapped her arm about the girls’ shoulders and savored the warmth of contact. She hadn’t realized how deprived of touch she was before. Yet another thing the curse had altered. If anything, she craved contact and warmth.
While the center of the Forgotten village housed the Wolv guardians, the outskirts were home to what remained of the mirror folk. Vynasha had met a few of them at Erythea’s side. Occasionally, she caught a woman with bark skin and vines and flowers in her hair watching them practice, alongside a man with ebony skin and horns. Others, children with hooves and fur, scales and wings, took turns spying on the curse breaker, as they called her now. Today only the ebony male with pronged horns watched them pass through the edge of the wood. The others were already in their hidden homes.
Erythea waved enthusiastically at the horned man and ducked her head when she caught Vynasha’s eye. “You are not my only friend.”
Vynasha kept her smile closed over her sharp teeth, the constant reminder she has more in common with the mirror folk than the Wolvs. Except for Ceddrych.
She couldn’t think about Ceddrych, not now as they entered the paths taking them behind painted houses and torchlights. The fires never went out, no matter the cold or lack of fuel. The mirror folk saw to that, Vynasha had learned. There was much more to the relationship between guardian and mirror folk than she had once imagined. And still more they hadn’t explained.
But this was for another night, when the promise of Baalor’s return and Grandmother’s stew weren’t looming before her. Tonight she would not be a curse breaker, and she would not dream dreams and she would learn to be happy.
to be continued…