Some magic is best not to be born with.
In a world controlled by magic, not everyone wants the “honor” of being an Elemental Priestess and becoming a slave to the Church of Four Orders. But when Ria calls upon magic to save her best friend’s life, she discovers there is something worse than being able to control water, air, fire, or earth.
There is another power, one that is forbidden, and its use is punishable by death.
Ria must flee everything she has known to outrun a creature sent to capture those who use tainted magic. Her best chance of success comes in the protection of an outcast Water Priestess who might choose to betray her as much as help.
In a desperate race to save her life, Ria must discover just what is the magic she controls and why the Church of Four Orders wants anyone born with it killed before they capture her.
You’ll love this series of award-winning books if you like fast-paced epic fantasy in a richly detailed world full of unforgettable characters. Nominated for Best Book of 2017, winner of Best Worldbuilding, and recipient of a Reader’s Choice Aware and Fantasy Book of the Month March 2020, fans of Sarah J Maas, Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffery, and Andre Norton will be thrilled!
Begin the epic fantasy adventure described as “fast paced and … a wonderful fantasy trilogy” and “a rich fantasy full of interesting characters,” “the author’s imagination is mind-boggling!” by picking up your copy today!
Targeted Age Group:: 18-30
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This was my debut fantasy release and the story came to me and grew over years. It really started because I had this idea of a modern day corporate woman that when she was stressed would turn into a plant in her office. But one day at a conference, she met someone whose power had the potential to be greater. And… that was it. The story went nowhere.
BUT, there was also this very beautiful Mediterranean painting in the bathroom where I worked. I'd stare at in and look at the interplay of water, sun, cliffs, and vast skies. One day, I wondered what it would be like if my story idea was set there among those vast elements in a world made of adventures of sailing and fantastical creatures. That day, Born of Water began.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Really, they come to me. My strongest characters always force their way into my psyche, fully formed… even if they might be shy telling me about who they are. Sinika in this series never shared ANY information. As he begins to outplot everyone, including me, I just had to trust he would reveal his endgame eventually. He did. I loved writing him and every one of these characters. They are so real in my head that when the trilogy ended, they begged me to write more!
Ria followed Lavinia’s pointed finger. Just approaching Tiero was the same two-masted ship they had seen in Kyrron, blue banners flying against the white sails. The dark wooden hull gleamed with spray above the waves.
“Do you think they saw us? They can’t know which ship they are looking for, can they?” Ria asked, worried.
Ty glanced at the large forward sail unique to the Grey Dawn, then back at the two-masted schooner steadily sailing closer. “From the sails and wind, it looks like they are sailing for the harbor.”
They were skimming around the island’s western side, heading nearly due south toward the Steppes of Umbrel. Misty clouds and dark waves lay before them, but the afternoon sun blazed above in a clear portion of sky. The white sail of their boat gleamed in afternoon light.
“They have to see us, but that doesn’t mean …” Lavinia said, doubtful words cut off as the sails of her parents’ ship turned. The ship lurched as the wind caught the sails again. The boat pivoted, the long bowsprit swinging around to aim directly at them.
“Damn the wind!” Ty cursed. “They must have learned which ship was ours in Kyrron.”
“They’ll be able to catch us in an hour with all their sails flying. Ty, what are we going to do?” Lavinia asked, blue eyes wide.
“We were only just heading to the Southern Shore. We could have answers in a few days. Why did they have to catch up now?” Ria moaned.
Niri watched her. “If we get around the island so that we are out of sight, I can help outrun them. But the last thing we want to do is attract the attention of any Priests if they see a small boat speeding under Elemental control.”
Ty nodded and swung the boom. “Yes, but not by heading south. We aren’t catching enough wind. We’ll have to run east along the Archipelago and turn south later.”
Despite Niri’s protestations that she couldn’t help, a faint aqua-blue suffused her eyes. The Grey Dawn sped east, riding crests as it leaned into its full sail. The ship behind them slammed into endless waves, the heavy bow rising again and again in explosions of spray.
“What are you doing?” Lavinia’s voice rose with the tension coursing through her. “That is our parents!”
Niri’s glance crossed Ty’s anxious gaze as she turned to where Lavinia and Ria sat hand in hand watching the boat behind them. “I’m slowing it by pushing the current back. I’m not trying to sink it.”
Lavinia blushed as she looked away. They were behind and a little east of Tiero now, and no towns were visible along the coast. Niri’s eyes inundated with her power. Their boat picked up speed as the seas pushed them ahead.
Ty looked back once more, and then adjusted the rudder pole. The boat veered across the waves, angling toward the northeast. Ria leapt to her feet.
“Where are you going?” she barked.
“We have a shallower draft. We may be able to lose them amid the islands once night falls. We can’t have them following us into the crossing, Ria.”
Crestfallen, Ria sat down, staring at her shoes. She could feel the trek to the Southern Shore slipping away from her once again. Lavinia stood, seeking a better view of the boat behind them. Every sail strained under the afternoon wind. It was heavier and fighting an onslaught from the sea, but the larger ship was gaining.
“We’ll be overtaken before dusk at this rate,” Lavinia said, one hand on the rail as she leaned over the side.
They were passing the outer islands of the Archipelago now, uninhabited storm-swept rocks with scant trees offering few places to hide. The populated towns were mostly deep in the peninsulas or on the sheltered side of the inner islands. Ty scanned the sea around them. Ria followed his gaze. No sails but those of the chasing boat were visible along the horizon.
“Isn’t there anything else you can do?” Ty asked Niri.
Ria could feel a vibration in the air. Her skin itched as if her blood was humming beneath it. It was similar to what she had felt standing next to Niri at the well. It was power, and she knew it. She longed to be able to release hers as well, but hesitated. She had no idea how to help.
Niri’s gaze slid from Ty to the sky. She slowly smiled.
“I think I can feed the clouds.”
“What will that do?” Ria asked doubtfully.
“Create a bigger storm. If you do it between us, the wind should drive them back while it pushes us forward. They’ll have to lower their sails and tack. It could work.”
“A small storm, right?” Lavinia asked.
Niri nodded as the air began to buzz above the boat, making the hair on Ria’s arms stand. She looked at Lavinia, wondering how she could sit still, watching the ship behind.
She doesn’t feel it, Ria realized.
It was the first time that Ria could think of that she and Lavinia couldn’t share something. This was a part of her that Niri could understand, but never Lavinia. She felt as though a tiny rip opened in her chest. Despite the pain, Ria felt freer. She looked up at Niri where she stood, head tilted to the sky and eyes glowing lavender-blue.
Ria would follow Niri anywhere to learn to be this and do what she could do. Maybe even to Solaire.
In Ria’s vision, Niri stood surrounded by a haze of aqua-blue and lavender. The sensation of rising amid a thousand other drops filled Ria, before she sank again into her body. The clouds above and behind them thickened, changing from misty gray to a dark roiling mass. Ria’s hair fluttered across her face as the wind shifted direction. Lightning flickered on the edges of the spreading thunderheads. Rain began to pelt the sea a few feet from their boat.
As the rain spread in earnest and drummed the sea around them, Lavinia peered up in confusion. No raindrops fell onto their boat or sail.
“Niri is controlling the water so that it doesn’t fall on us,” Ria said to Lavinia.
“You can tell?” Lavinia asked.
“Yes,” Ria said. “I can see it.”
Lavinia watched Ria for a moment before turning to check on her parents’ ship. The evening sky overspread with clouds, the sunset obliterated by the growing storm. Lightning flashed frequently above them, arcing between thunderheads. The wind slammed against their ship. Ty reefed their sail, shortening it against the strengthening gale.
It was eerie for Ria to watch the pouring rain on the storm-tossed sea, feel the ship heave on the waves, yet the wind whipping over the boat held no dampness. Ria could see the water shield around them if she looked for it, appearing as a clear line like a bubble. The buzz of the air and the hum in her blood were more audible than the storm or thunder, more immediate than the wind or boat. She wondered what it was like to be Niri, building a storm while protecting them at the same time.
“I think that is enough,” Lavinia said as she strained to see her parents’ ship in the pelting rain and lowering skies. It was not faring well. Lightning exposed the larger ship, still with all sails flying and fighting the wind to reach them.
“I haven’t been feeding the storm for a few minutes now,” Niri said. Despite her calm voice, Niri looked nervous.
The lightning flashed again, revealing the other ship heeled over against the onslaught of wind. A second flash silhouetted the mound of a rock island behind it.
“You have to stop it!” Lavinia yelled, voice piercing and rising higher than the wind that screamed through the rigging of the ship.
“I can’t control the storm. It is beyond me now. They are too close to the rocks. I’m trying to keep the boat away.” Niri said, voice thick with desperation. Her eyes were closed as she struggled with the sea.
“Pull them away! Why can’t you pull them away?” Lavinia clutched the rail as she leaned over the edge of their ship above the storm-tossed sea. There was no sign of her parents’ ship.
“I can’t match the wind with the current. They need to drop some sails!” Panic echoed in Niri’s voice along with confusion. Any other captain would have dropped or reefed the ship’s sails in such a storm. Even as a novice sailor, Ria knew that.
Another flash showed the boat slammed by a gust of wind. It tipped under the force, rolling onto its side. A large mainsail tore, the sound exploding through the storm.
“No!” Lavinia screamed, nearly throwing herself over the rail.
Ty grabbed onto her before she fell into the tossing sea.
Niri staggered, falling to her knees. The itch of her power disappeared from around the boat. The desire to act that the power had created in Ria lifted as well. Instead, she felt a shift as Niri’s power wrapped around Lavinia’s parents’ ship. The wind-driven hull slid closer to the rocks of the island. Ria stood, one hand against the cabin’s door, while she looked back toward the other boat. All the while, part of her mingled with Niri’s power around the larger ship.
With Niri’s concentration on saving the larger ship, she no longer eased the strength of the waves around them or stopped the rain. Raindrops hammered the deck of the boat and left dark rings on their clothes. The small boat rocked with a sickening motion, riding the crests and troughs of the building waves.
“No …,” Niri whispered in desperation. The flashes of light showed the ship beaten by the wind and nearly flattened onto its side.
The force of emotions welling from Lavinia and Ty slammed into Ria as they watched their parents’ boat seconds from floundering on storm-lashed rocks. Their pain opened a floodgate of emotion in Ria as well. Her own family was assuredly on the other ship with theirs.
Power buzzed in the air around the Grey Dawn once more. Ria straightened, standing without support despite the surging sea as energy flowed from her, feeding on emotions and her desire to use what sang in her blood. The air tasted purified for a moment, no longer carrying the heavy saltiness of the sea, and then Ria released the power that had built around her. For a moment the other ship was illuminated with its gunwales nearly underwater and its torn sail shredding further in the wind. Then it was gone.
Everyone froze on the tossing, rain-slicked deck of the Grey Dawn.
“What did you do?” Niri asked, voice trembling.
Ria shivered the way she had when she'd stopped the knife. As she came back to herself, her sureness faded. She stumbled, reaching for the support of the cabin. Ty caught her.
“They are safe. I … I sent them home. They are just outside the harbor of Mirocyne. It was all I could think to do, to move them somewhere away from the rocks but where they could repair the boat. It is where our families first met.” Ria said, gazing into Ty’s amazed eyes.
“You saved them!” Lavinia exclaimed, throwing her arms around Ria and her brother.
Niri stared at Ria, her face draining of color. “Don’t you understand what you did, Ria? You used your power. We are in worse danger than the other boat ever faced!” Niri shouted.
“But we got away last time. There is plenty of time,” Ria replied, holding on to Ty.
Niri went to answer, then stopped. Her head snapped upwards, eyes widening as lavender infused them again.
“There is something large cutting through the clouds.”
It was all she had a chance to say before a massive creature plummeted from the sky and slammed into the water two hundred yards south of their boat. A spray of water rocketed into the air.
Ty let go of Ria so fast that Lavinia barely managed to keep both of them upright. He raced to the edge of the boat, leaning over the rail as he stared in the direction of the watery collision.
“What is it?”
Niri's eyes were closed, her concentration fully on her power. “It is the Curse. It changed to a water serpent so that it could stay under.”
“Can’t you track it?” Lavinia asked, trembling against Ria.
“It is fast … it moves like water.”
Suddenly, Niri lunged. Her fingers caught Ty’s shirt. She pulled him away from the edge as the ship lifted on a wave. A monstrous head reared out of the sea where the Grey Dawn had been a moment before. They were still too close.
The scaled head smacked against the side of the ship, timbers giving in under the force. It snapped jagged teeth inches from Ty. The smell of something rotten washed over the boat as it exhaled.
The golden eyes of the Curse looked down on them as it rose from the waves, its long neck tangling with the rigging of the sails and mast. The boom wrenched in the snagged ropes, nearly sweeping Lavinia and Ria off the deck as they dove out of the way. Ria gasped for a breath as her lungs emptied fully from her scream.
The monster roared, the sound more deafening than the thunder. Writhing, it crashed against the mast. A sick tearing sound came from its base, but the mast stayed upright as the monster freed itself in the snapping of heavy ropes. The boat rolled onto its side, pulled toward the Curse by the last of the ropes. The Curse slid back into the water, Ria only stopping herself from joining it by catching her foot on the rail of the ship.
The boat rocked violently upright rolling onto its other side. Ria grabbed onto Lavinia, who had managed to snag the rudder post, to slow her own descent toward the open water beyond the edge of the boat. Ty held onto one of the cockpit benches, while Niri knelt with one hand on the deck to stabilize herself, her back against the other bench. They were all soaked to the skin by the pelting rain.
“I didn’t know, I didn’t know, I didn’t know!” Ria cried, voice rising like a whirlwind. “I didn’t really think it was real. Lavinia, I didn’t know!”
Lavinia held onto Ria with one arm, pulling her against her chest. The sea west of them began to roil. Waves drove the boat with deliberate force, pushing them further east. The hum of Niri’s power encircled the boat and glowed in the sea to their west. This time the sensation made Ria nauseous. She bent over, her stomach in knots as she choked and sobbed.
The Curse reared again out of the ocean. Both girls screamed as its neck danced above the waves like a snake. It bellowed into the air a few hundred feet away, as the boat rode the waves to the east. Bands of water reached up and pulled at the Curse’s limbs. It snapped at the liquid, the bands breaking and reforming under its claws and teeth. Changed to a denser fluid like honey, the sea wrapped itself around the monster and dragged it under. It fought to the surface again. Wings whipped the air as it changed into a dragon, trying to free itself from the prison of water.
Niri broke her concentration from the struggle against the Curse enough to slit open her eyes. They glowed like violet stars.
“I can’t … this is all I can do. You have to sail …”
Ty surveyed the mess of rope and sail. The boom was high above the deck wrapped in rope and the remaining rigging, which was the only reason it hadn’t gone over the side. The mast was cracked, tilting off to the starboard. Most of the supporting lines were shredded. He swallowed and looked at his sister.
“We have to raise the jib.”
Lavinia nodded and brushed back her rain-soaked hair. She joined her brother at the bow, leaving Ria limp on the deck with her arms barely supportive enough to keep her from falling prone. Together, Ty and Lavinia hoisted the jib. Ty paced as the wind caught it and pulled the boat northeastward faster. His eyes flicked from the broken mast, to the jib, and back.
A furious roar sounded again and fire filled the night sky. It was too far away to reach them. Niri whimpered, a shudder racking her form. From where she lay supine on the deck a few feet away, Ria watched Niri in horror.
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