I am happy to be a part of the book tour for Mysti Parker and her new book Hearts in Exile presented by
Page Turner Book Tours.
Title: Hearts In Exile
Series: Tallenmere (stand-alone)
Author: Mysti Parker
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Melange Books
Formats Available In: All eBook formats and Print
Release Date: June 3, 2013
Blurb: Somewhere, hidden in the waters of the Southern Sea, lies an island unlike any other. Within the amber glow of its pyrogem-laden cliffs, legend says the very heart of the dragon god Drae keeps the island, and its occupants, alive.
Loralee Munroviel, daughter of Leogard’s High Priestess Arianne, had no idea what she would face when she arrived by boat ten years ago and was left alone in exile. All she knew about Draekoria’s inhabitants was written in one tattered notebook. Now, her life revolves around keeping Drae’s descendants happy. Never in her life did she imagine being a Dragon Keeper.
Captain Igrorio Everlyn, known as Sir Robert to his unit of Holy Paladins, has faced his share of hell, battling the evils of Emperor Sarvonn’s tyranny and the dark god Tyr’s abominations. But none of that compares to the ten years of hell he’s been without Loralee, presumed dead.
One freak storm changes everything. Now the two of them must fight to re-establish the delicate balance of the island before the dragons take things into their own hands. Through it all, they discover the secrets that kept them, and their hearts, exiled for a decade.
About the Author
Mysti Parker (pseudonym) is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger’s Tale was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and the second in the fantasy romance series, Serenya’s Song, was published in April 2012. The highly anticipated third book, Hearts in Exile, has already received some great reviews. The Tallenmere series has been likened to Terry Goodkind’s ‘Sword of Truth’ series, but is probably closer to a spicy cross between Tolkien and Mercedes Lackey.
Mysti’s other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, and Christmas Lites II. Her flash fiction has appeared on the online magazine EveryDayFiction. She has also served as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s six week free course, F2K.
Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.
Enjoy this excerpt from Hearts in Exile
“Broken” by Lifehouse—The song that inspired this chapter:
~ Sir Robert ~
The Southern Sea, Ten Years Later…
A broken clock hung on the wall, its hands frozen somewhere back in time just like every waking thought in my head. I sat up on the cot, deciding I was entirely too sober for such a long voyage. Only absinthe kept my mind dulled enough to allow decent sleep. A few more centuries of this, and I’d be nice and pickled.
The lantern above swung with the ship’s movement and cast shifting shadows over the bare plank walls. I scratched a nagging itch on the point of my ear and yawned. My cabin on this particular Leogardian naval vessel was no better furnished than the ones I once shared with my unit. Except this one afforded more privacy—a perk that came with my role as Captain of the Seventh Unit of Leogard’s Holy Paladins. At least a sturdy side table was within reach. I opened the drawer, found the silver flask, and put it to my lips.
But, someone rapped on the door.
I didn’t even have a chance to answer when the door opened and Francis poked his head inside. We were to reconvene with the rest of our unit already stationed on Tyronia’s Ilzara peninsula. Nearly a month at sea already, so the next few days would be especially tiresome without the others here for Francis to pester. He eyed the container in my hand.
Here it comes.
“If you want to continue on your path of self-destruction,” Francis said, “please do so on your own time.”
I smirked and turned back the absinthe. Nothing remained but three or four drops to sting my throat and make me thirsty for more. I corked the flask and flung it back in the drawer. “I never requested your counsel, nor did I ask you to enter this room. Do you have a reason for invading my privacy, other than to chide me for drinking from an empty flask?”
Donned in his chainmail, which was polished to a near-blinding shine, Francis stepped through the door and closed it, holding to the rope handle to maintain his balance. “I merely wanted to inform you there’s a storm brewing.” He frowned at my casual tunic, breeches, and plain leather boots. “Captain Elweth says we cannot avoid it.”
“A storm on the Southern Sea in spring. How surprising.”
“The alcohol has not dulled your sarcasm, I see.”
“How about this, then?” I smirked, giving just enough pause to add some drama. “Once this crusade is over, I’m finished.”
The confusion on Francis’s face gave me an odd sense of satisfaction. We’d been through hell and back together more than once since we were mere boys, and I couldn’t imagine life without him. But, despite being the best friend I’d ever had—closer than I imagined any brother could be—Francis had been a thorn in my side for decades, constantly reminding me of my faults. The half-elf was a veritable walking conscience.
Francis rubbed his brow with one hand and groaned. “Finished with what, might I ask?”
“This whole thing, my friend. I’ve spent over half my life in the belly of a ship or cutting down men forced into battle. And for what? A few accolades in the streets when we return home. It’s a pointless endeavor.”
“And what exactly would you do? Where would you go?”
“Up north perhaps, or to Faerion. I have yet to decide.”
“We have been chosen by the great Father Omri—”
“No, Francis, we were chosen by Leopold. Let us be truthful with ourselves while we have this heart to heart.”
“Very well. The king chose us, with our Great Father’s blessing. You claim our tasks are pointless, but what of the people we have freed from Sarvonn’s oppression?”
My laugh sounded as bitter as the absinthe lingering on my tongue. “We’ve hardly been regarded as heroes in Tyronia. Not for a long while, anyway. The people say they want freedom. Then, when we give it to them, they complain. I say they should be left to fight their own revolution, if they so desire. They will never appreciate freedom unless they are forced to acquire it themselves.”
“Do you forget the other duties we perform in Leogard? What of the near-massacre in Summerwind? Had it not been for our intervention, Tyr’s progeny would have killed thousands.”
“What of it?” Francis was very clever with rebuttals. I had to give him that.
“We saved an entire community, with only one casualty. That is no small thing. Do not underestimate your abilities, Igrorio.”
I cringed at the use of my given name. I’d embraced the nickname Robert ever since an inebriated dwarf named Mirrien couldn’t pronounce my real name. I wore the silly moniker like a shield. Maybe I hoped it would help me forget the past. It had yet to work.
Francis braced himself against the ship’s rocking and stepped to the cot. He started to sit, but the ship lurched and tossed him flat on his back beside me. His head banged against the wall. I laughed and held out my hand, helping Francis to sit upright.
“I’m glad I could serve as jester for you, Captain Everlyn.” Francis rubbed the back of his skull.
“I think the storm is upon us.”
He gripped my shoulder. “Promise me you will rethink your decision.”
“I cannot promise anything.”
“You are one of the best paladins to serve under the Leogardian flag. And you have responsibilities off the battlefield, people who care for you. Loralee would want—”
My glare cut Francis short. “Do not speak her name.”
“Perhaps someone should. Omri knows she was the only one able to talk any sense into you.”
The boat gave another violent jerk, nearly knocking us both off the cot.
The first mate’s voice rang down through the hatch. “All hands on deck!”
Francis and I exchanged worried glances, jumped to our feet, and slammed against the door. Pushing ourselves off the wall, we finally got the door open and stumbled outside. Crewmen scrambled up the ladder ahead of us.
We climbed onto the deck, where the sailors worked furiously to bring down sails and reinforce rigging.
One of the naval officers emerged right behind us. The first mate intercepted him. “Are there any left below deck?”
“Good. Batten down, men, or we’ll be feeding the sea tonight!”
Black clouds churned in the afternoon sky. Rain pelted my face. To my left, at the stern, the ship’s captain clung to the wheel. He’d already steered toward the winds, and he was struggling to angle the ship to climb each wave in an effort to keep from burying the bow. The ship creaked and groaned with every assault from the waves.
This was no ordinary storm.
Francis and I held on to whatever we could to keep from falling and hurried to help secure the sails. The darkening sky, buffeting winds, and torrential rain made our task that much harder. But I concentrated on the feel of the rough rope in my hands and the memorized movements I’d used countless times to tie knots.
Though we’d never had to resort to it before, I decided to try reinforcing the ship with Omrishidari, our shielding magic. I held up my fist and started to yell at Francis to do the same, but a ball of swirling light already orbited his hand.
“Always a step ahead, brother. Head to starboard. I’ll go to port. We have to try to keep the hull intact.”
He nodded, then extended his shield toward the rigging in one quick burst that helped push him to the right side of the ship. Once there, he quickly wound a rope around his left arm, tethering himself to a belaying pin. I repeated the process on the left side of the ship.
The crewmen secured themselves to whatever they could. Bracing my body against the rail, and squinting against the rain and wind, I held up my right fist. Tingling energy rode an instantaneous current through my chest, arm, and fingers. A burst of light—hot, but cold at the same time—exploded from my hand.
Concentrating on our goal, I leaned as far over the rail as I could, then extended the shield. Fast as a tidal wave, the translucent barrier spread toward the bow and stern. Simultaneously, it spread to the top of the mast, to the hull below, meeting a little extra resistance as it hugged the sides and penetrated the waves.
Francis’s shield met mine at each end of the ship. An extra jolt of energy jarred my arm as our two energies collided. From experience, I knew as long as that added buzzing sensation lasted, our shielding remained joined and solid. It provided a respite from the wind and rain, but I wasn’t certain how long we could hold it. Such a large shielding required a great deal of concentration, but maybe we could at least reinforce the ship and prevent anyone from going overboard.
Fear tried to worm its way in, fueling a rising panic. The water was dark, deep, and hungry, and the only thing between me and it was a bit of wood and some magic. I clung to the one thing that kept fear at bay—anger—with this storm, with this life, with the great god Omri himself.
I bared my teeth and challenged him, screaming at the top of my lungs. “Come on! What are you waiting for? I’m right here! Come get me!”
Lightning streaked across the ceiling of clouds. Thunder jarred the deck. Despite the shielding, we remained at the mercy of the waves, which tossed the ship around like a child with a toy boat in a bathtub. Wood cracked, wind and water roared. Desperate prayers echoed within the confines of our shields. Francis recited a prayer of protection, screaming over the roar of the waves.
I knew I should be doing the same, but I didn’t have the heart. It died with Loralee.
The ship lurched hard to port. I gritted my teeth and wedged my boots against the bottom of the railing to keep from going over. I clung to the rope in my left hand until each fiber dug painfully into my fingers.
A wooden pail hit my leg and clattered along the deck, rolling back and forth with each toss of the waves. Someone must have forgotten to secure it. The extra buzzing sensation within my shield hand diminished. Francis had fallen. He flopped around on the deck by the rail, held only by his tethered arm. The bucket must have struck his head and stunned him.
His shielding was gone, giving the sea the advantage it needed.
A monstrous wave crashed over the starboard side, washing my feet from under me. My shield proved useless now, so I retracted it. It shrank into my fist as my backside thudded onto the deck. One of the crewmen lost his grip and washed over the rail, his terrified scream quickly drowned out by the sea’s fury.
The little bit of absinthe in my stomach threatened to come back up. Between the vertigo of the ship’s horrific dance on the waves and the blinding flashes of lightning, I realized this might be my final crusade after all. Regrets dominated my thoughts. I wished I had sought help for my father instead of trying to care for him alone as a boy. I wished I could apologize to Francis. And most of all, I wished I’d had the chance to wake up with Loralee one more time before I left on that campaign ten years ago.
The waves devoured one sailor after another, each one a valiant warrior of the Leogardian navy. I held to the rope for dear life and wrapped my other arm around the rail so hard the wood splintered into my skin. If I’d only had on my armor, like well-prepared Francis. He had pulled himself up, thankfully, but I did not like the look of finality in his eyes.
The boat lurched upward at the bow. My feet slid sideways toward the stern, and my arm slipped off the rail. Luckily, the rope held onto my arm, but the weight of my body falling jerked my shoulder out of socket. I cried out, but forgot the pain at the sounds of cracking and popping.
We crested the wave, and for a brief moment, we were suspended in calm, as though the sea enjoyed toying with us. Francis still held his own, and our eyes met once more before the ship fell. All I could see was a black mass of water many feet below us.
I let loose one last taunt. “Is that all you’ve got? Get on with it!”
Hungry and bored with its game, the sea swallowed the bow and bit down hard. Deck planks splintered into jagged pieces, masts toppled, and the rail gave way. The rope, now useless, squeezed painfully around my arm as though it was still trying to do its job, but I bounced and skidded along the buckling deck until I fell into the depths.
Francis—I could see him. So close. If I could just … I reached out. Our fingertips brushed, but the ocean tore us away from each other. Helpless as a ragdoll, I had no control in the aquatic fury. I lost all sense of direction, flailing my limbs in a useless attempt to stay afloat. Saltwater tainted with lamp oil set fire to my nose and lungs. I gulped in every bit of air I could when I broke the surface and cried out for Francis. Every now and then, I caught a glimpse of a hand or a leg, and thought I heard his voice, but the ravenous waves quickly swallowed all sight and sound. It felt like hours, this repetition of breathing, choking, searching for Francis in the abyss.
Just let go and face the inevitable.
Though I’d prayed for death in my darkest hours, when alcohol and reckless battle did nothing to ease the nightmares, now that it was upon me, I lacked the courage to surrender.
Every muscle in my body screamed from exhaustion and begged for relief. I kept treading water, filling my lungs with air every chance I got. The waves lessened from cresting peaks to rolling, black hills. From what I could see, not another living soul joined me among the stew of debris. The storm’s appetite must have been satisfied after having had its fill of Francis and the crew.
Francis. The familiar weight of loss added to the struggle for air in my chest. Death in battle had always been a real possibility. But, I never expected to lose him like this, not this soon, not my brother.
Rain still poured from above, but with less malice than before. A large object drifted toward me. I recognized it as part of a cot, and I reached out to grab it. My arms were so weak, all I could do was grip the sides and lay my head upon the soggy canvas. After a few deep breaths, I pulled my upper half onto it.
I collected as much air in my lungs as I could. “Francis!”
My voice sounded gritty and hoarse, sanded down by seawater and things I’d rather not imagine. Even if Francis was nearby, he’d never hear me. At least the waves had stopped tossing me so violently.
But, one last crest sent an unidentifiable piece of ship straight at me. I tried to duck out of the way. Too late. It careened into my temple. Stars danced in front of my stinging eyes, and I retched, vomiting up the seawater and whatever else lingered in my stomach. I drifted into the sweet bliss of unconsciousness, clinging to the fragile hope I’d see Loralee again in paradise.
To be continued…
***Tour-Wide Drawing***: Buy one copy (print or electronic) of Hearts in Exile at Melange Books, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, or All Romance E-Books, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win this BIG prize pack:
Dragon Necklace, I ♥ Dragons Tote Bag, This Gal (or Guy) Loves Dragons T-shirt, Hearts in Exile Notebook, and set of three signed playlist postcards.
To enter, just purchase a copy of Hearts in Exile from any of the online retailers above, and email your receipt to ME at this email: email@example.com. Drawing to be held on August 1, and it’s open worldwide!!!
I would like to thank Mysti Parker and Page Turner Book Tours for allowing to be a part of this tour. I hope you enjoyed the post and the sample chapter. Best of luck Mysti.