Fury's Mantle Cover

The second arc of the Fury Unbound Series begins.
Eight years after Tam and Fury's wedding:

My name is Kaeleen Donovan. I'm a Theosian-a minor goddess. They call me Fury. Oath bound to Hecate, I was charged from birth to hunt down Abominations who come in off the World Tree and send them back to Pandoriam.

In the wake of the second World Shift, Tam and I have spent eight years building UnderBarrow and Willow Wood into a thriving community. We’ve created an oasis of civilization, a safe haven in the vast sea of chaos left after Seattle fell. But as we settle into our new life, a terrifying danger is rising.

Travelers through our territory are being attacked, viciously savaged and taken for food. There are no survivors and no witnesses, but rumors begin to circulate. One of the old gods has returned with a taste for blood. When the Frostlings report that lycanthropes are gathering under a strange banner, we know we’re in trouble. Whoever is at their helm is proving a ruthless, deadly enemy. As the attacks close in on Willow Wood, Hecate warns me that if we can’t stop them, all we’ve worked so hard to build will be destroyed.

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Playlist for Fury’s Mantle

Air: Playground Love; Napalm Love; Moon Fever
The Alan Parsons Project: Voyager; Sirius; Mammagamma
Amethystium: Ad Astra; Shadow to Light; Garden of Sakuntala; Gates of Morpheus; Exultation; Shibumi; Withdrawal
Android Lust: Here and Now
Colin Foulke: Emergence
Dead Can Dance: Indus
Derek & Brandon Fiechter: Imperial Dynasty; Legend of the Dark Lord; Night Fairies; Fairy Magic
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being
Garbrielle Roth: Raven; Mother Night; Cloud Mountain
The Hang Drum Project: St. Chartier; Shaken Oak; Yankadee; Omnamo; Sukram
Marconi Union: Alone Together; First Light; Flying (In Crimson Skies); Always Numb; Time Lapse; On Reflection; Broken Colours; We Travel; Transient; Weightless; Weightless, Pt 2; Weightless, Pt 3; Weightless, Pt 4; Weightless, Pt 5; Weightless, Pt 6
Mythos: Alten Mara; Icarus; Surrender
Stellamara: Aman Doktor; Resulina
Tamaryn: Afterlight; While Your Sleeping, I’m Dreaming

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Fury Calling

My name is Kaeleen Donovan. I'm a Theosian-a minor goddess. They call me Fury. Oath bound to Hecate, I was charged from birth to hunt down Abominations who come in off the World Tree and send them back to Pandoriam.

We’ve settled into the Wild Wood and have begun to rebuild our home, taking what we can from the past to work toward the future. When I have a vision in which Gaia shows me how to stop the Order of the Black Mist, I realize that we must return to the fallen city of Seattle for one last stand at the World Tree. But there’s a spy in our midst, determined to stop us.

As destiny brings me face-to-face with my future, I face a terrifying decision—either I save the world from chaos and sacrifice a dear friend to the enemy, or I let Lyon win and plunge the world into a hellish nightmare from which there’s no awakening.

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

My name is Kaeleen Donovan. They call me Fury. I walk in a pillar of flame, a circle of fire. As we rebuild after the fall of Seattle, the Wild Wood has become our sanctuary and home. And yet, the Order of the Black Mist is coming close to plunging the world into chaos. I have a vision that promises a chance to prevent this from happening...but is my sight illusion? Do we risk everything on a hope born in a smoke and flame?

***

"Steady-hold it steady. Don't let go just yet." Hecate's voice rang through the cloud of smoke and sparks surrounding me.

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I couldn't see farther than my hand. My shoulder hurt. I had been holding my arm straight out in front of me for an hour, balancing the ball of flame on my fingertips, forcing myself to stand straight and not waver. That I was sitting on a boulder helped, at least my lower back and legs weren't aching. But I didn't dare waver more than an inch either way. If I lost control of this little ball of flame, it would rapidly grow into a flurry of sparks and shower hell all over the surrounding area. We had had a lot of rain lately, but the foliage was thick, and it would be easy to set off some of the wild patches of long grass and weeds that rose knee high in the clearing.

"How much longer?" I exhaled slowly, trying to steady my focus.

"Just because you asked, another half hour." Hecate laughed.

I stuck my tongue out in her direction, but said nothing. As I settled back against the boulder, I narrowed my attention. As my breathing grew deeper, I sank into deep trance.

The flame existed as an extension of myself. I was plugged into the Elemental plane of Fire and I was channeling the ball of fire directly from the source. It was different than drawing off my own power. Sourcing energy directly from the elemental planes made the magic flow easier and didn't drain my own energy. But the learning curve was steep, and it had been a challenge to narrow my focus as deeply as needed. In the start, I had struggled, but after I finally discovered the key-to coax the energy instead of force it-I had made a breakthrough. Within the span of six months I had gone from barely being able to tap into the primal energy to now, where I could hold the channel open for over an hour.

As I immersed myself in the flame, a faint laughter caught my attention. I followed the source, allowing my mind to wander through the billowing clouds of smoke and flame. The laughter beckoned seductively from a glowing cloud of golden light that appeared beside me. I reached out to touch the flame, wondering what it was.

"Fury! Fury? Let go, now!" Hecate's voice broke through my thoughts. "Don't touch that light. Back off now."

Reluctant-the golden light seemed so playful I wanted to stay-I obeyed. With a slow breath, I withdrew the flame, rolled it back out of my hand, and sent it home, managing to keep control of it. As the flame vanished, so did the smoke and sparks that had clouded around me, and I cautiously stretched, shaking my arm to clear the pins and needles out of it.

"What's wrong? Why did you have me stop?"

"You were on the edge of touching a Fire Elemental. They're dangerous and you won't have the ability to contain one for a very long time. If it decided to jump you, it would be free to raise havoc here. They're always hungry and of all the Elementals, the most likely to take over the one who summons them."

I swallowed hard. "That doesn't sound like a good thing."

"It's not. I didn't think you'd encounter one on the outer edges of the plane, so didn't even think to warn you. But you listened, and you acted as you should-easing the fire back. I'm proud of you. You're making quick progress." Hecate sat on a rock opposite me. She was watching me closely. "Any after effects? How are you feeling?"

I ran down the checklist we had established. My body was still quivering from running the fire through me at such an extreme rate. My mind felt singed around the edges, but my heart was singing. The flames had charred me around the edges, burning the outer layer away, and while what it left exposed felt a little raw, it also felt clean, as if scrubbed clear by the universe itself.

"Good. A little shaky and my shoulder aches, but overall, I'm feeling good. At least this time I didn't lose control of it and we don't have any fires to put out." I kicked my foot toward the bushes nearby.

She laughed. "True, but just in case..." She whistled long and low, and a moment later a huge burly man with a wild beard came traipsing out from between a waist-high fern and a huckleberry bush. He was carrying a hammer that rivaled any weapon I'd ever seen.

"You rang?" Thor was massive, bigger than any man I'd ever met. He was nearly seven feet tall, and muscled in a thick, burly way. His hair was a shock of gold that flowed down his back, and his beard, a coppery color. He was gorgeous, in a gigantic sort of way.

"I think a light shower would be in order to make certain no sparks went astray. Fury kept control this time, but you never know." Hecate winked at me.

Thor let out a chuckle. "Oh, that's for certain. One shower, coming up." He closed his eyes, then hit the ground with his hammer. A sudden swirl of clouds began driving over our area, thick and heavy, and the god of thunder and agriculture waited for a few seconds, then smote the ground again. This time, the reverberation sounded in a crack of thunder as the clouds opened up and rain began to pour onto the ground, the fat droplets soaking everything, including us.

I blinked, trying to see through the rain as it streaked down my cheeks from the sudden deluge. "Well, that should take care of any fires I may have accidentally kindled."

"Yes, and we should get back to the village. Lord Tam was asking for you, Fury. It seems news has come in off the grapevine and Verdanya has sent an envoy to discuss something happening in the south." The massive god motioned toward the trail leading into the wood.

As I gathered my things, the summer rain beat a steady tattoo against the firs and cedars. Without another word, the three of us headed back to UnderBarrow as the birds took up the refrain announcing the arrival of the surprise rainstorm.

***

UnderBarrow was now more than just the Barrow of the Bonny Fae. UnderBarrow was a city proper. Or rather, the cornerstone of a village-Willow Wood, Tam had named it, for all of the weeping willows around the area.

Six months before, when Seattle fell to the zombies and the Order of the Black Mist, and then to the tsunami which pretty much put a slam dunk on a trio of disasters, Tam had shifted the Barrow. He moved it adjacent to Reflection Lake north, in the Wild Wood. We were now located north of Wyfair, the village of the Frostlings, and we were in the process of establishing a strong foothold in the deep woods.

Over the past few months, a number of the Elder Gods had joined us. At first it had been just Hecate, Freya, Thor, Sif, and Athena. But now, more had arrived, and now the Finns, the Celts, the Norse, and the Greek pantheons were building new compounds. The Peninsula of the Gods sat empty, and though the gods didn't speak of it much, a pallor of sadness hung over the subject. Willow Wood had also attracted a number of Theosians who made their way through the Wild Wood, petitioning to join the village.

While only the Bonny Fae-and a few others, like me-actually lived in UnderBarrow, Tam opened the village to anyone who promised to comply with the rules. And so, for six months we had grown. Now, we were getting used to the rural life, and to the vastly different situation into which our world had been thrown.

***

Hecate and Thor peeled off at the main hall of the Gods-which they had named Gudarheim-and I followed the trail back into the village proper, and then dashed toward UnderBarrow. I was soaked to the skin by the time he guards saw me coming. They bowed as I passed, opening the door for me without a word. They knew who I was-the lover and consort of Lord Tam, Prince of UnderBarrow.

I paused just inside, where one of the serving girls passing by handed me a towel from her laundry basket without a word. She asked no questions, but just offered me a deep curtsy.

"Thank you," I said, wiping my face off and draping the towel around my shoulders. Whatever heat I had been running from keying into the Elemental plane of Fire was gone. The summer rains were cool, and while it was a balmy sixty-seven degrees out, the rain brought a chill to the woodland.

Heading toward my room, I realized I was starving. It felt like I hadn't eaten in days. Ever since Hecate had increased my training and started putting me through trials so advanced that I had never dreamed I'd be able to master them, my need for food had gone up. Magic burned calories, as did heat, and my appetite had shot up.

I finally was getting used to the labyrinth of the Barrow. The passages had wound in seemingly chaotic manner, but I had soon realized that they were much like a web, with a central hub-the great hall-from which all passages snaked out. The passages wove and interwove, but I had finally convinced Tam to start labeling them like the Mudarani had in their underground chambers. The cat people who lived out on the Tremble had numbered each juncture of their subterranean lair, making it easier to identify place points. While the Bonny Fae had an innate sense of direction, any visitors to UnderBarrow easily got lost. Tam had humored my request.

I finally came to the juncture that led to my room-number F451-and gratefully darted into the chamber, ringing the bell pull for Patrice. It had taken me awhile to get used to having a personal maid, but I was grateful for her help, and she seemed to enjoy her work. I tried to make her duties easy, but she assured me that everything was fine and that she liked working with me.

I peeled off my wet clothes and gingerly dropped them into the laundry hamper as she entered the room, curtseying when she saw me.

"Please draw me a hot bath. Thor's rain showers tend to be icy cold."

"Perhaps it's because he comes from the north," she said with a grin as she fiddled with the controls on the bathtub that stood behind a screen to the side. I still had no clue of how the Fae magic managed to produce hot and cold running water, but I didn't question it. I just enjoyed the results.

"Maybe he just likes cold showers?" I chose a bath wash-pumpkin cinnamon-and poured the last of it into the tub, sad to see it go. We'd have to send another raiding party into Seattle for supplies soon, and I made a note to ask them to plunder one of the devastated boutiques for bath wash, soaps, shampoos, and whatever else they could find. That was one downside to living in the Wild Wood. The things I had liked about civilization were no longer easily available, and pretty soon, I'd have to wean myself off a number of them as the supplies in the fallen city ran low or expired.

Patrice rummaged through my closet as I lowered myself into the steaming tub, sighing as the water permeated the aches and pains that ran though my muscles. Not only was I undergoing intense magical training, but my already rigorous workout schedule had been increased to five days a week, two hours each time. I rested my neck on the bath pillow and closed my eyes.

"What do you want to wear, milady?" Patrice popped her head out of the closet. "Something comfortable yet pretty, I would think?"

Formality was the way of the Bonny Fae, and while it still made me somewhat uncomfortable, I had forced myself to get used to it. As long as I was dating the Lord of UnderBarrow, I would play by the rules.

"I'm done with training for the day, so the green skirt and tank top. And my flats. I don't expect to be doing much running around the rest of the afternoon."

I slid under the water, dousing my hair. As I came up, I began lathering it up with the bath wash. I was about to duck and rinse when Patrice appeared by my side with a jug of water. Smiling at her-I knew the drill-I leaned forward and closed my eyes, holding my breath as the water cascaded through my hair, washing away the suds into the tub. She brought a second jug, and my hair was clear of soap.

"Do you want to soak for awhile, milady?"

"Yes, if I have time." I nodded. "How long till dinner?"

"Three hours."

My stomach rumbled. "All right. Would you bring me some bread and cheese? Also some berries and a cup of coffee? I'm starved, but I don't feel like getting out of the water just yet."

As Patrice curtseyed again and vanished, I wrapped my hair in a towel, then leaned back in the still steaming water and closed my eyes. So much had happened in the past nine months. It felt like forever.

***

My name is Fury. Actually it's Kaeleen Donovan, but there are days I almost forget I ever wore that name. I'm a Theosian-a minor goddess. When Gaia rained down her anger over how her body was being tormented, she stirred up a shit storm of magic, some of which permanently became embedded in areas of land. One of those places is the Sandspit-a two hundred acre wasteland in the city of Seattle where rogue magic wanders in the guise of clouds, permanently changing anybody it hits.

When Gaia struck the industrial district, creating the Sandspit, the very first World Tree rose from the ashes, a hundred-foot tall oak, rising out of a crater almost as deep, and on this oak, doors to different realms and dimensions appeared. Creatures of all sorts became streaming through, including the Abominations who come from the realm of Pandoriam. Hecate trained me to hunt them-it's one of my natural abilities, and that's what I did until recently, when-battered and bruised-Seattle fell and we had to flee.

Anyway, one night my mother, Marlene, was taking a shortcut through the Sandspit. She was on her way home from the Metalworks, tired and pregnant with me, when she was hit by a patch of rogue magic. Boom, my DNA was changed and I was born a Theosian. There are a number of us, and we're all mutants. We aren't human any longer, but our own separate race, yet all incredibly different. My powers came in flame and fire, and so I was bound to Hecate, the Elder Goddess of the Crossroads. I belong to her, forever until this life passes.

Long story short, the government fell into a corporatocracy, ruled over by ruthless, greedy men. But a magical society rose, one bent on engendering as much anarchy into the world order as possible. They're known as the Order of the Black Mist, and they are a worldwide threat, seeking to yank open the portal on the World Tree leading to the Elder Gods of Chaos. If they manage it, life will become problematic, and Gaia will go to war again. I was after Lyon, the leader of the local Order of the Black Mist, but things got out of hand and he helped engineer the fall of Seattle. We haven't worked out how to stop them yet. But time is ticking, and if they find the portal before we put a stop to them, then all bets are off.

***

Finally warm, I toweled dry and asked Patrice braid my hair back. I had recovered fully from all the injuries that I had sustained in our flight from Seattle, but still bore a few of the scars. They paled in the brilliance of the tattoos that marked the milestones in my life with Hecate. Along my left leg, trailing down the outer thigh and calf, was a flaming whip, and when I needed a weapon, all I had to do was slap my hand against the handle and the whip came off my leg, ready to use. A quick slap against my leg and it returned to its inked state. Hecate had inked it on me herself, the night she branded me with my name.

My neck tattoo-three entwined snakes on my neck-came much earlier, when I reached puberty. It was almost like a baptism, even though I had been bound to her shortly after my birth. And the third, an ornate F in the middle of a heart with flames trailing off each side, rested against my tailbone. Hecate had given it to me six months ago, when I made a choice that seemed more difficult than it was, actually.

I had always been fit-sturdy and muscled. I had to be, given how rigorous hunting down Aboms was, but after six months of a highly rigorous training schedule I now felt hard and chiseled. I was still solid, but I could move like the wind and I could bring down an opponent three times my size.

I slipped into my clothes-the green plaid skirt was mid-thigh length, leaving my leg free so I could easily get to my whip. The tank top was a V-neck and it was a loose gauzy cotton. I slipped on my shoes as Patrice entered the room again, carrying a tray with my coffee, a couple of rolls, a small round of soft cheddar, and a bowl of mixed berries. Most of our food was simple, but hearty and nutritious.

We had-and by "we" I mean the village-had tilled and sewn about five acres of land in a clearing. The herbalists spent a lot of energy infusing the soil with elemental earth energy, charging it so that the crops were growing huge and bountiful.

"Lord Tam is requesting your presence at a meeting in thirty minutes," Patrice said, dipping into a quick curtsey. We kept clocks from the outer world in UnderBarrow, to keep track of the relative time, since the days moved differently inside a Fae Barrow.

"Oh?" I hadn't seen him since breakfast. As Lord of UnderBarrow, he had a great deal of responsibilities, especially with the addition of the village. We spent most nights together, and we tried to eat dinner and breakfast together, and we claimed half a day once a week, but some days were more problematic than others.

"Apparently, the runners brought news and he's called a meeting of the Sea-Council." Patrice kept her ear to the ground a lot. She was an excellent maid-slash-spy.

"Oh really?" I nibbled on one of the rolls, slicing a piece of cheese to go with it. We had formed the Sea-Council after settling Willow Wood. Most of us had been forced out of Seattle during the zombie invasion, though we had added a few members since then. Tam, me, Jason, Elan, Laren, Hans, Greta, Kendall, Tyrell, were all members, as well as Sarinka-a healer from Seattle who had joined is. We also invited Damh Varias to join. He was Tam's main advisor. We hadn't met for about a month, so if runners had brought news, Lyon was probably on the move again and we needed to find out why.

"I assume that Hecate, Thor, and Freya have been notified?" The Elder Gods didn't always sit in on our meetings, but we made sure they were always informed about whatever we learned.

"Yes, milady, I believe so." Patrice finished tidying up after my bath. "Is there anything else you require?"

"Have you seen my notebook?" During the past six months, we had to learn to do without technology. The cell towers were faulty and few and far between, and all our lovely gadgets were so much flotsam and jetsam. But we had concentrated a few raids specifically on things like paper products of all sorts, and anything that didn't require electricity to work. We were set for a number of years and by the time we ran out of scavenged goods, we'd be firmly set up to carry on. At least, we hoped we would.

"Here it is, along with your pencils." She handed them to me.

I slipped them into my tote bag and slung it over my shoulder. Purses were useless out here, but a good leather tote was a goddess-send. "All right, I guess I'm ready. I'll be back later-I don't know if we'll go straight in to dinner afterward. It depends on how long our meeting runs." And with that, I headed out.

***

As I entered the council chamber, I saw that Jason had arrived early, along with Elan. They were finding their way as a couple, and they seemed to be doing well. Jason and I had a rough spot that lasted a couple months when I had discovered that he had an affair with my mother before I was born, but we had gotten through it and although things were different, we were back on steady ground as friends.

Tam rose, holding out his arms. The Prince of UnderBarrow looked more in his element than ever. The Wild Wood agreed with him, even though he missed his beloved computers and gadgets. Tall and lanky, he was sinuous, and the Bonny Fae charm oozed out of him. His hair was a mass of raven curls that tumbled down his back, and his eyes were silver, ringed with black. He had an exotic look, almost alien, but it only heightened his sex appeal.

I took his hands and he planted a firm but decorous kiss on my lips. We were cautious about our public displays of affection, taking care never to overstep the boundaries of what was acceptable among the Bonny Fae. Tam's people were very sexual, but never sloppy.

"Love, how was your day?" He led me to the chair next to his and held it for me.

"Hard. Hecate is really pushing me, but I'm making progress. It's amazing what I can do now with the fire. Tomorrow morning, she says she's got a special surprise for me. I'm not sure whether to be excited or scared." I laughed, then took my seat.

Jason and Elan were listening, and Jason winked. He had taken care of me as I grew up, after I landed on his doorstep when a serial killer murdered my mother. A hawk shifter, he had owned a magic shop back in Seattle. We had plundered everything we could from it and he had set up an apothecary shop in the village. Dream Wardens might not be the same size or scope, but it lived on.

"I'd be scared," he said. "When the gods talk about a surprise, I'm pretty sure they aren't talking birthday party."

"I'm afraid you're right. So, how are things at the shop?" Until we fled the city, I had a secondary business-a psychic cleaning company-that I ran out of Dream Wardens. I missed it, but right now my training was so intense that I didn't have any time to spare.

"Good. Laren is actually helping me in between boat runs. He's handy and the clients like him." Jason gave me a long look, almost smug, as though he were hiding a secret.

"What are you up to?" I asked, narrowing my eyes. "I can read your face, you know."

"Oh, nothing...just..."

Elan elbowed him and he shut up as the others trickled in. When we were all assembled, Tam cleared his throat.

"Hello, and thank you all for attending on such short notice. I have news from Seattle and the surrounding areas. Runners came in this morning and Damh Varias and I have been in conference with them most of the afternoon." He paused.

I didn't waste any time. "Do you have news about Lyon?"

He nodded. "Of a sort. The Devani now seem to be working with the Order of the Black Mist-an odd pairing given how ordered the former are, and how chaotic the latter is. But whatever the case, from what our intelligence can gather, Lyon's searching for the portal on the World Tree that will lead to the realm of Chaos. The Abominations are running unchecked through the remains of the city, if you can call it a city. Seattle's pretty much gone. Dead and forgotten. All the Order of the Black Mist are ruling over, is a ghost town."

The last was hard to hear, though not unexpected. "Do we know how many people are still living there?" It was hard to think about the number of dead. The scope was astronomical. At least one hundred thousand had perished during the zombie attack. And then, an unknown toll during the tsunami. While a number of the survivors had fled the city before the waves, there had to be tens of thousands still trapped when the waters came rushing through.

"I don't know, but reports are that the Junk Yard was swept away. The survivors have created a small compound they're calling Shanty Town. The Sandspit seems to be a playground for Abominations, but the creatures are moving out into the wilds. They're traveling out of the city for some reason--probably because of the lack of ready victims."

The whip on my leg itched as the urge to go play hunt-and-seek hit me. But I kept quiet.

Tam tossed the papers he was holding on the table. "But we have even more disturbing news. We've managed to gather a few reports from the rest of the country. The Conglomerate is gone. The country has fallen into chaos-there is no more American Corporatocracy. The Order of the Black Mist may have taken Atlantea, but there's been nothing but radio silence from there. We have no idea of whether they're still managing or not."

"What about the rest of the world?" Greta was furiously taking notes.

Tam shuffled through his papers till he found the one he was looking for. "The Canadian Empire is standing, but it's closed its borders. The same with Bifrost and a few of the other countries overseas. Other than that, we don't know. We do know that the Asiatic Empire, New London, and Paris are all gone. Even the Kiwi Nation is lost. Most of this is due directly to the Order of the Black Mist."

"And Lyon is still trying to rip open the portals. I wonder if they're attempting the same thing on the World Trees around the world. It would make sense. And if so, then stopping Lyon isn't going to stop them from achieving their goal." I was beginning to wonder if we should just cut our losses and enjoy what time we had left until they managed to bring back the Elder Gods of Chaos.

"That, I can't tell you. It would make sense. But if it's true, they haven't had any better luck than Lyon has." Tam leaned his elbows on the table. "As things go, there's not much we can do right now. With the Devani supporting Lyon, we don't have the force necessary to go up against him unless the Elder Gods step in, and so far, they've given us no sign they're going to do so."

A knock on the door stopped the conversation. As one of the guards peeked inside, Tam motioned for him to enter. "What is it?"

"Lord Tam, we have reports from the south side of the village. An Abomination has been spotted near the town. The guards wondered..." He paused, looking directly at me.

I jumped up. "I'm on my way. Let me go change."

That ended the meeting. As I raced back to my room, I called for Queet, the spirit guide, to whom I was bound. He appeared in a whirl of mist.

"Come on, Queet. We have a job." And as much as I hated to admit it, I was glad for the diversion. It made life feel somewhat normal again.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Jill Smith on Romantic Times wrote:

Life as Theosian (minor goddess) Kaeleen Donovan (a.k.a. Fury) has been irrevocably changed by the terrible events shaking up the world. After Zombies took over Seattle, Fury and her friends were forced to move into the Wild Wood. In the finale of the series, Galenorn places her heroine and secondary characters into deadly danger as they must risk all in an attempt to help save the world. Galenorn is truly an amazing storyteller who, book after book, manages to create riveting storylines that are vividly brought to life by the characters she creates! Hang on tight, for Fury is going to kick butt and take names!


Playlist

Android Lust: Here and Now
Arcade Fire: Abraham's Daughter
Arch Leaves: Nowhere to Go
The Black Angels: You on the Run; Don't Play With Guns; Love Me Forever; Young Men Dead
Black Mountain: Queens Will Play
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Feel It Now
Broken Bells: The Ghost Inside
Clannad: Banba Óir; Newgrange
Cobra Verde: Play with Fire
Corvus Corax: Ballade de Mercy
Crosby, Stills & Nash: Guinnevere
Damh the Bard: Willow's Song; Gently Johnny
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being
Eivør: Trøllbundin
Faun: Hymn to Pan; The Market Song; Sieben; Tanz mit mir
FC Kahuna: Hayling
The Feeling: Sewn
Garbage: Queer; #1 Crush
The Gospel Whiskey Runners: Muddy Waters
Ian Melrose & Kerstin Blodig: Kråka
Jessica Bates: The Hanging Tree
Jethro Tull: Dun Ringill; North Sea Oil
The Kills: Nail In My Coffin; You Don't Own The Road; Sour Cherry; Dead Road 7
Leonard Cohen: The Future; You Want It Darker
Lorde: Yellow Flicker Beat; Royals
Low with Tom and Andy: Half Light
Matt Corby: Breathe
Shriekback: The Shining Path; Underwaterboys; Dust and a Shadow; This Big Hush; Now These Days Are Gone; The King in the Tree
Spiral Dance: Boys of Bedlam
Sweet Talk Radio: We All Fall Down
Tamaryn: While You're Sleeping, I'm Dreaming; Violet's in a Pool
Tina Turner: One of the Living
Tom Petty: Mary Jane's Last Dance
Tuatha Dea: The Hunt; Irish Handfasting
The Verve: Bitter Sweet Symphony
Wendy Rule: Let the Wind Blow

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Fury Awakened Cover

My name is Kaeleen Donovan. I'm a Theosian-a minor goddess. They call me Fury. Oath bound to Hecate, I was charged from birth to hunt down Abominations who come in off the World Tree and send them back to Pandoriam.

We’re on the run into the Wild Wood, away from the zombie invasion in Seattle. The Regent has set the Devani free to use whatever force they deem necessary. Their research labs have created a deadly antidote, with one major problem: the serum kills the zombies at a terrible price to humans. But things take an even more devastating turn.

As we return to UnderBarrow to plan our next move, the Order of the Black Mist carries out simultaneous strikes at governments across the world, crumbling the old order. Seattle, Atlantea, Black Forest, city after city falls to the chaos magicians. The world around us has changed forever. Now, Hecate offers me a choice I never thought I’d have to face. I can either leave my old life forever, or walk into the fire and awaken the fury within...

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Chapter 1

My name is Kaeleen Donovan. They call me Fury. I walk in flame and ash, on a field of bones. As Seattle burns-the old order crashing behind us, ahead the Wild Wood waits in the cold, frozen dark. Some battles, it's wiser to run than to stand and fight.

* * *

"HOW'S YOUR ARM?" I knelt by Tam, who was sitting by the fire. The forest loomed around us, the massive fir and cedar trees bending under the weight of the snow. The wind whistled through their boughs, the creaking setting up a lonely lament that echoed through our encampment. I cocked my head, listening to the noise of the forest around us. I wasn't used to the sounds of the woodland and they made me nervous. Traffic, cars, the hum of electricity, and milling crowds were my usual milieu. Out here, I felt lost and clumsy.

Tam winced as he shifted his right shoulder, rotating it first backward, then forward.

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"It will heal. Leave it to those bastards to implant the chip in my bicep instead of someplace where it was easy to remove." He let out a soft grunt, then took another sip of his coffee from the enamel mug.

Jason had removed the chip for him while we were aboard the boat headed for the Greens. It had been a rough, bloody surgery, but with Elan's salves, and my fire to cauterize the wound, Tam managed to avoid infection. We dumped the chip overboard, so if the Devani or the Corp Rats were trying to track him, they'd find themselves in the middle of the Pacific Sound. With the zombies overrunning Seattle, I doubted they'd even bother.

We had managed to reach the Wild Wood and were well north of the Greens, attempting to make our way through to the forest on the opposite side of Wild Wave Inlet, but the going was slow and the weather had been against us all the way. None of our cell phones worked here. The Wild Wood had taken on a force of its own since the World Shift, and even satellite technology couldn't pierce the veil that shadowed the tangle of forests.

I warmed my hands by the fire. We had yet to come across any of the Woodland Fae supposed to be living out in the wilds. Elan had cautioned patience.

"We have miles to go yet," she had said. "Verdanya is at least a week to the south, given the weather we're encountering."

Apparently, she wasn't kidding.

There were no paved roads out here, nor cars to travel them. If we had managed to escape to the south we could have hiked along the highway toward Bend and perhaps hitched a ride, but there hadn't been any time to escape that way. We had to evacuate immediately and with the Devani watching the southern border of the city, that meant traveling via the Barrow tunnels to the Pacific Sound to meet Laren's boat.

When the zombies swarmed the city, the Regent of Seattle declared martial law and every border was in the process of being locked up good and tight. Luckily the curfew couldn't affect UnderBarrow, but we had to run while we had the chance or risk facing the Devani as they began to patrol the Pacific Sound as well as the city streets. Laren would have had to sail away before they caught him. As big as our party was-eight adults and one teenager-the only way out through the chaos had been via the waterways.

Now, two days later, we were deep in the forest, caught in the middle of a massive snowstorm. I was usually good with directions, but keeping my bearings in a wild tangle of woodland was proving a challenge.

I settled beside Tam on the nurse log and leaned against him. He wrapped his arm-his good arm-around me and kissed my forehead.

"This is all new for you, isn't it? The forest?"

I nodded. "Other than a day trip or two, and an occasional excursion into the Bogs, the only interactions I've had with the forest were in the Arbortariam with the Greenlings. I'm not sure what to expect here. The sounds are so different than in the city. I don't know what to be alarmed by, or what's considered normal. Also, I can't stop thinking about Hecate. I know she said she'd be able to find me, but...will she?"

I was most concerned about the latter. Hecate was a goddess of the Crossroads. I was her Theosian-a minor goddess in my own right. She was back in Seattle. The Peninsula of the Gods had closed itself off to any visitors, including government officials. They had raised the banner of sovereignty as they isolated themselves from the chaos raging through the city.

"She's an Elder Goddess. She'll be able to find you, no matter what. Even if your cell phone isn't picking up a signal, she'll find you. You're bound to her and she holds your leash. How could she not keep track of you?"

Once again, Tam kissed me, this time on the lips. A long, lingering kiss, his touch ran through to the tips of my toes. I shivered, more out of hunger for him than because of my fears. I had never relied on anybody this much in a long time, and that in itself scared me.

Tam was around five-eleven, lanky with long black hair that curled to his waist. His features were angular, with wide, sloping eyes. His irises glimmered silver, and were ringed with black. He was the prettiest man I had ever seen. At least, he was pretty in that dangerous, glam-boy way. He also happened to be Lord of the Bonny Fae, and he was my lover.

I huddled next to him, holding my hands out to the fire as the snow fell thickly around us. Winter had come hard this year. Eons ago, before the World Shift, the Seattle area had been rainy during the winter, from what the history books told us. But now the season marched on, with long chilly autumns, icy winters, lovely springs, and then a brief, sweltering summer.

"What do you think is happening back there?" I missed the city. Even though I had lived on the fringe, hiding from the Devani and the sky-eyes, I loved the hustle and bustle, the street vendors and late night bogeys who slinked through the shadows. The city was all I had ever known.

"I don't even want to think about it." Tam slid his arm around my waist, pulling me closer. He grazed my cheek with his lips. "I'm just grateful that UnderBarrow can close against the outer world. At least my people will be safe. Someday, I want to show you all of its wonders. When we return I'll take you on the full tour." He paused, then whispered, "I wish I could fuck you right here, right now. You drive me crazy, you know that?"

I blushed. I was learning to accept his compliments, but they still made me laugh nervously. We had transformed our years-long friendship into a romantic one. It took some getting used to.

"I know." I shifted on the log. "I feel the same way, but we're in the middle of the woods, in the middle of a snowstorm, and all our friends are right here. I don't want to make them uncomfortable." I paused, glancing over at the tent we shared. "I'm just grateful Elan and Laren had plenty of survival gear stowed aboard the Golden Briar."

Born in Verdanya, home of the Woodland Fae, the twins owned the boat, and had helped us escape from Seattle.

Tam arched his back to stretch, raising his arms over his head. With a sudden grunt, he lowered his right arm, wincing. "That was stupid."

"Your arm?"

He nodded. "Yeah, I won't make that mistake again." With a sigh, he stood, holding out his hand. "Come then, let's see how the others are doing."

As we turned to join the rest of the camp, who were over by the main fire, the crackle of branches split the night as a group of dark, twisted figures lunged out from the forest. They growled and sputtered as they raced forward.

Crap. We were under attack.

I slapped my hand to my right thigh, where the long tattoo of a flaming whip came to life in my palm. Hecate had tattooed the whip onto my leg, magically imbuing the ink with her cold fire and strength. As I coiled the braided lash back, my side protested. I was still weak from a rib-bruising beating, but at least I had recovered enough over the past couple of days to fight.

Tam drew his sword, tossing it to his left hand. He was ambidextrous, and had a keen aim with either hand. I moved aside to give both of us room to maneuver. The last thing I needed was to flail one of our own party with my whip.

Over by the main fire, Elan and Laren smoothly moved in unison, nocking their arrows. Jason-a hawk shifter and one of my closest friends-drew his dagger. Though he was a magician, his spellwork wasn't geared toward fighting.

Hans, a Theosian like me who was pledged to Thor, and Greta, a newly ascended Valkyrie, also drew their swords and took up battle stance. Tymbur and Montran began to prepare their magic. Pledged to Hades, their magic ran in dark corners, like much of my own.

The only two who hung back had good reason. Neither Shevron, Jason's sister, or her teenaged son Leonard, were trained to fight.

As we tensed, waiting, our attackers emerged from the trees, looking ready to rumble. They were twisted and dark, and there were a lot of them. They must have been tracking us-they were too numerous for a scouting party, so they had probably caught our trail earlier in the day and gathered to form an attack.

As they drew closer to the fire, Jason shouted, "Lycanthropes!"

Lycanthropes looked more wolf than human and could run on all fours when they wished, though they generally slinked around upright. Unlike shifters and Weres, they couldn't transform into human and animal forms-they were stuck in-between. With long, jointed arms and legs, they could both run on all fours and yet walk on their hind legs. Their faces were disfigured, their muzzles a muddy cross between human and wolf, and their hair flowed down their back like a horse's mane. When they were on alert, as they were now, the strands stiffened into long, rigid hackles.

We spread out in a semi-Circle to shield Shevron and Leonard. The lycanthropes growled and snuffled as they slowed their approach, growing wary as they pushed toward us.

"Can we reason with them?" I asked Tam.

A flurry of snow whirled around me and Queet, my spirit guide, appeared.

In whisper-speak, so that only our party could hear, he said, "No. There is no reasoning with them, nor bargaining. Lycanthropes are filled with blood lust. Even among their own, they pick on the weak and elderly. They allow their young to grow without attacking them, but you'll never see an old or disabled lycanthrope. Strength and might are their values. Any member who feels themselves growing weak will leave the pack before they are destroyed."

"Great," I mumbled. "So we're facing fighters in their prime." I contemplated whether to charge, or to hold back for defense. But I wasn't leading the group, and it wasn't my call. We had elected Elan to be in charge as long as we were making our way through the Wild Wood.

I glanced over at her, where she was holding her arrow taut, trained on the leader. She must have sensed my question, because without looking away from her target, she said, "Hold until I give the go. Let them come a little closer, if they choose to take the risk."

Her words rang out, sounding like a taunt. I glanced at the lycanthropes, who jockeyed for position yet again. They looked a little less certain. It was then that I understood the dynamics. Just as with big cats, never look away or down or they'd take it as a sign of weakness.

I stared at the nearest one, locking my gaze with his. He was a huge beast, obviously male, and he was walking on his back legs. The lycanthrope let out a grunt. A challenge. I held my place, whip ready to strike.

As the creatures shuffled forward, Elan called out, "Ready!"

We froze, ready to strike.

Then, the lycanthropes rushed us.

"Go!" Elan let her arrow fly.

I brought my focus to my opponent. I was used to battling creatures bigger than myself-the Abominations that came in off the World Tree chose large human vehicles-but I knew their M.O.s. I knew what their weaknesses were, and I knew how to avoid most of their attacks. Lycanthropes? Not so much.

The lycanthrope careening toward me was at least two feet taller and a hundred pounds heavier than I was. His mouth was open, his razor sharp teeth gleaming and ready to snag himself some dinner. Fury-on-a-stick, to be precise.

My gaze darting over his body, I decided to strike for his face-that seemed the most vulnerable. I brought my whip back, circling it quickly around my head. The flames rushed off of the thong as it cracked through the air. Magical, they were a cold, burning fire, and deadly. They would burn on impact, and keep eating into the flesh after they hit.

My shoulder and ribs ached as I targeted the center of his face and brought the lash whistling down. I still was bruised from the shit-kicking I had taken a week or so ago, but I ignored the throbbing pain as the fall landed dead center on his nose. The crack echoed through the cascade of shouts and shrieks around us.

The lycanthrope let out a shriek and lurched back, dropping his club. I pressed in for another attack. I'd learned early never to give my opponent time to think. The moment I attacked, I kept on attacking.

He covered his face with his hands as I hit him again, this time the fall creeping between his fingers to land on the chin. As he clumsily lurched toward me, I darted to the side, trying not to slip in the knee deep snow. With my left hand, I drew Xan-my sword-from the scabbard hanging over my back. She was a magical blade, she was, ornate and engraved, and another gift from Hecate. The sword was bound to me, enhanced with magic so she aimed better and hit harder. Xan bit deep into flesh with a ruthlessly sharp edge.

I slapped the whip back on my thigh and it instantly coiled back into place, once more simply a tattoo.

The lycanthrope lunged. He was bleeding heavily, the blood dripping into his murderous eyes. I dodged to the right, twisting to bring Xan across his chest. He shrieked, howling long and deep as he stumbled forward, grabbing for his chest. By the light of the campfire, a stain of red saturated the snow, spreading as his life force pumped out through the wounds. He was bleeding so heavily that I found it hard to believe he hadn't keeled over yet. He must be tougher than I thought.

I swung again as he fell on his knees and this time, Xan cleaved into his back, lodging in his shoulder. Darting forward, I used my boot to shove his ass forward as I yanked on my sword. He lurched spread-eagle on the ground, and the sudden jolt as Xan came free sent me staggering back. I tried to steady myself, but tripped over a root and went sprawling on my butt.

Another one of the creatures leaped, landing atop of me, his long teeth snapping at my face. I thrust myself backward against the snow, trying to scramble out from beneath him.

"Fury!"

The next moment, blood splattered on my face and chest as the tip of a sword came thrusting through his skull from behind. I cringed as the lycanthrope went flying off of me, tossed to the side like a used tissue. Tam stood there, panting. He offered his hand, pulled me to my feet, and then we were back into the fray, both of our injuries forgotten in the heat of the battle.

My blood pulsed as the adrenaline rush thundered through my veins and I fell on the first creature who had attacked me, finishing him off as he crouched on the ground. As I jumped up, I saw that Greta and Hans were plowing through the beasts. There must have been twenty-five of the lycanthropes in the attack party, but Hans and Greta advanced, guarding each other's sides as they acted like a two-person slice-and-dice team. They took down first one, then two, then yet a third creature as I watched.

Jason dodged a hail of blows from one of the beasts, managing to throw him off guard with a fake pass to the right. As the lycanthrope aimed in the wrong direction, he left his side open and Jason took advantage, driving his long dagger between the creature's ribs, into his heart.

Another quick check told me Montran and Tymbur were cooking up some sort of magic. The energy echoed through the clearing and I made sure to stay out of the way. They worked with the magic of death and decay, and I wasn't about to interfere, even accidentally.

Elan and Laren had backed up onto a slope behind us, firing arrows one after another. In another moment or two, they'd have to draw their blades. The lycanthropes were fully inside our camp. As I finished my cursory examination, a scream echoed behind me.

I whirled. Shevron had pushed Leonard in back of her, trying to protect him from one of the creatures who had broken through the lines.

"Fall back!" I rushed over, drawing my dagger in my right hand.

Leonard was cursing up a blue streak, but Shevron shoved him out of the way as I slid between them and the lycanthrope, driving the blade deep into its throat. We were in too close of quarters for my whip or sword, so I jerked the dagger as hard as I could, ripping his larynx and severing his jugular in the process. I yanked the blade away, jumping to the side to let him fall. As he landed on the snow, bleeding out, I stabbed him in the back to make certain he was dead.

"Fury! Be care-" Shevron screamed, but before she could finish, a white hot pain slashed through my back.

I turned to find another of the beasts had taken advantage of my focus on his buddy to sneak up behind me. He raked my shoulder from behind. Before I could stop him, he slashed his claws across my chest. I stifled a scream, thrusting my blade deep into his stomach. As I twisted the dagger, he struggled, impaled on the cold steel as the flames spread into his wound. I gave the blade another moment, then cleanly withdrew it, stepping aside as he fell forward.

Shevron stared at me, her eyes wide. She was shaking, but still she held firm to Leonard's arm. Len, on the other hand, was struggling against her hold. But Shevron was a hawk-shifter, and Leonard had inherited his father's human nature. Which meant Mama Bird was far stronger than her chick.

Leonard thrashed. "Let me go. I can fight!"

"Shut up." I leaned in, glaring at him.

Len quickly shut his mouth. He had always been a little afraid of me.

"Mind your mother. We don't have time to protect you from yourself. Do as you're told."

Before he could sputter a word, I turned and raced back to the fight.

We had them on the run. Elan and Laren were back to shooting arrows and the survivors struggled toward the tree line. I tried to count how many still stood. At least eight, but they had apparently had enough. Jason made ready to chase after them.

"Leave them," Elan barked out, her voice sharp.

As the last of the lycanthropes vanished into the undergrowth, we regrouped by the main fire. Shevron let go of Leonard and he sullenly moved to the side, but stayed within the encampment. I ladled more snow into the pot of water hanging over the fire. I was hurt, and it looked like Jason and Tam had taken a couple hits and we'd need to clean our wounds.

Tymbur gently took the pan I was using as a scoop out of my hands. "Go sit. You're injured. I received a few superficial cuts but I'm fine. Let me take care of this."

Wearily, I nodded, too shell shocked to protest. I knew there were dangers in the Wild Wood, but I hadn't been prepared for a pack of ferocious lycanthropes to leap out of the woodwork. I winced as I moved my shoulder.

Tam was making the rounds, checking everybody's status. He hurried over to me. "Are you all right?" He knelt beside me, stroking my cheek.

"I need to clean these scratches. As long as they don't get infected, they'll heal up." As a Theosian, I healed faster than ordinary humans. I was also tougher. But that didn't make me immortal, invulnerable, or immune to infections, wounds, broken bones, and pain. I knew that all too well from experience.

I rested my hand on his arm. "Anybody else hurt?"

"Jason took a knife wound, but it's didn't hit anything vital and while it will sting, it should heal without incident. Montran managed to hit four of them with a death spell, but apparently lycanthropes have a natural immunity, and it sent them into a frenzy instead. They attacked each other, but in doing so, one managed to clobber him with her club. He has a knot on his forehead, but again, nothing life-threatening as far as I can tell."

He paused, then added, "Fury, we have to move and we should leave soon. If they come from a tribe somewhere near, we can't chance staying. We're going to have to travel in the dark, as quickly as we can get packed up. I'll work on an illusion to mask our scent-a glamour of sorts. As soon as Tymbur binds your wounds, please help break down the camp." With that, he planted a quick kiss on my lips and headed over to where Elan and Laren were standing.

I watched as Shevron marched through the camp, dragging Leonard with her. He was bitching-all too loudly-and she stopped in front of Jason, who was holding his side where the lycanthrope's blade had nicked him.

"Jason, tell your nephew to stop trying to play hero." Shevron shoved Leonard in front of her, holding him by the shoulders. "He won't listen to his mother anymore."

Jason stared at Leonard for a moment, then slowly opened his jacket. In the glow of the campfire, I could see the oozing wound. On someone who was human, it could have easily have put them out of commission, but Jason was still standing. Hawk-shifters were fierce.

"Look at this wound. Look close." He grabbed Leonard by the head and forced him close to the angry gash. "Take a really good look."

Leonard grimaced, trying to look away.

"You don't want to look? I don't blame you. If you had taken the blade, you'd be dead. We'll teach you how to fight, son, but until we get to our destination, you need to chill out. Get it?" Jason planted Len's hand against the bleeding gash. "Feel that? It's slippery. Smell it."

That seemed a bit harsh, but then I stopped myself from interfering. This was a family affair, and Leonard been testing the boundaries all too much lately.

The teen looked sick to his stomach, but he obeyed, slowly bringing his hand to his face where he sniffed his fingers. "It smells coppery."

"That's blood. Blood keeps us all alive. Do you know how much this hurts? Like a razor sharp son of a bitch. I'm bleeding, which weakens me. But I don't have time to slow down. Every life in this camp depends on each of us doing our part. Every breath we take depends on each one of us doing what we're asked to. We can't afford to have you go running off half-cocked. If you do, I guarantee you, you're going to put somebody's life in danger. Because all the enthusiasm in the world won't matter and you'll end up being the one who needs rescuing. When we get to Verdanya, I'll teach you to fight-"

"Jason-" Shevron didn't look happy at all.

"Quiet, Shevron. Things have changed. They weren't easy to begin with, but Seattle's fighting a horde of zombies right now and we're stuck out in the middle of the wilderness. We have to adapt. Len should know how to defend himself." Jason turned back to Len. "And one more thing: don't let me ever hear you talking back to your mother again. I can argue with her because I'm her brother and we're both adults. You, on the other hand, keep your nose clean. Do you understand me?"

Leonard let out a long sigh, but finally nodded. He was caught in the throes of growing up. Jason and Shevron had inherited their parents' pale complexion and light hair, but Len was golden brown, the color of his father, and his eyes were dark and rich. His hair was blonde thanks to a bottle, but he was his father's child in many ways, including that the human nature had come through rather than the hawk-shifter. And except for the fact that his father had abandoned both Shevron and his unborn child long before Len entered the world. Regardless of his arguments with Shevron, Leonard was devoted to her and his uncle.

"I'll play by the rules, Uncle J."

"See that you do. Now apologize to your mother." Jason pointed toward Shevron, a stern look on his face.

Leonard turned to his mother and sheepishly said. "I'm sorry, Mom."

"Sorry, what?" Shevron asked.

"I'm sorry, Ma'am. I'll behave." He reminded me of the five year old who had played in my room years ago, getting into my makeup and crying when I yelled at him for eating my lipstick.

Shevron held his gaze for a moment, then nodded. She turned back to Jason. "What should we do?"

"Break down camp. We need to get out of here now."

As we fell to dressing wounds, taking down tents, and gathering embers for our next camp, I wondered if we'd make it away before the lycanthropes returned. And if they didn't return, just what else was waiting for us in the Wild Wood?

* * *

I'M KAELEEN DONOVAN, but I rarely go by that name. Most folks call me Fury, though Jason calls me Kae, but he's allowed to. He gave me a home after my mother was brutally murdered.

Speaking of my mother, Marlene and Terry, my father, were both human. But during her pregnancy, my mother took a shortcut through the Sandspit and wandered into a patch of rogue magic. Boom, bang, and hoorah. My life-to-be changed forever.

The rogue magic altered my DNA, turning me into a Theosian-a minor goddess. As was the custom, I was presented to the Seers who declared that I belonged to Hecate. And so I was bound to her. Hecate taught me to use my fire, at least to some degree. And she taught me how to seek out and destroy the Abominations that come in off the World Tree. We have a good relationship. At least, I think so. She makes sure I have work when I need it, and I make sure to play by the rules.

When I'm not chasing down Abominations, I run the Crossroads Cleaning Company that's set up in Jason's magical store-Dream Wardens. In other words, I clean up psychic messes, hauntings, perform exorcisms, offer tarot and rune readings, and anything else that I can think of. I make a living, but it's not a get-rich-quick profession.

As I said, my mother was murdered and I was there to witness it. I escaped, though it's never been clear how. We think the trauma triggered something deep within my magic. Whatever the case, I landed on Jason's doorstep that night, and he took me in. How he managed with a thirteen year old girl, I'm not sure. He was single, over two-hundred, (but didn't look a day over thirty), yet he made a home for me. Together, he and Shevron looked after me.

I was fed, clothed, and cared for. They shepherded me through school, and made sure I attended every lesson Hecate scheduled. As I grew up, they became my friends rather than guardians. Now, at thirty, my aging process is starting to slow. Theosians are long lived. We can make it to six hundred or sometimes longer, as long as we aren't killed or fall to an accident.

Until recently, everything was hunky dory-at least, as much as it could be given the corrupt government and the ruthless Devani who patrol the streets.

But when the Order of the Black Mist stole an ancient artifact and threatened to rain down chaos on the planet, everything in my world shifted. We managed to steal back the Thunderstrike, but the Order retaliated in an even more deadly fashion, turning Seattle over to a horde of zombies. Not quite the apocalypse, but not that far off, either.

Now, we're on the run-my friends and I. And we're not sure just when we're going to be able to go home again. Or if there will be a home to return to.

* * *

"EVERYTHING READY?" ELAN took another look around the campsite.

All the tents were down, the fires were out, and we were ready to move again. I desperately wanted to go to bed, but Elan was right. We couldn't chance the lycanthropes returning, fortified by reinforcements.

"Everything's packed and on the horses." I glanced over at the animals. We hadn't been able to scare up enough horses to ride through the Wild Wood, but we had three and they were carrying most of the gear.

"All right," she said, waving for us to move. "Onward. We'll journey for two or three hours and then, if we see no sign that the lycanthropes are in pursuit, we'll set up camp again. I know you're all tired but we risk our lives if we stay here." With that, she motioned for us to move out. With Elan leading, and her brother taking the rear to make certain nobody stumbled off the path, we started our slow slog through the snow again. As the heavy snow continued to fall, we headed into the darkness, cutting cross-country.

COLLAPSE

Playlist:

Air: Moon fever, Napalm Love, Venus, Surfing on a Rocket, Playground Love
The Alan Parsons Project: Sirius, Children of the Moon, Breakdown, Can't Take It With You, The Raven
Amethystium: Shadow to Light, Tinuviel
Android Lust: Here and Now
Arcade Fire: Abraham's Daughter
Arch Leaves: Nowhere to Go
The Black Angels: You on the Run, Don't Play With Guns, Holland, Love Me Forever, Young Men Dead, Haunting at 1300 McKinley
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Shuffle Your Feet, Feel It Now
Broken Bells: The Ghost Inside
Bryan Adams: Run to You
Buffalo Springfield: For What It's Worth
Cat Stevens: Katmandu
Celtic woman: Butterfly, Scarborough Fair
Chris Isaak: Wicked Game
Clannad: Banba Óir, I See Red, Newgrange
Cobra Verde: Play With Fire
Corvus Corax: Ballarde de Mercy, Bucca
Crosby, Stills & Nash: Ohio, Find the Cost of Freedom, Guinnevere
Damh the Bard: Brighid, The January Man, Land, Sky and Sea, Willow's Song, Gently Johnny, The Wicker Man, Oak Broom and Meadowsweet
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig, Dance of the Unicorns
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being
Eivør: Trøllbundin
Enya: Cursum Perficio, Orinoco Flow
Faun: Hymn to Pan, The Market Song, Sieben, Tanz mit mir
FC Kahuna: Hayling
The Feeling: Sewn
The Gospel Whiskey Runners: Muddy Waters
The Heathen Kings: Rambling Sailor, Rolling of the Stones, The Blacksmith
Heather Alexander: Camden Town, Yo Ho! Black Jack's Lady, March of Cambreadth
Hedningarna: Gorrlaus, Tuuli, Grodan/Widergrenen, Räven, Tullí, Ukkonen, Juopolle Joutunut, Drafur & Gilder
Huldrelokkk: Trolldans, Huldrehalling
Ian Melrose & Kerstin Blodig: Kråka, Kelpie
Jessica Bates: The Hanging Tree
Jethro Tull: Jackfrost and the Hooded Crow, I'm Your Gun, A Stitch in Time, Jack-A-Lynn, Motoreyes, Part of the Machine, Overhang, Living in These Hard Times, Witch's Promise, The Clasp, Dun Ringill, North Sea Oil, Something's on the Move, Old Ghosts, Quizz Kid, Taxi Grab, Big Dipper
The Kills: Nail In My Coffin, You Don't Own The Road, Sour Cherry, No Wow, Dead Road 7
Lorde: Yellow Flicker Beat, Royals
Loreena McKennitt: The Mummers' Dance, All Souls Night
Low with Tom and Andy: Half Light
Matt Corby: Breathe
The Pierces: Secret
Shriekback: The Shining Path, Underwater Boys, Dust and a Shadow, This Big Hush, Now These Days Are Gone, The King in the Tree
Simple Minds: Don't You (Forget About Me)
Spiral Dance: The Goddess and the Weaver, Boys of Bedlam, The Quickening, The Oak, Tarry Trousers, Rise Up
Sweet Talk Radio: We All Fall Down
Tamaryn: While You're Sleeping, I'm Dreaming, Violet's in a Pool
Tempest: Raggle Taggle Gypsy, Mad Tom of Bedlam, Nottamun Town, Queen of Argyll, Black Jack Davey
Tina Turner: One of the Living
Tom Petty: Mary Jane's Last Dance
Traffic: The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
Tuatha Dea: The Hunt, Irish Handfasting, Tuatha de Dannan, The Hum and the Shiver, Wisp of a Thing Part 1, Long Black Curl
Warchild: Ash
Wendy Rule: Let the Wind Blow, Hecate, The Circle Song, The Wolf Sky, Evolution, Elemental Chant
Woodland: Will O' the Wisp, The Old Ones, Beltane Night, Rose Red (The Moon's Daughter), Blood of the Moon, Golden Raven's Eye, Under the Snow, First Melt, Witch's Cross, I Remember, The Dragon
Zero 7: In the Waiting Line

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Fury's Magic

My name is Kaeleen Donovan. I'm a Theosian-a minor goddess. They call me Fury. Oath bound to Hecate, I was charged from birth to hunt down Abominations who come in off the World Tree and send them back to Pandoriam.

On a routine cleaning job in Portside—a boat full of ghosts need their joyride cut short—Tam and I run afoul of the Devani. The ruthless soldiers of Elysium capture him and send him out to the Tremble, a place of wild, chaotic madness. Jason and I devise a plan to sneak in and help Tam escape. But Lyon and the Order of the Black Mist reappear, and I’m on their hit list. Lyon opens a door to the realm of Tartarus and the walking dead are pouring into the city. Now, we must wade through both the Devani the dead to save Tam. And we must close the portal on the World Tree before Lyon manages to wake the Elder Gods of Chaos.

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Chapter 1

My name is Kaeleen Donovan. They call me Fury. I walk in flame and ash, on a field of bones. Some nights I think I'll burn to a crisp under Hecate's moonlight. Other nights... are easier.

***

"Are you sure you're up for this?" I held up my sword. Xan was perpetually sharp so I never needed to hone her edge, but she needed a good polish every now and then. The ornate blade vibrated in my hand. She was growing stronger-every time I used her, the energy sang. Hecate wouldn't tell me what the sword's full potential was, but I knew that I hadn't tapped into her full nature yet.

Tam was lounging on the sofa, one foot propped up on the seat, the other hanging over the edge. He was leaning back, reading on his tablet. Without looking up from his book, he said, "Yes, I want to go. Quit worrying."

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"All right, but remember, I asked." I went back to the blade, though I wasn't about to stop worrying. Tam could hold his own, that I knew. After all, he was one of the Bonny Fae. And not just one of them-he was the Prince of UnderBarrow. But I'd still feel responsible if he got hurt. He might be my lover, but he was also my friend and we were headed into a potentially dangerous situation.

Jason let out a snort from behind the counter. "You're both nuts. Why on earth do you want to go prowling around a boat filled with ghosts?" He was mixing up a batch of Dove's Love-a powder designed to calm volatile situations. We sold far too much of it. The sales were good. The fact that it was needed so often? Not so much.

"Because it's a job? Because Hecate found it for me? Because I need the money?" Finally satisfied that Xan was clean and sparkly, I slid her into the sheath and set the blade to the side.

"We should head out. The ghosts are more active when the sun sets." I glanced out of the store window. We were well into October now, and the skies grew dark by four.

Tam abruptly closed his tablet and stood, stretching as he yawned. "Let's get a move on, then. Jason, do you need me anymore today?" He was tall and lanky, with long black hair that curled to his waist, and his eyes were silver, ringed with black. Not only striking to look at, he had a natural magnetism and charm that exuded from every pore in his body.

And he has good hands, I thought. Very good hands. And lips. And...

"Not right now, no," Jason said, putting an end to my reverie. He, too, was tall and ruggedly good-looking, with wheat colored hair and vivid green eyes. Where Tam wore his hair loose and flowing, Jason gathered his own back into a braid. His nose had an unusual hook to it, like most hawk-shifters.

Jason owned the magic shop, and I set up my own little business in one corner-the Crossroads Cleaning Company. I took on exorcisms and psychic cleansings, and offered tarot readings and I threw the bones for those who wanted oracular advice. Hecate had strengthened my gifts in those areas, and while business waxed and waned, I usually made a decent living. But it had been awhile since I'd had a job like this one, and I was trying to remember what I needed as I gathered together my tools.

I opened my bag and made sure that my ritual tools were in there-Hecate had given me a sacred crystal skull that allowed me to focus my energy toward the dead, and I had several different powders and sprays-REST YE WELL powder that Jason made, EXORCISM oil to evict spirits from their possessed victims, holy water from Hecate's sacred fountain, graveyard dust and Crossroads dust, a dagger that was for magic only-with a bronze hilt and a crystal blade, a clapper-bell to drive the dead away...and a few other assorted goodies.

"I think I'm ready," I said, looking around to make certain I hadn't forgotten anything else.

"Before you go, how are you coming on the new database?" Jason pushed aside a ledger, frowning. Our old inventory database had crashed. It hadn't been built to handle the volume of business Dream Wardens was fielding.

Tam shrugged. He was the shop's computer tech, which seemed oddly out of place given his Fae nature. But he loved gadgets and all things concerned with computers.

"Let's just say, the new software coming out of Mage-Tek blows the old programs we were using out of the water. It's going to take awhile to transfer all the information, but once we do, finding and tracking inventory and spell components will be so much easier. The program is vox-enabled, which will help, although that means we all need to password code it by voice as well as by thumbprint." Tam slipped on his leather duster. He was wearing a pair of black jeans that hugged his butt in the most delightful way, and a V-neck shirt that showed off his waistline.

"How long do you estimate until you finish the conversion?" Jason dusted his hands after pouring the last of the powder on the scales. He measured it out the old-fashioned way, using an archaic weights-and-measure balance. Jason loved antiques. He tapped the mixture into a plastic bag, slapped a label on it, then tossed it into a basket with the rest of the pouches. "Done."

"I figure another week and we should be good to go. That is, if nothing else interferes. Ready, love?" Tam turned to me.

I still blushed when he called me that, especially in front of Jason, but I was slowly getting used to it.

"Yeah, I don't think I've forgotten anything." I was dressed for work-black leather jacket, warm blue turtleneck, black leather shorts, ankle boots that I could easily run in. I slid Xan, in her scabbard, over my shoulder and made sure my dagger was firmly in place, strapped to my left thigh. Pulling on gloves, I headed to the door. "We'll call you if we're going to be late."

Jason had invited us to his place for dinner. He closed up the shop one evening per month and we ate dinner at his place. I suspected it was more important to him now than ever, given the recent death of his fiancée, which had hit him harder than he wanted to let on. But we never said anything-he wasn't ready to talk about how it had affected him.

"Thanks. I'm making spaghetti, so be there. And take it easy," he called out as we slipped into the dark Seattle night. "Don't let the ghosties bite you in the butt."

***

I'm Kaeleen Donovan but they call me Fury. I'm a Theosian-a minor goddess. Yoked to Hecate from birth, my primary job is to seek out and destroy Abominations that come in off the World Tree. Secondary comes psychic readings and cleansings, and whatever else Hecate might have up her sleeve for me.

My mother was brutally murdered when I was thirteen and Jason took me in. He looked about my age-thirty-but he was actually well over two hundred. Most of the shifters and Fae are exceptionally long-lived. I will be too, given my nature, but I'm still young and still new to the world compared to them.

My mother and father were human, but on the way home from work one night, my mother wandered through the Sandspit and got hit by a cloud of rogue magic. She was pregnant with me at the time. Boom, in that one moment, my DNA changed and that's what turned me into a Theosian. When I was born, the hospital sent my parents to the Seers, and they ordained that I be handed over to Hecate for training. I've been under her leash since that time, bound to her by more than oaths. We are blood bound, and if I do anything to dishonor her she could have me destroyed. But I genuinely like her and I think she feels the same toward me. We work well together, most of the time.

Hecate is a goddess of the Crossroads, of the dead and of magic. And so I work out on the Crossroads where life and death intersect, and where dimensions and worlds melt. I deal out death to Aboms who come charging through the World Tree, bent on chaos and destruction, and I work with magic-flame and fire, for the most part.

Not long ago, my friends and I ended up in a tussle with a member of an order of magicians-the Order of the Black Mist-who are bent on freeing the Elder Gods of Chaos and unleashing them on the planet. We managed to thwart their plans, but Lyon and his cronies are still out there, and I have a bad feeling we're not done with them yet.

It's not easy, being a minor goddess. Belonging to the Elder Gods is even harder. But every day I learn a little more about myself. All too often, those lessons come at the tip of my sword, when I'm facing down the evil determined to make our world its home.

***

As we exited the building, we passed Hans, who was on his way in. The brawn of our shop, he kept the riff-raff and bogeys out of the store. A Theosian like me, he was yoked to Thor and looked the part. Muscled and bald, he was bad-assed to the bone, and his girlfriend Greta was a Valkyrie in training. He was wearing a knit cap and earmuffs against the chill.

"Colder out here than Gaia's tit," he said, blowing on his hands as we stopped to say hello. His breath froze into puffs in front of his face and he stomped his feet on the sidewalk. It was cold enough to snow. We'd had one good snow the month before, but it had melted off. Now, though, we were into mid-October, and winter was targeting us for a good pummeling. "Where are you going? Done for the day?"

"We're headed over to Portside. We'll see you at Jason's in a few hours. At least, I hope it won't take more than a few hours."

"What did she stick you with today?" Hans's had a skewed view of Hecate. She frightened him, though given he hung with the Norse, it seemed odd to me that her energy should shake him so much. Once he had told me she reminded him of Hel-the Norse goddess of the dead. And Hel scared everybody.

"A haunted fishing boat. Tam's coming to keep me company."

"And to keep the sea dogs from panting all over you. And before you say it-I know you can hold your own. But you're going up against ghosts. You don't need to be distracted by idiots." Tam edged toward me, and snaked his arm around my waist. He was more possessive than I had thought he would be, but not in a creepy way.

"Um hmm," I said, shoving my hands into the pockets of my shorts. My legs were freezing, but I couldn't wear pants, not and leave access to my whip. The flaming brand wove down the outside of my right thigh and leg, brilliant ink glowing in the night. But one touch, and it would come off in my hand-a fiery whip ready for full use until I was done with it. One of Hecate's gifts to me. She had inked it onto me herself, the night she gave me the name Fury. And that had been a furious night, indeed.

"It's the truth." Tam kissed my nose.

"Are you sure you don't just want to keep an eye on who's ogling my butt?" I asked, smirking.
Hans let out a snort. "That sounds more like it."

Tam grumbled, but then he laughed. "Well, maybe I don't like the thought of them ogling you. But that's my prerogative, isn't it?"

"It is at that, I suppose. Anyway, let's get a move on. It's freaking cold tonight." I turned to Hans. "See you at Jason's."

"Will do. Greta's coming. She has the night off." And with that, he gave us a quick wave and slipped through the door, looking eager to get inside. I didn't blame him, with the icy blast of wind that was rushing through the Market.

I zipped up my jacket as we headed toward the Monotrain station. Dream Wardens was only a few blocks away from it, thank gods. From there, it would be a quick ride to Portside, which was located down by Edlewood Inlet, off of the Pacific Sound. Down was accurate, too, given the incredibly steep slopes of the streets that had been formed by all the fault lines and quaking that went on in the West Pacific Zone. But the district was pleasant enough, and I was grateful I hadn't been called into Uptown or North Shore. Portside might be mostly made up of Weres and Shifters, but I didn't feel out of place there like I did in the human-centric districts of the city.

The cold might be clamping down on the city, but it hadn't stalled the swarm of activity in the streets. The Market was running at full-tilt, filled with vendors hawking their goods. The food stands wafted out fragrant aromas as we passed. This was prime time-shift change at the Metal Works, and a number of people who lived in Darktown would stop and pick up a quick, easy meal on their way home after a long twelve-hour shift.

My mouth water, but I steadfastly ignored the stalls. It wasn't a good idea to load up on food before clearing out ghosts-the food could cloud the energy needed. But the smells of bread and meat and roasting vegetables mingled with the fragrant oils and the char of smoke and the scent of so many people wandering the Market at once. I had learned to tune out the noise over the years, but the smells weren't so easy to ignore.

Darktown was a gritty place-ruins from the World Shift still dotted the district, although last month's earthquake had taken down some of the ones that had survived Gaia's wrath. The sky-eyes patrolled but they never dove too close-too many chances of someone trying to grab one or smash it down. The Devani didn't enter here either, though the Conglomerate had set them loose with a lot more freedom the past few weeks. We were hearing reports from Croix, especially, where they were roaming the streets, looking for any infractions.

The soldiers were brought in off the World Tree, ruthless and brilliant in their golden breastplates. I had never seen one close up, and I never wanted to. They weren't human-far from it, although they looked like all-too beautiful golden haired men and women with perfectly structured muscles. The Devani were efficient and true to their masters at all costs. If they had emotions, they were deeply buried, and they were the opposite of Abominations in their order. But even the Devani steered clear of Darktown, and they never went out on the Tremble.

A bogey wandered by. I could tell he was from the Junk Yard-bogies had a feel to them. Dangerous and rough, like feral dogs, they were likely to cut you as soon as look at you. He gave us the once over, but I turned slightly and pointed to my whip on my leg. He quickly glanced the other way. I was known in Darktown, and a lone bogey wouldn't bother me unless he was sky-high on methodyne or Opish.

"You wear your authority well," Tam whispered with a laugh. "I think that's what makes them so afraid of you, once they realize who you are."

"I think it's more than that," I said. "I've been thinking about this for awhile. I protect Seattle from Abominations. Most come in through the World Tree. They're hungry when they come off the tree, and they're looking for food. So the most likely victims? People down here in Darktown and the Junk Yard. I stop the Aboms from feasting on the bogeys just as much as I stop them from hurting everybody else. I think the bogeys give me a grudging sort of respect for that. I know the Nancies and the play-girls do."

Tam suddenly pushed me toward the brick building we were near. "Sky-eye. Freeze."

We waited as the drone hovered overhead. In a crowded area, it didn't matter so much, but I did my best to hide from the sky-eyes when there weren't many others around. I lived off-grid, and the Conglomerate wouldn't like that one bit. Theosians were supposed to be chipped. They wanted to keep an eye on us, and too often we ended up vanishing if they decided our powers were too useful or too dangerous. If it was both, they struck the jackpot.

Tam had removed my chip and altered it when I was thirteen-a painful but necessary act. I registered as having one, but Tam had hacked in and falsified the information. It wouldn't take too much to figure that out, though.

The sky-eye scanned the sidewalk-we could see the light emitting from it, sweeping over the concrete-then it picked up speed and zoomed off, away toward the center of Darktown. I let out a sharp breath.

"It's gone. It won't be back for several hours. Let's go-there's the platform." I pointed across the street and up a block to where the Monotrain platform waited. The trains ran through the city, one-hundred feet above the ground, zooming from station to station. There were some stops that they missed on a regular basis, and they wouldn't go into the Junk Yard, but overall the mass-transit system worked well.

We took the elevator to the waiting platform. Usually, I opted for the stairs. Too easy to get caught in an elevator with someone, and a lot of times, the cars were old and creaky and would stall out on their way up, but somehow Tam's presence gave me a little boost of self-confidence. Truth was, what I did was lonely, hard, dangerous work. Sometimes it was nice to have somebody else there with me, taking chances and risk along by my side.

The next car was due in five minutes, and we made quick work of the time by huddling together on one of the covered benches before boarding the train. And then, we were headed to Portside, to meet with a boatload of ghosts and spooks.

COLLAPSE

Playlist:

Android Lust: Here and Now; Yaakuntik, Saint Over
AWOLNATION: Sail
Beck: Think I'm in Love; Broken Train
Black Angels: Indigo Meadow, Don't Play With Guns, Young Men Dead
The Chieftains: Dunmore Lassies
Clannad: Banba Óir; Newgrange
Clash, The: Should I Stay or Should I Go
Cobra Verde: Play with Fire
Crazy Town: Butterfly
David Bowie: Fame, Heroes
David & Steve Gordon: Shaman's Drum Dance
Death Cab For Cutie: I Will Possess Your Heart
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being (Original Edit)
Eivør: Trøllbundin
Enya: Orinoco Flow; Cursum Perficio
Faun: Rad; The Market Song
Fluke: Absurd
Gabrielle Roth: Rest Your Tears Here, Mother Night
Garbage: #1 Crush
Gary Numan: Splinter, Here in the Black, Soul Protection
Gospel Whiskey Runners, The: Muddy Waters
Guess Who, The: No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature
Hedningarna: Ukkonen; Räven [Fox Woman]
Huldrelokk: Trolldans
Justin Timberlake: SexyBack
Kerstin Blodig & Ian Melrose: Kråka
Kills, The: Nail In My Coffin, You Don't Own The Road; U.R.A. Fever, Sour Cherry, DNA
Lorde: Royals
Loreena McKennitt: All Souls Night
Low with Tom and Andy: Half Light
Motherdrum: Big Stomp
Strawberry Alarm Clock: Incense and Peppermint
Tamaryn: Violet's in a Pool; While You're Sleeping, I'm Dreaming
Tangerine Dream: Exit, Dr. Destructo, Grind
Tom Petty: Mary Jane's Last Dance
Tuatha Dea: Tuatha De Danaan
Wumpscut: The March of the Dead

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Fury Rising

My name is Kaeleen Donovan. I'm a Theosian-a minor goddess. They call me Fury. Oath bound to Hecate, I was charged from birth to hunt down Abominations who come in off the World Tree and send them back to Pandoriam.

When the Thunderstrike — an ancient artifact from the time of the Weather Wars — is stolen by the Order of the Black Mist, Hecate orders me to find the magical device. The chaos magicians are out to upset the balance that Gaia instilled during the World Shift. But I soon discover that the leader of the Black Mist is out to do more than stir up trouble. He's looking to set up a new world order with himself on the throne. Caught between two rival forces, will my friends and I be able to survive as we search for the Thunderstrike and attempt to stop a war that could bring about the end of the civilization?

Reading Order of the Fury Unbound Series:

Fury Rising
Fury's Magic
Fury Awakened
Fury Calling
Fury’s Mantle

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The Beginning

The end of civilization as we knew it arrived not with a whimper, but with a massive storm. When Gaia-the great mother and spirit of the Earth-finally woke from her slumber to discover the human race destroying the planet through a series of magical Weather Wars, she pitched a fit. The magical storm she unleashed change such as never before had been seen. The resulting gale ripped the doors on the World Tree wide open, including the doors to Pandoriam-where the Aboms-chaotic demons of shadow and darkness-live, and the doors to Elysium, where the Devani-ruthless agents of light-exist.

In that one cataclysmic moment, now known as the World Shift, life changed forever as creatures from our wildest dreams-and nightmares-began to pour through the open doors.

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The old gods returned and set up shop. The Fae and the Weres came out from the shadows and took up their place among the humans. The Theosians began to appear. Technology integrated with magic, and now everything is all jumbled together. Nothing in the old order remained untouched. The world might appear to be similar to the way it was, but trust me-under that thin veneer of illusion, nothing has remained the same.

Chapter 1

My name is Kaeleen Donovan. They call me Fury. I'm a Theosian. I walk in flame and ash, on a field of bones. Some nights I think I'll burn to a crisp under Hecate's moonlight. Other nights... are easier.

I pressed myself against the crumbling brick, breathing softly. A trail of ivy came tumbling down the side of the wall, covering a wide swath all the way to the ground next to me. One tendril reached out and tapped me on the shoulder and the patch of green opened up, offering me the chance to slip inside, out of the wind, but I pushed it away. Wandering Ivy was unpredictable and you couldn't trust it, any more than you could trust the wide fields of vegetation outside the city boundaries. And since we didn't have the resources to eradicate it down here in Darktown-or even keep it in check-most of us just left it alone and watched where we sat or leaned.

The moon was hidden, her light barely visible, masking both street and burrow-lane, but I could sense the clouds coming in. The low rumble of thunder in the distance announced they weren't too far out, but for now, the clear skies meant it was perfect drone weather. And that meant the Corp-Rats would have their sky-eyes out in full force.

In fact, one had started to follow me a few minutes earlier, but when I ducked beneath the overhanging eaves of the 22-U, the mini-mall that housed several small businesses, it backed off. Luckily, the drones weren't allowed to maneuver down to street level. There was too much danger that somebody would attempt a disable-and-grab, especially down here in Darktown, so the Devani kept their patrols limited to watching over us from above. They wouldn't respond if something went down, anyway. Nobody gave a damn what went on in this sector of the city-not unless it looked like a riot that might threaten to spill through the borders. And that wasn't likely to happen. As long as people weren't outright starving, and they were kept busy by long-hour shifts and an abundance of Opish and Methodyne, apathy tended to rule.

Another minute, and the sky-eye zipped past and kept on going. I waited until it was out of sight before I relaxed and sucked in a deep breath. It wasn't that I was doing anything wrong, per se. Not yet, at least. But the less I crossed the Corp-Rats' radar, the better.

Theosians who caught their attention often vanished without warning and I didn't intend to be one of them, especially since my chips had been altered and if they did an in-depth scan on me, they'd find out that I was living off-grid, in a roundabout manner. With luck, the Devani would be running on their usual schedule, which meant there shouldn't be another fly-by in this area for at least two or three hours. Breathing a little easier, I stepped back into the burrow-lane and headed toward the Sandspit.

Darktown's linkup to the Monotrain was erratic at best during the day. At night, it was catch as catch can, so I picked up my pace. Public transportation didn't always make it this far, and it wasn't for want of tracks.

As I jogged along, I pulled out my phone and tapped ENCRYPT. Tam had tricked it out for me, so I could send brief messages that couldn't be intercepted.

"Heading to the Sandspit. Something's going down there tonight-I can feel it, but I'm not quite sure what it is. I'll send Queet with news if we find anything." Phones didn't work near the Sandspit, so once I arrived there, I wouldn't be able to call him.

"Be careful, Kae. The Spit has been very active lately. If you even think you need help, send Queet my way immediately." Jason was a hawk-shifter and a magus. He could talk to spirits when he chose to open himself up.

Pocketing my phone, I glanced up at the sky. The clouds were starting to roll in fast now. The storm was going to be a nasty one. The wind picked up and the scent of rain was heavy.

The Pacific Northwest had always been drizzly, but once the World Shift happened, Seattle was lucky to see full sun for more than a handful of days during the summer. In winter, the downpours turned to heavy snow and ice. In fact, everything had changed since the World Shift, including the weather. The greenhouse effect and global warming? Gone with an angry wave of Gaia's hand. The pendulum had swung the other way and temperatures had grown colder in the north and hotter toward the equators. It was like Gaia had given the finger to humans and decided to shift the weather patterns according to her whims.

With a sigh, I zipped up my jacket and braced myself against the rising wind. I had patrols to make, rain or not. And the fact that I was wearing a pair of leather shorts didn't matter. I couldn't wear pants-it interfered with my magic. So I just had to suck up the autumn chill and deal with it.

I was about two miles away from my home when I reached the edge of the Sandspit.

The Sandspit was a two-hundred-acre vortex of wasteland, bordered by Darktown on the north and the Bogs to the west. Gaia's rampage had swept through with a vengeance. The magical storm she created had raged through every section of the land. A particularly nasty lightning strike had ripped apart this area of the city, and that lightning was infused with her anger.

When the bolt struck the train yards, it had driven deep into the ground with a massive jolt of magic. Poof... in a blink, all the tracks and trains vaporized as the Sandspit formed. But while the area looked pretty much like a hill-and-valley stretch of dunes, it was far from being just a pile of sand. Rife with wild magic, the Spit was a dangerous place. At times odd creatures ventured out from shifting portals that opened from Seattle's World Tree, which was smack in the middle of the patch of magical dunes. Other times, a small whirlwind would spring up, spreading sand and random spells every which way. But no matter what was going on, you could count on it as being dangerous.

Over time, the Bogs had built up on the west side of the Sandspit. They were a dangerous, wild space of cold marsh, tangled trees, and quicksand. People who wandered in there often never came out, and nobody sent search parties looking for them.

To the east stood the Metalworks, the industrial district, but the majority of people who didn't have to work or live in the area avoided the Sandspit whenever possible.

Most people. My mother had traveled through it on her way home one night when she was pregnant with me and that's how I ended up a Theosian. She stumbled into a swirling pool of wild magic and in that brief time, the energy shifted something in my DNA and boom... one minor goddess coming up.

The Sandspit was partly enclosed by a tall chain-link fence to keep people from accidentally wandering through, but every time the Corp-Rats tried to barricade it entirely, the fence would mysteriously corrode or break or vanish, leaving the Sandspit accessible again. After a while, the Regent got the message and while the chain fence still stood, wide gates left access on all sides.

Standing near the edge, I cautiously looked around. I wasn't sure what had called me out yet, but I had learned never to ignore my gut. I shaded my eyes, trying to see through the gloom. Finally, bored and yet antsy, I slid down to sit on the ground, back against the fence, my sword across my legs. Whatever it was, I would wait it out for as long as I could. I sure as hell wasn't going to go poking around in there on my own. I'd rather sit here all night, if necessary.

Using whisper-speak, I asked, "Queet, are you with me?"

"I'm here." His voice echoed into my thoughts. Nobody else could hear him unless they were tuned into the spirit realm or he chose to make himself heard.

Relieved, I let out a long breath. Queet was usually nearby, even when I couldn't see him, but hearing his voice made me feel easier. I might complain about being connected in the head with a spirit guide, but truth was, he made my job-and my life-easier, even though neither of us liked being yoked together. Being a Theosian wasn't easy. At least, not for me. I was indentured to Hecate. Hecate, the Goddess of Dark Magic and the Crossroads. My magic was that of cold flame and moonlight, of ash and bone and death.

"Fury? Don't get too comfortable." Queet sounded concerned.

I tensed. "Do we have an outlier?" I tuned in and sure enough, my alarm bells began to ring as my Trace screen opened up.

"Yeah, an Abom."

At the same moment he spoke, the creepy-crawly feeling flared in my gut. Queet was right, an Abomination was near. Well, hell. That meant we were in for trouble unless we could head him off at the pass.

"Where is he? I just caught his Trace."

"He's on the north side of the Sandspit. He's headed back toward the center of Darktown. Fury, he's in-body."

An in-body Abom? They were usually rare. "Do you think he noticed my footprint?"

"I don't think he's made you. But Fury, Tommy-Tee is out on his corner tonight. Smack in the middle of the Abom's path."

Double hell. Tommy-Tee was a sitting duck. Hell, the poor guy could barely handle life, let alone take on an Abom. But fucked up or not, because of his musical bent, Tommy-Tee had enough energy to attract the creature's attention. It would drain him dry and toss the shell. And that wasn't acceptable. Down here in Darktown, we took care of our own, especially those who couldn't look after themselves.

I pushed to my feet. "Which direction? Guide me."

"If you head west along Industrial Drive, then swing a right into the first burrow-lane, then a left at Silverfish's stall, you'll be on his back."

Crap. That was near Jason's shop-Dream Wardens. And Up-Cakes, his sister's bakery.

"You'll have to use your blur, though, in order to catch up to him."

"That's why I wore these shoes, ghostling." I smiled in the darkness. It drove Queet nuts when I called him that, but I couldn't help myself. He was always so very serious that sometimes I just wanted to shake a smile or laugh out of him.

"Just go." Queet didn't like being a spirit guide-he had told me that time and again. But that was okay, because I didn't always like having him for one. Since we had to work together, though, we made the most of it. And truth was, if we had just been able to pal around? We would have gotten along fine. It was the bound-at-the-skull thing that was an issue.

As I headed toward the burrow-lane, the rain started. It pelted off me, giant stinging droplets that bounced off as I sped up my pace, swerving to skirt a massive pile of rubble. Darktown was full of ruins, buildings that hadn't survived the World Shift. Cleanup had stopped at the borders. Croix? Uptown? North Shore? Even Portside was nice and tidy, but in our district, we were left to cope with the decay. At least we weren't as bad off as the Tremble, though.

At top speed, I was a blur of motion-running about four times faster than any human. I came to the burrow-lane and skidded to the right, veering into the narrow passage. As I ran, I talked to Queet. Whisper-speak was easy on the lungs, a talent almost every Theosian possessed.

"Aboms almost always come in on the astral. I wonder what lured this one to cross over in-body."

"I don't know, but wrap your mind around the fact that this one is as corporeal as you are, and he's a bruiser, so be careful. He's likely to knock you for a loop unless you go about this right, Fury."

I always took Queet's warnings to heart. We might chafe at working together but he was smart. And when it came to Aboms-he knew what he was talking about.

Abominations were soul-eaters. They had no conscience when it came to their victims.  But in-body? They were far worse. They'd been known to devour their victims down to the bone, as well as drain their souls, usually while the quarry was still alive and could feel it. When they came in-body, they often took on human form, but once they took hold of their victim, all bets were off and they reverted to their natural shape. Which was usually some sort of hideous beast.

At least I was armed. I'd tried stunners and several other weapons, but very little fazed these creatures but magic and brute force. And while magic was my forte, I carried three very important weapons-my sword, my dagger, and my whip.

Xan, my long, ornate sword, was razor sharp. She wasn't exactly legal, but down here, in Darktown? Nobody, not even the Devani, were going to put up a fuss. When Hecate had presented her to me, along with the matching dagger, she had given me the name of the sword. She sealed Xan into servitude for me, enhancing the sword's abilities to strike my opponents and to bite them deep and hard.

"There, make a left." Queet appeared in a flurry of mist next to me. Nobody else would recognize the mist for what it really was. That is, no one except another Theosian, magus, witch, or Psi. And right now, it felt good to know that somebody had my back, even a spirit guide.

I swung a hard left out of the burrow-lane, onto Sidewinder Street, the main street in Darktown. Up ahead and across the street was Dream Wardens, and the lights were still on. Next door, Up-Cakes was dark. In the center market, most of the stalls were closed, including Silverfish's Hemporium, but up ahead, on the corner, I could see the faint shape of someone playing guitar. Tommy-Tee. And headed his way, halfway between us, was the lurching figure of the Abom.

From the back, he did look like a bruiser. The Abom's current vehicle was six feet high, bald and brutish and wearing a pair of jeans and a leather jacket. That in itself was unusual. Mostly, when the Aboms came over in-body, they chose a Suit as their host, attempting to garner an edge via their three-pieces and shiny shoes. But whatever the case, the Abom was on the hunt and he was headed right for Tommy-Tee.

The Abomination's signal lit up my Trace with a neon frenzy. From where I was, I could smell the faint scent of char. They all reeked with it-an acrid scent of burning flesh and wood. My instincts kicked into high gear. Time to hunt and destroy. Hecate was leaning over my shoulder-I could feel her whispering to me through the dark of the moon, through the tattoo on my neck-triple snakes for the Triple Goddess-wound into an intricate pattern. Venomous images embodying my shadow magic.

I'd have a better chance of taking the Abom down if he didn't know I was coming, but it was only a matter of seconds before he picked up on me, and then my advantage would be long gone. And in that body? He wasn't going to be easy to handle. Not here, out in the open.

"Queet?"

"Here. What do you need?"

"He's big and he's strong. I need to meet him on the Crossroads."

"Fury, that's a big risk. You know what shifting over to the Crossroads does to you. The aftereffects are nasty. Honestly, are you telling me that you are willing to risk yourself for Tommy-Tee? Think about it."

"I don't have time to think about it. Look-he's fucking huge. He's at least a foot taller than I am, and the minute he hears me breathe, he'll turn. Then, I won't have a clear shot to his soul-hole. If I have to fight him here, it's going to be bad. Real bad. If I take him to the Crossroads, I'll have my full power there."

A half-beat. Then, "Go. Do what you need to. I'll contact Jason as soon as you cross over and meet you there."

I surged forward and within seconds, I raced past the Abom, past Tommy-Tee, and was standing in the middle of the intersection. Thank gods there was no traffic.

"Hey, freakshow! How about a real dinner?" I waved my hands and shouted at the bruiser, trying to get his attention.

Startled, I heard Tommy-Tee stumble over a chord as he lost his place in his song.

The Abomination turned my way. The next moment, he broke off stalking Tommy-Tee and made a beeline for me, darting into the road at breakneck speed.

I waited, biding my time, breath pent.

Tommy-Tee was too fried from years of being hooked on Opish to understand what was going on. He took a step toward the edge of the sidewalk.

"Queet, do something. Keep Tommy-Tee off the road."

Queet swept past-I could feel the gust-and he slammed into Tommy, knocking him back with the force of his currents. Having a spirit guide who could mimic a poltergeist was handy at times.

Tommy-Tee landed on his butt on the sidewalk and I took that moment to make my move. The Abom was almost within arm's range of me. I swept my arms up, clasping my hands together over my head. A flash radiated as I closed my eyes and focused on my destination. The street shifted and blurred, melting around us, as the world lurched and then-we were on the Crossroads.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Jill Smith on Romantic Times Reviews wrote:

Over the course of her impressive career, Galenorn has excelled at setting up compelling worlds filled with a variety of layered characters who enrich each tale. Fury Rising is no different, as this launch book of the Fury Unbound series gives readers a glimpse into the world of Kaeleen Donovan, who is a minor-goddess known as Fury.The stakes for all of humanity are high and Galenorn wastes no time setting the action in motion. Hang on and enjoy!


Playlist

Android Lust: Here and Now
Brandon & Derek Fiechter: Witch’s Brew; Night Fairies; Legend of the Dark Lord
Celtic Woman: The Butterfly; The Voice
The Chieftains: Dunmore Lassies
Clannad: Banba Óir; Newgrange
Corvus Corax: Bucca; Filii Neidhardi
David & Steve Gordon: Shaman’s Drum Dance
Deuter: Petite Fleur
Dizzi: Dizzi Jig; Dance of the Unicorns
Eastern Sun: Beautiful Being (Original Edit)
Eivør: Trøllbundin
Enya: Orinoco Flow; Cursum Perficio
Faun: Iduna; Rad; Sieben; The Market Song
Gabrielle Roth: The Dancing Path: Flowing; Rest Your Tears Here; Totem; The Calling; Mother Night; Raven
Hedningarna: Chicago; Ukkonen; Gorrulaus; Tullí; Räven [Fox Woman]; Juopolle Joutunut
Huldrelokk: Trolldans
Kerstin Blodig & Ian Melrose: Kråka; Kelpie; Bedlam Boys/Bedlam Girls; Miner Viser
Tamaryn: Violet’s in a Pool; While You’re Sleeping, I’m Dreaming
Tingstad & Rumbel: Chaco; Peru

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