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Authors: Krystal Wade

Tags: #YA, #paranormal romance, #urban fantasy

Wilde's Army

BOOK: Wilde's Army
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"An unforgettable experience in magic, adventure, and love. I was immediately captivated by the story and couldn't stop turning pages."
-
Vicki Keire
, Best-Selling YA Author

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Every book I write is for my family, but I have one family member in particular who goes above and beyond in the support department. Without this special person in my life, I’m not sure I would have found the strength to keep moving forward, to fight against people who tried to hold me back, and to finish Wilde’s Army.

This book is for you, JoAnn Pepe.

Chapter One

Everything of importance in my new world has disappeared. The people I hold dear to my heart have been betrayed by two of our own who have been working for Darkness. The children, my sister, my mom, my friends, and
my Arland
—they were taken while I was asleep. But for whatever reason, someone protected me before I could be captured.

A few weeks ago, I didn’t know Flanna, Lann, Tristan, or anyone else from Encardia aside from Arland—and him I knew only through dreams—but now that I do, I know I have to save them.

Saving things seems to be what my life is all about, at least according to the sun god, Griandor. He may have told me who I am and what I’m capable of, but knowledge doesn’t do much to fill the hole in my chest.

I have to fight a fallen god, kill his army of daemons, and hide my identity from the Ground Dwellers. The only people of this world who’d like to see me fail.

And I’ve already failed everyone in so many ways, but I will find them, and I will do what I must to rid this world of Darkness.

“Hello,
Katriona
,” a man calls, low and guttural, from behind me.

My body ignites in flames, fueled by fear and old magic. I draw my sword and turn from the empty space where my bedroom used to be, bracing for my first fight—of many fights to come—and I see Perth.

“Do you intend to kill me with that …
wife
?”

He regards me with the same ice-cold gaze he did the first time I met him in the training room. The blue flames reflecting in his pale, green eyes don’t help much.

“I will kill you, if you take another step forward,” I say with as much confidence as possible. I will not be forced into a marriage with Perth to repay the Ground Dwellers for building the bases. I will end this war between the gods, and I will free myself of this world’s desires for my future … somehow.

“What if I take two?” he asks, moving forward
three
steps, leaving about enough distance for me to easily strike through him with my claymore.


Don’t
.
Test
.
Me
!”

Perth takes one more step. A wicked smile stretches across his ivory face, and I push the tip of my sword into a spot above his heart.

“How foolish do you and Arland think I am?”

Arland
. Anger fills me at the mere mention of his name.

“Why? Why did you betray all these people? Was it just to prove a point?” My voice comes out in a growl.


Me
betray these people? I did no such thing,” Perth says, shaking his head.

Inching forward, I push the sword harder against his chest. “If you didn’t betray everyone, why are you still here?”

“If you would stop trying to kill your future husband, I would be happy to tell you,” he says, taking a step back when I pierce his skin with the tip of the claymore. Blood soaks through his white linen tunic and forms a red stain down to his belt.

I’m not playing games. Stepping toward him, I dig the blade back into his chest over the bleeding wound. “Why shouldn’t I kill you? Right here, right now?”

Perth puts up his hands in surrender. “Because we are not so different, you and I.”

“Go on. I’m listening,” I say,
without
backing off.

“I had trouble sleeping and was walking in the forest. That is why I was not taken with everyone else. The children were screaming. I ran here to see what was going on, but there were too many daemons for me to try to do anything. When I entered the base to check if anyone was left, I found you.”

I point to the closest table with my sword. “Sit.”

Perth takes a chair at the table in the center of the room.

I seat myself opposite of him. “Why are we not so different?”

I have not sheathed my sword. I don’t trust Perth as far as I can throw him … and since I’m short and don’t weigh more than one-hundred and twenty pounds, I’m guessing I can’t throw him very far.

Our eyes lock.

“We are both just pawns in a power play. I did not ask to be used against your family any more than you asked to be Bound to me,” he says without any edge of humor to his tone.

I’m speechless. I think I
might
believe him. When people lie, they don’t do it looking you straight in the face.

“How did you know who I am?”

“I visited a Seer on my own, three years ago. She told me my hatred of the Light Lovers would come crashing down the day I met
the
Light. I laughed at her. The thought of
not
hating the Light Lovers was absurd.” The normal Perth has just returned. He leans back in his chair, fingers clasped behind his head, and a smart smile plays on his face.

I glare. If he’s trying to help his case by telling me this … it’s not working.

“Just hear me out, please.” He rights himself in the chair. The smile vanishes.

I nod.

“For all my mocking, the Seer did not stop giving me the prophecy. She said I would recognize the Light immediately because she would not look at me as a monster, at least not the first time we met. The Seer also told me the Light was not my rightful future, and if I tried to obtain that future, I would live a life without love. She said the Light belongs to Arland Maher and him to the Light.”

Closing my eyes, I think of Arland’s smile, of his warmth. We were made for one another, to come together and fight a war, and yet we’re apart. Separated by God only knows how much distance. I have to get to him.

“I love my father, Katriona,” Perth says, drawing my eyes open. “I would not want to do anything to displease him, but when I met you—a Light Lover—and you did not look at me as a monster, my heart felt something it never had before.”

“And what’s that?”

“Hope. Hope that our two kinds could live in a world without turmoil.”

“So, why did you try to kill me that day in the training room?” I hope his head still hurts where I hit him with my sword.

He laughs. “I was not attempting to take your life. I was angry. The Seer was right, and I knew I was going to have to fight against my father.”

I want to take Perth for his word, but if he desires our two kinds to be united, why has he kept this from Arland? “Why haven’t you said anything before now?”

“Do you believe Arland—or anyone—would have trusted me? He has told you about my kind. How did his mood change when he spoke of me?”

“Point taken.”

The first time I asked about Perth, Arland ignored my question. He had to take me out to his favorite thinking spot by the river—as close to The Meadows as he could get … as close to his mother.

Resting the sword on the table, I release my grip on the hilt. I don’t think Perth is making up this story. The sun god, Griandor, told me to trust in those around me, and since Perth is the only one left at base … I should start with him.

“Why are you telling
me
?” I ask.

“There are three reasons. You are the only other Draíochtan here, and you are going to need me if you want to survive. And Morgandy Domhnaill.” The corners of his mouth twist up into a wry smile.

“Morgandy Domhnaill? My mom’s fake name?”

“Yes. My Aunt Shylay used to tell me stories about Morgandy Domhnaill. She was a fabled, ancient goddess who lived by the sea. She treated the mortals with love and took care to ensure they always had food and a place to sleep. She was a goddess of kindness, and everyone trusted her.”

“What does this have to do with my mom?”

“I believed her stories to be just that, but my Aunt told me if I ever met someone who called herself by the goddess’ name, I should trust her and those she loves. When your mother spoke her name, I was taken aback. I never expected to hear the name ‘Morgandy Domhnaill’ again in all my life. I should have confessed then, but the way your mother regarded me—the way they all do—made me second guess what my Aunt instructed me to do.”

Something tells me my mom knew Perth wasn’t all rotten. I bet she even had a reason to treat him the way she did that night. My mom knows so much. I need to get back to her. There are so many things we need to discuss. No matter what impact she thinks it may have on my future, I want to know … everything.

“Why do our two kinds fight for power?” If I am supposed to unite everyone and form an army, I should be aware of exactly what divided us.

Perth raises his eyebrow. “Arland has not informed you of this? What
have
you two been up to?”

“You are not in a good position to ask questions you have no business knowing the answers to,” I say, putting my hand back on the sword.

He watches my fingers thrum against the metal. “You enjoy killing things?”

I stand. “
Perth
.”

“Fine, fine.” He waves. “Long ago, we were all considered equals, but Foghlad, the Leader of my kind at the time, wanted more.”

Sitting back down, I release my death grip on my sword.

“Thank you.” Perth tips his head in the direction of my clasped hands. “He used our magic against the Light Lovers, twisting the thoughts in their heads, turning them into spies, killers, whatever he needed them to do at the time.”

“But how? Flanna mentioned your powers are used for dark things, but Arland said our powers cannot be used to fight.”

“I wish I knew. Our magical powers are not supposed to be used to fight, but somehow he manipulated the magic to work against nature.”

“And your people just supported him?” I ask, leaning forward.

Perth snorts. “Foghlad spoke eloquently to his followers, and over time—and I imagine with the help of magic—all of my kind believed in his mission to conquer the Meadows and take control of Encardia.”

I narrow my eyes. “Why? What was he going to do with the control if he got it?”

“He was an evil man. Plain and simple. I am not positive what his final plans were, but Foghlad taught all of my people how to use our beautiful magic in dark ways. The battles have gone on for so long, not many of my kind understand how peaceful life could be if we would stop trying to conquer the world.”

I lean back in my seat; the twisted roots of the chair poke into my shoulders. “Have you ever told anyone this?”

Perth shakes his head. “Unfortunately, if my father or anyone knew how I felt, I am sure they would kill me.”

I feel as though uniting all of the Draíochta to fight might be more difficult than Griandor led me to believe—not that he gave me much information in the first place. “How long have the Ground Dwellers been fighting for power?”

“The first battle began one hundred and twenty-three years ago.”

One
hundred and twenty
-
three years
? Uniting them after that much time might not be difficult—it might be impossible. “So, what do we do now?”

Perth smiles crookedly. “Since you are the one glowing with ancient magic, I was hoping you would come up with a plan.”

He may find this funny, but I’m
not
smiling. I narrow my eyes.

“Sorry. The blue flames
are
somewhat distracting.” He wipes his hand over his face, smoothing his expression.

I draw in deep breaths. My mind reaches out to all corners of my body, grabbing the flames and folding them in. I’m taking control. Not asking, just doing—like Griandor told me. The magic works its way into my chest, and the fire disappears above my heart.

The room is now pitch-black.

“Solas.” I light a candle sitting in the center of the table with a spark from my hand.

BOOK: Wilde's Army
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