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Authors: Elizabeth Hunter

Building From Ashes

BOOK: Building From Ashes
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Table of Contents

Title page

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

 

 

 

Building from Ashes

 

 

 

By Elizabeth Hunter

 

 

Building From Ashes

Copyright © 2012

Elizabeth Hunter

ISBN: 978-0-9885205-5-4

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Cover Design: E. Hunter

Edited by: Amy Eye

Formatted by: Amy Eye

 

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the internet or any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

For information about the Elemental Mysteries series, please visit:

ElementalMysteries.com

 

 

 

 

Also by Elizabeth Hunter:

 

The Elemental Mysteries:

 

A HIDDEN FIRE

THIS SAME EARTH

THE FORCE OF WIND

A FALL OF WATER

 

The Cambio Springs Series:

 

LONG RIDE HOME (short story)

 

Contemporary Romance

 

THE GENIUS AND THE MUSE

 

 

 

For my sister,

an extraordinary woman

~ ~ ~

And for twenty-one women

who make me brave

 

 

 

 

He has sent me… to bestow on them

a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise instead of despair.

 

Isaiah 61:3

Prologue

 

 

 

Wicklow Mountains, Ireland

June 2010

 

He emerged from the earth, the acrid smell of smoke hitting his nose as he brushed the loose soil from his face. He could see the flames licking at the houses, and hear the shouts of the humans as they ran, some rushing to safety, others attempting to drown the fire that had already turned the main house to rubble.

His daughter sat at the edge of the garden, staring into the flames, leaning toward the heat as if drawn by some ineffable force.

Carwyn stalked toward her. “Deirdre.”

She looked up, her eyes feverish in the moonlight. “I kept everyone away. As soon as I realized… I kept them all away. No one’s been hurt.”

He pulled her up by the collar of her singed shirt. “What have you done?”

“As soon as I realized… She’s still alive. She must be, I think. The flames keep coming, and I feel… I knew as soon as she woke—”

“What have you done?” he roared as the roof of the barn adjacent to the farmhouse started to burn. He glared at her, the blood tears staining her cheeks and her auburn hair wild around her face. His grip on her softened.

“I couldn’t…” Deirdre’s whisper could barely be heard. “I couldn’t lose her, too. Not her.” More shouts came from the houses, and somewhere near the dairy barn, a child began to cry.

Carwyn’s face fell, and his rage fled. “My daughter”—he groaned—“what have you done?” He let go of her collar, and Deirdre’s long legs seemed to crumple under her as she sank back into the cool soil of the summer garden.

He waded through the mass of people running away from the smoking farmhouse. The old building was in ruins, the top having collapsed onto the ground floors. Through the rubble, he could see the black doorway his son had dug into the hill hundreds of years before. What had once been a cozy passageway now gaped like a tomb, and rough stones had fallen in front of it, partially obscuring the entrance.

Carwyn walked toward it, listening for any sounds that escaped the scorched earth. He lifted his hands, forcing out his energy to move the rocks, as he toed off the shoes he’d been wearing. He dug his feet into the earth, letting the hum of elemental energy flow through him as he felt for her. The air hung thick with smoke, but a faint waft of new
amnis
, the immortal energy that animated their bodies, carried the smell of charred hawthorn to his nose, drawing him closer.

As he entered the dark passageway, he heard her; her shallow breaths echoed off the worn walls. He followed the trail of her scent and amnis, trying to keep his heart under control, knowing that any hint of danger could result in a rush of suffocating fire. He opened his mouth to speak, keeping his voice quiet, so as not to startle her.

“Brigid?”

A small hitch in her breath.

“It’s me.”

The panting picked up speed, and he scoured the past for something that might calm her. The soft refrain of a Welsh lullaby came to him, and he blinked at the memory of a solemn young girl sitting next to his son in the library, her brown eyes rose to Ioan’s, frowning to hear the fierce immortal singing a childish tune. Carwyn paused as a rush of grief threatened to overpower him.

Brigid had always been too old for lullabies.

Nevertheless, he began to hum the tune, and he could feel her energy change. At first, it smoothed out, drifting in waves, but then the waves began to sharpen, the peaks and valleys growing as he came closer. Her breathing stopped, and Carwyn could hear her heart give a single, low thump.

“Brigid?” he called again.

Carwyn turned a corner, still humming the soft tune, and brushed away the remnants of a burned oak door, blinking away bloody tears as he entered the chamber.

The furniture had been pushed to the edges of the room by the initial blast. There were still flames teasing the edges of a bookcase and a desk, but the rest of the sturdy oak had been torched. He saw her huddled figure glowing through the smoke.

The small woman sat in the center of the room, curled into herself, utterly still. Her knees were drawn to her forehead, and her arms were wrapped around her legs. No trace of clothing remained on her delicate frame and no hair covered her head. She was naked as the day she had been born into the world, the red-gold flames swirling along her skin having burned away any trace of the human she had once been.

She did not breathe, but her heart began to race. He stopped humming and glanced around the room as he felt the slow draw of air gather around her body. Suddenly, Brigid’s head rose and she opened her eyes. Carwyn gasped. Her warm amber eyes had burned to ash-grey around the edge of her irises, and streaks of blood and soot covered her heart-shaped face.

The flames along her arms began to lick up her neck. Carwyn held up both hands.

“Calm, Brigid.”

Her face fell in pain and confusion. Then she opened her mouth, fangs gleaming in the firelight, as she let out a feral scream and the fire burst forth.

 In the space of a heartbeat, Carwyn lifted his shoulders and pulled the mountain down.

 

 

 

Book One: Earth

 

Generations come and generations go,

but the Earth remains forever.

Ecclesiastes 1:4

Chapter One

 

 

 

Dublin, Ireland

December 1995

 

Looking back, Brigid Connor would not think it odd how comfortable she’d always been with monsters. The girl had learned at an early age that appearances could be deceiving. Surely her stepfather, with his soft brown hair, calm smile, and open countenance, looked like the picture of fatherly affection and care. Her mother, with her placid face and helping hands, was the ideal of domestic contentment.

So when the monsters burst into her bedroom that cold December night, with her Christmas dress hanging bright and crisp on the closet door and her stepfather bending over her, Brigid should have been horrified. She should have cried out when the dark-haired monster scooped her up in one blurring motion. She should have looked away when the red-haired demon with the burning blue eyes grabbed Richard Kelly by the throat and twisted his neck until she heard the quick pop and he crumbled lifeless to the floor.

But Brigid did none of those things. Because she knew on that cold winter night, as the frost crunched beneath the monsters’ shoes and they bundled her into the waiting car, that appearances could be very deceiving.

Her great-aunt’s waiting arms were soft and warm, and she was enveloped immediately in their embrace.

“We didn’t know, child,” the old woman whispered. “As soon as your mum… we didn’t know. Why didn’t you tell me, Brigid? Don’t worry, darling, we’re away from here now. You’re coming with me and the doctor will take care of everything. Don’t worry—”

“I have my Christmas program tomorrow at school.”

Brigid remembered a sudden silence and a shifting sound outside the car. Suddenly, a pair of blue eyes met hers over her Aunt Sinead’s shoulder. It was the monster who had snapped her stepfather’s neck. He stared at her for a moment; then in an inhuman blur, he was gone. Seconds later, she heard the car door open, and her aunt reached out. Sinead spread her Christmas dress next to her on the seat, and Brigid looked back over her shoulder.

The red-haired monster stood in the frigid night air, but no steaming breath puffed from his mouth. He looked at her with solemn eyes. Suddenly, a smile turned up the corner of his mouth. “It’s a lovely dress,” he said. “You’ll look grand in it.”

Brigid could only whisper. “Thank you.”

The car doors closed. The dark-haired monster with the kind smile slipped into the front seat, and they sped away from the tidy neighborhood in the suburbs of Dublin.

But the red-haired monster stood in front of the house that had been her prison, alone in the freezing night.

 

 

 

Gwynedd, Wales

BOOK: Building From Ashes
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