Authors: Heather McCorkle
A Channeler Novel
Copyright @ 2012 Heather McCorkle
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 quotations embodied in articles and reviews.
ISBN: 978-0-9847863-4-3 Paperback
Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.
Cover images from Thinkstock. Cover design by CP Design.
Compass Press release date: 02-27-2012
For my husband. Without your unflinching support and belief in me none of this would be possible.
Other novels by Heather McCorkle:
To Ride A Púca (coming soon)
Praise for the channeler series:
McCorkle fuses magic, mystery, and myth into one action-packed tale.” ~
author of the Skinned series.
Electrifying in every possible way. A compelling read with unforgettable characters that readers will cheer for.” ~
, author of Possession.
McCorkle has crafted an enchanting world… You will root for Eren and Aiden.” ~
, author of the Freaksville series.
It takes so many people to bring a book to life that it humbles me when I sit down to thank them all, realizing how many people have helped me along the way. To my newest beta reader and friend who I feel like I’ve known my entire life, Christine Fonseca, I can’t thank you enough for being there. I’m lucky to be a part of the Indelibles, a great group of indie and small press authors who have come together to support one another. You ladies have helped me so much and have saved my sanity more times than I can count. My critique sisters, Linda Gray and Karlene Petitt have been my anchors. Also, thank you TS Tate for helping me polish CC up. Thank you to the #WritersRoad crowd, my wonderful blogging community, and my amazing author friends who are so numerous I wouldn’t dare list them all for fear of leaving even one out. I love you all.
Only the strong and wise shall lead us.
One without the other is not acceptable.”
Life In A Society.
The cool winter air filled Eren’s lungs as she jogged next to Aiden, doing her best to keep her steps silent. Over a foot of snow covered the forest floor and weighed down the boughs of the spruce trees. Using their channeler’s power to spread out the impact of their steps, they barely sank an inch into the snow. It took a bit of concentration, but after several months of snowy weather, Eren was used to it. Aside from ease of travel, they used their power to soften their steps because a certain amount of stealth was needed for what they were doing; spying.
The trees thinned as they reached the bottom of a steep hill. Eren indicated a tree near the top of the hill with a flick of her head. They slowed to a walk and crept toward it, crouching low. As she settled onto her belly atop the snow, Eren raised her power enough to keep herself warm. Aiden lay down beside her and they both turned their attention to the valley below.
The spruce trees circling the valley looked blue next to the mound of snow in their center. Perched atop that mound was a monolithic pyramid of stone that looked as though it had been plucked from a Mayan city from thousands of years ago. But this pyramid wasn’t an old ruin that time had forgotten. It was new, compared to ancient ruins that was. It had been built in the 1700’s when the first settlers of Spruce Knoll had come here.
Eren remembered the history lesson well.
Shapes of people moved around the pyramid, drawing her attention back to the present. They were over a hundred feet away, but it was still a bit close for her comfort. There was little choice, though. She and Aiden had to get this close if they wanted to hear anything.
Thirty or so people began to gather on the plateau atop the huge pyramid. Eren watched them closely, noting their mannerisms and interactions. It was why she and Aiden were here, to watch how a Society worked together. Problem was, since they weren’t a part of this one, they were forbidden to be here.
Ever since finding out they were both Rectors, she and Aiden had been taking the idea of running a Society very seriously. Aiden wanted to find out everything he could about how a good Society functioned and what the Rector’s roles were. Eren’s Uncle Alin and her grandfather had been quick to take Aiden under their wings and instruct him. Sure, Alin’s motives could be partially from the guilt he felt over all his brother had done to Aiden, but it seemed like more than that to Eren. Alin genuinely liked Aiden and though he never came out and said it, it was obvious he knew how much Aiden meant to Eren.
As hard as she tried, Eren didn’t share Aiden’s enthusiasm to lead. Before her life as a channeler, she had been Captain of the track team and class President, but that was different. Being part of the Rector couple that ran a Society meant she’d be partially responsible for people’s safety and well being. After what happened this fall, she wasn’t sure she was cut out for all that. How could she make a good leader when people kept dying around her and others ended up having to save her?
Actually, it was more like after all that happened last
, not just last fall. First, her parents were murdered, she was attacked twice, and then her family was attacked because of her. When she watched her Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Alin fight for all their lives, it scared her almost more than when she’d been attacked. Aunt Sylvia was fearless and well trained. Since Eren had just started learning how to fight, she didn’t see how she could ever be so brave and talented.
All that considered, it had been a horrible year. However, there definitely had been good parts. She couldn’t help but look at Aiden as she thought that. Somehow she would have to get over her fears and find her own desire to lead. Her grandfather said one didn’t get to choose to be a Rector; they were simply born that way. Eren feared she was going to have to dig very deep to discover the Rector within herself.
A gentle poke in the ribs from Aiden made her follow his gaze back to the valley below.
It wasn’t hard to tell who the Rectors were. They stood at the highest point atop the pyramid’s plateau, next to the altar. The rest of the Society gravitated around them. People bowed their heads in respect, and listened raptly when they talked.
It was only a routine meeting discussing the coming New Year and Eren started to grow bored listening to them, then she noticed something. There was a second couple that people paid almost as much respect to as the first. By the way they talked, moved, and touched made it obvious they were close to the Rector couple. Perhaps leading a Society wasn’t as much of a monarchy as she originally thought. The idea of having friends at her side made the whole leadership thing a lot less scary.
Just when the cold started to seep through her coat and chill her stomach, Aiden stood and turned away from the valley. Rising quickly, she followed him. She sank to her knees in snow, a quick reminder that she had to focus her energy to spread out the weight of her footfalls.