by Terry Maggert
Publication date: September 1st 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Her guardian angel was pushed.
Keiron was never meant to be anything other than a hero. Born high above in a place of war and deception, he is Heartborn, a being of purity and goodness in a place where there violence and deceit are just around every corner.
His disappearance will spark a war he cannot see, for Keiron has pierced the light of days to save a girl he has never met, for reasons he cannot understand. Livvy Foster is seventeen, brave, and broken. With half a heart, she bears the scars of a lifetime of pain and little hope of survival.
Until Keiron arrives.
In the middle of a brewing war and Livvy’s failing heart, Keiron will risk everything for Livvy, because a Heartborn’s life can only end in one way: Sacrifice.
Fall with Livvy and Keiron as they seek the truth about her heart, and his power, and what it means to love someone who will give their very life to save you.
EXCERPT from Heartborn
Chapter Five: Landing
Green. That was the first sign that Keiron was somewhere and somewhen else. The drab grays of home were gone, replaced by a vibrant, lush promise of springtime. Everything in his vision was on the cusp of exploding into action as the days grew longer, warmer, and alive. With exaggerated delicacy, he moved his head slowly, like it was full of water because the fall had been long and his push backward into the light of days left him sore and muzzy. Whatever he’d expected, it hadn’t been a body filled with dull aches and the promise of bruises to come.
“Maybe I’ll just sit here until my head is clear.” The wind freshened with a promise of rain, squelching the idea of inactivity. In stages, he dragged himself painfully upright, wondering for the first time why he hadn’t merely glided all the way to his landing. As he rose, his arms began to pinwheel in a wild gyration, ending only when he pitched face forward into the moist grass with an inelegant thud.
The only time he’d ever fallen in his entire life had been when he was a child, before he learned how to open—
His wings were gone. A searing jolt of fear raged through him, spiking into every corner of his body and ending in the most delicate place it could.
He shook, breath coming in ragged gasps while reaching desperately over each shoulder to find nothing but empty air. He was stripped, defenseless, and maimed.
He was broken. He was ordinary.
And ordinary was not good enough to save her.
Only twice in his life had stories of the wingless come to him; in each case, the piteous creature had been a criminal who the council banished for a shadowy reason so heinous it was kept from the children. But this—his hands waved in a weak rhythm as if they too could not believe his condition. He was, what, exactly? Wingless? No, that could not be, as he’d committed no crime. Garrick, his brother and apparent rival, had pushed him from House Windhook. Keiron’s thoughts and intentions were far from criminal, and could be no reason for banishment, let alone stealing his wings.
Still, he sat, pained with the understanding that this was truly a one-way trip. His cause had gone from noble to permanent, and he knew that the vistas of House Windhook were now little more than a memory.
He would save her or die. It was simple as that.
In fact, he thought of countless variables in which he could save her and still die, but he forced those from his mind by will alone, raising himself on swooning knees and elbows as he tried to stand again.
This time he was successful, albeit uncertain of how long it would be before he could take a step. The ground swayed like a runaway cloud bank, mindless of his lack of balance and lending an aura of chaos to the simple act of looking out over the horizon.
But what a horizon! It was alive. There were budding trees, two rivers that met far ahead, and a riot of greens that seemed to challenge everything he had ever known about what it meant to be lush. Closing his eyes, he waited until the whirling sensation left him, and only then did he unclench his hands and truly drink in the landscape. It was magnificent, and the ground was soft to the touch of his boots. He recalled the page from a pilfered book he read prior to taking the fall; in it, it was known that all waters ran to the sea, a body of water so unimaginably large that Keiron thought it most likely a wild legend and nothing more. There was a river close enough that he could smell the water, so he pointed himself toward it and took the first of his ginger steps.
Then he took a second, and a third.
In between breaks necessitated by the return of his dizziness, he made his careful way to the riverbank. The flow, while broad and steady, was gentle enough that he could approach the water directly. Keiron feared no water, save the possibility of a sea, so he crouched for a moment to examine the broad, slow ribbon that passed by in a lazy current. The water was somewhere between green and brown, rich with earthy scents, and flecked with parts of things that Keiron was certain had, at one time, been living trees.
It was utterly magical, and it paid him no mind; unlike a storm, which could reach out to the inquisitive and snuff their curiosity with a single, well-placed bolt of lightning. Even his sisters, Banu and Vesta, would be daunted by the sight of so much untamed water running where it wished, with no guidance from a Watershaper. He wasn’t even certain they were capable of altering something this natural. They were powerful, but this was a massive, undisciplined feature that would not take kindly to meddling. Even as he concluded this, a tree—yes, he was certain it had been one—rolled over in the river, exposing a claw-like base of battered roots. The wood was smooth and bleached, like the bones of a cloudbeast left to polish in the elements before being used as a decorative gate for some proud House. All around him, the world busied itself with concerns other than him, and for once in his life, he was thankful.
“The book says that water will flow to a sea. Cities are on the banks of the rivers, usually, and that’s where I may find her.” He shrugged to himself, turned downstream, and began to walk toward the unseen depository of the water. He picked his steps carefully, only daring to speed up after he’d passed one-hundred paces without any disquiet in his balance. It wouldn’t do to fall into a river when he was this close to his goal. Despite not having nearly the skills of his sisters, he drew a small prayer in the water, watching the words whisked away downstream to where she would be waiting.
Keiron wondered if she would be there when the simple words swept by, their message of hope and love visible only to her. If not, he could send another. He had many prayers to send, and all of the time he’d created by the arc of his dive.
For now, he could be patient. He only hoped that she could, too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Left-handed. Father of an apparent nudist. Husband to a half-Norwegian. Herder of cats and dogs. Lover of pie. I write books. I've had an unhealthy fascination with dragons since the age of-- well, for a while. Native Floridian. Current Tennessean. Location subject to change based on insurrection, upheaval, or availability of coffee. Nine books and counting, with no end in sight. You've been warned.
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