by Kriston Johnson
Series: The Legends Of Elyndia, #1
Publication date: April 25th 2013
Genre: YA Fantasy
Can fighting for the right side be the wrong thing to do?
Draven, the tyrant ruler of Elyndia for the last one thousand years, searches for the one who can fulfill his prophecy.
The Paladins, an elite band of warriors sworn to protect their way of life at all cost, search for the one with the ability to bring their world crumbling down.
An innocent girl, tormented by demons only she can see, lives on the brink of insanity and longs for a life of peace.
When seventeen-year-old Jade Rosenberg reads from an antique book, she has no idea she just read an incantation awaking her inherited power. But when opposing—and equally terrifying—groups invade her home, she learns she is descended from an enchanted realm and a member of a powerful race thought to have been hunted to extinction.
Ripped from her world, Jade is forced to seek refuge from those who want her dead. She is given one of two options and the time has come for her to make a choice: assassinate their sworn enemy…
Or sacrifice her soul.
Blood-encrusted iron shackles tethered Gabriel to the stone dais, digging into his bare skin, grinding to the bone. Fighting starvation and sleep deprivation, he hunched over, swaying back and forth, hovering between nightmare and reality. Sweat gleamed off his shirtless body as the jailer stirred the white-hot coals in the small fire pit next to him. He accepted what he’d done the same way he accepted his punishment—without¬¬ regret. It was judgment day and one man served as judge and jury.
The torch flames flickered against the stone walls like a serpent's tongue. Councilman Haywood shuffled across the medieval courtroom floor clutching a rolled piece of parchment in his meaty hand. Once the councilman read Gabriel's sentence out loud, his fate would be sealed.
“This is an unfortunate event.” The councilman’s baritone voice echoed off the walls. “Not since the fall of the Ancients have we been betrayed in such a manner, and not by one brother, but two.” He turned and addressed Gabriel, who straightened his posture and glowered at the councilman.
“Your carelessness has put not only your own people at risk. The fate of the world is now in jeopardy.” The portly man paced back and forth before the inquisitive crowd. “But because of your family's reputation, I have decided to give you a chance to redeem yourself.”
A thick wood-planked door swung open and banged against the cavern wall. A tall and husky man with salt and pepper hair stormed into the room, his sword bouncing off his leg.
“Why is Gabriel not properly represented?” he demanded.
“Jesper Turner, you have no authority within these walls.” The councilman sneered, taking pleasure in reminding Jesper of that fact.
Jesper paused for a second. “You’re right, but the elf queen does.” He showed no sign of wanting to debate with the pig-headed man. He turned and strode back toward the door.
The councilman cursed under his breath. “I was about to offer him a deal.” Jesper waited, staring over his shoulder with narrowed eyes. “We are offering him the chance to fulfill his original duty. To track down and eliminate the Elemental girl known as Jade.”
“What do you mean eliminate?” Jesper asked.
“To kill her.”
“Absolutely not. I will not do it.” The muscles in Gabriel’s chest tensed. These were the first words he had spoken since his unjustified arrest eight days before.
Jesper motioned for Gabriel to remain silent. “Why does the Council wish to kill an innocent girl?”
“Because we have never been more at risk. If Draven finds her first…” The councilman shook his head. “Besides, how would she be any different from the other hundred creatures he has brutally slain this past year? He has proven himself to be Elyndia’s most talented assassin. It’s a shame to let that talent go to waste.”
“Because they were demon beasts, and he did nothing but send them back to the void. We are talking about a young girl.”
“A young girl who holds the fate of our world in her hands. And let me remind you of something. You both made a sacred vow to protect this land at all costs. Want to or not, you have to admit this girl is a threat. And let us not forget why we are here. Gabriel’s carelessness allowed the escape of the one and only person who knew how to find her.”
Gabriel held his head high in defiance. “Given the opportunity, I would do it again.”
Jesper approached Gabriel. They leaned in close to each other and spoke in hushed tones. The councilman took in a deep breath through his nose, scrutinizing them. “Gabriel accepts these terms. He will track down and find this Elemental girl and eliminate her as a threat.”
The councilman nodded his head in agreement and stowed the parchment with Gabriel’s sentence in the side pocket of his silk robe. “I have something for you, Gabriel…something to act as a reminder.” The councilman motioned to the husky guards standing nearby. Two of them grabbed Jesper, one on each arm, holding him as he wrestled against them. The look on his face was a combination of anger and fear for his young friend. Two other guards forced Gabriel to his knees and laid his muscular arm across a short, dingy wooden table. The jailer passed the councilman a partially charred leather glove. He pulled it onto his hand and retrieved the poker out of the fire. Except it wasn’t a poker, it was a brand. Councilman Haywood let the searing hot metal hover over Gabriel’s bare flesh. The screams in Gabriel's head were deafening, though no sound escaped his lips.