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Authors: Laura Jo Phillips

Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Paranormal, #Literature & Fiction, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #Romance

The Quest for the Heart Orb

BOOK: The Quest for the Heart Orb
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Quest for the Heart Orb

 

The Orbs of Rathira, Book Three

 

by

 

Laura Jo Phillips

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by Kathleen Honsinger

 

Cover art/design Copyright © 2014 by Kathleen Honsinger

 

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

DEDICATION

 

 

For my family.  Thank you for putting up with my long hours, the cancelled family movie nights, shopping trips, get togethers and occasional melt downs. 

 

I love all of you, and appreciate each of you every single day.

 

And, as always, for Mom, Grandma, and Great-Grandma---Thank you all for the creativity you passed along to me, as well as the heart to do something with it.  There is a little bit of each of you in these books, just as there is a little bit of each of you in me

 

 

 

Look for previews and coming release announcements at:

 

Website:

www.laurajophillips.com

 

 

Facebook:

facebook.com/laurajophillipsauthor

 

 

Other Books by Laura Jo Phillips

 

The Dracons’ Woman

Book One of the Soul-Linked Saga

 

The Lobos’ HeartSong

Book Two of the Soul-Linked Saga

 

The Katres’ Summer

Book Three of the Soul-Linked Saga

 

The Bearens’ Hope

Book Four of the Soul-Linked Saga

 

The Gryphon’s Dream

Book Five of the Soul-Linked Saga

 

The Vulpiran’s Honor

Book Six of the Soul-Linked Saga

 

The Falcorans’ Faith

Book Seven of the Soul-Linked Saga

 

The Tigrens’ Glory

Book Eight of the Soul-Linked Saga

 

Quest for the Moon Orb

The Orbs of Rathira, Book One

 

Quest for the Sun Orb

The Orbs of Rathira, Book Two

 

Quest for the Heart Orb

The Orbs of Rathira, Book Three

 

Secrets Kept

Mixed Blood, Book One

(Available under the name Kathleen Honsinger)

 

Secrets Told

Mixed Blood, Book Two

 

Books by Harvey Phillips and Paul Honsinger

 

To Honor You Call Us

Man of War, Book One

 

For Honor We Stand

Man of War, Book Two

 

Visit the home of the Soul-Linked Saga online at:

www.laurajophillips.com

or email Laura Jo at:

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

CONTENTS

 

 

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

 

 

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Epilogue

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

Ren sat on a large, flat rock at the summit of
Nu
Sennet
, gazing in awe at the
Hidden Sister
which, after an absence of a thousand years was, miraculously, no longer hidden.  She kept blinking her eyes as though clearing her vision would bring back the broad valley she was used to seeing, but her view did not change. 
The Hidden Sister
remained. 

The sudden appearance of an entire mountain from one day to the next would have been much more shocking if not for the stories taught to every child brought to Sanctuary.  Even children as young as she’d been were taught the legends of the Three Sisters, the Orb Quest, and the
Braii
-Vatra Pact.

Ren shivered and stood up, pulling her thick woolen hood closer against the wind.  She was cold and stiff from staring at the
Hidden Sister
all morning, but still had to force herself to turn away from it.  She hopped down from the rock and began making her way back to the little cabin nestled among a stand of ancient trees nearby, looking forward to a cup of hot tea in front of a warm fire. 

Another gust of wind brought with it an unusual sound.  Ren turned toward the narrow trail leading up the mountain from Sanctuary, surprised to see a figure dressed in the familiar dark gray robe worn by all of the
Braii
.  As she watched, the figure paused and tilted her hooded head back.  “Ren!”

Ren had no trouble recognizing the voice.  It was Sierna, Adaya’s assistant, and Second among the
Braii
.  Ren changed direction, hurrying down the trail to meet Sierna rather than make her climb further.  A few short minutes later she stopped in front of the smiling woman, pressed her palms together and bowed her head.

“Greetings,
Brai
Sierna,” she said.  “I apologize that you had to walk so far, but I only just heard your call.”

“Do not concern yourself, Ren,” Sierna said with a wave of her hand.  “A little exercise every few years is good for these old bones, I’m sure.  Besides, it helped me to work off some of my excitement.  I’m sure you noticed the Return from way up there, did you not?”

“I certainly did,” Ren said.  “I cannot tell you how surprised I was when I went out to get wood this morning and found an entire mountain in place of the valley I expected.”

“We were all surprised, I can promise you that,” Sierna agreed with a laugh. 

“Is there something I can do for you,
Brai
Sierna?” Ren asked, deciding they’d had enough polite chit chat to avoid sounding rude.

“Oh yes, of course,” Sierna said, smiling.  “
Brai
Adaya asks to see you.”

“Then she shall,” Ren replied, then glanced down at the worn, everyday brown robe she wore.  “I’m not properly dressed for Sanctuary, but it won’t take me long to change.  You can begin walking back, and I’ll catch up with you.”

“There is no need for that,” Sierna assured her.  “This is not a formal summons.  Come.”

Ren frowned thoughtfully as she and Sierna began walking side by side down the trail.  She had to slow her own step to keep pace with her companion, but she was used to that.  She’d been taller than everyone in both Sanctuary and the surrounding village, Walshire, since she was twelve. 

While they walked she considered and discarded several possible reasons for Adaya’s summons.  She’d never been called down from her cabin before, and couldn’t imagine why Adaya had summoned her this morning, especially since she was due to visit Sanctuary the following day.  She wondered, briefly, if it had anything to do with the reappearance of the
Hidden Sister
.  It was certainly a momentous and singular event.  There would surely be days and days of celebrations, ceremonies, and rituals dedicated to the Return in both Sanctuary and the village.  But she no longer lived at Sanctuary, and she had no ties to the village, so the Return could have nothing to do with her. 

It wasn’t her place to question Sierna, or any other
Braii
, but, as was often the case, Ren’s curiosity got the better of her.  “
Brai
Sierna, do you know why
Brai
Adaya has summoned me?”

“Yes, I know, but it is not for me to say,” Sierna said, not unkindly.  They walked in silence for another few minutes before Sierna spoke again.  “Are you aware, Ren, that today is the anniversary of your birth?”

Ren was startled.  “No, actually, I didn’t realize that.  I count the days of course, so I know when to come down to Sanctuary, but I don’t keep track of dates.”

“Then you don’t know,” Sierna said, stopping.

“I don’t know what?” Ren asked warily, turning to face her. 
Brai
Sierna’s eyes shifted slowly and deliberately to Ren’s forehead.

Ren had to lock her knees to keep herself from falling to the ground in shock.  She took several deep breaths in a futile attempt to slow her suddenly racing heart, then slowly raised one hand to her face.  Up high, just a little below her hairline, was what appeared to be a small, rectangular emerald.  Except that it wasn’t.  Ren’s mother had called it a
corona stone
.  Aside from that, Ren didn’t know why it was there, or what, if anything, it meant.  She only knew that she couldn’t remove it, and that it had suddenly appeared on her sixth birthday. 

As though having a green rock stuck in her face weren’t bad enough, on the anniversary of her thirteenth birthday a triangular red object that looked exactly like a brilliant, fiery ruby had appeared below the emerald in the exact center of her forehead.  The ruby was larger than the emerald, but just as permanent, just as mysterious, and just as alien to the eyes of all who looked at her. 

Her fingers touched the familiar emerald, then moved down to the ruby before, hesitantly, she moved them lower.  Centered between her eyebrows she felt something hard, round and smooth embedded in her flesh.  Something that had not been there when she’d washed her face before bed the previous night.

“What does it look like,
Brai
Sierna?” Ren asked.

“A pearl,” Sierna replied, smiling gently.  “A perfect, opalescent white pearl.”

Ren sighed and dropped her hand to her side.  “Oh well, it can’t draw any more stares than I already get.”

Sierna resumed walking and again Ren fell into step beside her.  “Why is it, do you think, that people stare at you, Ren?”

“You know why people stare,” Ren said uncomfortably.

“Yes, I certainly do,” Sierna said.  “My question, however, was why do
you
think they stare.”

“There are lots of reasons,
Brai
Sierna, the most common being that I’m a freak.”

“I grant you that there are those who think that,” Sierna said.  “But they are by no means the majority.”

“No?”

“Oh no, not at all.”

Ren couldn’t help herself.  She had to ask.  “Why do you think the majority of people stare at me?”

“Jealousy, curiosity, and admiration are the most common reasons.”  Ren was so surprised that she stumbled on the well-worn path.  “You’ve never noticed?”

“No,
Brai
Sierna,” Ren said once she’d regained her balance.  “I certainly have not.”

“That’s because you’ve always wanted to be the same as everyone else,” Sierna said. 

“Is that so wrong?” Ren asked.

“No, my dear, it’s not
wrong
,” Sierna replied.  “On the other hand, being like everyone else is not necessarily so wonderful either.  It’s all in how you look at things, Ren, and to look at you is to know that you are meant for something special.”

“I’d rather be ordinary and have friends than be special and alone,” Ren said wistfully.

“I know you would,” Sierna said, reaching over to pat Ren’s arm lightly.  “But you cannot change what
is
, Ren.  You cannot change the blood in your veins, or the corona stones on your forehead, no matter how much you might wish to.  However, you
can
choose whether to fight Fate and her plans for you, or accept them.  You’ve spent years fighting and it has done you no good as far as I can tell.  Perhaps it’s time to try acceptance for a change.”

Ren saw the wisdom in
Brai
Sierna’s words, of course.  Just because she had rocks on her face didn’t mean she had them in her head.  She also suspected that there was a great deal more to what Sierna was saying than her words implied.  “Why are you telling me this now,
Brai
Sierna?” she asked.  “Or, perhaps the more pertinent question is; what is it that you
aren’t
telling me?”

BOOK: The Quest for the Heart Orb
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