The world is Changed.
Fifty-four years have passed since Crow Tallin, the catastrophic celestial event that merged Fayün and the human world. One devastating result of that cataclysm is that most human babies are born fused with fay spirits. The Mystics of Kelt Apar, once beloved, are blamed for this worldwide phenomenon.
On the island of Moth, the Barons have declared the Myst illegal and imprisoned all Mystics under house arrest. Under the watchful eyes of deadly Hunters, a much-older Pomella AnDone now lives as a prisoner at Kelt Apar with her granddaughter and apprentice Mia, as well as the rapidly declining High Mystic of Moth, Yarina Sineese.
When the time comes to conduct the ceremony intended to pass the title of High Mystic from Yarina to her successor Vivianna, something goes horribly wrong, leaving the lineage of Mystics in doubt.
With new rivals seeking to claim Moth for their own, Pomella must undergo a dangerous dreamwalk into the mind-bending and heart-wrenching Mystic Skies in order to learn the mystical name of the island itself.
In this epic conclusion to Jason Denzel’s The Mystic Trilogy, which spans decades and timeless realms and dreams, Pomella must confront her greatest and most personal challenge yet. For the Deep mysteries of the world will reveal themselves only to the most powerful and dedicated of Mystics.
Please enjoy this free excerpt of Mystic Skies by Jason Denzel, on sale 10/11/22.
On the island of Moth, beneath a gray- clouded sky, Pomella AnDone strolled through her garden with the High Mystic. Despite the early autumn season, the roses were in full bloom, growing beside a dizzying assortment of other flowers. Kelt Apar’s garden flourished year- round under Pomella’s care, a point she took particular pride in.
High Mystic Yarina sat in her wheeled chair with her hands folded on her lap, while Pomella pushed her along the winding
pebbled path. Pomella paused every couple of steps to examine or prune a flower.
“I have high hopes for the lilies this year,” Pomella said, making idle chitchat. Yarina, as usual, did not respond. Th e High Mystic nodded sleepily in her chair, likely not hearing what Pomella said. Yarina’s long white hair hung loose, covering her shoulders and the pale blue shawl that hung over her black robes. A thick blanket covered her lap to keep the chill away.
Thunder rumbled overhead, startling Pomella. She caught her thumb on a thorn. “Shite,” she muttered, pressing the dab of blood into her own night- black robes.
“I think we’re going to have a creek poured on us soon,” she said, looking at the roiling clouds. “You can count on Mothic rain like the moon phasing.”
The High Mystic moaned, the sound emanated not much more than a wheezing breath. Her eyes remained closed.
“Mistress?” Pomella said, leaning close. “P-mel,” Yarina breathed.
“I’m here,” Pomella replied, her voice full of concern. It was the most she’d heard the High Mystic speak in days.
“Is . . . it raining?” Yarina murmured.
“Not yet,” Pomella said. “Soon, though. I’ll take you inside.” The High Mystic’s hand lifted and fell on top of Pomella’s.
“Stay,” she said. Her eyes opened, revealing unfocused, clouded pupils. More than sixty years had passed since their first meet- ing, but the High Mystic’s eyes still saw beyond this world into a deeper reality than what other people perceived.
A sudden tension knotted in Pomella’s back as if she’d spent a full afternoon shouldering a heavy load. She had hoped to have a nice stroll, but now a flood of other concerns settled upon her.
Pomella peered over the edge of the garden to examine the wide grass lawn surrounding Kelt Apar’s central tower. A pair of black-robed Mystics walked along one of the pebbled paths, while Vlenar chopped wood near the Wall. There were no Hunters in sight, thank the Saints.
Shifting her robes, Pomella knelt beside the High Mystic’s roll- ing chair. She winced. Her knees had long ago ceased to be what they once were, but she still managed to find a reasonably com- fortable position.
Yarina reached a bony hand to touch Pomella’s hair. Later this fall would mark the High Mystic’s one hundred and second year. Pomella sat with as much patience as she could muster as the older woman twirled the deep white strands.
“Still a girl,” Yarina said.
Pomella forced a smile, and darted her gaze again toward Oxillian’s Wall. Named for its creator, the enormous hedge Wall that surrounded Kelt Apar had stood since Crow Tallin, fifty-four years ago. In more recent years, since the Mystic Accord and the coming of the Hunters, the Wall had been fortified with supple- mental walkways and watchtowers.
A pair of leather-clad Hunters walked atop its parapet, their attention focused inward toward the lawn. Even at a distance, the iron tips of their glaives sent a chill down Pomella’s spine.
Many of the Hunters stationed at Kelt Apar were out on one of their so-called patrols, but Carn and his cohorts would likely be back soon. Pomella focused again on the High Mystic, trying not to let the Hunters consume her mind.
“Oh, Mistress,” she said, “I stopped being a girl a long time ago.” “No,” Yarina said. She swallowed, and Pomella saw moisture well at the corners of her eyes. “No titles. We’re sisters.”
A lump of emotion welled in Pomella’s throat. In all their years together, Yarina had never said anything like that.
“The gardener’s daughters,” Yarina continued. “Remember?”
It seemed like the life of the stars, but Pomella understood what Yarina meant. “Yes,” she said. “Lal.” They’d shared the same mas- ter, and while many years had separated their tutelage with him, in the long view of decades they’d both been his students in their youth. They had both been like his daughters.
“Viv—Vivi—” Yarina tried.
“Vivianna isn’t here right now,” Pomella said. “It’s . . . time.”
The last word trailed off in a breathless whisper, and real fear gripped Pomella. One hundred and two years stretched the poten- tial life-span of all but the most wondrous Mystics. Yarina’s eyes moved in slow motion as though she were witnessing a beautiful, wide landscape. Perhaps she was. Pomella recognized what this was and had been long prepared for it. But like many significant moments of life, now that it was here, she felt the challenge of the moment gather before her like an oncoming storm.
“Yarina?” Pomella prompted.
The High Mystic exhaled a tiny breath. Her mouth moved as though she spoke slowly and silently to somebody Pomella could not see.
Wincing slightly at a pain in her creaky knees, Pomella stood.
She had to get the High Mystic back to the central tower.
Pomella closed her eyes and Unveiled the Myst. A swirling sen- sation of life, energy, and supreme awareness filled her. If the world was a painting, then the Myst was both the canvas and the paint, the painter and the brush, as well as the very inspiration for the art. The Myst was the energy of the universe, the breath that coursed through all existence. When Pomella reached out toward the Myst, she really reached for a part of herself. When it blossomed around her, it reaffirmed the truth of their inseparable natures.
“Ena,” Pomella whispered, and a heartbeat later her humming- bird gleamed from the sky and alighted onto her outstretched palm. The little fay bird’s partially corporeal feet were like twigs of cool water on her skin.
“Tell Mia, Dronas, and Master Kambay to meet us in the tower immediately. Have them prepare the anointment ceremony, in- cluding the paintings. Avoid the Hunters and be discreet.”
Ena radiated worry but buzzed away, young as ever, over the tall garden flowers toward the cabins where the Mystics lived.
Next, Pomella tapped the air, letting the familiar sound of a silver bell ting through the garden.
The ground rumbled and rose beside her. Dirt and stone lifted upward, forming the shape of a towering, bearded man. Roses and sunflowers from the surrounding garden pulled together along with other flowers to dot his body. Polished stones formed his eyes and fallen flower petals made his beard.
“Mistress Pomella,” the Green Man, Oxillian, intoned with his familiar, rumbling voice.
His face sank when he saw Yarina sitting peacefully in her roll- ing chair. “Oh my,” he said. “Her heart beats faintly.”
“She’s dying, Ox.”
Oxillian eased himself to one knee and reached a soil-and- stone finger to brush aside a stray strand of hair from the High Mystic’s face. “So it has always been, across all the centuries, here in Kelt Apar. What of the ceremony?”
“We’ll conduct it shortly. But I need something else from you. Go to the arranged location and prepare what we spoke of,” Po- mella said. “I will summon you again when it’s time.”
“Of course, Mistress.” He faced Yarina again and bowed low, then took a long step backward. As his foot touched the ground, he merged back into the soil like a swimmer into water. The pebbled walkway restored itself, leaving the garden as it previously appeared. No trace of Oxillian’s presence remained.
Pomella allowed herself a brief moment longer to hold Yarina’s hand. A lifetime of love and admiration washed over her. The High Mystic had drifted off to sleep again, her chest rising and falling almost imperceptibly.
Light footsteps approached the garden, and if Pomella hadn’t been quietly pondering at that moment she would’ve missed them. For a moment she worried it could be a Hunter, but these footsteps belonged to Vlenar, the old laghart gardener.
The former ranger hobbled forward on his wooden cane, which he carried not because of his crooked back, but because an old in- jury had rendered his left foot severely twisted. Like all lagharts, Vlenar’s scales swirled in thumb-sized repeating triangular patterns across his entire body. His coloring had lightened over the years, having dulled from a deep forest emerald to a paler, stone-washed green. He wore a wide-brimmed straw sun hat that he’d woven to fit his spike-crested head.
His long tongue flicked out repeatedly, tasting the air, when he saw Yarina. Lagharts could sense the world differently than humans.
Vlenar’s slitted pupils fixed upon Pomella. “Ssshe isss almost gone,” he hissed.
“Yes,” Pomella said. “We need to get her into the tower in or- der to ensure a smooth transition to Vivianna.” She eyed the Wall again. One of the Hunters on patrol nudged his companion as he took notice of Pomella and Vlenar standing beside the High Mystic.
“Let’s go,” she said.
They left the garden together, Pomella wheeling the High Mystic toward the tower. As they walked, motes of glowing light swirled all around them. A swarm of fay geese flew overhead, and silver and gold plants turned to face them.
Above it all, more thunder sounded, and with it came the rain.
Copyright © 2022 from Jason Denzel
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