Yay! Here we go with Snippet Two! I'm not going to introduce this one quite so much. Tomorrow (11/22) we are set to release, but the amazing cover designer is still working on that part right now, so I'm not sure yet! All I know is that it's going to look AMAZING!!!! I can't wait to show you guys. ;)
The Lost: Snippet Two
Chapter Two Exhausted from the late night, Arryn had hoped to sleep just a bit longer that following morning, but that clearly wasn’t the plan for the day.
She awoke to violent shaking, her eyes flying open as she sat bolt upright in her bed. Instead of danger, she saw hopeful grey-green eyes to her left and wise, old, and obviously-excited jade-green eyes from the foot of her bed.
“Is nothing sacred around here?” Arryn asked, flopping back down.
“You’re seventy. Why can’t you be a crotchety old man who sleeps in too late?”
The Chieftain laughed. “You’re only as old as you feel, my dear, and you guys keep me young. I might be the Chieftain, but I’m also the troublemaking community grandpa. Who else is going to teach them bright and early, and—”
Arryn smiled. “Yeah, teach the kids bad habits all day and get drunk with their parents all night!”
He pinched one of her exposed toes. “That’s right! It’s a huge responsibility to be this good-looking, adored, and popular with people of all ages.”
Arryn lifted her head to shoot him an amused, but incredulous look. If she had been blindfolded, it would have been impossible to tell the Chieftain from his grandson. There was no question at all where Cathillian had gotten it from.
The old man winked at Corrine, who was just as excited as he was. Corrine’s expression turned serious, though. “Please, Arryn? I’m so excited to have my own house! The Chieftain said we couldn’t do it without you. Don’t you want to do this with me? Don’t you want to spend time with me?”
The girl puffed out her lip a little, and Arryn heard a slight snicker from the foot of her bed. Turning her gaze on the Chieftain, she caught the quick change in expression from amused to serious.
“Oh, Arryn. That’s terrible. See what you did?” the Chieftain said.
She narrowed her eyes. “What is the matter with you? You told her to say that! What a rotten old man you are!”
“Yay!” Corrine cheered as Arryn climbed from her bed. “And don’t be so hard on him. He said you’d be really sleepy, but we should wake you anyway.”
Arryn laughed. “That isn’t exactly a point in his favor, Corrine, but it’s fine. I remember him telling me to do similar things to guilt Elysia into giving me what I wanted. Don’t listen to him all the time, though. He’ll get you in trouble and turn you into a spoiled little thing.”
“What? I would never!” the Chieftain said, feigning shock.
Arryn stood and stretched. “You know, I’m really starting to think all of Cathillian’s bad habits came from you. He does that exact same thing to me all the time.”
The Chieftain laughed. “Glad he learned something useful. Now, come on! You move too slow. Aren’t you a morning person?”
Before Arryn could respond, the Chieftain turned toward the door, with Corrine following closely. As they all stepped outside, the sun peeked through the canopy and blinded Arryn. It took her a moment to adjust.
The Chieftain sighed as he smiled. “The sun is certainly shining brightly this morning. Not a cloud in the sky! Now, off to find a good section of land for our newest druid.”
“It’s the Dark Forest,” Elysia said as she passed. “It’s all good land, Father.” She turned to Arryn. “Good morning, dear. I’m sorry. I tried, but you know how he is.”
Arryn smiled and shook her head. “No worries. Thanks for trying. Wanna come? You and I did this together. I feel like it should be a tradition.”
Elysia thought for a moment before nodding. “I’d love to. After all, we’ll probably be doing this again in another ten years for your children—by which I mean my grandchildren.”
Arryn’s eyes widened. “Well, I see Cathillian told you about the conversation he and I had. You seem to be finding that bit of information good and amusing.”
Elysia shrugged. “The whole southern village has been waiting for this for years. Of course, I do! Anyway, after housing we’ll have training, since you’re up.”
The four of them walked and talked as they searched for a piece of the forest within the village that felt like home for the young girl. As they spoke, Arryn became aware of just how different things were in the Terres Forest.
After picking her perfect spot next to a large bed of mixed flowers, Corrine said, “Okay! I’m ready. Do I get to cut down my own trees?”
Elysia gave her a smile, though it seemed to be more sympathetic than happy. “Here we don’t kill the trees.”
Corrine looked at her with total confusion. “Then how do you build your houses?”
The Chieftain extended his hand to Arryn, giving her the seeds for the bamboo they would use. In the past, they had used trees with slightly thicker, but still flexible trunks instead of bamboo. That was what Arryn’s house was made from. But they had begun using bamboo in recent years.
Arryn said. “Do you know how to plant seeds? Are the druids where you’re from able to grow them?”
She nodded. “They can, but they don’t very often. The forest is pretty there, but nothing like here. It’s natural. I don’t think they plant new things. They never taught me, though. I can call vines, but that’s it. I learned how because I was always scared, and wanted to be high in the trees.”
Arryn reached out with her free hand and gave Corrine’s shoulder a squeeze. “All that’s over now. And it’s fine that no one taught you, because I will. Okay? We’ll teach you the right way.”
The girl smiled warmly before saying, “Thank you. This is the best gift I’ve ever had.”
Unfortunately, Arryn believed that, but instead of focusing on the horrible life the young girl had led in her short years, she just returned Corrine’s smile and handed her some of the seeds. “Just follow my lead,” she told her.
Arryn began crawling in a large square, dropping the seeds and pressing them into the dirt in tight lines. Corrine mimicked her actions.
Once the initial perimeter was sown, Arryn spread several throughout the middle.
“Okay,” Arryn began, “when these grow, we will bend them to the shape we want. This bamboo that will be the floor in your home. We will urge all the canes to bend and grow in a layer that will be woven together to create a strong foundation up off the ground, then another layer will grow over the top that will be completely flat.”
As Arryn explained the plan, Corrine’s eyes grew wide. “That’s how you get your houses? How can you control the trees and bamboo like that? No one can do anything like that where I’m from. They can grow stuff, but that’s about it.”
“Once the floor is done, we will plant more seeds for the walls and roof. I know it doesn’t make sense now, but trust me—it will soon.”
Arryn smiled at her as she placed her hands flat on the ground on the opposite side from where Corrine knelt. The Chieftain knelt where the front of the home would be, and Elysia at the back.
Arryn, Elysia, and the Chieftain allowed their eyes to flash green, Corrine following shortly after. As the druids saw the neon-green color, they gasped.
“They look just like his,” Elysia said to the girl, motioning to her father. “I didn’t realize your eyes could turn green.”
“The best shade, too,” the Chieftain said with a wink in Corrine’s direction. “You must be capable of using both light and dark magic. That’s why your resting eyes are grey with hints of green, while your magical color is vibrant green. You have a lot of power in you, little one. Let’s test it, shall we?”
She smiled and nodded, putting her hands flat on the ground in front of her like they had.
“Now, the magic where you come from isn’t quite as different from ours as the dark druids’ is. Otherwise, we would have quite a task on our hands,” the Chieftain said as he leaned forward again.
He nodded to Arryn, and she began to explain the fundamentals of growing. The girl did her best to positively focus her power into the seeds, but failed several times.
“Watch me,” Arryn said.
She leaned forward, focusing her will on the seeds to germinate them. A familiar heat began to fill her, flowing through her body and down through her hands.
The magic used to grow things wasn’t entirely different from the magic that was used to heal, which was another thing Corrine hadn’t been taught to do.
As Arryn called upon her magic, the Chieftain and Elysia called their magic as well. They pushed the magic slowly, so Corrine could help grow the seeds.
The girl’s eyes continued to glow as she studied each of them closely, curiosity all over her expression, but finally she leaned forward and flattened her hands against the dirt again.
Arryn could feel the swell of energy within the girl, but it was tainted in a way she couldn’t quite understand. It didn’t feel quite like life, but it didn’t feel so hopeless as death either.
It was a risk, but Arryn wanted to try something similar to what Amelia had done to test her strength not long ago when she had first arrived in Arcadia.
“Focus on where you came from. Focus on how terrible they made you feel. Remember what it was like to wake up every day in the trees, unsheltered from the rain, snow, or cold. Remember how bad their energy felt to you.” Corrine’s eyes were locked on hers as she nodded her head, her dark grey curls bouncing a little as she did.
Arryn continued. “Now think about how you feel here. Focus on the good things that have happened in your short time here. You’re about to have a place to call your own. You only need to grow it. Are you going to let those assholes in that forest hold you back?”
Corrine’s eyes widened for a moment and she shook her head. “No.” It was only one word, but Arryn heard the conviction in it.
She closed her eyes and angled her face toward the ground in deep concentration. Arryn began to feel a shift in her magic, one that was angry, but somehow lightening.
Arryn and her Elders looked at one another as they felt the shift in the ground below Corrine, and Arryn smiled as the bamboo began to break through the soil.
Everyone pushed together then. Corrine grew the bamboo, and Arryn and the Elders bent and shaped it. The bamboo leaned over with little effort, each one weaving around the one next to it to create a floor solid enough to hold the weight of several people—or a heavy tiger, if Dante ever grew.
Once the two layers of floor had been created, the four of them planted more seeds and grew the walls, bending them at the top where they tightly wove them together again, only at an angle instead of flat.
The leaves grew thick and strong, ten times as many on each stalk as what grew naturally. This created a strong roof that could withstand any weather and would keep Corrine completely dry.
When it was finished, Arryn walked around the solid building in time to see the girl tip over a bit, her eyes heavy. She yawned and shook her head, trying to wake herself. “Why am I so sleepy?”
Arryn smiled. “You just used a lot of magic. Good magic. It’ll get easier the more you practice, but right now you should probably go take a nap.”
“You did well,” the Chieftain said. “I never doubted you for a second. Arryn did, but not me.”
Arryn snorted. “Old man, maybe you need a nap, too. Or a time-out. You’re even more ridiculous this morning than usual.”
“I second that,” Elysia said with a laugh as she rounded the corner. The Chieftain shook his head. “Honestly, I don’t know how I raised such a stick-in-the-mud. Cathillian is the only one who gets it. Little Corrine, don’t take after these two.”
The girl laughed, and yawned again. Arryn reached out with her mind, and only a few moments later Snow arrived. She helped Corrine onto Snow’s back before telling the big cat to take her back to her own house.
“Why can’t I stay in mine?” Corrine asked, leaning over and snuggling into Snow’s thick fur.
“Because it isn’t ready yet. We still need to craft you a bed and get you some bedding. I know you’re used to sleeping in the trees with nothing more than the clothes on your back, but that time is long gone. I want the first night you spend in your new home to be comfortable,” Arryn said.
Corrine only managed a slow nod before her eyes shut. “Okay, Snow,” Arryn said. “She’s already passed out. Make sure she gets into bed safely.”
Once the tiger was on her way, Elysia gently smacked Arryn in the arm with the back of her hand. “You ready for some training?” “Am I giving or taking the ass-beatings today?” Arryn asked.
Elysia smiled. “Oh, you’ll be giving them. However, you’re going to have to take one from me first. We have some new recruits. Gotta show ‘em how it’s done!” “I’m not too excited to get in the pit with you this early, but I guarantee they don’t want to be in there with any of us.” She smiled deviously. “This should be fun.”