felt a small smile cross her lips. She had missed these dreams in the past years. Her grandmother had meant everything to her for the short time she had known her.
Laken Lamont had been half-French, with liquid dark eyes and long black hair. A delicate, fragile woman who looked like the pictures Ariel had of her mother. She had come to her during a time when Ariel knew, if it hadn\u2019t been for her grandmother\u2019s steadying influence, that she would have lost her mind.
\u201cI don\u2019t know, Ariel.\u201d Sadness flickered in the old woman\u2019s eyes. \u201cThe Mistress will know great danger. She will know great pain before her warrior arrives. She will have to be strong enough to look past her fears and past the horrors she will see to accept her warrior.\u201d
\u201cThere is a legend near forgotten by time, and hazy to even the oldest memory. A legend that has never been told by those who wield the pen, but lives in the hearts and souls of those who wield the sword. The Legend of the Savage Warrior.
\u201cWhen the world was young, and man fought against man in battles of darkness, in forests heavy with magic and the power of the Earth, he rose as one of four. A warrior of strength and justice, one who held the power of the gods. He was as tall as the oak, as mighty as the mountain, and as strong as truth itself.
\u201cTo this warrior, whose heart and soul was most pure, the Earth Mother gifted to him, her most precious daughter. One scarred by betrayal, but one who knew the need for love, for the gentleness of this non-gentle warrior. And they were bound. During the darkest times of history,
\u201cBut evil will have its due. And before Mother Earth could claim victory for her children, a horrible price was demanded by Fate and Destiny for the machinations of bringing together the son of the gods and a daughter of the Earth. So it was declared. As long as the Wind Mistress kept her eyes closed to the power, her ears dead to the Earth and her heart cold from her trials, so then would the Savage roam. Lost, unaided but by his brothers, forever seeking what only the wind shall know. The true heart of the Mistress where his heart was bestowed.
power of the Wind Crystal, her will strong, her heart whole and unscarred by the touch of evil. She will rise, and she will know the truth, the power and the heart laid bare for her to see. But first, she must accept that which she fears the most. She must know that which she has denied the strongest.
\u201cUntil then, she will remember, only in her dreams. She will seek in darkness, and fight without strength and she will know little but the faintest breeze to whisper his name, rather than the full force of the wind which should carry her devotion back to him.
\u201cBeware Mistress, for in his hands does your fate rest. Beware daughter of the Earth, for there are deceptions, darkness and pain. Seek and ye shall find. Deny and ye shall die\u2026\u201d
The winds rose around her then. Howling, screaming in fury and rage as her grandmother\u2019s bedroom door opened and her father stood framed in the doorway. She had shuddered in fear. He was angry\u2026again.
And she knew what was coming. She would have pleaded with him not to lock her up again, but then her grandmother would know. And if she knew, then Ariel feared her father would make good on his promise to have the old woman locked away, confined forever in the darkness.
So she left the peace of her grandmother\u2019s arms, followed her father from the room, down the winding stairs and to the basement where he pushed her into the foul-smelling closet and locked the door.
And she had screamed out his name. Cried for him until in her fury and her terror, a sudden violet light had lit the way, and the faintest breeze had carried his voice to her\u2026 Gentle. Comforting. And she had feared then that she was as crazy as her father had claimed\u2026 Just like her mother\u2026
The winds howled. They screamed in fury, bending trees, stripping the supple branches of leaves and laying young saplings to the ground. Nature in all her glory was ripping through the land, screaming out its rage.
Clouds boiled into a tempest overhead, swirling in myriad shades of black and gray as the forces of nature converged to spill their anger upon the forest below. Lightning flared in brilliant arcs, rain slashed at the ground below, joining the wrathful violence as it pounded the land.
Like demons swirling from hell, the screaming winds and spearing lightning joined with the clash of thunder to rock the mountain with a force that only nature could produce.
Beneath the violently swaying trees, amid the flying bramble and leaves, Ariel St. James moved desperately through the storm. She screamed out in furious fear as a thick limb crashed to the ground behind her, and cursed roughly as she stumbled through the gathering winds, feeling it push at her back, forcing her deeper into the surrounding forests.
She was careful to stay close to the trees, within the shadows, as lightning whipped in the sky overhead. She knew she was being hunted. They had been at the house when she returned that evening, more of them than she could have fought, waiting to catch her unaware.
But she had smelled them. On the softest breeze, she had smelled the stench of death and evil. She would have gotten back in the car. Would have sped back the way she had come, but the wind and the warmth of the crystal her grandmother had bequeathed her had urged her along a different path.
This time, unlike when she had been kidnapped, she heeded the strange crystal at her breast and moved quickly into the forest that surrounded her home. She wouldn\u2019t be caught as she had been before, undefended, unaware.
She shivered beneath the onslaught of the rain. Water saturated her short hair, plastered her linen shirt and jeans to her body and ran in rivulets down her face. But between her breasts, heat radiated through her, dispelling the chill of the storm and the fear as she made her way carefully through the forest.
All she had to defend herself was the sword she had been carrying into the house, and the matching dagger now tucked into her jeans at the small of her back. Weapons she had taken from the safe at her shop before leaving, filled with an unexplained need to take the priceless artifacts home with her.
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