For five thousand years, Caleb has been bound to Raven form. Now he wants out. In order to free himself of servitude, he has one final assignment. Watch over Keeleigh.
Keeleigh always felt like she never belonged. Her pointed ears and magickal gifts separate her from others.
Caleb desires eternal rest. Keeleigh craves to learn more about her Elvin heritage. But a new threat is rising from the shadows targeting any magickal or psychic mortals.
Will Caleb make his peace before seeking Death? Will Keeleigh uncover her magickal past? Or will she find she’s next on the list?
Excerpt from "An Eternity of Shadows"
“Hey, Keeleigh, sell any of my CDs?” Bethany asked.
“Five, I think.”
“God, girl, I don’t know how you do it! You sell more CDs than I do in just one sitting when you play. I keep telling you, you should take it up professionally. Well, here you go. Not quite a bad haul for opening day and one sitting.” Bethany handed her over a wad of cash she had collected from the tip jar.
Keeleigh knew her friend was reluctant to give it up, but a deal was a deal. She took the money and counted it out. Someone tipped her a ten and a twenty. In all, she had made fifty dollars in tips just for playing a few songs. She always ended with the song she had just finished. It drew in more people and caught their hearts, just like it had captured hers the first time she’d heard it. It was about star-crossed lovers who were driven apart. Bethany always begged her to teach her, but Keeleigh declined. It was a family secret, and she wasn’t able to share the knowledge.
Keeleigh wove her way through the crowd, careful so her wings didn’t bang anyone. She was one of the characters with the Renaissance Faire who wasn’t hired to fill in slots when actors were needed. Bethany and she had been friends ever since they met four years ago at a faire in Illinois. That was when Keeleigh had been one of the hired actors, but Bethany had heard her playing the harp and Keeleigh loved the weekends so much at the faire with the people that Bethany had convinced her to come along with them. At first they shared a trailer, but Keeleigh eventually saved up enough money to get a second-hand one of her own. Her whole life was in it now that she was away from home. Her parents and her little sister hadn’t wanted to her to leave, but since her grandmother had passed away, Keeleigh needed a change. Her grandmother had been an adventurous spirit and would have approved of her lifestyle on the road.
Keeleigh ducked out of the sunlight and into the shadows of the trees and reminisced about the first time she’d heard the melody she played for her last song. She had been only a little girl of four when she had heard it outside in the garden at her grandmother’s house. Her grandmother had been sitting out in the backyard under her favorite willow tree. Next to her, on the flat stone border around the tree, was a strange man Keeleigh had never seen before, but somehow he had seemed familiar. The man stopped and studied her. After a moment, he had beckoned her over to him. Her grandmother had been scared at first, but the man told her there was nothing to be frightened of. Keeleigh noticed their eyes were the same color and that she resembled him. Her father had always said that she hadn’t gotten her looks from him or from her mother, so they must have come from her grandfather, his father, who he’d never met.
Keeleigh smiled recalling that first meeting. There had been an instant connection between her and the stranger. She had known they were related somehow. When she asked her grandmother, the woman had looked at the stranger, who nodded, giving her permission to answer the question. The man playing the harp was her grandfather. In that moment, Keeleigh learned there were more things in the world than what her parents had told her and what her eyes let her see. From then on, she learned she could do things, and if she wanted to do more, her grandfather could teach her. And she had indeed wanted to learn.
Keeleigh was startled out of her memories by a loud caw above her. She cocked her head and saw a bird sitting in the pine tree. The sun shone off its body and nearly blinded her due to the hue of its silver feathers. Tendrils of wind wound through her hair. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and listened to the words on the breeze. Her grandfather had taught her to understand the voice of the wind; to hear the words of the animals around her; to harp songs from an ancient, long-dead language, and while he taught her the attributes of her heritage, they had learned she possessed a gift for healing. Her ability was weak in comparison to her grandfather’s, but she could heal small cuts and wounds. It worked better on plants.
Either way, healing drained her so she didn’t do it much, but listening to the wind and talking to the breeze was second nature to her. It didn’t have a particular voice, but whispered, and if you listened the right way, you could understand it. Much information was carried on the drafts. They foretold changes in the environment, if a storm was coming, if magick was changing, if doorways were opened between this world and the other, or if there were creatures within the vicinity that carried the smell of magick on them. That was exactly was she heard now. The raven in the pine tree was no ordinary raven. Keeleigh strained, but she wasn’t able to hear what the creature actually was.
Extending her mind, she searched deeper and felt the dryad in the tree she stood under. The creature preened dead pine needles from the branches. She shook a bough once she realized Keeleigh was trying to get her attention.
“Well, what do you want?” the dryad asked her.
“What kind of creature is the raven sitting in your branches?”
The gnarled skinned creature glanced up at the bird and then smiled. “Raven Warrior.”
“Raven Warrior? What does that mean?”
The dryad laughed. A few of the pine needles showered down around Keeleigh. “Can’t tell you. It’s against the rules.”
“Great. Thanks.” The dryad was not going to tell her anything else. Supernatural creatures were fickle. She had learned that fact from the teachings from her grandfather. The wind blew a strand of her hair which had escaped her braids into her face. The breeze was teasing her. The wind always liked to play games with her. Her fingers caught her hair. She noticed that in the light, her dark brown hair looked deep red. Her locks changed colors on their own almost. Sometimes, it appeared black, and other times, it was red.
Pushing it behind her ears, she brushed her palm across the slight point on the ends of her ears. The point was an anomaly she’d been born with and hid because people wouldn’t understand what they meant. She had been made fun of as a child, but her grandfather, Raith, had told her to take pride in her heritage. Not many humans could do what Keeleigh did. Not many knew where they came from, about the other world, or the things she knew. Keeleigh was grateful to her grandfather for being there for her even after her grandmother died. Whenever she needed him, all she had to do was send her message on the wind and he would come. He liked to visit her and check in from time to time on his own. All of her life, she’d known she and her family were special. How many kids could brag that their grandfather was an elf?
From the time Keeleigh was old enough to realize the unusual circumstances of her ancestry, she knew elves were not little chubby beings who made cookies for a living and resided inside tree trunks. They were tall, beautiful creatures with eyes that glittered with mini-stars. Raith passed for a forever-twenty-five-year-old with copper hair and dark blue eyes. Power emanated from him whenever she saw him. He seemed to breathe magick. Keeleigh had asked once why he didn’t appear to her father, his son. He said that her father might have carried their elvin heritage in his veins, but it hadn’t surfaced when he was born. The human ancestry in her father was the more dominant.
However, with her, the elf had come out. Her grandmother saw it the moment she was born. Keeleigh grew tall and thin. Her cheekbones were high and angled. She had a small nose and a slight point to her ears. If no one saw her ears, everyone thought she was ordinary, but once someone saw her sparkling eyes, the person knew that she was one of a kind. The longer she spent learning from the elf, the more her features became chiseled because the magick that her grandfather was made of triggered a change in her blood. Raith had been the one who had given Keeleigh her harp. The craftsmanship was beautiful, and she kept it in a special carrying case. It wasn’t a large harp, but something she could sling over her shoulder and carry with her.
The wind tickled her brow. She should be working and not staring off into space. She should be pretending to be a happy fairy and charming the people coming into the faire. But her mind remained on the silver raven perched in the tree. Raven Warrior, the dryad had called him. What does he want?
Keeleigh stepped farther back into the shadows and calmed her mind. She relaxed and then extended, pushing all of her focus into the thread that was her mind. Elves had some telepathic ability, which was one way they could talk to animals and one another, but because she was mostly human, she had had to learn to access the ability. It was one of the harder lessons she had discovered, and she still hadn’t completely mastered the technique. Her consciousness touched upon the dryad once again and moved along the winding limbs of the trees. Keeleigh had discovered that it was easier for her to communicate with another if her mind had contact with other living things.
Her thoughts moved over the silver raven. The power wafting from the creature zapped her, an electric shock that shot back into her body. She sensed the raven’s surprise when she made contact with him. When she connected with him, a clear picture of him formed in her mind. The sun shone off his feathers, turning them metallic, blinding anyone who looked at him.
“Hello, Raven Warrior,” Keeleigh greeted the raven. She didn’t know what exactly the creature was beneath the feathers, but she did not expect the clear and cognitive response she received.
“Hello. How do you know me?” the raven asked.
Her secrets were not going to be given up so easily. “I have my sources. Why are you here?”
The raven lifted a wing and ran his beak through a couple of his feathers. She guessed he was trying to act like a bird so no one would get suspicious. How many times does one see a silver raven? Once his silver eyes settled back on her, a sigh rode through her mind, but there was something else. A deep sense of despair.
“I think I’m here to watch over you.”
“Me! What would you want with me?”
“I can’t tell you that.”
“Well then. I guess we have no reason to talk anymore. I’ll see you around, Raven Warrior.” Keeleigh began to pull her thoughts back to herself. Before she did, the raven called out to her.
“What’s your name?”
Keeleigh paused, wondering if she should give this strange creature her name. Why would he be looking out for me? Why do I need protection? And what is he? Finally, she whispered. “Keeleigh.” Then she opened her eyes, and the communication between them was silent again. She felt a weight on her mind. When she looked up at the raven, he stared directly at her. Picturing a wall in her mind, she felt the pressure ease. Whatever kind of creature the Raven Warrior was, and no matter if he was here to watch over her, she was not going to let him into her thoughts. That was one of the most sacred places she possessed. She gave him a direct stare back and reinforced the wall. After a few moments, the raven looked away. Keeleigh smiled. Her grandfather would be proud. Now she had a mystery to solve. Who or what was the creature perched in the tree?