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Heir of Secrets and Spectres

Read on for a preview of the fifth book in the Kingdom Legacy series - Farrah's story!

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Night descended on Shonn, quiet and peaceful. The silent stars watched over the kingdom, as they always did.

But tonight the stars weren't the only thing keeping an eye on the kingdom.

Since the death of King Finvarra and Queen Oona of Faerie at Samhain, the kingdom of Shonn had been on edge. For Shonn, the easternmost kingdom in the Gifted Lands, was the one with the strongest ties to the otherworldly realm. The Veil, that magical border that separated Faerie and the Gifted Lands, was just outside Shonn's capital city, and many of the Fae mingled, married, and did business with the humans there.

But with the sudden and violent death of the Faerie royals, relations between the two areas had been strained, at best. Just little things—a broken contract between Fae and human merchants, an engagement between a human groom and his Fae bride being called off. Outright violence was unlikely, as Valdonne's Treaty would keep the Fae from retaliating in physical or magical harm against the citizens of Shonn for the murder of their leaders—even though no one in Shonn was responsible for it. To be a human in Shonn at this point meant being watchful and wary.

And sad, over losing dear friends due to politics beyond anyone's control.

It was now Midwinter, a day of thankful celebration that the winter would soon be over. In the evening, when the festivities were done, the citizens of Shonn settled into their homes. Only when all the occupants of a home were asleep would a household Fae make their appearance, as was their nightly custom. Most households had a brownie who took pride in keeping their chosen home clean, and a pixie who loved keeping their home's garden well-tended.

Once the moon had risen and all was quiet, Keela the brownie popped up from her favorite hiding spot and sniffed the air. All were asleep. Time to get to work. Whistling a jaunty tune to herself, she bustled to the side window and waved at her friend outside. The pixie smiled and waved back, then turned and put a hand on the cold, hard ground, mouthing something Keela couldn't hear. It was still too early for their humans to plant any seeds, but singing to the earth helped prepare it for that time.

Keela grabbed a broom and started sweeping. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed something passing by the front window. She stared, but nothing seemed to be there. She shrugged and kept working. The night wasn't getting any younger.

Wait. There it was again. What was it? It shouldn't be any of her humans; they were all asleep, worn out from the day's festivities. Maybe it was her humans' dog. That animal was sweet—a little silly, sometimes, but still quite sweet—but she didn't want it inside, getting underfoot. And worse, tracking dirt all over her nice, newly cleaned floors.

But then again, she didn't want the poor creature to freeze out there….

Sighing, she went over to the door and opened it. "Here—" What was the dog's name, again? She could never remember. She only ever heard her humans refer to it as "boy." What an odd name for a dog. "Here, boy! Come here, boy!"

A chill swept over her, but it wasn't from the night air. Even though she called for the dog once more, it didn't appear. Well, she couldn't stand here all night. She had work to do. She closed the door, shivering, but not knowing why.

She turned. A short, wordless scream escaped her lips as she felt her mind and body go numb. A presence settled within her, taking control of her. Stiffly, she walked over to the shelf and started pulling books and knickknacks down, tearing out pages and breaking as many decorations as she could. She overturned tables and chairs, raking her sharp nails down the wooden surfaces. The fire in the hearth had gone out. She swept ashes from the hearth into the room, streaking the curtains and walls with soot.

Then Keela walked into the kitchen, opening up the pantry and pulling bread and cheese from the shelves, shredding the food as she did so. She grabbed some eggs that lay in a bowl on the table and threw them, watching the yolk streak yellow down the walls. It was still cold enough that her humans could store milk just outside; she opened the door and grabbed the full pitcher, dashing it against the floor. A huge white puddle soon formed at her feet. That would certainly stink in the morning.

Keela kept up her destructive whirlwind. Her brownie magic ensured that no matter how much noise she made cleaning, her humans wouldn't hear. So they wouldn't be alerted to this—unless she wanted them to be.

The pixie in the garden peeked into the house, wondering at the noise from inside. Red eyes met her blue ones. She gasped, and suddenly knew no more.

Within moments, the garden lay in ruins, the earth turned up and scattered, and bits of shattered pots everywhere.

The pixie lay near one of the pot shards, unmoving.

Inside the house, her brownie counterpart sprawled, face down, in the milk puddle. She did not stir either.

Its purpose fulfilled, the grey apparition floated away in search of its next victim.

In the morning, Keela's humans awoke to find two strange creatures dead in their home, one in the garden and one near the hearth. They'd never seen their household Fae before, although they were aware of their presence, so it took a few moments before they realized who the poor things were.

Sad, truly. But strange as well—for all around Shonn, other households were waking up to find that their household Fae had also perished in the night. And even stranger, just like in Keela's home, it looked like the household Fae had destroyed the homes they had once lovingly kept, before dying inexplicably.

What had happened? Who had done this? Would it come for the humans next?

And with the death of more Fae in the kingdom of Shonn, would more blame fall on the people of the Gifted Lands?

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