by Dorine White
(Now Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble)
Nightmares really do come true, and for fifteen-year-old Kyler Birkwood, they are just beginning. Raised on a farm by his Aunt Martha, Kyler has no clue about the magical heritage swimming through his blood. When he discovers evidence of a mythical creature, a terrifying beast thought only to exist in fairy tales, his safe world shatters. Left at a school of magic to hunt for clues, he is overwhelmed and disbelieved. As loved ones begin disappearing and Orcs roam the land, Kyler must undergo a journey that takes him from the High Courts of the King to the unknown forests of the East. His magic just awakening, Kyler is the lone hope for a world that will not listen.
Something was wrong. The short hairs on the back of Kyler’s neck stood up, straight and tall. He glanced toward the dense forest that bordered his aunt Martha’s property. Large evergreens crowded every inch of land not tilled for farming. For some reason the familiar-looking trees loomed dark and foreboding, and he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched. He narrowed his eyes, looking for the source of his troubles, but nothing surfaced. With a shake of his head, he returned to weeding the garden, taking comfort in the familiar yet annoying task.
Under the bottom leaf, he spotted a caterpillar, its fuzzy little body inching its way toward a morning feast. Kyler pinched the culprit between his thumb and index finger and popped it. Green slime oozed down his fingers, slick and gooey. He wiped his fingers down the front of his shirt, and a greenish-yellow smudge joined other stains of dirt and grime.
Rays of sunlight filtered through the sky, dancing off Kyler’s sandy-blond hair and hitting the garden with welcome light. His blue eyes squinted as he glanced up into the brightness. He flexed his arm muscles, feeling tendons stretch and skin pull. Farmwork was dull, but it had its advantages. He was well built for his age, and he could tell by the way the girls in the village eyed him that they felt so, too.
As he moved on to the next plant, he felt that odd sensation again, as if something was watching him, and not in a friendly way. Goose bumps broke out on his arms, bumpy and rough. He whipped around to surprise whatever was watching, ready to pounce, but again he saw nothing. He decided to finish his work, and fast.