Wings of Tavea - By Devri Walls


Thank you to my readers, without whom I may have lost my courage. Those of you who have sent messages, notes and emails have no idea what a blessing you are to me.

Thank you to Ellie Soderstrom, editor extraordinaire, who snapped this book into shape. You are amazing. A very special thanks to Erin Keyser Horn, who is not only a great author but a fantastic copy editor who polished this piece to a shine. Ladies- I would be lost without you.

I hope someday when my kids are older and they look back on my work, they read this thanks to them. Thank you my little monsters, for your patience. Although you are both probably convinced that my laptop is a new appendage at this point.

Through all the crazy, my husband is still the most supportive man I could possibly image and thank you just doesn’t seem adequate.

I dedicate this book to the three people in my life who make this possible. Zack, Cody and Sydney. . . you are my everything.


The Other Side

THE PASS THROUGH THE mountain peaks of Meros took longer than Kiora had expected. Thick boulders lined the sides, often sticking precariously from the mountain, threatening to tumble down on them. The proof of their threat lay evident as they maneuvered around broken boulders and listened to the constant crunch of shattered rock under the horse’s hoofs. As they went through, Kiora had felt pinned in and vulnerable. She was grateful when the pass opened to the final rocky expanse that melted into trees in the near distance.

Kiora tried to relax with the pass behind her. She was a bundle of nerves, shifting back and forth in her saddle and fidgeting with the reins as the horses plodded forward. Drustan, on the other hand, looked as if it were all he could do to not jump up and down on the back of his horse like a school boy. A grin had been plastered on his face since they had left Meros, and now his eyes eagerly raked over the landscape before him.

This had been Drustan’s home, a home he hadn’t seen since the gate was shut. Watching him, Kiora realized that Drustan looked as she should feel: liberated! The land that had held her hostage was now behind her. But the weight of being the Solus pressed down with a crushing reality, making Kiora feel anything but free.

The horses picked their way through the rocks and sparse grass that dotted the mountainous landscape.

Emane’s voice came from behind. “Whoa.” He whistled.

Turning her head, Kiora saw what caught Emane’s attention. Behind them stood a strange sight—an epic illusion. They saw miles and miles of lifeless sand, the mountains of Meros camouflaged as giant dunes. It was a barren wasteland, a deathtrap. Only a fool would venture in. But now, as the magic was fading, the grey mountains of home poked through slits in the fabric of the illusion. Two rocky mountain outcroppings stood mysteriously in the sky, nothing but blue between them and the sandy dunes below.

“That explains a lot,” Drustan said, pointing to the desert. “No one would have gone near enough to Meros to find us. Brilliant,” he admitted grudgingly.

Fear stabbed at Kiora and she shifted in her saddle. “Yes, but the illusion is fading. Don’t you think it will cause interest? What if the villagers are found?”

“Don’t worry,” Drustan said, turning his eyes back to the trees. “Eleana will deal with it. We have only just come through the pass, you have to give her—” He was interrupted by a thread Kiora remembered from a few days before.

Kiora threw up a bubble, providing invisibility, hiding the threads of both them and their horses.

“What?” Emane asked. His eyes darted around as he twisted in the saddle, trying to identify whatever threat Kiora was hiding them from.

“Aktoowa.” Kiora groaned.

“A what?”

“The magic-eating bird that lives here,” Kiora reminded him.

“Oh, right,” Emane said as he pulled his horse up next to hers.

The Aktoowa had been the first thing Kiora had seen in this world as they stood on the mountaintop. Now, it lumbered out of the tree line in front of them on two enormous bird legs. Its head rooted the air, trying to find their scent. Kiora couldn’t look away from the wicked, sharp beak glinting in the sun.

“Drustan?” Emane asked warily. “Why does it have a dragon’s tail?”

It wasn’t a dragon tail exactly, but long and green and very reptile-like.

“Why do you have ears, Emane?” Drustan replied.