"A beautifully drawn story filled with lush scenery and an engaging plot. It's a story you'll enjoy reading again and again."
--Romance Reviews Today
He's a ruler in a divided world...
In the magical, watery world of the Sea Forest, the divide between the rulers and the people is an uncrossable chasm. Handsome, arrogant prince Korl Com'nder has lived a life of luxury that is nothing more than a fantasy to the people he rules. Until the day he is accidentally kidnapped by a beautiful outlaw smuggler and is forced to open his eyes to the world outside his palace walls.
She's an outcast, but at least she has her independence...
Mahri Zin would stop at nothing to save her village, and when they needed a healer she didn't think twice about kidnapping one. But when she realizes that the healer she so impulsively stole is none other than the crown prince of the Sea Forest, Mahri knows that this is her only chance to change the fate of her people...
"A highly original fantasy tale...Kathryne Kennedy has done an excellent job with world building. I really loved this world."
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December 01, 2010
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Excerpt from Beneath the Thirteen Moons by Kathryne Kennedy
Mahri poled her boat around the base of the sea tree, the bone staff she used as much an extension of her body as her own arms. She ducked beneath a branch, a wide one, the limb as straight as the Power of a Seer could make it. The gloom of the evening blackened to inky darkness, the slap of the waves echoed eerily inside the cavern-like arch, and here Mahri chose to anchor her craft.
She flipped her wrist in the pattern peculiar to her bone pole, and it retracted with a sliding hiss; her fingers shook as she slid it into a sheath of octopus skin. She patted the bone grapnel with its length of coiled rope and then dug into the small fish-scale pouch that hung against her hip. Mahri withdrew a small piece of zabbaroot, unsure if it would be enough for her task--she'd never kidnapped a man before, how could she possibly know? With a shrug, she popped it in her mouth and squeezed it with her molars, releasing the bitter drug of Power that shivered through her veins and allowed her to See. The world turned into bits and dots and she closed her eyes for control. The root burned her tongue and she fought the need to gag, then opened eyes that flickered with sparkled light before fading to their normal green hue. With control returned, she'd now only See when, and how, she wished.
A scurry of sound beneath her collapsed sleeping tent reminded Mahri that she wasn't alone. The tiny face of her pet peered up at her from beneath the rugged narwhal skin. The dark prevented her from making out the features, but she knew them so well her mind filled in the details. Monkey-like, with scales for fur and webbed hands and feet, Jaja had the agility of the native tree dwellers with the slippery fluidity of a sea creature. And the curiosity of a treecat.
"Stay," whispered Mahri, her mind reinforcing that command with such mental force that Jaja moaned. Mahri breathed deeply, quieting her thoughts so that they didn't project with the equivalent of a piercing scream. I won't risk you in this, Jaja. I have lost so much already.
She only caught the most basic thoughts from her pet, but he seemed to understand hers with amazing accuracy, especially when she was filled with root Power. He scurried back beneath the tent.
Mahri leaped from her boat, hesitated a second to adjust to a firm surface beneath her feet, then crept along the narrow ledge formed by the base of the sea tree, emerging from beneath the branch with caution. Mahri looked up at the balconies that spiraled around the tree, watching for guards, but not really expecting any. Not around the Healer's Tree. The Palace, yes, and perhaps even the Seer's Tree... but how could she know for sure, being only an ignorant water-rat?
What did they do, she wondered, with water-rats that skulked around the city at night?
She pulled the grapnel from her belt.
Throw them in prison for later torture?
With an easy swing of arms strengthened by a life of poling, she threw the hook up to the first balcony. Or maybe force them into slavery as they did the native tree dwellers?
She tugged, and the rope held her weight. Fear fluttered her stomach and was swiftly followed by the inevitable fury at that cowardly reaction, propelling her up the rope with the speed of a silver-fish.
Mahri crouched, listened to the breeze swishing through the leaves, the soft patter of rain that had just begun to fall, the constant rushing, flowing of the water surrounding the interlaced network of sea trees. She studied the row of carved doors that circled the tree, Seeing beyond each door to the occupant within.
She knew if she went up to the top balconies that she'd find the powerful Master Healers. Here on the lower level slept the apprentices and newly learned. But all she needed was the knowledge, she would provide more Power than all of the Masters combined. Besides, if she stole away with someone of importance they might come after her, and she hoped that if a lowly apprentice disappeared no one would take any notice.
So she chose the first person she Saw snug in their bed. To See into the lock of the door, move the latch from here to there, took a flick of her Power. To See into the center of the Healer gently snoring, and to make those unwilling limbs move to her boat, was a different matter.
For a moment Mahri considered waking the sleeper.
Perhaps the Healer would be willing to come with her?
She crept closer to the bed. She could only make out longish, light hair, a smooth yet masculine jawline.
With a flash the memories of a past she'd tried desperately to forget overwhelmed her, of another Healer with long, pale hair. But hers had been arranged in artful layers of braids and pearls upon her head, and she'd stared at Mahri as if she were some swamp creature that had oozed out of the slime.
"You truly expect me," she said, one eyebrow raised in delicate disbelief, "to get in that piece of scrap you call a boat, travel into the swamps to heal a fever-ridden village of water-rats? And blindfolded, no less?"
Mahri narrowed blazing green eyes. If this woman only knew that those "water-rats" provided the city with more zabbaroot than a year of production from the root farms, she'd be begging to go with her. And that Mahri herself was a smuggler; who defied the Royal's decree that they possess and distribute all the zabba, on the pretense it presented too much danger for the common citizen. But to Mahri's thinking, the only danger lay in lack of knowledge, and the Royals hoarded that more surely than the root.
"Without a blindfold," growled Mahri, "I would have to kill you." Then she almost slapped her hand over her mouth. She spoke the truth, for the safety of the village lay within the secrecy of their location, but it needn't have been said. She never could control her temper. The Healer's face flickered with sudden fear, then feigned annoyance. "Use one of your own Seers then."
"They don't have the knowledge you possess, as you well know."
The woman rose, presented her back to Mahri, and flung over her shoulder, "I can't help you."
Mahri clasped her hands together, her lifemate's agonized face in her mind, and the cries of their child, the once-perfect little hands twisted in agonized deformity. She swallowed her anger, and her pride.
"Please," she whispered. "Is there no one that would be willing to help?"
The woman hesitated, her posture slumped briefly in response to the desperate appeal in that voice, and then too quickly stiffened.
"No one," she replied, then slammed the door behind her.
The Healer on the bed snorted and rolled over, bringing Mahri back to the present, knowing she was mad to even consider asking for help ever again. Brez and her little boy, Tal'li, had died--even the thought made anger and guilt burn anew--and she'd become a Wilding herself. But the fever had only hidden, to return with a vengeance to strike again that same village and the only family she now had left.
And although this time Mahri had the root tolerance she still needed the healing knowledge. She could See the effects of the illness, could treat the symptoms, but couldn't be sure of the Pattern to cure the disease itself. Only one trained to know the normal body cells could detect the shape of a virus in time to destroy it before it could mutate again.
Her eyes sparkled and she Saw into the Healer's mind, traveling the path that controlled muscular movement, manipulation at least possible with the person unconscious. Mahri lowered her face to his, could almost feel his breath on her cheeks, when a soft knock on the door made her concentration slip and her heart stop.
"My lord?" whispered a man's voice as the door opened a crack.