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Verity Book 1
BY GRYFFYN PHOENIX
Some things are better left unseen.
The kids at Haven have been waiting. Legend foretold the veil-seer would lead them to victory over their sworn enemy Helm. With her arrival comes the shocking realization that she is the one thing they never expected: a mortal. Verity didn’t want the cornea transplant for her sixteenth birthday. She couldn’t have imagined it would make her the veil-seer, a coveted weapon in an ancient feud.
Now she’s stuck trying to master her new powers, make friends, and stay alive. Being saved by Helm too many times for comfort, Verity wonders which side she should be fighting for. The problem is something evil lurks in Haven, and the only thing it wants is for the new veil-seer to die.
Haven Awakening shows that turning sixteen isn’t always sweet. Gryffyn Phoenix takes the YA scene by storm with the first book in the Haven Awakening series—a supernatural fantasy filled with life-threatening conflicts, heartbreaking betrayal, peer pressure, and the dangers of finding true love.
Editorial Note: Edited for language.
“And what am I looking for?”
Cass came strutting over to me. I will ignore her gloating smirk. I will ignore her gloating. I will remember that I’m not carrying a weapon and can do very little about her gloating.
I will get my own sword as soon as possible.
“Very.” When Kaydn took a step toward me I made a corresponding one back. “Okay.” He gave Cass a little helpless shrug, like I was the one on the rag. Bastard. “Verity, we need you to spot a creature. It’s called a Baku. It has the body of a horse, head of a lion, and the legs of a tiger. Be careful of its claws, for they are poison.”
It’d have been nice if he had given me that warning when we faced the afrit.
“What would a Baku be doing in North Dakota?”
“It’s a long story.” He waved away my words.
Yeah. Why do I think that when he says that, it’s code for, “If we tell you, we’re scared you won’t do what we say”?
And why am I not strong enough to demand he tell me anyway?
I’m a wimp. Hear me roll over and die of shame?
We trudged through the woods, which, by the way, is so much harder than you’d think. It’s not like the ground is all clear and smooth sailing. Nope. When those trees give up leaves they fall on the ground and fester. So mostly you’re walking under trees and through all this wet soggy stuff, which is hell on your kicks. Usually, I’d be complaining up a storm. I used to swear Green Acres was no place for me.
Since getting my new eyes, I seemed to have developed a natural ability of repelling green slime.
The fact that my two companions were doing a whole bunch of complaining and tripping over hidden tree roots while I seemed to just float over everything might be why I was getting some jollies.
After twenty minutes I was more than ready to either find this thing or give up. Fortunately, I spotted it. The creature’s lion’s mane was the color of midnight as it rustled in the breeze. A crackling energy seemed to pulse from its velvet coat. Its eyes shined like stars when it caught me staring at it from behind an elm tree. Reaching only up to my waist, I was surprised to find something Haven needed me to spot that wasn’t weaned on steroids.
“There.” I pointed straight at it.
Kaydn and Cass went running at the creature with swords drawn. The ring of their weapons was dulled as they made short work of slicing the creature that never made one effort to protect itself. I backed away in horror as I watched the ground turn muddy brown as its blood ran like a river.
Panting, Cass cleaned her blade on the creature’s hide, “Well, that was easy.”
“More like disgusting,” I yelled at them. “Why did you do that?”
“It was kill or be killed,” she spat at me.
Shaking my head, I said, “There was no threat here, Cassandra.”
“You know nothing.” She turned from me. I gagged as she started to skin the beast.
“Very.” Kaydn blocked my view of her gory work. “The creature is called a Baku. People used to cry out in desperation, ‘Devour the Baku.’ Whatever else you think, this was a good thing.”
It didn’t feel good.
It didn’t look good.
And as far as any of my other senses, put them in the downright “awful” category.
You know what your parents say about it looking and squawking like a duck? Yeah. Probably a duck. Which made this thing a f**ked duck, and I didn’t want any part of it.
Which was when a roar went tearing through the forest. A sound so outraged and grief-stricken it ripped through my soul and left a jagged tear. On a pain scale, if my discovery of Kaydn’s cheating heart was a skinned knee, this was brain surgery—without anesthesia. Thunderous galloping followed, which was when I saw the house-sized version of what my former “friends” had just killed come leaping into the clearing.
Cass wheeled away from it, as Kaydn moved to protect me.
Their weapons at the ready, they shifted with unease as the newcomer sniffed at the remains of the Baku. “I don’t see it clearly,” Kaydn confessed. “Give me more details, Very.”
My head tilted to the side as I saw the lion take shuddering breaths of the deceased. It made me think it was … crying.
“I believe—” I took a swallow as I tried to fight back my own tears.
“Speak, veil-seer,” Cass roared.
Which was what convinced the creature to stop its grieving and get with the revenge. “I’m pretty sure it’s the Baku’s mom,” I confessed.
“Crap,” Kaydn swore.
“Call D’egan,” Cass begged Kaydn.
“Screw that, Cass. You wouldn’t listen to Nyn or Willow about the research. You wanted to do this, you get us out of it.”
I’m no fool.
I’m no coward.
Still, I turned around and began to walk away.
I am also not an idiot.
The sound of the battle happening behind me mattered little at this point. I knew I should care if they were hurt, but I didn’t. The grieving sobs of the momma Baku still echoed in my head. I kept rubbing at my nose trying to get the smell of its baby’s blood out of my head.
“Help me,” I whispered in my heart. “Please help me.” Closing my eyes, I tried to cut off my sobs before they escaped.
I didn’t hear the pop or feel his entrance, but somehow I walked straight into Haydn’s arms. As soon as his warmth engulfed me, my sorrow broke the tight tether I had placed on it.
“Doll face,” he whispered. I felt the wind pick up as his wings took us to the mountain’s summit, far from the confrontation. “Verity.” He shook his head. “What have they done to you?”
“I’m fine,” I managed to choke past the emotion strangling me raw. “I really am just fine,” I repeated. I kept saying it over and over, even after he wrapped his arms around me and let me cry out my pain into his shoulder. He smelled like marshmallows over an open fire. Sweet and dangerous.
And very delicious.
He began to run his palm over my back, making a slight choking noise. “I know, doll face,” he swore to me. “You’re fine.”
As a child, I spent my summers in Haven. Running through trees, splashing in creeks, dancing with the fae, and always getting home before night. I grew up. I went out into the world. I went to school, college, traveled, loved and lost and loved again. I explored, and due to my sense of adventure with a good dose of curiosity, I traveled down some of the most interesting paths. I went on many journeys so I could return home and share them with others. With each experience, with each success and every failure, Haven became a little brighter … bigger … more complex. Now I get to share it all with you. I’ve written television shows, improved movie scripts, and even wrote the first e-sports movie. I tried to bring magic to every story I was asked to explore. Thank you for listening, now tell me your story. Learn more about Gryffyn at www.gryffynphoenix.com.
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