The Forester (Act #1) Amazon US / Amazon UK / KOBO
Lost And Found (Act #2) Amazon US / Amazon UK / KOBO
Full Circle (Act #3) Amazon US / Amazon UK / KOBO
A Triad In Three Acts (Complete Trilogy) Amazon US / Amazon UK / KOBO
Full Circle (Act #3)
“I have great responsibilities, but my path ahead is as foggy and blurred as the path behind me.”
With forester Taruif freed, Kelnaht has claimed him openly at Solstice before tribe and Ma’terra as his partner, but with their third, Ianys, bound by an old promise, their triad is still incomplete. Sneaking around puts the most strain on Ianys. He and Kelnaht must keep their relationship a secret or he will lose his daughter, Atèn.
When several children fall ill with more than a summer bug, truth seeker Kelnaht is assigned once more to investigate. What he finds is deadly and threatens the life of every underage child in the tribe, including Atèn. Then a wounded traveller is found in the forest, left to die after a vicious attack.
With Taruif and his apprentice on the hunt for a cure, Kelnaht focusses on the attacks, but the clues are few and more children are infected. Nothing seems to connect until both the traveller and Atèn dream of the same grey-haired elf. Driven by fear for his daughter, Ianys pulls away from his lovers. Kelnaht can only pray Ma’terra will guide him to a solution that brings them all together and keeps Atèn safe from harm.
A Triad In Three Acts (The Complete Trilogy)
“Your Path is muddy, Kelnaht, but don’t think avoiding the puddles will make it easier to travel.”
Kelnaht, a cloud elf, is a truth seeker caught between love and faith, when a murder reveals an illicit affair between two tree elves he desires more than he can admit. Kelnaht’s former lover Ianys once betrayed him, and the shunned forester Taruif is not allowed to talk to anyone but the guide, their spiritual pathfinder.
The guide mentioned puddles, but I envisioned lakes, deep treacherous lakes, and I was drowning.
Then a stripling goes missing from the tribe, and heavy rainfall hides all traces of his whereabouts. With days creeping by without a lead, it’s hard to keep the tribe’s spirits up, more so when Kelnaht’s own future depends on the elders. Taruif has been shunned for almost twenty turns, but now that a possible forester’s apprentice is coming of age, the elders consider reducing his sentence. Taruif could be set free.
“I have great responsibilities, but my path ahead is as foggy and blurred as the path behind me.”
Later, when several children fall ill with more than a summer bug, truth seeker Kelnaht is assigned to investigate. What he finds is deadly and threatens the life of every underage child in the tribe, including Ianys’ daughter Atèn. Then a wounded traveller is found in the forest, left to die after a vicious attack.
“There is always a way.”
Kelnaht, Taruif, and Ianys are meant to be together, but old promises and the decree of the elders prevent them from claiming each other openly at Solstice. Kelnaht can investigate murder and foul play, but he can’t see how he can keep both his lovers without breaking the rules. But if he believes in the guide’s words and trusts his faith in Ma’terra, they will find a way to clear the fog and puddles from their paths.
Enter the giveaway here.
Sated, smiling, and bathed—twice—we made our way back to the village in the glow of the evening sun. Several times, I found myself glancing over my shoulder. I hadn’t wanted to leave, but duty called, or would, sooner or later.
Ianys walked several paces in front of us. Even though we were openly friends now, he couldn’t help keeping himself at a distance. I clenched my hands by my sides and accepted Taruif’s arm around me. Ianys’ sense of propriety made me want to scream sometimes. It wasn’t for appearance’s sake, even though it had all the signs of that. No, Ianys created the distance because he was afraid he couldn’t stop himself from touching us if he came too close. If only he didn’t have to.
An uncanny silence greeted us as we entered the village. With the summer bug—a harmless flu amongst children brought on by warm weather insects—going around, it wasn’t unexpected to see few children playing outside, but no one seated on the benches in the centre talked or smiled. We were met with nothing but sad, silent, and even tear-streaked faces.
“What happened?” I asked the elf closest to me. He was a wiry cloud elf who looked vaguely familiar, and when he turned his head I recognised him as Ellon, one of the elves who had helped me find a missing stripling this winter. His clothes were covered in flour.
“Young Ninge was found unconscious this morning.”
Next to me, Ianys gasped. When I faced him he had a trembling hand clasped over his mouth and his face had paled. “But he was free of his fever two days ago. He was playing outside.” His voice sounded strangled. “Is it…is it the summer bug again?”
Ellon gave a sad shrug and nodded at the infirmary. “We know nothing yet. His mothers are in there with the Healers, the guide and Novice Darver. We’ve been waiting for news all afternoon.”
“I need to check on Atèn,” Ianys burst out. “She and Ninge often play together.” He ran off before either Taruif or I could offer him words of support.
I wanted to run after him, but Taruif’s shaking hand on my shoulder kept me rooted. “No use in worrying before we know more, Kelnaht.”
He was right. Atèn had been all right before we’d left in the morning, and Ianys would tell us if something was amiss, even if it was just a cough. Though it was hard to see Ianys distraught.
The summer bug did seem early this turn. I couldn’t remember children ever falling ill with it this long before Solstice.
I faced Ellon, who was watching me with a thoughtful expression in his eyes.
“I’ve heard you play a mean game of knobbles. None of us have any intention of leaving until we’ve had some news at least. Would you mind indulging us?” He indicated the elf across from him, a robust female with puffy eyes, red cheeks, flour in her black hair, and her hands tangled in her apron. “Kore is Ninge’s aunt.” He motioned me to lean closer before whispering, “And she needs a distraction that doesn’t involve baking right now.”
Kore narrowed her eyes at us, and both their expressions told me there was more to that story, but Ellon ignored her glare and gave her a sweet smile instead.
“I’m afraid you have me mixed up with my former apprentice, but I can hold my own.” I turned to Taruif.
“I wouldn’t mind a game myself,” he said as he sat down next to Ellon and reached for the knobble stones in the centre of the table.
Ellon mouthed a “thank you” to us. “I’ll get you some tea.” He rose before we could protest and all but skipped toward the cauldron steaming in the middle of the centre. The flour clinging to his clothes and wings spread around like dust sparkling in the sunlight.
Kore followed Ellon’s movements with the barest hint of a smile. She accepted a handful of knobble stones from Taruif. “What he’s too polite to mention is I went out of my mind when I heard the news, and my apprentices are still cleaning up my mess. The guide said they couldn’t allow us into the infirmary until they knew what caused Ninge—” Kore blinked back her tears and shook her head. “I… I keep expecting someone to come out and tell us he is gone.”
It was that bad? I sat on the end of the bench next to Taruif and reached across to put my hand over hers. I wanted to tell her Ninge would be all right, that Muros was an excellent healer, but without knowing what was ailing the child, there was nothing I could say.
Ellon returned with the tea and sat down next to Kore, wrapping his long, slender arms around her. Kore sighed and sniffed, resting her head on his shoulder. “Ninge’s always such a lively child, you know. Drives my bakers mad the way he manages to nick buns from right underneath their noses.”
The melancholy in her voice shot right through me, and I couldn’t help but think of Atèn. What if something happened to her? Taruif put his hand over mine as if he knew what I was thinking. It was still shaking. No doubt he was thinking the same.
Kore kissed Ellon’s cheek and focussed her attention on her tea. Ellon kept his arm around her until Taruif shoved some knobble stones his way.
Knobble stones came in different shapes, and every one bore a different set of symbols on each side. I never considered myself a decent player, but playing with Brem had improved my skills. He could always remember the symbols on each and every one of them after the first couple of throws.
Ellon threw five of his stones, and we studied the symbols facing up. Kore was next, throwing all hers, picking and choosing between them in order to match the symbols on Ellon’s stones. The rules were simple. Players had to match symbols in as few throws as possible, discarding a stone with every throw and losing points for the stones they couldn’t match. It was a tactical game, but a fun one.
The game served to distract not only Kore, but her parents and the rest of poor Ninge’s family as well. They watched us play, or began their own games. Though, every couple of throws, at least one elf would turn their head towards the infirmary. And more than once someone muttered that Sami and Ocer, Ninge’s mothers, should have their families with them.
Everyone rose as one when the infirmary door finally opened and the guide and Novice Darver appeared. Ellon supported Kore, whose face turned as pale as the flour in her hair. Sami and Ocer’s parents didn’t look much better. Novice Darver nodded at us and walked off while the guide approached Kore and clasped her hands in his. His smile was full of compassion, his voice warm as he said, “Young Ninge is still unconscious. The healers don’t know what’s wrong with him yet, but he seems stable for now. You can all go in now. But only for a little while.”
About the author:
Blaine D. Arden is a purple-haired, forty-something author of queer romance mixed with fantasy, mystery, and magic who sings her way through life in platform boots.
Born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, Blaine spent many hours of her sheltered youth reading, day dreaming, making up stories and acting them out with her Barbies. After seeing the film “An Early Frost” as a teen in the mid-eighties, an idealistic Blaine wanted to do away with the negativity surrounding homosexuality and strove to show the world how beautiful love between men could be. Our difference is our strength, is Blaine’s motto, and her stories are often set in worlds where gender fluidity and sexual diversity are accepted as is.
When not writing or reading, Blaine has singing lessons and hopes to be in a band someday. Supporting Blaine in pursuing her dreams and all matters regarding household, sons, and cairn terrier, is her long-suffering husband for over twenty years.
Blaine is an EPIC Award winning author and has been published by Storm Moon Press, Less Than Three Press, and Wilde City Press. Her scifi romance “Aliens, Smith and Jones” received an Honourable Mention in the Best Gay Sci-Fi/Fantasy category of the Rainbow Awards 2012.