Read Blazing Earth Online

Authors: TERRI BRISBIN

Blazing Earth

PRAISE FOR
RISING FIRE

“A richly imagined, spellbinding romantic fantasy . . . atmospheric, absorbing, infused with dark magic, gripping intrigue, and mesmerizing sensuality. I'm totally hooked and I can't wait for more!”

—
New York Times
bestselling author Lara Adrian

“Excitement, adventure, royal intrigue, and a what-if scenario that could change the world. Terri Brisbin weaves them together with the masterful touch that has become her trademark.”

—
New York Times
bestselling author Maggie Shayne

“An intriguing story filled with romantic tension.”

—Fresh Fiction

“An amazing premise for a paranormal series . . . you gotta read it.”

—Debbie's Book Bag

“Brisbin begins her romantic fantasy series in style . . . plenty of danger and romance.”

—
RT Reviews

FURTHER PRAISE FOR TERRI BRISBIN AND HER NOVELS

“A carefully crafted plot spiced with a realistic measure of deadly intrigue and a richly detailed, fascinating medieval setting.”

—
Chicago Tribune

“[A] captivating medieval romance. Expertly laced with danger and sweetened with sensuality . . . an absolute delight.”

—
Booklist

“As always, Terri writes compelling characters and a riveting story . . . the kind of story that will stay with you long after you finish the last page.”

—The Romance Readers Connection

“A seductive, vivid love story . . . rich in historical detail, laced with the perfect amount of passion, and enhanced with intrigue.”

—Romance Reviews Today

“A masterpiece.”

—Historical Romance Writers

Also by Terri Brisbin

RISING FIRE

RAGING
SEA

SIGNET ECLIPSE

Published by New American Library,

an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

This book is an original publication of New American Library.

Copyright © Theresa S. Brisbin, 2016

Excerpt from
Rising Fire
© Theresa S. Brisbin, 2015

Penguin Random House supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin Random House to continue to publish books for every reader.

Signet Eclipse and the Signet Eclipse colophon are trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

For more information about Penguin Random House, visit
penguin.com
.

eBook ISBN 9780698153288

PUBLISHER'S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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There's a very special group of women who are important to me in so many ways. We began as part of an RWA chapter retreat and now continue the Hermit tradition each fall in Charleston, South Carolina. We spend a week together, writing and talking and brainstorming and, sometimes, just being there for one another. These women have been a godsend to me in so many ways over the last couple of years and while I wrote this series. So Janice, Madeline, Gabrielle, Kim, Blythe, Robin, Bev, Ann, Amanda, Keena, Bernie, Deb, Sabrina, Ellen, and Neroli—this one is for you . . .
all!

And to Jen Schmidt and Lyn Wagner, without whom I could never have written this series—
thanks!

T
HE
L
EGEND

Centuries ago

Cernunnos, god of the earth and growing things, gathered with the others within the stone circle, waiting for Chaela's answer to their demands. Her destruction must stop. Her hunger for power and control must cease. Though he suspected she would refuse, he hoped that she would surprise him . . . and their brothers and sisters. The fate of humanity and this world awaited her next actions. But then her words, screamed into the air around them and into their minds, decided her wretched fate.

For a moment, he regretted what they must do to rein in her foolhardy aims. Only for a moment, for she rose into the sky, transforming into her favored shape and unleashing her destructions on the humans there, around them. As fire flooded the land, the henge, and the people, Taranis, the god of the sky and storm, nodded to him and Cernunnos knew their path.

The six of them—Cernunnos, Belenus, Nantosuelta,
Taranis, Sucellus, and Epona—began weaving the spell that would imprison their sister forever. The sounds began as but a whisper, gaining volume and strength as each one added his or her voice to it. This ritual would surround her and nullify her powers. The song they created would bind her in silence and imprison her in the empty abyss, away from humanity and away from this world. When the human priest added his voice, chanting human words to the ethereal melody, Chaela screamed out.

Her evil intent clear, she inhaled deeply, ready to finish the destruction she'd begun. They could wait no longer to take this painful action and sent their own breaths across the landscape there, surrounding the stone circle and drawing Chaela into its center. High above them, she struggled against their growing, combined power over her. Though they could each feel her struggle, her power and her words were swaddled within the cocoon they created around her.

“Chaela,” Belenus, the god of healing and order, called out to her. “Cease this and you will be allowed to live.” A truce. He, they, offered a way out of this confrontation.

“Fools!” she roared back, struggling to make her voice serve her will. “I cannot be destroyed!”

She was correct—they were elemental powers, flung into existence at the beginning of time, and could not be destroyed. But that did not mean they could not control her. . . .

“You can be defeated, Chaela,” Sucellus, the god of war, warned her. “You will be imprisoned in the
endless pit and never return. Your name will be forbidden and forgotten.”

When she did not capitulate, Cernunnos gathered his power over the earth and plants and began to craft the prison that would hold her. At a thought, the earth in the center of the circle buckled and roared. He forced a deep crater into the earth's surface, an abyss that went on and on beneath it, toward its core.

Then he imbued the walls of it with power, whispering the words in his mind and guiding the soil to do his bidding. Soon, the endless pit was prepared and awaited its prisoner. Taranis's winds then brought her over it and pushed her into the earth, holding her while the final step was taken.

This step, a necessary but terrible one, for it called for a supreme sacrifice, would seal her out of this human world. A human male who carried Chaela's blood and power over fire stepped into the circle and joined them in the ritual, adding his voice to theirs. Her screams pierced the spell and made this human world shake on its foundation.

She knew now.

And she feared.

Taranis forced her farther down into the blackness, thrusting her deep into the chamber that existed within and outside this world. Their words sung and whispered would now seal it, and spilling the blood of Chaela's human son on the barrier would keep her there forever.

The man walked to the edge then and, with a nod, threw himself off the edge, soaring out over the abyss. Sucellus created a spear of iron and threw it at the
man, impaling him, piercing his heart and spilling his blood into the pit.

Cernunnos and the other gods honored the sacrifice, freely made, with their words, and completed the ritual that sealed Chaela away. With but a thought, the earth flowed over the pit, hiding its location. Belenus, the god of order and healing, caused a blessed silence over the area as the chamber closed and disappeared. The stones in the circle shrank and returned to their usual size and positions and everything was right with the world.

Glancing at the others, Cernunnos could see the cost that they had paid for their actions. They would never be the same again, for they had raised their powers against one of their own. The worst part was knowing that they'd barely succeeded in this. It had taken all of their powers combined against Chaela's to conquer her, and then only a blood sacrifice brought victory to them. Now, at least, the human world and its inhabitants were safe and would remain so.

Forever.

Knowing that humans could continue without their help, they planned to leave this world. In spite of their triumph this day, they decided to instill their powers in their own human bloodlines to keep watch . . . always.

Warriors of destiny, not war. A race of men and women who could rise, if ever needed, and keep this evil at bay.

But, with the gods' course of actions this day, these warriors would never need to do more than keep watch. They would never need to rise up against evil.

Never.

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