Authors: Annalisa Carr
Table of Contents
CHILDREN OF POSEIDON: RANN
SOUL MATE PUBLISHING
CHILDREN OF POSEIDON: RANN
Cover Design by Fiona Jayde
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Published in the United States of America by
Soul Mate Publishing
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Macedon, New York, 14502
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
This book is dedicated
to the memory of my parents.
I would like to thank Soul Mate for giving me the chance to see my writing in print, and Tammie Bairen for all her help during the editing process.
In ‘Children of Poseidon: Lykos’
Nine years earlier –
When a melting glacier releases Damnamenos, youngest son of Poseidon and a powerful spellcaster, from his ice prison, it releases a whole bundle of trouble with him.
Damnamenos needs a coven to amplify his power and instructs his servant, Micael, to find him some witches, willing or unwilling. Desperate to please his terrifying master, Micael worms his way into the confidence of Jewel, seventeen-year-old daughter of the leader of the North London Coven, and learns that her closest friend, Maya, is both an orphan and a powerful witch. He has her kidnapped.
Maya’s fiercely protective sister, Lila, persuades Lykos, oldest son of Poseidon, to help her find and free her sister and, together with the help of Rann, another of Poseidon’s sons, they track Maya down, free her, and capture Micael.
During Micael’s trial, he points a finger of blame at Jewel, and her stern mother insists she should be punished, suggesting a death sentence, which is commuted to a year’s banishment.
Rann, horrified by the heartless behaviour of the London coven, offers Jewel sanctuary on his island . . .
After almost two days of travel, the island was a welcome sight. Its long golden beaches backed with lush tropical growth made his heart sing after the gloom of London.
In the bottom of the dinghy, the two teenage witches curled round each other, deeply asleep and, after the experiences they’d had, Rann wasn’t surprised. He leapt over the side of the small boat and dragged it through the last of the shallow water onto the beach. Moni, one of the seasprites, ran across the sand and joined him, fastening the rope to the mooring. He waded back to the boat. The morning sun bounced off the sea, turning the breakers into dazzling crystal showers. He blinked, clearing his vision, and bent down to shake the shoulder of the closer of the girls. She opened her eyes.
Maya yawned and stretched and then nudged her companion. “About time.”
Rann hid a smile. After all her adventures, Maya was as mouthy as ever. Nothing seemed to get her down.
Jewel, her friend, slowly uncurled and sat up. She squeezed her eyes closed under the glare of the sun. Jewel was subdued; the whole affair had hit her badly, and her mother’s behaviour made Rann feel sick. He couldn’t understand why she’d blamed Jewel. None of it had been the girl’s fault; her only mistake had been to trust Micael.
Jewel couldn’t have known he worked for Damnam. She was a teenage girl, dazzled by an older man for god’s sake. That didn’t mean she was a criminal.
When he’d heard her mother suggest the death penalty, he’d wanted to blast the woman.
Maya scrambled out of the boat into the shallow water. Jewel followed her.
He took her hand. “Let me introduce you to Moni. She’ll help you find your way about.”
Jewel nodded and ducked her head.
“Welcome to my island home. I hope you’ll see it as yours now.”
She gave him a small worried smile.
He wanted to hug her; instead, he turned to Maya. “I hope you enjoy your visit. May it be the first of many.”
“Thanks.” She was already looking around. “Come on, Jewel. Let’s explore.”
Seawitch stirred in the corner of the underwater cavern. Pain stabbed her skull; her body throbbed from the pressure of the poison contained inside her. She couldn’t speak, couldn’t move. The shadows had removed her ability to do more than exist. A scream echoed in her ears as she pushed against the bars of her mental prison. No one heard. No one came to help. There was no escape. Only fear.
Faded golden hair, tangled with gray-green seaweed, drifted in the white foam of the breakers. A pale face emerged from the waves, eyes wide and unseeing.
Rann waded into the surf and pulled the woman’s torso free of the water. Her head slumped to one side, damp hair falling forward, clinging to her skin and obscuring her features. He bent and smoothed the pale strands back over her shoulders. Beneath the surface, the iridescent scales of her tail had begun to tarnish and lose their sparkle. She was definitely dead. He studied her dull skin and expressionless features before lowering her into the shallows. Wading further out, he approached the waiting merman. “She’s a stranger. Where did you say you found her?”
“In the deep trench, near the kraken’s lair.” Only the merman’s head and shoulders emerged from the calm blue water. The fierce rays of the afternoon sun gilded his skin.
“Do you know her?”
“No, Sealord. She doesn’t belong to our pod.”
The mermaid’s body swayed with the gentle movement of the waves at the sea’s edge.
“And Sealord?” The merman’s tail flicked at the seabed, darkening the water with a cloud of sediment.
Rann waited, keeping his breathing even.
The merman met his eyes. “We found some dead sea dwellers.” He clutched his spear defensively.
“Tell me.” A roll of thunder shook the air.
The merman flinched. “A few porpoises. One of the great octopuses. At first we thought nothing of it. But it’s odd.”
“How long since you noticed this?” Rann folded his arms and braced his feet in the sand, forcing himself to remain calm.
Why didn’t they bring this to my attention earlier?
“About a week. It might have been coincidence, but yesterday
turned up.” He nodded at the dead mermaid. “Today? Nothing. But we thought you needed to be told.”
Rann grimaced. Something untoward had disturbed his ocean. He glanced at the limp body of the mermaid again. “She must be returned to the sea. Will your pod give her a death ceremony?”
“We don’t know her people, or where she came from.” The merman shook a clump of knobbly seaweed from his head and considered. “It would be sad if no one celebrated her life. We’ll do it.”
He nodded. “You’ll attend, Sealord?”
“Yes.” Rann floated the mermaid’s body into deeper water and handed her to the merman, who wrapped his arms round her, rolled to his back, and with a powerful thrust of his tail, headed out to sea. He disappeared towards the reef.
Rann waited until he was out of sight before splashing back to the beach. He wondered what could have killed her. He hadn’t seen any obvious marks on her body. Pollution might have been responsible for deaths among the porpoises and possibly for the octopus, but the beaches were pristine, with no sign of any oil spills. After he witnessed her death ceremony, he would need to investigate. If the security of his kingdom had been compromised, others might be in danger. Irritation mixed with his sorrow at the wasteful death.
Jewel gazed absently at the shoreline, her eyes following the path Rann had taken. He’d vanished round the rocky outcrop at the end of the beach, his body language screaming urgency. The languid unhurried stroll didn’t disguise his sense of purpose. She wondered what had happened to disturb his equilibrium.
The tropical rain stopped falling in the early afternoon, but Jewel hadn’t moved from the shelter of the veranda. The humid warmth soaked into her bones and chipped away at her energy levels. Rann hadn’t noticed her watching him from the shadows. Magic gave her the ability to hide in plain sight, but she suspected he wouldn’t have seen her anyway. She was part of the background.
Resentment simmered in her bloodstream, and she took a moment to squash it. She knew she shouldn’t resent Rann. He’d offered her a home when she needed one and helped her make a new life after she’d been banished from her coven. It wasn’t his fault she wanted more from him. Anger pushed at her mental barriers. She clenched her jaw and pushed it back. The years spent learning to control her emotions hadn’t been wasted. As Tamsin had pointed out, a temperamental witch was a dangerous witch, possibly a dead witch.
Nine years had passed since Rann brought her here. She wasn’t a teenager anymore. She should be able to control her emotions. The banishment had covered only one year, but Jewel never returned to London. No one sought her out or demanded she go back, least of all her mother. Island life suited her. She needed to feel useful, and Rann seemed pleased when she took over the organisation of his chaotic household. If he wasn’t, at least he’d kept his displeasure hidden.
The approach of her teacher dragged her attention from the blue, glittering horizon.
“Jewel?” Tamsin glided from the darkness of the house, her slight figure bristling with purpose. She headed for the shady corner of the veranda where Jewel sat amongst the tropical vegetation springing from a collection of multi-sized pots. “What are you doing?”
Jewel raised her arms above her head, leaned back in her chair, and stretched. “Thinking.” She rose to her feet and moved to the front of the veranda. Sitting down on the warm wood, she let her legs dangle over the edge into the sunlight. “Did you want to talk to me?”
Tamsin smoothed her sarong over her hips and sank down next to her. “Yes.” She relapsed into silence.
Jewel quelled her impatience, knowing there was no point in trying to rush her teacher. She closed her eyes against the brightness and let the heavy warmth seep into her skin.
Tamsin stirred. “I’ve passed on the knowledge you need, taught you control, and heard your oaths. There’s little more I can teach you. It’s time I moved on.”
“But . . .” Jewel opened her eyes and focussed on Tamsin, panic stirring in her blood. This was unexpected. “Where—”
“You need to practice and gain experience.” Tamsin bent her head and studied her short, colourless nails. “That’s how you’ll become stronger.”
“How?” Jewel doubted she’d make much progress alone. Constant criticism from her mother had eroded any confidence she had in her magic. She was a poor creature and a pathetic witch—an embarrassment to the family.
Biting her lip, she told herself to get over it, to not descend into the old negativity. Nine years had passed since she’d last seen her mother. Her abilities were slightly greater than average. They were nowhere near as impressive as those of Maya, and nowhere near as powerful as her demanding mother would have liked, but she wasn’t the failure her mother had labelled her. She needed to remember that.
Tamsin lifted her head, waiting until Jewel looked at her. “Practice alone. Invite your old friends. Visit a coven or two.” She narrowed her eyes and jabbed at the air with her index finger. “You can do it.”
Jewel drew back. Tamsin was right. Several covens would be glad to take her in, even on a temporary basis. “Sorry. You’ve helped me a lot. I’m grateful.”
Tamsin waved her thanks away. “I’ve been well rewarded. When Rann asked me to stay and teach you, his offer was generous.”
“What will you do?”
“I feel restless.” Tamsin ran one hand through her spiky, dark hair. “I’m getting itchy feet again. It’s definitely time for me to go. I’ve stayed here much longer than I originally intended.”
Jewel stared out into the bright afternoon. The deep blue of the sea met the lighter blue of the sky, and the breakers sparkled like showers of diamonds as they plunged to the beach. The April storms washed everything clean. Round the house, the air was alive with the sound of birdsong, rustling leaves and, in the distance, the chatter of the monkey colony. “It’s so beautiful.”
“There are other beautiful places.” Yearning coloured Tamsin’s voice.
“I suppose so. I’ve been thinking I should leave, too.” Jewel glanced sideways, checking her teacher’s reaction.
Tamsin raised her perfectly groomed eyebrows. “Really?” She didn’t sound surprised.
“Really. I can’t stay here. I’ll stagnate. I need to move on. I need to do something with my life. Rann . . .” Jewel’s voice faded away, but Tamsin gave her a knowing look. She couldn’t have failed to be aware of Jewel’s crush. Probably everyone on the island knew about it.
“Are you sure?”
Jewel nodded, ignoring the hollow feeling in her chest where her heart was. The time had come to see what else her life held. “You say I need experience. I won’t get it here.”
“Have you thought about what you’ll do? Where you might go?”
Jewel kept her gaze on the sunlit sea. In the distance, a fishing boat headed towards the east coast of Zanzibar. “I’ll start by going back to London. I don’t want to, but I should at least visit my mother.” Her heart rate picked up, and she concentrated on regulating it, before continuing. “Probably for the last time. Then . . .” She paused. “I don’t know. Another coven? Somewhere with sun and sea?”
Tamsin twisted sideways and touched Jewel’s cheek. “Would you like me to do a reading for you?”
Tamsin was a seer; her major talent, prophecy. During her travels, fortune telling provided her with a means of support. Simple fortune telling, as far as Jewel knew. No spell casting or offerings to the gods. Such things cost too much to be done frivolously, and Tamsin’s gift wasn’t always a blessing. Most seers saw several paths, alternate futures. Occasionally Tamsin told her clients what they should avoid, but usually the visions were confused and difficult to interpret.
“What payment would you have to make?”
Tamsin shrugged. “Nothing I would miss.”
Temptation nudged her, and she wondered if the visions would have an answer for her, a suggestion of which direction she should travel in. She quelled the hope that Tamsin might tell her to stay. “No. I need to make my own decision. I can’t keep depending on someone else.”
“Would you like me to tell you what I’ve already seen?”
“What?” The question slipped out. She held her breath. “You’ve seen something for me?”
The dreams of a seer weren’t necessarily prophecies, but they weren’t completely meaningless either.
Tamsin smiled at the imperious tone. “Your mother. I dreamed of your mother. Danger and darkness surround her. I saw a tangle of old friends and some who weren’t friends. Your father appeared. He wasn’t expected.”
“My father?” Jewel had never known her father, had no idea who he was. Her mother flew into a rage if she asked too many questions, and Jewel was sufficiently afraid of her mother, the North London coven leader, to suppress her curiosity. “Who? Could you tell who he was?”
“Just a figure hidden in the fog. I haven’t a clue what it means.” Tamsin shrugged apologetically. “Perhaps it’s because you want to go back to London. Your return might be a focus.” She pursed her lips, thinking. “Danger though? It could be a warning. Perhaps you should stay away.”
Jewel supressed a small shiver of worry. Her mother terrified her, but she had to face that fear. “No. It’s interesting. But it’s just a dream, not a prophecy.”
Tamsin waved towards the shore. “Here’s Rann. Will you tell him you mean to leave?”
Jewel shook her head. “Later.”
Rann strolled towards them, brown skin brightened by the afternoon sun to the shade of butterscotch. A hint of weariness slowed his normal stride, but he brought with him the fresh scent of open water. His expression was thoughtful, and Jewel pushed herself to her feet as he approached, her whole body warming with pleasure.
“Is everything okay?”
Worry passed over his face, vanishing almost before she recognised it. “I think we’ve got a problem.” Reaching out, he tucked Jewel’s hair behind her ear.
“Is there anything . . .?”
“I’m not sure what’s going on.” He rubbed his forehead. “The merpeople found a dead mermaid out in the deep water.”
A frisson of shock ran down Jewel’s spine. Mermaids didn’t die. When the time came for their long existence to end, they merged with the sea, became one with the foam on the waves.
“Was she . . .?”
“A stranger. I don’t know where she came from. Tomorrow she’ll be returned to the sea and I’ll try to find out what happened.
I just wish I knew where to look.” He pushed a lock of damp black hair away from his face and glanced back at the sea.
“If there’s anything—” Jewel broke off as Tamsin grabbed her wrist, fingers digging into the skin. “Ow.”
“There’s a connection.” Tamsin’s eyes rolled upwards until only the whites were visible.
Her hand was icy, and Jewel pulled herself free. “Tamsin? What . . .?”
“Everything is tied together by death.” Her eyes rolled back, blank and unfocussed. Moving like a sleepwalker, she disappeared into the darkness of the house.
“What on earth is she talking about?” Rann watched her go.
“I don’t know.” Jewel rubbed the goose pimples on her arms. She didn’t like Tamsin’s death visions at all. “She’s been having dreams.”