Hot on the heels of Crosscurrents, Firestorm (Southern Elemental Guardians Book 3) is coming along nicely!
Speaking of hot, Sylph Prince Tlanuwa, a.k.a. Bruce in the modern age, has his hands full with a fiery Phoenix. And, boy, has he ever met his match! What begins as an investigation into a rogue hybrid Sylph known as ‘Hawk’— who’s been misusing his powers on mortal skydiving adventures—takes an unexpected turn for the worse.
And the consequences be apocalyptic!
Well done, little sparrow.
In addition to winning his bet with Dak, which was honestly reward enough, watching the small mortal woman overcome obvious fear and distress and complete the jump gave Bruce’s adventurous heart a thrill. Plus, she’d likely thrown Hawk off guard.
With any luck, the hybrid would compensate with wind power and give them the evidence they needed to punish the fool.
Cloaking his presence, he flew as close as he dared to the pair in free fall, balancing the necessity of detecting whatever weak elemental energy signature Hawk might unleash with the need to avoid detection himself. The woman’s eyes remained tightly closed, her body stiff in spite of the force of the fall, her face twisted in a rictus of anguish that cut Bruce to the core. Whatever tormented her clearly went beyond the fear of hurling through the air. She seemed on the verge of losing her very soul.
An unexpected blast of heat hit Bruce and knocked him off his flight path. What in the name of the gods? How did Hawk manage that?
Bruce regained control and signaled to Red and Dak. Someone was channeling some serious elemental energy. If Hawk had allies with that much power, they’d need back up. But a hybrid Sylph should only have dominion over wind, not fire.
Bruce came back abreast of Hawk and the woman in spite of the growing heat. Blast, why hadn’t the fool deployed the damned parachute yet? Every other mortal in the party now soared above the earth under the support of flimsy fabric. Red and Dak were floating in a sea of flying humans, for gods’ sake.
What if the parachute had malfunctioned?
Bruce calculated the distance to the ground and gauged their rate of descent. Hawk couldn’t afford the fall. Most hybrids weren’t immortal, and no one, not even Elemental Guardians, were immune to pain. Bruce could wait a bit longer before intervening.
If not for the woman.
Busting a rogue hybrid wasn’t worth the cost of a mortal life.
He banked right and prepared to send a blast of wind to buoy the pair until he could improvise a way to get the to the ground safely and without detection. Just as he inhaled a deep, fortifying breath, he caught the scent of smoke and a surge of power the likes of which he’d never experienced. Hawk rolled, hurling the pair toward the ground as he and the woman fought over some small object.
Then it hit him. She was the source of the elemental energy.
“Dak, Red! Sweep the mortals to safety! We have a fire elemental in the mix. A pureblood. And she’s getting ready to blow!”
His Sylph brothers whipped up an east wind that sent the mortals on what was likely a terrifying ride. No matter. The experienced instructors could land them safely on the adjacent field. With any luck, the hapless mortals wouldn’t witness whatever was coming next.
Bruce dove, sucking as much air as possible away from Hawk and the female elemental in hopes of suffocating her fire. The pair suddenly shifted away under the power of another’s wind. Damn it! Why was Hawk moving away? Surely by now he must have realized how far out of his element he was with his passenger. Bruce gave chase, dropping his shield charm and appearing before the pair.
They didn’t notice. They were too busy grappling with each other over some metallic orb like a pair of petulant children fighting over a ball.
“Stop, you fools! You’re violating almost all of our kind’s rules of secrecy and giving me whiplash in the process!”
The female’s head jerked up and her glowing gaze met his. He’d never seen anything so beautiful and so horrifying.
“What are you?” he asked, his voice barely carrying over the wind.
“Help me!” she screamed, her warped voice full of terror.
Aw, Hades. She was scary as fuck, but she’d asked him for help. He didn’t understand why a creature packing that kind of heat, literally, needed his help, but clearly the situation had escalated to more than a rogue hybrid misusing his powers. And Hawk seemed hell bent on slamming himself into the ground and taking her with him.
Dakota showed up and grabbed Hawk by the neck, slowing their descent while Bruce tugged on the female. His hands burned and his lungs filled with hot air and smoke, but he fought to loosen her straps. He managed, but she refused to let go of Hawk and the small orb.
“Let go!” he yelled, fighting through waves of pain his cooling winds couldn’t quite soothe.
“No!” she screamed. “You don’t understand. I have to destroy it!”
“Keep this up and you’ll destroy us all! Dak, heave!”
The wiry Sylph Lord channeled his considerable strength and power to wrench Hawk away from the female, which sent Bruce and his fiery cargo hurtling toward the earth. Bruce summoned gale force winds and storm clouds to break their fall and carry them away in a violent, and blessedly cooling, downpour.
He held on to the trembling creature in his arms, or perhaps his flesh had melted into the fabric of her jumpsuit. Fighting pain and exhaustion, Bruce crash landed on top of a nearby hill and dropped his burden unceremoniously to the ground. He shouldn’t risk it, but he needed to heal. It wasn’t as if he could fight whatever flavor of elemental she was in his current state.
If he could fight her and the raw power she wielded at all.
She didn’t appear willing or able to fight at the moment. She curled up on the ground in a fetal position, shaking and keening in the scorched earth upon which she rested.
Disappearing into the air, he let his element rush through his essence, soothing, cooling, invigorating. Great gods, what had happened out there?
Red landed nearby, feathers ruffled but thankfully unscorched. He approached the elemental on the ground with caution, amber eyes wide and posture stiff with tension. “Tlanuwa,” he called. “You are unharmed?”
Bruce materialized. Judging from the look Red shot him, he must have still looked like fried chicken. Made sense, since he felt like fried fucking chicken. “I’ll do,” he muttered, joining Red and trying to wrap his mind around what had just happened.
Red waved a dismissive hand. “Dak took care of him. We’ll deal with him later. It would seem we have more pressing matters.”
No shit. The fire elemental showed no signs of aggression. She seemed damned near lifeless. Whatever. She could talk at least. Throwing caution to the wind, Bruce knelt down on the ground, yanked her chin, and got right up in her face. “You’ve got some explaining to do. Care to start?”
A blast of fire threw him to the other side of the hill and into a pile of rocks.
Red landed right beside him.
“My Prince, you know you have my undying loyalty and fealty, but as your trusted advisor and friend, I must advise you to, for once in your existence, shut the hell up.”
“What?” Bruce replied, staggering to his feet and shaking the dust off. “It’s a legitimate question.”
The fire elemental rose with flames rippling from her form, burning mortal garments, and searing the foliage all around her. She turned her gaze to the far horizon and unleashed a blood-curdling scream. Bruce and Red turned and saw a cloud of smoke, ash, and flame rise in the distance as a figure emerged, its fiery plumage blinding and brilliant as it soared away.
“Great gods,” Bruce muttered. So much for rumors. The Phoenix had arisen, at least two. One more and—
Something crashed against his temple. “Ouch! What was that for?”
The female Phoenix, for that’s what she was, no doubt about it, pointed to the shiny metal orb resting on the ground at Bruce’s feet. “Kill me. Kill me now, put my ashes in that, and scatter them to the four winds before we all perish!”