The Unforeseen One by Lexy Wolfe (Sundered Lands #5)

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Also by Lexy Wolfe The Sundered Lands Saga The Raging One The Knowing One The Timeless One The Fallen One

Doom and the Warrior Divinity Impaired Book 2 Coming in 2016

Gods of the Temple

Anthologies Call of the Warrior



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aster Nolyn!” The man startled out of his thoughts at the shout, refocusing on the present. He blinked and looked owlishly at the speaker. His attention focused on the head woman standing across the desk from him, hands on her hips. He cleared his throat, feeling his face warm like a boy caught red-handed sneaking sweets from the kitchen. “What is it, Miss Kelafy?” Her expression spoke to her droll amazement at his ignorance. “You are late for dinner. Everyone is waiting for you.” “Dinner?” He looked at the window and swore under his breath. “How did I lose track of time?”


She tsked, gathering up empty teacups and plates from earlier in the day. “How indeed. You are the leader of the capitol region of Forenta. If that itself was not enough responsibility, you are host to Desanti visitors.” She noted in a scolding tone, “Even they have joined us today. Their patience amazes me, given their tempers. And Su’alin Star—” At the mention of his beloved lifemate’s name, he jumped out of his seat. “Is Kiya well? She hasn’t—?” She sat the dishes on the desk and put a calming hand on his shoulder. “Relax, Master Nolyn. She is quite all right. Perhaps irritated with an overprotective brother and husband.” His cheeks warmed at the reminder. “We are not married. There has been no ceremony.” Kelafy tsked again. “I know well you and she are as close as Storm and Ash. Neither of you care one iota about fancy words or fancier ceremonies to make official what we all can see is there.” She added blandly, “If you ask me, you should have realized your feelings months earlier. Or admitted them to her. It might have made things less chaotic.” She shooed him out. “Now hurry along and join your guests. The food is getting cold.” “Yes, Miss Kelafy.” He shook his head, hearing her chuckling behind him. He looked at the star-shaped scar in his palm, a symbol of the soul bond he shared with Ash Avarian. “Goddess, what would I do without that woman, brother? Thank you for bringing her into your home.” He smiled as all eyes turned to him when he entered the dining room. “Good evening, everyone. Forgive me for holding up dinner.” He leaned down to kiss Star’s cheek, putting a hand on her swollen belly. “I hope my delay was no trouble to you?” She covered his hand, her smile affectionate. “We are both fine, my heart.” A vigorous kick drew their attention. “Laurel is happy you are here. She is hungrier than I am.” “I find that difficult to believe,” Seeker stated, arms crossed. “I have never seen you eat so much, Sister.” 8


Ellis sipped his wine, his azure eyes twinkling in mirth. “I am not surprised. She is eating for two, and Nolyn was always ravenous when he was a boy. Why, when he and Ash were my wards, small animals would flee the area around mealtime.” The younger man snorted, giving his apprentice Marcus a look that only made him giggle more behind his hands. “We were not that bad.” He inclined his head to his other guests. “Edai Unsvet Valerian, Healer Tobias. It is good to see you both again.” “Likewise, Edai Magus Nolyn. Thank you once again for the offer of your…of Illaini Magus Ash’s home for our stay,” the Vodani replied. He turned his attention to the mage council leader. “I am happy to report Andar will soon be ready to receive those who wish to settle within her branches and the return of her caretaking family, Master Ellis.” He caught Star looking at him intently with vivid gold eyes. He wagged a finger at her. “Don’t look at me like that, Su’alin.” “Then do not conceal your concerns from us,” she replied archly. The Vodani heaved a sigh. “Fine, fine. Issues remain that will delay reopening the borders, but nothing that warrants immediate concern.” He looked to her lifemate with mild exasperation. “How do you survive without being able to keep secrets?” Nolyn smiled. “From a Su’alin? There are ways—” He winced when Star kicked him in the shin. He cleared his throat. “But it is better not having a reason in the first place. They get touchy.” “I do not.” “My shins say otherwise.” He flinched at another kick. “I stand corrected.” “You are sitting corrected.” Ellis watched the pair with a fond, bemused expression. “A visit to your home never ceases to be entertaining, Master Nolyn.” “Ash’s home, but thank you.” He squeezed Star’s hand before reaching for his wine glass. “I appreciate all of you taking time to come. The spring congress of the Edai Tredecima is not for another month. However, I wished to speak privately with everyone before the insanity that is the springtide festival ramps up.” 9


“Well, I promised I to be here when Star was near term,” Tobias said. He flicked a glance at the slight woman with mild disbelief. “Though I would not have believed Desanti pregnancies really are so much shorter than ours.” He held up his hands to forestall the warrior folk from speaking. “I know, I know, it’s a survival necessity. But hearing about something and witnessing it are two different matters.” The others smiled at his exuberance, his amazement infectious. “When I examined her and Laurel, I could see the baby maturing. I’ve never seen or heard of anything like it!” Seeker grunted. “I can understand that. Desantiva is nothing like the northlands. If anyone told me of the things I have witnessed here, I would have called them a liar and challenged them to a duel if they did not recant.” “A little extreme, don’t you think?” Valerian asked in droll tones, nodding thanks to a servant topping his wine glass. “No,” the dark-skinned man replied. “Desanti discussions are often much more vigorous than the nattering of northborn.” The Vodani just rolled his eyes, shaking his head in bemusement. Ellis studied Nolyn while the rest bantered. “Your message hinted there was some urgency. Is there a problem?” Nolyn’s smile faded as he sat back, looking at the scar in his right palm. “To be honest, I am not sure if there is a problem, but I’ve known Ash for decades. I suspect they will not be returning to Ithesra. Not immediately, at any rate.” Everyone at the table traded bewildered looks. Star reached for his hand, distressed at his words. “But they must! I was to return to Desantiva with the Githalin. We need to speak with Storm and Skyfire to find which of us that is! The longer we stay, the harder it will be to leave if—” He covered her hand with his other one, expression apologetic. “I know, my heart. But the feeling has been plaguing me for weeks since Andar. I had hoped it would pass as just a fanciful wish of mine to have my brother home and some of the responsibility for Forenta off my shoulders. Or shared, at least.” 10


“That explains your odd behavior of late.” Seeker shrugged a shoulder at the quizzical look his sister gave him. “I do not need the Su’alin gifts. I am observant.” Valerian rubbed under his chin with the back of his finger, studying the other Edai. “You have other thoughts about their return? Or lack thereof?” Nolyn quirked a wry smile. “I do, yes, though I planned to bring it up after the meal. I was thinking on a proposal long ago aborted due to Desanti requirements.” Everyone at the table turned their attention to him as he directly addressed Ellis. “You wanted Star to be an ambassador to Forenta for Desantiva. She had told me it requires a majority of the tribes agreeing to her serving in that capacity.” “Yes,” Ellis said slowly. “Given there has been no communication with the warrior folk, I imagine the conditions have not changed. How are you proposing to remedy the issue?” “First, you need more than simply an ambassador to advocate for the Desanti people, Ellis. You also require a liaison to speak for ours.” He picked up his glass. “I want to accompany my lifemate to Desantiva and offer to be that person.” The warriors appeared as surprised as the others, speaking amongst themselves for a few minutes. Seeker turned back to Nolyn and Ellis. “It is a reasonable consideration. The tribes will have more reason to consider her to be an ambassador with their relationship.” Ellis frowned in concern. “They will not think that it creates bias? The Edai Tredecima, in their infinite lack of efficiency, could debate the matter until autumn. The more aggravating highborn families will harp on nothing else.” Seeker laughed. “You are assuming our people see things like yours, Se’edai Magus. He is still Forentan, and she is still Desanti. We always favor our own. But the ties they share will serve as an excuse for his tolerance of ours without being seen as betraying his. One they trust and believe. For the warriors, the fact she is lifemate to a northborn be the reason she tolerates Forenten.” He flashed a smile at his sister. “It is how view it.” 11


“Since several of My circle had been part of yours prior to you being named Se’edai Magus, they can see to the running of Ithesra under your supervision,” Nolyn added. “And I trust Eptina to handle my responsibilities on the Edai Tredecima as Second Chair.” He leaned forward. “Please, Ellis. We cannot wait on Ash forever. He’s a Dusvet Guardian. Goddess knows what other duties demand his attention. Wherever my brother is, you know Storm will be, and Skyfire with her. If they return before us? Tell them where we went and why.” Ellis did not reply at once, drumming his fingers on the table as he studied the couple. “Given Su’alin Star’s expression, you did not speak with her about this first.” “No, I didn’t. I did not wish to cause her any distress with waiting until we could discuss the matter with to you and get your blessing or refusal.” Nolyn smiled apologetically to the slight woman. She returned an understanding smile, reaching out for his hand to kiss his knuckles lovingly. “I could have been wrong and Ash would have been sitting in this chair instead of me right now.” The entire table held its collective breath until Ellis made a disgruntled sound of assent. “Fine, fine. You are well aware I want to establish more secure ties to Desantiva to bridge the gap between us and keep another Great War from happening. Communication with one another is vital to achieve that. And Seeker is right, your proposal is reasonable.” He closed his eyes, massaging his forehead with two fingers for a moment. “When do you propose on departing?” “After Star has our daughter and both are strong enough to travel,” Nolyn replied, relaxing back into his chair. “When Mureln sends another messenger bird, tell them where we went and why.” “We can leave in four days,” she said. Everyone looked at her, startled, as she pushed herself out of her seat, putting one hand on her swollen belly. “It is time.” “What?!” Marcus covered his head as all those around the table but himself and the female Swordanzen jumped to their feet, chairs falling over and people getting tangled in them. Decidedly calmer, 12


Tobias dodged the panicked men with ease to get to Star’s side to help her back to her and Nolyn’s bedroom. The Desanti women watched and waited, sipping their water. The apprentice looked at them quizzically. “Aren’t you going with her?” The pair of women traded knowing looks. “Just wait,” Windsong stated in a soft voice. The three turned toward the hall when Star shouted, “Stop it! I will not break!” Calmly, the two women went to save the poor woman from the panicking men’s over-attentiveness.

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sh jerked upright, suddenly awake and drenched in sweat, his heart in his throat. He looked to either side and saw the wide bed was empty. With a relieved sigh, he fell back, dropping his arm across his eyes. He heard the quiet sound of a metal-on-metal tap. The soft glow of light from the sunstone lamp seeped under. He lifted it enough to see Storm using the tip of her knife to open the lamp without getting off the floor. “I thought you were training the Unsvets.” “They complain I am too strict and demanding. They also have short memories.” Ash shifted to lay on his stomach, looking at the woman as she worked, her weapons arranged


around her as she cleaned them. “After Skyfire trains them alone, they forget their complaints of me to lament about him. Then I return to remind them.” Chuckling, he kissed her temple. “I almost feel sorry for them.” “Almost,” Storm echoed, holding her two-edged sword out to eye it. Satisfied with it, she slid it back into its sheath followed by the rest of the weapons before turning. Green-gold eyes glittered in the light as she studied Ash, her calloused fingers gently running through his hair. “There is plenty of breakfast left. Emil and Emaris have not returned this morning. Again.” The tension across his shoulders eased and he let out the breath he held with relief she did not ask him what had woken him. He smiled, caressing the metallic marks on her cheek before he got out of bed. “I am sure they are depriving someone else of their allotment of food.” The woman sniffed. “Of that, I have no doubt.” She waited to claim his hand after he finished dressing. Before she opened the door, he pulled her close to kiss. His smile faltered when she gently but firmly pushed him away. They had not gotten two steps out of the room before Izkynder ran up. The boy wrapped an arm around one of their legs each, hugging them together. His tiny winged reptilian pet Chitta flapped his wings and made all sorts of protesting noise. His mother walked over to detach him. “Dear, let our Alanis come to the table so they can have breakfast with the rest of us.” “I am not bothered.” Storm ruffled the boy’s hair. “I am not hungry.” “Did you eat at all today?” The healer’s voice was both stern and affectionate. The Desanti woman did not answer or meet her gaze. “Mm hm. I thought not.” Taylin picked up a meat-filled roll, took a small bite, and placed it on Storm’s plate. “I said I am not hungry.” Storm sat back in her chair and ate the roll with tiny bites. “You are never hungry,” Mureln pointed out, his nonchalance counterpoint to Storm’s testiness. “Those few times you say you are, 15


the servants bring enough that even Emil and Emaris cannot finish.” He wagged his butter knife. “And that is quite an accomplishment.” “It is a waste of food.” Storm narrowed her eyes when everyone spoke the same statement in unison with her. She humphed, crossing her arms while they laughed. “Where are those two bottomless pits?” Bella asked as she settled between Jaison and Lyra. “I admit, it is nice not fearing I may lose a finger reaching for anything. I have few enough useful ones as it is.” She wiggled the appendages, then adjusted the sling her paralyzed arm rested in. She bumped Lyra’s shoulder lightly. “I told you to stop blaming yourself. You did what was necessary. Most would have killed me.” “And I am working on improving my skill enough so I can mend the damage,” the healer assured. “It will be fine.” Gaze still downcast, Lyra nodded. “If you say so.” Storm narrowed her eyes at her. “Taylin, you must check Lyra’s hearing. She questions she heard you.” The blond archer looked up, then turned bright red when the woman smiled in satisfaction at her reflexive desire to correct her Desanti literalness. Ash yawned as Terrence and Ophilia joined the rest at the table. “Did you not sleep well?” the younger man asked. “Hm? Oh, I just stayed up later than I should have writing yesterday’s journal entry.” He ignored the skeptical looks he got from both his lifemate and former apprentice. “I will not return until late from the archives again tonight.” “I do not understand what you think you are going find there,” Storm grumbled as she finished her food. She took her glass of water and drained half of it. “What has happened, has happened. What will happen, will happen. Knowing why is unnecessary.” Ash pinched the bridge of his nose, sighing. “We have had this discussion before.” “No. It has not been a discussion yet! It is you telling me why I am wrong to be angry and you still spending every waking moment among dead books.” She stood and pointed at Jaison and Bella. “And do not tell me they are not quite dead!” 16


The man held up both hands. She hid her smile behind her glass, hair slipping forward to conceal her face. “I would not dream of it, Alanis na’Zhekali.” “Alanis!” A sharp gesture toward Ash followed Storm’s exclamation. “We are supposed to be Alanis na’Zhekali together, but I may as well be alone! You said you would help me, but you are doing nothing. Nothing! Is it your Forentan blood that drives you to lie?” “Lie?” He stood up, his pride pricked and stung by the truth within her accusations. His cheeks were flush with shame. “I did not lie to you!” “You do.” Her hand slashed the air between them in a decisive gesture. “You lie to yourself as well!” She spun on her heel and stalked to the grassy ledge, the drizar dropping from above. “I go to commune with Thandar. I will return. Eventually.” She climbed onto the beast’s back and they leapt away. Izkynder broke the silence that had taken over the room. “Mama? Aunt Storm owie?” “No, sweetie,” she assured, hugging him with one arm. “She is only a little grumpy.” His skeptical expression and crossed arms were so comical, the adults could not help but laugh. Ash remained silent, lost in thought. Before he could speak, everyone got up, heading out to various destinations or activities. Lips pressed together, the mage sat back with a frown. “She is right.”

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