Narine of Noe (Faerie Tales from the White Forest Book Four)
Narine of Noe should have had her whole life to train to take her father’s place as High Sage. But when a mysterious force falls from the skies, sending the world into elemental chaos and her father into mortal danger, the fate of every living creature lands on her shoulders . . . including that of the Eternal Dragon. Without the Dragon it is impossible to regain the Balance of All Things. An elaborate plan to save the world must be hatched, and Narine is forced to take charge in a world gone mad.
Before the White Forest was born, before the Great World Cry, the story that started it all. . .
Praise for Narine of Noe and the White Forest series
A charming, magical journey…
~Cassandra Rose Clarke, Author, The Assassin’s Curse series
Dinsmore weaves a coming of age story through a world that is both fantastic and believable.
I was hooked before I finished the first chapter . . . I fell in love with Narine and you will, too.
~Brenna D’Amico, actor, Disney’s Descendants
Narine fidgeted onstage, facing the gathered Assembly and guests. Several hundred bodies filled the Great Hall as she and six other Mentee selects stood waiting for their official Keeper assignments. Their Life Tasks.
Sweating under her heavy ceremonial cloak, she reached over her shoulder and scratched at the top of her right wing. When she became High Sage, she decided, she’d get rid of these ridiculous costumes.
She glanced down at Mabbe, the shorter, darker faerie by her side, who swam inside her own thick green carpet of material, her brown and orange wings poking out the back like webbed tree limbs. Mabbe nodded toward the ceiling. Narine looked up at the piercing blue day beyond the crystal dome.
We should be outside, Narine thought into Mabbe’s mind.
This ceremony is so long, Mabbe thought back, we could have flown to the Standing Stones by now.
Narine stifled a laugh. Applause erupted in the room and she composed herself, dutifully clapping along. Mabbe elbowed her.
Narine elbowed Mabbe back. What?
Mabbe nodded toward center stage. They called your name.
Narine whirled to her left to face the line of Sages and Transition Mentors. Sage Shonore of Carraiglenn, the first non-faerie to ever preside over the Transition Ceremony, beckoned her across the stage. Cheeks red with embarrassment, Narine strode up to her, palms pressed together in front of her chest. When she reached Shonore, she opened her hands and held them up, cupped, as if to feel for rain.
“I offer my service,” said Narine, “as a Keeper of Faweh.”
Shonore stepped back, hooves clacking against the wooden floor, and Narine’s father, High Sage Thorze, appeared in her place. He placed his hands together and then offered them up to Narine, his crystal grey-blue eyes shining.
“I offer you Mentorship through our Transition,” his deep voice resonated from within his solid body, “and the Dragon’s Gift when my service is complete.”
Thorze held up his scepter as Shonore stepped forward again. She clapped her front hooves together and beamed down with wide brown eyes.
“Narine of Noe,” she said, “by consensus of the Sages of Noe, and by authority of the Eternal Dragon, you are hereby Transition Matched with Thorze of Noe, High Sage and Keeper of the Elements.”
Narine took her father’s scepter in both hands. They held it together between them, grinning at each other briefly before composing themselves.
“Thorze of Noe,” continued Shonore, “do you accept this Transition Match?”
“Indeed I do,” he boomed. A smattering of laughter danced around the room.
Shonore bowed to Thorze and Narine, her thick mane spilling over her knobby horns. Father and daughter, Sage and Mentee, turned to the audience and approached the front of the stage together, holding the scepter between them. Narine fought with the bottom of her robe, kicking it out with her right foot. She caught sight of her mother’s angular face in the front row. She stopped kicking and lowered her eyes.
~ ~ ~
Narine dropped to the sand from the force of the Eternal Dragon’s energy. Never could she have imagined the power of Its presence. There was no resisting or competing with that power; the Dragon commanded the elements like no other. Each bit of earth, air, fire, water inside of Narine blew open, mere seeds popping over a fire.
The Dragon glanced at her with Its eternal eyes, no more than a flick, but in that flick she plummeted deeper inside herself than she had ever known. Her existence in that eternity lasted less than a moonsbreath before she was back, gasping for breath.
Her father, perched at the edge of the dock, caught her eye, a look as eternal as the Dragon’s. He smiled at her, gestured with open hands, and then fell from the pier. Before she had time to react, to digest what had just happened, the Dragon opened Its mouth and inhaled. The world froze. She felt the Dragon’s great inhale pulling at her heart, but she could do nothing as It drew that breath and absorbed Thorze’s corporeal energies as Its own.
As It exhaled, Narine felt her own cells fill back up with her Father’s Knowing. His Transitioning of himself into her. She could feel it rooting, thin tendrils weaving themselves through the miniscule spaces within her being.
But it was too fast; it was too much. There was no way she could contain it all.
She wasn’t ready! It wasn’t her time!
“No!” she cried and grasped at the wet sand. “Father, no!”
The world popped back into place, her cries became those of Vendra’s, reaching her great flipperpaw after Thorze’s body as it plummeted into the water’s darkness.
Vendra leapt to the side of the pier, the waves shook the world, and she slammed into a silver pillar.
The great Dragon huffed and knocked Thorze’s scepter away with Its thick sea green tail. The scepter flew across the water and landed on the shore before Narine with a
heavy, wet thud. No! It couldn’t be!
“Father!” she cried, searching the waters, tears streaking her cheeks. “Father!”
The Dragon dipped Its head back into the lake, and, in one fluid motion, arced Its massive body after it. The tail of the great serpent flicked out from the water like a tongue, and the serpent was gone. The World Sages stared at the water in silent shock. Waves lapped at Narine’s feet, dragon-sized ripples.
She looked down in her daze. The scepter. She picked it up from the sand, and her body immediately seized up. A white light tortured her vision, and then streaks of blue and silver blended within the reassuring voice of her father, Yes, Narine. Take the Dragon’s Gift.
~ ~ ~
With a thud, Narine landed on the hard ground. Before she could shake off the impact, a gust of wind forced her up and away. She flipped over backward and sailed off the edge of a cliff. As she kicked out in a panic, her legs caught in a tangle of roots as she flailed past, tethering her to the cliff.
Below her, the backward river raged and fought, hissed and spit. She stashed her father’s scepter in her belt and heaved herself around to grab hold of the roots. Hand over hand, pumping her wings, she pulled her way back to the cliff.
She fluttered and climbed up and over the top of the escarpment and collapsed into the rocky earth, heart pounding. As she caught her breath, she peered over the ledge at the mad river climbing up the valley, spewing tree trunks and boulders from its tumultuous waters.
She pushed up onto her hands and knees and examined her surroundings. The precipice was empty but for a snarl of roots. She crawled forward, fighting the winds, and followed the roots until they disappeared into the unsettled ground. She lifted a chunk of torn-up earth; bits of thinner root caught in the clod.
“No,” she gasped, and the sound immediately swept away in the windstorm.
The Purview had brought her back to the Drutan’s birthplace.
She sank back onto her heels. As she sat there, even at that great height, she grew soaking wet, her wings and hair slickened with river spew. But she didn’t care; the Drutan was gone. And She couldn’t help feeling it was somehow her fault.
She looked down at Thorze’s scepter, staring into its brilliance. She couldn’t believe it had only been the night before when she and her father had witnessed the birth of the rare Drutan in the moonslight.
Now the little tree-beast was gone.
Her father was gone, too. Her father had called the Dragon.
The cold, wet wind bit into her skin and whipped at her wings. She needed to take cover in the forest. With a deep breath, she attempted to stand, but her legs buckled and she dropped to her knees. Pain shot through her kneecaps as she landed on a thick root. When she lifted the root, the leaves and dirt around it gave way, and the root led, in a taut line, into the trees. She tugged at it and felt a weight at the other end.
With a burst of hope she followed the root hand over hand into the forest. It ended in a heap of roots, rocks, and twigs. She pulled away the top layer, and through the tangle she could see the ensnared Drutan. As quickly as she dared, Narine pulled the debris away until she could reach in and grab the newling, curled up in a ball, unconscious and shivering.
The wee beast was lighter than she had expected, like lifting a plant from its pot. Narine sat back in the dirt and cradled the Drutan in her arms.
“You’re alive,” whispered Narine, wiping mud from the Drutan’s face with her tunic.
The newling’s skin was so strange, like bark, but spongy, as if it hadn’t been cooked enough. Her brown face bore circular creases around her eyes that Narine imagined would deepen as she aged. Deep grooves, indentations from the tight mesh of roots, lined her face and arms.
One by one, Narine placed a hand over each cut and a hand on her father’s scepter and visualized the cuts transformed by healing bridges of strong Drutan skin. Then she visualized the cold parts of the Drutan transformed by warm kisses of energy.
“I’m sorry you were born into this.” Narine pulled her cloak from her pack and wrapped it around them both, transforming the wet air into dry beneath it, cocooning them inside.
Author Danika Dinsmore
Danika Dinsmore is an award-winning author, performance artist, and educator. Over the past 25 years she has developed content for the page, stage, screen, and web. Danika currently works in literary and speculative fiction with an emphasis on juvenile & young adult literature. Author of children’s fantasy adventure series FAERIE TALES FROM THE WHITE FOREST, she often takes her interactive Imaginary Worlds Tour on the road, performing and teaching world-building & creative writing at schools, conferences, and festivals across North America.
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