About Finding the Phoenix:
Descended from humans and a vanished race of elemental beings, only the Awakened know the truth about our world. Only they can hold back the fanatic Handmaidens of the Skaath Diurga--shadow creatures born from an ancient betrayal.
However, the Circle of Awakened is incomplete without the Child of Heaven: a human destined to Wield the Spirit element. Before she can Awaken, she must die.
Heaven has no memory of dying, except the experience of death itself. It’s that memory, of a place called ‘The Between’, that convinces her the man claiming to be her Guardian might not be completely crazy. Besides, even crazy is better than the life she’s leaving behind to be the Circle’s Wielder of Spirit. All she has to worry about now is her training, and figuring out how to fit in with the Awakened.
Tragedy strikes when one of the Guardians is killed, and ulterior motives thrust Heaven into the middle of the Circle’s quest for justice. She’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for the people she’s come to care about.
“You feel it too?”
Alistair was looking at her; his normally caramel skin was ashen with dark smudges under his eyes.
“I didn’t even know the guy, Alistair.” She tried not to stare, but he looked like he wasn’t far from death either.
“I know, but when Elise mourns all of us mourn with her. Empaths have that effect on people,” he said gruffly.
That explained her meaningless sadness.
He sat down next to her on the bench, leaned forwards and rested his elbows on his knees. It occurred to her that she should probably offer him some form of comfort as well so she tentatively placed one hand on his back, between his shoulder blades.
“Do you understand what happened last night?” His head was turned just enough to see her with one eye.
“That somebody died? Yeah, if it’s any consolation he truly is in a better place now.”
“No, why he died…why he chose to give his life to save Elise,” he said gruffly.
She hadn’t even known he’d done that. If she thought about it then she might be able to give him the right answer, but the truth was she didn’t know, so she shook her head.
“Part of being a Guardian is understanding that, when it comes to this, our war against the Skaath, we are less valuable than our Wielders,” he replied.
“People are equal, it’s only our aptitudes that differ.” She’d heard that somewhere and always believed it should be true. It had felt true when she was dead.
“That’s not what I mean.” He sat back and she withdrew her hand, fiddling with a loose thread on the hem of her shirt.
“It’s purely strategic,” he continued, “sacrificing a knight in order to checkmate your opponent with the queen. We’re equal as people but not as weapons.”
Weapons…was that what she’d agreed to? Being a weapon, a tool of destruction? How could love and the magnificence of spirit she’d felt in death be a weapon? It didn’t sound right.
“I’m not a gun, Alistair, not even a bullet. Far be it for me to take the moral high ground, but I was asked to love in the Between. Killing seems like the opposite of that.”
He stared at her until she turned her head to look down at her hands.
“Love may be a long term solution,” he said softly. “But hugging Handmaidens in the thick of a fight is just going to get a dagger in your guts. Did you know that Gandhi wrote a letter to Hitler?”
“A noble gesture, but it didn’t stop the Holocaust. Sometimes people can change because other people care about them, but not everyone wants to change, Vinny, not everyone realises that they’re wrong.”
About Caitlin O'Connor:
A proud eccentric who aspires to be omniscient, she enjoys listening to music, trying to understand physics, and admiring unusual works of art.
She lives in South Africa with her son and a malevolent lovebird that requires daily libations of blood.