We’re two weeks away from the release of book 8 of the Harley Firebird series, The Shield of Falconer, so as usual, I’m running the first chapter here. This version, by the way, has not had final edits.
EXCERPT FROM THE SHIELD OF FALCONER
COPYRIGHT © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
1: Little Angel, Big Feat
Harley squatted. It had taken her weeks to remember to squat and spread her wings at the same time. Until she’d perfected it, she had rammed the points of her wings into the earth. Now, she wanted to be at the same height as the little, blubbering angel. She tried to meet his gaze. “Hey,” she said gently. “It’s okay. Tell me what you did.”
The little kid, who couldn’t be more than seven, hiccupped and cried harder, his white wings drooping, the tips trailing in the dust on the dried out, hot sidewalk. The gang edged even closer around him. Harrow, the dwarf and leader of the ragtag group, stood beside Harley. He’d taken a step sideways as her wings spread when she squatted, but no one could mistake that he was silently supporting her.
The others, orcs, salamanders, dryads, water leapers and more, made up a good cross section of the population of Falconer, and all of them were kids. There were fifteen in the gang, now, Harley noted.
They were all standing on the broad sidewalk of McDavid Street, which ran off Mountain Avenue just north of the main section of town. The houses were slightly larger here, and the trees taller, but they weren’t casting shade where Harley and the gang stood. Instead, the hot August sun belted down upon their heads. The salamander looked both uncomfortable and sleepy. She would need to get out of the sun, soon.
A medley of noise washed over them, emanating from Mountain Avenue. A great many people talking, and at least two pieces of music being played, but not loudly enough to drown out anything else. A sheep bleated. Things clanged, knocked, rustled. Everything combined into a soft roar of sound.
The little angel got himself under control, with a lot of sniffing and wiping of his nose. Harley saw his gaze flicker to her and she nodded. “Okay, tell me what happened. You’re not in trouble, Gavin. I just need to know what happened. Angels can’t do what you did.”
Gavin’s chin quivered again.
“He did it,” one of the orcs protested. “I saw him do it.”
“I’m not disputing that,” Harley said, keeping her voice down. “I’m just curious. Gavin?”
Gavin drew in a shuddering breath, his little body shaking with it. “I just…blew.”
“On the hydrant?”
Harley leaned to one side, propped her hand on the concrete, and looked around the closed-in gang. The hydrant in question was three meters away, on the municipal strip between street and sidewalk, a faded blue and yellow. And it was covered in a sheath of ice at least two inches thick. The ice seemed impervious to the sun and the heat of the day.
“Her hand! How come it isn’t burning off, on the concrete like that?” someone whispered.
“Firebird. She’s like Suzie. Heat is good.”
Suzie was the salamander, then. Harley straightened up and brushed pebbles from her hand. “The heat makes me feel energetic,” she told them. “And it puts Suzie to sleep. But we both like heat.”
She crossed her arms. “Why did you blow on the hydrant, Gavin?”
“To cool it off,” someone said, their tone defensive.
Harley looked at Harrow. The dwarf gave a small shrug. “They wanted to open the hydrant, like they do in New York. Play in the water. But the cap was stuck.”
“Swollen in the heat,” someone added.
“So if you cooled it off, it would contract and you could get it open?” Harley finished.
“Only, it got away on me,” Gavin said, his voice very small. “I just wanted to blow on it, but….” And his chin quivered again.
Harley put her hand on his head and gave it a tousle. She was amused, and hid that, but let her puzzlement show. “I can understand wanting to play in water,” she told all of them. “But there’s a perfectly good swimming pool that just opened a month ago and it’s free for residents. Why not go there?”
They shuffled. Looked at their toes.
So she looked at Harrow and lifted her brow. She’d taken off her sunglasses, so the red dots over her brow would be on full display.
Harrow gave another small shrug. She’d learned, though, that his indifference was a mask. “Pool’s full of tourists,” he said. “Soaking in the spa water.” He looked up at her with steady, large brown eyes. His forehead was dotted with sweat.
The swimming pool tapped into the Red Deer River that ran along the eastern edge of the town, and the partnership of anwens running it made the most of the fact that the water was naturally clean and healthy, thanks to the avencs who owned the river.
“River’s too fast here,” Darrow added. “For the little ‘uns.”
“And it’s red ‘n all,” someone added.
“The river stopped running red weeks ago,” Harley pointed out. “The avencs have made the water crystal clean again. You can paddle in it and sit in it, as long as you don’t go out too far for the current to get you,” Harley said. “And Portsmouth will watch out for you. Do you know how to knock to speak to the avenc?”
Darrow frowned, then held out his hand flat and moved it up and down. “Like this, on the water.”
“And be respectful when you ask,” Harley added. “He can help you with the little ones.” She moved through the pack of children, who all separated to make room for her. She moved over to the hydrant and put her hand on the thick ice at the top. She wanted to jerk her hand away from the shocking coldness, but held it there and instead poured her warmth, the heated flow of whatever it was that made her a firebird into her hand, countering the cold. Then she upped the heat.
The ice sizzled and the kids murmured, behind her. Then it cracked with a sound like rifle fire. Harley saw the kids jump in reaction from the corner of her eye.
The ice fell onto the lawn to either side of the hydrant, in two nearly symmetrical pieces, hollowed out in the middle in the shape of the hydrant. It smoked.
“Woooooah!” someone murmured, almost whistling.
Harley wanted to say the same thing. She had merely intended to melt the ice, not put enough instant heat into it to crack it open like a walnut. But the result was the same. The hydrant was unobstructed once more.
She wouldn’t point out to the kids that Falconer had no fire brigade anymore, and that she wasn’t sure the hydrant would be able to run water even if it was properly tapped. It would have been years since it was serviced.
“Chief! Chief!” The call came from further along the street, toward Mountain Avenue.
Harley glanced over her shoulder. Nika von Falconer was hurrying toward her, looking fresh and cool in a thin sari, bangles on her wrists, her pale strawberry blonde hair glowing in the sunlight. She waved her hand to get Harley’s attention.
“Okay,” Harley told the gang, speaking mostly to Harrow. “Go cool off in the river. Especially you, Suzie. You don’t want to fall too deeply asleep.”
Suzie nodded, blinking slowly.
“We’ll cool her off, Chief,” Darrow said. He held out an arm. It was a shepherding gesture, rounding up the gang. “Let’s go, guys,” he told them. “Get away from the tourists, huh? Then they can pluck someone else’s feathers, and poke at everyone else.”
Harley winced, for the tourists did have a habit of wanting to see for themselves if the Old Ones they came across in Falconer were for real.
The gang turned and headed east, toward the river-end of McDavid Street. There would be a shortcut through to the river at the end, probably through someone’s back yard, but Harley knew the gang were aware enough to not trample vegetables down on their way through.
Nike came up to Harley, breathless. “There you are!” she exhaled.
“How are you so full of energy in this heat, Nika?” Harley asked, glancing at the horny spots over Nika’s brow. She was a salamander, too. Her brow dots were a pale pink, showing she was cool and comfortable.
“Too much to do!” Nika said, waving off the observation. “Chief, the auction starts in ten minutes. We need you on the stage, so people can see your feather is the real thing. And you promised.”
Harley sighed. She had promised. Nika had auctioned two of her feathers this summer and Harley’s presence on the stage did drive the price up. “Coming.” Now she sounded just like the kids she’d just sent swimming. She turned and followed Nika down the sidewalk toward Mountain Avenue and the noise wave. The heat from the concrete bathed her legs and face. It was pleasant in the same way that a cool evening breeze had once been.
How had Gavin been able to blow ice into existence like that?
Harley is paid to uphold the law in Falconer, which daily grows more difficult…
Harley, a firebird, and Falconer’s Chief of Police, must dash to the wilds of British Columbia to rescue Chaz from the control of the ruthless Old Ones cult and their powerful leader who holds him. Harley wants to save Chaz for Noel, his now-dead big sister, who was good, kind and the perfect Falconer, even if she was hiding a few secrets.
Harley is forced to bring along unintended companions, to get them out of Falconer and danger. She learns that it wasn’t just Noel who has secrets. How can Harley uphold the law in a town that doesn’t cherish the law as she does?
And despite expert advice about the power of cults, the Falconers are not prepared for what they find deep in the fire-ravaged forests of B.C. …
The Shield of Falconer is part of the Harley Firebird contemporary fantasy series, which is set in the same fantasy world as Taylen Carver’s Magorian & Jones series.
1.0: The Dragon of Falconer
2.0: The Orc Who Cried
3.0: The Shepherd of Fire
4.0: The Mad Folk of Falconer
5.0: The Badge of Our Tribe
5.5: Harley Firebird Files (Collection)
6.0: The Firebird’s Regret
7.0: The Angel Who Wasn’t
8.0: The Shield of Falconer
…and more to come.
Contemporary Fantasy Novel
Praise for Taylen Carver’s fantasy:
Plenty of exciting twists and turns.
Feel the tingling of danger, the aha’s of escaping death, and the excitement of magic
I loved this and will continue on with the series.
A very satisfying first book for a new series
blends the paranormal and the thriller/suspense you expect in a who done it crime story
Love the heroine
The story is filled with many interesting characters, and I’m sure throughout the series we will learn more about them and their new Sheriff and I can’t wait to read all about them.
The author packs this short story with plenty of action and suspense.
Do yourself a big favor and be sure to read the entire series.
The only drawback – I want to read more of this fantastical world-building, and I want to read it now.
Okay, the author really got me on this one… this one surprised the heck out of me
this world and the characters in it are fascinating and I want more, more, more.
I love all the surprises Falconer and it’s residents give us, good or bad
this one was much longer, allowing me to sink deeper into the story and dream longer
I will eagerly buy anything that this author produces as I like his writing style
I absolutely love the world Taylen Carver created- so unique!
The Shield of Falconer is available for pre-order everywhere. It will be released on Stories Rule Press in two weeks’ time (November 23rd), and on all other retailers on February 22, 2024.