2: RETURN OF THE GUARDIAN

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"Alright, Skye. Hold still!"

Xera's voice lilts and flows with the delicate speech of the Yeva'si. She tugs at my hair with a practised hand. I clench my teeth as she pulls a little too roughly in order to make a tight braid. My shapeshifter friend seems to be weaving pieces of something into my hair, and I long to see what it looks like.

"I'm trying."

At first, I was having trouble understanding the language of the Yeva'si. I hadn't spoken this tongue before, at least not in this life. But they were patient with me. By requesting that they speak slowly, and attempting to vocalize the words myself within the confines of my tent, my brain gradually remembered what it was like to be fluent. Sejka's memories – conveyed to me in my dreams – helped, too.

My heart soars with excitement at my new knowledge. In fact, I don't know how many languages the spirit of the Ru-Yeva was exposed to over the years. Aelshen and Sejka had spoken to each other in the 'Old Language' – an archaic form of Scottish Gaelic. But the Guardian of Nature had been reborn among all kinds of people. She must have picked up a multitude of languages by now. It's up to me to find out.

"Ru-Skye! Are you listening to me?" Xunnu's impatient voice interjects into my thoughts. He has begun adding the prefix 'Ru' to my name, indicating my status as Guardian of the Yeva'si people.

"Huh?" I mumble, blinking twice to get my mind re-acquainted with the present time.

"I said you will have to be strong, Skye. You have to remember these people are expecting a goddess. They are expecting you to be all that they are not. They are expecting you to be their Guardian."

Xunnu draws himself up to his full height, chest swelling with pride as he admires Xera's handiwork.

"Perfect, niece. She looks as she should."

Xera dips her head in gratitude for the compliment, and I manage a fake smile. My hands shake with anticipation.

They are expecting a goddess.

"Oh. Great. I didn't think I could get any more nervous," I mutter.

"What was that?"

"Nothing. Xunnu?"

"Yes?"

"Why do I have to do this now? Can't it wait until I can remember how I'm supposed to—"

"No. You must do it today. Our people have waited long enough for this," Xunnu informs me, grasping his greying hair and pulling it into a tight and orderly ponytail at his back.

The Yeva'si chieftain is bedecked with a long beaded cloak similar to the one I wear – the one that once belonged to Sejka.

How I miss the old woman. How I wish she had never given up the title of Ru-Yeva. I don't deserve it. I should have died that night as we battled the Covenant in the light of the blood moon, but she had sacrificed herself so I could live on.

GUARDIAN  |  Book 2 of the Spirits' War Trilogy [excerpt]Where stories live. Discover now