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Fae's Return

Fae's Return

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A dangerous voyage.

The last hope for a kingdom on the edge of destruction.

Tia’s family awaits her return, but Keir doesn’t want to let her go. And the fae of Lenya hope their leaders can conquer the storm and reach the foreign shores in time. Because that’s all they have left.


Main Tropes

  • Fae Romance
  • Portal Fantasy
  • Hate To Love
  • Fade to Black
  • Warring Kingdoms
  • Lost Magic


A dangerous voyage. 

The last hope for a kingdom on the edge of destruction. 

Tia O’Shea is finally going home. It’s all she’s wanted since her arrival in the strange land, and yet, leaving Lenya feels like abandoning her heart and the one who holds it. But all of Lenya is in danger. 

The fire plains encroach upon their lands, destroying villages and the fae within them. Soon, there won’t be anything left of the place she’s come to love. Not without the crystals that provide the only magic the Lenyans have. The same crystals that are in short supply. The same crystals that lie in abundance across the four kingdoms on the other side of the fire plains. 

To reach them, they have to find a way home. And that means traversing the violent maelstrom beyond the Vale of Storms—a voyage no sailor has ever survived and few have attempted. If they stay, they will die. If they leave, they will also likely die, but they have to try. 

Tia’s family awaits her return, but Keir doesn’t want to let her go. And the fae of Lenya hope their leaders can conquer the storm and reach the foreign shores in time. Because that’s all they have left. 



Life wasn’t always fair. There was no way to change the unchangeable, no way to alter a future that was set in stone. 

These were the thoughts on Tierney O’Shea’s mind as she sat in the mouth of a cave with the giant network of mountain caverns the people of Grima had built over the centuries at her back. Her legs dangled off the edge of a steep drop-off. One wrong move and she’d crash against the rocks below, tumbling toward the sheer fall into the turbulent seas. 

Somewhere in the distance was a fishing village, where Grimian people bundled in furs to brave the rocky seas, never venturing close enough to the Vale of Storms to even catch a glimpse of the churning maelstrom beyond that dangerous corridor. There was a point out there, far beyond the white caps. A point no fae could survive traveling past. 

Yet, they’d planned to. 

A chill raced up Tierney’s spine, and she pulled the fur Bronagh had given her tighter around her shoulders. The wind up here was unrelenting in its iciness. Yet, to Tierney, it felt good. The cold. The snow-topped mountains. The ice hanging from her eyelashes. 

It felt like home. 

She closed her eyes, picturing the white fields of Iskalt, the frozen lakes, and the cold stone palace. Home was just a far-off fantasy now during the day, and a haunted nightmare every time she tried to sleep. 

Their one chance of reaching those jagged shores was reduced to ash, burned up by the heat of the fire plains. Soon, they’d expand across all of Lenya. 

Soon, there would be nothing left of her or the people she’d come to love here. 

The ship had been a desperate attempt to reach Iskalt, a dangerous journey that would have provided one last chance to return home and save a kingdom. But for all she knew, if they’d boarded the ship built to brave the maelstrom, they’d have still ended up at the bottom of the endless depths. 

A sigh escaped her lips, her breath releasing in a fog in front of her face. 

She could already see signs of the encroaching fire plains in the distance. No one knew how long it would take the unseen force to reach this far up into the mountains, but a trickle of water ran the length of the stone beside her. She dipped one finger into the dampness, feeling the melting ice for herself. 

“You shouldn’t sit so close to the edge.” Keir’s gruff voice shouldn’t have surprised her. He was always telling her what to do, what not to do. 

“If you do not wish to see me fall, go back inside to warm yourself by your precious hearth.” He’d hardly left the fires since their arrival the week before. Unlike her, he hadn’t been bred to withstand the cold, to brave icy winds and damp feet. 

“Are you going to jump?”

She snorted a laugh, the harsh sound foreign to her ears. That wasn’t how she laughed. There was no joy in it. “Does it matter?” 


One corner of her mouth curved up. “Well, hate to disappoint, but I have no plans of tumbling to my death.”



“Yes.” He lowered himself to sit on the bare stone a considerable distance back from Tierney and her daring ledge. 

They’d barely spoken since their way to Iskalt was destroyed. 

“I could really use some magic right about now.” She scooted back and pulled her knees in to hug them to her chest. 

“Is the great Iskalt princess cold? I thought ice ran in your veins.”

Tierney shot him a scowl. “I’m not cold. But I am hungry. Do they ever eat anything here besides fish?” 

“Grima is a fishing kingdom.”

“Yes, but can’t they also be something else? We’re in the mountains. I’m sure there is plenty to hunt.” 

He frowned. “Sometimes, I forget how little you know of Lenya.” 

“Oh please then, inform me, great wise one.” Tierney wasn’t in the mood for lessons from Keir. She wasn’t in the mood for anything from him. They stood on unstable ground, both trying to forget everything that happened to them back in Vondur. 

Keir let out a huff of exasperation, a sound she’d realized he reserved only for her. Something about that forced her to hide a smile. 

“There used to be crystal mines in the mountains,” Keir said. “They were probably the deepest and most prosperous in all of Lenya. That wealth, that magic, is how they were able to build such intricate networks of caves without our knowing. I’m guessing this is where they came after we captured their palace.”

“What does this have to do with food?” 

“A few years ago, my father mounted an expedition to destroy the mountain mines. If he couldn’t abscond with the crystals, he didn’t want Grima to have them.”

“But … by then, he must have known Lenya was running low, that one day magic would disappear from the kingdom altogether.” 

Keir nodded. “He led one battle at a time. I did not accompany this unit of men, but the story when they returned was that the mines were gone, and …”

“And what?”

“The best way to beat an army is to cut off their food supply.”

“No.” She could tell exactly where this was going. 

“There is a river that runs down the mountain, providing water to every spring, every lake. My father used a totem to infuse poison into the very land around it so it would leech into the water continuously.”

“But the Grimians have magic too.”

“To my knowledge, they never figured out what the source of the poison was. But it destroyed the animal population.” 

Tierney released her knees, resting back on her hands and staring out into the sea. “But the river runs to the sea, and the fish—"

“I do not know exactly, but we always suspect the water dispersing prevented high enough concentrations to affect the sea.” 

Tierney closed her eyes, saying a silent prayer for the vast amount of creatures killed by that vile man. It was worse than she’d imagined. “How can the Grimian people stand to work with Vondurians, even if it means saving their kingdom?” 

Keir didn’t respond to that. 

Tierney knew being here wasn’t easy for him. The Grimians stayed mostly away from him, casting suspicious looks. He was unwelcomed, unwanted. And yet, he was still here. For now. Soon, he’d return to his palace to prepare his fae for what was coming. 

And Tierney wouldn’t go with him. She’d already made that decision. Her place was not in Vondur. 

“Wait.” She turned to meet his gaze. “If the mountain water is poisoned with magic, how then do these caverns survive?” 

He pushed to his feet and turned. 

“You’re just going to leave when I asked you a question?” 

He looked back at her and quirked a brow. “Are you coming?”

“Oh.” She scrambled to her feet. “I guess. Following you into the depths of a cave beats jumping.”

“I’m flattered.” His mouth flattened into a thin line. 

Tierney couldn’t resist a smile as she followed. Whatever happened between them, whatever they’d never be to each other, having him here, for the time being, was still a comfort. 

Fresh, icy air quickly turned to a damp cold that sank into her bones, the kind of cold she rarely even felt in Iskalt. No velvet carpets spanned the stone floor to provide the illusion of warmth; no colorful tapestries adorned the walls. 

Only a few torches hung along the walls when they passed what was called the gathering space. It was the one cavern big enough for meetings and announcements. Now, only a few servants rushed through it to get from one section of the caverns to another. 

Keir took one of the torches off the wall and led Tierney into a part of the caves she hadn’t yet explored. All light faded until only their torch illuminated the way. 

Before long, she heard the distinct sound of water hitting stone. The walls grew bright as they neared the noise, almost sparkling like … Her eyes widened. Like crystals were infused right into the stone. 

As soon as Tierney stepped through the low archway, she felt it. The magic. A rushing stream flowed from a gap in the wall, hitting a pile of rocks before tumbling into a pool of water. 

“Keir,” Tierney whispered. 

“I know,” he said. “I was surprised when I found it. The water is like our healing pools, with crystals embedded in the stone beneath. I think that’s what keeps it free of the poison.” 

Tierney stepped to the edge and bent to dip her hands into the water, feeling the power snake up her skin. She closed her eyes, remembering what it was like to have full control over this kind of magic, how empowering it was. How strong it made her feel. 

“Be careful,” Keir warned as her toes rocked on the edge. 

Tierney didn’t open her eyes, but her lips curled into a smile. “Careful is the opposite of what we need. Don’t you ever just want to feel it, Keir?”

“Feel what?” 

“The magic.”

“I do.” She could picture his brow furrowing in confusion and agitation. 

“No.” She rotated her hand, not wanting to ever leave this behind. “You use your magic when you need to. It’s a battle weapon for you. But sometimes, you have to just feel it, to let it live inside you.”

“You speak of it as if it’s a living thing.” 

“Isn’t it?” Maybe his power was different since it came from an object outside of himself, but she didn’t think so. “When you use your power, do you feel invincible?”

“Invincibility is a dangerous concept in war.” 

She shook her head and opened her eyes to see her hand dipping in and out of the crystal-clear water. “War is not all of life, Keir. There are things beyond the battlefield that can cause us greater pain.”

“Tell that to those who never leave that battlefield.”

She did not want to discuss the tragedies of war with a king who knew nothing else, but she would have rather died fighting for Iskalt than live in exile far away from the land she loved. 

* * *

Keir didn’t speak to Tierney again before he left her in the peace of a magic she could touch but not control. Maybe this was a lesson, the greatest of her life. For so long, she’d trained to always have a handle on the power inside her, to not let it take control of her. 

But magic was to be respected, revered. Not used as revenge against her brothers, as a way to get what she wanted. In Lenya, they could only use it when it mattered most. Yet, in Iskalt, it was incorporated into every area of life. 

Was that wrong?

She was still sitting in the room with the strange underground spring when Gulliver skidded in, his tail flicking in excitement. “Good; Keir said I’d find you here.” 

Tierney shot to her feet. “Has something happened? What’s wrong?”

The smile on his face allayed her fear. “Nothing is wrong, Tia.”

“Then, what is it? Spit it out.” 

“Eavha. She’s here.”

“What?” Tierney started toward the door. “Keir left her in charge of Vondur. What in the name of magic would she be doing in the Grima mountains?”

“Maybe she came to finally make Keir go home. Wouldn’t that be great?”

Tierney couldn’t help laughing at Gulliver’s eagerness to be rid of the grumpy king. “We can hope.” Something heavy settled in her stomach, as cold as these stone walls. 

Gulliver continued chatting, but as they reached the gathering space, Tierney left him behind to seek out a certain disobedient princess. 

She found Eavha standing with her brother, waiting for Bronagh’s arrival. 

“What’s going on?” Tierney asked. 

Eavha grinned when she saw her. “I never thought I’d see you again.” She yanked Tierney into a hug. 

Tierney patted her back and pulled away. “Okay, but will someone please explain why you’re here?”

“We received word about what happened to your ship,” she said. 

Keir nodded. “I had Bronagh send a messenger on our way here.”

Eavha continued, “I know my brother, so I knew he wouldn’t come home quite yet, not until he figured out a way to try to save both Vondur and Grima. I want to help.”

“But you’re supposed to be leading Vondur.”

“I told her not to come,” Declan grumbled nearby. “But does she ever listen to me?”

Eavha rolled her eyes. “I left Lord Robert in charge. He’ll do better than me anyway. Acting as the queen was sort of constricting.”

Tierney couldn’t fault her for that. She worried she’d feel the same when her father’s crown fell to her. 

Fae flooded the room, dressed in the furs they’d worn since arriving at the caves. Tierney didn’t miss the way they eyed the Vondurians—Eavha, Declan, and their guards. She didn’t miss the tension pulled taut across the crowd. 

Grima and Vondur were enemies, fighting for generations. Now, suddenly, they were supposed to work together to fight a new enemy, one that had no beating heart. 

“I don’t like this,” Gulliver whispered. 

Tierney didn’t either. How long would the truce last? It didn’t matter if Keir and Bronagh had developed a tentative trust when their people only knew one another across a bloody battlefield. 

“Vermin,” a Grimian soldier spat. 

Eavha turned on her heel, her eyes finding the man. She was about to open her mouth when Tierney clamped a hand down on her arm. “Don’t. That’s Captain Norix.”

“And why should he be allowed to speak to me in such a way?” Said like a princess who’d only truly known a life of ease. 

Tierney had been in war. She saw what it did to fae, no matter their side. “He lost three sons and a brother to the battles with Vondur.” 

Eavha’s entire body froze and, when she turned to Tierney, there were tears in her eyes. “I … that’s so sad.”

“That’s war,” Keir said. “War is sad.” 

An older gentleman walked toward them with the grace of a much younger man. Tierney hadn’t yet met the Grimian swordmaster, but she’d heard stories of the Vondurian warrior who had switched his allegiance. He’d seen what Tierney saw. The Vondurians fought for supremacy. The Grimians fought to survive. 

“Your Majesty.” Daniel bowed to Keir. “I only just arrived with a fresh wave of troops and was surprised to hear you’d come.” There was a question in his gaze. 

Keir looked like he wanted to run away right then, like facing the man who’d taught him how to be the warrior he’d become was too much.

“Daniel.” Declan stepped forward. “It is good to be on the same side once again.”

The swordmaster’s weathered face stretched into a grin. “Declan. Boy, you’ve grown.”

“General, now.”

“General? Well, I always knew the status of your birth wouldn’t hold you back. I’m glad your king here saw the same as me.” 

His king. A deliberate separation from Vondur. Daniel was making it known Keir was not his sovereign. 

Murmuring surrounded them among the crowd waiting for the king. Most of them were soldiers, men and women who’d followed Bronagh from the palace, waiting for their next move. There were also servants, cooks, and a few children. 

And none of them liked their revered swordmaster conversing with the enemy. 

Enough was enough. Tierney grabbed Eavha’s hand. “We’re going to see what’s taking Bronagh so long.” She ignored the gasps at her informality. 

Keir stepped forward. “Maybe I should—”

“No.” Tierney pinned him with a look. “You stay right there.” She yanked on Eavha’s arm. 

As they walked away, she heard Keir’s voice. “I’m still a king, right?”

“Tierney, wait.” 

Tierney turned so fast Eavha crashed into her. “Are you going to tell me why you’re really here? Your brother might buy the whole seeking adventure thing, but I know there’s more.” 

“There’s no—”

“Don’t lie to me, Eavha Dagnan.” 

Eavha sighed. “Fine. When we received the messenger who told us you and Keir were here, Declan and I got worried.”

“He didn’t really try to stop you, did he?”

“Do you think he’d actually believe he could?”

“Good point.” One bright spot of staying in Lenya … not losing Eavha. It didn’t make up for missing Toby, but it soothed some of the burn. 

“We brought our best warriors with us as guards.”

Tierney still didn’t understand, and it must have shown on her face. 

“Tia, my brother, the king of Vondur, is in a Grimian stronghold with few fae who would support him should they need to. He is vulnerable and alone among the enemy.”

“Grima is not—”

“They have always been our enemy. I want this truce to hold too, but I do not trust them. Certainly not with my brother’s life.” 

“So, you came to protect him.” The picture cleared, and Tierney couldn’t say it didn’t warm her a bit. 

“Yes. At least, we brought him more guards, but they wouldn’t have gained entrance without my presence.” 

Tierney leaned back against the wall. “What will Bron think of you bringing armed fae into the caverns?”

Another voice joined them. “Bron will think the princess was being smart.” Tierney turned to find the queen herself walking toward them. “My fae do not trust Vondur. Nothing I have done or said has changed their opinions. I do not want anyone getting ideas about restarting this war. Protecting Keir is the best way to prevent that.” 

“My thoughts exactly,” Eavha agreed.

Tierney wanted to believe that if she was stuck in Lenya, at least she could live with the Grimian people. She could make a home with Gullie. But if they hurt Keir, no matter how much he aggravated her, that was something she wasn’t sure she could move past. After everything that happened, he’d become a sort of friend, one she too wanted to protect.

Bronagh turned to Tierney, echoing her thoughts. “I don’t think he’s safe here. And with your association, neither are you.”

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