Author Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of HEARTLESS, VEILED ROSE, MOONBLOOD, and STARFLOWER, with DRAGONWITCH due to release in 2013. HEARTLESS and VEILED ROSE have each been honored with a Christy Award.
When a cursed dragon-witch kidnaps the lovely Lady Gleamdren, Eanrin sets boldly forth on a rescue mission…and a race against his rival for Gleamdren’s favor. Intent upon his quest, the last thing the immortal Faerie needs is to become mixed up with the troubles of an insignificant mortal.
But when he stumbles upon a maiden trapped in an enchanted sleep, he cannot leave her alone in the dangerous Wood Between. One waking kiss later, Eanrin suddenly finds his story entangled with that of young Starflower. A strange link exists between this mortal girl and the dragon-witch. Will Starflower prove the key to Lady Gleamdren’s rescue? Or will the dark power from which she flees destroy both her and her rescuer?
The River Calls to Starflower
The trees drew back from the girl as she fled. They dared not interfere while she walked that Path, no matter how they might wish to. She took no notice of them. how long has she fled now? Had it been one night, or days and weeks of this nightmare? And always the howls pounded her memory.
Suddenly, the howls vanished. A new voice spoke from the gloom.
Come to me, pretty maid.
The girl stopped, swaying where she stood, on the verge of collapsing. Slowly, as though she dared not hope to find what she sought, she turned her head to the left. Between the trees a river sparkled like a ribbon of pure light and sweetness.
Her thirst was overwhelming. Even the snarls faded from her mind, replaced by the river’s voice, babbling, gurgling, inviting. Come to me, pretty maid, it said, though she heard only the voice of water.
Her feet left bloodstains on the moss and rocks as she hastened down to the river’s edge. A glint of gold shimmered in the tail of her eye, shining even in the Wood’s oppressive shadows. She ignored it. Falling to her knees on the bank of the water, she plunged both hands in. The water stung her wrists where the harsh cords had bitten into her skin.
Drink deeply. Drink.
The water flowed about her arms, fresh and alive, and the sounds of its flowing filled her ears. She cupped her hands and lifted the cooling liquid to her lips. She drank.
One long, shuddering breath. Then she fell upon the bank, one arm extended into the water, the other upon the shore. Her black hair covered her face, and the River ran his fingers through the ends of it, pulling, pulling.
Sleep deeply. Sleep, said the River.