Excerpt – When War Returns

Book 3 – The Beta-Earth Chronicles series

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Malcolm: No one could share the experience we witnessed at Crater Bergarten and walk away without being filled with nearly overwhelming wonder. How could anyone not feel awe as hundreds of us, hand-in-hand, brown, blue, and one more or less red skin, surrounded that ghastly grave that had been my birthplace, at least as far as Beta-Earth was concerned? How could anyone not feel the hope of change despite the stench of rotting refuse rising from the bottom of that terrible pit?

Of course, Tribe Renbourn had just spent a year of nearly equally overwhelming changes. On one hand, our longtime advisor, Oja Bolvair, had legally bonded herself to our family as she feared her death was imminent from the Body-That-Eats-Itself, but serums drawn from my blood, or that of my children, had cured her. Strangely, she angered and resented not dying. We couldn’t understand this rage at all.

On the other hand, once the even more enraged Kin Salk learned his sister, Kalma, was destined to bond with me, Kin murdered my former wife, Bar, and himself in a fatal protest against the abomination of a brown woman sharing flesh with a light-skin.

So we had come to the Bergarten crater just after witnessing two funerals and the joining of the Renbourn and Salk tribes, events that set in motion great changes in the country of Balnakin, yet these events weren’t the only concerns for my family. Moments after the astonishing ceremony around the crater came to a close, we learned the peculiar news that Balnakin security guards, their Secops, and our own special guardian, Noriah of the Willing Horse, had wrestled teams of would-be Arasad assassins to the ground during the ceremony. It seemed more than strange Arasad kept sending these inept agents after us, filling us with dread and accomplishing nothing but keeping us wary, alert, on guard. Of course, they only had to be successful once. Still, even such revelations could not distract Tribe Renbourn from the profound healing for our family, one tortured city, one divided country.

As we boarded our ship, the Barbara Blue, to sail home and depart Balnakin once again, my family also learned the power of that healing had revealed troubling new prophecies. Yes, Lorei had been given new haunting visions. In her mystic eye, she had seen a blonde-haired wild cub with the power to destroy us. She had seen a bearded-Prince grasping for us and then pulling back, his face full of horror, and stinking blood dripping from his fingers. She had seen an island and then a larger island and a large fleet of ships seeking new homes.

Yet, she wasn’t the only one granted mystical foreknowledge. From the spirit world, the realm Prim Mica Brann had reached for when she tore me from Alpha Earth, the ghost of the murdered Bar Tine Renbourn Sofig appeared to her sister Joline. Bar said she was now our “spy in the sky,” her joke for me which told us we now had a guardian from the spirits looking over us.

Not all the harbingers of our future were so other-worldly. In another irony, Balnakin ships escorted us into international waters when an Alman submersible took over protection duties. Symbolically, the sub mostly remained unseen under the waves, a constant reminder that Alma desired the Renboums to make their country our new home. Why? What were their expectations? We had much to reflect on as we began yet another Philosea crossing.

We also had much to ground us, if that is the right term for a water journey, during this unhurried cruise back to Kirip. For one matter, at long-last Doret released her first, her precious, tiny, tiny daughter, Malet. Holding the smallest of all Renbourns in my lap, I was flooded with a renewed need to protect all my innocent children. Holding Malet made me decide that my tribe needed a Helprim of our own, a healer for our family with no connections to the Munchen Collective and their mixed motives.

Then, there was the pearl-loving Kalma, my new Balnakin wife, energized by her Bergarten bonding. Her breath-taking, incomparable chest and insistent lips and thighs often left one mere mortal male in exhausted, vanquished peace as we laid listening to the endless, pure conversation of the sea.

Nothing is more grounding than a herd of growing heirs running over every inch of our our almost overcrowded ship. These children had seen too much in so few years. There were the Hearthstone-born school-agers, Loes, Morei, Bethmal, Malbet, Jolcolm, and my special one, Becky, the girl born in defiance of Olos, the daughter named after my Alphan birth-mother. What did these minds understand of our lives in Rhasvi, our trials in the land of their birth, then our times in Kirip, and especially the death of Becky’s mother, Bar, so few arcs past? I didn’t know if I should just laugh or worry when they’d pop up on the main deck, brandish imaginary oracle rings, and zap imaginary Arasad pirates into the sea.

Then there were the Kirip-born Sikas, Qere, Malnenia, Holjo and Pere, the son now more attached to Joline than his own birth-mother, the mysterious Oja. I loved their squeals of delight when they looked out at sea and watched a tall-necked Bosarm sticking its creepy natural one-eyed periscope in the air, looking back at the young ones as if they could be lured into joining it for lunch.

Now, little Malet was a member of our congregation. No doubt, more were to come, assuming I survived the nights I was scizzored between Kalma’s strong muscled, limber, athletic legs. If I didn’t survive, they could just feed my remains to that Bosarm.

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