Sun & Moon Academy Book One: Fall Semester releases in a week! The authors truly outdid themselves with this first book in the spinoff supernatural academy series. There’s adventure, mystery, thrills and chills, and romance, too. Each story is excellent in its own right, but they all come together in a sweeping tale that will leave you breathless until the end. Readers are calling it epic and it really is.
Interest piqued? Here’s a sneak peek for Teaser Tuesday:
The wooden box sat innocuously on the bed. It hadn’t been there moments before, but nobody had delivered it either. It just simply appeared out of thin air. No bigger than a small jewelry box, it was made of plain, dark wood with no obvious openings. Only a wooden disk adorned the top of it, in the shape of a sun and a moon.
With a twist of the disk, the seemingly solid wood began to shift and move into pieces. A puzzle box! It was an old-fashioned puzzle box. The pieces slid apart and to the side, rotating and shifting until there was an opening.
Inside lay a black crystal, shimmering and sparkling with aether—a special kind of magical energy. A substance known by some to be in the waters of the great Havenwood Falls and had, at least at one time, been within Mount Alexa.
A simple touch to the crystal—but only by the intended person—resulted in a shower of purple sparks followed by the magical, holographic-like image of a miniature Valkyrie rising into the air. With her sword in hand and her wings spread out behind her, she danced and twirled, swinging and swishing her blade, carving purple fire into the air. After a moment, the purple fire formed words that floated upward, one line at a time:
Congratulations! You’ve been selected for admission to the Sun & Moon Academy College of Supernatural Guardians, where you will be trained to become a future protector and warrior for the supernatural community around the globe. Do you choose to accept?
Standing at the corner of First Street and Blackstone Road in Havenwood Falls, Colorado, I looked down at my hands cradling the wooden puzzle box. The small keepsake appeared harmless enough, but had the power to change lives.
And two hundred other supernaturals about my age.
Well, at least, the age I appeared to be. Or they appeared to be. Whatever. Supes were weird and sometimes hard to explain.
Tucking the box into my backpack and hitching the strap over my shoulder, I crossed the street and traveled down a nearly hidden driveway. Just a little ways in were stone and metal gates, manned by guards, although the gates were currently open. Too many cars and people flowed through right now.
The full moon spilled its light over the stone driveway that climbed upward to the Sun and Moon Academy at the edge of town, near the great falls. The school had been here for over a hundred years, educating some of the local supernaturals from childhood through high school. I’d been in Havenwood Falls when it first opened, but hadn’t been back much since then.
The students entering through the archway and into the courtyard beyond, however, weren’t here to attend the historical K-12 private school. We weren’t, I mean. Not at 11:30 on a Friday night. We were here for the new college. According to my acceptance message, this was not our campus.
Our campus was in a mountain. Go figure.
I followed a stream of students through an archway that led into a courtyard, which was quickly filling up. More than half the students waiting to enter the school wore pajamas or some kind of sleepwear. Several outfits were questionably decent. I myself tended to choose comfort and function over style, currently clad in sage cargo pants, a gold tunic, and my favorite Doc Martens, because my All-Stars were easier to carry in my backpack. My blond dreads and braids were pulled up into a massive ponytail, out of my face.
Everyone here had presumably received a wooden puzzle box like mine, announcing our admission to the brand new College of Supernatural Guardians. Once we accepted, a second compartment had opened up, revealing a tightly rolled scroll with instructions and a supply list. We’d been given barely more than forty-eight hours to get our shit together and show up.
While I only had my backpack, many students carried, pushed, and pulled suitcases, carts, and wagons full of stuff. Didn’t they see the note on the scroll about the wooden box being a portal for belongings? I mean, how could they miss it when the box itself grew to the size of a large trunk? I didn’t have any belongings beyond what fit in my backpack, so I hadn’t tried it. Apparently, neither had many of the other students. Or perhaps they ran out of time. When I woke up this morning, the box had shrunk back to its normal size, the portal closed.
I didn’t know anyone here, like some of the students did, those who had grown up in Havenwood Falls or were lucky enough to come with a best friend or sibling. I knew aboutnearly all of them, though. A special gift of mine—knowing. A gift of many deities, such as myself. Not that I was omniscient. Gads, no. I didn’t want to know everything. But when you lived as long and as many life renditions as I had, you learned to read people.
Of course, I’d also been briefed about many of the students by my recruiter, who’d invited me here on a special mission. One nobody could ever know about. One I wasn’t sure I even wanted to be a part of yet, but I was so intrigued by the idea of the school, I agreed as long as I could come as a student, an experience I’d yet to have in this rendition of myself.
So yeah, I knew things.
Like about the twins, Brielle and Elliana Knight, and Charleigh Wotsit, their cousin and BFF, but also their protector. They weren’t from this world, having crossed dimensions and been given special permission to attend by the Court of the Sun and the Moon, the true leaders of Havenwood Falls and founders of the college. The dark haired twins—angel hybrids—and their witch friend, with her bright orange hair sparking in the moonlight, stood off to the side. They didn’t know anybody else, either, but at least they had each other.
Loud laughter rang from the far side of the fountain, where Joe Greg, a Havenwood Falls High graduate and wolf shifter, stood with his girlfriend, Infiniti Clausman, newly designated transhuman, and other members of the Kasun pack. Chatter came from a few feet farther over, where more HFH graduates gathered, but to the side stood Roxy McCabe with a crapload of stuff piled into a collapsible wagon.
Not even eighteen yet, Roxy had already had a hard life, and it was a surprise the cougar shifter made it here at all, considering her past. Between abuse by her own family, a coup that killed most of her pride, and a cross-country escape, the cougar was damn lucky to be alive. Whether she made it through college or not only time would tell.
Speaking of . . .
I pulled my phone out and glanced at the time: 11:48 p.m. The scroll had directed:
Present yourself at the Sun and Moon Academy Falls Campus courtyard fountain at precisely 11:49 p.m. on the 16th day of August or your opportunity will be forever lost.
And exactly one minute later, everything started happening.
The gathered crowd began moving toward the side of the large, gothic building ahead, so I fell into place and went with the stream. We entered a room about the size of a standard classroom, where Addie Beaumont, a powerful witch, and others were checking people’s wrists, apparently for the tattoos that had appeared upon acceptance of the admissions offer. Beyond them were three arched frames that looked like mirrors, but precisely at 11:59 p.m., magic began spinning in colorful streaks within the frames, creating portals.
Excitement buzzed through the air as students started filtering through.
When I realized I was in Addie’s line, I looked about, trying to see if I had a better option. Shit. Everyone checking the tattoos were members of the Luna Coven. They would all be a risk, but none as much as Addie. The lines moved too quickly, though, and if I tried to change now and disrupt the flow, I’d only stand out more.
When I stopped at Addie, she peered at me over her black-framed glasses with a frown and tilted her head, her sandy brown hair spilling over her shoulder and the light catching on the diamond in her nose. “I’m sorry. I, uh, I’ve forgotten your name.”
I offered her a smile, trying to warm her up. This wasn’t normal for her. As the person who registered all supes who came to Havenwood Falls, she knew everyone.
“No worries. You’ve registered a lot of new people in recent weeks,” I said. “I’m Rhian Delaney.”
I held my wrist out to her, the tattoo of the school’s crest face up.
“Oh, well, I guess you’re meant to be here if you have that,” Addie said, and she placed her fingers on it, her brows still pinched. I knew the moment she realized the truth, her magic zinging through me. “Oh, my Goddess!” she gasped, bowing her head but looking up at me through her lashes. “Is it really you, Rhiannon?”
I held a finger to my lips.
“Please keep my secret?” I whispered conspiratorially. Witches were often drawn to me, being a goddess of the moon and all, but I didn’t want to be treated differently because of it. Especially not here. I wanted an authentic experience like the rest of the students.
Looking around to see if anyone had noticed, Addie nodded. But as her fingers remained pressed against my skin, she frowned again. No doubt the hellhound within her—the part that protected the dead—sensed something it didn’t like. When she looked at me now, a steely hardness had replaced the worship that had been in her eyes only moments ago. I sighed. I didn’t want that experience, either.
“Your darker side—you cannot use it here,” she warned.
“I’m well aware. It’s not exactly my favorite part of myself.”
Her eyes narrowed. “I’ll be watching you.”
“As I’d expect.” I gave her another smile, as sweet as I possibly could and just as genuine. I wanted nothing more than to convince her that I would not be a problem, and my wispy stature, fae-like facial features, and large blue eyes helped to convey my message.
She finally nodded and infused more magic into my tattoo.
“That little boost should help you keep your secret. You’re good to go, Rhian.” She said my name Ryan, as most Americans did, unable to exactly replicate my pronunciation. “By the way, I love your accent. Irish?”
“Aye,” I replied.
“Well, welcome to Halvard. I’ll see you on campus.” She sounded friendly again, but I heard the slightest edge in her voice—another warning, in case I missed the first.
“I look forward to it.”
And the next thing I knew, I was passing through the portal that rippled like a pond after a stone was thrown. Magical energy rushed around me, tickling over my skin, and a moment later, I stepped into a round vestibule, a twelve-foot tall Valkyrie statue in its center. She stood proudly grasping her sword’s hilt in one fist, its blade pointed downward, the tip not quite touching the base of the statue. Her other hand was held out, palm up, a purple flame blazing in it, the main source of light in the dark space. There was just enough to illuminate the domed ceiling of the vestibule and the columns and archways on the far side of the statue, but not enough to see beyond. Above three of these archways was engraved the word HALVARD.
I smiled to myself. Halvard was a Norse name meaning rock guardian. Knowing what I did, I wasn’t too surprised to see it, nor the Valkyrie statue. It did all tickle a suspicion, though, that I kept at the back of my mind.
“Hey, Vid, she looks like your mom.” The comment drew my attention to the two men standing on the other side of the statue.
Tyr Skollson looked like the demigod he was, even in sweatpants and a band T-shirt stretching over his taut muscles. He played with the piercing under his lower lip as he eyed his dark-skinned friend.
Vidar Sveen studied the statue with a thin line forming between his black brows. He ran a hand through his tiny dreadlocks, shaking them out as he did so. “Actually I’m pretty sure that’s Aunt Hrist.”
Tyr rocked back on his heels, tossing a long, dark braid over a shoulder. “Do you think she’s here?”
“Gods, I hope not.” The other guy’s entire body shuddered. “She’s still disappointed I didn’t die at Midsummer.”
With students pouring out of the portals, we couldn’t stop to gawk for long, so again, I followed the crowd. We exited the vestibule through archways on the far side, and everyone paused again, breaths audibly catching at the sight. The crowd had to keep moving, though, so we took it all in as we shuffled forward, some with mouths gaping at the sight and others whispering with their friends. And more than one loud “Holy shit!” that made others snicker.
The school looked like something out of a fantasy movie. We’d entered an enormous cavern—at least thirty or forty stories tall, and I had no idea how deep, but large enough to fit a small college campus, apparently. The path we followed led to a bridge that crossed a chasm, and at the other end was an archway that opened up to what appeared to be the main part of campus.
Huge stalagmites rose many stories into the air, and some had met stalactites from above, creating columns as big as city office buildings. Tall, arched windows and doorways had been beautifully carved into the structures, yellow light spilling out of them. It looked like a palace that could have belonged in Faerie, or perhaps in a kingdom of another world.
With the architecture’s style combined with all the Norse references, I had a feeling I knew exactly which world—that of my recruiter. She was an old friend, really. Extremely old. We’d known each other for eons, over many renditions of ourselves. She’d sent me a message about the college, giving me the mission I wasn’t sure I wanted, yet here I was. My suspicions about her involvement with the school were becoming more grounded, and I’d only been here five minutes.
As we crossed the bridge—its near side flanked by two more Valkyrie statues—I glanced over the short stone wall along its edge, finding a river about thirty feet below us. It was too dark to see where the river led. At the far end of the bridge, we passed through the archway and came into a wide courtyard. The largest structure loomed straight across from us, at least a hundred yards broad and rising about thirty or so feet high before the stalagmite split into three branches that stretched hundreds of feet upward. Other buildings, for lack of a better word, appeared almost attached to the main one, they were so close together. As we approached, I realized only one was actually connected, though, the one to the left. Chasms separated the others. They connected to the courtyard and to each other by bridges, some dozens, even hundreds, of feet from the ground.
Tables filled the center of the courtyard, each one with letters magically hanging over them.
“Last name, you think?” Roxy’s voice carried from where she stood, studying the cavern.
The wild haired female standing next to her, Bryony Fenn, nodded. “You’re probably right. Looks like we’ll have to split up.”
A druid of the old ways was a rare sight. She was either taught by one of the gods at one point in her life or born of them. I wondered if I knew her mentor.
“If we’re not in the same dorm, I’ll find you after.” Roxy moved toward the table with the floating L-M.
“Not if I find you first,” Bryony called with laughter in her voice.
I scanned the crowd around me. So many people and their powers all gathered in one place! The ground practically hummed with magic.
“Can I help you?” a deep male voice boomed. A man wearing a shirt that said SECURITY, although he looked young enough to be a student, waved invitingly to a girl with bright red hair that hung to her shoulders. Something passed between the two, something that called to me. Frowning slightly, I turned to watch the duo.
“I’m . . . uh . . . Linnie Andrews,” the young vampire stammered, holding out her scroll with trembling fingers.
“Cody Stevenson,” the man introduced himself. “You go right over there.” He pointed behind us, at the A-B table. “They’ll give you a packet with everything you need to know.”
“Thanks.” She smiled up at him, her eyes glowing happily. His eyes narrowed as he watched her walk away, his interest apparent. Just what kind of interest, I wasn’t sure.
As I looked for the D table, my gaze landed on another couple—Joe and Infiniti again.
“You’ll be great,” I heard Joe murmur to Infiniti. “Everyone is new here, not just you.”
The wolf shifter pecked her on the forehead before heading to his table marked with E-G, and the transhuman went to hers marked as C-D. Her awestruck expression screamed noob. Her powers were new, and in fact, she’d only recently learned of the supernatural world. I wondered how long she’d last at Halvard. According to my recruiter, this school was not for the meek.
As soon as the pair split up, a tall, long-legged Latina dressed in tight black leather pants and a low cut white top practically pounced on Joe.
“Hi, Joe. I’m Cat, Cat Vega. We met at Burger Bar a few days ago.” Her Spanish accent was thick. I silently snickered. Although another transhuman, she definitely came across like a cat, practically rubbing herself up on Joe.
“Oh, yeah,” Joe mumbled, barely glancing at her. “Hi.”
Cat was really working it. Standing close, moving her hips, playing with her long dark hair. Joe remained oblivious, though. His gaze kept moving from the papers in his hands to Infiniti at her sign-in table.
I followed Infiniti to the C-D table, but she left before I reached it. The witch standing behind the table barely glanced at me while asking my name.
Her brow puckered as she looked over her list. “I don’t see you on here, Rhian. Can you spell it for me?”
I pointed at her parchment. “It’s right there.”
She gave me a weird look before glancing at the paper again.
“Oh, yes.” She bopped the heel of her hand against her blond head. “Wow. I think I need my eyes checked.”
She turned around and fumbled about in some wooden boxes stuffed full of envelopes. While magic permeated the air under the mountain—the whole campus had obviously been created by some really powerful, ancient force, likely that of a fellow deity, only confirming my suspicions of my old friend—I could smell the tinge of a fresh spell from the woman in front of me. She finally turned, holding out an envelope to me. My name was written on its front, but I had a feeling it had been blank a moment ago.
“Sorry about that. I had trouble finding yours, but here you go. Everything you need to know is in there. Well, at least, everything for now. There’s a map, your tower assignment, which is your dorm, and a schedule for the rest of the week before classes start next Monday. There’s a lot to do, so be sure to go over this.”
Nodding, I took the envelope from her and turned away as I pulled the packet out. On top was a map, then a page with my name, the word Tower and the word Room, both followed by blank lines. I turned back to the woman.
“I’m sorry, but there’s no room assignment on here.”
She looked at the page and frowned. Having no idea what to do, she called over another worker.
It took five people and a lot of discussion before the first woman turned back to me.
“Well, Rhian, it looks like there was an oversight and your room wasn’t assigned. The good news is that our campus can accommodate up to four hundred students, but for this first year, we’ve kept it to half that. So there are plenty of rooms for you to choose from. There are five towers, and the school crest on your wrist will let you into any of them. I’m sure you’ll know when you’ve found the right one for you. Check them all out and have your pick!”
And with that, she moved her attention to the next student in line.
I wasn’t surprised by this turn of events. Things like this happened to me all the time, but that’s okay. It made life exciting and adventurous.
I looked out at the courtyard and all of the students milling about, studying their maps and glancing around or talking with others as they tried to figure out where to go. I eyed Infiniti and another girl who seemed to know where they were going and followed them toward the left of the main structure, which my map called Halstein Hall.
It appeared we were headed toward Jormungand Tower, one of the student residential structures. I supposed it was just as good as any to start figuring out where I would live for the next nine months.
Assuming we lasted that long.
The campus was beautiful in a surreal way, and the energy buzzing in the air was full of excitement, anticipation, and optimism from the students and faculty alike. But another kind of energy hummed under the surface. Something darker and nefarious that sent a tingle down my spine.
Something that made my mission even more disconcerting.
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