The Elemental Trilogy Box Set:
Elemental Rising, Elemental Betrayal, Forbidden Elemental
by Toni Cox
Genre : YA / Fantasy
Special Price: 18-24 February at $ 2.99 (reduced from $ 7.99)
Dragons, Elves, and Magic. What more could you want from a fantasy trilogy?
Maia returns home from a stay of absence to complete her final test to become an Elemental, only to find her world in chaos. Suddenly faced with responsibilities she thinks she is not ready for, a love she does not reciprocate, and a threat to her people that might kill them all, she may be forced to become what she was born to be – a Prime.
An army more terrible than the nation of Grildor has ever had to face has invaded the lands and is killing the Elves by the thousands. Lord Longshadow invokes the Rule of Kings and gathers the forces of Greater Grildor to their aid.
Maia, aided by her dragon Midnight and the mysterious Death Elemental, seek help of their own. All the while, Maia and Blaid must come to terms with their opposing powers and the disaster it could spell for their entire world.
The race is on to save the planet of Elveron from the invading forces. Will they be in time to stop their total annihilation?
“I fell in love with this world and its characters and became utterly invested in their trials and tribulations. Toni Cox has a wonderfully rich imagination and brings Elveron and the Elves, and Midnight the dragon, to glorious life. Utterly entrancing.”
Elaina J. Davidson
The air was thin at this altitude, but her lungs were used to it. It was thrilling to fly so close to the sun. She rose a little higher, beating her wings faster and faster as the resistance dwindled.
Then, once the air could not sustain her any longer, she folded her wings and dove towards the ground. Wind stung her eyes as she raced downwards. She whooped with joy, but the sound was snatched away by the wind before she could hear it.
About a mile from the ground, she spread her wings and levelled out. The forest below was just a green blur as she sped past and the mountains in the north were still too far away for her to notice. She focused instead on the many lakes that dotted the land below like so many diamonds sparkling in the sun.
She made a turn, circled one of the lakes below, and then carried on towards the north. The sheer speed at which she travelled, took her breath away, but that too she loved. She covered miles in an instant, but it felt like she was flying for eternity. Nothing could ever compare to the thrill of swooping low, brushing the treetops, nor the peace and tranquillity of gliding above the clouds, warmed by the closeness of the sun. She felt whole, at peace with the world. She had everything she ever desired right here, right now. This was where she truly belonged.
As she made her way north, she slowly became aware of another presence. She craned her neck to see behind and above her, but saw no one. The strange feeling of unease intensified, until she eventually realised the other presence was in her mind.
She fought her panic as it started to probe her consciousness.
It felt immense and dangerous. Alien, yet strangely familiar. It showed her images of strange creatures, twisted and tortured.
Faces of people, hurt and confused. Death and pain everywhere she looked. She fought the presence, to evict it from her mind, but as she struggled, she realised it was not her that was invaded, but rather that she was the one invading another. The realisation hit her like something physical and with it came an unpleasant tingling in her body. She was overcome by a sudden, terrible weakness. She beat the wings she knew were not hers, but they no longer listened to her command. Wind rushed past her face as she lost altitude. The tingling in her body intensified, until it was almost unbearable.
Her vision dimmed and her head pounded. She tried to suppress the nausea she felt as she fell, but bile rose to her throat, burning. Faster and faster she plummeted, driving the air out of her lungs. She tried to scream, but no sound came out. The ground rushed closer and closer, the moment of impact only a heartbeat away. In her panic, she milled her arms, trying desperately to keep herself airborne, but she kept falling and falling, faster and faster.
Then she hit the ground … and ceased to exist.
Aaron stretched. He had not slept this well in years. He thought that he should be feeling angry, but he felt strangely elated and looked forward to the day. Pulling on his suit and shoes, he wished he had something clean to wear and then climbed out of his tent.
As he opened the strings that held the opening together, he marvelled again at the softness of the fabric. He had never seen the like before.
The air outside was crisp and clear, the grass a little damp with early morning dew and the campsite was a bustle. Horses were being groomed, tents folded and stashed away, and everyone seemed to be busy with something. He noticed his kids were not up yet, so found a place to sit around the now extinguished fire.
Someone wished him a good morning and brought him a cup of tea. He nodded his thanks to the stranger and took the cup gratefully. As he sipped the strange tasting, although pleasant, liquid, he thought about the last three days. It was hard to believe that so much could have happened in such a short time.
Thursday had been one of the toughest days in his entire life.
Lisa had called him, and the kids, to her sickbed. She had told them all how much she loved them and then said it was her time to go away. The kids had cried. They had known it was coming, but one could never prepare for such a thing. Aaron had resigned himself to the fact that his wife would die and there was nothing he could do about it. Lisa had been diagnosed with cancer about three years ago.
The doctors had been hopeful. Over the last fifty years or so, there had been such advances in medicine that there were now few illnesses the doctors could not cure. Lisa first went through Chemo, twice. Then she had several operations, which failed.
They tried every drug on the market to suppress the cancer, so that she could lead a normal life. None of the treatments had worked and she steadily became worse. Her pronouncement had therefore not surprised him, but it had not made it any easier to handle.
Then, on Friday morning, he had woken up to the sound of the vintage Mercedes starting in the garage below. It was a relic from the days when there were still roads through the countryside, built back in 2094. His great-grandfather bought it direct from the factory and Aaron had kept it out of nostalgia. He had been very fond of his Gramps. The Mercedes was decrepit and unreliable.
They never used it any more. So, when he had heard the engine turn, stutter and then rev noisily, he thought someone had broken in and was stealing it. He ran downstairs in his sleeping shorts, but by the time he arrived in the garage, the Mercedes was gone.
He had sprinted into the street and watched as the car turned the corner into Main Street, Lisa behind the steering wheel. His heart had beaten wildly in his chest as he contemplated what she probably intended to do. It had taken him only a few minutes to get the kids out of bed. They dressed hastily and then jumped into his Lexus to track the Mercedes with their GPS.
Lisa was driving along the A36 towards Salisbury. They lived in Southampton. It was one of the smaller suburbs of Greater London. Although Salisbury was not far away, it could take two to three hours to get there because the area was now so built up.
Concrete, high-rise apartment buildings covered every square foot of ground not covered by some shopping mall or business.
He’d put his foot on the accelerator and the electric engine whirred as it sped up and weaved through traffic. The Mercedes was slow. He had expected to catch up with it quickly. He’d even thought it would run out of fuel. There should not have been any in there to begin with. Aaron had wondered how Lisa had managed to acquire fossil fuel for the car. It was not manufactured any more.
An agonising three hours later, they had spotted the Mercedes ahead of them in the distance. They had passed Salisbury a while ago and where by then close to Shrewton, another suburb of Greater London. Confused, Aaron could not fathom where she was going, when she turned east. They had followed her, steadily catching up, but it wasn’t until she turned down the narrow lane towards the museum that they realised where she was headed.
Stonehenge! It still stood, preserved as a natural history museum, amid the glass and concrete city around it.
They reached the parking lot a few moments later. The Mercedes was already parked close to the ticket office and they could see Lisa limp up the path towards the stones. Aaron had watched as she handed one of the armed guards her ticket. The kids had jumped out of the car quickly and ran after their mother.
He followed close behind, not bothering with buying a ticket.
They had argued with the guards for a moment, but after explaining the urgency, the men relented and let them through.
Lisa had reached the middle of the circle of stones by then.
She had looked haggard, in pain and utterly exhausted. She’d turned towards them, but her eyes had been closed. Jasmin called out to her and Lisa opened her eyes. Aaron distinctly remembered the look of horror on her face when she saw them. They were only a few feet from her, when, suddenly, everything went crazy. It had felt like he was yanked off his feet, tossed into the air and then tumbled and thrown about. Then he had blacked out.
He could not remember how much time passed before they woke up here. Wherever here might be; he could still not quite believe it. The first thing he felt when he woke up was the pain.
His head pounded and his body ached everywhere. He noticed Luke, Jasmin and Lisa lying a few feet away from him.
When he looked around, he discovered they were in a strange place; open grasslands stretched as far as the eye could see all around them, and the west was dominated by mountains so big he could hardly credit it. The air was cool and fresh and the sun dazzlingly bright. However, the most astonishing thing was the stones.
It was Stonehenge as it had probably looked like when it was first built many hundreds of years ago. It was made up of three rings within each other. The outer circle were tall, upright blocks of stone, each connected to its neighbour by a slab of horizontal stone laid across the space between the uprights, like a lintel. The second circle was made up of smaller stones, still each the size of a man, but small compared to the stones of the first circle. The stones of this second ring also stood upright, with their flat surfaces facing the interior of the ring. In the middle of the circle stood five massive columns, each made up of two uprights and a lintel. These stones were larger even than those of the outer circle.
Each of these columns also had three smaller stones placed in front of it. The five columns formed more or less a semi-circle, leaving a bigger space facing towards the east, giving the impression of an entrance. An oblong, flat stone, somewhat like an altar, was placed almost in the middle of the circle, but closer to the central of the five columns.
He had struggled into a sitting position; he shuddered now as he remembered the pain. Luke helped Jasmin to sit up and then checked her to make sure she had no injuries. When Luke came to assist him to his feet, he declined.
“First Mom,” Aaron croaked; his voice rough and his throat sore.
Luke made his way over to his mother, cursing under his breath about his sore body. When he reached her, he put his fingers just below her jaw line and checked her pulse while Aaron watched from a distance. He felt very strange in that moment, concerned that his wife might be dead.
“I can feel her pulse. It was weak, but steady. But …”
“What?” Aaron scrambled to his feet and limped over to his wife.
“Dad … it’s not Mom.”
His heart skipped a beat as he covered the last few feet. He knelt next to the woman that was not his wife.
The girl was young, maybe a little older than Jasmin’s seventeen years. She was extraordinarily beautiful, and her ears had a slight pointiness to them that was rather peculiar. She had long, auburn hair spread around her face like a halo. Her eyebrows curved elegantly over her eyes. Her full lips were relaxed in sleep, but there was a slight frown on her forehead as if she was having a bad dream. She seemed familiar somehow, but he was certain he had never seen her before.
“Lady, wake up,” Luke said softly and shook her gently by the shoulders. The girl did not react. “She seems to be sleeping, but I cannot wake her.”
Jasmin made her way over to them, sat on the grass next to the sleeping girl, and gently brushed her hair back.
“She looks like Mom,” Jasmin said in her usual chirpy voice.
They argued for what felt like hours afterwards. Aaron was adamant that she looked nothing like Lisa and Jasmin argued that she felt like her mom, even if she didn’t look exactly like her. The woman was of little concern to him; he was sure it was not his wife and they had bigger problems. They were in a strange place, without food, water or shelter, or even another person in sight.
Luke had lost his glasses. Jasmin was dizzy and Lisa was nowhere to be found.
The kids assumed they were at Stonehenge, nothing else made sense, but Aaron more felt, than knew, that they were very far away from where they had parked the car that morning. He walked around the stones periodically throughout the day, calling Lisa’s name, hoping they might still find her. As the light started to fade, so did his hope.
He felt helpless, exhausted and worried. He had never been so unsure about anything before and he did not know how to cope with it. Always there had been method and order in his life and he tackled everything with a self-assuredness others admired. This he did not know how to deal with.
“Papa, look,” Jasmin whispered as day turned to evening.
What Aaron saw then shocked him to the core.
“Two moons,” Luke said in awe.
The kids thought it cool; in general, they seemed to cope with their situation better than he did. He sat down on the grass next to the strange girl and put his head in his hands. Everything was wrong here. Back home, there were no meadows or fields with grass, the air was thick with smog and the world was never silent; cars, machines, fourteen billion people, all contributed to the decay of their world. Here, everything was different, and he did not know what to make of it. The two moons had been the final straw for him. He reasoned that it might be a projection, the kind the big companies used for advertising, but even he had to admit they looked real.
He was about to lie down on the grass to get some rest, when Jasmin called out.
“What is it, Jaz?” Luke asked, joining them.
“Look at the tag on her suit.” She held the collar bent back to show them.
“Lisa Nightingale,” Aaron whispered, and almost threw up.
It took the kids half the night to calm him down. He ranted and raved, shouting at the two bedevilled moons, and only when they finally sank behind the mountains in the distance did he curl up next the girl who wore his wife’s suit to fall into fitful sleep.
Morning came with a startling suddenness; one moment it was still cool and grey, the next the sun broke over the horizon in the east and bathed them in warm sunlight. It was the first time in his life he had seen a real sunrise. It was absolutely beautiful.
Nevertheless, the beauty of their surroundings was not able to distract them from their problems; they were hungry, thirsty and alone. They did not want to leave the girl in search for water, so they sat, backs to one of the tall stones, enduring the heat of midday.
It was very early in the afternoon when they heard it; the menacing growl of a wild animal. He feared that there might be animals here, but they had thus far not encountered any, besides some birds. Now, their luck had finally run out and they found themselves staring at a large, shaggy-haired wolf, his russet fur bristling around his neck, his long teeth bared.
The wolf stalked towards them, all the while growling and never breaking eye contact. Aaron sheltered the kids behind him, but he was as terrified as they were. It seemed like hours that the wolf stood there and when he eventually stopped growling and turned away from them, Aaron sank down, his legs too weak to hold him up any longer. Jasmin screamed and, when he looked up, he saw the wolf standing over the sleeping girl. He struggled back to his feet, unsure if he would be ready to defend the girl if the wolf meant her harm, but then he licked the girl’s face, nudged her a few times with his nose and curled up next to her and closed his eyes.
They stayed at the pillar, watching the sleeping wolf and the girl until the sun finally touched the tips of the mountains so far away. Unexpectedly, the wolf sat up, wagged his tail and howled.
His voice as he howled into the fading sun, sounded so sad and yet so elated at the same time, Aaron had difficulty explaining the feelings it woke within him. He felt like crying. He put his arm around Jasmin, who put her head on his chest and sobbed quietly.
Shortly after the wolf fell silent again, they heard a new sound. They were not able to place it, nor which animal it could have come from. When the head of one of the beasts finally appeared around one of the stones, they all tensed with fear. Only when they noticed the person on its back, did they realise that the animal was a horse.
Others came, tethered their horses and, in a time faster than seemed possible, erected a tent over the area where the girl was, started a fire and transformed the area of the stones into a campsite. Someone came and led them to a tent. There they were given first water, then bread and later some tea. They were treated kindly, but were not questioned. The people were friendly, but seemed preoccupied with the mystery of the sleeping girl.
One old man in particular did not leave her side; neither did the wolf. The old man periodically dabbed the girl lips with water and then wiped her face. He did it with such tenderness, it made Aaron wonder if he was her father. The old man talked to her endlessly and, at one point, Aaron thought he was praying. Other men came as well, kneeling next to the girl, talking to her, and one handsome young man sat by her for a long while, held her hand, and Aaron was sure he saw a tear on the young man’s cheek as he bent to kiss her. It elicited feelings within Aaron he could not explain.
As the moons made their way across the sky, someone served them a stew. It was the most delicious meal he had ever eaten, although he would not have been able to tell what its ingredients were. He watched the people as he ate. Everyone had the same pointy ears as the girl, but in some it was more pronounced, especially the old man. All seemed to be somewhere in their thirties or younger, with exception of the old man and a midget.
They were also beardless, bar the midget, whose facial hair was so prolific that it was difficult to see his face or features. Most of the men were dressed in uniform, with breastplates, shoulder pads and some kind of wrapping for the forearms and lower legs.
Aaron desperately wanted answers, but no one came forth with any. It was only much later that night that the old man finally left the girl to come sit by them. The handsome young man that had served them their dinner now also brought the old man some tea. Aaron clenched his fists when the young man smiled at Jasmin before he left. She looked all too pleased with herself.
Gnashing his teeth, he suppressed his fatherly protectiveness and concentrated on the old man; he really hoped for answers.
Close up he appeared even older; his skin was wrinkled and his hair white and thin. Nevertheless, his eyes shone bright and revealed a sharp mind.
“Please forgive me, Sir, for not having introduced myself before. I have been somewhat preoccupied,” the old man said.
“My name is Silas Nightshield.”
Aaron introduced first himself, then the children. There was some confusion when Aaron wanted to shake hands with the man; apparently it was not their custom.
“It is good to meet you, Aaron and children. We have been wondering about your presence here and we were hoping you could assist us in finding out what happened to Maia. I have done everything I can for her, she is comfortable now, but I cannot wake her.”
Disappointment flooded through Aaron; he was the one looking for answers, but it seemed the old man had come to him looking for those as well. He gave a brief recount of what had happened to them over the last two days. During his telling, Silas became quiet and his face grew serious.
When Aaron was finished, Silas asked, “Stonehenge on Earth?”
This started a conversation that kept them busy until the moons began their descent behind the snow-capped mountains.
Aaron could now recall every word had Silas said to them.
“This might be difficult to understand, Aaron, but you are not on Earth now. This is Elveron, a sister planet of Earth. It seems you have travelled through our Gate, Greystone, to come here.”
Silas pointed at the stones around them and nodded as if to confirm something to himself. “The Gate is named Stonehenge only on Earth. Humans have not been to Elveron in a very long time. Elves and Humans used to be close, we traded with each other, but that was centuries ago. That you should be here now can only mean that you have come here with Maia. Why and how, I do not know, but she must have had her reasons. We will leave at first light in the morning to take her home. You are welcome to travel with us, if you wish; otherwise you can leave to go home once we have cleared the Gate.”
There was then even greater confusion once Silas realised that they did not know how to use the Gate, or that they had not come of their own volition. Aaron was hereafter introduced to Lord Longshadow, who apparently was the King of the Elves and Maia’s father, and they discussed in length the implications. When Silas voiced his suspicion that Maia was, indeed, his wife Lisa, Aaron forgot all his manners. He yelled and swore and it was only when Jasmin started to cry that Luke was able to lead him away to his tent.
It took him another hour to calm down. Contrite he went to apologise to the king of the Elves and his advisor. They accepted his apology with dignity and assured him they would do everything in their power to find a way home for him and his children.
About the Author:
Born in Germany in 1976, International Bestselling Author Toni Cox moved to South Africa in 1991. Although she has spent much of her working career in the timber wholesale business, she is also an accomplished horse rider, has a diploma in project management, photography, and nutrition, and has a passion for books and all things fantasy.
From a young age, her dream had always been to put her imagination into words. When she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2013, she decided life is too short not to follow her dream. With the support of her husband and three children, she began writing book 1 of the Elemental Trilogy in January 2015.
Toni Cox writes Epic Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Sci-Fi Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Dystopian Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy, and Dark Fantasy. She is a firm believer in dragons.