Title: Issaura’s Claws
Series: The Incarn Saga Book 1
Author: Katharine E. Wibell
Genre: YA Fantasy
“According to legend, when the world was young, the goddess Issaura appeared among men. Those who treated her with kindness received the gift of the gods—the ability to transform into an animal form. This was a great honor but one that separated this race from other humans. Before Issaura departed the mortal realm, she promised to return if her people were ever at the point of destruction.
“Now a threat is rising from a land across the mists of the ocean, a threat that will push this race to the brink of extinction. Responding to the call to war, seventeen-year-old Lluava heads off to find her destiny, one that will carve her name in history.”
The Kingdom of Elysia consists of two races: the dominant race of humans and the native race of Theriomorphs who can shift into animal form. Although law dictates equal treatment, they neither like nor trust each other. Now brutal and ruthless Raiders are approaching; there is only one chance to defeat them. An army must be raised and trained. An army where each human will be paired with a Theriomorph partner. An army that must fight as one to defeat their common enemy.
Women are not warriors. However, Lluava is not like other women – human or Theriomorph. Her animal form is a magnificent beast whose power and fury she must learn to control. Although Lluava endures intense physical training and strives to overcome the doubts of the male recruits, she faces an unexpected adversary in the commanding general who seeks to break both her spirit and her body.
At the paring ceremony, Lluava is humbled when presented with a unique and ancient weapon. Yet she becomes distraught and angry when her human partner is revealed. If they fail to trust each other, the consequences will be devastating. Death and destruction are on the horizon and time is running out.
The Incarn Saga is a young adult fantasy series inspired by ancient myths, filled with fast-paced action and adventure, and enriched by an understanding of animal behavior that defines the shape-shifting Theriomorphs.
‘…Suddenly she sensed a presence. Alert, she scanned the landscape. At first she did not see anything unusual, but a second look revealed a form standing in the darkness across the lake, so still it blended almost completely into the surrounding shadows. Only the gleam of its eyes gave it away.
“Hey!” Lluava called out.
The figure slid deeper into the shadows and was gone, leaving behind an uneasiness Lluava could not explain away. It was too late for the men of the camp to be about; she herself should have been back in Thowcelemine by now. Also, whoever had been watching her had done so in secret. And was still out there. She could sense him.
Lluava began to make her way back through the forest. The moon was too new to light the path; the only way to stay on the trail was to use her felid senses. She once again wondered how humans could survive as well as they did without a dual form. She was thankful for her acute night vision.
Twigs snapped in the distance.
Turning around, all Lluava saw was darkness. After a moment, she continued, now on high alert. A soft breeze toyed with the dried leaves around her. A rustling of a different sort made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.
Spinning around, she glimpsed movement in the darkness. Without hesitating, she ran after the figure in the woods, bolting past several climbing walls and other training objects scattered about. Sniffing the air, she could not discern any unusual scent.
Just as she was about to give up, something moved in the shadows to her left. Turning, she lunged ahead. As she shifted to her huntress form, her black-striped paws trod the ground. Just beyond sight, she heard someone running.
All of a sudden, the ground seemed to drop away right in front of her. Lluava made a giant leap to clear the wide trench. Her paws barely caught the edge on the far side. Hoisting herself up, she tried to spot the figure, but only darkness and silence greeted her questing senses.
Without warning, there was a hissing sound, followed by an enormous cacophony of crackling bangs. Brilliant white light temporarily blinded her. A gust of smoldering hot air blasted her. The force of the blast slung her across the trench, and she tumbled backward onto the ground…’
Title: Ullr’s Fangs
Series: The Incarn Saga Book 2
“According to legend, when the world was young, two gods of war — one male, one female — were destined for each other. Yet Ullr, forever unfaithful, lost the love of Issaura, his true match, and was forsworn. His violent anger and bitter rage grew and intensified, poisoning all creation and humanity.
Now that the Raiders’ long ships have faded from sight, the kingdom of Elysia is beginning to recover from the summer’s war with the brutal invaders from across the sea. Yet darker forces have taken root, forces that can alter the future of the land and its people in unthinkable ways. Seventeen-year-old Lluava must discover the means to prevent her world from collapsing. But in doing so, will she succumb to that darkness?”
Without moving, Lluava stared out at the stars and felt the cool touch of the breeze on her skin.
“Lluava.” The tenderness in Varren’s voice was something that she had been longing to hear. A smile slipped past her lips as he gently placed his hand upon her shoulder.
Then her anger seared up. Jerking her body away, she snarled, “No. I’m only your partner.” As soon as she said the words, Lluava regretted it. She never wanted to be the cause of the hurt that was written on Varren’s face.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.”
Running his fingers through his thick waves, Varren sighed. “I know what you want. I feel the same way. But right now, I cannot give that to you.”
Lluava made no move to respond. She watched as the loose curls fell back into place over his forehead.
“I am still betrothed to Illia. Until I have publicly nullified that arrangement, I cannot pursue any interest I have in you other than our military partnership.”
“Will that happen tomorrow? At court?” Lluava questioned hopefully.
“I fear not. This is a delicate manner. No betrothal has ever been revoked. I will not allow Illia’s reputation to be marred by this act. Though both she and I want to be allowed to follow our hearts as common people can, I must deal with the High Council as well as my grandfather. This decision will have repercussions. The whole culture of our matchmaking will change. I have to approach the situation with care.” Varren implored her to understand.
Lluava had not considered the implications. The situation was completely unfair. He was the prince. Why couldn’t he just say he was through and that be it? Why was it so complicated?
To hide her disappointment and her longing, she walked out onto the balcony. Pretending interest in the glowing city below, she concentrated on steadying her breath. When her eyes teared up, she clenched her jaw. Why was she being so foolish? She was seventeen, old enough to act with a level head. Besides, Varren had said he would be with her. She just had to wait. Yet patience was not an attribute for which she was known.
Soft footsteps approached behind her. Lluava’s heart picked up its pace. She felt herself tense and focused her attention on a distant lantern on one of the buildings. She felt Varren’s presence before his touch. Strong arms wrapped themselves around her, pulling her body close. Lluava willed him to hold her tighter. She could feel his heartbeat against her back, the warmth from his skin, his soft breath on her neck.
They stood for a time, Lluava afraid to move and end the moment. Turning her head, she looked at Varren, to memorize every detail softly illuminated by the moon. Dark hair framed his strong yet gentle face; kind blue eyes sparkled like the stars above; her eyes traced his perfectly shaped nose and softly smiling lips. Lips that parted slightly and slowly moved toward her. Stopping so close that Lluava heard the catch in his breath.
Leaning upward, their lips met, fitting perfectly with one another. A warm, tingling sensation coursed through both with their touch. It was so simple, so wonderful. When they parted, Lluava felt as if she were in a dream. There was something surreal about standing so close to this man, her prince, her partner, her….
“Lluava.” Varren breathed her name as if he, too, were testing the reality of having her before him.
She looked into eyes that were filled with unspoken emotion. Finding no words, she waited until Varren could continue.
“I want you to know how much you mean to me,” Varren said, her hands in his. “We will be together.”
Smiling at each other, they leaned in once more.
There was a sharp knock on the door. The mood was shattered. Varren quickly stepped back from Lluava, yet his hand lingered long enough in hers to convey his disappointment.
She watched the formal expression slip back over Varren’s face. Until he nullified his betrothal, this was the last time she would experience his embrace. Lluava could not help but loathe the steward’s interruption.
From the doorway came the hollow announcement, “The king will see you now.”
Title: Crocotta’s Hackles
Series: The Incarn Saga Book 3
“According to legend, when the world was young, Crocotta, Queen of the Gods, discovered her mate’s faithlessness. She vowed to prevent future threats to all matrimonial pacts henceforward, but for her it was too late. The child born from the illicit coupling was a warrior goddess—one whom Crocotta would seek to destroy throughout eternity.
Now that the Raiders’ elite army is threatening the kingdom of Elysia’s northern borders, seventeen-year-old Lluava must leave the familiarity and safety of her native land to venture into the wilderness. Her mission is to discover others like her who will come to Elysia’s aid; her hope is to unravel the secrets behind what it means to be Incarn. But what she finds could destroy everything.”
Lluava’s story continues in Crocotta’s Hackles, the third book in The Incarn Saga’s award-winning new-adult series.
That night, Lluava’s dreams took a new direction. The white that had suffused all her thoughts now took on vibrant, lush colors. Everything around her was green. Was she in a forest? If so, it was different from any she had seen before.
Trees sent filtered light through their canopy, but they were a strange, unknown variety. The underbrush was thick and full of broad leaves longer than her arm. Tangled vines cascaded from above, and flowers reminiscent of those in the capital’s garden bloomed in profusion.
One flower caught her eye, the only one she recognized: a black-andwhite striped beauty known in Elysia as the Theri iris. The first time Varren gave her one, he said it reminded him of her dual form. Afterward, he had given her one every night in a fresh bouquet.
Lluava moved closer. As she approached, the flower began to wither and dropped off the plant before she could reach it. Almost tripping over a root, she realized that her clothes were stuck to her body and a film of sweat was building. How hot was it? She couldn’t tell. The plant’s leaves begin to brown and wither.
What was happening? As Lluava reached toward the plant, tendrils sprang out at her like serpents striking at prey. Suddenly a vine wrapped itself around her arm. She tried to untwist the thick botanical rope as it looped around her ankle.
Vines don’t do this, she thought. They can’t grow that fast. Was she hallucinating? All at once, she realized what it was: an anaconda! Immobilized by the snake’s ever-tightening grip, she heard a sound reverberate through the forest. It was the pealing of laughter, rising and falling in waves.
“Issaura!” the voice called out, “Fight! Kill or die!” The laughter returned as the coils of the giant snake contracted about her waist.
Lluava couldn’t breathe, much less defend herself. The air in her lungs was being squeezed out. She was suffocating. Her gasps for air were drowned out by the unending laughter. Could she have spoken, she would have screamed, “Stop laughing! Help me!”
Without air, Lluava’s thoughts were beginning to fog. Was this her end?
A hand grabbed her shoulder and ripped her free of the anaconda’s coils and the frightening dream.
“Lluava, wake up!” Apex was shouting. He pulled her partially out of her tent, which had collapsed during the night. “You’re okay.”
“I can’t sleep anymore.” She was exhausted. “I can’t take the dreams.”
“You’ll rest better once you have eaten,” Apex told her. “Look, our friend has returned.”
There on the ground were the lone caribou’s hoof prints. It must have decided to explore their camp during the night. This meant it was nearby.
“Let’s go hunting!” said Apex.
Energized, Lluava sprang to her feet and reached for Issaura’s Claws, her weapons. “Way ahead of you.”
She slipped each golden Claw over her knuckles, smiling at her distorted reflection in the three slightly curved blades. Lluava tested each, relaxing her hands so the claws retracted, then balling her hands into fists around the grip, which caused the blades to spring erect. They felt so right, like razor-sharp extensions of herself.
Ever since she had broken the arm-brace attachments Holly had made for her, Lluava had been more cautious when she used the Claws. She was able to use them, but her old shoulder injury could be aggravated by the strain of impact. Nonetheless, if her shoulder became dislocated again, she could reset it. A good breakfast would be worth the pain.
Nearby, Apex pulled out Ullr’s Fangs. The twin Gladius swords looked as fierce as the determination on the huntsman’s face. By his feet, Sköll stretched and yawned. It seemed that everyone would take part in the hunt.
Several hours later, Apex spotted a brown shape treading off into the distance: their prey. Food would be coming soon. Lluava salivated at the thought of fresh venison. They couldn’t let this animal escape.
Following Apex’s command, the trio moved downwind and began to inch their way closer to the unsuspecting creature. Though not heavy, it was surprisingly well fed, which meant it had a food source nearby. More good news, Lluava thought happily. Maybe their luck was turning.
Lluava tested the air as the huntsman gave an unspoken command to Sköll. The wolf-mix bolted toward the caribou. Suddenly, the young woman’s senses exploded.
“Stop him!” she shouted, but it was too late. Apex whistled, but the mongrel was solely focused on its prey.
Exasperated, Lluava sank to the ground. “He’s chasing a Theriomorph.”
About the Author
Katharine Wibell’s lifelong interest in mythology includes epic poetry like the Odyssey, Ramayana, Beowulf, and the Nibelungenlied. In addition, she is interested in all things animal whether training dogs, apprenticing at a children’s zoo, or caring for injured animals as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. After receiving degrees from Mercer University in both art and psychology with an emphasis in animal behavior, Wibell moved to New Orleans with her dog, Alli, to kick start her career as an artist and a writer. Her first literary works blend her knowledge of the animal world with the world of high fantasy.