Let The Wind Rise PDF Free Download

Let the holy anthem rise, And the choirs of heaven chant it. In the temple of the skies; Let the mountains skip with gladness, And the joyful valleys ring. With hosannas in the highest. To our Savior and our King! Like the sun from out the wave, He has risen up in triumph. From the darkness of the grave. ABOUT THE BOOK Let The Storm Break PDF FREE DOWNLOAD. Breathtaking action and romance continue in the sequel to the epic Let the Sky Fall, from the author of the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Keeper of the Lost Cities series. Vane Weston is haunted. By the searing pull of his bond to Audra.

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But I have the wind. Change is in the air—I can feel it as clearly as I can hear the brave melodies of the untainted drafts slipping through the cracks of Raiden’s supposedly impenetrable fortress. A hum building to a crescendo. The wind starting to rise. I ’m pretty sure I’ve made a deal with the devil.

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She slashes it a few times, and doesn’t put it away.
I decide to keep my wind spike as well. It can’t hurt to have a solid weapon handy.
Arella points to the pipeline. “I’m sure Raiden can see that—if he hasn’t picked up your traces already.”
“That’s kind of the point,” I say. “Can you make sure he knows where we’re going?”
Arella nods. “As soon as we arrive, I’ll send him a very special invitation.”
“I’m sure you will,” Audra mutters, slashing her windslicer again. “That’s what you do best.”
I want to reach for her hand, but that would probably be a bad idea—especially now that she’s armed.
“I’ll go first,” I tell everyone. “And if any of you decide you’d rather not be part of this, I won’t blame you. This is my fight—”
“It’s our fight,” Solana corrects. “Raiden killed my family.”
“And my husband,” Arella adds.
“And took about twenty pounds of my flesh,” Aston reminds me.
“And Westerly is my language too,” Audra adds—finally meeting my eyes. “The winds chose to protect me. I’ll do the same for them.”
I guess there’s nothing else to say.
Silently, though, I beg the sky to keep them safe.
Please don’t let this be another mistake.
I repeat the plea twice more.
Then I step into the pipeline and let the winds blast me away.
The last time I stood among these rolling hills, my father died.
I can feel him in every rustle in the air.
In the stirring leaves in the scattered trees.
And yet he’s never felt so far away.
I turn my face to the sky and search for my favorite Easterly. Somehow it always made me feel like he was still watching over me.
I haven’t called for the draft since it convinced me to break my bond—and not because I regret the decision.
It’s just hard to crave the thing that brought me such pain.
And yet . . . I still crave Vane.
Thinking his name makes my insides wither.
Arrogant as it may sound, I never considered he might reject me.
He turned his head away, like the very idea of kissing me was disgusting.
Some small, rational part of me remembers the regret and worry I saw in his eyes as he did it, and knows there were likely factors behind the decision that I’m not considering.
But the crushed, wounded parts can’t stop watching him with Solana.
They pace across the field, her at his side, hanging on his every word. I’m sure they’re discussing strategy, but . . .
She’s still wearing their link.
And they’ve been traveling together.
And she’s so soft and beguiling.
And the only word I caught of his mumbled excuse was Solana.
And . . .
I’m being a fool. Even if my worries are founded, this is the absolute last thing I should be thinking about before a battle.
I close my eyes, trying to imagine my former walls rising up inside me, sealing off any emotions.
I need to be cold.
“I can feel the Gales approaching,” my mother says beside me, making my insides tangle. “They should land in a few minutes.”
That’s faster than I was expecting.
I triggered the emergency call less than an hour ago.
They must be speeding their flight with the power of pain.
My mouth tastes sour at the thought.
“What about Raiden?” I ask.
“He knows how to hide from my senses. But I can feel enough turbulence to tell he’s on his way. I can’t guess his precise trajectory, but I suspect we have a bit longer. He’ll wait for us to take our places and he has the air prepared. Then he’ll reveal himself.”
“Thank you for the report.”
I assume she wanders away. But after several seconds she tells me, “You should be preparing with the others.”
“I am preparing.”
“No, you’re mooning over a boy.”
My grip tightens on my windslicer, but I keep my eyes closed, refusing to let her bait me.
She’s like a mosquito—if you can’t swat her, the only option is to let her sate her taste for blood and flit away.
“In case you’re worried,” she whispers, “I’m not angry at you for hurting me.”
“I wasn’t worried.”
I hear her sigh. “So this is how it is now? We can’t even talk to each other?”
“When have we ever talked?”
All I remember are the years she let me carry the blame for my father’s death—years I sweated under the desert sun, living in a crumbling shack because I wasn’t welcome in her home.
She lets out a second sigh. “I never realized being a mother would be this difficult.”
“Yes, it must be awful for you having to think about someone besides yourself. And now you sit there, expecting sympathy—”
“I don’t expect sympathy,” she interrupts. “All I hope for is understanding. I know I haven’t been a perfect mother—”
I have to laugh at that.
“—but that doesn’t mean some part of me doesn’t wish that I had been,” she finishes. “I did try at times, though I’m well aware of my failings. Is it so wrong to admit I wasn’t prepared?”
“Yes,” Vane says, and every nerve in my body tingles to life.
I can tell he’s standing over me, but when I force myself to look up, all I can see is a blinding halo of blond waves, standing close by his shadow.
“I’m not trying to defend myself,” my mother says. “I’m trying to apologize.”
“Well, you suck at it,” Vane tells her.
I feel my lips smile. But it fades when I force myself to turn to my mother. Spots of brown freckle her face, and I realize they’re dried blood.
I try to feel guilty—but all I feel is tired.
“Nothing you say will ever change the fact that Gus is dead because of the trap you set for us.” I dust the grass off my legs and stand to walk away.
“How about an explanation then?” my mother calls after me.
I can’t imagine any explanation could possibly make me understand.
But I stop walking.
“Make it quick,” Vane tells her. “We’ve got armies coming in from every direction. And I’m not sure if any of them are actually on our side. The Gales weren’t exactly happy with us when we left.”
My mother nods and stretches her uninjured arm, letting the breeze send goose bumps over her skin. Long seconds pass before she whispers. “I was trying to protect your father—or whatever little is left of him. Raiden’s Stormer crushed his form and stole his final breaths. But his songs live on. Surely you’ve noticed. They visit you far more than they’ve ever come to see me.”
A cold chill washes over me. “The Easterly?”
My mother nods, turning her eyes to the sky, where a flock of birds sails among the clouds. “I don’t know how to explain it. But I can feel that it’s him—some tiny glimmer of his former essence. And Raiden threatened to destroy it. With one snarled command he could turn the last whisper of your father into one of his mindless slaves. I couldn’t bear to even imagine it. So I agreed to call you over. I knew you were strong and could fight him. And I half expected to be ignored. Hoped for it, honestly.”
Vane shifts his weight, probably remembering that he was the one who convinced me to go.
But Gus was behind the idea as well.
“What do you expect me to say to that?” I ask. “That all is suddenly forgiven?”
“No,” my mother says. “But I hope you can at least learn from it. Raiden is the master of impossible choices. And before this is over, I have no doubt that you’ll be forced to make one. That’s always his strategy, so that even
his losses can be called victories.”
I think of what happened with Gus and the cost of my escape.
It wasn’t truly a conscious choice that time, but I still paid the price for it.
It’s always more than a battle with Raiden.
It’s a game of wits.
“So what are his weaknesses?” I ask her. “You?”
Her smile is sad. “Even my vanity won’t allow me to believe he still cares for me.”
“But he did once, right?” Vane presses. “That’s what Audra meant about you being his queen?”
“Yes. Though I hardly knew he had such grand aspirations. When Raiden and I were together, he was simply a charming guardian rising through the ranks of the Gales, and I was the notorious beauty flirting my way through life, trying to decide my best option. There was something magnetic about him, and for a brief time I thought . . . maybe?”
“So why’d you reject him?” Solana asks. “Did you realize he had a darker side?”
“I’d love to claim such wisdom and foresight. But my motives were much more selfish.”
Vane snorts. “Big surprise there.”
“What does that mean?” I ask her.
“It means . . . I realized that Raiden needed me as much as I needed him. He was broken in ways—and don’t ask me for specifics. He never spoke about it, and I wasn’t interested in asking. I wanted someone to shelter me. Someone to help me shoulder my burdens. Not someone I had to fix. So I stayed with him until I found a better offer, and left him for your father. I knew I’d chosen the better husband, but I didn’t realize the mess I’d avoided until a few years later.”
I can’t decide how to feel about her story, except to drown in the irony that my mother’s fickle selfishness led her down the safer path.
“And you really have no idea what issues he was dealing with?” Vane asks. “Not even any guesses?”
My mother studies her hands. “Like I said, I wasn’t interested in knowing—though I did suspect it had something to do with his family. He told me his parents were both dead, and he never seemed sad about it—except one time, when he lost his whistlepipe and panicked—”
“Whistlepipe?” Vane interrupts.
“It’s a child’s instrument. Raiden always wore it from a chain around his neck. I assumed his parents gave it to him—”
“Do you mean this?” Vane asks, reaching into his back pocket and pulling out a small, silver instrument strung among several feathered hair ornaments.
My mother’s eyes widen. “Where did you get that?”
“It was hanging above Raiden’s bed in Brezengarde. I took it mostly to piss him off, so he’d know I was in his room, messing with his stuff. But you’re saying it’s important?”
“Incredibly so. He never told me why, though. The most he ever said was, It helps him to remember. And like I told you, I wasn’t the type to ask questions.”
Vane’s lips twist into a cold smile. “I guess I know what to do with it now. I’ll crush it right in front of him.”
“I wonder if Os knows more about its significance,” I say, mostly to myself. “He and Raiden were close during their time in the Gales.”
“Well, you’ll be able to ask him”—my mother closes her eyes—“right about . . . now.”
The word has barely left her lips when dozens of Gales drop out of the sky, forming a circle around us, their windslicers raised for attack.
My army doesn’t look happy to see me.
I guess I can’t totally blame them, given the fact that I kinda ran off and abandoned everybody.
Still, you’d think they’d give me at least some credit for getting Audra back and making it out of Raiden’s fortress alive.
At least there are more guardians than I was expecting. It looks like maybe fifty—and they’re all strong and healthy and loaded up with weapons.
It’d just be better if those weapons weren’t . . . y’know . . . pointed at my head.
“Thanks for coming,” I say, giving them my best no-need-to-stab-me smile.
Os ignores it and decides to kick off the convo with the worst possible question. “Where’s Gus?”
I clear my throat. “He . . . um . . .”
God—I can’t seem to say it.
These are Gus’s friends. They trained with him and fought with him and knew him way longer than I did.
Os guesses the meaning of my silence and raises his eyes to the sky.
When the rest of the Gales copy him, I figure they’re giving Gus a moment of silence. Then I realize they’re actually listening for his echo.
I do the same, surprised when it works. I’ve never heard one before—and it’s not how I’ve pictured it. I always thought it would be the last remnants of the person’s voice, saying their final goodbye. But it’s more like . . . their entire essence tangled up in a song.
“How did he die?” Os whispers, wiping his eyes.
I can barely choke out “Suicide draft.”
The term gets a mixed reaction, with only some of the Gales seeming familiar with the concept. Os explains it to the rest, and one of the Gales I don’t know steps forward.
“Does that mean you almost got him out?” he asks.
I notice he’s about my age, so he was probably friends with Gus.
“We did get him out,” I say. “And we’d almost broken free of the Stormers chasing us. And then . . .”
Poor guy looks like I just kicked him in the chest.
“What about you?” Os asks Audra. “You seem unharmed.”
I’d better be imagining his annoyed tone, because I will seriously blast him off the face of this planet.
“Only minor injuries,” Audra says, reaching back to rub her right shoulder. “Raiden mostly tried to use Gus to break me.”
“Did it work?” Os asks.
“Of course not,” she snaps. “Though Gus deserves most of the credit. He endured more than any of us will ever know.”
I notice she doesn’t mention that they had the Westerly breakthrough.
That’s probably better—especially when Os points to me and says, “And I’m assuming you two have already rebonded?”
Yeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaeah . . . what am I supposed to say to that?
We came close, but I was worried she wasn’t ready—and also that she had maybe developed some feelings for Gus—so I stopped it, and now she’s probably disgusted with me?
Even saying “not yet” feels too presumptuous.
So I kinda want to hug Aston when he calls from outside the circle of guardians. “Since when are the Gales so interested in teenage romance?”
The guardians spin around and create a gap in their ranks to let Aston saunter through.
“Is it really you?” Os whispers.
“In the flesh,” Aston agrees. “Well . . . mostly.” He lowers his hood and knocks everyone back a step. “If you think this is bad, you do not want me to take off this cloak.”
He waves his arms back and forth, making air whistle through the holes in his hands.
All the Gales squirm and wince.
“Now you see why I stayed away,” Aston tells them. “That, and . . .” His focus drops to his ruined fingers. “I let Raiden find my breaking point.”
“You did,” Os says after several seconds of silence. “Though I’m not sure any of us can claim the same wouldn’t happen to us. And yet here you are. Reappearing after so many years—so many battles where your knowledge and experience could’ve aided us—and you’ve chosen to stand with him.”
“You mean our king?” Aston asks when Os points at me. “Isn’t that the side we’re all on? Or did I miss something during my time in the dungeon? Don’t tell me that just because he turned out to have a mind of his own—and occasionally decides to use it—”
“Hey!” I say.
“—that you’ve decided to undo a decade of planning,” Aston continues, ignoring me.
“That pla
n was a relic,” Os says. “From a time when we put far too much faith in the power of four.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t be so quick to write off the power of four,” Aston tells him. “It may work differently than how we were expecting—and at first I thought he was being lazy—”
“Again—hey!” I interrupt.
“—but I’ve realized that’s how the power functions,” Aston finishes. “It’s about trusting the wind, relinquishing your control and handing it over to the sky. That’s the Westerlies’ influence, I suspect. They like to make up their own mind, not be told what to do. So should we really be surprised their people are just as stubborn? You’re only mad because he won’t go along with your little betrothal plan. But surely you’ve realized by now they never would’ve worked out anyway.”
“Dude!” I say at the same time Solana says, “Hey!”—though I’m not sure why I’m arguing.
“Oh, you know it’s true,” Aston tells us. “You’ve been traveling together less than a week, and you’ve been at each other’s throats most of the time.”
Yeah, but half of our fights were because of the betrothal hanging over us.
Then again, why am I defending this?
“The matter of his marriage is only one of many points that we do not see eye-to-eye on,” Os reminds us.
“Yes. I can see that.” Aston steps closer, leaning in to stare into Os’s eyes. “That is quite a craving you’re bearing. It’s like looking at my own reflection—though with a bit less blue on the lips.”
“I have it under control,” Os says, backing away and blinking. “We have it under control.”
“That’s the lie we tell ourselves,” Aston says. He studies the nearest guardian and shakes his head. “You’ve all been training hard, I see.”
“We have,” Os agrees. “We’re trying to protect our people.”
“And who will protect them from you,” Aston asks, “when the need offers you anything you desire, so long as you surrender to the craving? What happens when you’re so empty and ruined that you’ll do anything for the rush of pain to pull you back together?”
“If that’s the price we have to pay to finish this, so be it!” Os snaps back. “Even you know we don’t stand a chance on our own—and they know it too, otherwise they wouldn’t have sent that.”
Let the Wind Rise PDF Free download

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Let the Wind Rise, p.1

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For anyone who has ever fought and doubted and struggled, because hope is always on the horizon
They’re calling it “California’s Worst Natural Disaster in Decades.”
But there was nothing “natural” about it.
It’s easier if people blame global warming, though. Or Mother Nature. Or any of the other theories scientists have been tossing out, trying to explain the freaky tornadoes that stomped the mansions and country clubs in my stuffy valley into million-dollar heaps of rubble.
Nobody would know how to deal with a reality filled with “sylphs” and “wind wars” and “storms that fight like monsters.”
Plus, then I’d have to tell them the worst part—the part that makes me want to curl up into a ball and never move again.
It was my fault.
If I’d moved to one of the Gales’ bases in the middle of nowhere, or taken my training more seriously, or insert-any-of-the-mountain-of-Vane-fails here, none of this would’ve happened.
My hometown wouldn’t be a federal disaster zone.
Innocent people wouldn’t have died.
And Audra . . .
I’m trying not to think about where she is or what she might be going through. Or how I was the one who insisted she trust her mother and made her fly off with Gus, straight into Raiden’s trap.
Or how she broke our bond.
I want to believe she did it to protect my heritage—stripping away any knowledge she had of the Westerly language so she couldn’t give Raiden what he wants. But I wouldn’t blame her if she hates me.
I definitely hate myself.
But I’m going to fix this—all of it.
I have a plan.
I have the power of four on my side.
It’s time to be the hero everyone’s expecting me to be.
I’m stronger than this.
The words have become my lifeline, warming me with their promise as I whisper them in my frozen cell.
Ruined Northerlies tear at my hair, my skin, the flimsy fabric of my dress. The rough stone floor cuts into my bare legs. Still, I don’t move—don’t blink—as I count my shallow breaths. Waiting for Raiden to return.
Whatever he has planned, whatever horrors lie ahead . . .
I’m stronger.
I have to be.
For Gus.
For the Gales.
For Vane.
Thinking his name should claw at my heart with longing and regret.
Instead, I feel nothing.
No pull.
No pain.
Just an empty void where something precious used to be.
But it’s gone now.
All that remains is a ghost of a memory that would almost feel more like a dream—if it weren’t for the calm breeze wrapped around me.
I can no longer understand its words, but I know the gentle Westerly is loyal.
And that gives me the courage I need.
Raiden has power and pain on his side.
But I have the wind.
Change is in the air—I can feel it as clearly as I can hear the brave melodies of the untainted drafts slipping through the cracks of Raiden’s supposedly impenetrable fortress.
A hum building to a crescendo.
The wind starting to rise.
I’m pretty sure I’ve made a deal with the devil.
But I’ll do whatever it takes to get Audra back—even if it means trusting her psychotic mother.
I can see Arella from my bedroom window, her long dark hair tinted blue in the moonlight as she stands in the middle of my front yard with her face tilted toward the stars. The pose should be peaceful, but her brows are pinched, and she keeps scratching at her pale, skinny arms, leaving finger trails along her skin.
“You’re wearing the Gale Force uniform,” Solana says behind me.
Her voice is barely louder than a whisper, but the sound still makes me jump. Probably because I’ve been avoiding her.
I don’t turn around, even though I know I’m being stupid.
Solana’s coming with me on this mission—quest—whatever-you-want-to-call-it—thing. So I’m going to be spending lots of time with her.
But . . . every time I look at her I can’t help thinking, I saved the wrong girl.
It’s not that I regret rescuing her—there’s no way I could’ve left her trapped in the crushing grip of a Living Storm. But I was still helping Solana while Raiden was dragging Audra and Gus away.
“Yeah,” I mumble, realizing she’s expecting me to say something. “Figured I should start dressing the part.”
She’s quiet for a second, and I hope that means she’s going to leave me alone. Instead she says, “It suits you.”
I snort, but manage to stop myself from pointing out how the heavy black fabric is stiff and scratchy and pretty much the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever worn. I’m done whining about the role I’m expected to play. Plus, it’s cold where we’re going, and this is the warmest thing I own.
“You didn’t hurt your elbow getting the jacket on, did you?” Solana asks.
I did, but I don’t feel like telling her that. So I shrug—which turns out to be a really bad idea.
Pain shoots from my shoulder to my fingertips, hot and sharp and so intense that a tiny yelp slips out before I can stop it.
Painkillers would come in really handy right now—or so I hear.
Sylphs are allergic to human medicine.
Solana rushes to my side, and I can’t help noticing that she’s changed into a pale blue dress, so short and tight it looks painted on. I’m used to the skimpy clothes she wears to keep her skin exposed to the wind, but I still have to turn away before my eyes can focus on the parts of her it doesn’t cover.
“Aren’t you going to freeze in that thing?” I mumble.
“I’m a Southerly,” she says. “My winds keep me warm.”
That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but very few things do when it comes to my life these days. If it’s weird and windy, I’m learning to say “Okay then.”
Solana pulls up my left sleeve, and I cringe when I see how the bandage is bunched and twisted, with the skin swollen all around it.
“I’m sure that has more to do with the fact that my elbow was torn out of joint—twice—than it does with me tweaking it as I got dressed,” I argue.
She sighs and starts rewrapping the wound. “You still could’ve asked me for help.”
“Right, because that wouldn’t have been awkward at all.”
Nothing says “no big deal” like having my sorta ex-fiancée help me put my pants on.
Solana rolls her eyes. “I know this might be hard for you to believe, but things don’t have to be uncomfortable between us. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a guy who doesn’t want me. I know a lost cause when I see one.”
I feel my jaw drop, and realize I must look like an idiot. But seriously, what am I supposed to say to that?
She laughs. “What? You thought I was still pining for you?”
“I . . .”
Nope, I’ve still got nothing.
But I’m looking pretty lame here, so I go for a subject change. “What exactly is pining?”
“Um, it’s like yearning, I guess?”
“And how does someone yearn?”
“I don’t know. But I’m not doing it for you.”
“Okay, I’m starting to feel insulted.”
“And here I thought you’d be relieved.”
I am, I guess.
Though I’d feel better if her left wrist didn’t still have the wide gold cuff with the letters S and V
etched into the design.
Her link.
Basically the Windwalker equivalent of an engagement ring—and this one was given to her by the Gales to symbolize our betrothal. I’m tempted to ask her why she hasn’t pitched that thing in the nearest trash can but decide it’s easier to pretend it’s not there.
“So, we’re good then?” she asks, tying a careful knot at the end of the bandage. “No more weirdness?”
“Sure. No more weirdness.”
I want the words to be true, but she’s resting her hand on my skin and . . .
Her touch is too warm.
Not hot and electric, like Audra’s touch always feels. But it’s a far cry from the cold emptiness I usually get from other girls—and I swear when our eyes meet, I can tell Solana knows it.
My bond is not fading, I repeat over and over in my head, ordering the words to be true.
Audra may have broken our connection on her end, but I’m still holding on with everything I have.
“You okay?” Solana asks, pointing to my shaking hands.
I pull my sleeve down and scoot away from her. “We should probably get going. Arella’s waiting outside.”
Solana doesn’t follow me as I move toward the door, and when I glance back, she’s biting her lip.
“If you’ve changed your mind—”
“I’m coming with you,” she interrupts, tucking her long, wavy blond hair behind her ear. “It’s just . . . do you really think we can trust her?”
She tilts her head toward the window, where Arella’s watching us with narrowed eyes.
If I had my choice, I’d drag Arella back to her suffocating prison and let the Maelstrom finish draining the life out of her. She deserves that and more after betraying Audra again—not to mention the zillion other creeptastic things she’s done.
But her gift allows her to feel things on the wind that no one else can—things that will hopefully give us a better chance of sneaking into Raiden’s fortress and getting Audra and Gus out of there alive.
“We need her,” I tell Solana, reminding myself as much as her.
Solana opens her mouth, then closes it again. “I’ll get my stuff,” she says, and disappears down the hallway.
I use the time alone to take one last look around my room, making sure I’m not forgetting anything—not that there’s anything worth taking. I shove a bottle of pain pills into my pocket, since those helped me poison a Stormer in one of my previous battles. Everything else is just a bunch of video games and dirty clothes and random-crap-that-won’t-matter-in-a-wind-battle, and proves how supremely unprepared I am for this.
Even my cell phone is useless. The battery died while I was trying to text my mom answers to all her questions. So it looks like the last thing I’ll be saying to my parents—maybe ever—is:
I didn’t destroy the house, but it’s safer if you don’t come home yet. I’ll call you if I make it back.
I’m sure the smiley face really set my mom’s mind at ease.
I hate telling my parents to keep running, but I didn’t know what else to say. They’ll never be safe here. Not unless . . .
I kill Raiden.
The thought makes my legs wobble and my vision dim as my peaceful Westerly instincts rebel against the idea of violence. But I grit my teeth and remember that everyone’s counting on me.
Audra’s counting on me.
So is Gus.
I repeat their names until the fear fades into something I can swallow.
But it’s still there, so deep and solid it feels like a stone sloshing around in my stomach.
I need air.
I jam my phone onto the charger—it’s better to plan on making it back, right?—and run outside, hoping to find a few breezes to clear my head.
But nights are stuffy in the desert. The only winds I can sense are miles away, skirting the base of the mountains. So, by the time I reach Arella, my jacket is soaked with sweat. I’ve also had to swat away about fifteen bugs.
“The sky is restless,” Arella whispers, rubbing at the goose bumps covering her arms. “A storm is coming, but I can’t find the source of the turbulence.”
“Then perhaps you shouldn’t be leaving,” a deep voice says behind us.
I fight off a sigh as I turn to face the captain of the Gales. “We already discussed this, Os, and—”
“I know,” he interrupts, reaching up to smooth the narrow braid that hangs down the left side of his face. The hairdo is supposed to represent his authority over the guardians. Mostly I think it looks super dorky.
“But I’ve taken some time to think,” he tells me, “and the fact of the matter is, we need you here.”
He points to my back patio, where the faded lawn chairs have been dragged into the dim glow of our porch lights to create some sort of makeshift triage center. Only seven guardians survived our last fight—and most of them barely. The few who can actually move are working to bandage up the others with the meager supplies I tracked down in my bathroom.
Guilt makes the stone in my stomach burn hotter than asphalt in the sun, but I let my bigger worries snuff out the pain.
Os put out a call for the remaining guardians at our other bases to gather here and provide additional support and supplies.
I’m the only chance Audra has. I know Os. He may be worried about Gus, but he’d celebrate if Audra didn’t make it back. Shoot—a few days ago he threatened to break our bond himself.
He’s the president of Team Solana, still rooting for her to be queen. Which I’m not opposed to, as long as I don’t have to be king—but that’s a whole other complicated nightmare I’ll worry about later.
“You ready?” I ask Arella.
Os blocks us as we try to walk away. “Being king is about what’s best for your people, Vane. And your people need you alive. We will battle Raiden’s forces again. We will finish this. But first we need to ensure we’re properly prepared.”
“Gus and Audra don’t have that kind of time,” I remind him. “Besides, this is a rescue, not an invasion.”
I’m probably being naive, but I keep hoping we can run this like a heist movie, sneaking in and out like clockwork. All I have to do is come up with an actual plan for how to pull that off.
I try to look confident as I call the drafts I can feel in the distance, choosing one of each of the four winds. They whisk smoothly to my side, and I weave them into a deep blue wind spike infused with the power of four. Os watches me work, rubbing the fresh scabs along the scar under his eye.
It used to be a T for “traitor”—a present from Raiden—but the last battle added a new cut that crossed the whole thing out.
“You harness a tremendous power,” he says. “But you’re still not strong enough to challenge Raiden alone.”
“He won’t be alone,” Arella reminds him.
She straightens up, looking a bit more like the scary Arella I’m used to—until the air shifts and the ache of her gift makes her double over.
Arella’s always been affected by the wind, but being separated from the sky for so many weeks must have weakened her further.
“I’m going too,” Solana says, marching up beside me.
She pats the windslicer she’s strapped around her waist, and I’m sure she means to look tough and soldierly. But something about her tiny dress and fluffy hair makes it a little hard to see her as scary.
Os sighs. “Oh good, a princess, a deranged murderer, and an inexperienced, untrained teenager incapable of violence will be flying across the continent and trying to sneak past the greatest warrior our world has ever seen—and his entire army. How could that possibly go wrong?”
“You’re underestimating my power,” I tell him, holding up my wind spike.
“No, you’re overestimating it, Vane.”
He hisses a word I can’t understand, and the Northerly in the spike screams, twisting and writhing and turning a sallow yellow as the spike hums with a different energy.
The power of pain.
Solana cringes, and Arella covers her ears and collapses to her knees.
I can’t blame them. The sound of a draft shattering makes me want to cry and vomit and punch something really hard all at the same time.
Instead I drop the spike and kick it away from me. Then I grab Os’s shoulders.
“What gives you the right—”
“What gives you the right?” he asks, shoving me away. “We’ve sacrificed everything to protect you and train you and make you a king worth serving—a king who will lead our people out of these treacherous times. And what has it gotten us?”
He turns to the wounded Gales again, and the reminder stings worse than if he’d smacked me.
“That doesn’t change the fact that you’re destroying the wind,” I say when my voice is working again.
“Raiden’s left us no choice! We wouldn’t be here right now if I hadn’t broken the drafts in your worthless weapons.”
I want to argue, but I remember the battle all too well.
My spikes bounced off Raiden’s Living Storms like we were pelting them with giant Q-tips.
“In war,” Os whispers, “sacrifices have to be made.”
He retrieves his yellowed spike, running a trembling hand over the edge and examining his creation with a look that’s part horror, part fear, but mostly a whole lot of something else. It takes me a second to figure out that it’s awe.
Audra warned him that the power of pain is like a drug—a craving that feeds on itself, getting worse every time anyone harnesses it.
“You have to stop, Os,” I say. “You’re deluding yourself if you think the power isn’t corrupting you.”
Os’s laugh sounds like thunder. “The only one deluding himself here is you, if you really think I’m going to let our future king run off on a suicide mission.”
“Is that a threat?” I ask, not missing the way he’s lowered the ruined wind spike so it’s aimed right for my chest.
“Think of it as an order.”
I glance at Solana, who looks about as dangerous as a hissing kitten. And Arella’s still on the ground, clawing at her skin, crippled by the wind’s pain. So . . . Os may have a point about my backup.
But I’m still going.
“I’m not afraid of you,” I tell him, calling the nearest Westerly to my side.
Let the Wind Rise by Shannon Messenger / Fantasy / Young Adult / Romance & Love have rating