Healer’s Awakening by David Hochhalter is a Beach Reads Event pick #beachread #fantasy #giveaway
Title: Healer’s Awakening
Author: David Hochhalter and Tom Crepeau
The magical heralds emerged from the mist. I hadn’t thought they’d seen me, but before I knew it I was tasked with choosing the guide for the next merlin in exchange for the ability to read. They didn’t even ask me if I wanted this! Now, all I had to do was survive. If only they’d decided to grant me a little magic as well…. But I’m stubborn, and magic or no magic, I walked a path that introduced to spirits and led me through a war. I didn’t know magic. I didn’t know how or even if I could carry out the herald’s task. But the one thing I did know was that I wanted to make a difference in the world. I became a healer. Then the herald’s prophecy started knocking on my door and my life became even more complicated.
I resisted the urge to call to it. The griffin was about thirty feet up on a large branch looking down at me. The ranger was at the base of a tree about seventy feet away. I had to take it on faith he was still there, it was as if he had melted into the background. I couldn’t see him anymore.
Bernard, standing a few feet behind me whispered, “This is a bad idea. If you die here, I get to listen to your mother all the way back.”
“Ha-ha,” I said dryly.
The griffin cocked its head at me and squawked.
“It’s okay,” I said. “You can come down.”
It landed gracefully near me and squawked louder while extending its eagle head toward Bernard. Got it. Don’t like you, go away now. It probably had some understanding that swords were dangerous to him. I gave Bernard a pleading look, and he backed up ten feet. What in the world would my parents be saying to me right now? I took a deep breath and held out my hand. The griffin edged forward and began sniffing it. I slowly stroked its head. The griffin closed its eyes and rubbed its head against my arm.
How do you tell a griffin to go find a nice forest to claim, away from humans? Short of a dragon, or humans with powerful bows, griffins were the alpha of the forest. Death from above. True to the ranger’s comment, “Very much like a dog.” The griffin enjoyed being stroked. Now it leaned in close and rubbed up against me. I had to brace myself or I would be squished. A memory surfaced from several years ago. “She is awakening and will need a guide.” With just about every minute of my day so busy these last years, I almost forgot about the two elks. Was this what they meant? I rubbed the griffin’s fur while kneeling down. Yep, the griffin was a girl.
I jumped at the mental male voice. I had heard it before, but now it sounded even more tired, and as if from a great distance. Looking up, I saw the white elk some distance away, mist swirling around the creature seeming to pull at it.
I thought back, <“Is this what the battle was about? The griffin?”>
By now Bernard had spotted the elk and hissed out.
<“You and I shall speak one more time, Ms. Abara. Know this. A darkness is coming, and many things will be lost. You cannot stop it. But remember, your soul is your own. As are your choices.”>
<“But what should I do? And, what choices? Who are you?”>
I felt the mental touch of the elk begin to retreat. He almost seemed to be falling into the mist.
<“I was the herald of M—”> and it was gone.
I grabbed onto the griffin’s side and buried my face in its fur. Giant wings unfurled and covered me. I cried as I held onto her. Nothing made sense. I didn’t want the griffin to die. I wasn’t certain what to do at first, but a thought grew bigger in my mind, “Your soul is your own, as are your choices.” I got a choice, and I was going to use it.
The griffin pulled her wings back and mock-pecked at my head. Laughing, I stroked her head again and looked up into her eyes. “You need to guard our lady’s forest,” I said. “It is what I want you to do.”
We stared at each other, then she rubbed against my head, almost knocking me over. Then backing up, she launched herself into the air and within moments was above the trees, flying south. When I turned around, tears trickled down my face. I felt like I had lost and gained something at the same time. But if asked, I wouldn’t be able to explain either.
“Did you see the white elk?” said Bernard excitedly. “Good fortune.”
“I’ve seen him before.” The memory was like mist in my mind. “Several years ago, I think.”
He patted me on the shoulder as we caught up with the ranger. “You are truly our lady’s Voice.”
Our liege lord had been watching from farther away, surrounded by his men-at-arms. I ran up and hugged him.
Laughing, he asked me, “What was that for?”
I sniffled. “For giving me a chance and not killing her. Thank you.”
I was almost ten, no child, but he picked me up and carried me on his shoulder for a bit, anyway. “So, tell me about yourself, Petra Abara, Voice of your lady.”
So, I did.
He put me down before we left the trees. “Have you decided what you are going to do next?”
I kicked a small rock and looked away. “Mother thinks I will begin bleeding soon. Neither of my parents have magic. Perhaps if I work with the potions maker when my bleeding starts, magic might find me.”
Our lord didn’t laugh. That made me like him.
“I wish you luck in your plans, Ms. Abara. If it works, let me know through your lady. My second son is one year older than you.”
I looked up in surprise but didn’t respond. What could I say? Magic would either find me or it wouldn’t. “My lord, where should I be to treat any wounded?”
The ranger laughed. “Men drink, Ms. Abara. There will be fights. You will have patients soon enough.”
Our lord sighed. “Aye. Acrum, please show Ms. Abara to the healer’s tent and stay with her. If anyone treats her with disrespect, you are welcome to have whatever is left after Sir Bernard is done with them.”
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Healer’s Awakening is an original fantasy filled with mystical lands, prophecies, a chosen young woman, war, and a full cast of characters. The world-building is impressive considering it’s a fantasy book.
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By day David Hochhalter is an optical engineer who has designed some of the longest terrestrial systems in the world. Since he was given the 2:00am middle of the night idea brain instead of the 9:00am brain, he decided to try writing instead of reading technical manuals. Besides, imaging stories is more fun than reading about amplifiers. His published books are Wandmaking 101, Wandmaking 201 and the Healer’s series starting with Healer’s Awakening. Currently he is working on another series in the same universe.