What Lies Beyond the Veil, the first must-read book in the dark fantasy Of Flesh & Bone Series from USA Today bestselling author Adelaide Forrest writing as Harper L. Woods is available now!
Once, we’d worshipped them as Gods.
For nearly 400 years, the Veil has protected us from the Fae of Alfheimr. In their absence, our lives have shifted from decadence and sin to survival and virtue under the guidance of the New Gods. I’ve spent my entire life tending to the gardens next to the boundary between our worlds, drawn to the shimmering magic like a moth to the flame.
Then, we died on their swords.
All of that changes the day the Veil shatters, unleashing the fae upon our world once again. The magic of faerie marks those of us they mean to take, but the Mist Guard protecting Nothrek will kill us all before they let the fae have us. There’s no choice but to flee everything I’ve ever known, not if I want to live to see my twenty-first birthday as a free woman.
Now, they’ll claim what’s theirs.
But before they capture me, Caelum saves me from the Wild Hunt. Fae-marked and on the run, he is able to fight back in ways I only dream of. From tentative alliance to all-consuming passion, our bond strengthens as the fae close in and evil lurks ever nearer. With my life on the line, he is everything I shouldn’t dare to want and a distraction I can’t afford. I can’t seem to stay away, not even with something greater on the line.
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I stepped in front of the High Priest, bowing my head forward in submission as my mother sobbed behind me. Her wails echoed through the gardens, each one striking against my heart.
“Kneel,” the High Priest said, the order a murmur between the two of us as he guided me forward. The Veil swayed just in front of me, close enough to touch, and for just one moment I pictured reaching out to touch it.
I wondered what would happen if I did, then watched my fingers stretching forward as if compelled. The magic pulsing off of it touched my skin, sliding over my fingers as the curtain swayed toward me in perfect unison. The High Priest pressed his hand to the top of my shoulder, guiding me to my knees. The movement pulled my hand away from the magic that covered my skin before I could touch the Veil itself, tearing away the warmth I’d almost known.
In a world filled with nothing but cold, bitter half-truths, the Veil beckoned like a warm embrace, welcoming me into a place where I would be protected at all costs.
My hands dropped to my thighs as my knees hit the dirt beneath me, my palms facing the sky as I tipped my head up to stare into the eyes of the High Priest. He stood just to the side of me, his body close enough that he could stop me from falling into the Veil itself when I died, but out of the way so that my blood would stain the soil and not him.
“We thank you for your sacrifice, Estrella Barlowe of Mistfell. May you find peace in your next existence, wrapped in the arms of The Mother.” He sank his hand into the hair at the back of my head, gripping the strands tightly to pull me to the angle he needed. The tip of that dagger pressed into the side of my throat, digging into the flesh as the warmth of blood trickled down my skin. “Close your eyes now, child.”
His eyes bore into mine, willing me to do as commanded. I understood at that moment that he didn’t want to watch the life fade from my eyes as he slit my throat—that he took no pleasure in doing the will of The Father.
I did, letting them drift closed. Ringing filled my ears, drowning out my mother’s hoarse cries and the sound of Brann trying to console her. My body filled with warmth, like the press of a warm hearth on a cold winter’s night, the stars shimmering outside the window as I cuddled up with a book.
It was the first moment of contentment I’d felt, the first moment when there wasn’t any pain. I didn’t want to hurt anymore. I didn’t want to be afraid of what was to come.
I drew in a breath, feeling the High Priest dig his knife deeper into my skin and begin to drag it to the side. Sudden awareness burst through my contentment, the impression of someone banging on the other side of a doorway, though there was none to be found.
The world shook as an animalistic roar came from the other side of the Veil.