gifts of the Auldtree

Book One: Starlight Jewel – Available now!

Starlight Jewel

gifts of the Auldtree book one

The Austringer

By the sword an Austringer rises, and only by the sword can he fall. Tarley loved his Austringer, but killed him to take his place. Hybrids can’t be led by the weak or feeble.

The Starlight Jewel

The Starlight Jewel must become whoever is needed to guide the hybrids of the Starlight Company through the dark. Her prestige puts her on a pedestal—and not one they’ll let her step down from willingly. Axly earned that title, and now she must find a way to shed it, lest it destroy everything she holds dear.

The Watcher

The Ashites would have used him for wickedness, he knew that. But he can’t help but feel that there is a place for him. A place where people would use him for good and let him protect the ones he loves. He would do anything to be able to save her as she once saved him.

The General

Discipline, duty, and obligation make for a life that is dull and gray. Yet all the wild things inside that had to be quelled are still there, buried in the depths. He craves the fire in the eyes of those who live with their passions unveiled. It’s best to be wary of what tempts you. “Just one” can quickly become “just one more”…

Starlight Jewel

gifts of the Auldtree book one

The Austringer

By the sword an Austringer rises, and only by the sword can he fall. Tarley loved his Austringer, but killed him to take his place. Hybrids can’t be led by the weak or feeble.

The Starlight Jewel

The Starlight Jewel must become whoever is needed to guide the hybrids of the Starlight Company through the dark. Her prestige puts her on a pedestal—and not one they’ll let her step down from willingly. Axly earned that title, and now she must find a way to shed it, lest it destroy everything she holds dear.

The Watcher

The Ashites would have used him for wickedness, he knew that. But he can’t help but feel that there is a place for him. A place where people would use him for good and let him protect the ones he loves. He would do anything to be able to save her as she once saved him.

The General

Discipline, duty, and obligation make for a life that is dull and gray. Yet all the wild things inside that had to be quelled are still there, buried in the depths. He craves the fire in the eyes of those who live with their passions unveiled. It’s best to be wary of what tempts you. “Just one” can quickly become “just one more”…

Paperback & Kindle out now! (Hardcover available soon)



The Characters

Axly

Struggling between worlds and loyalties, she’ll do whatever it takes to preserve what she loves.

GRIM

A cautious and dutiful soldier who’s wary of all that sparkles.

HYDE

Rough beginnings formed Jack, but now that he’s Hyde, he has his sister to protect him.

TARLEY

He rules as well as he can, but some birds make it more difficult than others.

ROARIK

His hybrid daughter will only live a short season, but a more tumultuous one than he’s weathered in centuries.

CIRA'LAV

She only wanted a book.

The World

Centuries ago, the land of Norge was two countries. Ash and Norge were friendly neighbors at first, but the Ashites grew in their knowledge of science, weapons, and human-sprygan hybrids. They pecked at their Norgan neighbors, erasing memories to prevent retaliation. Memory or no, the Norgans knew who to blame. They turned on the country of Ash and when the dust settled on their war, the country of Ash was no more.

Outside the lush country of Norge, the struggles are simpler in nature. Swamps, deserts, snow, jagged mountains, volcanoes, sulfur pits… Cultures formed around values and principles that enabled survival in places that didn’t welcome humans with lush fields and easy prey.

The Church of the Stars is the prevailing moral and spiritual organization in the world. Evidence is clear to any with eyes to see—the gods are in the sky each night, and some even fall to the land below.

Firstlands

Norge

Diverse forests stretch out over sloping mountains and rolling hills that border the Gray Sea. Norge’s great army has dwindled in centuries of peace. Luxury permeates every city nestled in the safety of diverse sprygan forests. Even the peasants partake in simple pleasures like floral embroidered collars, striped stockings, and festival pastries. But Minalav, now the capital of Norge, is the center of luxury. The balance struck by Norgans and hybrids there has produced wealth beyond reason. Nobles from around the world come to Minalav for sprygan weapons and for a hint of intrigue and adventure. 

Ordem

Cut off from most of the world by sprygan forests, Ordem has steady trade with the fringes of Remorra and Norge. Most of their land is tropical rainforest or swamp with a few grand cities and tribes of hunter gatherers in between. Mining is their main source of trade. The Church of the Stars is respected here, as they often send their battle priests to aid in hunting some of the forest’s more menacing creatures.

Northlands

Tarth

Tarthians have grown accustomed to the constant need for soldiers after decades of defending their borders. Women work in the trades and raise the children, while men are conscripted to take shifts at the borders. Practical stone houses line the streets and even the nobles rarely have reason to leave Tarth for anything but trade. Half the year Tarth rests under a blanket of snow, but like the evergreens that permeate the land, Tarthians have no season of rest.

Ifer

Iferian culture is a mix of the practical elements of Tarth, the honorable elements of Remorra, and the religious elements of Van Couth. They are the strongest supporters of the Church of the Stars outside of Van Couth. While the church takes no sides in battles between men, they offer promises of victory to the faithful.

Yeshin Ice Desert

On Tarth’s western border, the Yeshin nomads know nothing of the morality and honor of their neighbors. The merciless ice desert cultivated a series of warring tribes who raid and pillage where they can, leaving nothing, not even the corpses of their allies, to waste. Tarth invited sprygans to inhabit and expand the forest at their western border, but trees grow slowly and roads are still needed to pass through for trade with Midrax.

Midrax

Sulfurous volcanoes dot the land of Midrax, which doesn’t suffer from the same harsh cold as their other northern neighbors. They are not quite so refined as Whillfell, nor are they as rural as Doshan. With molten catastrophes always threatening, no neighbors vie for the land they’ve come to love—after growing used to the smell.

Midlands

Van Couth

Van Couth is an island nation centered around the Church of the Stars and is home to the seven trade guilds. All that is truly civilized is birthed in Van Couth and their influence and wisdom dictates the development of the other nations.

Whillfell

The mountains of Whillfell have allowed them to become rich on timber—a scarcity in most of the world due to the Sprygan Treaty. Philosophy and religious devotion are the practices of the nobility, while the citizens are worked to the bone. Still, even the lowliest lumberjack in Whillfell is a man of some culture, looking down on their Doshan neighbors, grateful to be part of a more refined world.

Doshan

The southern plains of Doshan are good enough for farming, but the rest of the country is swamplands. Unlike their fanciful neighbors, Norge and Whillfell, there’s little luxury and little trade. They’re rougher people who make their own way in the world and mind their own business, but welcome strangers when they pass through.

Remorra

A vast desert country with a society bound by honor, loyalty, and community. The basilisks that roam the sands at night make travel perilous, and flame walls surround the city to keep them at bay. With little suitable farmland and a great need for oil, they rely heavily on trade. The coastal cities thrive on fishing while others survive on mining. The Sandmother offers aid to some, but the basilisks are her favored companions. For centuries, Remorrians resisted the Church of the Stars’ offers of assistance with the basilisks, but some cities have now turned to the church, causing a clash between Old and New Remorra.

The Gifts

The Sprygan Treaty dictates that at human and sprygan discretion, hybrids of the two should be regularly created in Minalav to foster communication and trade between the two species. 

These hybrids are varied in form and features, taking on traits of each parent. Humans are gifted with complex language, a depth of emotions, and graceful forms. Sprygans are gifted with traits more common to the natural world, along with some others that are otherworldly. 

The worth of hybrids is judged by their sprygan mothers based on the gifts they get from each species. 

From the sprygans, hybrids inherit gifts of the flesh, gifts of sight, gifts of the senses, and gifts of connection.

gifts of the Flesh

Quickstep and softstep present in many of the same ways—as an excess of soft tissue in the soles of the feet and the joints of the legs, woody bones that reduce the hybrid’s overall weight, and small musculature differences in the legs. Varying degrees of these features and the resulting speed and quietness of footsteps determine whether a hybrid can be said to have the gifts and how potently. Proper development and maintenance of the gifts requires some sunlight and exercise. These features also aid in impact absorption when jumping from heights. 

Quickstep

Musculature differences that allow a hybrid to reach greater speeds than others. It does not allow one to stop any faster. 

Softstep

Extra padding in the soles and joints which allow for silent footsteps and soft landings. Such silence doesn’t put humans at ease.

gifts of True Sight

These gifts present as amber coloring in the eyes—sometimes pure, sometimes blended with the human vitreous and tissues of the eye. There is no physical distinction between heartseer and nightseer except upon autopsy, when the eye can be removed and the strands connecting the eyes to the brain are confirmed to be of human or sprygan nature. However, the strength of the gifts can often be deduced by the amount of amber in the eyes. If a fair amount is inherited from the human parent, the amber will blend with the human coloring in the iris, resulting in either green or light brown eyes, which is indicative of only one gift of sight. If the iris is entirely amber, both gifts are present. If the whites and pupils are also affected, the gifts are very potent.

Heartseer

Allows one to see auras reflecting the malice of others. Any deed done with wicked intentions leaves a dark stain which these hybrids can see. 

Nightseer

Gives the ability to see at night, though these hybrids have difficulty in discerning red tones even during the light of day. 

gifts of Base Senses

These gifts are easily tested, but have no anatomical indicators without autopsy, which reveals concentrations of sprygan tissue in relevant sections of the brain. While both gifts are useful, the senses can be overwhelmed to the hybrid’s detriment. They’re strongly tied to memory immersion and navigational skills. While there are no visual indications, testing a hybrid for these gifts can be as simple as taking them out in a thunderstorm to see if they wince or taking them to a tannery to see if they faint.

Keenscent

An enhanced sense of smell, for better or worse. Strong scents can overwhelm and confuse the hybrid.

Keenears

Enhanced hearing and the ability to balance sounds unless they’re sudden and loud.

gifts of Connection

These are the rarest gifts. Only a handful of hybrids have effacer at any given time, while impartation and heartfire haven’t been seen since the fall of the Ashites. Just as with the sensory gifts, these gifts present no anatomical indicators except through autopsy. Effacer and impartation can be seen with sprygan tissue in the brain, while heartfire can be seen with sprygan and stone-like tissue in the heart. However, the sprygans can sense these gifts in hybrids. These gifts allow hybrids to tap into the web of connections between beings that go otherwise unseen.

Effacer

The ability to erase the images of a person from the memory and workings of humans. The sharing of emotions that occurs in effacement can be addictive and dangerous.

Impartation

The ability to share gifts with others through touch. Some practice is needed for humans to balance sensory input safely, and impartation can become involuntary.

Heartfire

The ability to sustain life in another with whom a deep connection is attained. At the cost of excruciating pain.