How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days

By: Kerrelyn Sparks


In another time on another world called Aerthlan, there are five kingdoms. Four of the kingdoms extend across a continent. There, the four kings thirst for war.

The fifth kingdom lies in the Great Western Ocean. It consists of two islands called Moon and Mist. There, the fishermen and traders rely on the two moons in the night sky to guide their boats safely home. Over time, the islanders began to pray to the twin moons, Luna and Lessa, and now they believe their goddesses are watching over them. The islanders and their queen live on the larger island of Moon. Only one person lives on the small Isle of Mist—the Seer.

The kings on the mainland refuse to bow to female gods. They worship the sun, a male god. They call their god the Light and their people the Enlightened. Anyone who denies their god is put to death.

Twice a year, the two moons align in the night sky. A child born on the night the moons embrace will be gifted with some sort of supernatural power. These children are called the Embraced. They are protected on the islands, but in danger on the mainland. The kings will not allow anyone to possess a power that they do not, so they dispatch assassins to kill the newly born Embraced. Parents who wish to save their child either lie about when the child was born or send the child secretly to the Isle of Moon where he or she will be safe.

And so our story begins on the Isle of Moon at the Convent of the Two Moons, where five young girls have been raised. They know nothing of their families. Nothing of their past. Nothing of the destiny in store for them.

They only know they are Embraced.

Chapter One

Red as blood. Black as death.

The thoughts jumped into Luciana’s mind the instant she spotted the red and black colored pebbles in her hand. Even the third pebble, marked with the number two, suddenly struck her as ominous. Two deaths? She quickly closed her fist around the Telling Stones to keep her companions from seeing them.

“Come now.” Gwennore, who sat to her right, gave her a sympathetic smile. “It cannot be that bad.”

“For sure,” Brigitta agreed. “’Tis naught but a game. Remember last week when I picked the stone with the number seven, and ye said I would have seven suitors vying for my hand? ’Twas nonsense, but I still enjoyed the sound of it.”

“Aye.” Sorcha smirked. “Ye liked it better than the prophecy I gave yerself.”

“That I would sprout seven whiskers on my chin?” Brigitta shuddered. “Thank the goddesses that hasn’t happened.”

“Neither have the seven suitors.” Sorcha’s eyes glinted with humor when Brigitta huffed and swatted at her arm.

“It doesn’t matter,” Maeve chimed in. “Why would any of us wish for seven suitors when we have one another?”

Gwennore patted Maeve on the knee. “Ye’re only fifteen. In a year or so, ye could be changing yer mind.”

“And there ye go again, treating me like a baby. I’ll be sixteen in a few weeks, and then I’ll be only one year younger than yerself.” She lifted her chin. “Besides, I wouldn’t care if I had a hundred suitors. I’m staying here at the convent with all of you till the end of my days.”

“Aye,” Sorcha muttered. “And we may reach the end of our days afore Luciana shows us the stones she has picked.”

Luciana sighed, still reluctant to open her hand. Out of the forty pebbles contained in the wooden bowl, only one had been painted black. And only two red. She and her friends had painted most of the pebbles with pretty rainbow colors or simple numbers. Since the pebbles were supposed to tell their future, they’d been clever enough to stack the odds in their own favor.

“Why the worried face?” Gwennore asked. “Have any of our predictions e’er come true?”

“Yers have,” Maeve reminded her. “One time I picked the pink, yellow, and number three stones. Then ye said I would find three pink seashells on a sunny day, and it happened the very next morn.”

Gwennore snorted. “Because ye went to the beach to look for them. ’Tis the same as I have always said. We make our own futures.”

“That’s not always true.” Sorcha frowned. “Did any of us ask to be left here as babes, rejected by our families?”

Luciana winced at the harsh reminder. Like the other girls, she’d been an infant when she’d been dropped off at the convent. According to Mother Ginessa, they were all orphans. But did that mean they had no family at all?

Gwennore’s white-blond hair, lavender-blue eyes, and slightly pointed ears could only mean that she possessed some elfin blood. Did she have family in the elfin kingdom of Woodwyn? Sorcha had fiery red hair like the fierce warriors from Norveshka. And Brigitta looked similar to the people from the coastal kingdom of Tourin.

Luciana suspected they had been abandoned because they were Embraced. But whether they had family or not, they still had each other, so at a young age they had declared themselves sisters. They were their own family, and the one prophecy they had all agreed upon was that the Convent of the Two Moons would always be their home.

Each day, there was an hour before dinner that the nuns had set aside for quiet meditation. Luciana and her sisters had tried when they were young, but whenever they had formed a circle on the floor in their room, attempting to meditate, invariably someone made a funny face and the others started giggling. It didn’t take long before pillows started flying and the air was thick with goose feathers.