Series: Book 1 of the Bender’s Novels
Saga: Guardian of Monsters
Release Date: August 2018
Publisher: Fire Quill Publishing
Description: Ethan Sutcliff seems like a normal seventeen-year-old—at least that’s what he’s trying to portray. In a secret society run by the Supernaturals, Ethan is what witches call a Bender. Benders are Witches’ Guardians, who are able to control a witches’ ability, bend it, or move it away from harming humans. In Ethan’s case, he is able to bend the Earth element. But at the age of fifteen, he lost all connection to it, and the reasons behind it could only mean one of two things: His Wielder is either dead, or hiding out somewhere.
Alex Burgendorf has been living in her aunt’s locket for the past sixteen years with her mother—a Fire Wielder, and her father—a Water Wielder. For sixteen years, her parents vowed to protect her, and they have, as she is the last Earth wielding witch. However, time is running out. Alex must find her Bender, or the fate of the Supernaturals might be at stake.
About the Author
Kristin lives with her family in South Africa where she writes full time. Her Debut novel Immortal: A Varcolac novel, followed a month later by Hinder: A Benders Novel, will be the first two novels in a saga called The Guardian of Monsters. There’s a total of nine novels in the working, following witches, vampires, werewolves, djinns and shifters. You can find out more about Kristin’s work at http://www.kristinpingbooks.com
Awe filled me as I watched Ethan playing in the garden. Though only ten years old and scrawny, he was… a wonder.
The farm was the safest place for him. A few miles from the city and its prying eyes. Less danger here.
His hands lightly stroked the rosebushes as he walked past them.
It wasn’t time for them to bloom yet, but at Ethan’s tender touch, pink and white rosebuds opened and expanded into the most beautiful roses I’d ever seen.
“Ethan,” I called from the porch, a warning in my tone.
His blond head snapped toward me. He pulled his hand to his chest. “Sorry, Dad.”
“Be careful.” I spoke as if he was pulling the cat’s tail—not lending nature a hand.
With one flutter of the newspaper, I pretended to return to reading. After a few seconds scowling at the small black letters, I peeked over the top of the page and stared back at Ethan.
Natalie, his mother, never let him explore. She worried about the others. That they would see.
Ethan walked over to the willow sapling Natalie had planted a few weeks ago. It wasn’t tall; the top barely reached Ethan’s waistline. He stumbled and fell with hands first—diving right into the willow.
It started to grow… and grow. In a matter of seconds, it was a full-grown tree. Slender, silvery green leaves swayed in the lazy breeze.
The newspaper fluttered as I set it aside and stood, mouth agape. Not many could do that at his age.
Surprise galloped on the heels of awe, followed by a dash of fear—okay, more than a dash—as Ethan stood and brushed himself off.
So this was what Natalie felt most of the time
My eyes darted this way and that. What if anyone saw?
Everything was exactly as it had been a few moments ago, except for the mature willow in the middle of the yard, its graceful branches lazily stroking the earth. A few cows grazed serenely in the green pasture. The chickens clucked in their pen. The ginger tomcat lay on the opposite chair to mine.
Behind me, the door opened. Natalie gasped. She smacked my shoulder with a dish cloth—hard. I scrambled back from her wrath.
“I told you to watch him!” she hissed. She ran down the steps with huge eyes and long strides. She reached him and crouched down in front of him, almost pulling the boy down with her, scowling.
Rubbing my shoulder, I watched the expression on my son’s face. He hadn’t meant to do it. It was an accident. Ethan never asked to be born into our family of Benders.
Ever since he got a taste of his element, well, he’d just been so damn curious.
He would need to find his match: an earth Wielder.
Earth Wielders rarely reached their fifteenth birthdays. And because of what Ethan would become one day, his life was in mortal danger.
Benders were born to protect Wielders. The payoff was being able to manipulate the Wielder’s element. To use it to their advantage. To, well, bend it into whatever they wanted the element to do. Whether it was to make a tree grow or a fire burn or the wind blow… Wielders could start the process, but the Benders performed the magic. They told the flame how to crackle, the earth how to quake, the gale how to waft.
Without a Bender, Wielders would cause chaos.
If a water Wielder or an earth Wielder had no Bender, then a tsunami was inevitable.
Wielders and Benders were a mechanism, an interdependent team that functioned as one. They benefited mutually from one another and kept each other safe.
It had always been this way since Wielders were labeled as Witches. Now they had plenty of names—Alchemists, spellbinders, and shifters, to name a few.
On Ethan’s tenth birthday, exactly at the stroke of midnight, he had received his earth element. The connection between the earth and Ethan was so powerful, it had triggered an earthquake for a full three seconds.
Benders always received the full dose of their Wielders’ ability. For the next few years, Ethan would be able to wield the earth Element as well as bend it. For the next four years, we not only needed to find his Wielder, but also to keep him safe from the others.
Earth Wielders were a force of balance. They were the true leaders of all supernaturals. They had to stay pure. They carried within them the power for immense good… or if they fell, immense evil. If they lost their sense of balance, they could become Necrocretors. Necrocretors didn’t play by the rules. They broke and bent them as they pleased.
Everything Natalie and I did aimed toward keeping Ethan balanced and on the side of good.
The hardest test Ethan would face in his entire life would be if his Wielder turned out to be female. The Resistance. Wielders and Benders could never be involved as a couple. And yet, the pull is addictive. Strong. Even though it was against the law, many Wielders and Benders failed. I knew; I was one of them… a long time ago.
The rest of the supernaturals consisted of what humans called monsters, myths, and paranormal beings that made great characters of most fictional tales.
Ever since the jinns lost the chalice, they were no longer part of the race. When they lost the chalice about three hundred years ago, the earth Wielders took over completely. In the wake of the jinns’ collapse, there were ten who controlled everything, but one by one, they started to perish, and nobody knew why.
Lowest on the totem pole were the shifters. Once a shifter went rogue and became a Necrocretor, there was no turning back. Shifters were vicious and could turn into anyone with the same anatomy as theirs. Necrocretors loved gaining shifters.
It was why earth Wielders never reached that age, the age where their magic matures and stabilizes. The phase where their magic was powerful enough to reset the balance, to wipe the earth clean from all the evil inside the Necrocretors, from all the ugly, and to start upholding the law of not just the elements, but of all the supernaturals.
There hadn’t been someone like that in the past four hundred years.
It was why the Guardians, a supernatural human race, started with the Sentinels.
A group of five that would jump in when things got out of hand.
Sometimes I think they were a myth, as they haven’t jumped in yet.
Before Sentinels it was just earth Wielders. That was how powerful they were, and Ethan was the lucky boy that was going to be part of that. He was going to become the next earth Wielder’s protector in every way possible.
Tears formed in Ethan’s eyes, but he refused to let them roll down his cheek. He tried so hard to live up to his element, to be strong and special.
It was sad that the boy didn’t know how strong or special he already was. Maybe it was my fault as a father, as a parent.
I wanted to tell Natalie that she should stop making him feel so terrible. He was just exploring. But what good would that do? We would just end up fighting again. I was so tired of our fights. Shoulders slumped, I turned to go inside. That was when I heard the roar of engines.
The hair on my arms and neck stood straight. Adrenaline poured into my blood like jet fuel and my heartbeat skyrocketed as I turned to see Natalie running toward me across the yard, jerking little Ethan along by the hand.
“Get rid of them. Now.” She shouldered past me into the house.
No one had seen what Ethan had done, right? No, it wasn’t possible. Was it?
Three black Jeeps and a silver one careened into the driveway, spitting gravel behind their shiny black tires. I leaped off the steps but then composed myself. With great effort, I slowed to a sedate walk. I had to try to make this farmhouse seem like any other sleepy home on this continent—even though it was far from it.
Who are these people? What are they doing here?
They weren’t Necrocretors. Necrocretors didn’t use Jeeps or SUVs to make their entrances. Whoever they were, they were driving fast. Too fast.
As they pulled closer, the sun glinted off the tinted windows and blinded me. Then when they turned an angle, I saw it. The outline of a barrel.
I dove for the willow. Bullets shredded bark above my head. Splinters and sawdust flew everywhere.
My back was firmly against the tree, safe from the bullets, or so I hoped. Thank goodness he grew a fully mature tree, I marveled. Otherwise I’d be dead.
I recited words that hadn’t touched my tongue in years. I carried them in my skin on my tattoo, across my chest, close to my heart. A phrase scribbled in Latin that I learned at a very young age: Estque vel me vel.
Its meaning was simple: It is either them or me.
If someone had to die, it wasn’t going to be me.
I took out the Zippo in my back pocket, closed my eyes, and used my diaphragmatic breathing exercises to calm my heart.
More gunshots sizzled overhead. Bits of the porch railing and the willow bar exploded. The air filled with the scent of sulfur and singed wood.
I took a deep breath.
Then I flicked the flint.