Legend of the Tengu Prince: Chapter One, Part One (Novel Excerpt)
The spring morning calls
into the haunted forest
Year of the Dragon–AD 1484
Men had set a death kinjiru that forbade women to set foot on sacred ground. Yet for the past eight years, Tomiko Hino crept in secret beneath the grandfather cryptomeria, the giant evergreens that covered the sloping sides of Mount Haguro.
Each spring, when the dance of the dawn goddess lured Amaterasu back from winter exile, Tomiko’s family made their pilgrimage to the smallest of the three Brother Mountains. It was Haguro where the shrine dedicated to the three gods of the mountains perched on its summit. This was the place and the time when Tomiko crept away from the other women and made her clandestine journey into the forest.
Through the dense branches that grew high above her head, shifting sunlight filtered through the morning fog. She closed her eyes hoping to hear what the gods would tell her. All the times before, they had spoken through whispers in the wind or the chilled dampness that kissed her cheeks. But this morning the gods of Haguro, Gassan and Yudono spoke through the voice of the forest itself with sharp, crisp snaps and pops in the crack of high branches that echoed against the whirring wing-beats of a crane in flight.
Elegant neck extended the white bird with black tipped feathers rose in a graceful glide from the enclosure of trees toward the green canopy high above her head. The bird’s voice quavered like a haunting trumpet of protest. But at what was it complaining?
Near the tree where the crane took flight, Tomiko spied a raven perched on a lower branch. Its ebony feathers glistened like emeralds in the early morning light, as if jewels shined beneath the dark pinions.
“Did you frighten the crane?” Tomiko smiled, pretending the sassy bird could actually understand her words.
Head cocked to one side, the raven waited as one shrewd eye watched her. The next instant the brute flew at her face. The tip end of one black wing flicked her nose as it soared by, sending a shock wave of surprise rolling down her spine to quake in the pit of her stomach.
She threw up her hands, beating wildly at the raven’s sharp beak that snapped close to her ear. Then in a swooping motion, the black bird doubled back, diving straight for her again, but this time it grabbed onto the narrow slope of her shoulder.
Startled more than afraid, Tomiko shrank away trying unsuccessfully to shove the beast from her while the peppery scent of pine needles filled her mouth and nose, irritating her eyes. When the raven refused to move, she stood trembling with expectation waiting for its sharp talons to rip into her flesh, though strangely they never did.
During a time of civil war, Karasu Hinata is born the son of a powerful warlord. When he is still a child, his family castle is taken by a rival clan. His father and mother are murdered right before his eyes.
Barely escaping with his life, he is spirited away by the king of the tengu. The shape-shifting raven leads him to the hidden mountain retreat of a sect of mystic warriors. Mountain priests who practice the magic of Shugendo.
Ten years have passed. The time has come for Karasu to leave the mystic’s protective lair and face his demons in the world beyond. But the fiend that haunts his nightmares is also the one that shattered his life. More than a bad dream, it wants him dead.
In Legend of the Tengu Prince, nothing is as it seems. Shape-shifting creatures, both good and evil, populate the magical world of feudal Japan. And a young man will pay the ultimate price for a deadly rival spawned in the mists time. This riveting first volume of a epic fantasy adventure will leave you stunned and begging for more.