The Incarn Saga Book 1
by Katharine E. Wibell
Genre: YA Fantasy
“According to legend, when the world was young, the goddess Issaura appeared among men. Those who treated her with kindness received the gift of the gods—the ability to transform into an animal form. This was a great honor but one that separated this race from other humans. Before Issaura departed the mortal realm, she promised to return if her people were ever at the point of destruction.
“Now a threat is rising from a land across the mists of the ocean, a threat that will push this race to the brink of extinction. Responding to the call to war, seventeen-year-old Lluava heads off to find her destiny, one that will carve her name in history.”
The Kingdom of Elysia consists of two races: the dominant race of humans and the native race of Theriomorphs who can shift into animal form. Although law dictates equal treatment, they neither like nor trust each other. Now brutal and ruthless Raiders are approaching; there is only one chance to defeat them. An army must be raised and trained. An army where each human will be paired with a Theriomorph partner. An army that must fight as one to defeat their common enemy.
Women are not warriors. However, Lluava is not like other women – human or Theriomorph. Her animal form is a magnificent beast whose power and fury she must learn to control. Although Lluava endures intense physical training and strives to overcome the doubts of the male recruits, she faces an unexpected adversary in the commanding general who seeks to break both her spirit and her body.
At the paring ceremony, Lluava is humbled when presented with a unique and ancient weapon. Yet she becomes distraught and angry when her human partner is revealed. If they fail to trust each other, the consequences will be devastating. Death and destruction are on the horizon and time is running out.
The Incarn Saga is a young adult fantasy series inspired by ancient myths, filled with fast-paced action and adventure, and enriched by an understanding of animal behavior that defines the shape-shifting Theriomorphs.
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‘…The man hobbled up to the first girl and measured from fingertip to fingertip. Then he measured the circumference of her chest and waist. Finally, he noted the girl’s height and length from waist to heel. Kentril then told the girl to step behind the wooden divider and shift into her dual form. When she reappeared, she had turned into a smoky kitten. The tailor marked on his piece of paper the kitten’s color and size measurements. He turned to the next girl and repeated the entire process. When he was finished, the girls were allowed to transform and dress.
When Rosalyn changed into an elegant swan, the tailor cooed, “Very pretty. Yes, very pretty.” She flew gracefully behind the wooden slats. All eyes watched as the beautiful girl emerged.
Lluava was next. She fidgeted when the tailor’s old fingers quickly moved around her body, making notes of her size. Walking behind the inch-thick wooden wall before transforming, she wished it were thicker. She removed her clothes and concentrated on shape shifting. It was not as easy for her as for the other girls, for she had not changed as often as they had. Her father had warned her of the dangers of her animal form, so she had avoided changing shape. She had been eleven years old the last time, running from a stampeding herd of cattle in a neighbor’s field.
Although the process would take only a few seconds, it always seemed to last much longer. Concentrating, she felt the heat build from inside her very soul, growing and growing until every part of her body burned. A sharp pain erupted from her spine; she heard cracking sounds, and her skin seemed to boil and bubble and ooze into a different shape. The sharp pains increased as her bones reformed and switched places; her gut twisted as her organs realigned in her new body. She tasted blood as sharp teeth erupted from her gums and the others dissolved. More cracking sounds occurred as her skull distorted and reformed. The pain was overwhelming, and she fell on all fours when her tail burst forth. Although pain blurred her vision, she could still make out the white and black fur sprouting from her skin. She lay still, panting, until the pain crept away.
Kentril heard the gasps of the girls and looked up as a large white tigress emerged from behind the divider. His jaw dropped. His eyes remained on Lluava as the tailor quickly scribbled notes. Rosalyn, too, caught her breath at the beast that slept above her bed.
Lluava saw the fear in the eyes of the girls and the men; she could taste the fear in the air. Her heart beat faster. An inner whispering encouraged her to run, but she did not understand and tried to ignore it. She approached the girls, but they backed away. Kentril was shouting at her. She tried to concentrate, tried to listen to what he was saying, but his words made no sense. She moved toward him, trying to figure out what he meant. She made out only a couple of words: change, away, help.
Was he in trouble? She wanted to help but did not know what was wrong. The tension in the air increased, which only agitated her further. She felt as if she were being smothered; she had to escape. A voice in her head began screaming, “Run, run!” She turned toward the door, but several officers ran in and closed the door behind them.
Lluava needed to flee, but her way out was blocked. Panic engulfed her; she had to be free. Leaping toward the drill sergeant, she tried to make him understand that she had to escape. The tall man grabbed the hilt of his sword, and she backed away, knowing, somehow, that he intended to hurt her. A roar emerged from her throat. Screams sounded throughout the room. Another pain erupted as small, sharp objects pierced her rump.
Lluava turned to defend herself. A sleek black panther faced her, one forepaw outstretched and claws extended. The dark beast snarled at her. She snarled back. Each tensed, waiting for the other to make a move. It was time to fight…’
The Incarn Saga Book 2
"According to legend, when the world was young, two gods of war — one male, one female — were destined for each other. Yet Ullr, forever unfaithful, lost the love of Issaura, his true match, and was forsworn. His violent anger and bitter rage grew and intensified, poisoning all creation and humanity.
Now that the Raiders’ long ships have faded from sight, the kingdom of Elysia is beginning to recover from the summer’s war with the brutal invaders from across the sea. Yet darker forces have taken root, forces that can alter the future of the land and its people in unthinkable ways. Seventeen-year-old Lluava must discover the means to prevent her world from collapsing. But in doing so, will she succumb to that darkness?"
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In the failing light, Lluava sat her weary body down on one of the cut logs that served as benches around the ever-blazing cooking fires. She ached from an exhaustion that was more than physical. In her hand, she held a steaming bowl of clumping porridge, or maybe repurposed hash. Although its taste was barely better than its looks, this mysterious gruel was the only thing the town could provide to feed the army for their extended stay. Lluava had grown accustomed to its bland taste and grainy texture. It might not be ideal, but it kept everyone’s strength up when they needed it.
“May I sit next to you?” Varren’s formal upbringing emerged even when there was no need.
Nodding, Lluava shoveled down the sludge. Eating quickly was her trick to keep the so-called food from sticking to the back of her throat. In contrast, Varren sat down, whispered a prayer of thanks, and began to eat. They remained silent until Varren had finished.
Wiping his mouth, he said, “I would like to head back to the capital tomorrow. Since you are my military partner—no, that is not the reason.” Varren seemed flustered. He was not one to fumble with his choice of words. Eloquence had always come naturally to him, so why could he not state a clear thought now?
“Yes?” inquired Lluava, hoping to coax him to continue.
Varren stood up in his most formal manner and asked, “Lluava, would you come with me to the royal palace? I want to introduce you to Grandfather and the High Council and, well…I would like you to be with me when I return to court.”
Lluava understood his fear of what he was about to do, for altering an age-old law was all but unheard of. Nevertheless, excitement fluttered inside her like a newly fledged bird. Varren wanted her near him. This was his way of admitting how much he needed her at his side. This day had truly brought wonderful news.
She was about to say yes when a new thought crossed her mind. “How long do you expect to be at court?”
“I do not know. Why do you ask?”
Lluava fingered the carefully folded letter in her pants pocket. “Well, I had hoped to visit home. I haven’t seen my family since the draft.”
Thoughtfully, Varren said, “I will not force you to come. You can leave at any time. However, I would like you to be with me when—”
Lluava interrupted. “Don’t worry. I’ll be standing by your side from now until eternity.” She grinned at her pathetic attempt at poeticism.
“That is good. That is great!” Varren could not hide his relief. “Well, I will say good night to you now. Tomorrow will be a new and exciting day.”
With that, Varren gently took Lluava’s hand and kissed it, which sent a tingling sensation up her arm. As he left, Lluava thought, Oh, what am I getting myself into?
Next morning, Lluava ran to the shanty that served as Ymen’s dispatch headquarters. Since a large portion of the Southern army was stationed here, the king’s messengers came to the town every two weeks. Lluava had to hurry so as not to miss the chance to send off her own letter. She had forgotten to do this errand the day before, and with her departure imminent this was the only chance she would have before she left.
Attempting to catch her breath, Lluava retrieved the letter from her pocket. It was surprisingly unwrinkled. Perhaps the gods were watching over her. She handed the parchment to the small man loading full satchels onto his horse. Annoyed at the last-minute arrival, he began to lecture Lluava on the importance of punctuality. She in turn quietly reprimanded herself for her forgetfulness. Satisfied with his thorough scolding, the letter carrier asked Lluava in a disinterested manner, “Are you human or Theriomorph?”
This simplest of questions caught Lluava off guard. An inner heat coursed through her body as
she growled out the formal reply.
“I am Lluava Kargen, daughter of Haliden Kargen, and I am Theriomorph.”
The Incarn Saga Book 3
“According to legend, when the world was young, Crocotta, Queen of the Gods, discovered her mate’s faithlessness. She vowed to prevent future threats to all matrimonial pacts henceforward, but for her it was too late. The child born from the illicit coupling was a warrior goddess—one whom Crocotta would seek to destroy throughout eternity.
Now that the Raiders’ elite army is threatening the kingdom of Elysia’s northern borders, seventeen-year-old Lluava must leave the familiarity and safety of her native land to venture into the wilderness. Her mission is to discover others like her who will come to Elysia’s aid; her hope is to unravel the secrets behind what it means to be Incarn. But what she finds could destroy everything.”
Lluava’s story continues in Crocotta’s Hackles, the third book in The Incarn Saga's award-winning new-adult series.
The three of them had survived, but for how much longer? Because of her, they had lost everything. Even if they double back to try to find their campsite, the likelihood was minuscule that they would see any sign of it that wasn’t buried by snow.
“What are we going to do now?” Lluava asked aloud.
“Survive,” answered Apex abruptly. He had never been much of a talker. Sometimes Lluava was grateful for this; at other times, she yearned to hear another voice even if it was her own.
“Well, where do you want to go?” Lluava hoped the answer would be in her favor.
“Not back to Elysia.”
This was not the answer she had hoped for.
“Why not?” she griped. “There’s nothing left here for us. We’ve wasted too much time already.”
“Because,” Apex began as he pointed beyond her, “he is waiting for us.”
Standing like a dark smudge against the vast expanse of white was the caribou. The Theriomorph was watching them, waiting for them to take some sort of action. Why? Did he expect them to follow? Did he want to talk with them? Was he intending to help?
Lluava shook off the remaining snow that clung to her white fur cloak.
“Let’s see what he wants.”
Sköll kept his ears perked and alert as he eyed the caribou. Although he did not charge after the animal, he kept turning to look at Apex as if waiting for a signal.
The reindeer calmly observed their approach but began walking away before they could get too close. At first Lluava was confused, but then she realized the Theriomorph was not only watching them but also making sure he was still in their sights.
“He’s leading us somewhere.” She stated the obvious. “Do you think he’s a friend?”
“I’m reserving judgment,” Apex replied, his right hand resting lightly on the carved pommel of one of Ullr’s Fangs.
The trio followed the caribou throughout the evening and into the night. Even with the aid of starlight, the lack of lunar presence made it hard to see. Lluava was dumbfounded that, despite her heightened night vision, the reindeer continued to slip in and out of sight, preferring to remain on the cusp of darkness. They had to focus on the tracks left in the snow, which were easier to follow than the Theriomorph.
The excitement of the unusual situation kept Lluava moving. This was worth a sleepless night. Her high spirits returning, she happily led the way.
There was a rushing noise up ahead. Water! The caribou was leading them to fresh water! He was helping them.
“Come on!” Lluava summoned her lagging companions as she moved rapidly toward the sound.
“Lluava,” Apex called out behind her. “Slow down. Stop!”
“But there’s water up ahead,” she countered, not slowing her speed.
“Stay where you are!” growled Apex.
What was his problem? Lluava glared back at the huntsman to see him tentatively approaching her. Far behind him, Sköll paced in the snow but did not follow Apex. What was going on?
Then Lluava heard it—the crack. First came the sound, then a line appeared in the snow. Crouching, she brushed away the fresh white fluff and exposed fractured ice. Eyes growing wide, the teen looked about her.
She was walking on top of a frozen river. Unfortunately, the ice beneath was not thick enough to bear her weight; several more cracks appeared.
“Apex,” she croaked out.
“I’m coming,” he replied. “Stand still.”
Katharine Wibell’s lifelong interest in mythology includes epic poetry like the Odyssey, Ramayana, Beowulf, and the Nibelungenlied. In addition, she is interested in all things animal whether training dogs, apprenticing at a children’s zoo, or caring for injured animals as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. After receiving degrees from Mercer University in both art and psychology with an emphasis in animal behavior, Wibell moved to New Orleans with her dog, Alli, to kick start her career as an artist and a writer. Her first literary works blend her knowledge of the animal world with the world of high fantasy.
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