Every day after that, he and Jenny kept the tiny, green-blue and speckled eggs warm. And every day he stood beside the picture window, watching the black banded cuckoo. Perched in the nearby trees, it kept a militant watch over her banded baby that sat with greedy mouth open in the magpie’s nest. Until, one day, a tiny fracture appeared from inside the first green-blue egg. Another and another quickly followed as a naked birdling with blind eyes flopped out from between the cracked shell. The second infant magpie hatched soon after.
Feeding the babies all the right food and doing all the right things, he and Jenny soon took the two fledglings, fat black and white with blue iridescence on the lower edge of their wings, to the open window beside the pine tree. Their now empty nest lay in tatters by force of wind, rain and a belligerent cuckoo.
“OK,” he whispered to the birdling that sat cradled in the palm of his hand. Its blue eyes with pitch-black centers, gazed with love and trust up at him. “You can do this. I have complete faith in you.”
He released his fingers and gave the toddler a gentle nudge. Spreading its wings, the young bird lifted toward the pine tree. Along with its sibling flying free from Jenny’s out-stretched palm, the magpies made the sky their own.
Jenny stood beside him, squeezing his hand with her warm fingers laced between his. Happiness swept through him like warm butter until he saw the woman standing a short distance away, her rust brown hair fluttering curly and loose in the late spring breeze. Suddenly he wanted to cry as the all too familiar, sickly sweet sensation rushed over him.
Jenny’s warm fingers brushed against his hair as she pulled him against her side. “What’s wrong?” she asked her voice so sweet, it made him want to sob. “I know,” her words wove a hypnotic spell that sought to wrap him in downy comfort. “we need to find you a new family.”
In the ten years since his mother had left him wrapped in the drab blanket and screaming on the orphanage doorstep, four families had taken him home. They explained, hands twisting in guilt and frustration, that it was his bizarre behavior followed by the terrifying images of crazed birds painted on the walls and sidewalks that made it impossible for them to let him stay.
“They’re just cuckoo birds and can’t help how they are,” he tried to explain his drawings, but to deaf ears.
From gossiping tongues, the stinging words taunted him about how each family that gave him back, had then suffered a tragedy. “Because of me?” he sobbed into his pillow, tasting salty tears, streaming into the cracks between his pinched-closed lips.
Now, standing beside the open window, his gaze shot toward Jenny’s round, honeyed face. “No. No. Don’t,” he pleaded and turned to run back into the bowels of the orphanage, while the baby magpies soared toward the forest canopy and out of sight.
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.