The Harvest Bride – The Dead Lands Read Online Kati Wilde

Categories Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi, Paranormal Tags Authors:

Total pages in book: 32
Estimated words: 29980 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 150(@200wpm)___ 120(@250wpm)___ 100(@300wpm)

After losing everything to a curse that struck the kingdom of Galoth, Sarya just wants the world to leave her alone. Yet when a demon begins hunting the people in the forest near her village, staying hidden isn’t an option. Neither is avoiding the warrior who helped saved all of Galoth. Bannin the Blowhard has never said a serious word in his life...and yet the warrior claims that he intends to marry Sarya.

Now she’s about to discover how serious Bannin can be when her happiness is at stake—and how completely devoted to her pleasure…

Please Although this novella’s plot and romance can stand alone, the story follows the events of The Midsummer Bride and the hero was introduced in that novel. This novella was originally written for an audiobook podcast audience in an abridged format. This ebook edition includes expanded chapters, including scenes from the hero’s point-of-view, an epilogue, and a map.

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Chapter 1

Sarya the Wary

The forest was suddenly far too quiet.

Sarya looked up from the cluster of mushrooms she’d been harvesting, clutching a sturdy knife in her right hand and holding a partially filled basket in her left. She wasn’t frightened. Wary, yes, because only a fool wouldn’t be a little wary while alone in the woods, and Sarya was no fool. But it was curiosity, not fear, that held her still, her head cocked as she listened.


That was…odd. Though many migratory birds had already abandoned Galoth for warmer climes, plenty remained through the winter. Yet none flitted through the trees or sang from the branches overhead. Even the constant humming of the insects had gone silent.

Yet there was something. At first, only a dull, rhythmic thud. But growing louder now. Closer. Footsteps? If so, whoever it was had a long, ponderous stride. And there was more—a continuous sliding and crackling. As if something was being dragged over the ground, disturbing the fallen leaves.

Sarya could imagine several reasons to drag something through the forest. She’d done it many times herself…though she’d never made the woods fall silent when she did.

Who would? Or perhaps the question ought to be—

What would?

The hairs prickled on the back of her neck. Though still not frightened, wariness overtook curiosity. The trunk of the enormous oak she’d been collecting mushrooms from stood between her and the forest path. She couldn’t see what was coming, but neither could it see her.

Though she couldn’t have said why, Sarya was certain she didn’t want it to see her. Perhaps it was merely the harmless old hermit, Fas Lergin, dragging home a deer after a hunt. Or that blasted Bannin the Blowhard, who was rumored to have returned from whatever new adventure had lured him away from Galoth. But her instincts were screaming that it wasn’t either of those men.

Sarya trusted her instincts. Her gut never led her astray.

Only her heart had ever done that.

Today, at least, that unruly organ was in agreement with her gut. Her heartbeat thumped faster as the footsteps neared. With her back pressed to the oak’s trunk and the knife gripped in her fist, Sarya listened to it pass, not even daring to breathe.

A steady creaking accompanied the steps. The kind of creaking she sometimes heard on windy nights, as the forest bent and swayed around her cottage. Or when she stepped on the loose stair leading up to her bedchamber. She supposed a wooden cart might make a similar sound, yet in the twenty-five years she’d been alive, Sarya had heard plenty of wooden carts, and not one of them had ever made goosebumps crawl over her skin.

By Anhera’s blessed jewels, what was it?

Her curiosity returned, razor sharp. She needed to know.

Yet she was still wary. Mindful of the orange and yellow leaves carpeting the forest floor—the woods were so quiet that even a slight crunch beneath her foot would seem like a shout—Sarya eased her way around the trunk, keeping the oak’s solid mass between her and…whatever it was. If it looked back, she’d still be hidden from sight.

Hidden, except in the brief moment when she peeked around the tree. Her gaze quickly swept down the trail it left behind.

The bloodied trail. And the human hand, dragging along the ground, attached to a body that was wrapped up in… No, not just wrapped up. Impaled. Pierced.

By some…horrible…thing.

Lungs squeezing tight, Sarya jerked her head back, concealing herself again. Hands shaking. Breath trembling.

Now she was afraid.

But what had she seen? She didn’t know. Except that it hadn’t been human, though it walked upright like one.

Sarya knew who that hand belonged to, though. Fas Lergin, the old hermit. Who’d never hurt anyone.

Anger began to burn through her fear. There was no saving the old man. Yet the thing that had killed him…likely couldn’t be stopped by this small blade. She glanced down at her knife. Oh, why hadn’t she brought her sword? Or an axe? Anything more substantial than this little prick of a weapon.