Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1)

Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1)

L. Penelope

For my father,

who wanted me to live a happy life


Not for the first time, Jasminda wished for invisibility. Sadly, it was not one of her gifts. To the best of her knowledge, Earthsong couldn't be used for such a thing. She wished she could ask Papa about it, along with his recipe for sweet turnip bread, a clearer understanding of the plumbing he’d installed in the cabin, and how he’d managed to walk through this town for nearly twenty years with a smile on his face.

Do what you think you can’t, he always said. So she raised her chin a notch higher, ignoring the heads that turned as she passed and the stares that followed her down the street.

It wasn’t exactly a smile, but it would have to do.

The bell on the door of the post station tinkled obscenely when she entered. Postwoman Mineeve emerged from the back with a smile on her face. It promptly fell when she saw her customer.

“Just one moment,” she said curtly before disappearing behind the curtain again.

One moment became many, and Jasminda kept a restless eye on the wall clock, her fingers drumming an impatient rhythm in time with every tick. The front door sang out again, admitting an elderly woman who gasped at the sight of Jasminda.

“Don’t worry, I’m not contagious.” Jasminda crossed her arms as the woman kept her distance all the same, her back pressed against the wall as if being confronted by a wild animal and not a nineteen-year-old girl.

Jasminda smiled bitterly before closing her eyes and focusing on the well of power within her. By itself, her Song was nothing but raw potential, a match waiting for a strike. But when the rush of Earthsong swept over her, the match caught fire, burning bright.

She opened her eyes, the flame inside as hot as her temper. Extending her arms, she scrutinized the deep, rich tone of her skin, so different than everyone else in the town, than just about everyone in the entire country of Elsira. The energy rippling through her gave her a deeper connection to her body. She became even more aware of her skin, how it knit together over muscle and bones. Silently, she sang a spell to shift its color to match the wilted, less vibrant shade of the astonished woman in front of her.


The woman made a sound like a cat struggling with a hairball and reached back, grabbing at the doorknob several times before she was successful.

“Grol witch,” she muttered, wrenching the door open and fleeing, the bell overhead singing its good-bye.

Jasminda released her hold on the power. Her skin changed back to its natural hue. She hugged her hand to her chest and sank back against the counter. Using Earthsong left her invigorated, but she had to be shrewd. There was no telling what she might meet on the journey home, and she didn’t want to be depleted.

Her skin color and Earthsinging abilities had come from Papa, hallmarks of his native land of Lagrimar. Her citizenship in this country had come from her Elsiran mother who’d been gone so long the memories of her kind eyes and gentle touch had dwindled to almost nothing. Jasminda’s heart ached a constant pulse of longing. Mama, gone these eight years. Papa and the twins gone these past two.

She blinked back tears as Mineeve finally returned, a parcel wrapped in brown paper in her arms. The woman dropped the package heavily on the counter. Jasminda scowled, though there was nothing fragile inside, merely her monthly delivery of books, a favorite escape from the drudgery and loneliness of farm life.

“You been scaring off my customers again?” Mineeve asked, not attempting to hide her hostility. Jasminda’s spine straightened, and she redoubled her desire to get through the afternoon and back to the safety of her quiet home as quickly as possible. A storm was brewing over the mountains. A bad one, and she couldn’t risk being caught crossing when it struck.

Without a word, she placed her payment on the counter, scooped up the package, and headed for the door.

“Oy,” Mineeve called, and Jasminda turned back. “You forgot this.” She waved a letter in the air. One look was all it took to confirm that it was one that Jasminda had sent herself weeks before, Return to Sender scrawled across the front in elegant script. This letter—and all the others she’d sent over the past two years—had been returned, unopened, after travelling much farther than Jasminda ever had. All the way to Elsira’s capital city of Rosira on the western coast. She had no doubt that the handwriting on the front belonged to her maternal grandmother. After all, the woman had spent the past twenty years denying Jasminda’s existence.

“Keep it,” she said through gritted teeth.

“Maybe you should send a telegram,” Mineeve said under her breath as she ripped up the letter and tossed it in the wastebasket. Jasminda left the post station cursing the merry bell that ushered her exit.

The area around the row of shops was quiet. It was only an hour before most of the merchants would pack up and leave for the day, and she had one stop left to make.

The blacksmith shop was at the end of the row. She entered the warm building and placed her package on the counter. Smith Bindeen turned from his forge and smiled at her. Against her wishes, her heart unclenched. Bindeen had been the closest thing to a friend Papa had made in town and was the only one who didn’t make her feel like a five-legged dog.

“Jasminda, it’s been a while.”

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