THE ORC WHO CRIED by Taylen Carver
Harley Firebird 2.0
Urban Fantasy Novelette
Falconer folk are a little strange…
Harley von Canmore, firebird and Chief of Police of Falconer, a tiny town in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, struggles to reconcile her new life as one of the Old Races. It’s Christmas Eve and bitterly cold, yet Harley is setting fire to her bed while she sleeps, paper burns when she touches it, and no one needs a room heater when she’s in it.
When a body is found at the base of Maze Peak lookout, Harley must put aside her personal issues and investigate. What the RCMP suspect is a simple accident grows complicated when she digs a little deeper…
The Orc Who Cried is part of the Harley Firebird urban fantasy series of novelettes, which is set in the same world as Taylen Carver’s Magorian & Jones series.
The Harley Firebird series:
1.0: The Dragon of Falconer
2.0: The Orc Who Cried
3.0: The Shepherd of Fire
4.0: The Mad Folk of Falconer
5.0: The Badge of Our Tribe
5.5: Harley Firebird Files
6.0: The Firebird’s Regret
7.0: The Angel Who Wasn’t
…and more to come.
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An awesome second book in this series. The new sheriff of Falconer is busier than ever, and her body heat isn't helping, nor those wings on her back; if she would just let go of her fear she might feel better. She has a body falling off a mountain, but was it an earthquake or something even more dangerous? Grab this book filled with twist and turns, humans and "old ones". I love the world building in this series, different from other fantasy/ paranormal series that I've read and the surprise ending in this one just has me all ready for the next one book.
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EXCERPT FROM THE ORC WHO CRIED
COPYRIGHT © TAYLEN CARVER 2021
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
ON THEIR WAY TO THE lookout, Mojag gave Harley the facts as he knew them. The deceased was Lubbert Maxwell, a Falconer resident. He’d been found at the bottom of the Maze Peak lookout, buried in snow.
“Snow is three feet deep there,” Mojag added, as he steered the truck carefully over deep-packed snow, his powerful headlights cutting through the night. It was still dark, but in the east, dawn was threatening. Houses along the street spilled light through their windows onto the snow and onto Christmas figures arranged on front lawns. “Looks like there was a small avalanche.”
“That’s why he died? Suffocation?”
Mojag shook his head. “Someone will have to check him out officially, but by the angle of his neck, my guess is it’s broken.”
The headlights lit up the section of the road just ahead. Snow flakes, just a few, drifted down into their cones of light. The sky was much lighter in the east and she could see silhouettes of trees as Mojag drove out of down, heading northwest.
“Maxwell fell from the lookout?” she hazarded. “He fell, broke his neck and then the avalanche…and that’s way too big a coincidence.” She tapped her knee. “And you want me there for why?” she added. “I’ve walked you two through processing a body and the site.”
“Lubby Maxwell was still human,” Mojag said, in his meditative tone. “That means calling in the RCMP to process it officially, right? They won’t deal with us.”
“But they’ll deal with me. Sort of,” Harley said in agreement.
It didn’t take long to reach Maze Peak. It was Harley’s first visit to the mountain. Sunlight spilled over the snow, turning it pink and casting long shadows, as the truck rattled along a winding road. A fork appeared, with signage indicating that the lookout could be accessed by taking the left fork.
“You can drive to the lookout?” Harley said. She studied the fork. The road was a mush of multiple tire tracks. “Not steep enough to discourage anyone from driving up there, either.”
“It’s got a couple of hairpins, which keeps the gradient low,” Mojag said. “It’s a make-out site for teenagers in the summer, and there’s a foot trail up to the peak, so the hikers use it all year round.”
Bohdan Kask’s green SUV sat nose-in beneath a big sign announcing the lookout and trail for Maze Peak. A map painted on the sign showed the tourist features of the mountain. Mojag parked beside it.
“You sure you don’t want a coat?” He stepped down to the snow-covered gravel and zipped up his heavy winter coat and pulled on thick gloves.
Harley just rolled her eyes.
He turned up the collar and pointed to the trail path. “That way.”
The trail path was clear because dozens of boots had packed it down. She could see crampon marks. At least the hikers were wearing sensible gear for the climate. Spike marks from hiking poles punctured the snow along the edges, too.
The trail split and a sign pointed to the left, announcing the lookout trail, which they took.
Ahead, around a bunch of snow-ladened firs, Harley heard voices. The light was growing stronger with each passing minute, too.
Then they hit fresh snow—nearly a meter of it, and none of it was a smooth blanket the way freshly fallen snow laid. This was a churned up, chunky sea of white, flecked with dirt and twigs, last summer’s brown leaves and broken off pine needles.
Several sets of footsteps showed, each step buried deep.
“We need to string up some barricade tape,” Harley said. “It’ll minimize the tracks.”
She walked beside the tracks that were there, leaving her own fresh trail, but that made the going tougher. Her boots sank in up to her knees. She waded through the snow, following the previous steps.
A dozen meters on, she came to where Bohdan stood with a figure nearly his height, wrapped to the eyes in muffling winter gear. They were holding the leash of a German Shepherd. The dog sat by their side, billowing steam clouds as it panted. It wore snow booties and a quilted coat.
“Who’s this?” Harley asked, stopping beside Bohdan.
Bohdan wore a hooded coat and a scarf wrapped around the lower half of his face, and spoke through the scarf. “Isadora ap Red Deer. This is Chief Canmore, Izzy.”
The woman pulled down her own scarf, which revealed the mild points on her ears. She was a fae. “I’ve seen you about, Chief.” Her voice was pleasant. Almost mesmerizing. Her gaze shifted to Harley’s wings, as usual, but came back to her face. “It must be nice, being of the fire, this time of year.”
“I guess,” Harley said, startled.
“Izzy found the…found Maxwell, just after four-thirty this morning,” Bohdan added.
“You were walking the dog at four thirty in the morning?” Harley asked, surprised.
Izzy shook her head. “Baxter wouldn’t settle after the earthquake. Kept whining and pawing at the door. I gave in just after four, got out of bed and took him out, just to shut him up. My house is over that-a-way, just over a kilometer. He came straight here.”
‘Here’ was in front of them—the body was half buried in the snow, but someone had dug away enough to reveal the upper half of the body. A man in his early forties, showing the first flecks of grey in a good head of dark hair. Thick through the body, but not overweight. Although if he’d lived another ten years, he would have got there.