The Hazel Tree
Description:The Hazel Tree
revisits a classic Cinderella tale of abuse and sought after freedom from the
confines of a cruel life.
Ivy Lune is not
your ordinary girl for within her blood flows the secrets of an ancient species
of werewolf; a secret that also foretells of a great war and a struggle for
Ivy lives a life
of isolation torment at the hands of her aunt and cousins for the majority of
her life. Mistreated and neglected, she longs to escape the shackles of her
prison-like life. And in that longing, she learns the truth of her identity.
She learns her place in a long line of events that were set into motion many
years ago. She finds intimacy and belonging in a much larger family.
All the while,
unknown to her, there are dangerous forces are at work; old blood ties and
murderous plots threaten her chance at happiness beyond her current life.
The Hazel Tree
is a tale of mystery and romance set against a supernatural backdrop of
terrifying and awesome power.
Book Excerpt - Prologue:
Nestled deep within the dark mountains
that neighbor the Black Sea lay an ancient castle in a valley, forever hooded
by a swirl of thunderous clouds. It looked as though some god or deity had
taken an inkbottle and poured the contents into the dip between the mountains.
It cloaked the ground, the water, the stone, and even the air. To each molecule
of oxygen clung a droplet of shadow, tinting the air so black no torch could
pierce it. The air hung heavy, masking Waelwulf Castle and its residents. Any
sign of Mother Nature’s beauty had long escaped this land, all vegetation long
gone. In its place resided an evil force, something far more vicious and deadly
than any visitor could imagine. It belonged to the family who lived within the
impenetrable stonewalls: the royal family of Wulf, the head of the Black Sea
Pack, the sole survivor of the Great Wars, the most ancient and powerful pack
on planet Earth.
In front of their home was a vast
plain, stretching deep into the darkness. Two massive wolves emerged from the
shadows simultaneously. Upon catching sight of each other’s glittering eyes in
the blackness, their hackles rose and growls erupted from deep within their
chests. Circling slowly with teeth bared, each step was calculated, measured,
carefully placed. Wolves crossing paths on the barren grounds that surrounded
the castle were rare. A direct challenge such as this was always met with death
for the offending party. Both wolves had this in mind as they faced each other
A howling wind brushed across them
then, curling around their paws and tails and the hills of their tense raised
shoulders before sweeping into the darkness. With it though the wolves caught
each other’s scents and relaxed with recognition. They moved in unison towards
They reached the scarred metal gates
that stood a few dozen paces from the castle’s front door. For centuries all
that had stood between the foe in battles and the castle had been these gates,
somehow untouchable by the enemy. Warriors believed it was protected by magic.
The wolves shifted into their human
forms. "Axel," one said, nodding. His appearance was much like
his wolf: black hair, confident brown eyes, square jaw, long legs and a tall
frame. Even his gait was like his wolf’s, the slow cadence of a predator.
"Robinson," Axel said in
return. He was short with a brush of red hair across his head and jaw, and
small, nervous eyes. He didn’t have any of the grace his comrade had, due to
his short stature.
After the brief exchange, they took the
time to make themselves presentable, straightening the rumples in their clothing.
The old gate creaked open, allowing them to pass and approach the castle’s
front doors. Robinson stepped forward then and knocked evenly three times.
After a long pause, one of the doors
slowly creaked open, revealing a thin young man dressed in plain black clothing
with royal red embroidering, leaning heavily on a wooden cane. Recognizing the
two men, he quickly hobbled aside. They strode past him without any
acknowledgement. It was later, after they had moved out of earshot of the
handicapped porter, that Axel said something.
"Learn a lesson from Dane,
Robinson. Never ever question your superiors. Look at him, once one of the
kingdom’s finest warriors. And now condemned to a life of servitude, and with a
damaged leg! He doesn’t even have the option of marrying, poor fellow."
Robinson merely nodded. There was not
much too be said, in any case, as he knew more about Dane’s offense than Axel
thought or knew himself.
Any chance to continue the conversation
was ended as they reached the end of the cold corridor. Axel reached out almost
hesitantly, and knocked a specific beat on the plain little door. A peephole
was opened, revealing a menacing eye staring down upon the two men.
“I am here to see King Cronan. He is
expecting me,” Robinson said confidently, silently challenging the eye to deny
“I am also here to see His Majesty,”
Axel added, a slight quaver to his voice.
The eye flickered from one spy to the
other several times before taking a few slow, long blinks. After a long minute,
the eye finally withdrew itself and the peephole slammed shut. Then the door
opened to reveal the owner of the eye, a large man, taller than Robinson and
thicker than Axel’s height, with an array of battle scars that shone in the
light as he grunted at them and led them down a narrow hallway.
It eventually opened into a large,
majestic room. The walls were covered in looted swords, shields, heads of
enemies, and other treasures; priceless paintings of the kings who had ruled
over Waelwulf Castle long ago were hung over the multiple crackling fireplaces.
Yet even with the candlelight and the fires burning, the room was still dark,
darker than much of the castle Robinson and Axel had traveled through.
The most ornate chandelier hung over a
painting of a bearded man standing beside a dark brown wolf, their shoulders
touching. In the center of the room was almost an exact replica of the
portrait, minus the wolf, who had simply been the same man posing in his other
form. In fact, it appeared as if the King had barely aged a day since the
portrait was finished over sixty years ago.
"Axel. Robinson. I trust you bring
news?" King Cronan asked, sipping wine from a silver goblet.
"Yes, Your Highness. I have
returned with information of the Orarius Pack, as you requested," Axel
announced puffing his chest out grandly.
"And you, Robinson? What do you
"I return with good news,
Your Highness," Robinson replied with a shadow of a smirk. Cronan chuckled
slightly, mildly impressed by Robinson’s word choice. Axel didn't find it
"Your Highness, the descendant we
have been watching—his mate is with child," Axel said, disgruntled.
The King’s expression grew somber once
more and he focused a penetrating gaze on Axel. "And do you know the sex
of the child?"
Axel hesitated before bowing his head.
"I do not, Your Highness. My deepest apologies."
"Your apologies will not tell us
the gender of the offspring, Axel, no matter how deep they may be," the
King said in a cold, detached voice. Axel swallowed audibly.
Suddenly the King snapped his fingers
and a dozen wolves emerged from the shadows of the room. They prowled forward,
snarls erupting from them one by one as they closed in on Axel.
"It will be a she-wolf, Your
Highness," Robinson said calmly, as if the proceedings around him
didn't bother him in the slightest—which, knowing Robinson, actually didn’t. He
knew that in light of Axel’s disappointing performance, he would be rewarded
for the morsel of information.
King Cronan held up a hand, signaling
the wolves to halt and return to their designated spots. "And do we know
anything about the garden?" he asked, looking thoroughly pleased at the
vague wording of his question.
But Robinson understood perfectly.
"The tree has sprouted, but it can barely be distinguished from the
weeds," Robinson replied.
"So we will have to wait,"
said the King, making it sound more like a statement than a question. He locked
his eyes onto his spy’s. Robinson did not waver, holding his gaze calmly as the
atmosphere in the room grew tense until, finally the King began to chuckle and
they both looked away at once.
With a flick of his wrist, King Cronan
dismissed the two men. Axel was the fastest to bow and turn his back on the
king. Eager to leave the room, he didn’t notice the change of his superior’s
Robinson had been slower, and paused at the
subtle shift in the air. “You must be wondering why I told both of you to
report to me at the same time.” While the question was directed at both of
them, the king’s gaze did not waver from Axel’s back. The ginger man had
frozen, eyes closed, still facing the door, though there was no denying the
fear that trembled through his body. Cronan continued as if he had not noticed.
“You see, I suspected that one of you was, perhaps, a spy. An infiltrator.”
Robinson froze as well, despite his
best efforts. No, surely no…
Another snap of Cronan’s fingers and
the wolves re-emerged, more aggressive and terrifying than before. Half moved
towards Axel, the others towards Robinson. Axel turned to his king. “Your
Highness—please—I don’t understand.” The words slipped from his tongue and into
the room before he had a chance to stop them.
Cronan’s nostrils flared and a hand twitched
towards the goblet. “How can I be more clear, Axel?”
“Yes Axel, what has His Majesty said
that you find so difficult to understand?” Robinson said, against his better
judgment. The king’s eyes snapped to Robinson, growing ever more black but
still holding a sparkle of amusement. What boring company he must keep for
Robinson’s words to hold such humor.
Axel looked at Robinson, eyes full of betrayal
and fear. In return Robinson looked back with remorse.
A second snap of fingers signaled two
wolves to grab each of Axel’s arms. The cries echoed around the room as sharp
teeth sunk into tender flesh. “You see, I think that you know more than you are
revealing to me. If Robinson was able to discover the gender of the child and
find the tree, surely you would be able to as well. So why not tell me? Ah,
yes. Because you had something to protect. Because your loyalties lie
elsewhere—with the Orarius Pack, the Coastal Pack,” Cronan spat at Axel.
“You are mistaken, Y-your Highness.”
Axel’s voice hitched as the wolf holding his right arm tightened his grip,
sinking his teeth deeper into the muscle. Axel’s knees gave out, and his face
“I am not mistaken, Axel. You are. You
pledged allegiance to the wrong pack,” the King deadpanned before drinking the
rest of the liquid in his goblet. He smacked his lips a couple of times before
returning his gaze to the man on his knees, now quietly sobbing. Robinson
discreetly bowed his head, but turned it at a slight angle so he could catch
Axel’s eye. Through the tears, the doomed man watched as Robinson mouthed sacred
words to him: Father Moon, may you carry my brother’s spirit and his wolf
safely to the Sacred Land and may you-
stopped and turned his head away as droplets of blood splattered across his
face and screams pierced the air. The sound of tearing flesh was not
unfamiliar, but it still made Robinson feel a deep, inconsolable sadness. He
finished the prayer in his head, hoping it caught onto Axel’s spirit in time.
Soon the screams stopped and silence fell, except for the quiet drip-drop of blood. Robinson slowly
raised one hand and wiped away the red stain on his cheek. It smeared instead.
“Well then, I suppose we will just have
to pay them a visit. Go find Prince Naples and tell him to get ready,” Cronan,
said, continuing the conversation as if nothing had happened. And indeed, it
appeared as if nothing had, the wolves having returned to the shadows while
King Cronan and Robinson stood facing one another. The stench of death was easy
to ignore if you tried hard enough. The sound of dripping blood, however, still
“Yes, Your Highness,” Robinson said. He
stowed away his remorse and grief for Axel. They had only known each other
briefly and compassion was not welcome in the Mara Negra’s court. Turning his
head away, Robinson allowed himself a small triumphant smile. Everything was
going according to plan.
The king rose from his seat,
empty goblet in hand. He approached Axel’s torn and mangled body and lowered
the goblet into one of the deeper pools of blood, making sure to fill it as
much as he could before he took a sip. So perhaps it had not been wine.
Julia Debski was
born in Warsaw, Poland in 1996. Her family moved around a lot during her childhood
before finally settling down in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It wasn't until the 8th
grade that she found her passion for writing. It was thanks to a particularly
inspiring English teacher and a story that needed to be told. So she began to
write, and she never stopped.
Four years later
she found herself with nearly a dozen started novels and short stories. As
junior in high school she was introduced to Greg Wilkey, a self-published
independent author of four novels. He soon became a mentor to her as she worked
to write and self-publish her own novel. After two years of hard work, and a
nearly a year of mentorship The Hazel Tree was published in October 2013.
Labels: Book Excerpt, Book tour