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The Lutesong Series

The Stray Spirit is out now!

Struggling bard Emry Karic has only one path home: impress the Auric Guild, join the ranks of the elite musicians therein, and return to his family with his honor in hand.

Difficult to do on a good day. Impossible to do with a possessed lute.

Just before the biggest performance of his life, a talkative forest spirit named Aspen traps themself in Emry’s lute. Emry swears the spirit to silence on stage, in exchange for a favor: he will help Aspen investigate the magical earthquake that forced them into the instrument.

But Emry is a bard, not a scholar, and their research leads them straight to the person who resents him the most: Cal Breslin, his academia-entrenched ex-girlfriend. As they delve into the forgotten mythology of spirits and gods, they uncover an ancient folktale. The tale recounts an earth-shattering quake, one whose magical energy consumed all living things as it swept across the country. The story’s details echo what Emry and Aspen experienced the night before.

And as the apocalypse looms, the Auric Guild taps Emry for a callback, throwing his family’s ultimatum into conflict with their very survival.

Also coming up in this series: The Spirit Well & Spirit Rising.

Meet the Characters

by @krasnyzmeya

Emry Karic

  • our POV character!
  • mid-20′s, he/him
  • straight and still in love with one (1) Academy student
  • anxious bard just trying to get into the Guild
  • if he gets in, he can go home
  • Gods, he wants to go home

An Emry Excerpt:

Emry picked his way into the ring of aspen trees, careful not to crush any of the rhythm blooms under his feet. He swung his lute around. Plucked a few strings to check the tuning. Looked up at the largest tree in the grove.

And felt very stupid.

“I—” he said aloud, then winced. His loud voice had no place here, but he felt the need to talk nonetheless. “I don’t normally do this. Up north, you see, they…” He fidgeted. “Listen, I know you’re not actually there, but—but I just really need the luck, all right? I, um…” He set his fingers into place on the strings. If he closed his eyes, he could almost pretend he was back in Senne. That his family stood behind him, waiting for him to start. 

Alone now, he said, “I hope you like this, I guess.”

He closed his eyes and began to sing.

by @krasnyzmeya

Cal Breslin

  • mid-20′s, she/her
  • demi and (secretly) still in love with the anxious bard she left back in Tazlo
  • brilliant, analytical, self-assured Academy student and researcher
  • wanted to make a grand metaphysical discovery
  • not thrilled that her ex did it first

A Cal Excerpt:

Though Calliope Breslin stood several inches shorter than Emry, she managed to look down at him over her broad nose as if he were a dog shaking mud all over her boots.

“What are you doing here?” Icicles fell from her mouth as she spoke.

“I’m, um…putting this book back?” Emry held up the book.

Very smooth.

“I can see that.” Her brown eyes flicked over him. “You don’t work here, you’re not a student, and you don’t normally read. What are you doing here?”

by @krasnyzmeya

Aspen the Spirit

  • over a hundred winters old, they/them
  • aro/ace, strong & fast platonic attachments
  • do they adopt the entire Karic family? ….maybe
  • guess who the stray spirit is
  • guess
  • it’s Aspen

An Aspen Excerpt:

“I’m sorry,” Aspen blurted. “I won’t do it again, I’m sorry—”

Emry slammed the door shut. “Whatever. You got what you wanted, didn’t you?”

As he dropped the lute on a wobbly chair and paced about the kitchen, Aspen took shape on the table, their human form small and wavering.

“I was just—I was scared, all right?” They hugged their knees up against their chest. “I don’t like this. I don’t like being in the lute and not in my tree, and no one wanted to go to Vornik to figure it all out, and I was scared.” They looked up at Emry. “I didn’t mean to scare you, too.”

Emry met their gaze and stopped pacing—his anger couldn’t quite stand up to the sight of a mythical being shivering on his kitchen table. The stories said that spirits could summon sunlight, call storms, move mountains.

They didn’t say anything about their fears.

For more art, check out the Artwork page!