Category Archives: Fantasy

Forgotten – Rune Witch Mysteries

COMING SOON!

Book Three in the Rune Witch Mysteries will be out soon – here you can find a quick (unedited) snippet!

Excerpt:

An air of mystique hung around the medieval ruins, as thick as the shrouding fog.

“You sure about this?” Thomas asked, when I reached out to take his hand.

I nodded, although, I was anything but, and Thomas knew it.

Set amongst rolling meadows, Raglan Castle may not have stood as proud as it once did — the ravages of war and time having taken their toll — but its presence and majesty could never be called into question. As we walked over the stone bridge leading to the castle, I was transfixed by the massive Yellow Tower of Gwent. Five stories tall and surrounded by its own moat, the hexagonal building must have been a sight to behold in its entirety. Even with the sandstone pitted and scarred, the walls missing, and the battlements destroyed, it cut a striking image.

Hand in hand, we entered the main castle through the double-towered gatehouse. Moonlight bathed the craggy, tumble down walls in a silver sheen, and added to the sense that we were stepping back in time… entering another world.

As we stood in the pitched stone court, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Beside me, Thomas stiffened, ready to fight if the need arose. The castle may be a tourist attraction by day, but by night, the coraniaid roamed the battlements. Once described as a demon plague upon the world, the remnants of their society now hide in the shadows, waiting for revenge.

“Where are they?” Thomas asked.

“Everywhere.”

I took a deep breath and tried to ignore the sinking feeling in my stomach. In the courtyard, we were surrounded… vulnerable. We had to be to entice the creatures out.

A strange scampering sound accompanied the howl of the wind — to the right… another behind. My scalp prickled and my skin crawled.

“Dammit,” I said. “I’ve had enough of games.” I called my magic, igniting the power in each of my twenty tattoos, allowed them to turn me into a human lightbulb. The glow from my body bathed the castle in an indigo light.

A chorus of hoots and shrieks echoed around the court, but the coraniaid stayed hidden.

“There!” Thomas pointed to a bardic figure in the corner.

The ghostly apparition beckoned us before fading from sight. “The guardian spirit of the castle library,” I said. “He watches over his cache of precious scrolls and tomes. He won’t bother us.”

Thomas shook his head. “You sure we want to deal with these guys? There are plenty of other ways we could get what we need.”

Before I had the chance to respond, a creature leapt from his unknown hiding place and landed silently on the floor in front of us. A coraniaid: small, pointed creatures, no bigger than a bwchachod or five-year-old child.

“Whatss do you needs, little witchess?” The creature hissed, as it stared at me with eyes that looked as though they might pop out of its head.

I glanced around the ruins. None of the other coraniaid showed themselves, but they were there, watching and listening. “I’m Summer Daniels,” I said. “Rune Witch of the Ogham faith. I have need of your magic.”

Mocking laughter sounded from every direction. The coraniaid before us bobbed and shook his head.

“We knowss who you are, little witchess. Knowss what you are.” He tilted his head to the side and squinted his eyes, as though assessing me. “I am Moryss,” he said after a moment. “Whyss do you needs our magicss?”

“You can hear any word the wind touches. I need to use your power to hear words spoken long ago. Will you lend it to me?”

“Whyss should we?” Morys said.

My whole plan hinged on the coraniaid hating the Twyleth Teg. They were evil, malevolent beings, who were far more dangerous to deal with than any of the fair folk, but I wasn’t here to make a deal. I was here to offer them something they craved.

I took a deep breath. “Revenge,” I said. “In a time long past, Llefelys and Lludd conspired to destroy your race.”

The castle became a cacophony of caws at the names of their enemies.

Although I knew it to be unnecessary, I raised my voice above the din. “Only a handful of your people remain. To this day, the threat of poisoning hangs over your head.”

“What’ss thiss to you, little witchess?” Morys asked as the sound began to die down.

“I can’t offer to help, and I’m not here to bargain, as I can’t promise you anything. But I can tell you this. The words I need to hear are those of a curse cast by a member of the Twyleth Teg. My goal is to break the spell and thwart its magic. If I’m successful, and I aim to be, then the Twyleth Teg will stand in disgrace. Fear of their magic will diminish, and the power of Gwyn ap Nudd, the son of Lludd and the King of the fair folk himself, may be called into question.”

A susurrus spread around the courtyard as the creatures discussed amongst themselves all that I said. Morys’ ears swiveled moving towards the sounds like a cat’s. Yet, even with the power of my Ailm tattoo heightening the clarity of the noise around me, I was unable to discern their words.

Their discussion continued for a few moments, before gradually fading. A silence fell over the night, and one by one the coraniaid jumped from their hiding place and gathered behind Morys. Some appeared, shimmering into view, as if they’d been standing next to him the whole time. Sixty sets of eyes stared at me and Thomas, unblinking.

For a second, my resolve shook. I wanted to turn and run. My magic was strong, but these creatures were evil. Not for the first time, I wondered if I had made the right decision in coming here. Thomas and I had debated for hours. Mam had outright forbidden it, but she’d lost the right to tell me what to do a long time ago. We needed what they had. How could I hope to break a curse if I didn’t know exactly what the curse was?

Thomas squeezed my hand and I noticed the indigo glow of my magic, reflecting like ghostly orbs in the coraniaid’s eyes. I muted the power still soaring through my veins, but kept it ready should we need to fight.

“Have you made a decision?” Thomas asked.

“We do not believess you, little witchess,” Morys said.

He jumped and landed on the shoulders of a second of the creatures. Together, they moved towards Thomas, before Morys shook his head.

“Humanss have no place in the world of magicss.”

Moryss turned his attention to me. He moved so close, I could smell the decaying scent of flesh on his breath. “And you, little witchess. Whyss would you hurt your own peopless?”

“The Twyleth Teg are not my people.”

I stood indignant at the suggestion, but it wasn’t unexpected. I’d had three months to come to terms with the fact that my father was one of the Twyleth Teg. When Mam had turned up at Christmas and told me of the curse. Of how my father — a member of the Twyleth Teg — had destroyed my family, I’d thought of little else.

“We smells their blood in you. Their magicss on you.”

The coraniaids hissed and stamped their feet. The air became full of menace, but still they held back. They had powerful magic of a nature I’d never felt before. It cut the air like a lightning. Given their numbers they could easily defeat me and Thomas, but they held back. They were tempted to help.

“My father is one of the Twyleth Teg, but he did not raise me, and has no claim on my heart.” I’d said the words in my head over and over, yet it pained me to say them out loud. “His are the words I wish to hear, the curse I wish to break.”

I turned my face and met Morys eye to eye. “You can smell their blood in me, the magic on me. Then you can also smell their curse, and the truth in my words. I will break the curse and with it the magic of the Twyleth Teg.”

Marys flipped off the shoulders of the coraniaid he was standing on, and once again the courtyard filled with the raucous debate of the creatures.

“How do you think it’s going?” I asked Thomas.

“Well, we’re not dead,” he said.

I smiled. The creatures could hear every word we said, but neither of us cared. They would make their own mind up on what to do, and as Thomas said, we weren’t dead. That had to be a good sign.

The noise stopped along with the coraniaid’s discussion. Moryss turned to us once more.

“We do not believess you believess, little witches.” Marys laughed. “But we believess.”

The creatures jumped up and down, hollering and stamping their feet excitedly. Moryss picked a cobbled stone from the ground and blew on it.

A green mist enveloped the stone and seeped into its core. When the stone had completely absorbed the magic and all that remained was a faint glow. Morys stretched his hand towards me. “It is yourss, little witchess,” he said.

Before I could take it Thomas stepped in front of me. “You understand that no bargain has been offered in return? You give this freely. We don’t owe anything in return, and we can’t guarantee breaking the curse will cause any trouble for the Twyleth Teg.”

Morys, without saying a word, once again jumped on the shoulders of another coraniad and walked up to me.

He was a leader, a warrior, a spokesman for his people, and his desire to see the Twyleth Teg knocked down a peg or two overrode every natural instinct he possessed. Every instinct that screamed at him to rip my throat out. I saw it as he looked into my eyes.

I released all the guards I had against my own soul, and allowed him to look at my true nature. I can’t tell you what he saw: resolve, determination, vulnerability.. Who knows, but he smiled, wide and full of the sharp, pointed teeth of a piranha.

“The magicss is freely given, humanss,” he said. “We believess you will makess more troubless than you think.”

***

Other Books in the Series: Taken, and Hidden available on Amazon now!

Taken – Rune Witch Mysteries

Have you checked out Taken yet? No? Then, check out the prologue:

Damn it!

An alarm sounded in my head. I froze, although every instinct screamed at me to run. I glanced around.

No one.

The desolate streets rested in the silence of the night. Clouds seeped around the moon like black ink swirling in water. No-one was around, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched. For a second, I felt a little foolish, walking alone through the dark streets at four in the morning. Everyone knows, the worst crimes in a city happen at night, and Cardiff was no exception.

The wind cut through my clothes, sent a shiver down my spine, and whipped my hair around my head. The gwyllgi’s baleful breath carried from the east. I called the magic in my Coll tattoo, sending forth its seeking power to be sure the creature followed and not some human up to mischief. The faint pulse of the supernatural greeted me, malevolent and dangerous.

For hours, I’d walked the streets. My feet hurt, my legs were tired, and, despite the magical wards giving me energy, I was long overdue for a sleep. Not quite the way I planned to welcome my twenty-fifth birthday.

I stepped from the pavement and crossed the road, struggling to keep my speed down. Legend told that the gwyllgi followed lone travellers at night, stalking them; slowly, silently. I didn’t want to run and give him cause to attack. Although, it was only a matter of time before he would.

I paced along the main road. My footsteps echoing in the empty space. A dog barked. The light from a nearby house flickered on. I cursed.

For a time, I carried on through the shadowed streets, measured and paced, despite the cold fingers of dread that inched along my spine. The gwyllgi’s stealthy approach continued at the edge of my senses. I turned off the main road and into Roath Pleasure Gardens.

Despite their name, the gardens were a dark place, and tonight, dark things moved within them. My pupils gathered in the light that seeped between the trees. I strained to see in the darkness. The wind hissed through the leaves, and sent those already turned autumnal orange to the ground.

A thump to the left.

The rustle of leaves.

A bloodcurdling howl pierced the air, too close for comfort.

My heart thundered in my chest.

The howl of the gwyllgi is said to paralyse people with fear, and I admit, my heart nearly exploded at the sound. But paralysed? Not me. Not now.

I gathered the magic of the birch trees, allowed it to refresh my mind and bless my adventure. The strength and power of the oaks soaked into my soul. I smiled. The Dog of Darkness might have thought he was hunting me, but in truth, it was the other way around.

A low growl built behind me. At last! I turned to face the beast. Blazing eyes shone through the darkness; so fiery and red in their intensity, they looked as though they could set the trees ablaze.

The monstrous creature emerged. At first, beyond the eyes, I saw little more than a silhouette. Then, as he grew nearer, his true form became clear: a large shaggy dog, with the bulk of a mastiff and the fierceness of a wolf. He padded towards me on his long limbs. Slather seeped from his powerful jaws, and dripped from his dagger like teeth.

“Nice doggy,” I said, as I edged backwards. The gwyllgi stopped. His ears cocked up, intent and listening.

“You’re a long way from home. Wouldn’t you like to go back? Feel the grass beneath your paws?”

The creature lifted its head and howled. The sound ripped through me, as his menace rose higher and higher.

He charged.

I breathed out, cleared my mind, and called the full force of my magic. The runic tattoos on my arms flared to life. Power flooded into me, and filled me with energy.

I thrust both hands forwards, and blasted the gwyllgi with the controlling power of the Blackthorn tree. He flew backwards, landing on his haunches, and then rose to his paws and snarled. I blasted him again, but this time, he pounced sideways, avoiding the blow. I tried again, volley after volley of power, but each time he was too fast and agile for me to strike him.

After a few moments, I stopped and stared at the beast. He stared at me, curious. He tilted his head to the side, as though assessing me for the first time. I wasn’t like the other humans he’d met, running and screaming in terror. I didn’t look like much, but his nose twitched. No doubt, he tasted my magic in the air.

The Dog of Darkness, the Black Hound of Destiny, the gwyllgi, whatever name you wished to call him by, at heart, he was a predator, and the one thing I know about predators, if you run, they chase.

I looked down and smiled at my foresight to wear running shoes, even though I hated the way they felt on my feet. After one last glance at the gwyllgi, I spun on my heels and ran.

The creature gave chase. I zigzagged between the trees. On instinct, I dodged to the left, and rolled out the way as the gwyllgi leapt through the air, narrowly missing my head. It landed with a skid. Its great paws tore up the grass and created deep furrows in the soft mud.

For a second, cold fear gripped my heart, and my head throbbed with worry, but there was no use thinking like that. Sure, I was in the city, away from the forest and cut off from the deepest well of my power, but in the park, I was surrounded by trees, and as long as I had their magic to call on, the gwglli wouldn’t best me.

I ran to the tennis courts as fast as I could. The creature followed only a pace or two behind.

“Now,” I yelled, as soon as I set foot past the centre mark.

Thomas emerged from his hiding place in the small hut next to the courts.

The gwyllgi turned towards him as he slammed the gate shut. With a new potential target to attack, he ground to a halt. The creature’s red eyes flashed from me to Thomas, and despite the fence between the two of them, the gwyllgi must have considered Thomas an easier target than me. He leapt forwards, snarling, but instead of passing through the chain link fence, as he’d expected to, he was hit by a pulse of energy and flung to the centre of the courts.

“Warded,” I said, although the creature may not have understood the words. “There’s no point making a trap that you can escape.”

The gwyllgi circled the court, before turning his attention back to me. A wolfish smile split his face and exposed his teeth. Then, a gurgling growl built in its chest, and I became sure he was laughing.

“You got this?” Thomas asked, a note of concern in his voice.

“I’d better have.”

I lifted my hands and created a massive ball of energy between them. I filled it will the power of BeitheLuisNion, and Straif, and focused the spell in my mind. When it was as big as the beast, I released its power. An indigo brilliance illuminated the court and encompassed the gwyllgi. The hound growled and strained against the spell, but he was trapped and powerless. Within the ball of light his presence faded, before disappearing completely. As the last vestige of him winked out, and his grumbles no longer sounded in the air, Thomas opened the gate and ran to my side.

“You okay?” he asked, taking me in his arms.

I smiled and rested my head on his chest. “I am now.”

“Let’s go home. I’ll make you a big birthday breakfast, and we can get some rest.”

I sighed. “Sounds great.”

*

I staggered out of the shower and into the bedroom.

“Breakfast’s ready,” Thomas called from downstairs, “I hope you’re hungry.”

“Starving,” I called back.

I quickly towel dried my hair, and was throwing on some comfy clothes when someone knocked. Thomas answered the front door, and muttered a few words, before closing it again.

“Who was that,” I asked when I entered the kitchen a few moments later.

“That was a package for you.” Thomas handed me a big box. “It looks like it’s from the states. Must be a birthday present from your mum.”

“I doubt that,” I said, remembering the cheques I’d received for every other birthday.

Thomas shrugged and placed a big plate of fry-up in front of me. My mouth watered and my tummy rumbled, at the delicious smell of sausages, but my curiosity got the better of me and I opened the parcel.

Inside was a folder of papers. I ignored the card on top, addressed to me in Mam’s handwriting, and instead opened the folder.

I squeezed my eyes shut, unable to believe what I saw in front of me. Tears came unbidden to my eyes. I couldn’t breathe.

“Summer.” Thomas rushed to my side. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

A sudden dizziness swam in my head. “It’s the cottage,” I said. “Nana’s cottage.”

Thomas took the papers from my shaky hand. “I thought you said it was—”

“Sold. That’s what I thought.”

Thomas smiled and clasped my hands in his. “This is good news, right? The cottage is yours. You can go home now.”

Home. I could go home. A place I only dreamed I could visit again. So, why was every fibre of my being terrified at the thought?

***

Like what you read? You can get the rest of the book on AMAZON now! – Also available in Kindle Unlimited!

***

Fantasy Focus: Desert Shaman

For this weeks Fantasy Focus, I would love to share with you a Whisky Witches Supernatural thriller by S.M. Blooding:

Desert Shaman

 

The Whiskeys are growing in power, and they have no idea why.

Paige Whiskey is now the unofficial liaison between the Elder Council and the paranormal community, and she’s been put on a mission for months now to bring more paranormals in. Trouble is brewing on the horizon. Everyone can feel it, but no one has a clue what it might be.

When the regional alpha gets a call from the Utah pack, requesting a trial with Paige, she’s not quite certain what to expect. The only thing she knows for sure is that her family is growing in shifter power and the region needs to more shifters to help counter and control it.

But what she learns in Utah brings the kind of understanding she doesn’t quite know what to do with. The ancients are coming, and they’re using her family to arrive.

***

You can grab a copy of Desert Shaman on  Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks.

SM Blooding lives in beautiful Montana with her Darling Dork, his two girls, Miss Words and Do-It, and Tesla the Ninja Kitty. They play Skip-Bo and Uno a lot, and are quite practiced at surviving ninja-kitty attacks. When they’re not squabbling (loudly) over cards or surviving the claws of the cat, they’re doing arts and crafts or pretending to survive the zombie apocalypse in the woods.

You can find out more about SM through her website, follow her through her Amazon page or on Goodreads, and connect with her on Facebook.

***

 

Fantasy Focus: The Spear of Destiny

It’s been a while since I made a ‘fantasy focus’ post, so thought I would bring it back.

Today, I would love to share with you the first book in the Misadventures of Loren by Ines Johnson:

The Spear of Destiny

Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Chivalrous? Nah.

Virtuous? Not since…well, none of your business.

The difference between me and the Knights of the Round Table? I make medieval look good.

Loren Van Alst is an independent, twenty-first-century woman, an accused forger, a suspected thief, and the last descendant of Sir Galahad of the Arthurian court. To claim her seat at the Round Table and protect her newly found family of modern-day witches, she’ll need to convince the current Arthur and his knights to let a woman take the knights’ trials. But things go sideways when a crazed wizard goes on the loose with a magical spear that can strip a witch of her powers. As if that weren’t enough, the clique of mean girls from middle school arrives in Camelot and turn out to be witch hunters.

To safeguard a future she never knew she wanted, Loren will have to evade the hunters, defeat the wizard, capture the spear, and pass her trials. No one ever said becoming a kick-ass heroine would be easy!

Check out this quick snippet:

You can tell a lot about a man by the way he wields his sword.

A man who jabs at his opponent’s body with the tip of his blade using quick, jerky motions? That shows he’s eager and unpracticed. If he gets in any good shots at all, they will likely be a hack job on his opponent’s wrists and knuckles. That kind of action will leave him breathless and his opponent in need of a manicure. Also, he will probably never get asked to spar again after such an impotent showing.

Then there are the ones who come at their opponent’s body with a couple of long, deep thrusts. Those lunges might stem from a flexible groin and fluid wrist action, but that kind of foreplay can be misleading. These types of fighters often exert all their energy at the outset, relying solely on their strength and thrusting power. Then, after a moment of fighting, they roll over on their backs with exhaustion. Yeah, those swordsmen can simply have a seat. In fact, they can go and have several seats.

But the one who can hit all the targets by working his sword hand at just the right speed? The one who knows how to put pressure at just the right angle? The one who can use his blade to slice from the breast to the hip? Oh yeah, that type of swordsman can fill my dance card anytime.

Because that’s what swordplay is: a dance. The movements more intimate than a waltz or a tango or whatever Baby and Johnny were doing up in the Catskills in the eighties with their bodies pressed together, their hips jamming to the music, and their legs and arms slicing into one another.

The opponent facing off against me was proving himself a worthy adversary and a superb dance partner. We faced each other with long swords, my weapon of choice. My stance was open at the moment as I prepared to go toe to toe with him. My weight was evenly balanced, my feet eager to advance. He held steady across from me, waiting to see what move I would make.

I took advantage of his courtesy and advanced. Leading with my left foot, I closed the distance between us. I stepped slightly to the right, to avoid any possible counterattack as I brought my blade straight down to his neck, going for the kill strike and preparing to slice his handsome head off from his lean body.

I feared I’d have to pull back at the last moment and not complete the advance, but he did not disappoint. He met my attack with a wrath strike, stepping off his line and bringing his blade down decisively against mine.

He had a good hundred pounds on me. But swordplay wasn’t won with brute force alone. My thumb met my cross guard as my opponent tried to take control of the situation and pressure me off balance.

Silly boy.

I swiveled my wrist and thrust my sword, aiming for his heart. I knew by now that I didn’t have to take it easy with him, and I was right. He stepped aside at the last minute and I met with air and empty space. I pivoted, sword raised, ready to advance again.

Wide grins slashed at the corners of both our faces. We both breathed hard from the exertion. There was a hitch of desire to his deep voice as he spoke.

“Do you surrender, my lady?”

“No, sir. Not even when I’m handcuffed to a headboard.”

***

The Spear of Destiny is available on AMAZON

You can learn more about Ines, and her other books on her website.

You can also connect with Ines on Facebook and on Twitter.

***

Hidden

Hidden Cover small

 

Book Two in the Rune Witch Mysteries is available for pre-order with a release date of 21st December!

***

One death, one pledge, one price to pay!

There’s nothing better than a walk amongst the trees with the man I love. So, how dare someone disrespect the sanctity of life and my forest along with it!

With the body of a murdered young man placed at my feet, there’s not a chance on Earth, I’m not using all the power at my disposal to find the killer. Even if that means I have to put on hold my quest to discover the magical curse that plagues my family.

I’ll fight to the end to discover the truth, but what do I do when the man I love wants to fight for me?

I’m a pawn in a game I’m only just beginning to comprehend, but I’m not the only one.

***

Here’s a little excerpt for you to enjoy 🙂

As soon as she’d left, I gave Thomas a friendly elbow to the ribs. “Are you going to tell me what the two of you are up to?” I asked.

Thomas pulled me in for a side hug. “I don’t know what you mean,” he said with a hint of mirth in his voice.

“Gwen didn’t ask us to harvest any samples. She’s covering your lie.”

“If you say so.”

I pouted and gave him a mock angry stare. “I will find out what’s going on,” I said.

Thomas laughed. “No doubt.”

“Okay,” said Gwen when she returned with a vial of green liquid. “This is a special blend of willow, fir, and hazel.”

“Hazel?”

“For manifestation.” Gwen handed me the vial and patted my hand. “This is my own special brew. You take it first, Summer, and then, if your memory proves lacking, we can try Thomas. The three of us should sit on the floor together, and then you can draw on the power of all three trees. The potion will project an image of your memory for all of us to see.”

I eyed the liquid suspiciously. Although I had once travelled into Gwen’s head and shared her memories with her, no one had ever looked inside my mind before. At least, not with my knowledge. It’s always possible one of the Tywyth Teg — fairy folk — had sneaked a peak.

“How does it work?” I asked while taking a seat next to Thomas on the rug. “Will you enter my mind?”

“No, no,” said Gwen. “Nothing so intrusive or dangerous. The hazel will allow your memory to manifest itself in the room between us.”

I twirled the vial between two fingers and then looked from Thomas to Gwen and back.

“Drink it down,” Gwen encouraged. “One quick gulp.”

I removed the lid and poured the potion down my throat, almost gagging on the acrid taste that burned my mouth and caused my eyes to water. “Ugh, you could have warned me,” I said to Gwen.

“Warning creates anticipation. Anticipation creates worry. Why create extra problems?”

“Cheers, then, I guess.”

Thomas and Gwen both stared at me as though I might implode at any moment. I ignored their impatient looks and called forth the power in my runes. The symbols of Saille, Ailm, and Coll blazed to life on my arms. I stretched out my hands and made them into a plate before me. A mist swirled above them and formed into a vision of the forest: bright, airy, and full of life. I felt like I was dancing in a dream.

Gwen laughed. “I feel much the same when I visit woodland areas. The cleansing peace of the ancient trees reminds us how small and insignificant we are. Such knowledge washes the pressure of human existence away.”

The image in my hands contained me and Thomas walking through the forest from a third person perspective.

“Connect with memory more,” Gwen said. “We need to see what you saw, not you.”

“You also need to move forward in time a bit. We need to see what happened after we found Lee’s body, not before.” Thomas added.

I connected with my surprise at finding Lee’s body, listened for the roar of an engine and then felt the wind blow through my hair as I chased after Thomas. Then I saw it, the flash of blue. I froze the picture, searching every last detail for something that might help.

“It’s no good,” I said at last. “I just didn’t get a good enough view.”

“Wait,” Thomas pointed at the image. “This is useful. That’s LeMans Blue. It means the car’s a BMW.”

“Seriously?”

Thomas shrugged. “It’s a nice colour.”

“I’ll take your word for it. I think you’d better try.”

“It’s a shame you didn’t see anything else,” Gwen said. “Are you sure there wasn’t something that led you to the body in the first place.”

I thought for a while and remembered the flash of movement, I’d readily dismissed as a bird and completely forgotten with everything that had happened in the time since then.

“There might be something,” I said, and moved my memories back to the time before we found the body. I explored the emotions of the moment. My happiness, the heat radiating through my body at Thomas’ touch, the fluttering in my stomach as I recalled the first time I introduced him to magic, the all-encompassing sense of peace and connection. The viewpoint changed. I concentrated harder, focused on the tightening in my chest, the flutter of my heartbeat. The image swirled to display the flicker of movement from my moment of confusion, then froze.

We had to look closely to spot the large figure. Half the body was covered by a tree trunk, but the remains on display were camouflaged a mottled green and brown, with the texture of bark. Long, droopy arms connected to oversized hands and hung down to the creature’s knees. Its round face was shrouded with long, dark hair, and the only feature on display was a large bulbous nose.

“What is that?” asked Thomas. I shrugged in response and we both turned to Gwen.

“If I’m not mistaken,” she said. “That’s a troll.”

Stolen Magic

Gathered Magic Book Four in the Relic Guardians series is currently available on pre-order – release date of 15th November.

This is a short story that introduced Nathan Scott as a new character to the series. As Nathan Scott has a huge roll in Gathered Magic and not everyone would have had the opportunity to read his short story in the Glimpses anthology, I thought I would share it with you now.

*This is a stand alone story and you do not need to have read any of the other books in the series to enjoy it.

***

Stolen Magic

I’m a city guy, born and raised, but I’d seen more than my fair share of the world. My home was in the heart of Camden, a stone’s throw from the Regent’s Canal, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of London life. If my roots lay anywhere, it was there. Where the streets are lined with urban street art, and a punk mentality permeates the air, along with the appetising smells and constant cawing of traders in Camden market. A far cry from my current surroundings.

The wind screamed as a sand storm shrouded the sky and turned day into night. The once calm waters of the Nile rose in towering crests. Sand, wind, and an icy spray battered my fishing boat and tossed it around like flotsam.

My heart pounded and my skin felt stripped raw. I checked my bearings and steered the boat starboard. I had to be close, but the forbidding storm had consumed sky, land, and water with a sandy blizzard. The boat juddered to a halt and sent me tumbling to the deck. At last, I’d run aground.

A sensible man would have hunkered down, ridden out the storm, but no-one had ever called me sensible, and besides, I was one of the Magicai. Whether reckless behaviour came with magical powers, or it was just part of my innate nature, who was to say, but one thing was for sure, I had an advantage over most men in this cruel environment. Ordinaries, we called them, people with no magical power. Most of whom lived their lives unaware of the magic around them.

I clutched at the rune stone on a leather cord at my neck. It thrummed, acting like a conduit and drawing on the energy of the ley lines to infuse me with magic. The Eye of Horus, etched in the stone, flashed as I called upon its power to shield me from the worst of the elements and guide me through the storm.

I spat out the sand lodged in my mouth and launched myself into the onslaught. Protected by a magical shield, the sand no longer flayed my skin, and the incessant roar of wind was a murmur.

I trudged over the inhospitable terrain, following the pull of my rune stone. The power calling me intensified as I neared the convergence of ley lines: a potent beacon of energy in the distance. After a while, the sand blew away, the winds abated, and the storm cleared. I dropped my shield as the remains of an ancient city rose before me. The Nubian Pyramids of Meroë.

My path wound between the dunes and through the crypt-quiet city. Neither man nor beast moved around me, not even a scorpion scuttled along the sand. The only sign of the once raging storm was a deathly stillness to the air.

My throat was as dry as the desert. The sun beat down from a clear sky, stabbing me with spears of heat and covering the landscape in a haze that blurred my vision. I pulled a canteen from my backpack and savoured the water as it moistened my mouth and slid down my throat.

With my senses on high alert, I approached the final structure and stood in the doorway of the weather-worn pyramid. Something moved inside. A glimmer of light burned like liquid fire. I took a deep breath, ducked beneath an overhanging beam, and entered.

The heat followed me inside, where stale air clogged my lungs and hieroglyphics lined the walls. I wiped the sweat from my brow and slid between a narrow opening. A dark figure moved in front of me, silhouetted like a shadow in the gloom. It reached towards me, its hand outstretched, beckoning me forward.

I entered the chamber and a tall man with green eyes and a turban covering his head towered over me. “It is good to see you, Nathan,” Skylar said. “Although I must say, you took your time.”

“Give me a break.” I sat on a rock and took another swig from my canteen. “It’s not easy to travel over five thousand miles. Not to mention, having to navigate through a deadly sandstorm.”

In ancient times, the Egyptians believed the Nile was a supernatural source, a place from the netherworld that crossed the boundaries between worlds. In many ways they were right. Hidden at the points where ley lines converged, doorways to alternate realities existed. The Pyramids of Meroë, like many ancient landmarks, were built on such a convergence.

Every Magicai knew the source of their power, but not every Magicai knew the secret of the doorways. I was one of the Travellers, and like my father before me, I crossed between worlds, exploring different realities. I’d only just arrived back in London, after an otherworldly expedition, when Skylar had entered my world from his and sent a magical summons.

“The storm has passed,” Skylar said. “We must make haste.”

“Now, wait a minute.” I shook my canteen to release the last drop of water into my mouth. “What’s so important that you travel across realities and summon me to Sudan?”

Skylar heaved an exaggerated sigh, but he sat down beside me and handed me his canteen. “The Kushite Stone has been stolen from my world.”

I thought for a minute, relaying the history of the area through my head. “Nope,” I said. “Never heard of it.”

“It is a relic of my world, not yours. Created during the Great War, when Rome pushed forth and tried to conquer the known world.”

That was the big difference between Skylar’s world and my own. Firstly, the Great War referred to a war in a different time and place. Secondly, where Egypt succumbed to the Romans in my world, and the Nubian empire faded and disappeared along with their trade routes, in Skylar’s, the Romans were defeated and the Nubian empire flourished to his present day.

“What makes you think it’s here?” I asked.

Skylar flashed me the signet ring on his finger, a conduit for his magic as much as my runic stone is for mine. “I know it is,” he said. “Arin, a Magicai of great power, has travelled between worlds in the hope of finding the sister to the Kushite Stone. In doing so, he hopes to create a powerful artefact that can help him enslave both our realities.”

I winced. Magical artefacts should never be joined with their counterparts in other worlds. The results would be… well, I wouldn’t want to be around to find out. Suffice to say, big bad magic equals big bad danger.

“That’s not good,” I said.

“No, it is not.” Skylar stood. “So you understand the urgency. Arin has two days head start on us. His lack of knowledge of your world may hinder his process, but he must not succeed.”

~

With the arid wasteland of desert spread around us, our first course of action was to return to the Nile and see if my boat had survived. Hot, but determined, we salvaged what we could and headed South, the direction Skylar’s magic indicated Arin was headed.

Darkness surrounded us, grim and foreboding. The only glimmer of light came from the stars circling in the moonless sky. The boat rumbled and sliced through the water. Something sploshed in the distance: a great beast entering the river, but no form could be seen. I shivered and pulled my jacket around me.

“It is strange to see the world so peaceful.” Skylar indicated a small settlement to port, only visible as a flicker of firelight in the darkness. “Such places do not exist in my world. The Nile is surrounded by great cities, the water a mass of boats. Even if you have left one city, the lights from the next ignite the sky.”

I nodded my understanding. It could be disconcerting to visit a new world, so similar to your own, yet so different. Inwardly, I sighed, this part of the world was anything but peaceful. “We should see the lights of Khartoum soon.”

Skylar returned to his contemplation of a world alien to his own.

Time passed. The stars dimmed as an artificial glow spread overhead, and the capital city of Sudan appeared before us: a blaze of activity and life. Khartoum was three distinct cities divided by the Nile and connected by bridges. A delicious mix of old and new, with colonial buildings standing shoulder to shoulder with modern sustainable structures.

We docked the boat and slept through the night.

First thing in the morning, we made our way through to the central city of Khartoum itself. Despite the early hour, the streets teemed with people. The enticing aroma of hot food drew us to Green Yard, where we purchased a meal of porridge and kissra bread, and joined the locals sat on the grass.

The park was full of people, eating breakfast, talking with friends. Everywhere we looked, children laughed and played. The constant clamour of activity surrounded our bubble of solitude, unconnected to the people around us.

“Could Arin be in this city?” Skylar asked between mouthfuls.

“It’s possible.” I scanned the crowds and wondered how we would find one person hidden amongst Khartoum’s five million residents. “Are you able to sense the Kushite Stone?”

Skylar glanced around. Most people paid us little attention, so, he clasped his right hand over his left, covering his ring. Despite his precautions, a faint glow lit his hand when he tapped into his magic. He shook his head, released his power and returned to his porridge. “I do not believe Arin is here,” he said. “The Stone is now a great distance to the East.”

I was about to respond, but a tall man in a black full-length tunic glared at as he ducked into the crowd at the edge of the park. There was an air about him that put me on edge. “It’s time to move,” I said.

Weary of my sudden mood change, Skylar glanced around. “Trouble?” he asked.

“Could be.” I caught sight of the man again, talking to two others. I indicated them to Skylar. “Was Arin alone when he left your world?” I asked.

“I am sorry, Nathan, I do not recognise the men. However, it is possible they travelled with Arin. He has a large following of loyal Magicai.”

“They certainly seem to recognise you.” I reached out with my senses. The hum of magic hung in the air. I couldn’t pinpoint who it was from, but in all likelihood, any Magicai would be shielded from discovery. “We need to get away from all these people. We can’t risk exposing ourselves, and who knows how far Arin and his men are willing to go.”

A child kicked a football that landed at my feet. I smiled and kicked it back. “These are innocent people. We have a duty to protect them.”

“Agreed,” Skylar said. “If they are Arin’s men, they will surely follow us if we leave.”

We discarded the remains of our porridge and slipped through the crowds and out of the park. As soon as we reached the edge of the green, we raced to a nearby alleyway and down the street. We dodged through the byways of the city, desperate to escape the crowded areas. The unmistakable thud of footsteps echoed behind us.

Eventually, the narrow street we followed edged into a secluded courtyard. The ground was dusty, but the air was fragrant with herbs and spices, and the only way out was the way we came in, and up over the roof.

We hid in a cleft between two buildings. A cry echoed through the alleyway. I peered around the corner and saw the three men coming after us. Their eyes scanned the area looking for our possible route.

I clutched at the rune stone around my neck. “You ready?” I asked Skylar.

His face was grim, but he nodded. It was three against two, and we had no idea how powerful they were, but we were determined to make a stand.

We stepped into the alleyway and confronted the three men. “You looking for us?” I asked.

Their eyes widened, but they surged forward, calling their magic to them. One hurled a hot spear of energy in my direction. I fell flat, rolling unscathed beneath a blast that impacted the wall behind me with enough force to shatter the brick.

Coming to my feet, I lifted my chin and raised my jaw. “That the best you got?” I called on my power and coated my fists in magical orbs. One of the men came at me, and I pounded him in the stomach. The force of my blow flung him across the alleyway and into a wall. He crumpled to the ground.

The other two men wouldn’t make the same mistake. They edged backwards, unwilling to undertake hand to hand combat.

I beckoned them forward. “What’s the matter boys; you too scared to fight?”

The nearest to me glared and spat on the floor. “Hand over the High Priest of Magicai,” he said, referring to Skylar by title and confirming his connection to both Arin and Skylar’s world. “Or we will see who has reason to be afraid.”

“That’s not about to happen, fellas. So, why don’t you save us some time and tell us where Arin is, so we can send you all back home where you belong.”

His nostrils flared and he shot another bolt of energy in my direction. I met it mid-air with a bolt of my own, blasting it out of existence.

Full of the power of the ley lines, I felt the magic swirl beneath my fingertips. I lifted the dust around us, cloaking us in our own mini sandstorm. The men continued their barrage of energy bolts, but those I didn’t manage to deflect, Skylar handled.

The dust circled around us. The power inside me grew, ready to be unleashed to put an end to this.

“Tell me where Arin is.” My voice echoed in the hollow eye of the storm. All sounds, all smells, and all sites of the city around us were blocked out by the whirlwind of motion. Slowly the feet of our two foes rose from the ground, as they were caught in the vortex.

“Arin is long gone. You will never find him.”

“We’ll see about that.” I focused my power on making the whirlwind faster, the men started to spin around me. Their cries filled my ears.

Skylar laid his hand on my shoulder. “I know you are honourable my friend, but I worry that we cannot leave these men behind to follow us.”

I understood what Skylar was saying, but had no intention of killing anyone unless I had to. I slowed the whirlwind and allowed the men to drop to the floor, then walked over and laid a hand on each of the three men’s heads, focusing my will upon their weakened own.

“There, they’ll sleep for a week. With any luck, the local hospital will take them in.” I shrugged. “Or they’ll lie here undiscovered in the street. Either way, they’ll be fine until I can arrange for someone to collect them.”

“Would it not be useful to interrogate them, find where Arin has gone?”

“No.” I shook my head. “We’ve been looking at this all wrong. We’ve been focused on finding Arin. What we need to do is find his destination. Reach the stone before him and lay a trap.”

“That would be a fine plan, but as you said, the Kushite Stone is not a relic of your world. It will be unknown and impossible to find without its counterpart.”

“Hard, yes. Impossible, no.” I patted Skylar on the shoulder and a wide smile split my face.

“Ahh, I see you have a plan, my friend.”

“Indeed, I do, but first I need to know more about the stone.”

One simple act, a decision made at a certain point in history, caused a timeline split, separating our worlds and sending them forward on different paths. In Skylar’s world the Kushite Stone was imbued with great importance and power. In mine, it might not have the same name or magical properties, but, it would possess the same origins and the same form. Those were clues enough to find it; if you knew the right person to ask.

~

“Nathan,” Hayley said down the line. “How the hell are you? It’s been months.”

It was good to hear her voice. I met Hayley seven years ago when we were both students at Cambridge. She was an archaeology undergraduate, whilst I undertook my PhD.

“Too long,” I said. “I’ve been in Africa. In fact, I’m in Sudan now, but I need your help locating something.” I hated the half-truth that came out of my mouth, but Hayley wasn’t one of the Magicai, just an exceptional Ordinary with a passion for the past. Despite my wishes to the contrary, with the Magical Order of Secrecy, I was oath bound to keep my true nature from her.

“Anything,” she said, without hesitation. “What do you need?”

I sighed with relief. I knew I could count on Hayley. I gave her a description of the stone. It was small and square, made from carnelian, and was inscribed in Arabic. In Skylar’s world, it was found in twenty-two BCE, but it could have been located much later on ours, so instead of specifying an age, I asked Hayley to look for any object fitting that description found at or near Meroë.

“I’ll do what I can,” she said.

With Hayley’s determination and resources at the British Archaeological Museum, I had no doubt she’d find what we needed.

“Thanks, Hayley. You’re a star. I owe you big time.”

“Yeah, you do. An ice-cream at Chin-Chin sounds great.”

“I’ll do better th—”

“Better than ice-cream?”

I laughed. “How about a night out at Côte,” I said remembering her favourite restaurant.

“Well, yes,” she said, unable to hide the delight in her voice. “That might top ice-cream.”

“You bet it does.” I ended the call feeling better than I had in months. It was great to travel and see different worlds, but there were some things from home that couldn’t be matched.

~

Ten hours later, we set foot on English soil and headed straight to Bloomsbury in Camden. As fate would have it, Hayley had located a carnelian stone fitting our description in The British Museum, not three miles from my home. Although it was dated to the eighteenth century and found in Zanzibar, the website link she shared pictured an orange, glassy stone, one-point-one centimetres square, which Skylar confirmed as the artefact we sought.

From Hayley’s research, we knew the stone wasn’t on display, so that meant it had to be in storage. I searched the website on my phone for more information and found an interactive map of a newly built centre. The map detailed a variety of locations, from an exhibition gallery to conservation facilities, but our target was likely in the collection storage rooms. Three subterranean-floors beneath the collections’ management hub.

A cab dropped us outside Malet Street Gardens, and we used the cover of the trees to survey the building. The modern centre stood next to the Greek revival quadrangle dating back to the eighteen hundreds. With no visible entrance, we would have to go through the old building.

“What about security?” Skylar asked.

“No clue, but we can be sure it’s top of the range.” I checked the time: six twenty-three. The museum closed at six, but that didn’t mean staff wouldn’t still be working. “We’ll have to use magic to get past any obstacles,” I said.

I used the ley lines to draw magic into myself, relishing the feeling as it flowed through my veins. “Ready?” I asked, and created a shield to block our image from any CCTV recording.

“Ready,” Skylar agreed.

We left the park and made our way to the north wing of the building. I held my rune stone and called forth a simple spell to unlock the cast iron gates and an employee entrance. We strolled through the hall, as though we belonged, until we reached the Great Court. Skylar froze. His eyes moved from the cylindrical room in the centre of the court and travelled to the spectacular glass canopy, crisscrossed with steel to form thousands of triangular windows looking out onto a bright summer sky.

His breath caught. I laughed and gave him a nudge. “Careful, you’re starting to look like a tourist.”

I scanned the room. A recumbent marble statue of a lion, over six-feet tall and almost ten wide, stood vigil in the corner. I took his sage look of benevolence as approval for our minor transgression.

“This way,” I said, noting an exit in the corner. “Hopefully, this will lead to the new structure.”

Through it, we accessed the new building and a staircase leading down. We moved from public spaces to equally deserted staff areas. Gaining access to the storage floors proved simple with our magical abilities. A white sterile environment, with aisle upon aisle of yellow storage units replaced the high ceiling and the chemical smell of antiseptic and subcritical fluids permeated the air.

We stood for a moment, thinking. There were three floors worth of items in storage, and time was critical, at any moment, we could trigger an alarm or stumble into a member of staff.

“We need to access a computer,” I said, “Find the storage location of the stone.”

“Agreed. There are far too many places to search in a limited time.”

Skylar remembered the online map displaying a work area in the middle of the top floor of the three floors we need to explore. It was the best place to look for a computer, so we edged through the corridors of storage and made our way to it. Sure enough, a number of computer terminals lined one wall.

I rummaged through desk drawers and located a random word on a post-it note stuck inside a notepad. I shook my head in bewilderment. It couldn’t be that simple, could it? I typed the password in to see if it matched the username displayed when I booted up the computer. I held my breath, as, the Blue Circle of Death span on the screen and the PC thought. Sure enough, seconds later, I had full access to the museum’s records.

I shook my head in disbelief. “Thank you, Mr Landman,” I said to the absent museum worker whose login details I’d used. The greatest security protocols in the world were useless if users didn’t implement basic common sense when choosing or hiding passwords.

“Two floors down,” I said, reading the details from the screen. “Corridor C, unit 28.” I scribbled the complex item reference number on a scrap of paper.

I powered the PC down and we headed towards the artefact. We were halfway down the stairs when we heard a door shut above us. We froze. The unmistakable buzz of magic danced through the air. A sudden chill in my bones warned me of the danger approaching.

“Arin?” Skylar queried.

“Move.” We raced down the floors without sound or hesitation. The silence of the stairwell was broken by the soft tread of footfalls above us. We had to find the stone.

I hissed, as once again, the lights in the room responded to our presence and lit the floor like a flare in an otherwise dark night. “Corridor C.” I pushed Skylar into the recess and we frantically scanned the cabinet labels. “Twenty-one… twenty-five…”

“Twenty-eight,” Skylar said. He tore open the drawer and withdrew a box. He opened it and sighed with relief.

I took the box from him, and held the stone aloft, marvelling at the light reflecting through its translucent core. A faint trace of magic seeped into my fingers, too little to warrant the attention of the Magicai.

“Here,” I said, tossing it to Skylar. “You hide. I’ll draw Arin and whoever’s with him away. Then you get the hell out of here.”

Skylar nodded and patted me on the shoulder. “Stay safe,” he said.

I returned the gesture. “You too, my friend.”

I moved out of the corridor, into the main hallway, and away from the staircase. It seemed like an age passed before the stairwell door opened and three men stepped through.

I stood on full display and eyed the men. Desperation chewed at my insides, but I couldn’t let it show. The two outside men glanced at the man stood between them as though waiting for instructions.

“So, you’re Arin,” I said, raising my chin at the middle man.

“And you, of course, are Nathan Scott,” he said. “I have studied your exploits as a Traveller. It seems our reputations precede us both.”

“Not really.” I took a few steps to the side in an attempt to keep their focus on me. “I don’t know the first thing about you, mate. Just that you’re an arse who wants this here stone.” I lifted the empty box and waved it at Arin.

“You will soon know that I am a very dangerous man to cross.” He smiled “Why don’t you save yourself a lot of trouble and hand it over?”

“Why don’t you come and get it?” Magic soared through my body, and I released a surge power at the lights overhead. We plunged into darkness, and I slipped further away from the stairwell.

“I’m sure you think yourself very clever, Mr Scott, but I’m afraid your tricks won’t work with me.”

Damn it! I hoped Skylar had enough sense to stay hidden where he was until Arin could be goaded into action. “What’s the matter?” I said. “Afraid to try and take the stone from me?”

I peered around the corner, but darkness enveloped our underground surroundings.

“I have no need to take the stone.” An inferno of light accompanied his words and the air reverberated with immense power. The magical plane shook. It felt like existence was being torn apart. I was shaking. My heart thundered, ready to explode.

The light vanished.

“The Kushite Stone,” Arin said. “It calls to its sister. I’m sure you agree, the results would be devastating should they meet.”

“Another reason not to give you the stone.”

Arin laughed again. The sound made me want to punch him in the face.

“You have no fight with me. Give me the stone and I will spare your world. Fight and you will die, and I will see to it your precious London is destroyed in the process. All I have to do is open the lead box shielding the Kushite Stone from its sister, within minutes your city will perish.”

I heard the truth of the words in his voice. Arin was a mad man. Who knew what he would do with the power of the two stone: raze cities, destroy worlds, anything was possible.

A thud sounded in the dark, followed by the rumble of a scuffle. My heart sank, at Skylar’s frantic voice, as he fought his attackers.

I reignited the fluorescent lights with a blast of energy. Without hesitation, a second blast of power shot from my hand and towards Arin, alone by the door.

He deflected the shot, and rushed into an aisle away from sight, but not before he retaliated. I grunted as his blast seared my arm: a burning flesh wound, more painful than damaging.

I fell against the wall and took a few breaths to steady myself. There was no time to waste. Arin couldn’t get the stone. I raced down the corridor after him. The whole room crackled with magical energy like the sky before a lightning strike.

I rounded a final corner and came to a halt. Skylar was pinned against the wall by a magical field. The stone clutched in his hand.

“You’re too late,” Arin said. “The stone is mine.”

Sweat beaded Skylar’s brow as he fought to keep his fist closed around the stone, but an unseen force pried at his fingers, tearing them apart.

I raised my hands and called my power. Arin’s two goons approached me, their own magic blazing in their hands. There was no way in hell I would let them win.

I advanced, adrenaline coursed through my veins and my heart thundered. I hurled volley after volley of power at my attackers. They tried to escape, but my onslaught was too fast, too furious. I hurled them against the walls, pinning them, as Arin had pinned Skylar.

Arin had a split second to react before I unleashed the full force of my magic against him. The blast struck home. He fought against me, but I couldn’t let him go. If I released my focus either he or his goons would escape and it would be game over.

I drew more power into me, feeding off the ley lines the way a plant absorbs light. My head pounded, and my legs faltered, but I kept my magic trained on Arin.

I couldn’t hold out much longer.

The magic engulfed me, threatened to tear me apart.

I gritted my teeth and pushed forward with everything I had.

I struck home.

Arin’s screams were silenced by the thunder of magic and the quickness of his demise. He disappeared in a cloud of dust, disintegrated in an instant.

Skylar fell to the floor as Arin’s magic disappeared along with his body. “Thank you,” he spluttered.

“Anytime,” I clapped him on the shoulder. “Your megalomaniac is my megalomaniac.”

I meant it too, as a Magicai and a Traveller, I had a duty to protect all worlds from those who would abuse the power of the ley lines, home-grown or otherwise. Although, for now, that duty could wait until after I met a dear friend for dinner.

***

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

 

 

 

 

Secrets In The Shadows – Cover Reveal!

SECRETS IN THE SHADOWS, a shifter anthology of all new original stories by some of the industries best and well known writers as well as a few new names and faces.

Want to be kept up to date on news concerning the anthology
or urban fantasy and paranormal romance releases from the anthology authors?

Click here to subscribe to the Secrets In The Shadows Newsletter!

MEET THE
SECRETS IN THE SHADOWS
ANTHOLOGY AUTHORS!

BRANDY DORSCH

Brandy Dorsch lives in Pittsburgh and dreams of running away and becoming a vampire. She is a diehard reader that can’t breathe without adding something to her TBR list. She loves anything romance but has a special place in her heart for all things vampire related. She has a slight addiction (obsession) with coffee and it is the only thing keeping her from becoming a member of the undead.

website facebook twitter goodreads Amazon icon


CATHERINE VALE

NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling Canadian author Catherine Vale writes urban fantasy stories of magic and mayhem, and paranormal romance featuring girls with curves and guys with growl.

website facebook twitter goodreads Amazon icon


GINA WYNN

From a magical land of castles and kings (Okay, it’s England), Gina Wynn doesn’t feel as old as she looks, owns three children who can’t be tamed, and writes in spare – usually stolen – time. She sometimes bakes—not always with quite the desired results, and has found the only solution to keeping the characters in her head quiet is to placate them with lots of other lovely books and worlds.

website facebook twitter goodreads Amazon icon


HEATHER HILDENBRAND

Heather Hildenbrand was born and raised in a small town in Virginia where she was homeschooled through high school. (She’s only slightly socially awkward as a result.) She lives in FL and writes romance of all kinds with plenty of abs and angst.

Her most frequent hobbies are riding motorcycles and avoiding killer slugs.

website facebook twitter goodreads Amazon icon


JENA GREGOIRE

Bestselling author Jena Gregoire was born and raised in New Hampshire, USA, and despite her abhorrence for any season which dares to drop to a temperature below seventy degrees, she still currently resides there with her two children and several furbabies. Always a passionate reader, her love of urban fantasy books inevitably morphed into a love of writing them. She is currently working on the Hellfire (previously known as Demon Legacy) series and has a Hellfire spinoff series coming soon. Jena Gregoire previously published as J.M. Gregoire.

website facebook twitter goodreads Amazon icon


KAT PARRISH

Kat Parrish is a former reporter who prefers making things up! An Army brat, her motto is “Have passport, will travel.” She has lived in seven states and two foreign countries and would love to celebrate her 100th birthday with a trip into space. She lives in the Pacific Northwest near a haunted cemetery.

website facebook twitter goodreads Amazon icon


LIZ GAVIN

International bestselling author Liz Gavin’s books have made to #1 in countries as diverse as Japan, the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and her home country Brazil, collecting 5 and 4-star reviews. Nominated for a Summer Indie Book Award in 2016, and again in 2017, this RWA member constantly seeks new opportunities to improve her craft.

This thirst for knowledge propelled Liz to leave the comforts of family and friends in Brazil and move to California to pursue a Master’s degree in late 2015. She lives in sunny SoCal, where she’s researching the writing process, for her thesis, in hopes to figure out why she creates in English instead of her native Portuguese.

Liz Gavin writes in contemporary, paranormal, and historical genres. In her sexy stories, one finds smart, independent women, who don’t need rescuing by knights in shining armor, but indulge in steamy action with swoony Alpha males with big hearts. She also writes about women discovering their sexuality and finding happiness in unconventional setups.

website facebook twitter goodreads Amazon icon


MADELINE SHEEHAN

USA Today bestseller, Madeline Sheehan, is the author of the Holy Trinity series, and the Undeniable series.

Other works include the dystopian series ‘Thicker Than Blood’, Thicker Than Blood and Beneath Blood and Bone, and a contemporary romance novel, Shut Up and Kiss Me.

website facebook twitter goodreads Amazon icon


NICOLE ZOLTACK

Nicole Zoltack is a USA Today bestselling author who loves to write romances, whether they’re fantasy, paranormal, or regency. She’s also an editor for MuseItUp Publishing and works as a freelance editor and ghostwriter.

When she’s not writing about gentlemen and their ladies, knights, superheroes, or witches, she loves to spend time with her loving husband, three energetic young boys, and precious baby girl. She enjoys riding horses (pretending they’re unicorns, of course!) and going to the PA Renaissance Faire, dressed in garb. She’ll also read anything she can get her hands on. Her current favorite TV shows are The Walking Dead and Gotham.

website facebook twitter goodreads Amazon icon


VICTORIA DELUIS

Victoria DeLuis is an avid fantasy reader, who enjoys writing Urban Fantasy and paranormal/cosy mysteries.

She lives in Wales with her husband, daughter, three cats and one dog.

Amongst other writings, Victoria is currently working on The Rune Witch Mysteries and The Relic Guardians Series.

website facebook twitter goodreads Amazon icon

Rune Witch Mysteries

The first two books in my new series: the Rune Witch Mysteries are now available!

Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed will love this modern take on witchcraft and Welsh mythology.

 

There’s always a price to pay with magic. The question is… who pays?

I’m Summer Daniels. Friend. Foe. Witch.

It was never going to be a simple day: visiting my childhood home and finding the murderer of a house fairy. Whose master happens to be a heartless goblin… Yet, as it turns out, the goblin is the least of my problems.

A lover endangered. A friend betrayed. A memory taken.

The cards are stacked against me but hell hath no fury like an angry Witch.

I’m Summer Daniels and my life is about to change.

You can get your copy now for only 99c on Amazon – also available in KU!

 

One death, one pledge, one price to pay!

There’s nothing better than a walk amongst the trees with the man I love. So, how dare someone disrespect the sanctity of life and my forest along with it!

With the body of a murdered young man placed at my feet, there’s not a chance on Earth, I’m not using all the power at my disposal to find the killer. Even if that means I have to put on hold my quest to discover the magical curse that plagues my family.

I’ll fight to the end to discover the truth, but what do I do when the man I love wants to fight for me?

I’m a pawn in a game I’m only just beginning to comprehend, but I’m not the only one.

You can pre-order your copy of Hidden on Amazon now!

 

Cursed Magic – Relic Guardians Book Three

Cursed Magic, Book Three of the Relic Guardian series is now available 🙂

Jamie Oxford: Friend. Foe. Bane of my existence!

I should have known better than to trust Jamie with the location of Pandora’s Box. The minute I tell him, he steals it from under MI5’s nose. Maybe I’d be impressed – if I wasn’t so furious. Now it’s in the hands of an infamous Magicai, determined to sell it to the highest bidder, who could unleash the next apocalypse. No big deal, right?

Jamie can try all he likes to redeem himself, but as usual, the fate of the world rests in my hands. Now, I have to recover the box for a second time, before it’s opened.

If only I could do it without Jamie tagging along for the ride.

Maybe the apocalypse is better than dealing with that idiot.

 

***

Excerpt:

My long overdue study of translation runes and the power of tongues over the past month had paid off. Using my spells, I could decipher every word on Pandora’s Box, or rather, the copy of them I had taken.

I might have been inside the most secure archives in England, deep within the London Magicai Library, where few were permitted to tread, but it would have been more than foolish – catastrophic, even – to bring Pandora’s Box through the heart of the city. It was secure, where it belonged, at the Great British History Museum.

The tension in my stomach did not ease, however.

No, it brought me no joy to translate these glyphs. My skin was cold as I read them, though it was warm – stiflingly so – down here. They foretold doom, should the box ever be opened: plagues upon the world of sickness and ravages against all good and whole until the earth lay in ruin and wreck.

Thank goodness I‘d gotten to it in time. Thank goodness I’d recovered it before it had opened. Thank goodness I’d been able to stop it. I hated to think anything might be locked away from the world, never to be seen again, but if ever an object deserved to be hidden away for all time, it was Pandora’s Box.

I remembered how it felt to hold it in my hands, as if the malevolence inside leeched out and bleached the life from me, poisoning me.

I shuddered. I was really glad the box was no longer in my care, to say the least. I knew as I sat there researching it, my boss, Duncan, would be placing it under wards beyond my knowledge that would keep it safe, secure, and most importantly, unopened.

At least, I thought he would be, but at that moment, my phone rang and his name flashed on the screen. I answered the call within a second; as much to silence the loud ringtone in the silent archives as to find out why he called.

“Duncan?”

“Zoe. I need you back here now.”

“What’s up?” I said, startled by the shaking of his voice. Not fear, not upset, but anger it seemed.

“We have a problem – a huge problem.”

Icy fear plunged through me. “The box. It’s not..?” I breathed. I didn’t dare say it. Open.

“No,” he said quickly, and a huff of relief escaped me. “Not open. Not yet. But it’s in danger.”

“I’m on my way.”

***

Cursed Magic is currently available on AMAZON, you can check out all the books in the Relic Guardians series on its series page 🙂

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

 

Glimpses

Glimpses is a FREE collection of 16 short fantasy  stories.

Each story gives a glimpse into a fantasy world and also acts as an introduction to that author’s writing – you never know, you might find your next favourite author here.

Stolen Magic, a short story set with the Relic Guardians series, and features a new character, Nathan Scott. It is available exclusive to this set, so check out an excerpt below and grab your FREE copy 🙂

***

Excerpt:

I’m a city guy, born and raised, but I’d seen more than my fair share of the world. My home was in the heart of Camden, a stone’s throw from the Regent’s Canal, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of London life. If my roots lay anywhere, it was there. Where the streets are lined with urban street art, and a punk mentality permeates the air, along with the appetising smells and constant cawing of traders in Camden market. A far cry from my current surroundings.

The wind screamed as a sand storm shrouded the sky and turned day into night. The once calm waters of the Nile rose in towering crests. Sand, wind, and an icy spray battered my fishing boat and tossed it around like flotsam.

My heart pounded and my skin felt stripped raw. I checked my bearings and steered the boat starboard. I had to be close, but the forbidding storm had consumed sky, land, and water with a sandy blizzard. The boat juddered to a halt and sent me tumbling to the deck. At last, I’d run aground.

A sensible man would have hunkered down, ridden out the storm, but no-one had ever called me sensible, and besides, I was one of the Magicai. Whether reckless behaviour came with magical powers, or it was just part of my innate nature, who was to say, but one thing was for sure, I had an advantage over most men in this cruel environment. Ordinaries, we called them, people with no magical power. Most of whom lived their lives unaware of the magic around them.

I clutched at the rune stone on a leather cord at my neck. It thrummed, acting like a conduit and drawing on the energy of the ley lines to infuse me with magic. The Eye of Horus, etched in the stone, flashed as I called upon its power to shield me from the worst of the elements and guide me through the storm.  

I spat out the sand lodged in my mouth and launched myself into the onslaught. Protected by a magical shield, the sand no longer flayed my skin, and the incessant roar of wind was a murmur.

I trudged over the inhospitable terrain, following the pull of my rune stone. The power calling me intensified as I neared the convergence of ley lines: a potent beacon of energy in the distance. After a while, the sand blew away, the winds abated, and the storm cleared. I dropped my shield as the remains of an ancient city rose before me. The Nubian Pyramids of Meroë.

My path wound between the dunes and through the crypt-quiet city. Neither man nor beast moved around me, not even a scorpion scuttled along the sand. The only sign of the once raging storm was a deathly stillness to the air.

My throat was as dry as the desert. The sun beat down from a clear sky, stabbing me with spears of heat and covering the landscape in a haze that blurred my vision. I pulled a canteen from my backpack and savoured the water as it moistened my mouth and slid down my throat.

With my senses on high alert, I approached the final structure and stood in the doorway of the weather-worn pyramid. Something moved inside. A glimmer of light burned like liquid fire. I took a deep breath, ducked beneath an overhanging beam, and entered.

The heat followed me inside, where stale air clogged my lungs and hieroglyphics lined the walls. I wiped the sweat from my brow and slid between a narrow opening. A dark figure moved in front of me, silhouetted like a shadow in the gloom. It reached towards me, its hand outstretched, beckoning me forward.

I entered the chamber and a tall man with green eyes and a turban covering his head towered over me. “It is good to see you, Nathan,” Skylar said. “Although I must say, you took your time.”

“Give me a break.” I sat on a rock and took another swig from my canteen. “It’s not easy to travel over five thousand miles. Not to mention, having to navigate through a deadly sandstorm.”

In ancient times, the Egyptians believed the Nile was a supernatural source, a place from the netherworld that crossed the boundaries between worlds. In many ways they were right. Hidden at the points where ley lines converged, doorways to alternate realities existed. The Pyramids of Meroë, like many ancient landmarks, were built on such a convergence.

Every Magicai knew the source of their power, but not every Magicai knew the secret of the doorways. I was one of the Travellers, and like my father before me, I crossed between worlds, exploring different realities. I’d only just arrived back in London, after an otherworldly expedition, when Skylar had entered my world from his and sent a magical summons.

“The storm has passed,” Skylar said. “We must make haste.”

“Now, wait a minute.” I shook my canteen to release the last drop of water into my mouth. “What’s so important that you travel across realities and summon me to Sudan?”

Skylar heaved an exaggerated sigh, but he sat down beside me and handed me his canteen. “The Kushite Stone has been stolen from my world.”

I thought for a minute, relaying the history of the area through my head. “Nope,” I said. “Never heard of it.”

“It is a relic of my world, not yours. Created during the Great War, when Rome pushed forth and tried to conquer the known world.”

That was the big difference between Skylar’s world and my own. Firstly, the Great War referred to a war in a different time and place. Secondly, where Egypt succumbed to the Romans in my world, and the Nubian empire faded and disappeared along with their trade routes, in Skylar’s, the Romans were defeated and the Nubian empire flourished to his present day.

“What makes you think it’s here?” I asked.

Skylar flashed me the signet ring on his finger, a conduit for his magic as much as my runic stone is for mine. “I know it is,” he said. “Arin, a Magicai of great power, has travelled between worlds in the hope of finding the sister to the Kushite Stone. In doing so, he hopes to create a powerful artefact that can help him enslave both our realities.”

I winced. Magical artefacts should never be joined with their counterparts in other worlds. The results would be… well, I wouldn’t want to be around to find out. Suffice to say, big bad magic equals big bad danger.  

“That’s not good,” I said.

“No, it is not.” Skylar stood. “So you understand the urgency. Arin has two days head start on us. His lack of knowledge of your world may hinder his process, but he must not succeed.”

***

Glimpses is available for FREE for a short time only, so grab your copy now!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail