Holding back the eager power of his own spirit, Alistair closed the rest of the distance between them, and his son’s spirit came into view.
“Spirits, Father. You’re a wolf!”
“You too? Good. I’m glad it isn’t just Aisling who sees it that way.” Alistair peered at the creature sitting timidly in front of him. “You are… odd-looking.”
The thing lifted its forepaws and looked around as if seeing itself for the first time. “Why? What am I?”
Alistair frowned and let out a groan. “Oh, I know the name. You know in all those Cyrille and Althaean fauna books your grandmother gave you when you were a boy?”
The thing put its forepaws down and its nose and whiskers twitched. “Yes…” Continue reading
“I will go with you, Father,” Logan spoke up, just as Alistair started to argue back. The three paused and glanced at him. Aisling watched with interest. She expected him to back down—he didn’t seem quite man enough yet to hold his own—but he lifted his chin and returned their stares with a bold one of his own.
Alistair looked at his son as if seeing him for the first time. A flicker of emotion crossed his face, and he groaned. “If you come with me… I would prefer Aisling and Sophia not go alone.”
Aisling shut her eyes. “I will go with Sophia,” she said, and instantly had a foul taste on her tongue.
When she opened her eyes a moment later, everyone was gawking at her. Sophia could barely hide her distaste and stared with a horrified grimace.
Alistair opened his mouth, but before he could even make a sound, Sophia blurted, “But why?”
“Alistair does not want either of us searching alone,” she snapped, shooting the woman a glare. “Logan cannot be on his own; he does not have enough experience. Alistair cannot be on his own. Clearly the only one who can is Lord Hession, which means you and I must go together. Surely you can withhold your immaturity for the few hours it will take to find Riane?” Continue reading
Four stone towers, only one moderately intact, connected by walls that had long since crumbled in the middle. Vines crawled up the sides of the weathered stones as nature tried to reclaim what was rightfully hers. A flagpole still stood from the highest tower, the one closest to me, with a scrap of fabric still attached. It drifted lazily in the evening breeze.
Another shiver danced down my spine. The highest tower was one of the tallest buildings I had ever seen, aside from the castle in Nallis. It was majestic and magnificent, even with one side gone.
“I don’t like this,” I said to myself, and walked slowly past the tower, alongside the south wall, which was mostly intact. A few holes like slits were carved into the stone—places for archers to keep watch and ready their bows in case of invaders—and from one still dangled the ruined remains of a tapestry. Continue reading
I swallowed a lump in my throat and my hand drifted to my knife, which I had taken to wearing on my hip instead of my leg once we entered the Old Lands. “Logan, I am the one who lives in this territory,” I said weakly. “I am the one who had to convince you that it wasn’t haunted. But this place… it feels wrong.”
Logan stopped and looked at me, head cocked to the side. Sophia crunched away, oblivious to our hesitation. “Riane, this is why we came here. My legs haven’t stopped hurting since we left home, and I have never been filthier. But this is why we came, remember? We were going on an adventure to break from the monotony of our lives.”
I bit my lip and stole another glance in the direction of the fort. “I like the monotony,” I whispered, but he ignored me and jogged away to catch up with Sophia.
I watched their retreating backs, and my grip tightened on the hilt of my dagger. Night was quickly falling; soon we would be lost in the darkness, and I knew I wasn’t about to camp next to the ruins of the fort. We would have to walk back to Vavenby, and that would take all night.
My gut twisted and a shiver crawled down my spine. We were trapped. Continue reading
Jory dodged her and watched her skip through the murky evening. “Who is she?” he asked as I stepped up to him.
“Sophia Henson. Captain Sophia Henson,” I corrected, rolling my eyes. “You have probably heard of her. Her father was the late pirate king of Canton, Vincent Henson. Some people call her a queen. Most call her the Pretender.”
Logan cleared his throat as he stepped past. “Be nice, mutt,” he said, and followed Sophia out the door.
Jory watched him go, as well. I doubted his eyebrows could get any higher. “Who is he?”
I resisted the urge to rub my head. “My younger half-brother. He’s also the heir to a Southern Kingdom. Let’s go.” I grabbed his hand and towed him from the big house before he could ask any more questions. Continue reading
He made another noise, then crunched a few steps away. “Take off their blindfolds. We have nothing to hide from the likes of them.”
Rough hands yanked at my hair as the knots were untied, then the blindfold was pulled away and I saw him.
He stood a metre or so away, arms folded across the broad expanse of his chest. He wore dark cloth trousers and a similar tunic, with sturdy leather boots tied to his knees. Draped over his shoulders was a thick black fur cloak, which was clasped in the front with the tarnished bronze face of a bear. Tall and powerful, he watched us with dark eyes beneath thick, beetled brows; his hair was long and curled, pulled back from his face with a single braid down the side. Continue reading
The air quivered under the weight of her open spirit. His own squeezed up in fear; she was liable to wrench the castle from its roots in her rage, and bury them all with her.
Behind him, Hession groaned. “Fuck me,” he hissed. “I forgot.”
Alistair ran his tongue over his dry lips as they neared the main hall. He hadn’t forgotten. He had spent the past seventeen years aching for that spirit, in tenderness or anger, if only to remind himself of what could have been. Continue reading