Tuesday Snippet: Unlicensed Sorceress – Chapter Six

unlicensed sorceress 2017Koenigstadt
Hilda Brant
Hilda woke up with a jerk. She was lying on a soft couch in a parlor. It took her a minute to realize she was in the house. Michael was sitting next to her, watching her breath. He was drinking a cup of peppermint tea and the smell relaxed her.

Her last memory had been when Morcant probed her mind. The buildup of energy had warned her that he was going to do much more than probe her memories. It was a bolt of energy that would have seared her mind and turned her into an idiot. How many other new mages had been stripped of their mental powers by the senior mage.

Her blood boiled. She wanted to blast and kill something—anything. She sat up abruptly and stared into the dancing flames in the fireplace. Sassy jumped out of the flames and into her arms.

“Hilda, Hilda” she hissed. Sassy had grown twice her size. Hilda cuddled the fire element in her arms and felt her anger diminish. The fire element fed on her emotions. She felt her anger slowly cool as Sassy fed from them. If Sassy wasn’t here helping her get her anger under control, she could have flamed this house and half of the university.

When she finally stopped seeing red and her emotions were enough that she could control them, Sassy shrank to a small size. She purred and cuddled until Hilda could see this couch, this room, and Michael.

Michael watched her warily. His undine, a water element, was wrapped around his neck in a defensive movement.

“I’m not going to kill you.” Hilda could smell a faint smell of ash in the air. The undine tucked her head in Michael’s neck and stayed there. Hilda felt embarrassed at her lack of control.

“How are you feeling?” Michael paced in front of the small fireplace. Then without listening to her answer, he said, “Rooso is here.”

He was trying not to rub his arm. He used to do that when he was upset. “He brought you here.” His voice rose a little, “and they added more guards to this house. What did you do?”

“They know what I am,” she said. “I wasn’t more than a couple minutes in senior mage’s presence when he tried to burn my mind out.”

“Not good, sis,” he said. “They have more resources than we do. Plus we are in the middle of their stronghold.”

“I’m well aware—” Hilda wanted to shout at him. Instead she lowered her tone so that the guards couldn’t hear her.

Michael interrupted her. “I don’t think you are. This house—” he hissed. Then he waved his arms at the walls and ceiling, “was built to hold wizards. You strike at anything in here and it will rebound on you.”

Hilda gave him a look. She should have known this was a trap. It was built to hold rogue mages. She wanted to curse. She slumped on the couch with Sassy cuddled against her chest. She should have known. It was what she would have done if a stranger had come into her territory. She had gotten soft. There was a reason she had turned away from war and toward civilian life. For a moment she longed for the nice quiet days of ale deliveries and bouncing drunks out of the inn.

“I can’t talk here,” Michael continued, “But I still have friends at the university. You stay here and don’t get into trouble.” There was a quiet menace in his voice.

She admired the glare coming from him. His little nervous habit had disappeared as he took charge of the situation. She smiled. “Okay, we’ll do it your way.”

He looked at her suspiciously. As an older sister, she wasn’t used to giving in to him. Still he took it at face value and left her there with Sassy.

So what was her next move? She needed to find Rooso. It was strange that he was here and without her sister, Mistress Mary Rose. The last time she saw the two of them together, they had been all over each other. Now she couldn’t get that image out of her mind.

Of course she could contact her sister. However, it would take two weeks to get a letter to Mistress Mary, then another two weeks to get a letter back. Then Michael would have to read the letter to her. It would be easier to beat a confession out of Rooso instead.

Before she realized she had made a decision, she was in her room, pulling off her dress, and climbing into her leathers. She added a few knives around her body. Then she climbed out the window and skulked until she was sure she had lost her guards.

It wasn’t hard to find Rooso. Hilda found him in a small student pub outside the university gates. His red hair flamed like a becon as she went straight to his table and sat down. He smelled like he had down enough ale to kill a dragon.

Out the door she could see two guards that had been guarding the gardens. She gave them a respectful nod of the head. Once again they had been on step ahead of her. They must have some sort of magical tracking device on her.

She wanted to slap Rooso when she realized he was flirting with the serving wench. He was her sister’s and not this floozy. Oh yea, no doubt, his flaming red hair, his sky blue eyes, and his grin attracted the fairer sex like bees too honey. They must also be responding to his assurance that he could handle any violence that came his way.

When he moved, it hit something visceral in the female breast. Hilda had worked with a lot of men like him.

Hilda pounded her hand on the table. The serving wench glared. She still left Hilda with Rooso to get her a mug of ale. When she looked at Rooso, he flinched. Then his normal smooth facial expression slid into place. She leaned into him close enough to see the red bristles on his face.

“I didn’t expect to see you here,” she said.

Rooso turned into a teenage boy for a moment. He mumbled, and then sucked down his ale. He slid from the table. She caught him by his arm.

“You aren’t going just yet,” she said with a smile. She put a little of Sassy’s strength into her arm. Since he couldn’t pull away from her, he stepped into her space.

“Feeling a little lonely?” he asked. There was a murmur in his voice that made the female in Hilda think of rooms and beds with satin sheets. It slid over her skin.

“Rooso,” her voice chided him. “Why are you here?”

“It’s a long story,” he said in his normal voice. She had caught him and he knew it. “I can’t tell you here.” He looked around the bar. It was filling up with university students and guards. “You also brought your own guards and spies.”

Hilda grinned. It was a smile with all teeth and no humor. “Want to have some fun?”

Rooso closed his eyes, and then sighed. She knew immediately that Rooso had gotten her meaning. She wanted a fight and it could be with him or it could be with the rest of the bar. She saw the slight tick under his eye when he made his decision.

He turned around and hit one of the guards who had been following her, right in the mouth. “What are you doing with my woman?” He yelled at the top of his lungs.

It was enough of a spark to start bedlam. Tables and chairs were upended. Hilda got a few punches in and her blood screamed for more. After a few minutes, Rooso grabbed her arm and pulled her through the kitchen and out the back door. She could hear the curses, screams and crashes in the alley.

She hadn’t had this much fun in years. In the alley, she leaned the wall. A stitch in her side left her breathless. To her surprise she was laughing. Damn. She hadn’t had this much fun in years.

***

Now for a  little promotion

Hero of Corsindor 2018-2

Hero of Corsindor is now on Amazon kindle for pre-order.

In the kingdom of Corsindor, the prince is lost, the king is dead, and the queen is holding the reins of government against disloyal nobles. They want a puppet to consolidate their power over the land. The queen has only one ally, who is not human.

There are rumors that the borders have been closed. Plus the long-lost prince, who knows nothing of ruling, is returning. Corsindor is being attacked from within and without by nightstalkers.

Shira, a foundling, trained by the Ahrah, Corsindor’s neighbors, is sent find out the conditions in Corsindor. Warrior and child of another world – her job is to confront the demons and reduce the chaos in the world. Will she survive?

Will she be tempted to take it all?

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Tuesday Snippet – Unlicensed Sorceress – Chapter Five

unlicensed sorceress 2017 Chapter Five

Koenigstadt
Rooso Derne

The wind whipped his red hair, stinging his face and eyes. Rooso closed his eyes as he tied a leather band at the nape of his neck. Then he leaned into the stone building to get out of the wind. The last thing he remembered was the mage casting a spell and then he was transported to the Mage University. At least it looked like it from the from the buildings and the garden.

The mage had wanted him trussed up and presented to the Mage council as a rogue mage. Except here he was, free of all restraints, trying to consider his next move.

He pushed his face into the wind and stepped around the building. His stomach fell when he recognized he recognized the archway leading to the most secret part of the university. The unseen mage that had sent him here must have a confederate.

At least the mage hadn’t sent him to the far reaches of the world. Spies had been lost that way before.

And, he was fully clothed with no weapons. His weapons had been in the bag that was still in that room in Delhaven. He may be weaponless, but he was not defenseless. He knew how to skulk and also carried an illegal cloaking spell on an amulet around his neck. He had always wanted to use it. He grinned as he activated the spell.

The student mages gathered around a fountain near the archway didn’t see him as he walked through them. One sensitive young female mage with auburn hair shivered when she felt him. She turned to where he had activated the spell and walked toward it. While she was searching, he slipped past her.

He stood quietly near the archway, wondering how he was going to get into this part of the university. You had to either be a mage of the inner circles or an assistant of a mage. He waited for his opportunity. Just when he thought that the spell was starting to fade, he saw a young mage, escorting Hilda to where he wanted to go.

He slipped behind the two of them and then slid into a small room at the side of the hallway. He watched as the young man opened the door to Mage Morcant’s offices. He shivered. Morcant was known for his experiments with dragons and other mages. If he hadn’t been on the mage council, then he would have been thrown out of the univeristy for black magic long ago.

If the mage who transported him to the university was working with Morcant, then he was in big trouble.

Before Rooso could get out of the little room, the young mage who had escorted Hilda to Morcant’s office, stood in the doorway.

“I know you are there.”

Rooso’s shape shivered as the spell faded away. When he was completely visible, he saw the young mage smile. It was a terrible smile with all teeth.

“Teach it to me?”

Rooso smiled back. “Not my spell,” he lied. “It was given to me by my handler.” Let the mages think that the handler was giving out illegal spells. It would get the handler in trouble, if only indirectly.

When the magic wave started, Rooso could feel it curl and hit his chest. Someone was expending a lot of energy. He rushed to the door and pushed the young mage away.

Rooso raced down the hallway to the source of the magic. The young man tried to grab the back of his shirt, but Rooso was too quick.

Rooso flung the door open to Senior Mage Morcant’s office. Hilda was frozen over the wizard with a pen raised in her hand. He knew that stance. In moments the pen would be in the wizard’s carotid artery. No magic could cure a wound that could bleed out so quickly.

“Enough,” he yelled. The sound boomed from his chest and broke the spell. Hilda and the mage dropped limply to the wooden floor. The young man raced by him to check on his master.

Rooso picked up Hilda. She lay limply in his arms. She looked up at him as he words slurred, “What are you doing here? Where is my sister?”

He ignored her and carried her out the hallway and through the entrance. There was only one place they would keep visiting mages. He turned left and carried her to the house.

Michael must have felt that magic wave too and knew that his sister was in trouble. He slammed opened the door as Rooso raced up the stone pathway. Rooso muscled through the door, turned into the parlor, and laid Hilda down on the couch.

Michael was all business as he loosened her shirt and checked her pulse, then he relaxed. He looked Rooso in the eye and said, “So you screwed up.”

There was nothing Rooso could say. Yes, he had screwed up his love life and his career in one fell swoop. He didn’t feel the need to hash out his problems with his lover’s brother so he turned to walk out the door.

“Oh no,” Michael said. The calm in his voice was deceiving because Rooso had seen his burning eyes when he had laid Hilda on the couch. “You’ll stay here until I am satisfied.”

“At the very least,” Michael continued. “You’ll tell me how you got here.”

It would be a long story and he would have to edit most of it. Then he looked at Michael’s eyes again. The man had changed. He could smell magic whirling off of him. If he tried to lie, Michael would know.

So he sat there, trying to come up with the least offensive thing and said, “Your sister dumped me.” As the words left his mouth, he knew that the next question would by why and it would lead to his profession. He sighed. “Does it matter?”

Michael gave him that glare that told him that it did matter. Michael let the matter drop though and looked at Hilda. It was obvious that his immediate concern was this sister.

“What happened with Hilda?” Michael asked.

“I don’t know, but knowing this mage,” Rooso paused and saw Michael’s face turn white.

“Which mage,” Michael interrupted Rooso.

“Senior Mage Morcant.”

Michael sat down like he had been hit in the stomach. “Morcant— oh, no.”

Rooso had heard rumors that the wizard had special sessions with certain students. It was rumored that many of them hated the mage and would kill him if they could. After finding Hilda ready to kill him, he had a sneaky suspicion that the mage was up to no good.

“You were one of Morcant’s students,” Rooso stated.

Michael nodded his head numbly. Rooso took a deep breath and then sighed.

Michael murmured, “He tried to break us. He went after the students with no family to support them. I can’t say if he was a black mage, but I swear that man took magic from us.”

“Oh god,” said Rooso. “I could feel that magic. It curled around my chest like it wanted my magic. I went to see who was doing it because it was not right.”

“You have an affinity for air,” Michael said. There was curiosity tinged with something else. Rooso thought that Michael’s academic side was showing. He didn’t want to be that interesting to Michael’s sharp mind.

“Maybe,” said Rooso. “Hilda almost killed him.” He was desperately trying to change the subject.

Michael looked at Hilda. “Can you help me?” He asked Rooso. There was no need for an explanation; Rooso knew that his leg was weak. Rooso picked her up and followed Michael to her room.

Rooso wanted to laugh. He had gotten into one sister’s bedroom and now he was getting into the other sister’s bedroom. The thought of Mistress Mary Rose stopped that thought in its tracks. He shrugged off his sadness and laid Hilda on the bed.

“I’ll get someone to check her out,” he said, and then left. He didn’t want to answer any more questions—not about Mistress Mary Rose or why he was kicked out of her house.

***

Now for a  little promotion

Hero of Corsindor 2018-2

Hero of Corsindor is now on Amazon kindle for pre-order.

In the kingdom of Corsindor, the prince is lost, the king is dead, and the queen is holding the reins of government against disloyal nobles. They want a puppet to consolidate their power over the land. The queen has only one ally, who is not human.

There are rumors that the borders have been closed. Plus the long-lost prince, who knows nothing of ruling, is returning. Corsindor is being attacked from within and without by nightstalkers.

Shira, a foundling, trained by the Ahrah, Corsindor’s neighbors, is sent find out the conditions in Corsindor. Warrior and child of another world – her job is to confront the demons and reduce the chaos in the world. Will she survive?

Will she be tempted to take it all?

Tuesday Snippet – Unlicensed Sorceress – Chapter Four

Hero of Corsindor 2018-2Chapter Four

Koenigstadt
Hilda Brant

It had been a long time since Hilda had slept in a soft bed. She stretched and her knee locked. She rolled out of bed and stamped her leg on the floor, swearing under her breath. Sassy lying quietly in the dying coals of the gray stone fireplace grinned at her. Michael knocked on the door and whispered, “Are you up?”

“Damn it,” said Hilda. “I hate getting old.” Her knee clicked as it loosened up enough for her to walk on it.

She opened the door. Michael leaned against the door jamb with a small smile on his face. “Breakfast is ready,” he said. He turned away.

She slammed the door. To hell if it made noise. She felt grouchy.

Her breeches had been laundered and left on a wooden chair. A white shirt that buttoned up the front sat next to them. Instead of dressing in her traveling clothes, she looked in the carved oak wardrobe. She admired the workmanship that had gone into carving the flowers and hummingbirds in the wood. She had no clue how the craftsman had made the inlets.

When she touched the wardrobe, it felt smooth to the touch. Inside this work of art was a stylish gown that cinched from the back. Next to it was a dark blue cloak. It had been handcrafted for a noblewoman or maybe a mage. She was tempted to see if it fit.

She looked at the bottom of the wardrobe and found a simple shift that she could pull over her head easily. There were no tiny buttons to button or any of the elaborate embroidery of the first dress. It swung around her body and legs and she sighed in pleasure. Even though it was a simple dress it felt silky.

Her stomach started to grumble as she smelled breakfast cooking. She slipped on a pair of slippers and used her nose to find the bacon and eggs. The smell led her down the stairs and into a room across from the parlor.

She saw Michael, Davi, and Kayla eating the eggs. The talk was light and Michael looked relaxed. The cook put eggs and bacon on plate and handed it to Hilda. She sat down and ate like she hadn’t eaten in a long time. There were hotcakes on the table, mounds of butter, and even maple syrup. The hotcakes tasted rich and buttery.

Finally she patted her stomach and sighed. Before she could settle into the parlor with the others, a young man walked purposely through the front door and took her arm.

“Don’t yell,” he said quietly. “You must come with me.”

He took her arm and she could feel compulsion magic course through him. She could fight it, but she was curious why he thought he needed to use that type of magic on her.

So he was lucky that she didn’t hurt him right there. She glanced back and saw Sassy glinting as if she was going to make the leap to land on Hilda. She shook her head no, and Sassy stayed hidden in the fire.

Hilda had a gut feeling that she didn’t want the young mage to know that she had an elemental.

He led her through the gardens with brown leaves on the pathway. He wore a cloak against the morning chill, but she was still in a shift. She shivered through the gardens until he led her to a stone building close to the ground. Fir trees and bushes hid the building. The building could meld into the landscape and you had to get closer to see it.

Hilda wondered why something would look so small and innocuous. With all of the bushes, an enemy could hide and attack. It didn’t look like it was well-protected. There were no guards patrolling the garden and no guards on the front door of the stone building.

But she was not just a retired mercenary. So she looked with her inner senses. For a moment she could feel and smell magical traps. They were so dangerous that the traps would kill anyone who didn’t the proper safe word or gesture. She shuddered. If she had really ambushed this building, she would be either captured or dead within minutes. She wanted to swear. “Fuck’n mages.”

The young man smirked.

Whoever built these traps was more paranoid than her and more powerful. She didn’t say a word and hoped her face didn’t show her anxiety.

She sniffed, but she could only smell the dying autumn. There was no smell of burning ash or rotten eggs. So if her nose was right, she wouldn’t have to deal with a dragon or an undead. At least there was no corruption to the smells. She squared her shoulders and stilled her face. She built her mental shields just in case.

The door opened before the young man knocked. An older man with a huge smile that showed yellow and broken teeth, invited Hilda into a small room with two chairs and a desk. Then the young man left.

The older man pointed Hilda to a seat. He walked around the desk and slouched in his chair. The silence stretched as she waited for him to speak. The silence must have been too much because he looked down at a piece of paper and then looked up at her. Hilda would have given much to know what was written there. But she had never learned to read and had only learned basic math for running the inn.

She waited. She was not going to break the silence. She was not a young mage who would get nervous if some man looked at her long enough. She recognized this interrogation technique.

Finally the older man cleared his throat. She waited for him to speak.

“My name is Morcant,” he said.

Hilda nodded her head, politely.

“I will be discussing with you the unfortunate incident in the forest south of here. But first,” he handed me a piece of paper. “Sign here.”

“No,” Hilda said. “I will not sign something I cannot read.” She stopped her arms from folding against her chest. She didn’t want to look defensive. She gripped the chair arms firmly. Then said, “I want my brother to read this before I sign.”

Morcant’s eyes flickered back and forth. Hilda knew that the next words out of his mouth would be a lie. “It’s just saying that you are a mage.”

“But I am not,” she said. “I have not gone to the mage university and I have not practiced ritual magic. I am not a mage.”

“If you don’t sign this paper,” Morcant smiled. Hilda shudder. Dragons had a nicer smile than this man. Morcant continued. “Then I will send you to the dungeon for dangerous criminals.”

“I have done nothing wrong,” Hilda said, her eyebrow went up. “What are you trying to pull?” She leaned forward. Morcant leaned back just a little. He caught himself, scowled, and then he leaned toward her.

She felt his magical energies ramp up. She wished Sassy was with her because the two of them could overpower this wannabe. She sent a probe towards him on the off chance that she could read something in his mind. He blocked her and the smile wiped off his face.

He sent a probe back. She could barely push it away. She knew he was going to try again, so she reached for her knife. Damn. She was disarmed.

She reached across the desk and grabbed a silver pen. It had enough weight to be useful.
Morcant must have been able to get off a non-verbal spell because she felt heaviness come over her limbs. She fought it hard until she could move her fingers. Beads of sweat roll down Morcant’s face as Hilda tried to move her sluggish body and push the pen into his neck.”

“Enough!”

Hilda recognized that voice, but he shouldn’t be here. The magic in that voice broke the tie between Hilda and Morcant. They both collapsed. Hilda lay on the floor unable to move. As her eyelids sagged she saw two legs and feet. He picked her up and slung her across his shoulder.

As she slapped against his back from being carried out of the room, she saw a healer leaning over Morcant. His face was white and he was breathing shallowly.

“What the hell did you do to him?” said that familiar voice. “Hilda… Hilda.”

They were in the gardens and he had set her down. She looked up into the face of Rooso. She wanted to say “What are you doing here?” but her lips wouldn’t move.

He picked her up in his arms and  carried her like a baby back to the house.

Tuesday Snippet: Unlicensed Sorceress- Chapter Three

unlicensed sorceress 2017

Chapter Three

Delhaven
Rooso Derne

Rooso woke with a soft silk comforter wrapped around him. He reached to his left to give Mistress Mary Rose a deep kiss. The dip in the bed where she had slept beside him was already cold. The sheer pink fabric draped across the four posts shivered as he put his feet on the cold floor.

She was not standing at the window looking down at the gardens. She was not washing her face with the water left in the basin. She rose early most days to keep her little kingdom of whores and thieves in line. He pulled on his pants and went in search of her.

“You are a charming rogue,” whispered Mistress Mary Rose as he strutted into the parlor so she could appreciate his beauty. His red auburn hair flowed down his bare back. His skin was ivory and freckled. He had the slim build of a runner with enough muscles that he could be deadly in a fight. He knew she wanted him and he wanted her.

Her words stopped him. Did she suspect? Rooso gave her a smile with all teeth and she gave him the same smile back. His hands trembled as he poured a shot of whiskey that was on the cherry liquor cabinet. He knocked it back, then turned to face her.

“You are a spy.” The tone of her voice told him that she hadn’t believed it until then. He wanted to pour another shot, but he needed to be steady for this conversation.

“Mary Rose,” he started. “I don’t know what you are so upset about. You should be used to spies by now.” And yes, she had her own spy network in Delhaven. Whether she used that intel or passed it on, he didn’t know. He did know that his masters wanted more access to her information.

It was then that he noticed her burning eyes. She wasn’t as complacent about his profession as she had sounded at first. She rustled as she picked up her skirts and got off the soft couch. She walked deliberately towards him, lifted her hand, and slapped him hard across the cheek.

“Out,” she said. Her voice froze something inside of him. Her actions this morning was opposite from the night before when she had washed him and held him.

“Please,” he could hear the shock creeping into his voice. “Please listen to me.” He wanted to tell her, but all these things he wanted to tell her were locked magically in his head. It was frustrating as he tried to force words past his lips.

“You were seen with my enemies.”

The cockiness slipped out of him. “What?”

“Manny,” she called. The butler was at the door, “Make sure that Rooso is out of here today. I don’t want to see him again.”

Rooso was still in shock when Manny cocked his head and said, “Sir. Follow me?”
Rooso’s clothes were already in a large bag sitting near the front door. He had been blindsided.

Manny deftly took the shot glass out of his hand as he walked Rooso out the door. Manny handed him a cape to cover his half-nakedness. Manny watched him as he pulled on his boots. Then he politely opened the door and Rooso and his bag were on the front lawn.

He wanted to rage and kick the door. He wanted to march into the house and give Mistress Mary Rose his side of the story. But how could he? His lips were magically sealed. It would just be the same as before.

Instead he picked up the bag, swung it over his shoulder, and trudged down the carriage path that lead away from her. Grown men didn’t cry, but their eyes did get dusty.

He didn’t look back.

Instead of using stealth to get to the safe house in the middle of the city, he marched straight there. Mistress Mary, heck, maybe the entire city, knew he was a spy. She was hurt enough that she might send someone after him to kick his ass. He felt a burning in his throat and a roiling in his stomach. He ignored it.

His red hair shone in the early morning light and he didn’t care. Track me. Give me my deserved beating. He wished he had told her before. Now any trust that he had developed between them was gone. He hadn’t known that Mistress Mary would be the woman to force him into submission. He had laughed and left dozens of women. He didn’t want to leave her.

He gasped on the cold air. It seeped into his cloak and against his chest. He shivered. As his ears and nose numbed from the cold, he reached the wooden doorway leading to the safe house. He knocked loudly on the door. After a moment, the peephole opened.

Without a word from the guard, the door opened. Rooso marched through. A young man led him to a room filled with books and a hearty fire in a fireplace against the wall. He was left alone. A wooden chair made from oak and carved with magic symbols invited him to sit.

Rooso inspected the symbols. As he waved his hand over the carvings, he felt no power coming from them. Feeling a little relieved, he sat down. His bag plunked on the wooden floor. Mistress Mary Rose must have packed all of his weapons into the bag.

“Rooso,” said a voice that made his nerves jump. “For a spy, you failed spectacularly.”

Rooso tried to turn his head. It was then that the power in the carvings in the wooden chair took over. He was bound to the chair and couldn’t turn his head left or right. He stared straight ahead.

“Speak,” said the voice. The person stayed behind him so that Rooso couldn’t see him.

Rooso bit his lips. He held his mouth tight. He felt an uncontrollable urge to speak, to explain why he had not fulfilled his mission. He resisted. He tried to move his arms and legs. Then he tried to move his fingers and toes. If he could just move a finger, then he could break the spell that held him.

He continued to fight, but when he tried to breathe his mouth opened. The magician behind him laughed. Rooso had failed to beat the spell.

“She knows.” Rooso finally said. He tried to stop babbling, but that one breath forced the rest out of him. “She has spies.”

He was going to speak anyway so he tried to divert the words coming out of his mouth. He wouldn’t talk about the dragon or Hilda. Nor could he reveal about how he helped seal the well at Hilda’s Inn. He did talk about the black magician who had made a Dragur.

If this magician suspected he wasn’t telling everything, he would use force. This type of force was the blackest of all magics. He could feel the waves of enjoyment coming from his captor.

Then Rooso’s voice changed and he went from babbling to placidity. He felt his eyes droop. He talked of other missions where he had been a sailor. He talked of waves, oceans and sails. He talked of the depths of the ocean and of drowning.

The magician tried to redirect him, but he was lost lost lost in the deep ocean. He fell into the depths of his unconscious and was gone.

Tuesday Snippet – Unlicensed Sorceress – Chapter One

unlicensed sorceress 2017

Chapter One

Koenigstadt
Hilda Brant

The tall men with squared shoulders in red and blue uniforms garnished in gold with swords hanging at right side of their hips were meant to intimidate the most dangerous political prisoners. They may look like toy soldiers, but every one of these men had been hand-picked. They were hard men.

The gray stone chiseled walls rose up around Hilda. She looked into the hard eyes of the leader with head held high as she stepped into the formation. Six men dressed in the king’s colors may have looked like an honor guard, but they weren’t. They were there to escort her to a dwelling that housed political prisoners. At least it wasn’t a cell.

She had been a part of this guard a few times when rogue wizards had been escorted to the university for rehabilitation. It was a euphemism for having their magic stripped from them. Some of the wizards had not survived the process.

Men and women in the gray robes that signified the Mage University gathered at the end of the corridor to watch them pass. A slight shiver ran down Hilda’s back and she could feel a vague unease coming from her gut, telling her that the onlookers wanted to do her harm.

She didn’t look or acknowledge them in any way. The guard formation marched through them. Hilda kept her face still and didn’t show her unease. She had been a mercenary, despised by the soldiers who guarded her now.

No one spit at her and the group was strangely quiet. All she could hear was her breathing and the hard rhythm of marching feet.

Sassy, her boisterous fire elemental, had been hiding in Hilda’s shirt. The little elemental stirred at the feelings of malevolence pouring over them. She slowly settled around Hilda’s waist. At least Sassy hadn’t popped her head through the neck opening. That would have been a disaster in front of so many mages.

They didn’t need to know that she had a familiar.

The corridor opened into a larger courtyard. The cobblestones glistened. Hilda’s head stayed high even when the rising sun hit her in the face. She could feel her body give out just a little. There was a glitch in her right hip as she kept pace with the guard.

Where were the others? Her brother, Michael, even with a limp would know this city. He had been a mage in training at this same university. His fire magic had been burned out when he had stood against a dragon-possessed mage. Still his body and his magic had healed enough that now he had a familiar, an undine water elemental. It was mostly healing magic, which was normally found in female mages.

She was more worried about the dragon and his blacksmith. If Davi was found out, then the mages would drain him and then use his body parts for magical experiments. She wished that the two young ones had just stayed with the dragons. It would have been much safer for everyone.

In the courtyard near the stone-gray walls, men and women were training with wooden swords. Hilda could smell the sour sweat coming from them.

After the war the colonel had been honored by the King and given the job to whip the king’s guard into shape. Even the mages looked physically fit. They were doing more than training in the magical arts.

She wasn’t sure if the changes were good or bad.

The colonel had smiled and shook her hand. Hilda couldn’t quite put a finger on why her stomach was twisting. She breathed evenly. The muscles in her shoulders tensed slightly. He had believed her, hadn’t he?

It was a relief when they marched to the door of a two-story white-washed garden house set in the middle of a formal garden garnished with lilacs and carefully trimmed bushes.

The leader of the guard produced a key from his waistband, put the ornate key into the lock, and opened it.

The rest of the guard surrounded the house and began a slow patrol. So she was right. They were prisoners.

Hilda followed the guard inside. The twisting in her stomach settled when she saw Michael sitting on a soft plush chair in a small parlor.

He stood up and leaned heavily on his cane. Hilda’s eyes widened a little. Michael’s dark hair had been recently combed. He had changed into a gray robe that showed his status as a University trained mage.

“I thought your leg…” She paused when Michael shook his head slightly, causing her to stop her voicing her thoughts. She changed the subject. “Where are the others?”

Michael glanced at the guard who was still standing next to her and who was probably told to listen to their conversations.

“The others will be back soon. The king’s interrogator wanted to question them.”

Hilda’s stomach twisted a little. If the interrogator was a mage, then it was all over for Davi.

Michael must have felt her anxiety because he said, “They’ll be back soon.”

“I think I’m tired,” she said. “Where are the bedrooms?”

Michael pointed to small spiral staircase just a few feet away from the parlor door. They guard stayed in the parlor as she climbed the stairs. The hitch in her hip grew worse and she sighed as she reached the top of the stairs.

There was a hallway with four doors on each side. She walked to the very end of the hallway. Sassy would have warned her if there was anyone there. She grasped the metal handle in her hand and opened the bedroom door quickly.

The room was dimly lit. A soft bed with a canopy was the centerpiece of this bedroom.

Someone, probably Michael, had anticipated that she would pick this room because her bags were sitting on the cold floor near a small wooden chair next to a small table.

A bowl of water and a hand mirror were set on the table. Hilda put both hands in the water and splashed her face. She took a deep breath and then took a small drink of water from a glass next to a pitcher. Sassy crawled up to see what she was doing, and then sniffed the water.

Hilda sat on the bed and it bounced just a little under her weight. She tugged and pulled off her boots. She stripped off her leathers next. Using a washcloth, she washed the dust from her arms and legs.

She finally felt clean enough until she could spend a some time soaking in a bath.

Exhaustion became her friend and she wanted to lie on the bed and sleep. She pulled a white nightgown over her head.

Someone thoughtfully left her some bread and cheese. The bread and cheese was hard, so she nibbled it. Her stomach settled.

She was so tired that she wanted to sink into the mattress and sleep for days. Instead she waited for Michael.

Not too much later she heard the clump, clump, clump as Michael navigated the stairs with his cane. He knocked on the door.

“Come in,” she said.

He leaned on the cane. “The interrogator isn’t a mage.”

Hilda nodded. It was a relief. As Michael stood there, Hilda saw the hard lines of his face and body. When had her little brother grown into this hard man?

He could take care of himself and her. Hilda sank into the mattress.

“Good night sister,” Michael said. She watched him clump out the door and down the stairs.

Sassy leaped to the fireplace next to the bed. She didn’t start a fire—not yet. Sassy curled up in the ashes. Hilda feel asleep watching Sassy.
Soon, only a slight harmonic snoring came from the room.

Belated Tuesday Snippet – Unlicensed Sorceress – Prologue

unlicensed sorceress 2017Prologue

Koenigstadt
Colonel

“Did you buy her story?” asked the young man, who had been taking notes. He wore a dark black robe that marked him as a full mage. To the colonel, they seemed to get younger and younger every year.

The colonel looked down at the paperwork on his desk. “Hilda Brant is a loyal citizen.”

“But she was a mercenary.” The mage’s voice rose to a squeak.

The colonel looked at the mage and frowned. “You know that most of our mercenaries were fighting in the Dragon wars. They might not be of the aristocratic class, but they are hard fighters and loyal to a fault.” He didn’t like where this discussion was going.

“So what do you know of her personally?” The mage settled back into his chair and watched him closely.

“Why are you asking?” The colonel fiddled with the quill pen in his hand. He set it down in its stand and put his full attention on the mage.

The mage began to shuffle his papers. “Lord Barton has a lot of support in this city.” He looked down and avoided the colonel’s eyes.

“And where do you stand?” asked the colonel. This time he was on the offensive.

“With King and country, of course,” said the mage. He looked up and smiled. It seemed just a little insincere. The colonel didn’t say anything. Soon the mage got bored of baiting him, or so the colonel assumed.

The mage stood up, pulled on his black cloak, and walked behind the colonel. The colonel turned to watch him. He still had his instincts that told him to keep his back safe.
The mage put his hand on a board in the wall, a panel opened, and he walked through. The panel closed silently behind him. The colonel knew of the hidden passageways. It made him more cautious to know that there was one that led to his office and opened behind his back.

Anyone at the peephole could see what he was signing. This mage was too open about showing him the panel. He noted it for future use.

Even more troubling, the young mage had been checking his loyalties. He would have to be very careful. Maybe Hilda was right. Maybe there was a coup in the offing.

He cleared his mind, sighed, and grabbed a quill pen that dripped ink stain on the papers on his desk. He began signing supply orders.

Delhaven
Josephine

Josephine listened to the retired mercenaries sing a bawdy song about love gone wrong. She smiled as she listened to the words and hummed. In her hand was a scroll. The messenger had said it was from Koenistadt

She sat on the bench in front of the inn, untied the ribbon, and unrolled it. She read.

Michael had arrived safely in Koenigstadt with Hilda, Davi, and Kayla. Soon he would be home. He missed the Inn and her.

She smiled sadly, put the scroll in her apron pocket, and walked into the kitchen.

Tuesday Snippet: Hero of Corsindor Chapter six

Hero of Corsindor 2018-2Hero of Corsindor
Chapter six

The Hunter’s Quarry butted up against a cliff. Small and large gray-black stones scattered around the clearing. Aspen trees grew close together and guarded the quarry. Sunlight dappled through the trees, leaving spots of shadows and light.

Silas opened his eyes to the light. His head pounded and his mouth was dry. His stomach burned. The demon must not have been taking care of him because he had lost a lot of weight. It felt like he hadn’t eaten in ages.
Next to him was a burned out campfire. There were stones around it as if someone, probably him in one of the spells, had built it. He groaned as he rolled over. Pebbles dented his skin. He stood up and dusted off the dirt.

The horses and mule were gone. He studied the area looking for a sign of the animals. There were no hoof prints in the dirt. He couldn’t remember anything except for the few lucid moments before he read the note.

A note on the ground caught his attention. He tried to move away from it, but he could feel a compulsion moving him to that spell.

When he looked down he caught sight of his hands. There was hair growing from the knuckles and his forefinger was clawed. It shocked him.

He must find a way out of this mess. It wouldn’t be long before he was one of them. He walked away from the note. It was like there was a noose around his neck. He pulled away and felt himself choke. He fell to the ground and clawed his way toward a small rock pile.

Just before the noose snapped, he saw the shadow of a cave opening. The next moment he was in front of that note. He hated himself as he picked it up. Then his memory was gone.

The next day he was by the same campfire. It was burned out. This time he put his hand on it and felt a small bit of warmth. Once again he pulled away from the white note that was on the ground. This time when he felt the noose tighten, he slight the back of his hand with the one claw.

Silas didn’t look, wouldn’t look, at the new hair growth on his arms. When the noose became too much had his body tried to go unconscious, he made another slice.

This time he made it to the cave opening. The opening was too small for a grown man to slide into— but had lost so much weight that he was able to slide through. The rocks sliced his body and when he reached the interior of the cave, the compulsion suddenly stopped.

Silas took a deep breath. He reached into a side pocket and pulled out a bit of candle. The relief was immediate. The demon hadn’t taken anything. He touched the wick, and the candle lit.

Silas started to shake. He didn’t have magic. He shouldn’t have been able to light the candle with his hand. He didn’t have time to be scared. He pushed this to the back of his mind with the other things like his heart being bound to a demon.

Through the flickering candle light, he thought he saw moving shapes on the walls of the cave. He looked closer. The pictures were of cats hunting and playing.

When he glanced away and looked back, he saw one of the cats that had been lying down was now leaping on a stag. Its claws had ripped the hindquarters of the prey.

Although the pictures were interesting, his attention was caught by the back wall. He could tell that the pictures had been drawn of him and the demon. Here Rhali was capturing him. There was another picture of Silas gradually turning into a nightstalker.

He winced.

The next picture Rhali had torn out Silas’ heart and eaten half of it.
Silas touched the pictures. His fate was sealed. He felt moisture gather at the corners of his eyes. “What should I do?” He whispered in the silence.

“You must find his heart,” a small breeze whispered to him. Silas turned around suddenly, but no one was there.

“If I kill him, I’ll die.”

The breeze whispered back, “If you have his heart, you can command him to give yours back.”

“Where should I look?” he asked. He felt a small flicker of hope in his heart.

In the cave wall next to the pictures, a small ruby heart worked its way to his hand. He tried to catch it, but then it disappeared. His heart dropped.

The candle sputtered. A small spark from the dying candle landed on his right hand. It burned.

“A gift,” whispered the breeze. “It will help you find the heart.”

It was time to go. Silas needed to read the note before Rhali found out about this cave. It would be his secret.

He crawled out of the cave, then hid the entrance with brush. It was the best he could do.

When he looked up, he saw that the sun was lower than he thought. He brushed off the debris from his clothes and rushed to the campsite. Rhali was already there.

“Where have you been?” There was anger in the demon’s voice. Instead of waiting for an answer, the demon made some finger movements and Silas yelped. His heart burned.

“Ummm,” Rhali looked at him carefully. “You are still mine.”

Silas went to the note. Rhali took it from him. “You don’t need that, boy,” said Rhali. “Get some wood. I will need a lot of it.”

Silas was terrified that the demon would find out his secret. He hurried to the edge of the aspens to look for firewood. He didn’t know if he would find the heart or even if he could survive the demon.

His mind muddled, he thought on the character of demons. They looked like us. How could anyone tell who was a demon and who was not? He tried to calm down. He dropped a branch and bent to pick it up.

“Pssst,” said a small voice. Silas jumped.

“Shhhhhh,” the voice said again. “Calm down.”

Silas couldn’t move. Was this another demon? His terror increased until he almost screamed. A hand went over his mouth and he dropped to the ground.

The words didn’t make sense. “Lad, we are here to help you.”
A young woman had her hand around his mouth. She had blonde hair and long long legs encased in hunter’s leather. The little man who was talking to him was dressed in forest green.

He was so small that his head barely reached the young woman’s waist.

“Come with us,” he said.

Silas shook his head, no. The young woman lifted her hand and waited for his answer.

“I can’t,” Silas said. “He has my heart.”

“That’s rough, lad,” said the little man. The little man looked at the young woman, then said, “We’ll find a way. Get back now.”

Silas left. Now he had two secrets.