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?

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State of the Writer

Hero of Corsindor 2018-2The last week I have been making edits. I have to thank Doris Mace for looking through my manuscript. Many years ago she used to do this for a living. Nowadays she does it for me because she really enjoys reading my work. I’m pretty grateful.

I have to admit that when I am in the heat of the story, I lose things like prepositions. My adverbs love to wander through the verbs willy-nilly. Also since I grew up in the rural West, my “to be” verbs get turned around. Even after earning a English Literature degree, I still wonder if I should have used was or were.

However, I am proud to say that “Hero of Corsindor” is now on Amazon for pre-orders. It will be released on January 4, 2019. This gives me time to re-look at the formatting for the paperback. I should interject that I had to change my word processing program for novel formatting. I was burned out for two days afterward. At this point, I don’t think Word is the program I want to stick with on novel formatting. I used to use Indesign. I love that program, but I don’t love the monthly subscription.

Anyway, in the next couple of months, I’ll put together a release party. If any one here would like to do a release of this book on their blog, please contact me at cynbagley @ hotmail.com.

unlicensed sorceress 2017This is the project that I am working on now. It is the third book in the Hilda Inn’s series. Hilda is in Koenigstadt and finds out that she is not allowed, by pain of imprisonment, to practice magic without being trained at the University. No one is interested in her problems with Lord Barton except a group of youngsters. These youngsters will one day rule.

If you remember Hilda doesn’t know how to read, which is not so bad if you are a mercenary, but is really bad if you are a mage. Plus she is older and has the aches that come from overusing your body at a young age.

I’m at 35,000 words so far and hope to have this written by the end of December, “god willing and the creek don’t rise.” Or in my case, barring any cold, flu, or pneumonia taking me down.

Cel-e-brate good times

Hero of Corsindor 2018-2 It’s a celebration (Kool & the Gang)

I’m excited, happy, and if I can come up with a few more synonyms you can insert them here.

I’ve finished “Hero of Corsindor” yesterday. In the next few days the book will be in the hands of my beta readers.

I treated myself yesterday to some plastic candy canes and bells for Christmas crafts. It seems that since I started back on my crafts and stitchery, my writing has also increased.

Today I will be starting back on “Unlicensed Sorceress,” the third book Hilda’s Inn. At this time I am not sure the deadline. The tentative deadline is the end of December.

The reason I say tentatively is that I may end up dealing with a few more health problems this year that center around the kidneys. But that is the future and it hasn’t happened yet.

As for Tuesday Snippet, I will be giving snippets of “Unlicensed Sorceress.” If you now have a taste for Hero of Corsindor, I will announce the publishing date here.

Thanks for reading. I’m on to the next book.

 

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.

Tuesday Snippet: Hero of Corsindor Chapter 5c

Hero of Corsindor 2018-2Hero of Corsindor

It was the shouting and scuffling outside that convinced Malkiah to run to the tent opening. A young man with a scimitar burst into the tent with a couple of guards behind him. One of them tackled the young man. The scimitar went flying.

The alcoholic fumes coming off the young man made Malkiah step back. The young man was flailing and kicking. He screamed at the Councilor who was safely on the dais. “There are traitors here. They want to kill you.”

It must have been the drink or the young man’s insanity. Malkiah knew several family heads who wanted the Councilor deposed, but killed?
Some stuffed a rag in the man’s mouth and the guards hog-tied him. The young man looked at the Councilor pleadingly. He was a sorry looking Ahrah. His robes were stained and yellowed. No one could believe that.

“Do you think this man is telling the truth?”

Malkiah wasn’t watching the byplay between the priest and the Councilor. He was more concerned in finding more weapons on the young man. He ran his hands down the side of the young man and pulled out several knives secured on his person.

“Untie him,” said the Councilor.

Malkiah frowned. If this petitioner attacked the Councilor, then he would have failed his duty. “I don’t think that’s wise,” he told her as he complied.

Soon the young man was on his feet. He wiped his hands down his robes. Then in a quick movement he grabbed the Councilor. Malkiah grabbed one of the young man’s arms and twisted it. He fell away and there was a manic gleam in his eyes.

Then the young man yelled in Malkiah’s face. His breath was putried. “You’ll get yours.”
Malkiah turned the young man over to the guards. They didn’t normally have jails, but this man had touched the Councilor. At the very least he would lose his head.

The Councilor’s face went white then gray. She fell and the priest caught her. “She’s just tired,” the priest said.

Malkiah and the priest supported her to her rooms. The Councilor didn’t live in a tent. She had permanent quarters here. They reached her room and she sat down heavily.

It had been a long day. Malkiah left the room and stood outside. Several of the Ahrah must have heard of the altercation because they were already crowding outside the building.

One of his old friends walked up to him. “Come with us,” he said.

“No,” he said. “I’m still on duty.”

“Your loss,” said his old friend. There was something in his eyes that made Malkiah wary.

He kept the crowds from coming into the building. The Councilor needed to rest. Soon the priest came the door.

“The Councilor just needed rest. Please leave.”

Then he said to Malkiah, “You can leave now.”

Malkiah looked around and saw his mother with her cronies. She was tittering and talking. Then her eyes caught his. They narrowed. It was that one look and he knew. His mother had been part of the Councilor’s sudden illness.

He had always known that his mother considered him her tool. With him she could reach heights that she couldn’t reach as a female of the olds ways. The thoughts of betrayal and treason soured his stomach.

He nodded to the priest and then left. There were other guards on the doors. He wasn’t needed. Besides he wanted to clear his head. He strode through the crowd, not looking right or left. He refused to answer his mother, who called his name.

When he reached his tent, he changed into his riding clothes. He needed to clear his head and not think for a while. It was obvious now that he was between a rock and a hard place— between his mother and the Councilor. Not a safe place to be.

After changing he walked to at the corrals He rubbed Storm’s nose after giving him a carrot. He bridled and saddled Storm and then leaped into the saddle. They galloped down a small dirt road, and Malkiah felt exhilaration with the wind in his face. For a moment he felt free.

In the corral, a dark shadow watched him ride away.

Tuesday Snippet: Hero of Corsindor- Chapter 5b

Hero of Corsindor 2018-2 Last week I rearranged my living room to make more space. So my blogposts suffered as I vacuumed, dusted, and moved my stuffed rocking chair, bookcases, tables, and sorted through my accumulated stuff. I am definitely a bookworm and even with the kindle, I have some heavy tomes from my English Literature days.

Of course this need to clean and rearrange wandered into other rooms. I’m still going through my coats and sweaters. I’m washing them so they will be ready for the winter. Even though I live on the edges of the Sonora desert in a large paved city, it does get cold in the winter. Thankfully not Chicago cold. It is a dry cold that blows through the layers.

So without further ado, here is the snippet I promised.

Hero of Corsindor – Chapter 5b

In his private tent, the walls shook a little as the breeze slapped against them. The fall wind would be a reminder that the tent walls were too light. Most of the Ahrah would leave to go to their strongholds built of wood and stone in the high mountains.

Malkiah and his mother would retreat with the other high-born and follow the Councilor. The Councilor was not a life-time appointment. Every four years the Ahrah would get together to decide who would be the best leader. This Councilor had managed to hold the position for fifteen years.

Every other year the Ahrah would get together, bringing their families and their animals to the meeting ground in the biggest valley. They would meet, marry, and settle their differences.

When they first escaped from Corsindor, they had been a small group. The gathering was necessary to keep track of their numbers. Now this was the largest gathering Malkiah had seen in his lifetime.

It also meant that the Councilor needed a ceremonial guard, who could actually defend her. Before Shira left, Malkiah had thought that the honor would be given to her. It had been a great source of tension between Malkiah and his mother, Cianne.

Cianne stood holding the mirror, while he adjusted his ceremonial cape and then placed a headscarf on his head held with a white rope. He did look elegant in black trousers and a simple jacket that came to his mid thigh. He was shorter than Shira, but compared to other Ahrah his was tall. He straightened his back.

His mother put the mirror down and adjust his jacket shoulders and fiddled with headscarf. “There,” she said. “You are a credit to me.”

Malkiah tried not to wince. Cianne was more conscious of her position than him. She liked the old ways where the woman hid her face, but was the steel behind the man. He was well aware that she wanted more power.

She had bit her lip when he told her that he would be guarding the Councilor. For a moment he suspected that she was one of the conspirators that wanted to change their system and install a king. But then she smiled and congratulated him.

He knew she was a snake. He had lived with her his entire life. He tried to relax as he strapped his curved scimitar to his waist. It reminded him of his father, who had died long ago.

He took a deep breath and turned away from her. She tried to hug him, but he shrugged her off. It was time for him to leave his mother. She wouldn’t like that.

He left her standing in front of the tent.

The main tent they had used last night for the banquet had been set up as a judgment hall for the Councilor. Today was when the groups who had grievances could air and settle them.

Malkiah reached a wooden table where the main clerk sat, checking in the folks who would see the Councilor today.

The clerk was dressed in a white desert robe that covered him. His headscarf declared that he was of the group that rode the border between Corsindor and Ahrah. He wasn’t of the usual clerk class.

“Name,” barked the clerk.

Malkiah told him his name.

“Weapons?”

Malkiah showed his scimiter. “You must leave that here,” the clerk said.

“I’m the ceremonial guard,” Malkiah said patiently. “I won’t leave it.”

The clerk sent a boy into the tent. The boy came back and nodded his head to the clerk. The frowning clerk waved him in.

A long carpet runner reached from the front to where the Councilor was standing. There were no chairs except on the dais. The petitioners would have to take that long walk to the Councilor so that he could think if he wanted to bring a petty problem to such a high authority.

There would be observers in the tent, who would be unarmed. This was unusual in the Ahrah life. Most everyone carried a long knife or weapon. Councilors had been assassinated before in such surroundings. The guards around this Councilor didn’t want to lose another one.

When Malkiah reached the dais, a priest of the “one God” stood next to her. He was leaning into her and Malkiah hurried toward the Councilor.

He heard the last of the priest words, “but you cannot mean…” his words trailed off when he saw Malkiah.

The Councilor turned away from the priest. It was a moved calculated to infuriate the priest. “Malkiah,” she said almost gratefully.

“You will stand here.” It was a place to the right and behind the Councilor. “Your position is mostly ceremonial,” she continued. Malkiah knew this. Her eyes said otherwise. She was not as comfortable as her demeanor suggested. He would watch carefully. No petitioner would hurt her while she was under his eye.

His loyalty was under question of course. His mother was part of the “loyal opposition.” But he wouldn’t let his mother get between him and his duty.

For the next two hours he stood behind her, listening to much of the same complaints. This one was more interesting.

Two tribal leaders stood in front of the Councilor. They were in dispute of the same summer fields.

“Why is this a problem?” asked the Councilor. “You’ve shared this summer fields before.”

The two men looked at each other, then the older one spoke.

“Councilor,” his voice was deep and the sound filled the tent. “We have both grown, and we can’t share anymore.”

This caught the Councilor’s attention. “Have you adopted stragglers from the border? Or were there new children?”

“Both.”

“Go to the clerk and have your people counted,” she said. “Have you forgotten the compact?”

The two men bowed to her and were escorted out.

Near the end of the supplicants the two came back. The clerk handed her the count. She perused it and then said, “In the next two months you will each send people for a new tribe. The summer fields will still be shared.” She sent a significant look at the two men.

They nodded.

“Remember you are now the mother and father of this new tribe. You will teach and help this tribe for five years. Is that understood?”

Malkiah watched them as they agreed. One of the tribal leaders frowned, but what could he do? The Councilor had stuck to the compact.

The tribal leader who had spoke before said, “Councilor, we have already picked the new leader.” He called up a young man who had been with the observers in the back of the tent.

The young man had that stunned look on his face that said he had no idea. The three leaders walked out of the tent, talking of new plans and alliances.

More petitioners and more problems. Malkiah quit listening and watched each one carefully, looking for any weapons. Many of these problems were petty and could have been fixed in their own groups.

The Councilor was patient, but he could tell that she was getting tired because she leaned against the priest. Her lips were pale.

“Maybe you should sit down,” the priest said.

The Councilor nodded her head no and kept standing.

Tuesday Snippet – Hero of Corsindor -Chapter 5a

Hero of Corsindor 2018-2Hero of Corsindor – Chapter 5a

The servant’s stairs seemed dark and foreboding because there were no candles flickering in the sconces. The servants complained daily that they hated walking these stairs laden with trays and food. They complained of the whispers they heard in the dark when nothing was there.

The maids would not go up or down these stairs by themselves. So they went by twos.
Rose listened to their gossip, but she wasn’t superstitious. Not at all.

Curls of chestnut hair escaped her bun, and her white dress embroidered with little roses swayed around her legs as she slipped up the stairs. If someone saw her they would have thought she was going to see a lover. Her face glowed with anticipation.

Before the stairs, she had gone to the ballroom just to confirm the queen’s story. She had peeked around the wall, but the guards were already at the door. There was a green haze covering the door, and she could see some blurry white thing above the door. It was good enough.

When she reached the guest level, she looked around her to see if anyone was watching, and then she walked slowly down a passageway that wasn’t used. There was a slight layer of dust on the sconces.

At the end of the passageway was a plain wooden door. She whispered her information through the keyhole, and then ran back the way she had come. Rose knew that in a few hours a coin wrapped in a handkerchief would appear on her bed. Still there was something cold in that room, it made her shiver.

Rhali, pulled a long hair from his neck and dropped it on the floor. His ears twitched a little as he listened to the little human’s words. Sometimes he had trouble getting back into his human shape after he had let his demon out to play.

He sighed in satisfaction. It had taken over a decade, but his plans were coming to fruition. Rose had been easy to corrupt. The queen though was having second thoughts.

He laughed. It was too late for the queen. She had been the catalyst to set all this into motion; a king who didn’t have an heir and couldn’t lead. She was a figure-head queen.

She would learn that real soon when he started the second part of his plan.

The boy prince would soon be dead. Besides a royal raised as a commoner? It was too delicious. No one would want him to lead.

The boy prince sacrifice would give him enough power to make this world his own.
The promise he made to Cianne that her son would be king of the Ahrah. It could be easily broken. He had made his plans carefully and soon he would have at least one of the kingdoms in his hand.

There was a puff of white smoke and Rhali vanished.

The mouse who lived in a chink in the floor under the roll-top desk, sniffed the room for crumbs and cheese. When it smelled brimstone, it hurried back to its hole.