Hello readers! I’m so excited to be joining the ranks of the Spellbound Scribes, so I hope you enjoy my very first post and check back for more later!
The ancient song poured from the well of magic deep within me, my voice thrumming through the hot, sluggish air. A faint oblong shape shimmered on the surface of the pond, growing larger and more solid the longer I chanted: the mirror portal that would transport Yuko and me to Neráida. My steps carried me closer to the gate and a thrill of anticipation shot through me.
The last words of the chant burst from my throat and the portal snapped into focus, a still shining disk atop the surface of the pond, like a mirror reflecting nothing. I reacted instantly, flinging myself into the water and surrendering myself to the magical gateway I had conjured.
I fell. Sideways, backwards, inwards; directions were meaningless. I clenched my eyes shut and focused on the dire purpose burning in my heart: kill the faerie King, and rescue Danny if I could. Nothing else mattered.
Stillness. I forced my eyes open and dropped into a defensive crouch, my hands sliding towards my weapons. Yuko’s presence loomed behind me, still and reassuring. We stood at the end of a long courtyard, open to a night sky that was both moonless and starless. Once magnificent architecture crumbled around us, wreathed by withered vines and dead flowers. In every direction stretched a barren wasteland, pock-marked by shriveled-up streambeds and petrified stumps of trees.
I swallowed hard against a wave of disgust. So this was Neráida, where the Fae had once lived in beauty and plenty until they’d depleted all the magic from the land for selfish gain. Now they sought to do the same thing to my world by sucking all the magic out of people like me. Well, I wasn’t going to let that happen.
I snapped my gaze to the end of the courtyard, where Danny’s broad-shouldered frame slumped between the monstrous shapes of two faeries. Aria and Alek. Beyond them, on a throne as pale as bleached bone, sat the faerie King with his eyes shuttered against the world. Hate filled my chest as I stared at the silent, cold King, posed like an ice sculpture upon his throne of destruction. Now, after so long, I was close enough to avenge my mother’s death. I could hardly believe it.
“Yuko!” I hissed, my eyes never straying from the target of my vengeance. “Get ready. The only way I’ll be able to kill the faeries and their King is if you stop their spells.”
“I am always ready.” Yuko whispered, his voice deadly calm.
My weapons slithered out of their sheaths as I flung myself down the length of the courtyard toward the faeries. Aria and Alek turned, hissing dark spells, but Yuko’s power wrapped around me like a cocoon, dampening their magic. I blocked Alek’s desperate blows at my head and caught him in a chokehold. My knife kissed his throat as his cold carrion breath rasped loud in my ears.
“Yield!” Aria’s voice, strident. She held Danny in front of her like a shield; his blank eyes and slack jaw betrayed the fact that he had no clue what was happening. “You’re outmatched. If you kill Alek, you’ll die too.”
“Outmatched?” I choked on a laugh. “You have no weapons and can’t use your magic. Get out of my way before I kill you too.”
A cold smile twisted Aria’s features, and a finger of dread slid down my spine. “We’d never leave our starving King undefended. Look behind you.”
I obeyed almost against my will, turning to see a horde of wraiths materialize out of nowhere, an army of vacant undead soldiers marching steadily toward me. Fear wrapped a cold fist around my heart. I was going to die here after all, without avenging Mom or saving Danny.
“Oh, stop.” The voice rang from above, ancient and cold as death. Slowly–so slowly–the faerie King opened his eyes.