Caralain wasn’t supposed to be here. She knew wasn’t supposed to return to the Stoa until she was ready to pass her test, but it was late and staying away was just a formality anyway. She let the lantern-light burn low and didn’t bother to replenish the oil, watching the raindrops roll slowly down her dorm room window, rather than focusing on the words in the book before her. A Treatise on the Fall of the Panarch’im. It was a riveting subject, despite it taking place only a generation ago, and usually she was engrossed by anything to do with politics or history, but her mind and her heart were at odds this evening.
He asked me to marry him…
Caralain kept drifting back to that one thought. It was the source of her distress. She thought she was in love, but her logical brain kept reminding her that marriage, especially to Greyson Seynor, would require so much more than love to make it work.
Tonight is the perfect example of that. He’s all the way in the Capital celebrating his birthday with his parents, and I wasn’t even invited. Not for the first time that night, Caralain found herself sulking. They hate me, I know it.
And that was really the crux of it. Greyson’s next in line for the throne. If I marry him, one day I’ll be Queen. Maybe as Queen I would have some kind of chance of changing things for the better…but his parents are still young, they’ll rule for a long time. And beneath them, I’ll be powerless, even more so than I am now.
A light in the wet darkness outside her window caught her eye, making her sit up straight and pay attention. It wasn’t a lantern or some trick of the storm; it was a Mage’s light, borne of majik. Which begged the obvious question, Who would choose to be out there in this?
The wind and the rain picked up, rattling her windows. Feeling a mounting sense of alarm she couldn’t fully explain, Caralain got to her feet and turned away from the open book on her desk. It showed a picture of her idol, Terrence Lee, the most famous Panarch in history, with his hand resting on the central pillar in a circle of Sentinal Stones.
Abandoning her dorm room, she sped into the hall and instantly regretted not taking her cloak with her. I’ll just run down and satisfy my curiosity, and then I’ll come right back, she thought, justifying her unwillingness to turn back. It won’t take long.
She made every effort to be quiet on the stone stairwell, despite wearing shoes meant for outdoors. As loud as she was, she resisted the urge to summon a Mage-light of her own. At least I have the courtesy not to rouse anyone from their beds by flashing lights around. Caralain smiled wryly. Not like some visitors. I wonder who’s out there.
A part of her secretly hoped it was Greyson, even though he had no reason to think she would be here and even less reason to come even if he thought she might be. Still, she wanted to reassure him that she was thinking his proposal over, even if she didn’t have an answer for him yet.
No one was in the school’s Great Hall by the time she reached it and there was no sign that the doors had been opened recently. Lifting the latch, she intended to open the door a crack and peer outwards, but the wind caught the door and wrenched it from her grasp. It swung wide and cold rain slapped her in the face, drenching her blue dress all the way to the black leggings she wore underneath.
Soaked now, she took a step out into the downpour, and then another, before she became aware of a dark figure across the courtyard, wearing a cloak and facing the old school’s main building, but hunched against the rain.
“Hello?” she called out, figuring that if the person was here, they had to at least be a student or alumni of the school, seeing as no one else knew how to reach the hidden island.
The figure’s hooded head slowly lifted. He had broad shoulders and was quite tall. At least, Caralain assumed it was a he. She waved at him, urging him to come inside and take shelter, but he didn’t move or make any indication he was seeing her at all.
She summoned a Mage-light above her hand. It did nothing to help her vision, but she hoped it might help him see her. She waved it. “What are you doing out here?! The weather’s terrible! Come inside!”
The figure’s voice, when he spoke, reached her clearly and easily despite the inclement weather. Majik was the only answer. “Why. Are. You. Here?”
“Greyson?” She recognized his voice immediately and it only served to make her more alarmed. “Greyson!”
Mirena Calanais is destined to change the world.
Her rival has made a desperate flight to the past to stop her.
A gifted student of majik, Mirena is on the verge of graduating from a secret college that will give her a leg up in her political career, when her achievements are overshadowed by the arrival of a mysterious woman with an unknown agenda. Desperate to keep what she sees as her rightful place in the spotlight, Mirena goes to astounding lengths including taking it upon herself to pose as a double agent to investigate a rebel force plotting to destabilize the government. Unfortunately, her actions cost her the trust of those around her, so when she is proclaimed the Dark Avatar of the Destroyer, she finds she has nowhere to turn.
In a seeming utopia, Mirena is now a pariah with the force of Destroyer behind her and her once bright dreams have darkened, leaving her a threat not only to herself, but to those she cares about. Can she turn her life around, or will someone need to stop her before she goes too far?
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing; 1 edition
Publication Date: May 17, 2018
Genre(s): Dark Fantasy, Romance, Fantasy
Page count: 240 pages
Read an Excerpt:
The extra quarter turn of the hourglass Caralain spent in the waiting room helped her to calm her nerves and gather her thoughts. By the time Mirena left the Panarch’s office with a bounce in her step that sent her long white-blonde hair swinging, Caralain was ready. She stood, brushed imaginary dust from her clothing, and strode into the Panarch’s office with purpose.
“Panarch, thank you for allowing me to speak with you,” she began as soon as she was across the threshold, doing her best to avoid meeting his gaze directly lest she be overwhelmed again.
“Of course,” Terrence Lee answered, shutting the door behind her and heading for the chair behind his desk. “I have an open-door policy, as you know, so it’s no trouble.”
“Right, of course.” In fact, she did know that, in theory. In practice was another matter altogether. “Well, either way, I’m glad to have the opportunity to speak my mind. You see, I have…important information regarding the woman who was just in here speaking with you.”
He lifted a brow in question. “Mirena?”
Oh no, they’re already on a first name basis. Caralain felt a momentary panic seize her heart. Maybe I’m too late.
“Uh, yes, Mirena Calanais. Well, you see, I have reason to believe that Mirena has plans…” She hesitated, but having come this far, she knew she had to continue. “Plans to remove you from office and install herself in power in your place.”
To Caralain’s surprise, a wide grin spread across the Panarch’s face, his blue eyes twinkling with amusement. “Oh?”
She couldn’t help but feel discomfited under that blue-eyed stare. She wriggled uncomfortably in her seat. “Uh, yes. I know it seems ludicrous from where you’re standing, with Mirena’s relative anonymity at this point, but…”
“No, it’s not that,” he chuckled. “Mirena was just in here saying exactly the same thing.”
“Mirena is a bright girl with a bright future ahead of her,” the Panarch told her and Caralain felt the world beneath her feet begin to fade away, leaving in its place only a dark abyss from which there was no return. “I’m thinking of making her my apprentice, actually. She showed great promise in the meeting we just had.”
Caralain’s heartbeat picked up speed and the air suddenly felt thin as she tried to take in enough to keep breathing. She was halfway to her feet and stumbling out of the chair before she realized that there was nowhere she could flee that would be safe from what she was hearing. “No! I mean, you can’t! She’s…she’s a monster. She’ll destroy this world and everything good in it.”
Terrence Lee’s look of patient amusement turned quickly to one of concern and alarm. He also got to his feet. “Ms. Dashar? Are you all right?”
He was coming around the desk now and Caralain realized abruptly how she must look and sound. She fought desperately to bring her fear under control and to compose her face. “Yes, yes, of course, I’m fine.” She started for the door and was relieved when her hand found the handle. “This was a mistake. I’ll just go.”
She wrenched the door open and allowed the gentle murmur of the waiting room comfort her nerves.
“Are you certain?” He wasn’t just going to let this drop, but Caralain couldn’t let her sanity, and therefore her credibility, be called into question. “I can call someone for you if you need me to. A Healer, perhaps?”
“No, no, I’m fine. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.” And with that, she fled.
from Mirror World Publishing
from Mirror World Publishing
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Meet the Authors:
Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of eight novels and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally roleplaying with her friends.
With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, Murandy Damodred enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid role-player and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she’d rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is a new mom living in Windsor, Ontario, ready to embark on a new career as a medical technician.
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