If you’ve read my newsletter you know I’ve been talking about my Rogues of Magic series require while now and excited to finally share excerpt of it with you. The first book Bound by Blood is now available on Amazon.
Ann crouched low in the bushes as she stared at the small stone building. It was round in shape and made of crumbling grey stone. A remnant from before the dark times, before all the world of Erthea had changed.
Branches snagged at her long leather coat. Its black colour helped her blend in with her surroundings, and she pulled its long length over her knees.
You sure this is the right place? she asked in thought, then turned to stare at Edward Rohn, her best friend.
He knelt beside her, unmoving. This is where the message said the witness wanted to meet us.
How do we even know this so-called witness is legitimate? Her eyes narrowed at him. It’s been five years. It seems strange someone would come forward after all this time.
Isn’t it worth finding out? Ed’s dark brown eyes seemed almost black in the darkness.
Ann sighed, pushing her long, wavy blonde hair off her face to tuck it underneath her hood. This was it. The chance she’d been waiting over five years for. A chance to prove to all five lands that she hadn’t murdered her family.
How did the witness even know where to find us? she asked, sitting back on the cold, hard earth.
Above, the night sky hung like a heavy blanket of darkness, without a cloud or glittering star in sight. It made it much easier for Ann and Ed to stay concealed without using any magic. Magic would make it easier for any Gliss or other potential enemies to find them.
Ann saw easily in the near blackness. As a druid, she used her fire element to make everything seem lighter and enhance her vision.
She knew as one of the Black Guard, Edward saw clearly too. It was strange how the magic of her father’s old guard had survived after all this time.
Ed touched her shoulder. Don’t you want the chance to prove your innocence? In the low light, she made out his short brown hair, golden brown eyes, and chiselled face.
His touch felt comforting, but Ann bit her lip. She hated being hunted by Orla’s forces, not to mention all the others who sought to profit from the price on her head. She didn’t know how high the price had grown but had heard it was almost ten thousand coins now. Enough to make someone comfortable for the rest of their life.
Yes, Ann said. But it won’t bring my family back or restore my father’s lands to me.
Darius had been the archdruid, a spiritual leader and ruler of Caselhelm. The latest realm war had begun on the night of Caselhelm’s revolution, at the hands of the Fomorian demon Orla, when Ann’s parents—Darius and Deanna Valeran—had been murdered. Darius had controlled not just Caselhelm, but parts of the other territories as well. Under his rule, the lands had been at peace for the first time in ten thousand years since the dark times. For a while, at least.
After the latest realm war, peace was a distant memory. Orla had won control over most of Caselhelm and placed a bounty on Ann’s head.
A witness had reached out to one of Ann’s contacts in the resistance, claiming to be one of Orla’s associates. She said she would approach the council—a small governing body who oversaw the rule of the five lands—to tell them the truth about what happened to Ann’s parents.
Ed gave her hand a comforting squeeze as she rose.
Ann took a deep breath. Let’s get this over with. I want to get back to the warehouse before Xander wakes up. She was glad she hadn’t brought her brother along with them. At least then he’d be safe if this turned out to be a trap.
Ann stayed alert as she scanned the area. She searched for potential threats but sensed no other presences nearby.
She and Ed moved over to the building, which only had one outer door. That made Ann more uneasy; she liked having more than one escape route when she went somewhere unknown. Do you sense anyone inside? she asked.
He shook his head. No one.
Let’s make this quick. The familiar weight of her knives at her back felt comforting.
Ed pulled the wooden door open. It gave a groan of protest as he did so. Ann half expected it to fall off its hinges given the age of the building.
Ann paused, scanning the building with her mind. She used the earth lines, feeling the hum of power, but nothing suggested the presence of another living being nearby.
“Maybe the witness isn’t here yet,” Ed whispered, touching the hilt of the sword at his back.
“I don’t like this,” Ann remarked. “We should have picked a neutral location, somewhere in the other lands, not Caselhelm.”
“You can’t stay out of Caselhelm for too long,” Ed pointed out. “You become weak.”
Ann gritted her teeth. A druid’s power came from nature. As the former archdruid’s daughter, her magic tied her to this particular land. A short trip somewhere else wouldn’t hurt me.
She glanced around the empty passageway, then touched the stone, which groaned and mumbled. Stone magic was rare among the druids, but her power could tap into almost all of the elements.
She closed her eyes, listening. This place had been a bunker. She heard people screaming and the sound of running footsteps as the stones showed her what had happened here.
Nice place to meet someone who claims they can prove I’m not a murderer.
Ann let go of the stone, and the murmurs faded. “What do we know about the witness? You haven’t told me anything about them.”
“Sage didn’t tell me much.” Ed shrugged and moved ahead of her, keeping a close eye out for potential threats.
“When does she ever?” She hated talking to the other druid at the best of times. Ann had been suspicious when Sage contacted Ed in thought with the news about the witness.
“She seemed to trust this person.”
“This person who wouldn’t even give us their name.” Ann grimaced as she walked face-first into some spider-webs. She brushed them off with the back of her hand. “I like to know the details. Next time, I’ll talk to Sage.”
Ed chuckled. “Careful, there might still be spiders around here.”
She scowled at him. “Don’t mention spiders around me. They are almost as bad as Sage.”
“You hate talking to her, even though she’s your aunt.”
“She is not my aunt. She’s my aunt’s lover, there’s a difference.” Ann rounded a corner, following a passageway that led into a larger room. Ancient debris and dirt littered the stone floor. Withered black leaves crunched under her feet as she walked in. No one here, and there was no other entrance, so they’d have had to come in the same way she and Ed did.
“Are you sure Sage didn’t tell you anything else?” Ann prompted.
Ed pulled out his sword, the blade catching the light as Ann lit a crystal torch on the wall that filled the room with an orange glow. Shadows danced across the stone floor.
“Stop being so worried. That’s my job.” Ed grinned.
“Not anymore. You haven’t been my bodyguard in over five years. You’re my partner.”
“I’ve always been your partner. Always and forever, remember?”