The Link – A Stories My Friends Started

Here’s another one from the vaults of time – a Story I wrote for Stories My Friends Started – this one is kind of cool because I took several of the writing exercises I do every fortnight with the Ink Slingers Guild, and wove them into one tale 🙂

For my dad, with love ❤

The Link

His heart was pounding at the speed of light…there wasn’t much time left. No, scratch that; there was no time left. Harvy glanced at his watch as he yanked it off. Half past ten. He was going to be late. His clothes followed his watch. He didn’t want to call undue attention to himself, and wearing outlandish clothes was a great way to do that. Harvy thanked his stars that he had packed the night before.

The message had been brief and to the point. It was happening soon. They were needed. Harvy thought of Leva. It was a shame that he had to bring her into this, but she was the only one he could think of that would be resourceful enough to carry on if he was…well, he didn’t want to think about that.

A sound outside made Harvy freeze, ears straining. He didn’t hear anything more, but he knew it was time to go. He let himself out of the back as silently as he could. Crouching close to the ground, he ran along the thick shrubbery that passed for a back yard. Harvy had a moment to be pleased that he was never home to care for his garden; then three pairs of shining eyes glared at him from the other side of the fence.

* * *

He was late. That was not a good sign. He was never late. Not for the important stuff. Leva was hesitant to go on without him, despite his injunction of last night. She glanced down the path into the trees and decided she would wait a few moments more. The pack on her back hardly weighed anything thanks to Harvy’s spartan packing list. A blanket. Water. A knife. Nothing superfluous. Leva sighed and tapped her foot, thinking of all the useful items she wanted to bring but couldn’t.

“Things that were set in motion long ago are coming together, and we have to be there by yesterday,” Harvey’s voice echoed in her thoughts.

He hadn’t had time to give her more details, but his eyes had burned intensely and something in his manner had struck a chord deep in the place that knew the right thing to do, even if her mind couldn’t make it make sense.

“Hey!” Harvey’s voice came through in the real world. “What are you waiting for? I told you to go without me if I didn’t show up!”

“I know,” Leva said turning around, and her jaw dropped.

Behind Harvey’s six-foot frame was a pack of something that looked like rabid wolves, but Leva was fairly certain wolves didn’t have wings or glitter that flew from their paws as they ran.

“What the….” she started to say.

“No time!” Harvey said, catching her around the waist and throwing her towards the path. “You should have left when I told you to!”

* * *

Ferma had been given several clues, but the slave with the raven hair was the key to all of them. He strode through the crowded market place, using his long legs and broad shoulders to clear a path. The auction was held on the plateau, in full view of the city. Ferma stopped behind a huge pillar and glanced around. He didn’t want to be noticed or worse, recognized.

The row of people in chains looped around the arena twice, and Ferma started to panic slightly. He didn’t have time to look over all of them! He looked up next to the auction block. A fat man was entering the slaves into the register one by one, the camera an old model that still flashed and clicked, and he had to lick the back with his fat, purple tongue to stick it next to the entry of the slave’s name. Ferma looked at the next slave in line, and his heart stopped.

A small girl with dark skin and the blackest hair he had ever seen stood in chains so large it seemed she should be able to slip out of them with ease. Across the distance of the arena, Ferma caught her eye, and his knees went weak. That was the one!

His eyes widened as a thin man in a dark cloak and a wide-brimmed hat took her arm and led her away, towards the white palace on the hill. Ferma started to follow, determined to keep her in sight, but his view was blocked by a familiar red uniform, and he looked into the cold eyes of the woman with the scar, already planning how not to die, again.

* * *

Harvey’s grip was too tight on Leva’s arm, but when she glanced behind her and the wolves and their weird eyes that smoldered with green fire, she didn’t mind so much.

“How much farther?” she panted, trying to keep up with him.

His eyes stared grimly ahead. “The portal should be here, should be close,” he said.

As he spoke, Leva felt like she had just ran into a brick wall. The world took on a glossy hue. It looked like a huge cartoon bubble, all shimmery and bouncy.

“What’s happening?” her voice stretched out, warped.

Harvey didn’t answer and suddenly they were falling. Leva opened her mouth in a scream, but no sound passed her lips. Then they were in the middle of a crowded market. Leva tried to keep her balance, feeling as though someone had just pushed her, and she stumbled into a woman in a red uniform.

“I’m so sorry,” Leva started to say as she pulled herself upright using the woman’s very muscular arm.

When she looked into the woman’s eyes, all words fled from Leva’s mind. The cold glare was enough to freeze blood, and the scar across her eye pulsed with rage.

“Get out of my way,” the woman snarled.

Leva was grabbed on both sides. To her left was Harvey. To the right was a man she had never seen, tall, handsome, in plain clothes with a gold chain around his neck.

“Run!” they both screamed, and Leva was swept off her feet into a crowded street.

* * *

Aniph walked with the man in the black hat. She wasn’t worried about the chains or the man with the picture machine. By tomorrow morning, her face would have faded from the book and the ink that marked her name would be gone. Her kind were impossible to remember or keep in mind for very long. Even the physical world couldn’t hold an impression of them.

The little fairy creature didn’t like coming here, but this was where she was to meet the man who would save their worlds. And just as promised, he had found her with no problem.

A rough tug on the chains pulled her onwards. Somehow Aniph knew that now was not the time to get free. The man would soon be in danger; he did not need to be distracted. The fairy kept turning though, trying to see. Now there was another man with the first, and a woman. They were running. A second woman, a giant in red, was fighting to come after them. That as not part of the plan. Aniph decided that contrary to her feeling, she should go to him now.

The chains let her go as gently as a mother puts down her baby. The man in the hat didn’t even notice she was gone until it was too late. The fairy made her way through the crowds towards the beacon that was the woman in red, because that was where the man was.

Aniph found the man fighting to get past two tough old men. She touched his elbow, but even when she concentrated, she couldn’t find his center. That wasn’t how it was supposed to be. The little fairy knew despair. Then someone grabbed her elbow. A dancing rain of sparkles and music exploded in her head. Aniph swung around to find a man who was desperately trying to blend in, but his style was definitely not from around here. Beside Aniph’s childlike stature, he seemed very tall.

“Corlax elehtrast nonstras tem pax ter lexum,” he said.

It took Aniph a moment to translate the horribly garbled version of the mostly dead fairy language the man was attempting to speak.

“Perhaps we could just try this,” Aniph said, switching to the common tongue he would undoubtedly be more able to express himself in.

“Good idea,” the man was relieved. “Now we just need to get out of here, and we can have a proper conversation.”

“I can help with that,” Aniph said.

* * *

One moment, Ferma was fighting for his life to get away from the woman in red, wrestling with two stubborn men who seemed to think he wanted a better view of the slavers’ wares. Then he was in a cool, green paradise, the silence pressing on his ears.

“Where am I?” he asked no one in particular.

“This appears to be the emperor’s private garden,” a voice said beside him.

Ferma swung to see he was not alone. Another man, a woman, and a child stood behind him. The man and the woman were looking around, enraptured as he was with the beautiful garden. The child was equally enraptured with the people. Ferma focused on her and realized with a shock it was the slave.

“You!” he cried.

“Me,” the creature said, turning alien eyes on him. “You.”

“Me?” Ferma said uncertainly.

“Stop. What is going on?” the woman interjected.

“Perhaps we should do introductions,” the man said. “My name is Harvey. This is Leva.”

The woman gave a curt nod.

“I’m Ferma Du Tari Ver Sarathael.” Ferma didn’t know why he gave the last part of his name, but he felt it was important.

“My name is Aniph,” the creature said. “And you are mine.”


The fairy frowned. “You are for me?” she tried again. “From me?”

“Corthain,” the man called Harvey said.

Aniph looked pleased. “Yes. Corthain.”

“What…is…that?” Ferma said.

“Yes, what is that?” Leva demanded. “Does that have anything to do with the things…”

“Yes,” Harvey cut her off.

Aniph came forward, eyeing Harvey curiously. Ferma watched the pair; it slowly dawning on him that they knew more of what was going on than either he or the woman did. Then he wondered if they would bring more clues, or the answers to the ones he already had. They did both.

* * *

Harvey waited, holding very still as he allowed the fairy to approach. He didn’t want to spook her. There was no telling how long she had been in this plane, or how well adjusted she was. Leva had no such compunction.

“I still don’t understand what’s going on,” she said. “Where are we? Why is there a child here? Who is this man? Do you know these people?”

“Leva, please, you’re making my head hurt,” Harvey said. “We are…well, it’s difficult to explain, but we’re somewhere important and that’s what matters. The child is older than all of us put together. She is a creature of Fae. This man is her Corthain. Her other half, if you like. And while I know them, I don’t really know them. That is, I’ve never met them.”

“You realize how little sense you’re making?” Leva said, the first stages of panic making her eyes bigger than they already were. “Did you give me something? Is this some kind of trippy hallucination?”

“This is all very real, and if you calm down and breath for one moment, I’ll explain everything.”

Harvey saw that he was holding her arms so tightly his knuckles were white, but Leva was so freaked out that she didn’t feel it or didn’t think to protest. He released her, checking to make sure she was breathing like he had told her to. Then he turned on the man named Ferma and held out his hand.

“We haven’t been properly introduced, Mr. Du Tari.”

The Corthain reached out tentatively and gave Harvey’s hand a quick shake. The electric jolt he received when he touched Harvey’s skin made him squeak and convulsively grip the other man’s hand.

“What the…” Ferma said, yanking his hand back and giving it a shake. “Who are you?”

“My name is Harvey Seth Ver Gurrod,” Harvey said. “And I’m the Link.”*

* * *

Leva still wasn’t sure this wasn’t all a very bad dream. Harvey had gone beyond scaring her. She was now officially terrified to the point of not caring. The wolves could come back, and she’d probably be okay about letting them sniff her hand and then scratching their ears. Or maybe not. Using a lot of very strange words wasn’t helping her state of mind. But Ferma apparently didn’t know what that meant either, so that was comforting, if she didn’t think about it for too long.

“The link?” the man in the black hat was asking. “I don’t understand.”

The fairy was interested in a different part of what Harvey had said. “Ver Gurrod. Not Ver Huntentes?”

Harvey shook his head. “No. That’s a long story, and we’ve no time for it right now.”

“I can make time for it,” the fairy said, holding up her hands.

“No, no, no, that’s okay,” Harvey said quickly, grabbing her wrists and bringing them down. “We don’t want to do anything rash. We’ve all met up, and that’s a good occurrence. Almost a perfect occurrence, if I do say so myself. More than I could hope to expect, really…”

“Wait. Why do you sound like it’s a lucky happenstance that we ended up here?” Leva asked. “What might have happened instead?”

“Do you know how many autonomous entities there are in the universe? And how many particles those entities influence? And how many universes, independent and otherwise, there are? If you take all of that, do you know how many different possible and actual occurrences occur in any give instant of any give time continuum? To many for a normal mind to fully comprehend.” Harvey turned back to Aniph. “Now, I don’t want you messing with an already messy set of circumstances, alright? We’re going to do this thing, and we’re going to get it done right, but that’s only going to be an actual occurrence if we do things logically and systematically.”

The creature of Fae (whatever that was) nodded dutifully, gazing at Harvey with her very unusual eyes. “Very well, Ver Gorrod. Now, what of the Corthain?”

“Yes, what of the Corthain?” Ferma tried to cover his nervousness with a laugh.

“You don’t know what that means, do you?” Harvey said.

Ferma shook his head.

“Do you know what is about to happen?”

Again, Ferma shook his head.

“Do you know anything about anything that is going on?”

“I know I needed to find her,” Ferma pointed at Aniph. “And…that’s about it.”

“That’s a start,” Harvey said, setting his arms akimbo. “I’ll do my best to explain.”

Leva smiled. Finally.

“You and Aniph are the Corthain for your worlds. Together, you are the…well, let’s just say you’re the ones who are going to fix things up when they go wonky.”

“When…?” Leva asked. “No if?”

“When,” Harvey said firmly. “And when is unfortunately now. I am the Link. I help you to communicate and work together, in a manner of speaking.”

“That is why I can’t hear him,” Aniph said.

Harvey nodded as if that made perfect sense.

“And what do we have to do?” Ferma asked. “All I know is that I get given the task of finding out why the water is going rotten, and one thing leads to the next, I’m being hunted by a demon in a red uniform…”

“Speak of the demon,” Harvey muttered.

In the entrance to the garden, partially hidden by a row of green hedges with big golden flowers, stood the woman in the red uniform. She glanced across the garden, searching. Even from here, with the cover of the plants, her eyes stung Leva.

Then a large canine animal appeared at the woman’s side, wings dragging on the ground, sparkles remaining where its paws touched. The woman petted the wolf and pointed into the garden. The wolf sat down and scratched its ear with a hind leg, making its wings jump and flop. The woman scowled, and from her fingers came a bolt of blue fire, which ignited the fur of the wolf. It set off with a howl.

“There is something very wrong with that woman,” Leva whispered.

“How does she always find me?” Ferma moaned, shrinking back.

“She’s her own type of Corthain,” Harvey said. “Not really someone we want to mess with.”

“So you’re a Link and they’re all Corthains, and that’s a creature of Faith…”

“It’s just Corthain, and she’s a creature of Fae.”

“Whatever. The point is, what the heck am I?” Leva said.


“Backup for what?” Leva said heatedly. “I have no idea what’s going on!!”

“You’re the backup Link,” Harvey said. “You know, in case anything happens to me.”

Hope you enjoyed that – if you would like to leave your own “Story Starter” for one of the Ink Slingers, just click the link:

If you think I should continue the story, just comment below and let me know!

More soon!

❤ DragonBeck

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay


The Forest Prince

This one is actually a continuation of the previous writing exercise:

Secret, beer, flimsy, alien,

“What do you want?” she said, the kettle still screaming behind her.

“Are you not afraid of me?” His voice was smooth and warm, and the animal sense of self-preservation in her mind quaked at it.

“No,” she said, and was pleased that her voice did not waver.

She turned and moved the kettle off the stove, and a quiet descended on the kitchen. She poured tea, two cups because to do otherwise would have been impolite, and wondered at the workings of gods and fate. When she decided that something had to be done about this, she didn’t actually mean right this second. She turned around, and found him standing right behind her. He had moved so silently. He looked down at her with large green eyes, his alien features warning her something dangerous lurked behind his pointed face and gleaming hair. A wreath of metal and jewels graced his brow, and he smelled like fresh dirt and beer and an evening breeze on sun-warmed stones.

“Strange,” she murmured to herself.

“What is?” he asked, tilting his head.

“You smell different than I would have thought,” she said, and handed him a cup of tea.

He took it, and took a sip without moving his gaze from her. The drink should have scalded his tongue, but he made no sign that he felt anything.

“Do you want to know why I am here?” he asked.

“Because you are following your brother,” she said, and felt frail and flimsy under his penetrating gaze.

“You are smart, for a mortal,” he said.

“And you are not as dumb as most gods,” she retorted, then her eyes widened in shock. She had not thought that through, but when he smiled, a wide, radiant expression of joy and humor, she relaxed.

“So you know my secret,” he said.

“One of them,” she answered, and he looked at her sharply.

She lowered her eyes. I have to be careful, she thought, or I will have two fey creatures who want something I cannot give them.


❤ DragonBeck

The Visitor

So it’s been a little while since I’ve posted my flash fiction writers’ meeting exercises, but I’m going to start that up again!

The story (or excuse, if you prefer) is that my little baby, my acer netbook, which has stood by me for almost 1,000,000 words (yes, that’s 1 million words) no longer connects to the wifi (for some reason I am not knowledgeable enough to guess at, but it probably has something to do with dark magic). And because I’m terribly lazy, I just haven’t taken the time to get a thumbdrive, and transfer them that way.

Anyway…moving right along…

I do not recall the date of this exercise, nor do I recall which word belonged to whom, but I hope you enjoy!

cramp, chaos, consternation, evergreen

The room was the embodiment of chaos, cupboard doors hanging open, things spilling off the shelves, the covers of the bed over the floor, and clothes falling out of drawers. The widow was smashed in, and the cold scent of ice and evergreen made Cindy shiver. He had been back, but he hadn’t found what he was looking for, and for this small favor from the remaining gods, she was thankful.

Cindy crossed the room, and drew the curtains to shut out some of the chill, then looked around the room. She couldn’t seem to muster the interest in cleaning up, it all seemed so pointless. She kept her eyes firmly away from the false brick in the wall, until it felt like they would cramp up with tension and strain. He could be watching, or one of his spies, the woodland creatures he bespelled.

Cindy went into the kitchen and stoked the fire in the oven, the warmth dispelling some of her consternation. She put the teapot on, and stared into space as she thought. Something had to be done about this. She could not keep returning to a ransacked and ruined home, but how could she defy such a powerful deity as he who haunted these woods?

The piercing shriek of the kettle startled her out of her thoughts, and that was when she noticed the figure standing in the doorway.

❤ DragonBeck

New Release – Guardians of the Path book V: Wasteland

Hello all!

I am very excited to announce that the fifth book in the Guardians of the Path series is now available for purchase:

Wasteland (Guardians of the Path Book 5) Kindle Edition

Nyica, the home of the Coven of White and Black: The appearance of Cedar Rün throws V’Ronica’s world into turmoil and challenges everything she knows. How will she find the conviction to follow him down a path from which she can never turn back?

The Wasteland, a place scared by a terrible past: The Guardians and Aethsiths find themselves forced to trust a stranger to lead them home to Demona, while Ria struggles to come to terms with the power she has accepted yet not fully embraced.

Demona, a land overrun by demons and dark deeds: the Maker continues to recruit his army, Witches make alliances with priests and rangers in the name of the Way of Things, and all those who stand with the Guardians do everything they can to avert the impending darkness.

❤ DragonBeck


P.S. The Print on Demand version will follow soon!



Hello world!


I’ve been rather quiet here of late, working on epic things in my hobbit hole, and I am very pleased to poke my head up for a brief moment to let you know that Book 5 of the Guardians of the Path series Wasteland now has an official release date:


* * *

* * * *    29th November 2018    * * * *

* * *


If this is the first you are hearing of this epic fantasy series, set in a world where music is magyc, and magyc is under attack by Sorcerers and Demons, check out the first books here.


People say very good things about it, like:



In the meantime, I have to go back to my little hobbit hole and keep my nose to the grindstone – books don’t write and publish themselves.


Keep an eye out for some sneak peeks, giveaways, and other cool stuff, and may the Path keep you and yours!


❤ DragonBeck


Book 5 Cover Reveal

Hello there, good people of Earth!

I come in peace.

And I bring exciting news!

In honor of completing the first draft of Guardians of the Path Book: 5 Wasteland (and getting it to my wonderful editor),

I present to you the cover:

Isn’t it beautiful?

I think so. A bit darker than the previous, but it’s darkest before the dawn (right?).

I’ll be sharing the official release date, as soon as I know it (no one tells me anything around here).

And in the not too distant future, look out for cool sneak peeks, awesome giveaways, and more!!!

❤ DragonBeck

P.S. You can get the first books in the series here.

Needful Things meets Rumpelstiltskin

This is the second writing exercise from the last meeting. The title was suggested by Brandon, and I don’t know what “Needful Things” refers to, but I like it! I am thinking this little piece could go somewhere magical if it were expanded a bit – Enjoy!!

Trip, boat, kettle, goddess (I honestly forget which word was mine)

Brin wandered through the store, her eyes gazing about at the myriad wares offered for sale. Each was graced with a gold tag, tied with gold twine, and on the paper in graceful letters were written things like “your second kiss” and “an afternoon in the sun”. Brin passed a giant cast iron kettle that sang though no fire was lit under it, a tiny boat in a tiny jar that sailed in fair waters, but as Brin passed the sky within the glass clouded and the water grew choppy, and a hundred other things that she couldn’t see.
“Can I help you?” a smooth voice issued from the shadows at the back of the shop.
Brin stopped and peered closer, trying to see the owner of the voice. She took a few steps forward and made out a wrinkled old man with copious amounts of curly silver hair and a large smile.
“I’m looking for a token for my aunt,” Brin said. “She said something about a goddess stone that she saw in the window?”
“Ah, yes!” the old man said. “Just in from Ireland this morning.”
He jumped off the stack of books he was using to come up to eye height, and trotted through the store with confident steps. He came back bearing a stunning jewel in a green velvet box, and Brin’s eyes widened.
“It’s a beauty isn’t it?” the man agreed.
“It doesn’t have a price tag on it,” Brin noticed.
“You’re right,” the man replied, and tapped his nose.
From a drawer, he pulled out gold twine and scissors, and wrote on a tag “A trip you’ll never take” before tying it around the jewel’s case. “What do you say? I daresay your aunt will look stunning wearing this.”
“She would,” Brin murmured, reaching out to touch the gem. “How do I pay?”
“You don’t,” the man assured her. “Just take the tag, and present it to your aunt, and all will be well.”

❤ DragonBeck

Just a Feeling

Hello all!

Work is progressing on Wasteland (Guardians of the Path book 5) very well – I hope to have it to the editor within a week *fingers crossed*. In the meantime, please enjoy this little writing exercise from the last Ink Slingers Guild meeting of July 2018 (where did the year go?):

resume (my word), force, honey (Lisa’s word, but it was going to be mine!), sound

“That’s not how you spell it,” she told him, peering over his shoulder.
He tried to shrug her away, covering the top half of the paper with his hand, but she lifted it up and pointed. “You need an accent on the end, other wise it’s resume, not resume’.”
“Don’t you have something better to do?” he asked, trying to force some honey into his voice so he didn’t sound like a pouting child.
She sat on the edge of the table beside him, swinging her legs. She still wore the peppermint striped tights she had worn the day they met.
“Not really,” she said, and her big green eyes followed the strokes of his pen. “You didn’t put the accent.”
He threw down the writing implement and ran a hand through his hair.
“I can do this later,” he said. “I’m going for a walk.”
“I’ll join you,” she said brightly, hopping down and scurrying after him.
She only came up to his elbow, and he was sure that the neighbors thought he had adopted a young girl. He had adopted her, in a sense, but she wasn’t young and she wasn’t a girl.
“Have you thought about it?” she asked as she danced among the brown autumn leaves covering the sidewalk.
“Of course I’ve thought about it,” he answered in a gruff voice. It was hard not to think about it, when every day she grew paler and more translucent. Her wasting didn’t seem to bother her, she was always so cheerful, but he wondered what would happen to her if she faded completely. This world wasn’t good for her.
“And have you had any ideas?” she stopped and turned her abnormally colored eyes on him, hope making them shine brighter than usual.
He sighed. “Not yet.”
“You will,” she said with supreme confidence.
“How do you know that?” he asked, following her as she continued down the pathway.
“Just a feeling,” she sang over her shoulder.


❤ DragonBeck

Tutor and Student

I really liked this writing exercise – it could go places. Enjoy!

miniature, tutor, cap, puddle,

The governess glided into the library, her thin nose in the air and her thin lips pursed suspiciously. Her eyes narrowed when she saw Daved sitting alone in front of the fire, his nose buried in a huge tome with colored illustrations.

“Where is the tutor?” the governess demanded, making Daved start, and stare around with a guilty look.

He quickly closed the book and shoved it between the sofa and the wall, and snatched up his cap, which was lying on the sofa seat beside him, and jammed it on his head. “He left for the day, ma’am,” Daved mumbled, staring at his shoes.

“Speak up, young man,” the governess instructed. “No nobleman speaks as though his face were in a puddle.”

“He left for the day, ma’am,” Daved spoke up, looking somewhere over the governess’s shoulder.

She sniffed. “He will have to be informed that is not acceptable. What are you reading?”

Daved blinked, and answered very clearly. “History of the Twelve Realms by the Honorable Tracey Michelson.”

The governess frowned. “Why were there pictures?”

“There were no pictures,” Daved countered. “Perhaps you saw maps.”

The governess’s eyes narrowed further. “Let me see the book.”

Daved dug it out of the crack and clutched it tight. He whispered something to it, and handed it to the stern woman with a subdued look. She opened it, turned several pages, and several more, looking at him in disbelief. “I saw pictures, in color. They looked cheerful and frivolous, nothing that would be in a serious book of history,” she said, and flipped through more pages.

Daved shrugged. “There’s a map,” he said helpfully.

The governess put the book down on the coffee table, and gestured for the boy to sit back down. “As your lesson was cut short, I’ll bring tea early.”

Daved nodded and watched her leave the room, before he sat back down, pulled the book back onto his lap, and opened it to the page with the bright pictures of dragons and brave knights. On the mantle, the miniature man trapped under the crystal glass glared down at Daved, shouting inaudible words at the boy engrossed in the novel.


❤ DragonBeck


This is an Ink Slingers Guild writing exercise, brought to you by me. Enjoy!

sabotage, flabbergasted, saturate, lime,

The woman came down from the dais, her sleeveless lime green dress flowing behind her like sea foam. Natan’s eyes followed her, never blinking to make sure he didn’t miss some trick or sleight of hand. Wonder saturated the gazes of all others, and made him nauseous. He was trying to discover a way to sabotage her plan, but she had sunk her fangs into the hearts of all the king’s subjects, they would no more deny her than they would deny their own need to breathe. Natan tried to see what she carried in her hands, but people shifted and pushed, trying to get closer to the witch woman they idolized. He pushed too, and was rewarded with a clear view of the woman. She was beautiful, with golden skin and dark eyes, but her smile was cruel. He was flabbergasted when he saw what she carried – a child, no more than a year or two old, sucking on its fist. It – for he couldn’t tell whether the child was male or female – had pale blond hair and eyes like sapphires, and shining on its forehead was the mark of seven stars, pale silver against the child’s skin. Shock rocked Natan back on his heels, and he tried to wrap his mind around the impossibility. That woman should be screaming in pain where her flesh met the child’s, yet her look was as serene and cold as ever, not a hint of pain or even mild discomfort as she carried the child out the wide door and into the sunlit square, where more of the adoring citizens awaited their fate with joyous oblivion.

❤ DragonBeck