Authors: Marie Hall
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal
Her ghostly head turned, and a sharp gasp escaped, then glacial blue eyes locked first on
, then on Miriam. A sneer curled her tipped nose.
“I should have known you’d be here, you coward.
What have you done?”
flew before her friend.
had never much cared for Miriam. Not since the day of the Summoning; the day all fairies were received by the oracle and told what their ultimate destiny would be. All knew Miriam’s kith descended from greatness. Every one of Cherry Blossom stock went on to rule the Kingdom as head Mistress. Every last one, that was, until the Oracle told Miriam she was destined to rule and
was to be muse of the arts. Though Miriam had rejected her course, and chosen instead to be
and a free fairy,
had never forgotten, or forgiven.
“She’s done no wrong,”
quickly asserted. “We were feeding the flowers when we came upon the scene. What is this,
? What horrors have transpired this night?”
wrung her hands, still not sure what she’d witnessed. What had
held her chin high, but the light of fury slowly dimmed. “The
been discovered.” She stared at the unmoving bundle draped in red on the floor. “What did you see?”
barely had a moment to digest the news that the
did in fact exist. Not like she hadn’t already put the pieces together, but to hear
admit it as truth was… shocking. “Like I said, we were too late, Mistress. We entered to find Jana already dead and the black,” she pointed to the large wolf, frozen, and staring at them with hollow gold eyes, “attacking the red.”
A green glow began to emanate from within the savaged remains of Jana’s broken body.
pursed her lips, eyebrows raised. “We haven’t much time,” she said cryptically. “I need to access the black wolf’s mind.”
The moment she said it, the wolf’s limbs unlocked, he
, shook his shaggy head and then growled.
“To me, wolf,”
snapped her fingers. Though
was not with them in form, her power was such that the wolf had no choice but to spring to her ghostly apparition, head bowed and breathing heavily under the influence of forced magic.
cried over her shoulder, a moment later a second figure emerged from within the blue fog of light.
Esmeralda--fairy of justice and truth--was a lovely counterpoint to
sharp cruelty. Fair of skin, with forest green eyes, she was the ideal representation of what most mortals believed the
to be. “Yes, sister dear,” she said in a flute like voice.
“Enter the hut, discover the truth,”
“As you wish.”
Esmeralda bowed her head.
The sound of chimes rang loudly in the air as Esmeralda emerged with a loud pop (like an object escaping a bubble) from within the swirling mercurial radiance. Her full pink lips tipped up into a grim smile. The air turned crisp, smelling of morning dew and clinging ivy.
“Well met, Godmother,” Esmeralda nodded her chestnut colored head respectfully toward
. Then her eyes widened as she finally took notice of the scene before her. “What has happened here?” Her tiny voice trembled, her gaze unflinching and focused as she stared at Jana--or, at least what was left of her. Bits of the Green were scattered throughout, but her trunk and legs were now glowing a deep hued moss. The magic, a fairy’s very soul, would soon erupt from the body, seeking a new and suitable host.
trembled at the thought of so much power. To be one of the
, could she do it? Would she want to? She gripped her wand tighter, palms sweaty as her heart beat hard. Who would the magic take?
rolled her eyes, her mouth set into a tight line. “That is why I’ve called you here,
. The wolf knows, his memories must be revealed.”
A change overcame the lovely fairy then. Esmeralda’s head tilted as a helix of black bled through the color and whites of her eyes. No less beautiful, but alien and frightening as she turned that penetrating gaze on the black wolf who was now eerily silent.
“Wolf,” she said in that same flute like voice, “show me the truth.”
Whining, but unable to resist the command, the wolf looked at Esmeralda.
Wind ripped and roared through the tiny thatched cottage, stirring dirt and brambles, making
hair whip into her eyes painfully. Wincing, she narrowed her eyes, trying desperately to keep them open so she could see the vision unfold.
A scene stirred like a ripple in a pond. Slowly at first, largely blurred at the edges, but tightening at its center, forming a picture.
narrowed her eyes when a healthy Jana came into focus. Her long white hair flowed well past her waist, nearly to her knees. And though she appeared a fragile woman with liver spots and wrinkles covering her from head to toe, her eyes gleamed like the glint of steel in flame. A nasty smile curved her lips as she spoke, not in terror, but calmly to the black wolf.
Jana pointed a gnarled finger--the sharp nail long and curling downward--at the door.
eyes widened. Why was Jana not fighting the wolf? Why did she not attempt to defend herself?
The scene shifted again when the
entered the doorway. Her eyes moved between the wolf and Jana. At first with fright, but then her facial features dropped and something akin to horror flickered in the depths of her eyes.
The red wolf leapt into the picture, creeping in behind her. The wolves had set a trap and Jana was smiling.
“Bloody, bloody hell!”
heart sank to her knees.
How could this have happened?
spun that arctic stare on both her and Miriam. “None must know of this night. Should Kingdom ever discover what has transpired here, our world would cease to exist as we know it. Swear it!” The power of her words rolled like shifting lands, stealing the very breath from
She gulped, but nodded. Miriam nodded too, but closed her eyes. She had her arms wrapped around herself, and
knew her friend was not well.
nostrils flared. Esmeralda blinked and the black of her eyes were no more, they’d returned to the vibrant green of a tree’s canopy.
“Sister,” Esmeralda said, pointing to Jana, “she glows.”
The green light encased Jana’s remains like a tomb, lifting what was left of her high into the air. The room grew heavy with the sharp nip of ozone. Bolts of lightning streaked from within the corpse itself.
pursed her lips. “The magic will find who it will.” Then she turned her hawk like gaze back on the wolf. “Destroy them all.
must never know how close she came this night.”
Miriam’s head shot up then. “What?
The Headmistress snarled. “How dare you speak to me? I’ve given the order. Kill them all!”
head seemed completely independent of her body at that moment, turning this way, that way, following each harshly spoken word with a lump in her throat.
!” Esmeralda cried, one eyebrow rose as she studied
with the look of a fairy
would do bodily harm if ignored. “You may not kill any.”
“You cannot stop me--”
Esmeralda crackled as she flitted towards
projection. She planted small hands on her hips and spread her legs, a shower of dust dropped from her wings as she spoke. “I am truth,
. Do not forget it.”
Miriam flew to
side and nodded forcefully. “I’ve had a vision,
true. Tonight’s actions will determine the fate of our brethren for an eternity. The
must not be killed. Nor can the black wolf.”
felt suddenly useless. She’d never seen such a forceful side to her friend and did not know what to do. Though she was infinitely grateful there’d be no killing tonight. She turned toward the blond girl, still suspended in time--huddled under her red hood--
thing, such a tragedy to befall one so young
. Her life would never be the same.
A muscle in
jaw ticked. “
will surely know otherwise. The
is no longer hidden. If we do not kill the wolves and the girl, word will spread. The girl’s identity has now been exposed. We must kill her in order to cast a new body for the
The sparks shooting off Jana’s body were now pinging off the walls of the room.
The black wolf lifted his nose, sniffed the air, and then with a low growl fell to his belly. A blinding white light encased his body, flaring so bright that
had to shield her eyes as tears stung the corners.
When the light faded, a man, long and lean and thickly muscled with shaggy black hair, jumped to his feet.
gaze roamed the length of him, slowly, methodically, taking in all the twisted cords and muscles of his body.
loved men. And this one was a sight beyond most.
“What do you want, black wolf?” she sneered finally.
His chiseled jaw set into a tight frown. “Ye speak of killing me. And yet ye saw my truth, ye know I meant the girl no harm. Can ye not guess why?”
Miriam flitted to his shoulder, lightly tapping it. “Ye are Violet’s mate,” she said softly.
gasped. Could the night get any stranger? “But…but, he works for
He looked at her, with eyes hollow and flat, more animal than human. “Yes, for the sake of my starving clan, I did. She offered to feed us, I had no choice. But I could never harm my mate.”
looked at the girl.
But she was so young.
Or perhaps not.
A youthful face in Kingdom was no indication of age.
Miriam nodded. “He does not mean he’s mated her yet, did ye not notice on the vision what happened when he saw her,
scratched her jaw, remembering vaguely the flattening of fur around his neck when he’d first gazed at Violet. “She will not want you,”
told him, “surely you know that.”
“It matters not,” he growled, “
lifted her hands. “She belongs to me, black.”
“The name is Ewan of the clan Black Foot,” his rich throaty burr made
heart quiver. Aside from the small crook to the bridge of the man’s nose, he was the most magnificent creature she’d ever beheld.
“It matters not at all to me,”
shook her head, blue ringlets bobbed attractively around her head. “What does matter is that you are now a problem. You cannot return to
, and it seems we cannot kill you. So we are at an impasse. Though,” her lips curled, exposing glinting baby fangs, “I hear it’s quite hard to kill one of you. Perhaps the Jabberwocky would like a bit of sport later.”
“Give him to
!” Miriam cried.
eyes widened. “Miriam,” she squeaked. What in the bloody hell was the matter with her friend?