Read Sorceress Found Online

Authors: Lisa Blackwood

Tags: #BluA

Sorceress Found

BOOK: Sorceress Found
10.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Sorceress Found

 

 

A Gargoyle and Sorceress

Prequel Story

 

 

 

 

By Lisa Blackwood

 

 

Sorceress Found © 2016 by Lisa Smeaton

Previously published as Beginnings

 

First ebook edition:

November 2011 by Lisa Smeaton

 

This is a work of fiction.
Names, places, and characters are the product of the author's imagination or
are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actually persons, living or dead, is
entirely coincidental.

No part of this book may be
reproduced, scanned or distributed in any print or electronic form without
author's permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of
copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only
authorized editions.

 

Cover Art Design
by Lieu Pham

http://covertopia.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Other books

by

Lisa Blackwood

 

 

Gargoyle and
Sorceress (was the Avatars series)

 

Sorceress
Found
        
(Previously
was Beginnings)

Sorceress
Awakening
(Previously was Stone’s Kiss)

Sorceress
Rising        
(Previously was
Stone’s Song)

Sorceress
Hunting     
(Previously was
Stone’s Divide)

Sorceress at
War       
(Forthcoming Fall 2016)

 

 

In Deception’s
Shadow

 

Betrayal’s
Price

Herd Mistress

Maiden’s Wolf

Death’s Queen

 

 

 

Ishtar’s Chosen

 

Ishtar’s
Blade

Blade’s Honor
(forthcoming)

Sorceress Found: A Prequel Story

 

Surrounded by darkness, deep in the heart of his
enemy’s territory, the gargoyle braced his wings against the breeze sweeping
down the onyx-tiled corridor. High above, cobwebs swirled among the shadows
obscuring the vaulted ceiling. With a nudge of magic, lacy tendrils of gloom
floated down, settling over his shoulders and wings like a thick autumn fog.

While a cloak of darkness might hide him for a
short time, the wet heat of blood seeping down his side would soon tempt him to
embrace the healing sleep of stone. Here in this place death would come swift
and brutal.

He had to push onward. He couldn’t give
up—something far more precious than his own life was at risk.

No more than eight summers old, the child slept
soundly in his arms, her weight a reassurance. With her cloud of black hair and
eyelashes dark against pale skin, the Sorceress looked peaceful, innocent—at
odds with this place of darkness. Her safety came first. He couldn’t fail her.

Not again.

Sounds of panting and the muted rasp of claws on
stone echoed from the direction he’d just come. An undulating wail of a Death
Hound filled the stale air. Its harsh call reverberated along his wings.

Another cry answered the first, rising and
falling in the distance. He bolted from the shadows, seeking the breeze’s
source. The sharp click of his talons striking stone tiles drowned out the
noise of pursuit. Urged by instinct, he ran until the corridor forked.

He veered right and a pale light bloomed in the
distance. Shadows gave way to a gray misty haze. At the end of the tunnel, a
line of vast windows opened onto a balcony. He adjusted his hold on the young
Sorceress and sprinted toward freedom.

Outside, wind buffeted at his furrowed wings and
howled in his ears, but his attention riveted on the Veil between the Realms.
It shimmered a hundred paces in front of him, silvery mists promising escape. A
vast expanse of empty air stretched between the balcony and the outer edge of
the Veil.

Worry itched between his shoulder blades. His
wings twitched with tension. Casting a glance over his shoulder, he studied the
way he’d come. For now only a few shadows and lonely statues guarded the way,
but it wouldn’t be long before Death Hounds caught him.

He bowed his muzzle until he caught the
sorceress’s familiar scent. She calmed him—the other half of his soul. He would
know her anywhere. So many lives they’d shared, hunting down evil in all its
forms.

Bumping his muzzle against her cheek, he whined
and licked at her face. A sharp flavor coated his tongue.

He jerked back with a snort. Wrong. Her taste
was wrong. Harsh fear, cold like the first killing frost, flowed through his
soul. He licked at her again, the bitter essence confirming his suspicions. She
was tainted, evil so deeply embedded within her it welled up from below her
skin.

There was nothing he could do for her here in
this place, but once they were safe he would discover what mischief the Lady of
Battles had planned for his sorceress. First, he had to escape the Battle
Goddess’s clutches.

His eyes track back toward the shimmering Veil
as his stomach tightened into a knot. He could escape through the Veil, safe
from its life destroying magic, but the child sorceress was tainted. The Veil’s
magic would sense that and attack.

He clamped his wings to his back and tightened
his arms around her smaller form. If he’d been mature, he could have protected
her from the ravages of the mist. But, newly born, he lacked the raw power
needed to fully shield even himself.

Had he saved her from imprisonment only to have
the Veil strip the life from her now?

Instincts screamed a warning and he glanced over
his shoulder.

Too late. A sizeable weight slammed into his
back, overbalancing him. Teeth savaged the flesh of his right shoulder. With a
howl of pain, he released the child, and twisted, catching his attacker under
the jaw. The beast yelped and rolled.

Before he could recover, another streak of
ginger and black colored fur blurred across his line of sight. With a flash of
teeth, a smaller Death Hound bitch snapped at his throat. He lunged. His teeth
sank into her thick ruff. Altering his grip, he slammed the hound into the
underside of the balcony’s stone railing. Stone chips and white powder dusted
the air.

Blood coated one side of the hound’s wide head.
She flexed her broad shoulders, freeing herself from the rubble. A snarl
exposed steel gray teeth.

When she came at him again, he raked the hound’s
belly with his hind feet. Without the hardness of maturity, his talons didn’t
penetrate the thick fur. The beast sunk her teeth into the meat of his thigh.
He grunted in pain and bashed the creature in the side of the head with one
fist. Desperation lent strength to his weary muscles, and he disengaged the
hound.

A second beast leapt on his back. It clawed
and
bit at his wings as it sought a firmer hold on his exposed neck. He snaked his
tail around the beast’s middle. With a snarling effort, he heaved it into the
first creature. Both beasts slid through the hole in the stone railing and
their surprised yelps slowly faded into the abyss beyond his range of vision.

His heavy panting rasped louder than the roar of
the wind to his own ears. Ignoring the throb of new injuries, he scooped the
child up into his arms.

After catching his breath, he leapt onto the
balcony’s outer stone wall and dug his claws into the surface. Balancing there,
he looked out toward the misty wall of the Veil. It stretched as far as he
could see in either direction. The wind whipped past him, constant in its
attempts to scour him from the side of the tower. He wrapped his tail around
the railing and closed his eyes, praying the Divine Ones would give his
Sorceress strength enough to survive the Veil.

The baying of more Death Hounds decided him.
Wings extended to their fullest, he launched from the balcony, hurtling toward
the mists. Even braced for a second trip through the Veil didn’t lessen the
surprise when he hit its outer border. Syrupy mists slowed his flight, sticking
to him like burning honey. He pumped his wings harder, desperate for speed.
Magic plucked at him, shredding his personal shields.

The first tendril of mist touched the child. She
arched her back and sucked in a deep, gasping breath as her eyes snapped open. Her
cry of anguish sliced through him, stabbing into his soul. She screamed as fast
as she could draw breath.

Please,
he begged of the Divine Ones.
Please let her survive
this. I can do whatever I must to mend what was done to her, just let her live.

After a time, the child quieted, unconscious—not
dead, but he still didn’t relax. The journey through the Veil felt like a
lifetime. With each powerful wing beat, he fought the swirling currents of
magic within the Veil, but made little headway.

Terror uncoiled in his middle. The Sorceress
would never survive the trip back to his Realm. It was taking too long. He
changed his course and flew with the current. Faster and faster the magic
swirled around him. The current drew him along until the outer edge of the
Mortal Realm’s Veil appeared in front of him. He sensed the deadness beyond—the
Mortal Realm’s lack of magic. Seeing no other escape, he closed his eyes and
prayed.

With a heave, the magic spat him and his small
burden out into the Mortal Realm. Cold, thin air shocked his body. His wings
collapsed.

Panicked, he flailed, trying to find which way
was up. A single moon shone in the night sky. He oriented himself and levelled
out his erratic flight enough that he didn’t spiral out of control.

Gliding, too exhausted to maintain his height,
he drifted lower. Below him a well-tended road with a line painted down its center
vanished off into the distance. On either side, a row of smooth wooden poles,
like trees stripped of their branches, lined the too-perfect road. Wires
suspended between the dead-tree-poles swayed in the wind. He angled away from
the odd road and whatever might travel upon it.

Below him the land changed. A long narrow lake,
ringed with white ice, now cut across the landscape. The lake’s dark center
rippled with its own drama. Cries of panic and the splash
of
water caught his attention. He glided lower until he skimmed above the
snow-covered trees skirting the lake. The sounds of struggle grew weaker. Above
those sounds, a desperate chant rose up from below.

Out in the water, a small boy clung to a sheet
of ice. On shore a young woman worked on the body of a girl, trying to push
water from dead lungs. Voice hoarse with grief, the woman chanted a healing song.
The song resonated in his soul, familiar. But she sang it wrong, and this land
lacked the magic required to perform such a spell. Besides, the tether holding
the girl’s soul to her body had already faded away, breaking the link of flesh
and spirit.

Landing at the edge of the lake, he summoned
shadows for concealment. This small, mortal drama didn’t need more panic.
Shifting the Sorceress, he took the strain off his injured shoulder, and then
looked around, seeking shelter from the cold. He approached a stand of
evergreens when a pale figure glided into his midst and looked straight at him.
His magic didn’t work against the dead, and the ghost of a young girl watched
him with sad eyes. She looked from him to the lakeshore and back again.

The ghost’s pale skin and dark hair reminded him
of the child he held. It could have been the Sorceress wanting to say good-bye
to him, dead before they had even gifted each other with names in this life.

Shuddering, he mantled his wings to shroud
himself from the ghost’s sad gaze. He glanced down at the warm, living child in
his arms. Reluctantly, he placed her on the ground, sheltered by the branches
of an evergreen. When he looked back to the ghost, she tilted her head to one
side and gave him a questioning look.

He nodded.

A beautiful smile crossed the ghost’s face and
she glided out of the trees, leading him back to her grieving family.

He skirted around the younger woman, her eyes
still vacant as she rocked the girl’s body in her arms. The ghost’s mother?
There was nothing he could do for the woman—he feared her mind was broken.

At the edge of the winter-locked water, an old
woman continued to cast a long rope out across the frozen surface. She chanted
a spell with each toss, her face serene with concentration. The boy made a
frantic grab at the rope and lost his grip on the ice. He slipped into the
water.

Exhaustion beat at him. His wounds continued to
seep life-blood and magic, weakening him until even his wings quivered, but he
dropped to all fours, and loped into the frigid water. The cold tore a growl
from his throat.

He swam to the spot he’d last seen the boy, and
then he dove, beating his wings to reach the bottom of the lake. Underneath the
surface it was as dark as a moonless night, but he sensed the heat from the
boy’s body and swam toward it. He gripped the slight body in his arms, and then
pushed off from the bottom, kicking and swishing his tail until he broke the
surface.

He snorted water. Hot breath clouded in front of
his face. After he tossed the boy’s body on to the ice, he scrambled at the
slick surface with his claws until he hauled himself out of the water. His legs
shook and lungs burned, but he clamped his teeth into the boy’s hood and
dragged him off the ice.

The youngling’s chest no longer rose or fell,
but his heart still fluttered feebly. He fed more of his waning gargoyle magic
into the boy, urging his heart to beat while he pushed water from small lungs.

A racking cough and a deep breath, followed by
more retching told him he’d succeeded. He barely noticed. His skin was
hardening—not from the cold—but from the need to sleep and heal before death
claimed him. He forced himself to walk to where he’d left the Sorceress.

She still slept—but at least her life force was
stronger. He could rest peacefully, knowing he’d saved her.

The old woman scoured up the bravery to address
him. “You’re a gargoyle.”

Her words were strange, a language he did not
know, and so he took their meaning from her mind.

He nodded—exhaustion had stolen his words.
Picking up the Sorceress, he licked her face. She mumbled in her sleep, words
too slurred for him to understand. He gathered his fading magic and placed a
weaving around the child’s mind so she would forget. Forget him, and their long
history. Forget whatever task their enemy had planned for her—to forget even
herself.

With that done, he turned his attention back to
the old woman.

She tilted her head to look up at him. Grief
shone in her eyes, but she was composed as she held the boy close to her body.
“This is what the Coven’s dream meant. Death and life mixed together in one
terrible and wonderful night. Forgive us, old one. We did not expect one of
your Kin to ever cross into our world again.” She bowed.

He did not understand all her words, but he
sensed she was not one of evil intent. This woman was the best he could do for
his young Sorceress.

BOOK: Sorceress Found
10.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Vicious Little Darlings by Katherine Easer
A King's Trade by Dewey Lambdin
Martha's Girls by Alrene Hughes
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
Emerge by , Heather Sunseri
Fortune Is a Woman by Francine Saint Marie