The energy of the forest pulsed at their feet, poised to respond to his bidding.
“There is your magic, Sir Borten,” Eolyn said, “Now here is what you must do. Bring together all the elements you just told me about, the earth beneath you, the air in your lungs, the water in your cup, and the fire in your heart. Imagine all of it coming together into a single brilliant point of light, and when you see that light, repeat these words: Ehekahtu naeom tzefur. Ehukae.”
The night thickened with his effort. After a moment, magic coursed up from the ground through his legs, filling his torso, wrapping around his heart. The strength of the vortex pulled a second current from Eolyn, and her magic tingled as it passed from her hands into his back. He drew a steady breath and exhaled the verse.
Borten turned to face her. Steam rose from the water. His expression was incredulous, jubilant.
Eolyn clapped her hands in joy. “You see, Sir Borten? It is not so difficult after—”
Agonized screams ripped through her words. With a frightened cry, Eolyn took off toward the girls. She burst into the adjacent clearing and stopped short at the sight of a beast that swayed on long glowing limbs, a set of gaping pits where the eyes and mouth should have been. In one ebony-clawed hand it held Sirena, her chest torn open from throat to sternum, the shredded bodice black with blood.
Eolyn’s vision blurred. Her heart imploded. She clutched at her ribs, breath reduced to ragged gasps, knees buckling beneath her. Borten caught one arm and hauled her to her feet. Their eyes met.
All your senses open.
The knight released her and approached the monster with sword drawn.
Eolyn forced back the grief that had scattered her thoughts.
All your spirit focused on the task at hand.
Mariel crouched in the shadows, clutching Eolyn’s staff. Tears streamed down the girl’s face. Her shoulders shook like leaves on the wind.
“Mariel.” Eolyn’s voice was calm. “Set down my staff and climb the beech behind you, as quick and high as you can.”
“But Maga Eolyn—”
“Do as I say. If this goes badly, you are not to come down until dawn.”
With a sob the young maga fled up the tree. Eolyn called the staff to her. The water crystal ignited, casting an ivory light over the dwindling fire, illuminating the creature in full. The beast groaned, a needy howl born of insatiable hunger.
Eolyn stepped forward, coming around to Borten’s left.
“Stay behind me,” he ordered.
“Your sword may not be enough,” she replied.
Lands Ravaged. Dreams destroyed. Demons set loose upon the earth.
War strikes at the heart of women’s magic in Moisehén. Eolyn’s fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.
Devastated yet undaunted, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. But even a High Maga cannot survive this enemy alone. Aided by the enigmatic Mage Corey, Eolyn battles the darkest forces of the Underworld, only to discover she is a mere path to the magic that most ignites their hunger.
What can stop this tide of terror and vengeance? The answer lies in Eolyn’s forgotten love, and in its power to engender seeds of renewed hope.
HIGH MAGA is the companion novel to EOLYN, also available from Hadley Rille Books.
Genre – Epic Fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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