Previous: Before the Fall

 

Holly gripped the skirts of her dress so tightly that her hands had turned numb. Her whole body tensed; she wanted to run. But she couldn’t—not with that dragon with its creepy, blinking scales and fetid breath blocking the way forward. Nor could she go back. Her mother stood right behind her, exuding a chill that made Holly’s skin prick and the hair on her neck stand on end. It was too much, being wedged between a necromantic dragon and a dead mother. It was wrong, all of it.

From across the room, Hawthorn headed towards her. He had made it halfway across before the dragon put down a monstrous leg and blocked him from view. She needed to do something, but whenever she tried thinking of a spell, countless cold, otherworldly eyes across the dragon’s flank would blink at her, and Holly’s mind froze along with the rest of her body.


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Previous: Stained Glass Memories, Part Two

 

In the darkness, the shadows constricting Hazel tightened their grip. The sound of soft, careful footfalls came to her ears. She held her breath, and her gut twisted in fear as the steps grew louder, closer.

She tried to move away but her binds still anchored her. Heart pounding, she hunched over and managed to summon a feeble ball of blue flame in her cupped hands. It flickered into illumination just as a pale hand from one of the familiars grabbed her arm.


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Previous: Stained Glass Memories, Part One

 

Hazel made a fist over the basin and let her blood drip into the crystalline water that bloomed like a drowned rose. Ash did nothing to stop her. Instead, he smiled a self-satisfied smirk, as if to say he never doubted this moment, as if to say I told you so.

Hazel clenched her hand and the gentle drip-dropping of her blood turned into an irregular patter as it seeped between her fingers and stained her fist. It was like she had a second heart, and this one would pump her blood into the world, infusing it with her life and her will. 


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Previous: Familiar Fellowship

 

Holly sat on the floor in front of the fire. The flames warmed her back, and that warmth helped keep her fear under control. Everything would be fine—nothing could be so bad as long as you had clothes on your back and a fire to warm them. Right?

She needed to believe that.

Hawthorn remained in front of the creepy black door. He had rolled up the sleeves of his shirt, as if he intended to wrestle with the door if it didn’t give way to his spells. Holly grinned a little. She’d like to see that.


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Previous: Tormented Love

 

Holly jolted awake as a scream seared through her sleep-addled mind. Had she dreamt it? She must have, because everything now was so quiet except for the crackling of a fire in a nearby hearth, and the gentle snoring of Hawthorn as he sat slumped in an armchair. She herself lay on a sofa. How had she gotten there?

She sat up and looked around the well furnished room that she now found herself in. There were no windows in the stone walls, but the lavish curtains seemed to make up for it somehow. Plush carpets padded the stone floor, and the warm tones of the intricately carved wooden furniture added almost as much warmth as the fire that crackled so close to hand.


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Previous: Of Mushrooms and Men

 

Hazel awoke on a cold stone floor with a pounding headache. She pushed herself upright and looked around, surprised to see she was still in her father’s workshop. She must have fainted, probably from all the smoke. Had something gone wrong with her spell?

No, the spell had worked. There had been a bright light close to Ash’s chest. That had meant something.

She got to her feet and started across the room, but it was like shadows had solidified around her, clinging like tar that made her movements heavy and strained. When she stopped, the shadows receded, but as soon as she tried to walk again, the shadows returned like night-tempered chains. Her father had done this. He had trapped her here.


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