It’s been a long and awful couple of years. I couldn’t write anything for a long, long time, but I’m back to share some good news… Book 3 is almost done! I finally (finally!) got it in fighting shape and the last book of the Bound Magic Trilogy is on it’s way to the publisher next month!
To celebrate, I’m sharing a scene in Book 1 that I wrote from Silas’s perspective. I needed Silas to be a mysterious jerk from day one, but there was a lot going on that Maeve just had no idea about. This scene where Silas and Maeve first meet brings a lot of Silas’s perspective and motivations to light. Plus writing a fight scene from Silas’s perspective was really fun. I hope you enjoy it!
(Warning: this scene contains spoilers for Fate Forged. If you haven’t read Book 1 yet, you can check it out here)
A scene from Fate Forged, Bound Magic Series, Book 1
The smell of the city washed over me. I inhaled the rank waft of dirty river water, accentuated by the sharp ammonia smell of piss that clung to the streets. I wrinkled my nose. No matter how pretty the non-magic Mundanes made their cities, they always smelled. Boston was no exception, and I grumbled under my breath as I trudged along yet another picturesque cobblestone street. My search for Titus and his rebel “brotherhood” had taken me all over the Earthen realm. I’d been chasing him for months, criss-crossing through the Americas so randomly, I’d begun to believe I was being intentionally led about. The Council had raised the same concerns and recalled me several times to report on my progress. I told them the same thing each Gods damned time–I needed more time and they needed to stop pulling me off Titus’s trail. Sometimes it felt like they were trying to sabotage our success.
Lord Magister Alaric, the fratching bastard, was determined to force me back to Aeterna so I could sire an heir with his daughter, and if not for the enormous flair of magic our scouts had reported from Boston, I would have been ordered home permanently. I’d arrived within hours of the incident, but it was too late. The so-called Brotherhood had been there, and their foul magic was so thick it made me ill, but there was no sign of them. Titus Trivalent, leader of the rebel group, was still in the city. I could feel it in my bones. The Council granted me additional time, but each hour their trail grew colder and colder. I needed a miracle.
Boston was a large city by Mundane standards and walking the streets was an ineffective way to go about finding the traitors hiding there, but the Council had refused my request for a legion of Guardians, and so my hands were tied. The city was older than most in the United States, it showed the grace of it’s European roots in narrow brownstone buildings lining either side of its cobbled streets, and if I weren’t so angry, I might find it charming. The real draw of the city was the deep well of magic it sat upon. One of the rare pockets of powerful magic on this continent, and the non-magic Mundanes had somehow landed right on top of it. There must have been someone with magic sensitivities amongst those original settlers. Titus and his band of rebels were likely drawn there because of the magic, although I certainly had no idea what they were up to.
Despite the smell in some of the dirtier parts of the city, it had a symmetry about it that I liked. Boxed in on three sides by the Atlantic with the Charles River cutting across the land, the Mundane inhabitants had used every inch of available space, but they managed not to overwhelm the limited area with overly tall buildings. In contrast, the buildings in Lower Aeterna grew higher and higher each generation, built upon the back of a crumbling foundation. The buildings loomed over the poor souls born into the masses of our magical society like an ominous shadow about to consume the unwary. It was a fitting metaphor, really.
I shook myself out of my philosophical musings and focused on the trail of faint magic I’d sensed. It was the second night of trying to detect any remnant of sacrificial magic, but it had already faded to almost nothing. I’d lost the trail the night before, and spent the better half of the day criss-crossing the city in methodical grids as I attempted to pick up on the power signature again. Titus and his rebels had left so many trails of magic, I’d spent the last two days running around the entire city chasing them. It was likely intentional. They knew I was there, but this was the first time they stayed, hiding and misleading me instead of fleeing. I could only surmise that whatever had happened three days previous to cause the giant flare of magic was still unresolved, and they couldn’t leave yet.
The sudden flare of power was so close and familiar that I jerked in surprise when I sensed it. Titus! My magic rose and my favorite blade, a single-handed broadsword with a basket hilt, appeared in my hand. I broke into a run. That boot licking fratcher was careless and tonight was his night to die. Acutely aware of my surroundings, I ran with the sword tight against my right leg and let my magic fall again. It was a somewhat awkward sprint, but even though the streets were mostly empty of Mundanes given the late hour, I didn’t want to draw anyone’s attention by waving around my blade or my magic.
I nearly ran past the narrow alley where Titus stood, but his blond head caught my attention, and I slid silently to a stop. His back was to me as he focused on a Mundane woman deeper in the alley. I blinked as I took in her defensive stance and bared teeth. She looked ready to attack him, even though she didn’t have a chance against Titus either physically or magically. The woman’s presence complicated things, but a simple compulsion spell would send her home without any memories.
I glanced quickly up and down the street to ensure there were no other Mundanes lurking about, or Brotherhood reinforcements. I had to be careful not to use too much of my magic or I’d alert those reinforcements and I couldn’t afford to let Titus slip through my grasp again. A snarl ripped from Titus’s throat as he crouched, half-ready to turn into his animal form and leap upon the woman, and I realized he was about to kill her.
“Titus!” I yelled.
He pivoted, facing me with a snarl of recognition. I relished the look of fear and hatred on his face as I approached him with slow deliberate steps. His magic rose, an incriminating ring of murderous black tainting the edges of his aura, as he called his own broadsword into his left hand. He didn’t waste any time. He moved first, attempting to surprise me with a variation on the tranto technique. It relied on swift movements, and pushing your opponent off-center by shifting the center of their gravity. But we’d both learned those techniques, and I easily countered the move by pivoting out of the way, keeping my body centered as the blade missed me by a few inches. I could best him in our training days, and that hadn’t changed since.
Titus growled again, and I swung my blade at his chest. He caught the blow on his sword as expected, and then the real fun began. I backed him deeper into the alley and his attacks got faster and sloppier as he lost ground. He never could pace himself in a fight, and my plan to wear him out and then surprise him with an incapacitation spell was working beautifully. I just needed to establish physical contact in order to use as little of my magic as possible and avoid a flare of power that would bring his reinforcements, mutated shifters known as Rakken, into the fight. I pushed him deeper into the alley blow by blow, watching for an opening to grab him.
The Mundane woman inched backward, pressed flat against the alley wall, and it occurred to me that if Titus got too close, he’d use her as a shield. I didn’t need a dead body on my hands. Titus was tiring already, getting sloppy with his guard, but I needed him to engage with me and not continue his retreat toward the woman.
Perhaps he needed a little anger to spur him on. “No follow-through,” I taunted.
Titus never could take critique and he rushed me wildly, losing any semblance of grace. I slapped his sword away with the flat of my own. His blade swung wildly away from his center line, and he had to throw himself against the alley wall to prevent me from stabbing him straight through the heart. Luckily for him, I didn’t want him dead. I wanted to haul his treacherous arse in front of the Council and help them wrench every last traitor’s name out of him before they drained his magic. He had a mess of deaths to atone for, starting with those he’d caused in our training days.
I let his next blow knock my sword out of the way as I reached for him with my free hand, but he realized my intention and jerked backward. He snarled. “You’re their pawn! You always have been!”
He kept well back on his next several strikes, so I let him drive me back into the street, maneuvering him away from the Mundane as she inched closer to the opening of the alley preparing to run. Good, I wanted her out of the way. I’d have to track her down later and wipe her memory, but she was a liability in this fight while I needed to focus on Titus. I’d created more than enough room for her, but the Mundane clung to the mouth of the alley. Did she not have any common sense? Run!
With a surge of annoyance, I realized I’d have to maneuver Titus further away from the woman and give her more space to flee. I feigned away from his next set of advances until we’d turned a hundred and eighty degrees. The woman was now at my back as I held Titus in his place a great distance away from the woman.
Why isn’t she running? I glanced at her over my shoulder. Maybe she was mentally incapacitated. It took me a fraction of a second to turn and look but Titus’s magic rose just as fast, and he threw a first-level conjuring at me. I dove out of the way, too late realizing that the power was headed straight for the Mundane. It hit her full on, and she flew off her feet, sliding limply back into the alley.
Gods dammit! I didn’t need to deal with this shite. The unnecessary death raised my ire. I was done fratching around with Titus. If he wouldn’t come easily, he’d come in pieces. I just needed him breathing. The Healers could keep him alive for questioning.
I rushed Titus, no longer holding back. He immediately sensed my change in intent and scrambled backward, barely blocking my strikes. I followed him with continuous blows. His parries got ugly and the marginal combat technique he’d managed all but disappeared. He tried another blast of magic, but I deflected it easily.
Movement caught the corner of my eye as the Mundane woman rose from the ground and fled from the alley. I had no idea how she survived that direct hit, but I didn’t let it distract me this time. I’d deal with her later. But then, to my utmost shock, Titus abandoned our fight and ran after her. I threw magic at his back, but he deflected the wave of power with his own shield.
A high-pitched animalistic shriek tore up the street, and I gritted my teeth. Titus’s Rakken were coming to his rescue. The Council had been very clear that I couldn’t draw any unwanted attention from the Mundanes. I couldn’t cause a scene in the middle of the city, and using enough magic to dispatch the Rakken would definitely draw attention. I slid to a stop and swore as the Rakken flanked Titus, and he turned back to face me. The former shifters were hairless and huge, coming up to his shoulder even on four legs. They had large frames held together with lean muscle built for speed, while their eyes conveyed more than animal intelligence. I tried not to think too hard about the way their human nature had been buried beneath the animal one. I wasn’t proud of my involvement in the creation of the Rakken.
A triumphant smile spread across Titus’s face. “You’re on the wrong side of history, Silas. The Council is using you.”
“You’ll die for your crimes.”
“Until then!” Titus bowed mockingly and dipped around the corner.
I swore as I watched him go. Everything inside of me wanted to follow him and drive my sword through his chest, but the Council had tied my hands. Again. I had more than enough magic at my disposal, even in this realm, to end Titus and all his Rakken. But instead, I stood there breathing through my nose like the impotent minion I was as Titus escaped. He was right. The Council was using me, and there was nothing I could do about it.
I returned my sword with a small weave of magic and then I intentionally let my power drain away until I was left cold and angry. I stalked over to the alleyway where the Mundane woman had apparently risen from the dead. I couldn’t leave her as a loose end. I needed to track her and compel her to forget everything she saw before she started flapping her mouth to the Mundane news. A glint of steel on the ground caught my eye, and I crouched to pick up a short blade that was practically glowing with her imprint… I frowned. A Mundane shouldn’t leave an imprint on an object like that. Even if she held it from birth and slept with the damn thing, someone without magic wouldn’t leave such a strong trace.
I balanced the knife in my palm. Titus had been after the woman. She appeared not to have any magic, but then she’d somehow survived a direct hit from Titus’s magic without a shield. When I’d bested him, he’d chased after her. Titus was a coward, and the fact that he wanted her more than he wanted to escape meant something. There was more to the auburn-haired woman than I’d first assumed. Letting my magic rise around me, I wove a simple tracing spell and channeled it into the knife…some distance away, her presence lit up in my mind like the sun.
I almost laughed. I’d been tracking the rebels, but I’d just found an even bigger prize. If she was what I thought she was, I could use her to find the others. And if we found her sect, we’d once again be able to access Earth’s magic. The Council would have to stop riding me about taking up my father’s seat, and I could maybe even leverage what I found into getting out of the thrice-damned mating bond with Aria.
I rose to my feet and headed toward the impossibly strong flare of magic across the city with determined strides. Finding this woman was going to change everything.