Spell of Shadow & Light publishes on Wednesday!
So today, we bring you a special preview of what’s inside! Since the book features 4 interlinked novellas that build to spectacular conclusion you have to read to believe, we’ll start the preview with the first novella because it might not make sense to start with the 4th one.
Just a quick reminder that Spell of Shadow & Light includes the three novellas that were published last year as part of the Magic Underground trilogy of anthologies:
- “Spell of Wings & Glass” from Hidden Magic
- “Spell of Bone & Ash” from Wayward Magic
- “Spell of Scales & Steel” from Forgotten Magic
Plus the never-before-released “Spell of Shadow & Light” novella, which gives the book its name because it’s awesome. Don’t take our word for it, read on to see why.
A Curse Breaker Prequel
Nulthir sloshed through the puddles under the weeping stalactites while the keys clipped to his utility belt jingled. Behind him, men arrested on a variety of felonies slept the night away inside their cells, snoring loudly. There was no escaping that racket either, not down here where everything was made of gray stone or metal, creating a perfect echo chamber. Those snores chased Nulthir through the tunnel, connecting the cellblock he’d just checked with the next one on his rounds. He couldn’t even cover his ears while he guarded the snoring prisoners in case a fight broke out or a lock gave way to a pick.
Nulthir shook his head. It was just another night of guard duty. Or it was until the echoes faded, and a soft ‘neep neep’ pierced the silence that fell.
Oh no. Nulthir stopped and glanced around for the source of those ‘neeps,’ but there was only him and a hell of a lot of rocks in this part of the subterranean complex. He must have hallucinated them. Green Block wasn’t going to check itself, so he’d better secure it before his superiors caught him lollygagging, or they might dock his pay again. Nulthir ducked under a long stalactite, and there it was again.
“Neep. Neep, neep.”
What the hell? Nulthir turned on his heel. He regarded the wispy mist weaving through the cells under the dim blue glow of a lumir crystal that lit the cell-filled cavern behind him until a loud snort echoed through the tunnel.
“Neep. Neep, neep!”
Those insistent ‘neeps’ were loud enough now to cut through the snores. Damn, he wasn’t imagining them. “This can’t be happening,” Nulthir said and received a series of happy neeps in reply.
Nulthir groaned. Only one creature made that sound. Or rather, only one he knew of, and that creature had better not be somewhere in this prison. “Furball?” he whispered still unable to believe his ears. That little ball of fur and innocence couldn’t be somewhere in this prison.
“Neep!” Furball confirmed, but that was impossible. Furball couldn’t be making that excited racket because…
“You’re supposed to be asleep in my flat, not wandering around a damp prison.” Nulthir turned toward the fading echo of that imperious neep. He probably shouldn’t have said that last bit aloud, but Furball was sawing on his last nerve.
“Neep neep?” Furball asked as if he didn’t understand. Nice try.
“Don’t you pull that with me. I know you understand me.” Nulthir looked behind another stalagmite. Damn it. There was nothing but shadows back there. “How did you get down here all by yourself?”
“Neeeeeep?” Furball stretched the word out.
Nulthir scrubbed both hands over his face. “Why me?” His best creature-friend, Thing, would be crazy with worry when Thing realized Furball was missing. Maybe Thing wouldn’t notice until Nulthir could return the little guy to his flat. Please, Fate, you owe me one.
“Neeeep?” Furball asked in genuine confusion.
“Never mind, just stay where you are. I’ll find you.” It was safer that way. Furball was small and easily squashed. The little critter also blended into the shadows because of his dark coloring, which made him hard to spot in the ever-present gloom down here. “Alright, where are you, you little puff ball?”
“Neep. Neep,” Furball complained, not liking that ‘puff ball’ comment even though it was an accurate description.
But those aggrieved sounds gave Nulthir a direction, right, toward the next cave of cells, the one he hadn’t checked on his rounds yet or secured. Just great, Furball would show up near the most violent offenders. That was just his luck. Fate had no sense of proportion. “Keep talking—er—neeping, so I can find you.”
Confirmation. Good, at least Furball was still listening to him. Hopefully, he would continue to do so. After all, Furball was just a baby—um—thing? ‘OwlCat’ was probably the most apt description of the creature.
‘Gryphons’ were the closest relatives to Furball and his extended family, but gryphons were more eagle and lion, and his little friend was definitely more kitten with a bit of owl and monkey thrown in for fun. His creature friends were also a lot smaller than gryphons were purported to be.
If Furball and his family had a name for their species, they’d never mentioned it. Nor had Nulthir the time to look it up since he was technically in hiding here, hence the prison guard gig. So ‘OwlCats’ they were. Not that it mattered. They were his friends, and their littlest member would be in a heap of trouble if he didn’t find that furry kit.
Nulthir followed a string of ‘neeps’ to another shadowy corner. Maybe they were Furball’s way of explaining how in the hell he’d gotten down here in the first place, but Nulthir would need a translator to understand that. He squatted and ran his hand through the mist, but there was no furry creature there. “Where are you?”
“Neep, neep.” Now, it sounded like Furball was across the way on the other side of this damned tunnel.
“I told you not to move.”
“Neep. Neep. Neep,” Furball said, and a sharp rap followed that. The little fella must have stamped his tiny foot to make his point.
“Okay, fine, you didn’t move. My mistake.” Nulthir scanned the ground and saw only shadows, but none were moving. He snagged the leather cord hanging around his neck and lifted the dawn rune to the level of his eyes. Its metallic curves were cold against his cheek, but it warmed as the magic stored inside it glowed brighter, enough to reveal more gray walls, puddles, and stalactites, but no fuzzy creatures. Damn it. “Furball? Where the hell are you?”
Nulthir swept the glow of his fist-sized pendant over every inch of the tunnel, especially the puddle he was standing in. He wasn’t sure if Furball could swim, or if the tiny thing would even float, nor did he want to find out, not when his best creature-friend was the little fella’s grandsire.
Furball’s neeps seemed to come from everywhere now thanks to the stone walls bouncing those neeps all over this tunnel, so not helpful. Maybe he should ask Furball to jump up and down? Would that help? Furball was only about six inches tall and just as wide. “Talk to me, Furball. Tell me where you are.” Though, that might be asking too much of a creature who could make only one sound.
“Neep neep neep!” Furball said. His annoyed neeps seemed to come from below, but there was nothing under the prison. It occupied part of the lowest subterranean level of this mountain stronghold.
Still, Nulthir had to check in case Furball had fallen down a hole he couldn’t see. That would be just his luck tonight.
To be continued as part of our special launch week celebration. Get your copy of Spell of Shadow & Light now.
Nulthir thought he’d escaped his dark past. But he can’t escape destiny when it’s written on his skin. How can his mind-talking creature friends save him from the dark magic that’s changing him into a pawn of an even darker lord?
Find out in Spell of Shadow & Light. Get your copy now!
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