The mist will eradicate all life unless she finds a way to stop it.

Despite her best efforts, Agathe didn’t kill the King, but she did escape with something even more valuable.
Stealing back her magic was a good start. Now, she must find a way to save the Kingdom from the rising mist and the threats within. The spells that used to protect are fading fast with deadly consequences.
After more than a century of peace, the monsters have returned to attack the towns and villages, but they’re not the only danger. A sickness in the mist mutates everything it touches—except for Agathe. She’s special. If only she knew how to use that to her advantage.
Who can she ask for help?
Who should she believe?
Maric, the King’s most valued soldier—and her lover—wants her to return to the Citadel and join forces with the monarch who stole her magic once before.
Then there’s Zanir, a smooth-tongued liar who taunts her via a mirror. He promises her answers. Demands that she come to him so he can show her the truth.
The fact is, both men want to use her, and the wrong choice might mean the end of Agathe—and the Kingdom.

Excerpt:

Warning: If you haven't read book one, then avoid as this is a spoiler.

Prologue

The body plummeted into the Abyss without a sound. Then again, the dead didn’t have much to say. Nor did I care to hear it.

I’d killed a man and had zero remorse. Captain Baree with the braided mustache—a highly ranked soldier of the King’s Elite—had murdered my mother because she wouldn’t hand me over.

Murdered.

My.

Mother.

I wanted to hurt the soldier again as I relived how it had happened.

It began with Hiix giving us—us being my adopted mothers, Agathe and Venna, and me—an alert that someone headed for the Abbae. A rare occurrence given that the Ninth Abbae of the Shields was far from King’s Valley, with nothing to offer but an easy leap into the Abyss.

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My mothers—three like our suns and moons—shooed me away as our guest asked questions about my presence. No one was allowed to see me, and that went double when I sported purple eyes—which happened to be now. I’d not had a chance to dump the magic within and change them to a muddy brown.

Knowing the drill, I headed for the catacombs with a book. At least now, when my mothers closed me in, they didn’t put the barrel across the secret hatch because, as I’d pointed out, what if something happened to them? Or I had an emergency?

“I’d die down here.”

The guilt trip, as Agathe called it, succeeded. Being able to escape the catacombs meant that I could leave it the moment I got an ominous shiver.

Something is wrong.

Hurry.

Were we under attack? The monsters spawned by the mist had been quiet of late, but that could just mean they’d gathered to strike en masse.

I heard the murmur of voices the moment I exited the pantry. I broke into a run at a pained cry.

Mother!

With no heed for myself, I bolted into the courtyard in time to see a soldier running Mother Agathe through with his sword.

Ever watch an object erupt from a body? Disturbing, and this from someone who fought the creatures from the Abyss.

All the monsters in the world couldn’t shock me as much as the sword that went into my mother and exited through her back. And then the bastard pulled the blade upward as if his actions weren’t already heinous enough.

The shriek that erupted out of me surprisingly didn’t break anything. It also did nothing to stem the gush of blood.

So. Much. Blood.

It poured from Mother’s devastating wound, the worst I’d ever seen. But no matter. I’d save her. My magic could heal. I’d done it many times before. Closed wounds. Knitted bones. Even turned back the clock when it came to age.

My feet moved before I’d even finished thinking about saving her. If I could just put my hands on her. Touch her. Everything would be okay.

But her murderer stood in my way. Despite having never met him before, I knew who blocked me: gloating. Baree. The King’s soldier.

I couldn’t waste time. I gave him a warning he did not deserve. “Out of my way.”

“Well. Well. Would you look at those eyes. He was right. The whore lied.”

The number-one rule I’d grown up with was: Hide from visitors. People with purple eyes like me, known as the Blessed, had to pledge themselves to the King, whether we wanted to or not.

Not.

I had no interest in leaving my mothers. Who cared about one man’s desire when I had a destiny that involved serving the Goddess of the Shield?

A Goddess who should help me. My mother was dying.

“Move.” I shifted to go around the soldier. I still had time to fix this. If I could just—

He grabbed me! The very shock of it had me thrashing in his grip, to no avail. One thick arm wrapped around me, pinning my arms, while his other hand grabbed hold of my hair in a fist and twisted.

Ouch! I sucked in a breath, and he hugged me tighter, reeled me close to his body.

I squeaked again and whimpered just as my other two mothers entered the inner courtyard.

“Agathe! No!” Mother Venna wailed, noticing the body bleeding out on the ground.

My other mother, Hiix, hefted her hammer and growled, “Let Belle go.”

“Belle? A common name for a more-than-common girl,” he insulted, yanking my head back to expose my throat.

“Unhand her at once.” Hiix slapped the hammer off the ground, the striking noise sharp, unlike when it slammed into something mushy—like a monster body.

“I am here by order of the King, and it is my duty to take this girl into custody.”

“You aren’t taking her anywhere,” Hiix snarled and took a step.

“Move again and the girl will suffer.”

We’d see who would be suffering. I reached to try and catch hold of some skin. I needed contact to do my tricks. His leather gloves got in my way. Before I could find something else to grab, grief slapped me hard.

While I’d wasted time grappling with the soldier, Agathe had died.

I gasped and then wailed, a never-ending wave of anguish. Unbelievable pain broke me.

Make it stop.

How?

Mother bled out because of this man.

I didn’t care if he followed the King’s orders. The Abbae and the Soraers within belonged to the Goddess. How dare he come in here and cause harm?

How dare he kill my mother.

“Murderer.” The muttered word went unheard in the tossing of threats from my other guardians, who flanked the soldier.

“You will unhand her.” Hiix began lightly swinging her hammer, a hypnotic sway to draw attention.

The soldier uttered a stupid chuckle. “Get in my way, and you will suffer the same fate as the whore.”

There were a few reasons to take offense to that statement. Firstly, Agathe was not a whore. But more importantly, did he threaten my other mother? No. Oh, no. I’d lost one, I wouldn’t lose another.

“Murderer!” I hollered loudly enough that it caught everyone’s attention.

It quelled their quarrel but not his attitude. “Quiet. You will behave, or I will make you watch as I carve these criminals into monster bait.”

He hadn’t yet realized that he’d messed with the wrong girl.

Twisting meant losing some of my hair, but I gritted my teeth against the tearing pain until I faced him, a man taller than me, meaner, with something…wrong inside him. A sickness. A taint. Similar to that found in the monsters.

I placed my fingers on his cheek before he could grasp my intent. The contact highlighted the pulsing kernel of darkness inside him with its stretching tendrils. Where did it come from?

What would happen if I took it?

I grabbed the sour taint within the soldier and gave it a psychic tug. It clung to the man like a sprouting seed. It had already taken root. No matter, I’d still eat it because that’s how I fed my magic.

Until now, I’d done most of my magical refueling with monster essence, the mist taint that I regularly pulled from my mothers not enough to make a difference. As to how? I simply needed to lay my hands on flesh. Instinct took over at that point as my inner self opened its maw and inhaled the taint invading the monsters. It not only recharged me; it killed the threat, too.

Win-win.

Only Baree wasn’t a monster, and the darkness didn’t spread as far through his system. Not yet. As I held on to his cheeks, his dark kernel tempted.

I took it. Imagine my surprise when I siphoned all of Baree’s taint and discovered a different flavor behind it. A brighter spark.

Life.

I wanted it. I would have taken it if he’d not screamed, “What’s happening?” Then more softly, “What have I done?”

I shoved away from Baree as his grip on me loosened. I broke the contact before I took that last spark. It was one thing to drain monsters. People, though… Surely, that crossed a line.

Baree’s knees buckled, and he hit the floor in a slump, head bowed, shoulders rounded. A choked sob left him as he mumbled, “My sweet Agathe. What have I done?” The remorse in his tone appeared genuine. The dark kernel inside had obviously compelled his actions.

Those realizations didn’t stop me from stabbing him in the heart. My mother’s murderer died, and I was glad.

Despite knowing that it was useless, I threw myself at Agathe. I put my hands on her cheeks, willing the magic inside me to heal her.

Come back to me.

The wound in her torso closed. Her heart remained still. I poured in more magic, but it wasn’t enough.

“No. Please.” I sobbed. I snotted. I gave everything I had and then even more until someone violently ripped me free.

“Stop!” Hiix yelled at me as she gripped my shoulders and shook.

I blinked as her image wavered, splitting into two. My knees buckled. For a moment, I thought I’d gone too far. I felt drained. Weak. And all for nothing.

Agathe, eyes sightless, soul fled, remained dead.

I burst into tears. I cried and cried. But sorrow didn’t fix the hollowness inside me. The guilt. This was my fault. My burden. My quest.

Later, after we’d taken care of the bodies—May you rest in peace with our Goddess, the final words spoken before heaving Agathe’s body into the Abyss—I made a vow. “I’m going to kill the King.”

It didn’t work out as planned.

 

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