Monday, May 20, 2019

An Excerpt from Master of Fate

Dear Reader -- The newest Mageverse novella will be out at the end of the month from Changeling Press. Here's a little taste...

Keeping Mad Alys sane has never been harder -- and neither has loving her.
Davon Fredericks is on a self-appointed mission to keep Mad Alys sane. And that job’s never been harder.
Alys Hawkwood is the most powerful seer among the witches of the Magekind. She’s seen a lot of horrors in her visions, but this is the worst: the destruction of the Magekind. The only way to prevent the deaths of everyone she cares about is to allow their worst enemy to kidnap her. Her only hope of rescue is her vampire partner, Davon -- the man she loves -- and the one she can never have.
To carry out her plan and save them all, Davon must pull off the impossible: take on a dragon and countless alien enemies alone. But his most deadly opponent is Alys herself…
      Davon Fredericks watched the rich crimson liquid swirl in the cut crystal glass as he rotated his wrist. The roots of his fangs ached.
 He took a sip, and the taste exploded on his tongue, sending a jolt of magic lancing the length of his spine. Heat streamed into his groin at the flavor, the scent, the sheer, erotic essence of Alys Hawkwood’s blood. His gaze slid over to her as she sat next to him on the dark tufted leather of the couch, watching Netflix on an enchanted tablet.
 Alys looked barely twenty -- quite a trick for someone born when Shakespeare was writing Hamlet.
 Twelve years ago, if someone had told Davon he’d be partners with an Elizabethan, he’d have put that idiot on a psych hold. He'd considered himself a thoroughly rational man, a believer in science and logic. He'd had to be. He was a twenty-first century African American trauma surgeon in Chicago, a city where it wasn't easy to be either black or a doctor. He hadn't had time for woo-woo crap.
 Until a witch offered him the chance to become a vampire and save humanity. Now here he was, immortal partner to another beautiful witch.
And Alys was beautiful.
 Her skin was a couple of shades lighter than his own deep bronze, since she was the daughter of an African vampire father and a Caucasian witch. Her lean, muscled body was a product of centuries of fighting for the survival of humanity -- and a tendency to forget to eat unless Davon nagged her.
 A riot of gleaming midnight curls sprang from her elegant head, framing a delicate, angular face. Huge eyes of a deep cinnamon brown balanced the swoop of her wide nose and the lush curve of her mouth. Soft, vulnerable lips parted as she laughed at something on her screen, showing the white edges of her teeth.
      God, Davon hungered for that mouth. He’d wanted to kiss her the first time he met her, and he still wanted it ten years later. And he wanted to taste a lot more than her mouth, starting with the smooth length of those golden thighs, revealed by a tiny pair of yellow shorts. A matching silk tank bloused over her pretty breasts, drawing his attention to the hard nipples tenting the thin fabric.
      Davon’s fangs gave another throbbing pulse as his cock hardened. Yeah, no.
      He dragged his gaze away by sheer force of will, focusing his attention on the oak wainscoting that ran around the house’s library. That section of paneling was intricately carved with magical symbols designed to amplify Alys’s magic. Though they’d shared the big Tudor-style mansion for ten years, he was still finding new flourishes in the decor.
      Whenever Alys felt anxious, she conjured something beautiful. The unicorn tapestry that covered one of the library walls had appeared following the last battle with King Bres. Davon’s near death at the hands of a troll resulted in a stained-glass portrait of Merlin. He suspected every statue, rug, and carved ceiling beam in the house owed its existence to post-battle anxiety.
      The whole place was the three-dimensional equivalent of Pinterest page therapy: lovely, whimsical — and ever so slightly OCD.
      Aaand his erection had finally deflated, thank God.
      He blew out a breath in relief. He and Alys didn’t have that kind of fuckbuddy partnership.
      Damn it.
      Mostly to keep his mind off his dick, he asked, “Any word on what Bres is up to?” Nothing could kill an erotic mood quite like a magic-using psychotic who wanted all humans dead.
      Alys looked up, intelligence burning like flame in cinnamon eyes. “The Fomorians have gone quiet. I have a feeling he’s up to som…” Her voice trailed off.
      What looked like a wave of ink flooded Alys’s sclera and irises, drowning her eyes in black. Points of light burst against the darkness, stars igniting in the eternal night. Oh, hell. She was having a vision.
      Though his heart had begun to pound, Davon didn’t move, didn’t do anything to interrupt. Alys was the most powerful seer among the Magekind’s witches. They all got flashes of the future, but no one else saw as clearly. More importantly, she could often predict how to avoid a horrific future, a talent not even Morgana Le Fay had.
      So no, you didn’t interrupt one of Alys’s visions.
      Not that what she learned was always welcome. Sometimes preventing one ugly future would trigger something even worse, so they couldn’t do a damn thing.
      Which didn’t do a lot for her mental state. There was a reason they called her Mad Alys. Davon’s mission in life was making sure that shitty nickname didn’t become a reality.
      He watched her expression, trying to determine whether this one was going to be another one of those situations. At least there were no flickers of terror and despair on her face, though the tightening line of her jaw suggested growing anger.
      A kid must be involved in this. Nothing pissed Alys off like some asshole hurting a child. Often the asshole in question ended up very, very dead by the time she and Davon finished teaching him the error of his ways.
      The blackness drained from Alys’s eyes as if someone had pulled a stopper in her skull, revealing her normal irises. She blinked at him, her gaze a little confused.
      “Alys?” he asked.
      The vague air vanished as her eyes snapped into focus.
“We’ve got a mission.” Surging off the couch as if she’d been launched from a catapult, the Maja flung her arms wide.
      Magic flooded the room in response to her will, rolling over Davon’s body. The foaming wave of sparks condensed into the new suit of armor she’d conjured last week. Its gleaming chest plate, groin protector, gauntlets and boots were intricately engraved with protective spells. Fine scale mail, as light and flexible as his own skin, covered everything the plate didn’t. The suit’s helm looked more futuristic than medieval, with a transparent faceplate designed to allow maximum peripheral vision.
      Davon thoroughly approved. It was much lighter than the old armor, easier to move in, more resistant to magical blasts. Unlike the previous kit, nothing would be able to penetrate it with fang, claw or blade. Not without a hell of a lot of work, anyway.
      A familiar weight hung against his back. He turned his head to see the hilt of his sword protruding over his left shoulder, the blade sheathed in a diagonal scabbard.
      When Davon glanced back, armor had replaced Alys’s shorts and shirt, covering her lean, elegant body in gold plate and scale mail.
      She drew her longsword from its back scabbard and tossed it onto the couch with a soft thump. “I’m going to need something with a little bit more buzz for this job.” She raised both hands, and light blazed between her palms, solidifying into a weapon.
      The two-handed great sword shone with an unearthly blue light, magic spiraling in hair-thin lightning forks from pommel to point and back again. The blade smoked as she held it, filling the air with the smell of ozone.
      “Oh, shit!” Davon took an instinctive step back. “Reaver? We need Reaver for this?”
      She shrugged. “It’s going to get a little dicey.”
      “How dicey? What’s going on?”
      “King Llyr’s kid has been snatched by his own bodyguard. The traitor’s going to hand the boy over to the Fomorians, who are meeting him for the handoff.”
      “Fucking Bres.” She’d been right about the enemy king being up to something.
      “Exactly. Your job is to grab Prince Dearg. I’ll be the big, loud distraction with a side order of flaming death.”
      Davon grinned. “You do play to your strengths.”
      “Yep. I’ll call King Llyr and Arthur, but the vision says it’ll take our backup eight minutes to arrive. If we don’t have Dearg in four, he’s dead. We’ve got zero wiggle room on this mission, ‘Von.” Her gaze burned into his, fierce and level. “Do not leave that boy. Even if I go down, you are to protect him above everything else.”
      He gave her a crisp nod. “I’ll take care of it.”
      Alys smiled. “I know.” She flicked her long fingers, and he felt the communication spell sizzle through the air, off to alert Arthur and the child’s father. “I’ll take this gate, you take the next.”
      She gestured, and a white-hot point appeared in midair. Normally it took a moment for a dimensional gate to stabilize, but this one expanded to human-sizes in a heartbeat. She wasn’t fooling around.
      “Avaaaaalonnnnn!” Howling the Magekind’s battle cry, Alys leaped through the gate, tossing a spell over her shoulder as she went.
      Another blazing spark ignited before Davon’s face, swelling out into the wavering oval that was his own magical doorway. Drawing his sword, he slipped through like a shadow.
      Magic rolled over his skin as his booted feet came down on a thick carpet of leaves. Massive oaks and maples the size of redwoods loomed around him, branches so thickly intertwined, they blocked the star-flecked Mageverse sky.
      A mortal wouldn’t have been able to see a damn thing. Luckily, Davon hadn’t been mortal in eleven years.
      A clearing lay ten yards away, illuminated by Reaver’s blue fire. High, feminine laughter rang out over the sword’s menacing crackle. His partner was giving the Fomos the full Mad Alys floorshow.
      The Fomorians cursed, and something that sounded like a troll roared as hooves thumped on the loamy forest floor.
      Where the hell was Dearg?
Davon edged closer until he glimpsed Alys charging the band of armored warriors, swinging Reaver in crackling arcs. The Fomorians wisely recoiled. He scanned the group, but there was no sign of the Sidhe traitor and his captive. Aside from a centaur and a troll, the other twelve warriors were Fomo, judging by the blue skin, three-fingered hands and the way they walked on their toes like dogs.

      The troll towered over them all, eight feet of massive green shoulders corded with muscle beneath chain mail and enchanted leather armor. Tusks distorted his snarling mouth, thrusting up from his jutting bulldog jaw. He carried a battleax in one huge hand and a kite-shaped shield in the other.
      “Great,” Davon muttered. “She’s picked a fight with the Incredible Hulk and a team of psychotic Smurfs.” 

Thanks so much for checking this out. Hope you'll enjoy it!

Angela Knight