Scent of Magic Page 59

Fury burned deep inside Kerrick. The branches of all the nearby trees shook with his anger. The tribesmen cried out in alarm, ducking and covering their heads with their arms. Except for Noak. He stared at Kerrick as if waiting for him to break his word. Kerrick wouldn’t. The branches stilled as he wilted.

He’d save his strength for later. If they harmed Danny, he’d bring the trees down on them all.


I followed Noelle outside my tent. Four soldiers waited to escort me to Jael. No one said a word as we walked. Instead of going to her tent, they led me to the manor house. Noelle disappeared. Still surrounded by the guards, I sat in one of the parlors, nervously waiting. The minutes turned to hours, and the sun rose. After a while, I dozed in the chair.

Tohon’s laughter followed me as I ran  through the dark corridors of his castle. Sweat poured from my skin as I  flew around the corners in a complete panic.

“I’m coming for you, my dear,” he  called.

The soles of my feet stung, and pain  stabbed my side, but I didn’t slow.

“You can’t escape.”

I turned left and slammed into a wall of  the dead. They grabbed me. The feel of their cold flesh sickened me as I  shuddered in horror. Caught in their trap, I couldn’t move. They turned me  so I faced Tohon.

Flushed with anger, Tohon slapped  me.

I woke with a jolt. My right cheek burned with pain. But I didn’t have time to interpret my dream. In the hallway, Jael barked orders and discussed plans, but when she entered the room, she waved everyone out, including my guards. From the fire that burned in her eyes, I guessed she didn’t want anyone to witness my murder. I jumped to my feet.

She studied me for a moment. “I’m not quite sure what to think about you, Avry. Are you a miracle, a liar, an oath-breaker, a traitor or a spy?” She held up a hand. “Don’t answer. I already decided that you’re all of them in one package. Impressive. Very impressive.”

“I can explain.”

“Oh, I’m sure you have plenty of excuses. I have no desire to hear them, but I do need to decide what I’ll do with you. My instincts tell me to kill you now before you become a bigger problem.”

Fear curled in my stomach. I braced for her attack.

“However, as Sergeant Irina you have made quite the impact, both good and bad. Your disappearance would cause some ill will, and I’m sure that brat Ryne knows who you really are and would make a stink.” She paused. “Plus, we’ll need your healing magic once Tohon strikes. Did you forget the promise you made to my mother-in-law?”

“No. I said I’d return to help, and I’ve been training your soldiers since I’ve arrived.”

She laughed. “Estrid meant your help in the infirmary.”

“And she will get it as soon as the fighting starts. You can’t deny that I’ve been an asset to your army.”

“Regardless, you’re working in the infirmary as of now. You’re also under house arrest. I’ll have Noelle fetch your belongings and tell your lieutenant you’ve been reassigned.”

I was in midprotest when she pulled the air from my lungs in one quick gesture. Fighting to stay conscious, I used my magic to counter hers and was able to take a few breaths. Until she increased her power. My legs gave out, and I flopped back in the chair.

“You’re not strong enough, and Kerrick isn’t here to help you.” She tapped her fingers on her full lips. “I’m tempted to finish this, just to upset Kerrick, but your death would cause problems for me right now.”

I grabbed the chair’s arms to keep from sliding to the floor. Black-and-white spots swarmed in my vision.

Jael leaned close. “Don’t ever relax. There will be a point where it won’t matter if you live or die, so I’d suggest you do everything you can to keep me happy.”

The desire to wipe that superior smirk off her face swelled. I gathered all my energy and concentrated on breathing, managing to suck in a couple lungfuls of air before she shut me off.

“This isn’t making me happy,” she said.

My grip slipped. I slid to the floor. The need to breathe burned in my chest.

“Jael, stop.” Estrid’s commanding voice filled the room.

Yes, stop. But the encroaching blackness wouldn’t stop.

* * *

A magical touch woke me, sending me a rush of energy. Kerrick! I opened my eyes and met Flea’s concerned gaze. Disappointment pierced my soul, and I squeezed my eyes shut and rode out the wave of heartache.

“Avry, are you all right?” Flea asked in a high-pitched squeak.

Once again I looked at him. He cradled my head and shoulders in his lap. His fingers pressed on my neck as if he’d been feeling for a pulse. Voices argued from somewhere behind him.

“I’m fine. It’s just... Flea!”


My cry silenced the others. I glanced over his shoulder. Estrid, Jael and Ryne stared at me. Not wanting to share my realization about Flea with Estrid and Jael, I said, “How did you know I was here?”

He blushed. “I...uh...had a bad dream. You were in trouble and well...I—”

“He woke me up and insisted we come here,” Ryne said. “And a good thing, too, or she would have killed you.” He glared at Jael.

“That was not my intention,” she replied.

“And just what was—”

“It doesn’t matter,” Jael snapped. “Avry’s mine.” She glanced at Estrid. “She’s ours. She made a promise to return after healing you and work for us in the infirmary. She’s an oath-breaker, and I was exercising my right to punish her.”

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