Scent of Magic Page 84

“My father. That is why he’s our leader. Only those touched with power can lead.”

“Does Olave have magic, as well?”

Noak scowled. “No. His tribe is different.”

Kerrick considered. “Then how can he challenge your father?”

“When he marries my sister, he will control her power. She’s been touched by summer.”

“And she’ll let him?” Kerrick couldn’t mask his surprise.

“She has no choice. When they marry, they will be bound during the ceremony. This allows him to...use her power despite her wishes.”

“Is that how it works for all your people?”

“No. Only those who have been touched by one of the seasons.”

“So you would—”

“Yes. Only if my wife does not have power. If she has been touched, we would be able to use each other’s power equally. It is the ideal situation.”

“Is Rakel happy about the arrangement?”

“It does not matter. It is done.”

Kerrick marveled at Noak’s cold response. “If your father knows Olave will challenge him, why would he promise his daughter to him?”

“For our people. We are divided and need to be one. Father will either prove his right as leader of all, or die, proving Olave is the one to lead us.”

“Why do you need to join together?” Kerrick asked.

Noak scanned the forest, but his gaze grew distant. “We’ve endured too many harsh winters in the Vilde Lander, and my people can no longer survive on our own.”

That would explain why they were on the warpath. “My people are also struggling to survive. If you’re willing to share resources with Olave, then why not share with us?”

Noak stopped and turned to him. He huffed with amusement. “And who are you to offer such a thing?”

Ah. Kerrick considered but decided Noak would more likely kill him than try to ransom him. “I’m Prin...” No. It was time to face the truth. “I’m King of Alga Realm.”

If Noak was impressed, he didn’t show it. “Your people forced us off our land. We will not share.”

“That happened a long time ago. I had no part in it, nor did my people. I’m not going to apologize for the decisions made by my forefathers. But I can offer you land of your own where no one can chase you away again. In exchange for peace.”

“And I am supposed to trust—”

“I would give my word.”

“Why would you do such a thing?”

“To stop the killing.” He gestured to Danny, who hadn’t said a word the entire time. “So he can grow up, find love and have a family.”

“Weak sentiments. It is why you lost.”

Kerrick shook his head. Why did he even bother? The tribes were looking for revenge. But when they crossed the Nine Mountains, they might view his offer differently. Especially if Tohon and his army of the dead waited on the other side.

Letting out a breath, Kerrick concentrated on finding the plants, using his magic to discern the location of a few. They spent the day gathering leaves and roots. By twilight he stumbled with exhaustion. Danny grabbed his hand. A zip of energy flowed up his arm. Avry had been able to share her strength with him, but he thought it had been an anomaly. Perhaps it was just a part of the healing magic.

When he felt a little better, he released Danny’s hand. He didn’t want the boy to use all his energy. They returned to the library after full dark. Lantern light blazed from the windows. That was the first clue something was wrong.

Inside, Noak’s father, Canute, and Olave waited with a dozen armed men. Another clue.

“Where is she?” Olave demanded.

Kerrick thought he referred to Avry. But the man had addressed Noak.

“Rakel is in seclusion as is proper,” Noak said.

“Not anymore. She is gone,” Canute said.

“Escaped?” Kerrick asked.

Olave glared. “Not without help.” His tone dripped with accusation.

“I would not aid her,” Noak said. “It is not proper.”

“Then she has been taken by another suitor,” Canute said.


I stood and fidgeted with the sleeves of the long beaded pink gown that had been Jael’s, feeling na**d without my weapons. I had surrendered my throwing knives and stiletto to one of Tohon’s soldiers that morning. It had taken them all day to collect and pile the army’s weapons into wagons, which then disappeared.

Estrid’s servants had been frantic to prepare a suitable feast and decorate the grand dining room. Word had just arrived that Tohon’s procession approached. Torches lit the path up to the manor house, and the invited “guests” lined the steps, waiting for his arrival.

The wind pressed the silky material against my legs. I kept my arms down at my sides despite the shivers that raced along my skin. My fingers curled into fists to keep my hands from shaking. Noelle’s injury throbbed in my head. Christina had pulled my hair back and arranged it to cover the gash.

As Tohon’s horse stepped into view, I focused on the single hope I held on to. When I had recovered from the blinding pain from her head wound, I had lain in bed thinking about all that had happened in the past couple of days.

My thoughts had snagged on my dream with Kerrick and Flea. Kerrick’s presence had been pure wishful longing. The jail had been the same one he’d rescued me from ages ago. Or so it had felt. More had happened to me in the past three seasons than the three years before.

Prev Next