Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Fickle Dragon Publishing
Number of pages: 266
Word Count: 86,837
Late one night, a teenaged witch witnesses her uncle perform the forbidden ritual to summon a demon. His carelessness results in the demon breaking free and being released into the world. Drawn to the young witch's powers like a shark, the demon is only temporarily thwarted when she manages to escape.
Felix Slade is a wizard living far from the family he grew up with. Recently he's been unable to sleep as night after night a beautiful young witch is stalked by a demon in his dreams. Each night, new details are exposed and Felix is soon convinced that it’s up to him to prevent the woman’s demise. The dreams reach a critical point when Felix’s own family is threatened by the violence he’s sure is yet to come.
With his sister and the woman he loves by his side, Felix rushes to face the greatest challenge he’s encountered yet. There is great darkness inside him and he must choose to embrace or reject it in order to face the demon’s evil.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/_mvC7hUd2Lg
Faa Farmstead, just outside Eppy Faire, five years ago
Lace Faa stared out at the waning crescent moon through the wavy glass of the old farmhouse window, wishing for even the slightest breeze. The day's heat refused to dissipate from the humid, summer air which clung to her as she tried unsuccessfully to fall asleep. As if on command, a slight puff of wind rustled the sheer curtains of her second floor window, carrying with it the faint sound of chanting. She strained her ears, curiosity piqued, wondering who might be working her family's hidden craft so late at night. Her gaze shifted to the barn across the gravel driveway. A flickering glow between weathered siding exposed the presence of lit candles and a ritual in progress.
She dropped her legs over the side of the bed and placed her feet in just the right spot to keep the weathered floor from creaking. At the age of sixteen, Lace wasn't fully initiated in the subtle magics of her kin, but moving silently had been drilled into her from an early age. She walked carefully, rolling from heel to toe along the unseen joists that supported the floor, avoiding loose boards as she slipped from bedroom to hallway. The hem of her white cotton nightgown thumped quietly, caressing the wooden stair treads as she descended to the kitchen.
For a moment, she paused at the screen door and considered its habit of screeching when opened. Wetting forefinger and thumb in her mouth, she rubbed them on the old, rusted top hinge. Tall and slender, Lace slipped through the door, opening it only a crack. Relief from the heat held in the old house was welcome as she picked her way gingerly across the gravel. Her eyes focused on the flickering light leaking from the ancient barn.
Lace negotiated the piles of junk that had found their final resting place next to the building and carefully placed both hands on the rough siding, leaning forward to look through one of the many cracks in its façade. Her eye came to rest on the edge of a white circle, drawn on the dirt floor only feet from her position. With her limited view, she glimpsed two black candles burning brightly at the tips of what she suspected was a pentagram, although without full view of the circle, she couldn't know for certain.
"Phezore Gesteriph Feoro, I summon you." The bold voice, her uncle Willum Gordon's, resumed chanting in the ancient language Lace believed was only known by her extended family. Her heart thudded in her chest, recognizing the simple ritual - if only from her reading.
"Oh, Willum," she whispered involuntarily before bringing her hand to her mouth.
"Who's there?" Willum asked loudly from within the barn.
Lace stepped back, startled, catching her heel on a piece of long forgotten machinery. She spun, trying to save herself, but in the poor light her knee came in contact with a stack of precariously balanced wooden crates. She lunged from her position, diving away from the collapsing junk, all pretense of stealth abandoned. The tall door of the barn slid open as she twisted, trying to free her legs.
"Madge?" Willum asked, the low angle of wavering candles illuminating him eerily from behind.
Lace hastily scrawled a rune in the air with her finger, turning away from Willum's position so he wouldn't see the faint sparkling trail as she did. As an initiate of her clan's magic, she'd mastered the one spell that had come easily to her – shadow walk.
Willum stepped from the barn, closing the door behind him. Lace used the noise to her advantage and gained her feet, moving slowly from her original position. Willum turned and stared directly at her, standing stock still – a hunter trying to locate its quarry. Lace froze. She knew him to be cruel when cornered and he would not take kindly to her spying on his ritual. A weak practitioner by family standards, he'd often taken out his frustrations on her. With the provocation of an interrupted ritual, Lace well understood the danger she'd placed herself in.
Willum took a few steps forward, cutting the distance between them in half. Lace breathed slowly, trying to calm her heart, the lack of oxygen demanding deeper breaths. Swiping the air between them, Willum moved toward her. Slowly, she stepped aside, anticipating his movements. Sweat beaded on her forehead as his fingers came within inches of her face.
Copyright – Fickle Dragon Publishing, 2016.
Maggie's ears were filled with the cries of her brother, the slumbering boy wizard. Their fates were intertwined from the day her mother, the mighty sorceress, had locked up their family home and slipped away in the night. Her only instructions to Maggie were that she now bear the responsibility of watching over the child who held so much power.
Unable to ignore his discomfort, Maggie flew to the second floor window of the old farmhouse and tapped on the thin glass. Inside the room she saw the twisted bedclothes winding around his legs as he thrashed. Her attempts to wake him were unsuccessful as his sleep was too deep.
She'd learned long ago that while a child's waking memories might be suppressed, it was another matter entirely to fool the subconscious of one so powerful. For the moment, his sleep was simply fitful, but she recognized the danger the quiet household faced. His latent powers had recently started to awaken and without a guide, he had no chance of learning how to control them.
Her sharp eyes caught the first signs of trouble as a quiet contrail of white smoke wafted up from carpet's edge and she knew the time to act was now. As a crow, she easily sat on the window's ledge, but lacked the strength to open the window.
Diving backwards from the window, Maggie gained speed and sailed around the farmhouse, her eyes spying an open window. Skillfully, she swept into the room, unable to take the necessary time to scout it out. To her relief, she discovered two children, asleep on bunks, snoring quietly as she lit on a bunkbed's steel frame.
Maggie smoothly invoked the magic she had controlled naturally for as long as she could remember and assumed her human form. Hunger gnawed at her as the transformation demanded its payment. Grabbing a too-small robe from the hook on the back of the door, she hurried from the room, trying desperately to translate her crow's memories into directions to young Felix's room.
The smell of smoke finally pointed her to the room her splintered brain couldn’t find. Upon entering, she found a fire already burning the edge of the carpet.
"Felix, wake up." She raced across the room and shook her brother. The sound of the hallway fire alarm pierced the night's quiet.
"Milt. There's fire!" A woman's voice rang out.
"FELIX!" Maggie screamed as fire raged behind her.
"Get the kids!" Maggie recognized Milt's voice as the kindly farmer who'd taken in Felix.
His wife cried out. "The fire is in Felix's room."
To Maggie's relief, young Felix rolled over, slowly waking.
"Who's in there?" Milt called from the door. "Sarah, get out. Break a window and get onto the front porch. Quickly now, girl!" He had mistakenly identified Maggie's narrow form as the girl from whom she'd borrowed the robe.
Maggie jumped to action and pulled up on the double-hung window, pushing her foot into the screen.
"Sarah?" Felix asked, stumbling from bed.
Maggie reached behind and pulled on Felix's hand, dragging him through the open window and onto the roof of the front porch. Unwilling to be discovered, she ran to the edge and jumped off, transforming in mid-fall back to her crow.
The next morning, Maggie looked down from her perch on the phone wire as the car she'd been waiting for arrived. It was always the same. The families had good intentions, but no one needed a problem child. Felix quirked his head up at her, a hint of recognition and curiosity in his eyes as he exited the home, carrying his worn suitcase.
About the Author:
Jamie McFarlane is a graduate of Colorado School of Mines with a Master of Science in Mathematics. An avid reader, tinkerer, woodworker and metal sculptor, Jamie is just as likely to be seen smelting aluminum cans in his garage as he is tacking random, discarded iron objects into a small army of beasties that adorn his home’s landscaping.
Jamie’s writing career began as something of a dare which later turned into a tribute. In his late teens, Jamie was well known as the family story-teller, spinning fanciful yarns about ordinary events, usually with the objective of escaping well-deserved trouble.
One day, his mother, often the target of his mischievous tales, challenged him to commit his words to writing. Jamie promised he would but time passed, as did his beloved mother. In 2014, Jamie made good on his promise and published his first book.
Jamie is the author of a growing library of novels and novellas including the space opera series - Privateer Tales, and the urban fantasy series - Witchy World. Jamie lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with his wife and enjoys spending time with family and friends.
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