Order Destiny for/from:
Other Books in the League of Illusion Series
Read an Excerpt from Destiny:
The darkness of the night hid most things but as Sebastian made his way down the cobbled street by the Whistling Pig tavern, he could still make out the two men crouching behind a wagon. They were thieves, most likely, or why would two grown men hide in the wake of another’s passing? Drink probably spurred them on. By the sounds coming from inside the wooden building, the party was in full swing.
On another night, Sebastian might have joined in the revelry, but he had other pressing matters to attend to. He sensed something colossal was about to happen and he needed to prepare.
He’d been having dreams of his brother Rhys lately. Long, strange dreams of a man grown, not the one he’d last seen five years prior. It could mean only one thing: Rhys had found a way to open the portal.
Maybe he could finally go home. Five years was a long time to be stuck in an alternate world without family, without a sense of who he truly was.
As Sebastian neared the wagon, his hand went to the hilt of the short sword in the sheath fastened around his waist. It was something he’d forged himself in the smithy.
“Lads, you best be staying where you are,” he said to the crouched men. “I’ve not time to play with you this evening.”
The two popped up from their hiding spot and came around the wagon.
“Yer sure do talk fancy for a blacksmith,” one of them said.
Sebastian recognized the men from around the village. Drunkards and bullies the both of them. The one who spoke was Tomas. Sebastian had dealt with him one time before when the lout had been harassing the healer’s daughter, Drea Blairwood. One late night, he’d dragged him into an alleyway and made sure Tomas never even looked at Drea again. Now he was just out robbing folk.
“I suggest you boys go back inside the tavern and have another drink.”
“Or else what, blacksmith?” Tomas glanced at his friend and they both sniggered.
Shaking his head, Sebastian moved on past the two men. He didn’t have time for this kind of distraction. He had to prepare for his brother’s arrival. He was becoming more and more certain every second that it was going to happen that night. He could feel it in the air. A monumental change was approaching.
Tomas stepped in front of him, scratching at the scruff on his chin. “You forgot to pay the tithe to pass this way. How much was it again, Martin?”
The smaller man rubbed at his bulbous nose. “Five silver.”
“That’s right, five silver.” Tomas poked Sebastian in the chest. “Pay the tithe or face the consequences.”
Sebastian took in the two men, sizing them up. He could’ve easily conjured a spell which would’ve taken them both out with one powerful blast of magic. But he refrained from using his power. Since arriving in this world some five years ago, he could count on one hand the number of times he’d used his magic. And it had never been against someone. He’d learned too well the power he had. It was the reason he’d ended up in this place to begin with. To atone for his misuse.
He considered paying the men the five silver to avoid an inevitable fight, but five silver was a lot of money to him in this world. Back in the other world, in nineteenth century London, he’d been a rich man, the heir to the Davenport fortune. But here he was a simple blacksmith who worked his fingers bloody for one silver piece a day.
So, no, he wasn’t going to give these men anything except for maybe the steel kiss of his blade.
With one fluid motion, he had his sword unsheathed and pressed to Tomas’s throat. The man’s eyes bugged out.
“Whoa, now. Is that really necessary? We were just messing with yer. No harm done there, blacksmith.”
Martin backed up with his hands out. “It was his idea. I just want another drink is all.”
Sebastian slowly lowered his blade and took a distancing step away from Tomas. “Go get your drink then.”
Tomas let out the breath he was holding. With Martin, he made his way across the road toward the tavern, leaving Sebastian watching them go, his hand still wrapped around the sword hilt.
They were just at the door when the bells in the church tower started to clang. The sound echoed throughout the village. The town crier ran down the road toward Sebastian, nearly tripping on his own feet.
“The morrigan! The morrigan is coming!” He grabbed onto Sebastian. His eyes were wild, fear making him unfocused.
“Run! Hide!” He let go and continued on his way, running and yelling. He looked back once. “Don’t hide near anything metal! It’ll find you then!”
The smithy. He had to go back and make sure Claude, his old metallurgy master, wasn’t lying drunk anywhere near the smelt or the finished metal products. Claude had a tendency to drink while he worked, especially on the secret contraptions and devices he thought no one knew about. It would make sense for the morrigan to go there first, since they had the most metal.
Tomas and Martin had already ducked into the tavern. All the way down the street to the village square, Sebastian could hear doors being barricaded and window shutters snapping shut. He was obviously on his own to save the smithy.
He ran back up the road from where the town crier had come. The smith was just on the edge of the village proper, as was his own small house. He hoped he could get there in time.
Two years ago—the last time the morrigan had come—he hadn’t been in the village. But he had heard the stories.
They were wild tales of a three-headed monster made mostly of metal that stood taller than the bell tower. The songs in the tavern sang of eyes of fire and the ominous sound of clanking limbs as it moved. The tales came from the healer’s daughter, Drea Blairwood, since she’d seen the beast when it had killed her little brother many years ago.
At first Sebastian had been skeptical about the accuracy of such accounts but he’d known magic since he was a young boy and had seen elves and Druids and strange mechanical devices that defied logic, so he knew such things existed, despite being outside the realm of possibility.
He also knew the myth of the morrigan from his schooling days. It was said that the morrigan was a war goddess waiting for her time to escape her realm and wreak havoc on the mortal world, plunging it into complete chaos. Sebastian guessed the portal he’d opened all those years ago just happened to be the one she existed in.
It was an elven legend, part of their religion and he’d learned about it during his lessons. It had been important to his father that he learn about all the races of people that he might one day govern as heir to the head seat of the League of Illusion. A position Sebastian had always dreaded receiving. It was not his dream to lead, but his father’s.
As he neared the edge of town and heard loud clanging and the slow chug chug of a steam-powered machine, the stories appeared to be as real as the hand in front of his face. The sounds intensified the closer he got to the smithy, yet he didn’t think it was right in the village. Just outside, coming from the Black Woods.
Sebastian pushed open the door to the shop. “Claude!” It was so dark inside, he couldn’t see a thing. The man could easily be passed out in some corner and he’d never see him.
Since he had no time to find and light one of Claude’s crazy light inventions, Sebastian rubbed his hands together frantically against his better judgment. Within seconds he created a glowing green ball of witchlight. He released it and it floated up to hover next to his face. When he moved, it moved with him.
The sounds were getting louder and there was a slight vibration under his feet, as if the ground itself was shaking in fear of the approaching danger.
He searched the smith, scanning each corner thoroughly until he found Claude passed out drunk in the far corner, his face buried in the pile of hay reserved for the mule that turned the crank of the smelter.
“Claude!” He grabbed the man and rolled him over, which was no small feat considering the man was twice his girth.
He bolted straight up. “What?”
“We need to get out now. The morrigan is coming.”
“What?” he frowned. “Don’t you play with me, boyo.”
“I’m not playing. Listen.”
There was a clunk and a clang of moving metal parts just outside the smith walls. The ground no longer just vibrated but actually shook with each step the morrigan made.
Claude was on his feet and stumbling for the door. Sebastian was right behind him. Just as they made it outside, the roof was torn off. Claude ran screaming into the nearby clump of trees. “You can’t have my secret stash! I’m sorry!”
Sebastian stayed, wanting to get a good long look at the monster. He could barely believe it existed, let alone loomed in front of him. His father and brothers would be chuffed to hear about this. He hoped to be able to share the story one day. Jovan, for sure, would be envious, as he’d always longed for dangerous adventures.
Crouching along one wall, Sebastian crept forward. His witchlight stayed with him, casting an eerie glow over the ground. He thought about snuffing it out so as to not draw the morrigan’s attention, but he needed light if he was going to see it. It was too dark otherwise. It was times like these that he longed for the gas lamps along the street in front of his apartment in London.
He could hear the morrigan rummaging around in the smithy, probably searching for large pieces of metal. What it was using it for, he could only guess at. The whirr of several moving parts got louder the closer he crept. His curiosity was too great—he had to see the beast for himself.
Before he could jump out to approach it, pain exploded down the back of his head and he collapsed to the ground. He saw a dainty bare foot in his path just as everything went black.