Order Prophecy for/from:
Other Books in the League of Illusion Series
Read an Excerpt from Prophecy:
Rhys Davenport looked down at the turbulent water of the Thames River and shivered. He knew how cold the water was, as he’d been catapulted into it not that long ago. He should’ve known better than to wear his best outer coat for this little venture. “Have I told you how much I despise you right now?”
His companion Percy—Lord Effington to some—was balancing on the bridge edge beside him. “Yes, three times already, but it’s really not my fault.”
“Whose fault is it then?”
“Theirs.” Percy gestured to the two unsavory men standing behind them with pistols aimed at their backs.
“Hmm, I suppose, but I’m sure it was your inability to stay quiet that led these men to us.”
“How was I supposed to know there was going to be an alarm around the case?”
“Common sense, Percy. It is a priceless artifact.”
Percy just sniffed. “Well, I’m sorry. I’m not your brother, the thief.”
Nor am I. But Rhys didn’t say it out loud. It was good of Percy to come along on his little foray into the criminal arts. He supposed he should have waited until Jovan was back in London but they didn’t have that kind of time. The solstice was only a month away and they weren’t any closer to finding Sebastian. Jovan would’ve been proud of their burglary skills—until the alarm had gone off and they’d been chased on foot by the two armed men now holding them hostage.
“Enuf squawking,” one of the men said. “Hand it over.”
“Hand what over?” Rhys asked, trying not to let the wind push him off the ledge. He really didn’t want to go for another swim in the river.
“The map. We know you stole it from the judge.”
The men were well-informed. They were most likely working for the sorcerer Darin Hawthorne, who preferred his dirty work to be done by dirty people. And these two reeked. Rhys could still smell them even up on the bridge’s ledge.
“Whatever Hawthorne is paying you, I’ll double it,” Rhys offered.
One of the men’s hands shook so much, his pistol trembled a little as he obviously thought about the offer.
But the other man, the uglier and meaner-looking one, wasn’t having it. “No deal. Hawthorne’s helping me mum out of the noose. You can’t buy that.”
Rhys had to agree, that wasn’t something he could pay for. Hawthorne did have a lot of powerful men, law men, in his pocket.
Percy looked at him. “Now what?”
“Now hold still.”
Percy stood ramrod straight, his eyes wide, probably imagining all sorts of bad things happening. It wasn’t often Rhys used magic, but when he did, it often ended up with something big and bad occurring.
Concentrating hard, Rhys twirled his wrists, his fingers moving as if he were forming something with clay. Which he supposed wasn’t too far off the mark. He was creating, just not with something as ordinary as clay. Magic was much more malleable.
“Quit yer stalling and give us the map. I don’t want to shoot you, but I will.”
Rhys ignored the threat and continued to twist his hands, gathering more and more magic to him, his work near complete.
Percy shuffled closer to him, careful not to misstep and plummet off the bridge. “I don’t think these men have much patience left.”
“Hey!” one of the men hollered. “Stop your conspiring and give us the map. This is your last chance.”
Rhys squeezed his eyes shut and pushed the last of his energy into his creation. He was about to flick his fingers to release his illusion when Percy bumped into him. His eyes snapped open as he felt his magic go.
“Dammit.” Rhys looked over his shoulder.
“What?” Percy did the same. “What did you do?”
There was a thundering growl from the shadows. Both men flinched and turned toward the sound.
“What was that?”
The growl came again. This time it was doubled, two distinct rumblings.
“Get ready to run,” Rhys whispered to Percy.
More growls came. Louder. More menacing. The two men took steps backward, their weapons trembling in the hands.
“Are them dogs?”
“Sort of,” Rhys mumbled under his breath.
The animal stepped into a slot of moonlight. It was a dog—but one with two heads and two gaping mouths lined with razor-sharp teeth. Saliva dripped between pulled-back jowls.
He’d meant to create two large menacing dogs, but when Percy bumped him, his magic got a bit twisted. The effect was the same though. The two men were afraid and distracted, giving him and Percy an opportunity to escape.
“Run!” Rhys shouted, as he turned and ran down the length of the bridge, still balancing on the ledge. He hoped Percy was right behind him but he didn’t stop to check.
Two shots rang out, the sound echoing off the stone. It wouldn’t be long before the two men figured out that the two-headed hound was just an illusion and not about to rip their throats out. Then the shots would be meant for him and Percy.
Rhys risked a glance over his shoulder to make sure his companion was close behind. He was, but another shot rang out, causing him to stumble. Percy’s foot slipped off the stone and his arms were pinwheeling backward.
Blindly leaping to the side, Rhys grasped Percy’s arm before he plummeted into the river below. Sprawled across the bridge’s ledge, he struggled to keep hold on his friend. Percy was a portly man and Rhys, although tall and wiry, didn’t have the muscle and poundage to hold on for too long.
He reached down with his other hand to help Percy scramble up the side. “Grab my hand.”
Legs dangling, Percy flung his arm upward, stretching as far as he could toward Rhys’s hand. His fingertips just brushed his palm.
“Again!” Rhys commanded, twisting his shoulder so he could reach down even further.
This time Percy was able to grasp his hand and Rhys began to pull him up. But he wasn’t strong enough. He could barely continue to hold on. Percy’s hand slipped a little from his.
“I’m slipping.” There was real terror in his voice. “I’ll die. I can’t swim.”
“Just hang on.” Rhys’s arms quivered from the strain of holding that much weight. He had to try something. He could not let Percy fall. Then he spotted something in the distance, and he smiled.
“Why are you smiling?” Percy asked. “You’re going to drop me aren’t you?”
“No, just hang on.” If he could time it right, Rhys could drop Percy right on top of a barge that was chugging downstream. “When I say go, let go of my hand.”
“What?” Percy shook his head. “You want me to die?”
“It’s all right, Percy. Look.”
Eyes wide, Percy glanced at the boat inching its way toward the bridge. “You’ve got to be joking.”
“Just get ready.”
By the time the barge was near the bridge, Rhys’s arms were numb from fatigue. He couldn’t move them even if he wanted to. “One, two…”
“No. I don’t want to die!” Percy wailed, kicking his legs.
“Don’t kill me.”
“Three.” And with that, Rhys unfurled his hands, letting Percy drop.
He howled all the way down but safely landed with an audible oomph on the canopied deck of the steam barge below.
Even though his arms felt like sausage links, all wobbly and weak, Rhys pulled himself up. He turned and dashed across the bridge to the other ledge. Shots rang out as he ran. Bits of stone peppered his face when a stone was struck right beside his head. The two men must have figured out the dog was not real and they’d been duped.
Rhys leaped up onto the ledge, then kicked off, praying under his breath that he’d timed it right. If not, he was going to get cold and wet any second now. Either that or be dashed upon a rocky embankment he’d not anticipated.
Dumb luck prevailed and he landed on the same, now-torn canvas that Percy had landed on mere moments ago. His feet hit first, crumpling him to his knees. He was going to feel that something awful in the morning. Poor Percy was still lying there on his back, moaning when Rhys rolled in beside him.
“I hate you,” his friend groaned.
“At least you’re alive.”
“Remind me never to agree to another of your silly adventures.”
Rhys didn’t respond, because he knew there were several more of these silly ventures ahead if he wanted to find his brother Sebastian and save the League of Illusion.