When we last left the world of By the Fates, Raven and Ealasaid…well, they’d found themselves in a bit of trouble. I ended By the Fates, Fought on a cliffhanger, fully intending to bring you the last book in the series only a few months later.
And then…life happened. I couldn’t write the story. For a while, I couldn’t get the characters to talk to me. I think they were as upset at me leaving them in a cliffhanger as readers were. Then, I got sick. Then…other things happened.
However, finally, Raven and Ealasaid are about to get their next book. So today, I want to bring you a sneak peek of what’s coming on October 31, 2017. Here’s the prologue of By the Fates, Fulfilled.
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The door to our tower prison swung open with a loud creak, and I tried to stifle my yelp. In my arms, Raven groaned, and his blood seeped into the plain, gray shift I wore.
Eideard’s devil guards had beaten him within an inch of his life, and as he struggled to sit up, to protect me, I swallowed my sob and vowed to do anything I could to protect him.
“I do not need your help,” a feminine voice called from outside the door. “I am merely bringing them fresh linens.”
One of the guards protested. “But the warlock…”
“Is half dead. Stay at your post as Rump ordered.”
Delphine, a stout, older devil woman with kindness in her yellow eyes, shuffled into the room, her arms laden with sheets and blankets. The door closed behind her. “Stay where you are,” she ordered us, “or I will have to call them.”
I nodded, and Raven relaxed in my arms. I’d dragged him over by the hearth, the warmest spot in the room, to try to tend to his wounds, and had torn our sheets into long strips that I used to bind his ribs, his right arm, and two of his fingers.
“I warn you,” Delphine said, “if you destroy another set of sheets, you will not get replacements.”
“If the guards hadn’t broken Raven’s ribs, we’d still have sheets,” I snapped. “Tell Eideard that if Raven dies, I’ll find a way to end my own life. If the king wants his weapon, he’ll make sure Raven lives.”
Delphine made a frustrated sound, then set about making the bed. When she was finished, she glanced up at the blue orb that Eideard’s mage had spelled to watch us at all times. The color had faded to a dark azure hue, which we’d started to suspect meant no one kept watch.
“Shift change,” she said quietly as she rushed over to us. “We have a few minutes.” Pulling a flask from the pocket of her skirt, she yanked off the cork. “Tonic for Raven’s injuries. Drink quickly.”
She held the flask to my mate’s lips, and he struggled to open his eyes. Drink, my love. Please.
His fingers covered mine, and the magic in my wedding ring flared. We both felt the pulse, and I tried to reach Seònaid, my protector. For a moment, I thought I sensed the warmth of her magic, but just as quickly, the power faded away.
“Scry,” Raven whispered once Delphine had pocketed the flask.
I couldn’t. Not without my magic. But perhaps… “Why are you helping us?” I asked.
With another quick peek at the orb, Delphine leaned closer. “I’m a friend, Ealasaid. You don’t know me, but Faolan does.” She opened her palm, and I gasped as I recognized Faolan’s sigil.
Searching Delphine’s worried gaze, I found no deception, only desperation. “Take this to my protector, Seònaid. The smallest bit of magic…tied to me.” I yanked the ring from my finger, then pressed it into her hand. “Tell her where we are.”
Tears shimmered in Delphine’s eyes. “There are spells—powerful binding spells—that cover this whole cursed place. Only Eideard, his mage, and the captain of the Guarda can wield their magic here. The rest of us…we’re all trapped. I’ve tried to leave the castle a dozen times, but I can’t. It’s as if there’s an invisible wall surrounding the grounds.”
“Find a way,” I pleaded. “Or Raven and I— “
“Get away from the prisoners,” a booming voice ordered. “Now.”
The orb glowed brightly, and Delphine scrambled up, scooping a few of the bloody rags littered around us into her arms. “I’m sorry,” she mouthed before she turned and rushed from the room.
“Go, Ealasaid! Run!”
Raven’s weak cry spurred me on, though I could see almost nothing through my tears. Three of Eideard’s devils wrestled him to the ground, and already injured, he couldn’t fight them.
My lungs burned, but I pushed forward, taking the stairs two and three at a time. Six floors below the tower prison, the sound of a dozen sets of boots racing up the stairs halted me. “Donaigh!”
I couldn’t fail. Not with Eideard’s last threat hanging over me—over us. Raven’s beating the previous day, along with Delphine’s confirmation that we were not watched at shift change, allowed us this one chance at freedom. And Raven had sacrificed himself so I could try to escape.
I ducked into some sort of office, though the dust and cobwebs spoke to its disuse. A window. Perhaps…if I could break the glass.
The single chair in the room weighed more than I did, and in my weakened state, bleeding from a dozen cuts, I could barely move the behemoth. I sank to the floor with a sob. No. Please. There has to be another way.
I yelped when the door banged open and scampered under the desk. Tucking my knees up to my chin, I prayed.
I knew that voice. Delphine.
“Over here,” I said as I crawled out, leaving smears of blood on the stone floor.
Her yellow-eyed gaze flitted from me to the window to the chair and back again. “Move.”
“It’s too heavy.”
The devil woman’s lips pressed together in a tight smile. “Not for me. I do not have much magic here, but I have enough to do this.”
Delphine transformed before my eyes. Growing taller, broader, and more muscular, even her cheekbones seemed to widen. Her face…something familiar tickled the back of my mind, but before I could figure out who she reminded me of, she grabbed the chair and threw it against the glass.
The entire room seemed to echo with the shattering of the window, and she grabbed me around the waist. I cried out at her touch, the total lack of warmth in her arms.
“I’m sorry, Ealasaid. You are the Jewel.” Her voice hardened. “You must survive. This is the only way. Run. As far and as fast as you can. Then find Faolan, tell him what the mage has done, the spells that keep us prisoner here.” Delphine carried me to the edge of the window, then angled a glance to the snowbanks below.
“Raven!” I protested, struggling against her hold.
Her yellow eyes met mine, and for a moment, they softened into a light gray. Her voice changed, higher, more feminine. “I will protect him with my life. I swear it.”
Before I could decide if I believed her, she whispered a spell in Ancient Delvian, then threw me out the window.
“Four months. The Jewel has eluded us at every turn. She’s uneducated. Without her mate. Can you explain why she’s so difficult to capture?” I paced my lover’s chambers and paused every few steps to glare at Rump, the captain of my Guarda.
Rump withered under my scrutiny—or perhaps it was because of Brandanna, my consort, looming behind me. The mage stood more than a head taller than me and had tapped into the magic deep within the world’s icy core to wield spells more powerful than any witch, human, or devil had ever seen.
Dampening spells surrounded the castle, affecting every magical being who set foot within the high stone walls. Everyone other than the three of us. Rump and I carried talismans that allowed us to wield our magic. Brandanna, of course, was unaffected by her own spells.
“Well?” I advanced on Rump, my magic coiling inside me like a storm, aching to unleash all of my anger and fear on the little devil.
“I believe she’s far in the west, my liege. As you know, our power greatly weakens there. The heat…”
“You are weak,” Brandanna muttered. “Are you afraid you’ll wither like a delicate, unwatered flower in the sun?”
“N-no, my lady.” Rump cringed, expecting the mage to spell him. “But she is at her most powerful there. As are her companions. The mind-mage halfling in particular.”
“Seònaid Buille,” I spat. “The Jewel’s protector. I knew I should have stopped the Council from seeking her out. Her mind-mage magic would still be bound, and she’d be useless against us. We would have captured the Jewel when my brother kidnapped her mate months ago, and this whole mess would have been over. What of the others? The devil king, Glas? Moire Cráig, Ian MacAsgaill, Faolan Ruadh. Have they been found?”
Rump cleared his throat. “My spies believe King Glas is dead. No one has heard from the man since the battle on the docks. The Council is protecting the Jewel, though we came close to capturing Cráig and McAsgaill outside of Farvach two weeks ago.”
“And you failed because…?” My patience was running thin. As chains rattled from a small alcove off of my consort’s bedchamber, a spark of fiery magic arced across my knuckles. Shite. Rump stared at my hands until I willed the magic I’d inherited from my filthy witch mother away and conjured an icy blast that shoved Rump against the wall. “I’m done with your excuses. Out of my sight. Send another patrol to Klantyre and one to Breen. Find one of them. Any of them. Then torture them until they reveal the Jewel’s location.”
Rump scrambled up and rubbed the back of his head. “Aye, my liege. I will report to you again in three days.”
As the door to Brandanna’s rooms slammed shut, I ached to hit something. Deep in the bowels of the castle, the Jewel’s mate languished. After the witch’s escape, I’d passed many a day delighting in his torture. Today, I chose a different target for my anger.
The human lay on his side in the small alcove, twitching every few breaths. His eyes were closed. I angled a vicious kick to his stomach and he convulsed as the force drove the air from his lungs.
Cool hands stroked down my shoulders as my lover’s earthy scent wrapped around me. “I must pull him out of the Mists for a few minutes. Without water, he’ll die.”
“Let him. He served his purpose.” I aimed for his thigh this time. The dull crack of the human’s femur breaking caused my lip to curl into a half-smile. “King Conall is no more. Without a leader, the humans will fall into line easily. I have no use for this…thing.”
Brandanna huffed as she knelt next to the naked, emaciated body and rested her hand on his bruised, scarred chest. “You are lucky the snáthaid helps mend his injuries. I have plans that require the former king—his face, at least. His mind now belongs to me. We still have to identify the imposter who can seal the Mists forever. He will help us.”
“You are chasing a myth.” Part of me desperately wanted to believe her, but my father had searched for this legendary devil his entire life. When he’d beaten me for the final time and I’d snapped, calling upon my mother’s power to set his body aflame, he’d used his dying breath to warn me that the imposter would be my undoing.
Brandanna muttered the Ancient Delvian words that would bring the human out of the Mists. Created centuries ago, the Mists could drive a man insane in mere hours. The human at my feet had spent months there.
“P-p-please, my…lady,” the man whimpered. “I…will…do any…thing you…wish. D-don’t…send me…back there.”
“Silence,” she said with a wave of her hand. The human tried to speak, but his lips moved with the shadows of words. Brandanna held out her hand and I passed her a flagon. She poured the water down the man’s throat. He choked and sputtered at first, but then drank greedily until she rose, taking the life-giving liquid with her.
“You are no one,” she said as she towered over him, her magic swirling around her. “You ask for nothing. Until you learn this, you’re going back into the Mists.”
The man cried and trembled, and I almost felt sorry for him. But he’d come very close to ruining my plans, so I held my tongue as she sent him back to the nightmare realm.
“I will never trust him,” I said as she straightened his leg so it would heal.
She rose, drew the drapes that hid the prisoner from view, then slipped her arms around my waist. “Do you trust me?” Her yellow gaze flicked to mine. I had to fight not to cower under the power of her stare. I was king, and only I knew the spells that would allow the driogaire to transfer the Jewel’s power to me, but Brandanna’s power far exceeded mine.
“Aye. You are the only one I trust.”
She brushed her lips against mine and cupped my cock through my robes. “We will find the witch soon, my liege. And once you have fulfilled your destiny, we will rule this world together. Forever.”
I carried her to her bed, and as her gown fell open, I prayed to the Fates that she spoke the truth.