Spell slinger a fantasy.., p.1
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       Spell Slinger: A Fantasy Romance (Skeleton Key), p.1

           K.N. Lee
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Spell Slinger: A Fantasy Romance (Skeleton Key)


  Skeleton Key

  Copyright 2016 K.N. Lee

  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons

  Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0

  Unported License.

  Attribution — You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any

  way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

  Noncommercial — You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

  No Derivative Works — You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.

  Inquiries about additional permissions should be directed to: info@thebooknymph.com

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

  www.knlee.com

  Spell Slinger/ K.N. Lee. – 1st Ed.

  Dedicated to my father.

  Table of Contents

  CHAPTER ONE

  CHAPTER TWO

  CHAPTER THREE

  CHAPTER FOUR

  CHAPTER FOUR

  CHAPTER FIVE

  CHAPTER SIX

  CHAPTER SEVEN

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  CHAPTER NINE

  CHAPTER TEN

  CHAPTER ELEVEN

  CHAPTER TWELVE

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN

  CHAPTER FOURTEEN

  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

  CHAPTER NINETEEN

  About the Author

  Titles by K.N. Lee

  MORE GREAT READS FROM K.N. LEE

  CHAPTER ONE

  FEAR THREATENED TO CRIPPLE YARA as she passed the servants tending the Torington Orchard.

  “Good morning, my lady,” one of the workers said, bowing her bonnet-covered head.

  She feigned a smile, and yet her heart pounded inside her chest as she hid the blood that stained her bodice by letting her long white hair hang over her narrow shoulders.

  Be brave, Yara thought as she wrung her shaking hands.

  "Hero,” she spoke to the wind. “Please get me out of here. I’m serious this time.”

  Yara broke into a run toward the stables, no longer caring who she vexed by her sudden action. She didn’t have much time. The body would surely be found at any moment.

  The sun warmed her cold cheeks as she looked to the sky.

  Come on, Hero. Hurry.

  She grabbed her long navy skirts into her fists as her feet pounded the stone path that led to the front gate. Soldiers stood guard on either end of the locked gate, their swords secure at the waist.

  A squawking sound came from the distance and Yara snatched off her wedding band, tossing it into the bushes that lined the road.

  Her heart thumped in her chest as one of the soldiers glanced her way. He narrowed his eyes at her. “Where are you going?”

  She ignored him, keeping her attention fixed on that gate. They’d hang her if she ever got caught, but she had to risk it.

  There was no way she could stand by and let her father be executed. Life as a concubine was over for Yara. It was time to stop running from her destiny.

  To be a Spell Slinger.

  A grin came to her face, despite the tears that trailed down her cheeks as a tall young man dressed in all black appeared outside of the gate, his pale skin almost translucent as he held a hand out toward her.

  Black hair that covered his dark eyes. Clean shaven, and baby-faced, Hero was her greatest friend, one that would risk his life to save hers.

  She chewed her lip, quickening her pace as she prayed that they would both survive this.

  “Ay,” the guard shouted, drawing his sword. “Stop right now, miss. We don’t want to have to hurt you.”

  Yara ignored them. She needed every bit of concentration to do what she’d been planning for the past few days. She would have served her time in this horrid place for all eternity if they’d have left her family alone.

  The king wanted to abolish magic, and no one could stop him.

  Except Yara.

  She gritted her teeth and with a burst of energy shot outside of her body, a blue aura encircling her as her soul unfused.

  Hero cracked a grin. “Good girl,” he whispered, a black mist shooting from his hand and reaching for her like a raging wind.

  The soldiers stumbled backward, having never seen such a display of raw power.

  As if encased in ice, Yara’s entire body went cold as her soul left it behind. Her body was indeed frozen in place as her consciousness rode her soul out of the magic-bonded gate. No human, shifter, or sorcerer could exit that gate.

  But, a Meta could.

  Born half sorceress, and half Meta, Yara could do many things that the world had never even heard of.

  As Hero pulled her soul to his open palm, she felt safe and warm, having shed her human form.

  Once through the gate, he tucked her soul into his body and shifted into a crow.

  Soon, Torington Estate would be far behind them, and Yara would need to create herself a brand new body.

  CHAPTER TWO

  YARA NEVER EXPECTED TO BE sold off to the county sheriff as his tenth concubine. At twenty-one, she was broken mentally and emotionally, and now without a father.

  Too late.

  Tears welled in her eyes as she looked at her father’s body, hanging from the fir tree in front of her family’s mountain cabin.

  At least they didn't burn him.

  She glanced at Hero as he waited up in a tree. His crow form was a blessing when outlawed in seven counties.

  Yara was thankful for such a loyal friend. He’d rescued her and kept her safe while she summoned the energy to recreate her old body.

  "If you'd have come back just yesterday, you might have caught him before the execution," a familiar voice called from beside her a few feet away.

  Yara wiped my face dry with her sleeve and turned to see Pae standing there, her arms folded across her green dress.

  "I told your our time's running up. I suspect magic will be no more within a few years time," she said, her white hair lifting with the crisp fall breeze.

  Though she was fifteen years older than Yara, they could have been twins.

  Silver eyes that matched Yara’s looked her up and down.

  Though Yara was fully dressed in leather pants tucked into her boots, and a black shirt with a hood that covered her bright hair, she felt naked under her gaze.

  Always had.

  “If you hadn’t of sold me, I could have protected you both.”

  "I did what I had to—to protect the family from you.” Pae looked cross, her eyes narrowed, her hair lifting with a passing breeze. “Where is your husband?"

  "Dead."

  Pae tilted her head. Her face paled. "Did you kill him?"

  "I did what I had to."

  "Dear spirits.”

  “He deserved it.”

  “What is wrong with you, Yara? You can’t kill a man for beating you now and again. Especially if he’s your husband."

  "Of course, you think so,” Yara said. "You beat me plenty whilst I was growing up. And why? Father never raised a hand to you."

  "That's different," Pae said. "I'm your mum. And pain is the only way children learn."

  Frowning, she turned back to her father. Someone had stolen his shoes.

  "Why is he sti
ll hanging? I'm grabbing an ax and cutting him down."

  "You do that, and they will use that ax to chop off you head." Pae sighed, her body becoming more and more translucent with each minute.

  Yara stared at her wondering if she ever loved her father. Growing up, they never showed affection for each other. It was as if they were no more than business partners, come together to raise one shy girl with too much power to be allowed around others.

  "You'd best be on your way out of Kypsey. They're determined to abolish magic. That means spell slingers all over are being strung up all over.”

  “I’ll leave after I bury him.”

  Pae sighed. “Stubborn girl. Give me a minute, and I’ll help.”

  “Don’t you need to get out of the sun?”

  “I’m fine. I can last a while longer,” Pae said, her voice growing distant, as if she’d be carried away with the wind.

  Being a Meta, Pae was a creature of the night. Sometimes Yara thought she’d just used her father for his power, to remain a solid being in the human world, instead of a woman that resembled a ghost than an actual person.

  They buried Bronson behind the cabin, and Pae even sang a little song from her world for him.

  "Bye, Pae," Yara said, slinging her pack over her shoulders and heading for the paved road that led to the main highway.

  "Yara, wait! Where do you think you're going?"

  "The capital."

  "Allarya? Why?"

  Yara glanced back at her, fire in her silver eyes. "To kill King Loric. Either come along or leave me be."

  Pae's eyes widened. "Have you gone mad?"

  "No," Yara said, turning to look ahead.

  Allarya was far from their little rural village, but she owed her father revenge. She owed their entire kingdom a chance at a better life.

  "I'm not mad, mother. I've just gained some courage," she whispered.

  CHAPTER THREE

  THE DUSTY ROAD AHEAD WAS a constant reminder of the life Yara was leaving behind. It was also a beacon of hope.

  Yara twisted her long white hair into a bun at the top of her head and yawned. She hadn’t slept in what felt like days. Using so much energy to recreate her body had taken more out of her than she would have liked. She just hoped that there would be no trouble on the road.

  Knowing that Hero was close by gave her a small measure of relief. Sharing a body was such an intimate experience, and she would forever be bound to Hero because of it. They could summon one another whenever they pleased.

  Dark clouds started to roll by. A storm was brewing, and she knew that it brewed for her.

  Watching. Searching. Ready to strike her dead.

  If she could stop King Loric along with his laws and reign of terror, she would be free to live her own life for once. As long as she didn’t get herself killed.

  Tears streamed down her face as she remembered her father’s last hug. It had been longer than usual, and full of love that she knew he had for her. Neither could have known that it would be the last one that they would share.

  Pae had never hugged Yara in that way, and it was because of her that she’d been sent to a form of slavery most young women in Allarya knew all too well.

  One day, they’d have a choice of who they married. Another reason King Lori needed to be stopped.

  The screeching of a crow stopped Yara in her tracks.

  Hero.

  She wiped her tears with the back of her hand.

  “I wasn’t going to tell you, but I thought you should know,” Hero said, landing on the road, and returning to his human form.

  He raked his slick black hair out of his face, revealing blue eyes that matched the sky on the brightest summer day. His face was narrow and pointed at the chin, but nice to look at.

  Yara squinted at him. “Tell me.”

  “Asher’s joining the royal army. He leaves tomorrow. I thought you’d want to say goodbye to one more person. Seeing as we might not ever come back and all,” he said, his voice trailing.

  “Dear spirits,” Yara said, looking down the road. She scratched her chin, torn.

  Westerbrook Manor wasn’t far. She might be able to stop by and see Asher. Truth was, she wasn’t sure if she was strong enough to say goodbye to him—despite their memories together being the only thing that helped her make it through the day.

  “Thank you,” she said and chewed her lip.

  She had to see him. One last time.

  YARA STOOD BEFORE THE black gates of Westerbrook Manor. She pulled her hood over her head and waited for Red to let her in. She was lucky that he was at the front of the property and not Asher’s father.

  They knew her well here, but she couldn’t risk being spotted by someone she didn’t fully trust.

  “Miss Yara,” he said, approaching with two chained black wolves in each hand.

  Yara’s smile came easily. Red was like a grandfather to her. As his name suggested, he had long red and gray hair pulled back into a ponytail. His deep-set blue eyes narrowed as she came closer.

  “You’ve come back.”

  Yara nodded, glancing up at Hero as he hid in the trees. Not all shifters got along, and so he would stay behind.

  “I did,” she said, her eyes going to the gate’s lock as Red took a long key out of his pocket.

  “Good.”

  Yara was glad that he left it at that. She didn’t need anyone else bringing up Lord Torington.

  Red pulled the gate open and Yara knelt down to pet the wolves.

  “Asher is swimming in the pond. You’d think he didn’t have to pack to serve in the king’s army. He’s always been a bit of a procrastinator, but you already knew that,” Red said with a wink.

  Yara and stood, hope filling her belly, making her giddy. “So, I’m not too late?”

  “You’re right on time. He doesn’t leave for the army until tomorrow.”

  “What a relief,” Yara said, stepping through the gate to the wide dirt path that wound through the middle of thick woods that stretched all around the Westerbrook Manor. “Are Lord and Lady Westerbrook here?”

  “They are. Just take the path to the back and they won’t see you. Today, they are riding their horses through the east meadow.”

  “Thank you.”

  “How is Pae taking the execution?”

  Yara swallowed. “Pae has no heart. How do you think she’s taking it?”

  “I’m sorry, Yara. Bronson was a good man. He never let any of the darkness into our village. Who know what will happen now that he’s gone.”

  Yara wondered the same. Just imagining the black mists taking over the streets of her home sent shudders up her spine.

  “I know we are supposed to keep quiet about such things, but I fear Allarya might not exist in a few years if all of the Spell Slingers are killed.”

  “I fear that you’re right.”

  CHAPTER FOUR

  THE PATH CUT THROUGH THE thick woods with trees that stood hundreds of feet tall, nearly blocking out the bright sunny sky. Yara had spent many days running through the woods and playing with Asher during her childhood.

  Pae used to be their housekeeper, and young Yara would accompany her most days. What had been a dreaded sentence had quickly turned to something to look forward to once she met Asher and his brothers.

  Yara smiled as she emerged from the narrow path to a stone archway that stretched above her and led to the lake. A large opening paved with white stone stood between Yara and the handsome man swimming in the dark water that sparkled far into the distance of Westerbrook Manor.

  She ran her hand along the trimmed rose bushes that lined the path toward the lake’s shore. Once she reached the water, she sat down and took off her boots. She let the water lap at her toes and fixed her white hair over her bruised eye and shoulder.

  She rested her chin on her knees as she watched him come up for air, his short bronze-colored hair matted to his head.

  Asher noticed her, his bright blue eyes meeting hers, and the corne
rs of his lips turned into a smile that still seemed to send butterflies free within Yara’s gut. She breathed in, already regretting what she came there to do.

  Pushing those feelings aside, she held up Asher’s clothes, a grin on her face.

  “I should take these and hide them,” she called to him.

  Asher pushed his hair out of his face and swam toward her.

  “It’s not like you’ve never seen me naked before,” he said with a grin that made Yara bit the side of her lip.

  Laughing, Yara tossed his clothes to him and he caught them in the air. She blushed at seeing his naked body, turning away.

  It was a secret that they would never be able to tell, a moment of rebellion that could get them both killed if discovered. Asher was the proud owner of her virginity, and despite the danger, she wouldn’t change it for all of the riches of the world.

  A lord could have whomever he wanted, just not a sorceress…especially if the lord in question was a shifter.

  Magic and shifting did not mix in Allarya, and Yara knew that such a law would be moot as magic would soon be eradicated entirely. She’d heard what King Loric had planned, and what he’d already done to secure his supremacy in a world of magic and mystique.

  “You’d better hurry and get dressed, or else someone might see and get suspicious,” Yara whispered, shielding her eyes so that she couldn’t see him, though she was tempted to take another glance.

  Her cheeks reddened as she remembered their one magical night days before her mother sold her off. She’d thrown away all of her fears to be with him, and the beauty of it lingered in her mind every night that she slept in the stuffy bottom level of the manor with the other servants.

  A few hours in Asher’s bed were better than an eternity in the Torington Estate.

  “No one will say anything, even if they do suspect what happened between us.”

  Yara’s smile faded. There wasn’t a day that had gone by that she hadn’t dreamed that her life had turned out different. She’d give anything to be free to wed Asher, as he’d asked her numerous times, knowing it was impossible.

 
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