The white spell, p.1
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       The White Spell, p.1

           Lynn Kurland
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The White Spell


  Praise for the novels of New York Times bestselling author Lynn Kurland

  “One of romance’s finest writers.”

  —The Oakland Press

  “Both powerful and sensitive . . . A wonderfully rich and rewarding book.”

  —Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  “Kurland weaves another fabulous read with just the right amounts of laughter, romance, and fantasy.”

  —Affaire de Coeur

  “As always, Kurland does a spectacular job blending thrilling fantasy adventure with rich characterization—making sure readers are in for an exceptional ride!”

  —RT Book Reviews (4½ Stars)

  “[A] triumphant romance.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “Woven with magic, handsome heroes, lovely heroines, oodles of fun, and plenty of romance . . . Just plain wonderful.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  “Spellbinding and lovely, this is one story readers won’t want to miss.”

  —Romance Reader at Heart

  “Kurland infuses her polished writing with a deliciously dry wit . . . Sweetly romantic and thoroughly satisfying.”

  —Booklist

  “A pure delight.”

  —Huntress Book Reviews

  “[A] consummate storyteller.”

  —ParaNormal Romance Reviews

  “A disarming blend of romance, suspense, and heartwarming humor, this book is romantic comedy at its best.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “A totally enchanting tale, sensual and breathtaking.”

  —Rendezvous

  Titles by Lynn Kurland

  STARDUST OF YESTERDAY

  A DANCE THROUGH TIME

  THIS IS ALL I ASK

  THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU

  ANOTHER CHANCE TO DREAM

  THE MORE I SEE YOU

  IF I HAD YOU

  MY HEART STOOD STILL

  FROM THIS MOMENT ON

  A GARDEN IN THE RAIN

  DREAMS OF STARDUST

  MUCH ADO IN THE MOONLIGHT

  WHEN I FALL IN LOVE

  WITH EVERY BREATH

  TILL THERE WAS YOU

  ONE ENCHANTED EVENING

  ONE MAGIC MOMENT

  ALL FOR YOU

  ROSES IN MOONLIGHT

  DREAMS OF LILACS

  STARS IN YOUR EYES

  The Novels of the Nine Kingdoms

  STAR OF THE MORNING

  THE MAGE’S DAUGHTER

  PRINCESS OF THE SWORD

  A TAPESTRY OF SPELLS

  SPELLWEAVER

  GIFT OF MAGIC

  DREAMSPINNER

  RIVER OF DREAMS

  DREAMER’S DAUGHTER

  THE WHITE SPELL

  Anthologies

  THE CHRISTMAS CAT

  (with Julie Beard, Barbara Bretton, and Jo Beverley)

  CHRISTMAS SPIRITS

  (with Casey Claybourne, Elizabeth Bevarly, and Jenny Lykins)

  VEILS OF TIME

  (with Maggie Shayne, Angie Ray, and Ingrid Weaver)

  OPPOSITES ATTRACT

  (with Elizabeth Bevarly, Emily Carmichael, and Elda Minger)

  LOVE CAME JUST IN TIME

  A KNIGHT’S VOW

  (with Patricia Potter, Deborah Simmons, and Glynnis Campbell)

  TAPESTRY

  (with Madeline Hunter, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Karen Marie Moning)

  TO WEAVE A WEB OF MAGIC

  (with Patricia A. McKillip, Sharon Shinn, and Claire Delacroix)

  THE QUEEN IN WINTER

  (with Sharon Shinn, Claire Delacroix, and Sarah Monette)

  A TIME FOR LOVE

  eSpecials

  TO KISS IN THE SHADOWS

  THE TRAVELLER

  BERKLEY SENSATION

  Published by Berkley

  An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

  Copyright © 2016 by Kurland Book Productions, Inc.

  Penguin Random House supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin Random House to continue to publish books for every reader.

  BERKLEY and BERKLEY SENSATION are registered trademarks and the B colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Names: Kurland, Lynn, author.

  Title: The white spell / Lynn Kurland.

  Description: Berkley trade paperback edition. | New York : Berkley Sensation, 2016. | Series: A novel of the nine kingdoms ; 10

  Identifiers: LCCN 2016012081 (print) | LCCN 2016018560 (ebook) | ISBN 9780425282205 (softcover) | ISBN 9780698198753 ()

  Subjects: LCSH: Good and evil—Fiction. | Magic—Fiction. | BISAC: FICTION / Romance / Fantasy. | FICTION / Fantasy / General. | GSAFD: Fantasy fiction.

  Classification: LCC PS3561.U645 W48 2016 (print) | LCC PS3561.U645 (ebook) | DDC 813/.54—dc23

  LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016012081

  First Edition: October 2016

  Cover art copyright © Melanie Delon

  Cover design by Katie Anderson

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Version_1

  To the horses—and their staff, of course—

  who have changed my life in such profound ways . . .

  Contents

  Praise for the novels of Lynn Kurland

  Titles by Lynn Kurland

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Map

  Prologue

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  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

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-one

  Chapter Twenty-two

  Chapter Twenty-three

  Chapter Twenty-four

  Excerpt from Ever My Love

  About the Author

  Prologue

  Murder, mischief, mayhem. Those were the sorts of things that he dealt in. The business of do-gooding . . . well, it just didn’t agree with his digestion.

  Acair of Ceangail, son of the most powerful and, admittedly, most unpleasant black mage still darkening the doorways of the Nine Kingdoms, looked at the pair of do-gooders sitting across from him at a worn table in a rather less-seedy tavern than he was accustomed to frequenting, and decided the time had come to put his foot down. He fixed them both with a steely gaze.

  “That was
the very last one of these I am willing to do.”

  The men sitting there looked unmoved by his declaration, which he supposed shouldn’t have surprised him. They were up to their necks in all sorts of noble activities he wouldn’t have engaged in if his life had hung in the balance.

  He paused. Very well, he had engaged in just their sort of rot, but that had been because his life had hung in the balance. He had agreed to a ridiculous bargain with those two there when they’d caught him in a moment of weakness further polluted by something another might have termed regret, but he’d done his part and now he had put any untoward and unsettling impulses to appease anyone but himself behind him. He was finished. It was past time they understood that his protestations weren’t simply for show.

  He leaned forward and gave them the coldest look he could muster. Considering the sort of year he’d recently endured he was afraid it had barely reached chilly, but there you had it. Too much spreading of sunshine and happiness had obviously done a foul work on him.

  “That recent journey to Meith,” he said, slowly, so they wouldn’t misunderstand him, “was the very last of these ridiculous parleys I am willing to engage in with whichever insipid monarch, grossly offended head of state, or richly dressed underling you have selected for me to grovel before. I have spent months apologizing, smiling, and generally making a complete ass of myself. I will not do the like any longer.”

  The pair across from him exchanged a look. Acair was, he had to admit with as much modesty as he could muster in difficult circumstances, extremely adept at reading between the lines. Or between the looks, as it were. There was an untoward amount of amusement being shared, as well as something that spoke strongly of already-discussed, nefarious intentions. Both annoyed him, but he supposed he could have expected nothing less from the two fools huddled together there on the opposite side of that worn tavern table.

  The fool on the left was his half-brother, Rùnach of Tòrr Dòrainn. Rùnach was the second eldest of a collection of impositions on the world his own father, Gair, had decided to produce with an elven princess several decades after Acair’s birth. Why Gair had wed Rùnach’s mother instead of Acair’s own was a mystery . . . well, knowing his mother as he did, Acair had to admit there was no mystery to it at all, but that didn’t solve the problem of his half-brother sitting across from him, smirking. Rùnach loved nothing more than a hearty bit of good cheer, something Acair had learned early on to dislike about him. Acair scowled at him, then turned his attention to his half-brother’s companion.

  Now, that one gave him pause and there wasn’t another soul in the whole of the Nine Kingdoms who gave him pause. Soilléir of Cothromaiche was . . . odd. His magic was unsettling, his power staggering, and he had a way of looking at a body so the body being so observed felt as if it were standing there in its soul alone. Acair shook his head. Damned unnerving, that one. Soilléir wasn’t so much smirking as he was just watching, as if he knew exactly what Acair intended to do before he did it.

  As he’d said. Odd.

  Rùnach cleared his throat in a way that bespoke serious business indeed. “The thing is, Acair,” he said slowly, wrapping his hands around his mug, “we feel that you have one last bit of—” He frowned thoughtfully and looked at Soilléir. “What did we decide to call it, my lord?”

  “Penance,” Soilléir supplied.

  “Penance,” Rùnach repeated, nodding. “Aye, that was it.” He looked at Acair with an expression of innocence he had likely not had to practice more than once. “We believe you have a bit more penance to do in order to make up for your past misdeeds.”

  “What past misdeeds?” Acair hedged. If they couldn’t name them, he wasn’t going to admit to them. That had gotten him out of more than one tight spot in the past, to be sure.

  “Most recently you tried to drain the world of all its magic,” Rùnach said. “There’s a start to the list, wouldn’t you agree?”

  “I believe the important word there is tried,” Acair said, “and thank you so very much for reminding me of my abysmal failure.”

  “Failure?” Rùnach echoed. “Acair, you toppled at least two thrones I can bring immediately to mind, as well as vexing several other very powerful members of the Council of Kings.”

  “True,” Acair said with a light sigh. The list should have been longer, but again, it had been a difficult year and he’d been distracted by trotting out his best court manners and using them in ways he hadn’t particularly cared for.

  “It wasn’t a compliment,” Soilléir said.

  “You can’t say you wouldn’t do the same thing,” Acair said pointedly, “given the proper inducement.”

  Now, there was a piece of truth if ever there were one. Who knew what that one there dreamed up as he sat in his private chambers in the schools of wizardry, contemplating that staggering amount of power he had that was no doubt simply lying about his chambers like so many unmatched socks.

  “I could,” Soilléir said, “but I never would.”

  Acair suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. When Soilléir of Cothromaiche started making a fuss about his nobler instincts, the conversation was doomed to head downhill very quickly. Best to head off any potential rhapsodic waxing about the health benefits of virtuous living before the man truly hit his stride.

  He studied the two on the other side of the table and considered the lay of the land, as it were. He hadn’t minimized the misery they had already put him through. It had been at least half a year that he’d been dragging himself from one tedious locale to another, forcing himself to smile politely, speak without threats, and keep his hands in his pockets instead of allowing them to linger in any visible coffers. It had been absolute hell, but he was nothing if not a man of his word and he had agreed to do the like.

  That Soilléir had threatened him with life as a lawn ornament if he didn’t comply had been a decent bit of motivation, but he’d done what he’d agreed to do and now he had other plans. He hadn’t wanted to choke down a meal with the lads facing him, but the invitation had been less of a request and more of a summons. He had assumed he would be required to give some sort of recounting of all the things he had learned, promise never to behave poorly again, then be relegated to a distant if not fond memory. His life would again be his own and he would never darken either of their front stoops again.

  He knew he shouldn’t have been surprised to find that extricating himself from their clutches was going to be a bit more difficult than he’d anticipated.

  He pointedly ignored Soilléir and turned to Rùnach.

  “Very well,” he said briskly, “tell me quickly what preposterous thing I must do in order to win my freedom from your presence and let me about it. Just realize I am only doing this to humor you. If I were a lesser man, I would simply leave you here at the table to pay for my drink yourselves.”

  They didn’t look as alarmed by that possibility as they should have, but insults only went so far with men who obviously hadn’t the wits between them to know when they were being insulted.

  Rùnach looked at him seriously. “We want you to apologize to Uachdaran of Léige for disturbing his sleep with the rivers of power you set to running under his kingdom.”

  “I didn’t do that,” Acair spluttered.

  Rùnach only looked at him in a way that was so reminiscent of Soilléir, Acair almost flinched.

  “Very well, I did do that,” he said, “but if you think I’m going to go prostrate myself in front of that feisty old curmudgeon and apologize for anything, you’re mad.”

  Rùnach shrugged. “If that doesn’t suit, then we’ll take a century of your doing no magic instead.”

  Acair knew he was gaping but couldn’t keep from it. He revisited his three favorite activities and wondered which one would be the most effective on the two sitting across from him. He sat up a bit straighter and smoothed his hand over his tunic. “What horrible
fate do you have waiting for me if I tell you to go to hell?” he asked politely. “Or shall I simply slay you both whilst your noses are buried in your cups?”

  Soilléir lifted a pale eyebrow. “I could turn you into something you wouldn’t like.”

  “I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t like,” Acair said promptly, ignoring any previous discussions he might or might not have had with the man sitting across from him regarding birdbaths. “Do your worst.”

  “You might want to reconsider,” Soilléir advised. “Imagine the locales where I could put you, silent as stone, doomed for eternity to simply watch those around you living pleasant lives.”

  “You’re bluffing,” Acair said dismissively. “Your vaunted code prevents you from doing something that evil.”

  Soilléir only looked at him in that way he had. “For you, Acair, I might make an exception.”

  Acair almost shivered, which alarmed him more than anything he’d been faced with so far that evening. He didn’t shiver; he made others shiver. He was accustomed to walking into a hall and having the entire company sink to the ground in a terrorized faint. It was just what he did, that terrifying the bloody hell out of everyone he met. He had to admit, with extreme reluctance, that he didn’t care for it at all when that same sort of feeling tapped him on the shoulder and demanded his attention.

  Damn that Soilléir of Cothromaiche and all his ilk. He should have drained the man’s bloody homeland of all its power long before now.

  It wasn’t as if he hadn’t considered the possibilities of that previously, and very seriously too. The actual execution of that sort of theft had turned out to be rather more daunting a prospect than he’d thought, which had forced him to shelve the idea for the time being. Perhaps ’twas past time he took the plan down and reexamined it. Soilléir had to sleep at least occasionally, surely. A wee rest for the man, a substantial bit of pilfering for himself, and then he would be saved from being turned into a lawn ornament for those damned faeries from Sìabhreach.

  “The choice is yours, of course,” Soilléir continued with a shrug. “No magic, or a visit to the king of the dwarves.”

 

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