Promise of Magic
House of Xannon
Genre: urban fantasy
Word Count: 65k
Cover Artist: bookcovercorner.com
On instinct, Tarian bowed her head in return, shocked. “Dulra. Welcome.” She breathed the words, awed by the presence of creatures she’d only known through legends. What is the Balance Court doing here?
“Tarian A’marie Maitea Xannon, of the House of Xannon, Keeper of the Water Artifact, you are summoned to the Balance Court.”
She’d been summoned, and every particle of her being cried out to answer it.
Despite the advanced stage of her pregnancy, Tarian has some explaining to do. Fulfilling her Agreement with the Carraig was an issue of honor—but it led to complications. The Keeper of the House of Xannon is called to account, and Tarian must embark on a dangerous mission which could cost her the life of her unborn daughter, end in disaster for all planes of existence—or save the world.
Some promises are deadly to keep. Will the promise of magic be one of them?
Ruarc’s eyes narrowed. “I do wonder, First Mother, if your ire is for the good of society, or for the good of one particular individual. Perhaps you’d care to enlighten us as to how the First Daughter obtained the ability to walk the Wind? Such talent hasn’t been seen since before the split.”
The way he spoke, Tarian suspected he already knew the answer to his question.
First Mother stiffened, her hands clasped tightly in front of her, the knuckles white. “That is not why Court has been called. That is not why we stand here, suffering the effects of imbalance. That is not why the very fabric of society collapses while we stand here, doing nothing to stop it.”
Ruarc raised one eyebrow. “I was under the impression that the planes remain separated, the Between remains strong and guarded by Lasair, and that both Courts are solid and whole. Am I misinformed? Has Benata City suffered some ill effect, which the rest of us have been spared?”
“You have crossed into Benata domain?” First Mother raised her chin, her eyes flashed. “You violate Agreement?”
Ruarc continued to smile, unperturbed. He flicked at a dust fleck on his jacket. “All is written on the Wind, for those who can read.”
Tarian watched them as she would a tennis match, her head shifting back and forth, noting how neither would step further toward each other. Both carefully kept the flame in the center between them. This was an old argument then, and had more to do with history than the breaking of one Stulos. Ruarc had sidetracked First Mother from her original question, but why?
Tarian glanced at Daric. He frowned, and shook his head. He didn’t get it either.
First Mother huffed, the sound out of keeping with her regal stance. “This is your doing, Ruarc. I sense it. I feel it. I know it. I call upon the Balance Court to pass sentence on the one responsible. And to announce the correct path to balance, as is their purpose by ancient Agreement, bonded at the beginning of time.”
Tarian forced her eyes open to focus on the rock in front of her. Earth as dense as anything she’d ever seen, more power than she’d ever experienced. The feeling of old that surrounded it. The sense of longing as if the stone itself wanted freedom from the long and arduous task it had been set. She grabbed onto the longing and let the stream of energy pour into it, into the Stulos, then twisted it as she’d done once before. Another twist, and the flow of power into the Stulos reversed. Three streams of colored light became one solid column of white.
A thousand voices sounded in her head. High ones, low ones, her sister’s voice, dolphin cries and emotion, all around and through her. The energy bound them into something greater than mere humans and Ancients. They were timeless. Eternal. It was almost like she felt when she made love with Daric, but…different. At once more intense and at the same time more encompassing. Less personal. More global. As though the universe spoke through her, and she through it. The awe of it. Tears spilled onto her cheeks.
Another cramp gripped her body and she swayed on her knees, gripping the rock as it crumbled, trying to maintain her balance as the ground shifted and her body twisted. Not now. Too soon. Not now. Too soon. She couldn’t be…the baby couldn’t be…
The voices rose in her head. Everyone joined in as the power flowed around and through, around and through, until she, the Caraigg, her sister, the baby, and the dolphins were all one with it. The crack in the Stulos widened, a giant lesion extending from the floor all the way up until she couldn’t see the end. Cold retreated, heat entered. A loud snap. The Stulos shattered into a million pieces that hung suspended in air for a flash of eternity before rushing outward to the edges of the cavern.
A dolphin cry sounded, triumphant, exalted, as the world exploded in a rain of cold fire, magic power, ash and lava.
About the Author:
Melinda VanLone writes fantasy and science fiction, freelances as a graphic designer, and dabbles in photography. She currently lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband and furbabies. When she's not playing with her imaginary friends you can find her playing World of Warcraft, wandering aimlessly through the streets taking photos, or nursing coffee in Starbucks.