Shades of Justice, The Hidden Magic Chronicles Book 4
By Justin Sloan & Michael Anderle
Alastar took an offensive stance and closed his eyes, imagining the goddess, Lady Mowain—his aunt—standing before him. Wind blew against his cheek, warm and gentle like Estair’s nighttime touch. It with it brought the scent of the upcoming palace feast, still cooking while training continued in the yard.
He wasn’t training there, though. He had found a secluded spot to focus on this damned sword.
With a quick thrust he dove forward, focusing his energy on the sword. He tried to pretend the legend was real and pull the power from the Sword of Light.
It didn’t matter how much he practiced or willed it to be so, it was just another sword. How many times had he heard the story of the magical blade and its green glow when blessed? It had the fabled jade-encrusted hilt, to be sure, but that was about the extent of its being true to the legend. When he had fought with it in battle and cast his magic, it had glowed white like any other sword he had ever wielded.
He sighed, holding the sword out with one hand and staring at the fine craftsmanship. Who was he kidding, anyway? Hope that it was the magical Sword of Light meant he was still grasping at a lost cause, at the idea that there had been any truth to be had in the Order of Rodrick.
Instead, it had all been a lie. His entire life, or most of the part that he could remember, had been a lie. His aunt had killed his mother, taken him and his sister away from their father, and left them with the madman he had grown up thinking was his mentor. His spiritual leader, Sir Gildon of the Order of Rodrick.
And then he had killed that son of a bitch. And his sister Rhona had taken out Lady Mowain’s daughter, and little Kia had done a pretty number on Master Irdin. All in all, they were doing quite well.
Hell, he was even a prince, and his sister was a princess!
Somehow, all of that still didn’t make up for a lifetime of lies. A mother taken before her time, one he would never know.
But he knew what would make up what he had gone through so far. He thrust the sword into the ground and made a vow. He would stop this so-called goddess and reveal her for the fraud she was for all Roneland and beyond to see. She would never hurt another person. Never again tear a family apart. Not after he was done with her.
He glanced back at the sword and considered leaving it, but just then a door opened and a beam of light fell across him and the sword. It seemed to shine in that moment, to call out to him. As much as he wanted to leave his old superstitions and beliefs behind, he turned back the sword and wrapped his hand around the hilt with a glance at the person in the doorway. He recognized her by her shadow.
“You’re not with the others,” Estair noted, exiting and letting the door close behind her. “Why aren’t you training with them?”
“I had other matters to consider.”
She looked at the sword, pried his hand off the hilt, and held the hand to her lips. Her kiss was gentle, producing a smooth, tender sensation as those pouting lips brushed his skin.
“Playing with your sword all by yourself?” She smiled teasingly. “Have I neglected you so?”
He shook his head, appreciating her ability to always find humor in a moment, but it wasn’t the time for him.
Apparently catching onto this, she pulled his hand so that it wrapped around her waist, then leaned into him and put her head on his chest. “You have your father again. You should be happy.”
“For that and so many other reasons, I am,” he replied.
“As long as She is still out there, my thoughts will be troubled.” He held her tightly, watching as men passed the window in an upstairs corridor, visible for a moment as they laughed in merriment. “Laird Summers promised to be part of the march north to find Her, but he keeps stalling.”
“Stalling…” She pulled back, looking into his eyes. “We’re marching to war, essentially. Whether it’s war with the north or a larger force, we don’t know. You can’t expect that to happen without preparation, planning.”
“I expect to move on her before she has a chance to hurt more innocents,” he replied. “Before she can pull some more magical forces out of her arse and escape this unscathed.”
“Well, if we have to fight magical forces from her arse we’ll do so, dammit.” Estair couldn’t help but laugh at that. “Will they stink? You can bet all the saints and spirits in the world they will! But we’ll persevere, cram those evil magic forces so far back up her arse that—”
“Will you stop messing around?” he demanded. “I’m serious. Father said we would leave the next morning, and here we are still! We can’t’ sit around here waiting, not with what she’s capable of.”
Estair nodded, her expression now stern. “I’m sorry. You’re right.”
“Let’s go kill that bitch.” She stepped past him, pulled the sword from the ground, and handed it over. “Don’t forget your sword, my prince.”
He couldn’t help but smile at that, but mostly because of the way she bowed when passing him the sword.
“Stop it,” he said as he took the sword and sheathed it. “If I become King someday, you realize what that will make you?”
She frowned. “Your mistress? Concubine? Don’t forget, we’re not…” Her voice caught as he pulled her in for a kiss.
“Not yet,” he said, laying a finger to her lips as they pulled apart. “But when this is all over, maybe that’s a discussion we should have?”
Her cheeks reddened and she shrugged. “Maybe it is.”
They turned, heading off hand in hand to find Laird Summers. No more waiting around—whether the troops were coming or not, Alastar meant to see this completed.