By: Layla Heart
One king threatening war, six prophesied lovers scrambling to come up with a plan to defeat him.
Bane’s parents’ house isn’t the idyllic retreat it looks from the outside, inside its walls it hides many secrets and even more dangerous knowledge for anyone willing to dive into the hundreds of books collected in its living room library, as Litha, Phoenix and the four princes have found out.
The plan was to hide here for a couple of weeks, recover from their injuries and maybe gain some knowledge which would help them survive the coming months and years. Instead, they realised that things are, once again, not as simple as that and it appears that history is about to repeat itself.
When they find out that their ancestors unsuccessfully tried to prevent the last war, they know that they need to do something to tip the scales in their favour this time around. The only problem? They have two weeks to pull it off, and they have no idea where to start.
Lughnasadh Elite Academy
9 October 2019
Pages: 116 pages
Available in the Netherlands/Belgium:
As part of a collection
If you don’t want to buy through any of the international stores, this story is also available in the Netherlands and Belgium as part of Fated Encounter (Lughnasadh Elite Academy Collection 3). This features the next three novellas and a holiday short story of the series and is available in ebook or paperback.
My head is still spinning with all the information we found in the last two, sleep-deprived, days. Not simply from what was on the pages, but also from the implications some brought with them. Not to mention the large holes in our knowledge that we don’t even know how to fill out yet.
After Phoenix called her mum, and we realised that we’d found things that even she didn’t know about, we dove right back into the notebooks and recorded all the names mentioned and every bit of information we could get from them. There were a couple of things that stood out to us, places that were referenced multiple times, or, scarier, multiple instances of whole families being destroyed. But between the six of us, we were able to stomach at least most of the information and have started to split the tasks ahead between all of us.
So, our two most brainiac members are now trying to figure out what the power-suppressing elixir actually does, and if we can replicate it, that would be Kit and Phoenix. Our two shifters are still focusing on breaking down all the research from the fae, while Finn and I are putting even more names and times and pages together from the notebooks. It kind of ended up like this because Finn seems to be really good at the nitty-gritty of deciphering codes and handwriting, which we need if we’re ever going to find the threads running through these notebooks and maybe figure out who wrote these. We’ve also found at least five different handwritings in them, at least five different people have worked on this collection.
I yawn, trying to hide it from Finn, but he levels a look at me anyway, looking amused. “Tired?” He raises an eyebrow.
I shake my head. “Just… I’ve been sitting like this much too long.” I stand up, stretching, and go over to the sole window in the room. This one looks out to the side of the house, which is just more forest, not very interesting to watch. “Do you think we’ll be on time?” I lean my head against the window, the smooth glass cold against my skin.
Finn’s quiet for a while, and when I’m about to turn around to look at him, he answers. “We’ll never be ‘on time’, because ‘on time’ doesn’t exist, at all. All we can do is make most of the time we have.” He moves behind me, and then his strong arms slowly slide around me, and he leans his chin on my shoulder. He’s all hard and strong panes at my back, but also soothing and warm, his forest-y scent wrapping around me, tension slipping out of me.
“Shouldn’t we be doing ‘more’ then, to make ‘most’ of it?” I put my hands over his, enjoying his touch, enjoying touching him.
“I don’t think there’s ‘more’ we can do, not right now. We’re trying all we can.” He takes a slow breath, tightening his arms a little. “As soon as we have concrete information to guide us in a specific direction, we can move to the next thing, but before that… we’re just stumbling around in the pitch-dark, without the cool night-view that Bane’s wolf form has.”
I laugh, shaking my head a little. “It would be cool, though, night-view, or at least a way to know where we’re going.”
“We know where we’re going. We’re going to kill my dad. We simply don’t know what road we’re taking yet.” Finn’s voice is cool as he kisses my neck and steps back.
Turning to him, I scan his face, trying to read his emotions. He talks about killing his own father so easily by now, like it doesn’t matter to him at all. Like he no longer cares…
Slowly, Finn reaches out to me, his green eyes softening, and he slides his fingers over my cheek. “Don’t think I don’t care what happens to my dad, but I can’t let him continue this reign of destruction. I can’t let him continue the devastation that my family has been havocking on these lands in the last centuries. It needs to stop.”
I nod, holding his hand to my cheek. “Yeah.” My voice is soft, barely above a breath. But thinking about killing anyone voluntarily still doesn’t sit well with me. After watching Rune and Finn almost die, I don’t want to think about killing anyone, it’s not right.
But I also have a feeling that this may not end any other way. It feels like this is the only end this whole thing can come to, with someone dead… The fae king, me, or any of the others… Because this has to end, too many people have given their lives already.
“Do we have to be naked for this?” Finn sighs as he glares at Phoenix, who simply raises an eyebrow at him.
“Magic works best if you do it without being constrained by clothes.” She levels a look at him. “I’m pretty sure you know this.”
“Yeah, yeah.” He looks around and then starts pulling his shirt off. “Fine.”
We’re going to do a ritual, trying to see if Finn’s theory is right. Phoenix’ family has always had the most important place in the high coven because they have the ability to see the future, to speak prophecies. Finn wondered if the ability was inherent to Phoenix’ family line or that it was something that only the current highest priestess could do. If it’s a family trait, then Phoenix should be able to call forth some sort of prophecy even if she’s not the highest priestess yet. And if she can see anything, it may give us a clue as to where to look next.
So, we’re outside, in the garden, at night, during a full moon, because that’s the moment most magical powers are the strongest. If we want to test this ‘it’s in her blood’ theory, today is our best bet, no matter how unprepared we are, or we’ll have to wait another four weeks.
It feels strange. This is the first full moon since I met everyone, which also means it’s not even been four weeks since I got to know them, or four weeks since I found out I’m a witch. Four weeks ago, during the last full moon, the documents of our prophecy were stolen, and it set in motion a whole host of events that I never even imagined possible, that I had no knowledge of at the time.
“You can enter the circle.” Phoenix’ voice is clear, and when I look up, we’re all naked and Phoenix has set up the circle for the ritual, unlike previous circles she’s made, this one is much more involved. No circle drawn into the ground, but a proper one made from salt. She’s put plates with different things on it at the edge of the circle, like a compass. One plate with a bowl with water, one plate with a candle, one plate with a plant, also in a bowl, and finally a plate with a single large feather on it. I can guess what they represent, the four elements, but I really need to still learn a lot about how they’re used and when.
I step forward and after touching right over my heart for a moment, Phoenix lets me step into the circle. Behind me, each of the guys goes through the exact same thing. And then we’re all in the circle, and Phoenix closes it. The magic feels different in here. It feels… I don’t know, stronger, or something.
“Litha, you stand in front of the candle.” Phoenix points and I do as she says. She looks to the guys. “Rune at her left side, then Bane, then Kit and finally Finn. Make a circle together, as large as you possibly can, then drop your hands.” She instructs us like she’s done it a hundred times, but then, she’s the daughter of the highest priestess, she must have seen her mum do this so many times as she was growing up. “Good.”
Phoenix walks through the space between Rune and me and then sits on the ground in the middle of the circle, facing me. “I may look odd, just don’t be alarmed by it. I’ll be fine. The circle will keep us safe from interference and nothing bad will happen as long as we stay within the protection of it.” She crosses her legs and rolls her shoulders for a bit, finally taking a long and slow breath. Then she meets my eyes. “If anything happens, you pull me out.”
What?! “How?” Like, I’m the least experienced person of the whole group, how am I supposed to pull her out of whatever she’s going to do?
She gives me a soft smile. “Touch me, and you’ll know what to do. I promise.” She raises her face to the sky, her eyes closed, and her whole body changes, relaxes a little, but also seems to be powerful.
I have no idea what to expect now. We just wait, looking at her. I don’t think anything happens, until a jolt goes through Phoenix and her eyes fly open again. Only, this time, she’s not looking at me, her eyes unseeing, a fire in them that I don’t recognise and it scares me a little to see her like this. I reach out to her, but Rune and Finn stop me, their eyes intense as they give a quick shake of their heads.
This is normal? She looks… scary. How can this be normal?
But I don’t push it, the guys know best, even when I don’t feel right about it.
I’ll wait. I’ll have to wait, trust that Phoenix knew what she was going to do. Even when Phoenix’ face distorts in pain, her body tense.
Then she slumps to the ground, and I’m on my knees next to her in a flash, holding her. She feels off, lost, like she’s not fully here.
I try to push my magic into her, get her back to us, but what I feel inside her isn’t the same emptiness as before. And before I can try it again, she’s filled to the brim with magic, and something else, a different sensation. Something I’ve never felt before in her, something big, really big.