Title: Prophecy Of The Flame
Author: Lynn Hardy
Publisher: Resilient Publishing
Length: 393 Pages
Five strangers are yanked from this world and thrust into a land of sorcery as they are granted the looks and abilities of the people they were playing. The Crusaders of the Light struggle to form a cohesive band as they blend twentieth century technology with the supernatural powers of this new world, fighting to liberate the kingdom of Cuthburan from the evil horde threatening humanity.
Battle is also waged within Reba, an ordinary housewife who has become the most powerful mage on the planet. She struggles to remain true to her wedding vows as she is drawn against her will to the arms of Prince Alexandros.
What does it feel like to go from being a ordinary housewife to the most powerful mage on the planet ??
At first it was thrilling. Each time I chanted a rhyme, magic would surge to life inside me. Pardon my French, but it was like a whole body orgasm – every nerve was caressed by the power I could wield.
But then reality sunk in. I’m used to being in the background, unrecognized. Now everyone is watching me. Even worse, people are depending on me. People have died because of my oversight..
What attracts you to PRince Alexandros ? And why is he different to your husband
The first time I saw Alex, he was unconscious. In that state, he was overwhelmingly attractive. Once he opened his mouth, I had to fight the urge to slap him most of the time we were together. I know he’s a prince, and yes, he is beyond hot, but he totally knows it. He gives me some corny come on line and expects me to forget my husband and swoon into his arms. The worst part is that I can’t seem to help but want him, I mean, panties wet, want him!
How is he different from Kyle, my husband? They are as different as night and day. Kyle is cute, not drop dead gorgeous. Kyle is humble, thoughtful, and kind (most of the time). Unfortunately he couldn’t give a girl a compliment if his life depended on it: Once I got all dressed up in a sexy red dress for our dinner and a movie date, and all he said was, “Why you wearing that?”
But he’s as dedicated to our marriage as I am. We will make it work – we have to, don’t we?
Some fun questions for Reba.
How do you like your men ?
Tall, dark, and handsome is always good. But I like my guys smart – a dumb jock is a huge turn-off. Big guys, the brawny type, never interested me.
Your beverage ?
Only one? My favorites are Dr. Pepper, Carmel Macchiato, and White Raspberry Tea
Favourite past time
On Earth, I loved to go dancing, ride horses, and scuba dive. On Cuthburan, magic is my new favorite hobby. Hey, I should try scuba diving by using magic – that would be so cool!
Now that your a powerful Mage what is the one thing you intend to do?
I want to change the way the Cuthburan society views women. I love it when a man opens a door or carries a package, but we are competent, resourceful, and capable of so much more than this world knows.
Winter’s harsh embrace grips the undulating hills in an unforgiving embrace. Whispering, “Sight,” I scan the open vista. If the enemy is out there, they’re hidden beyond even magical sight.
“Charles, would you please take point?”
The ebony warrior quickly complies with my request.
“If you’re ready, Your Highness. It will be as it was when we worked on your brother. Just relax.” I take down my hood. Turning to the prince, I extend my left hand.
Prince Szames hesitates. My heightened mage senses pick up a prolonged inhalation. Assuming he is having second thoughts about working with magic, I expound, “A physical connection makes borrowing energy easier. Once I finish the incantation, we will walk. We need to make a full circle of the city before I can complete the spell.”
Seconds after our hands meet, I get a glimpse into the emotions at which I have, until now, mostly guessed. The fleeting sensation of sensual arousal disappears like lotion on scaly skin. I dismiss the insight as irrelevant, concentrating on the task at hand.
Prince Szames gives a nod, indicating his readiness to proceed. I close my eyes. Securing the connection, I combine our powers. With the world sealed away along with my vision, I begin the most powerful spell I have ever contemplated.
“As I walk the path of this magnificent wall,
Following in my wake, I leave a magic hall.
Power flows through this corridor unseen,
Awaiting my instruction. My idea is so keen.
On my command power will spread,
Forming a dome far over our heads.
Far underground magic will go,
Spreading thin but impregnably so.
A force field you’ll form, surrounding this city,
To keep it safe from malevolent entities.
If to this kingdom you pose a dire threat,
Touch this field and vaporized you will get.
Their energy you’ll capture for your power.
You will guard us well through our darkest hour.”
An orgasmic sigh escapes through my clenched teeth. I fight to remain erect. My body feels as light as a feather, as if I could walk on air right off the side of the battlement. Magic coils about me.
I force the power to pool below me. Magic spills around my feet. The flow steadies. I ease my eyes open. A dull throb settles in the back of my skull. Prince Szames gives an inquiring gaze. I nod. We begin to stroll along the wall, following Charles, leaving a trail of magic behind us like Hänsel and Gretel and their trail of hope. I pray this endeavor turns out better than their bread crumbs.
The magic continues to stream behind as I pictured in my mind. I focus my concentration on the pathway of the magic, intent on stabilizing the flow. Accessing the small reservoir of green energy, I ease the shrunken membranes in my head. There. . . now I should have a little more freedom of thought.
Looking to my right, quite a bit of the countryside is visible. Stark as it is, the beauty touches my soul. Before me is the most striking winterscape I have ever seen. More than a dozen shades of brown interweave into a majestic pattern.Is it the scenery, magesight, or the world we are on?
Smiling, I turn to Prince Szames. “If all your land is this fair, then your kingdom is rich beyond words.”
With an unconscious smile, Prince Szames’s voice is a mere whisper. “This is but a pale shadow in comparison to the sight of her crowned in full glory. Castle Eldrich is known for its beauty throughout the world, but spring is the season for which she is famous. The knolls shimmer with colors so vibrant, you would think the hills have gowned themselves with gemstones.”
“Why, Prince Szames, I didn’t know the soul of a poet could inhabit the body of a warrior. Or do all the men in this kingdom possess a natural affinity for words that let them speak with tongues of silver?” A little flirting often loosens the tongue better than wine.
Pouty lips curve downward. His brow furrows, showing the honesty of his puzzlement. “I am afraid you have mistaken me, perhaps for my brother? I have never been one to manipulate words for a flattering effect. I speak of what my heart sees in an honest fashion. I know of no other way. Perhaps the company I keep has inspired my heart to communicate more intimately with my mind.”
“Then your heart sees beauty where others might not, and you speak of it in a fashion that makes me long to share your sight.” Touché and en garde. The battle begins. “If it is my company that inspires you to speak with such passion, then we must keep company more often. A heart filled with such as yours is wasted if it is not shared.”
Prince Szames’s cheeks brighten with my compliment. I discern a surge of arousal from the warrior, but it disappears as I try to pinpoint it.
Please don’t tell me I’ve made this movie star of a man blush with a little compliment. Surely being tall, blond, and hunky he gets constant attention. Hmm, maybe I should take it easy with the flattery until I learn a little more about this place. Here women might flirt to let men know they are ready to hit the sack. Denying a princely proposition may cause more trouble than the information is worth.
The smile he sports is dopier than ever. “It will be my pleasure to accompany you whenever you are in need of an escort. As I have said before, rank does have some privilege. It will be an honor to guide you through this world.”
Yes, I will definitely have to watch the flirting. “Your Highness, I thank you for your offer. I will keep it in mind. I have a feeling I will be in need of a guide. Your world differs from mine in more ways than I can count.” My lips curve to reassure him while I provide a way out. “However, I don’t wish to monopolize your time by adding more demands to your schedule of duties.”
“Please, call me Szames, as my friends do when the situation does not demand otherwise. Milady Archmage Reba, I would like to count you among my friends.” His deep voice holds warmth and thoughtfulness I dare not take at face value since I can’t sense what he is feeling.
“Then I insist you call me Reba.” My thin lips nearly disappear as my smile broadens.
“Reba, you tell me your world is greatly different from mine. In my youth, when I had a greater amount of time to call my own, I loved to study history and science.” Szames’s eyes light up. “Other lands across the dimensional planes were not suitable material for a prince, so my father always held, but I must admit they fascinate me far more than any topic this world holds. Perhaps we could exchange information about our worlds. I will provide you with a guide through mine, while you provide me the forbidden knowledge I long to study.”
“Szames, you have yourself a deal. An exchange of information it is.” Oooh, careful now. Is he more than a dumb jock, an over-muscled football player? Could he have brains behind all that brawn? I shake my head in denial of the bothersome thoughts. Yeah, right! He’s just outmaneuvered me on the field of flirtation. He’s a playboy philanderer, not a genius in disguise.
In the distance two guards stare at the horizon. Hearing Merithin and Charles approach, they turn and salute, as the others have done, ending with heads up and eyes straight. As Charles passes, they glance in our direction. When the wind brings a startled whisper to my ear, I wish once again I had taken a look in that mirror with my hood down. It seems my looks make a profound impression even from a distance. The sentries snap to attention again as they recognize my escort.
The silence expands as we stroll along, hand in hand. I haven’t been for a walk holding any man’s hand but Kyle’s for so long. I’d forgotten how small, how delicate a big guy makes you feel.
Kyle is five foot eleven and not too big. Lord knows, being five-eight, I don’t feel petite often. Szames’s hand is so huge. . . Yep, now I remember this feeling from high school. It used to intimidate me, feeling so small. But now I don’t feel intimidated at all, even though the man outranks me as well as towers over me. It must be the tremendous store of magical power. Now size doesn’t matter. . . A chuckle escapes me at the unintended pun. Thank God I have Kyle and I don’t have to worry about that crap any more.
“It sounds like that much fun, this exchange of information?” Szames interrupts my wandering mind. “Reba, you are an unusual woman.”
I hesitate to correct his misconception. “I’ll take that as a compliment. . . I think.”
“I assure you I mean it with complete admiration.” Szames returns my smile.
Any male model would kill for a smile like that, goofy as it is. What am I thinking! I don’t have time for this. Turning my thoughts within, I check the progressive flow of magic. Everything looks good.
Prince Szames makes the formal introductions. “Arturo, sovereign king of Cuthburan, and Princess Szeanne Rose, I present to you, Reba the archmage and Allinon the druid elf.” I curtsy, eyes downcast.
Looking back to the ruler of this kingdom, I note the family resemblance. King Arturo’s salt-and-pepper hair was undoubtedly once black like Alex and Andertz’s. His eyes are the same sapphire blue as Szames and Szeanne Rose’s. The king’s voice holds the same inflection and mannerism as Prince Szames. The younger son also inherited his father’s strong, straight nose and square jaw.
“Your Majesty, I am honored.” Allinon’s holier-than-thou tone grates on my nerves. “Do you have any questions regarding the healing process upon which we embark?”
“Our son has explained the reasons behind our necessary participation. We have never before participated in anything magical. What may we expect from our roles in this endeavor?” Though his voice remains calm as he uses the royal plural, I perceive a building tension as he talks about his involvement in the supernatural. If the tension transmutes into resistance, the link could be jeopardized!
Allinon shrugs. “Your Eminence, you might experience a small amount of fatigue but nothing permanent, I assure you.” The king’s expression remains unchanged as our leader continues to explain. “Jamison is a master healer with ‘the gift.’ The gift is what we call the ability of someone who can use his life force to harness the power in our auras. In Jamison’s case it is somatic essence he uses. From the hue of her aura, Princess Zee-Anne Rose also has an affinity for this type of magic.” He turns to Szames. “You, Prince Zam-zes, possess an affinity for corporeal magic such as Merithin and Reba command.”
This is not helping. If anything, he’s more agitated. Let’s try a different angle.
In a quiet voice, I attempt to focus his attention on something other than his fear of the arcane. “Your son lies close to death. Therefore, we cannot guarantee our success. Time is of the essence. We can perform the healing without your participation, but our chances of succeeding will be greatly reduced. Unless you are willing to give yourself wholeheartedly into our care with absolutely no reservations, your participation may be more hazardous than your exclusion.”
Trying not to single out my new monarch, who will undoubtedly resent my eavesdropping on his feelings, I include the others with a glance in their direction. “You must ask yourselves, all of you: Are you willing to trust the intentions, motivations, and capabilities of people you have just met? I realize we ask much, but the life of Prince Alexandros hangs in the balance. There isn’t time to earn your trust. We have no choice but to ask that you give it blindly for the sake of your son and your brother.”
“You ask much,” King Arturo says. “We three represent the ruling sovereignty of this kingdom. We declare this not to justify our lack of participation, but so that you, Archmage Reba, know the measure of trust we place in your hands. We will shy from nothing, no matter the risk, that will spare the life of Crown Prince Alexandros.” As King Arturo embraces our healing as the savior of his beloved son, I discern the tension siphoning away into nothingness.
Bowing my head, I show acceptance of his gift. “Never in my life have I betrayed a trust given to me. If it is within our power, your son will be spared. His chances are good with so much support to draw upon.”
The tub is now half full with a liquid that has a slight silver sheen. The potion is diluted with the water necessary to restore Prince Alexandros’s bodily fluids.
Allinon rushes to take center stage. “Your Majesty, if you will take a seat at one end? Prince Zam-zes, you will be on your father’s left at Prince Alexandros’ knees. Reba will sit next to you. Princess Zee-Anne Rose, you will be seated on Reba’s other side, with a cushion to pillow Prince Alexandros’s head.” I shake my head, hiding a smile. No way I’m correcting the buffoon. He wanted to be leader let him figure out how to pronounce their names on his own. Our leader continues massacring the names of the royal family, “Jamison, you will sit between Zee-Anne Rose and Andertz. King Arturo, since I will restore the ebbing life force to Prince Alexandros, I will sit between you and Andertz. You both possess the strongest spiritual ties to your son.” The elf ushers the monarch toward his seat.
Either we have been victorious in answering all their questions or have successfully impressed upon them the urgency of this operation. The mentioned participants go immediately to their respective places. In his rush to be close to the king, Allinon forgets the rest of the plan.
“Your Highness.” I reach out, touching the arm of Prince Szames before he can assume his place. “Would you assist Jamison in bringing your brother? We need to place him in the tub.” If Charles is Mr. America, Szames is Mr. Universe. Why am I so sure I’m not dreaming when the entire royal family looks this good?
Prince Szames’s manner stiffens fractionally. “I am honored you place this responsibility with me.”
Taking his hesitation for a quandary, I explain, “You seem the least disturbed by what is about to take place, therefore, I am hoping you won’t require as much time to relax.”
Szames nods his approval, asking, “Will we commence immediately?”
Relieved at his enthusiasm, I expound, “Even with the water heated, it will weaken your brother. We will begin as soon as possible.” Then again he could be putting up a front. I can’t read him like the others. Turning my thoughts back to the healing, I approach Prince Alexandros’s mistress and her son.
“Andrayia, if you and Andertz will sit on the seat to the right of Allinon?” I squat to better address the smallest member of the healing circle. “Andertz, are you ready to help us work an enchantment?” He nods and I take his hand. “Prince Szames will bring your poppa and put him in the water. Your father’s shoulder is going to look really bad, but don’t be scared; that’s what we are here to fix. Okay?” He feels excited yet calm. If everyone had the faith of a child!
I sit, holding the hands of a prince and a princess. I close my eyes. Taking a deep breath, I center myself. The tingling sensation accompanying me since my arrival finds a focus.
The feeling resembles vibrations from an electrical device, though I don’t need to touch the carrier. It seems the stronger the vibrations, the larger the source of magic. It is merely a matter of pulling the outside magic to the large, white mass that is my center of power. I entwine and fold a small piece of the foreign magic into my personal reservoir, forming a bond between the two.
The difficult thing is to let go of part of my essence at the same time so I can share energy. I have no idea how I know what to do. I just know that I know, that I know what I know. . .
After examining the links to make sure they will hold, giving it a few minutes to establish a current, I watch the flow of the outgoing energies.
I open my eyes. Looks stable.
“Reba, remove the aura virus,” Allinon commands.
In the short time it has taken us to prepare for the healing, the prince’s aura has noticeably decreased. The writhing, inky mass of the AV is growing. No time to waste!
“We seven are joined in agreement.
Alex won’t be martyred by your treatment.
It’s of magic you’re made,
and it’s magic I wield.
Be gone from his body.
Against us you have no shield.”
Aqua light shoots out from my slender hands, heavy with power. The minor spell fails to antagonize the headache. Magic surrounds the AV. The blob rolls and boils as if someone has set a match under it. In a matter of seconds, the AV dissipates like fog under an autumn sun.
In the blink of an eye, a green haze settles over the wound as Jamison directs his magic. Allinon’s druid skills bring forth a coppery mist rising from the silver liquid, enveloping the lower half of the prince’s body. The mossy cloud intensifies. The mangled flesh melts, beginning to close. The coppery fog thickens as the shimmering liquid evaporates. The grotesque, scarlet wounds, standing out on his alabaster skin, are reduced to the pale pink of a carnation. Steadily his hue darkens to beige.
Second by second the pattern of the prince’s aura become apparent. Besides a small amount of blue corporeal magic and a strong fuchsia streak, his aura has no affinity for the arcane like his father’s. Whatever talent the purplish streak represents, he was the sole inheritor among his siblings.
The energy we invoked disperses. I look up from the vigil I am keeping into the eyes of a young boy. The child doesn’t look scared, horrified, or even slightly disturbed by the sight he has witnessed; against my instructions, I might add. He looks fascinated, in awe, and he is wearing a smile so wide, you would think it was Christmas. In the face of such enthusiasm, my lips curve and my eyes light up.
I turn my attention back to the patient. Before my lips part to ask Jamison if our healing has been successful, Alexandros, the crown prince of Cuthburan, opens his eyes.
Butterflies take flight in my stomach as he gazes at me with the most gorgeous green eyes I have ever seen, framed by long, thick lashes. Prince Alexandros gives me a weak smile. In a voice rough from disuse, he inquires, “Have I died and gone to heaven? Are you an angel sent to take me to the afterlife?” Having exhausted what little strength we restored to him, Alexandros drifts into sleep.
Blushing like a teen who received her first kiss, I sit back in my chair. Jamison and Prince Szames lift Prince Alexandros from the tub. Mind whirling, perfunctorily as a sleepwalker, I trail behind the men, waiting hesitantly at the door to the bedchamber.
Laying his brother gently back on the pillowed surface of the bed, Prince Szames whispers, “Barely conscious and you have already outmaneuvered me on the battlefield of her heart. No, Brother, I will not fight you for her love, no matter how my heart beats stronger and my blood races when she nears. I am not a fool. I will not wage a war I cannot win. Does not the prophecy foreordain her to be your bride?”
Though enhanced hearing brings the words clearly to my ears, the sounds are meaningless to my whirling thoughts as I try and get the picture of his beautiful eyes out of my mind.
“Reba, if you are ready to proceed with the shield modifications?” When I incline my head, he continues. “Shall I send for the horses to be readied?”
“Actually, I thought we’d fly.” I exude nonchalance.
“Why do I get the feeling you mean that literally?” The arch of one brow hints at his astonishment.
“Of course.” My lips curve innocently. I try not to laugh at Szames’s physical effort to close his mouth. “If you’re afraid of heights, we can ride, but it will be much quicker and more magically economical to fly up to the center of the shield.”
“I have no problem with heights, Milady Reba. Your suggestion sounds like an experience that will forever retain a height of glory in the remembrance of my life, which until moments ago, I believed could get no more memorable.” Szames bobs his head as if conceding victory to a challenger. “What must we do?”
“If you will take my hand while I set the spell, it will be as before.” I recall the flying spell I constructed the night before I was taken from my world. I close my eyes, concentrating on joining our powers, drawing more from him than I have previously, so my power acts to guide the flow of his force. Opening my eyes, I begin:
“Christopher Reeve starred on the big screen,
Battling with the bad guys who were so mean.
He was able to fly like a bird and a plane,
He even flew with a woman, Lois Lane.
Like he did with her one night,
Take my hand, share in the flight.
By saying his name, fly like him I can.
All I must say is the name ‘Superman.’”
A tingling sensation spreads throughout my body. With the completion of the last line, a heated rush akin to an orgasmic climax envelopes me from head to toe. A sigh escapes my parted lips as I relish every second of the magic’s caress. Being able to heal the damage has quickly built up my tolerance. With each spell, I’m able to use more power without being affected.
“Szames, are you ready for your first flight?”
“You must keep hold of my hand.” I give a final warning. “That is what enables you to fly at my side. Without the connection you won’t stay aloft.” Taking a deep breath, I whisper, “Superman,” in my native tongue.
I concentrate first on the ground, picturing myself easing away from it. Our feet leave the earth. We soar up. This is so, so cool! And my fear of heights has disappeared. Szames’s grip on my hand tightens.
Threading our fingers, I move my elbow to the inside of his arm to secure our connection. I perceive a stab of desire from Szames that is so sudden, it causes me to lose my focus, momentarily pausing our ascent. Before I can pinpoint what exactly is causing the stimulation, the emotion disappears.
Unexpectedly, being this close to another man still makes me feel like a girl at her first dance. Blushing, I change my focus to the world around me, using the castle as a direction-finder for our mobility. It’s not like I can let a prince fall to his death because I’m disconcerted by someone invading my physical space. The rationale makes me feel a little better, but I still can’t help noticing the overwhelming size of his hand. It is so large and so strong, and his arm—rock hard, solid, secure.
Like a meteor blazing to life in the middle of the clear blue surrounding us, I feel a surge of excitement from Szames that I am sure has nothing to do with flying. Again, the sensation evaporates like fog on a sunny morning, as if it were a figment of my imagination.
Besides, like every other jock, he’s all brawn and no brains with an overactive libido, an expanded ego, and all the sensitivity and compassion of a rock. Definitely not anything I’d be interested in, even if I weren’t already married!
The mid-afternoon bells toll in the distance as I hammer a steely determination of purpose into place. I take down my hood and whisper, “Sight.” Looking at the shield above me, I get another surge of interest from my companion that is, like the last one, snuffed out like a candle in a hurricane.
At least he’s attempting to show some control. Or is he covering hidden desires along with the rest of his feelings?Confident in my flight, I increase our speed. Closing in on the thickening of the mage energies indicated in the center of the force field where the magic merges, I smile in anticipation.
Keeping us in place takes a brief thought before I turn to my companion. “Are you okay?” Szames gives me a little boyish grin. My heart softens. “We need to bring our joined hands over our heads to reach the focal point.”
He follows my lead. Since we are standing perpendicular to the ground instead of flying in a more horizontal Superman fashion, our upraised hands make contact with the center of the force field. I focus on the lines of rhyme I explored earlier today. Drawing a capacious amount of energy from my partner, I direct it to pool around our hands. Taking a deep breath, I begin.
“You worked hard throughout the night,
Keeping out our enemy, stopping the fight.
But our foes are very determined to win.
They used objects to penetrate your skin.
Modifications are a definite must.
Let in nothing that you don’t trust.
Only things of nature will come through you,
Sunlight, moonlight, wind, rain, and snow too.
Anything else an enemy will be,
Treated as such from you and me.
Other objects falling from the sky
Will vaporize before our eyes.”
I grunt with the effort of pulling the final surge of power through the bond, keeping a firm visualization of what I expect from the magic. My back arches. I throw back my head as power explodes inside me. I use every ounce of my will to keep us aloft while pleasure courses through me. On the heels of pleasure is pain so fierce, my eyes begin to water.
“Your Highness.” I bow. “Have you been waiting long?” Winged insects plague my insides once more. Why have I put myself in this position?
“I arrived moments ago.” Alexandros dips his head in greeting. “Besides being a marvel to behold, it seems flying is more expedient than walking.”
“Your Highness, it would be a pleasure to take you aloft sometime. The city takes on a new aspect from the vantage point flying allows.” Uh-oh. . . I sense unease blossoming within my soon-to-be working partner.
“Perhaps when the world is more at peace, I will take you up on your generous offer.” The prince’s smile is kind and sincere. He feels so upset by the idea, he can’t possibly intend to ever try it.
“Your Highness, why don’t we get started?” I ask, hoping to get away from him as quickly as possible. “I’m sure you have more important matters needing your attention.”
“Milady, nothing is of greater importance than discovering more about the angel we have called from the heavens to guide us through this time of peril.” His smile relaxes into one that melts my heart. “I consider being in your company my top priority. I have since first gazing into your eyes, as I was whisked from oblivion’s doorstep.”
“Your Highness, there’s some—” I begin to disclose my marital status, only to have him silence me with a caress on my arm that makes my heart pound and my loins ache.
“Please, call me Alex, for I feel that we are destined to become great friends.” His husky voice is almost a whisper. “After all, did not fate bring us together?”
Looking into his adoring gaze, I am overwhelmed with an irresistible urge to fall into his arms, to have him smother my mouth with his. What in the world is going on? This guy couldn’t find the truth if it bit him on his backside. . . and I. . . will not. . . collapse. . . at his feet. . . like some simpering court maid. . . who has left her sense of morality back on her home world! Exerting my will power to the limit, I take a step away from him toward the pile of rusted armor.
“Well. . . Alex, in friendship I ask that you not speak to me of such things. I’ve always considered Destiny the King Trickster and Fate his court jester. Save such talk for court maidens whose virtue may be swayed by such nonsense.” I let Don Juan know his place. “I choose the path I take, and I don’t need fate or destiny to blame for my actions.”
Coming up beside me, his demeanor is astonishingly playful. “Touché. At long last, I have found a worthy opponent in the field of courting. I wonder if you spar as well with the staff it is said you carry as a weapon?”
What is it you want from me, other than the obvious quick romp? First you treat me like a simpleminded, weak-willed woman. Now this? Maybe if I best you on that field, too, you’ll let me be.
“If time allows, perhaps we will find out. . . I warn you, though, there’s an infamous tale in my kingdom. Our most famous swordsman, said to be the best in all the land, was so accomplished he lost only a single fight—”
The prince interrupts the folktale with a bored harrumph. “Let me guess: by a man wielding a staff?” He pauses so long, I glance over to gauge if he is done. When our eyes meet, the intensity of his gaze forces me to turn and face him. “And I would also bet he could not hold a flame to the beauty that is your fire.”
Blushing, I ignore his last remark. “It’s a bet that you would win, on both accounts. The person to best our most fabled swordsman was an old, peasant farmer who was protecting his home with nothing more than a staff. He wasn’t wealthy enough to own a sword.”
Man, I feel like a bitch in heat. Even his corny come-on lines turn me on! I was with Kyle the night before I left. How am I going to resist when I’ve been here another week?
Inspecting the material as if it makes a difference, I bend down, giving myself a few minutes to order my thoughts. I immediately decide the best course is, as always, the direct one. Dusting off my hands, I rise, prepared to do battle once more.
“Alex, am I correct in assuming this will be the first spell-casting in which you have taken part?”
Tension builds in him with the new topic. He nods.
“In order for this to work, we must link hands. You must be unequivocally relaxed. You’ll feel a tugging sensation within you, here.” I tap my chest to draw his attention away from what he fears. “Resisting the urge to fight the pull takes willpower as well as trust in the caster. If you struggle against the draw, it will cost more energy to extract aid from you than what will be obtained by the joining. I appreciate your offer of assistance; however, with these items to work with, I’ll be able to cast the spell unassisted.”
I pause before continuing, “Perhaps I shouldn’t have asked for your help. We have only just met. I won’t take offense if you wish to postpone the giving of your aid until we have become better acquainted. You may need more time to trust the magic I wield.” I wait for him to take the graceful way out I have provided to a hastily made obligation.
Relief, logic. . . In the background lurks envy and jealousy. Within seconds hope flares. This can mean only one thing: Alex has developed a scheme.
“If I am to be king in this time of change, I must be willing to change also. . .” He takes me by the hand. Alex maneuvers my position as if we are on a dance floor, bringing my face close to his. “Reba, if you will let me gaze into your eyes, as I did when you pulled me back from the edge of the abyss, any reservation I might harbor is sure to melt away like frost under a warm, spring sun.” The caress of his hand on mine and his imploring gaze convinces me to give in, though I know sibling rivalry is at the core of his request.
“How can I say ‘no’ to such an artful entreaty?” Inspired by my own wording, I arch a brow. “I will do my best to ease your passage into the world of magic. Perhaps in return you will listen to a suggestion I have.”
“My lady,” he coos so the words no longer resemble a title of respect, but take on a whole other meaning. “I will listen most attentively to all that passes those diminutive blossoms, however much progress we make in the arena of sorcery.”
“Ahem. . . yes. . . well. . . that is what friends do. . . is it not?” I stammer, feeling as if I need to catch my breath. “Listen to one another?”
“Among other things,” he breathes so softly, I am unsure of what I have heard.
It is going to be a very, very long couple of weeks! “Let’s get started. As I open my eyes, I will form a connection between our energies then chant the spell. You should feel a steady, continuous pull throughout this process.”
Alex moves with the poise of a prince, capturing my free hand like a fragile dove. Eyes closed, I calm my racing heart and gather my scattered wits. Calling to mind the spell I created last night helps me focus on the task. A quick change to the last few lines will include my unanticipated partner. A long breath steadies my racing mind. I block all other thoughts except the results of the spell. My stare is blank when I open my eyes. I see nothing but the objects I intend to create.
“You are old, damaged, and abused.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be used.
With these words, your shape will change,
Matter and substance rearrange.
I place upon you a serious duty.
Now you will be worth a lot of booty.
If you are given with the intent to deceive,
In their hands you will heat without reprieve.
If you’re used with an honest heart,
Peace they will find as you depart.
Stainless steel, you’ll never tarnish or rust,
Double-sided, engraved with our busts.”
My intense concentration shatters as the world comes back into focus. I find myself taken prisoner by Alexandros’s piercing, green eyes while orgasmic energy penetrates every fiber of my being. Time slows to a crawl. As gracefully as an eagle, the prince swoops down on his paralyzed prey.
Am I a startled mouse to be pinned in place by this—? The thought speeds through my mind, breaking the hold he has on me. Swifter than a gazelle in flight, I step back before his lips meet mine. Stooping, I retrieve one of the magically forged coins.
“You did well, Alex.” I flip the coin in his direction. “Would you like to see your handiwork?”
“I helped create this? It has my portrait on one side and yours on the other. How perfect.” For once Alex’s emotions agree with what he is saying. “Our craftsmen will demand to know how this work of art was created.”
“It’s more than meets the eye. Indulge me. Think of misrepresenting something, like your horse, selling him for twice what he’s worth.” My smile twists sardonically.
“You want me to think of selling something for more than I know it is worth?” With an uncharacteristic lack of grace, he complies. “Ouch!” Alex throws the coin onto the ground. “The blasted thing stung me?” Picking up the same coin, I hand it back to him.
“Not satisfied with one scar?” he grumbles, gingerly taking the coin in his other hand. “You intend to inflict matching ones?”
I hold my laughter in check, not wanting to offend him more than I already have. “I’m sorry. I suppose that was rather malicious. I promise this time will be better. Think of selling the same horse for what he is worth, without any deception.”
He harrumphs and flips the coin back to me. “So we have created a coin that will keep merchants honest. I bet they disappear in an octal! There are not many honest merchants.”
“These aren’t for trade. They are tokens. Call them fire tokens if you wish. Your father said I could promise the people fair compensation for goods used in the name of this war. These coins will make sure that when it’s time to pay, the price you give will be fair. Simply have them hold it in their hand while they recite to your treasurer the list of supplies given and their worth. Voila! Instant honesty!”
“Fire tokens. The name is. . . appropriate,” the prince mutters, rubbing his singed palm. “Reba, you are much more manipulative than you appear. It is a quality I respect in a woman.” Alex’s grin turns sly. “These fire tokens will be very useful.”
About The Author:
Led by a series of dreams and encouraged by friends, Lynn Hardy began the journey to become an author. She stored her work in a computer file labeled “second job.” Writing began as a passion she could not contain and has become much more than she ever expected.
In the Fall of 2010, Prophecy of the Flame – Book One, reached #1 on Amazon kindle, shortly after Book Two in the series released. In the spring of 2011, Lynn released the Full Cast unabridged audio book of Book One. Now both fans and newcomers can hear the book come to life as every character jumps of the page with their own unique voice.
The road has been longer and more complicated than she would have ever guessed –not always smooth, but filled with wonderful surprises. Like most stories, Lynn is sure that her journey has only just begun.