UNDER HIS SPELL

 

 

 

Under His Spell

By

Rachel Carrington

 

ADVANCED
READER COPY: DISCLAIMER

 

This
Advance Reader Copy is the property of Rachel Carrington.
 
The Advance Reader Copy may not be sold,
rented, loaned, or copied.

 

This is an
uncorrected copy and may differ slightly from the final published novel, which
will be available from Triskelion Publishing in November, 2004.

This work
is copyrighted as of November 2004 by Rachel Carrington.

 

PROLOGUE

 

Ingrid stood over the bassinet, one
hand clutching the white wicker.
 
“My
beautiful daughter.
 
Born in the midst of
chaos, you will bring peace to our people.”
 
Pressing her lips to her fingers, Ingrid transferred the kiss to her
infant’s rosy cheek.

The wind swept the curtain wide and banged the door to the nursery
against the wall.
 
Ingrid didn’t turn
around to acknowledge her visitor, though she knew she was no longer alone.
                                                                              

“You are a fool if you believe your daughter will make a
difference.”

Ingrid smiled serenely.
 
“She
was born on Ostara, Sabrina.
 
The day
when light masters dark.”

Sabrina stalked around the bassinet, bringing herself into Ingrid’s
line of vision.
 
“And every witch in
every Coven will covet her death.
 
No one
wants the peace you seek, Ingrid.
 
We are
powerful witches and only through destruction will we rule the world.”

Ingrid held up one hand to silence the fall of the words.
 
In her heart, she knew the truth.
 
Sabrina was right, but it wouldn’t stop
Ingrid from trying.
 
The Covens had been
at war for far too long, with each other and with other sorcerers.
 
They needed peace if they were to
survive.
 
“How much longer will we live
if we continue to fight one another?”

Sabrina scoffed.
 
“We aren’t
interested in surviving.
 
We are
interested in excelling, in defeating our enemies.
 
We can do that

with your
help.”

Ingrid whirled around to face the window.
 
The sun was sinking low on the horizon, on
her daughter’s tenth day of life.
 
Soon,
the ceremony would begin, the ancient ritual of commitment where she would
trade her own life for her daughter’s destiny.
 
“I must go.”

Sabrina reached out, but Ingrid backed away before the witch’s hand
could connect with her arm.
 
Sabrina’s
brows lowered and her breath hissed out of her lungs.
 
“If you won’t help us, don’t make the mistake
of trying to stop us.”

Ingrid scooped up her daughter and pressed the downy head against
her breast.
 
“I will not have to stop
you, Sabrina.
 
Allessandra will take care
of that.”

Sabrina froze in place.
 
“Allessandra knows?”

Ingrid smiled.
 
“Allessandra
knows everything.
 
She began the first
Coven, not to destroy but to help and enlighten.
 
She wanted witches to be remembered as women
of strength and beauty.
 
But you and
other witches like you have turned our world into a thing of darkness, planting
fear in the hearts of innocent people.”
 
One shoulder lifted beneath the silk robe she wore.
 
“Allessandra will not allow this to
continue.”

Sabrina took two steps toward the window, paused and looked over her
shoulder.
 
“Then we shall destroy her as
well.”

Ingrid tightened her grip on her baby.
 
“You can try.”

 

Allessandra held out her arms, accepting the slight weight of the
baby against her bosom.
 
Though her face
bore the wrinkles of a
ge, her voice still rang with
authority.
 
Bending low over the child,
she began to whisper ancient words of prophecy and promise.

Ingrid shivered in the darkness of the shadows, forbidden to
speak.
 
Transfixed, she watched the High
Queen place her daughter into, a cradle of white pine interwoven with thin
strands of gold.

 
Allessandra continued to
chant until the baby fell asleep, secure in her new surroundings.
 
When the High Queen lifted her head, her face
wore a satisfied expression.
 
“Your
daughter will live a long, happy life, Ingrid.”

Ingrid’s eyes filled with tears.
 
“Thank you.”

Allessandra held up one hand.
 
“But her work will be difficult and will begin with the sacrifice of
your own life.”

Ingrid nodded her head slowly.
 
“I know about the prophecy.”
 
She
pulled in a deep breath.
 
“I don’t want
to leave her.
 
Who will raise her?”

Allessandra offered assurance with her next words.
 
“Your time has not yet come.
 
You will know when it has.
 
Until then, take your daughter home and enjoy
her.
 
Prepare her.”

Ingrid blinked.
 
“But she’s
only a baby.”

“She is not a normal child, Ingrid.
 
She is a child of much wisdom and power.
 
Teach her while there is still time.”

Ingrid bowed low.
 
“Again, I
thank you.”

Allessandra placed her hand on Ingrid’s arm.
 
“Do not thank me.
 
What you must face I would not wish upon any
mother.
 
I wish there was another way to
reunite our people.”

Ingrid bit her lower lip and shook her head to quell the tears.
 
“I have accepted what is to be,
Allessandra.
 
It makes me proud that my
daughter will be the catalyst who binds the Covens together once more . . .
even though I won’t be alive to see it.”

Allessandra smiled.
 
“You will
see it, my child.
 
You will witness your
daughter’s success.
 
She will need you
then more than ever.”

Ingrid picked up the sleeping baby and tucked her into the crook of
her arm.
 
Looking down in the slightly puckered
face, Ingrid felt a pang of longing.
 
She
wanted to stay with her daughter always, to hold her close and protect
her.
 
She didn’t know how much time she
had with her or even if she would be able to make the sacrifice.
 
Ingrid closed her eyes and whispered a prayer
for strength and when she opened them, Allessandra had disappeared.

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

“I won’t take any life, least of all the life of a man who’s done me
no wrong.”
 
Skye Logan circled the fire
pit, ignoring the gasps of outrage as she challenged the ultimatum tossed out
to her like a dirty piece of laundry.

“You have no choice and let’s not forget this is no ordinary
man.
 
Killing him will not be as simple
as choosing your weapon.
 
Nevertheless,
this is your destiny,” came a low, throaty voice, a voice rife with power and
cunning.
 
“Your new life awaits
you.”
 
A long, thin finger pointed at the
floor.
 
“Down there in the place the
humans call Earth is where your challenge is.
 
You will study and learn, become more powerful than you’ve ever been and
when the time is right, you will do as you are bidden.”
          

Skye thrust her chin up into the air and winged a glance across the
dancing flames.
 
“That’s where you’re
wrong.
 
I won’t do it.”

The face behind the voice moved into the light.
 
Savagely beautiful, the witch moved with
speed born of magic, coming to stand face to face with the young witch who
dared to challenge her authority.
 
“You
will do as you are instructed, Skye.
 
This is the purpose for which you have been born.
 
To fail would mean certain death.”

       
   
Though a chill licked at the base of Skye’s
spine, she clenched her teeth and shook her head.
 
“Then I choose death.
 
It’s better than I should die than an
innocent man.”

The older witches exchanged glances, one by one communicating in a
manner
,
which Skye didn’t understand.
 
Finally,
the leader of the Coven spoke, the words whipping like tiny lashes.
 
“As we have spoken, so shall you do, Skye
Logan, and since you have assured us of your intent to disobey, you give us no
choice but to insure your strict compliance.
 
Bring out the girl.”

Skye shot a startled glance toward the entrance of the cave, her
heart catching in her throat as her fourteen-year-old sister stumbled across
the stones.
 
Heartsick and scared, Skye
tried to reassure Emily without sound.
 
She used her eyes to communicate her intent, her confidence even while
fear chased its icy fingers down her spine.
 

   
       
Emily lifted her head and tears glimmered in her eyes.
 
“I’m okay, Skye.”

Skye managed a smile.
 
“Of
course you are, and you’ll stay that way.”
 
She winked, faking a chuckle.
 
“My
friends have only brought you here to make sure you’re safe.
 
There’s a…” her voice cracked.
 
She paused and regained her composure.
 
“There’s a situation I have to take care of
and when I come back, we’ll both go home.
 
I don’t know how long it’s going to take me, but I don’t want you to
worry about me.
 
You’ll be safe
here.”
 
She spared Sabrina a threatening
look as if daring her to say otherwise.

Sabrina merely lifted her shoulders in an elegant shrug, but Skye
read the body language clearly.
 
Emily
would be safe as long as Skye followed the dictate handed down to her.

Emily pulled in her lower lip with the top row of her teeth and
tipped her head to one side.
 
“I’m not so
sure I’ll be safe here.
 
I don’t really
like your friends.”
 
Though she whispered
the words, Skye knew the witches heard.
 
It gave her a small measure of satisfaction.

“They’ll be good to you,” Skye intoned with a vicious look at the
leader.
 
“Won’t you, Sabrina?”

The Coven’s high priestess flicked an annoyed glance in Emily’s
direction.
 
“Your sister will remain
unharmed.”
 
Black eyes returned to Skye’s
face.
 
“But I would suggest you be quick
about your mission.
 
You know I have
little patience for children.”

“I’m not a child,” Emily protested.

Skye squared her shoulders and walked forward.
 
“You won’t hurt her, Sabrina.”
 
She kept her voice low so as to avoid any
chance of Emily overhearing the underlying threat.

The witch’s mouth thinned.
 
“Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can control me.
 
As I have said, your sister will not be hurt
as long as you do as you have been instructed.”
 
She lifted one hand and long fingernails, painted as dark as her eyes,
clicked together, a sign of Sabrina’s irritation.
 
“In fact, we have a beautiful room picked out
for her inside the tower.”

Skye’s eyes narrowed.
 
“You
never use the tower.”

Sabrina lifted one shoulder in a half-hearted shrug.
 
“Nevertheless, we have chosen a special room
for your little sister.”
 
She circled her
hand in the air and gave Skye a perfect view of an elegantly furnished room
with a canopy bed, distressed white furniture, and large, stuffed animals
lining the walls.
 
“See?
 
She will live in the lap of luxury until you
return for her.
 
That is, if you return for
her.”

“Make no mistake about it, I will return for my sister.”

Sabrina’s smile didn’t reach her eyes.
 
“Excellent.
 
Now, be gone with you.”

Skye tipped her head to one side.
 
“What?
 
No well wishes?”
 
She didn’t give the leader time to respond
before she strolled toward the door, pausing long enough to rest her hand atop
Emily’s head in one last gesture of reassurance.
 
“I’ll be back.”

Emily nodded one last time.
 
“Hurry.”

Sabrina made a sound of disgust.
 
“We don’t have time for a heartwarming goodbye.
 
If you’ll make haste, Skye, you’ll be back
before Emily has time to miss you.”

Skye didn’t acknowledge Sabrina’s words nor did she look in the
leader’s direction again.
 
She kept her
eyes on Emily’s pale face as she backed out the door and when it clicked shut
behind her, she squeezed her eyes shut and whipped into the air.

“I must leave.”
 
Rane didn’t
waste time with preamble as he approached the Assembly.
 
Gathered around the table, a veritable
conglomeration of power and magic, the group looked intimidating indeed.
 
Only Rane wasn’t intimidated.
 
He was bored, tired of his life in the
present.
 
Since the fall of the Coven, he
hadn’t had much to keep him occupied and a bored wizard was never a good thing.

Jaxon, the Assembly’s leader and Rane’s older brother, responded in
a controlled voice, which dripped irritation
,
“Leave
what?

“The Assembly.
 
Mystique.
 
This world,” came Rane’s somber reply.

Silence descended upon the power center of the Assembly and coated
the room in oppression.
 
Wizard traded
glance with wizard, but all remained silent save for Rane’s mother,
Charlemaine.

“You cannot leave.
 
You are
needed here.”

Rane had expected dissension, had even planned for it.
 
His retreat from his home world would not
come without a price, but for the sake of his own sanity, he would leave.
 
“Mother,” he softened his voice, “I have no
choice.”

Jaxon rounded the table, matching his brother’s stance.
 
“The Fates have called?”

The lie slipped easily from Rane’s tongue, though he knew he would
pay for his deception later.
 
“Yes.”

Charlemaine clasped a hand to her mouth while Rane’s father squeezed
her shoulder.
 
“You have not spoken of
this before, son.”
 
Charlemaine’s voice
broke.

Rane inclined his head while the pressures of every wizard’s
disappointment fell onto his shoulders.
 
“I waited, hoping that it was a mistake.
 
But it is not so.
 
I must leave.”

Jaxon took a step closer, placing himself eye to eye with his
younger brother.
 
“You are sure this is
at the Fates’ demand?”

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