Varajas hadn’t dreamed once of Ulek since the night he and Ádan and Nikki had fled with the knife. Now he was on his way back, it seemed he couldn’t escape those dreams.

Except this wasn’t the same Ulek he’d left. This was the castle a hundred years—a thousand years—abandoned. Everything was dark and rotted and crumbling. Choking roots and blackened weeds were worming their way through the stone. It was hard to believe life had ever existed here.

He was in the foyer of the guardhouse, with the wide stairs to the second level in front of him and the second floor landing above his head. A strange location for a dream, but here he was.

Had he started somewhere else? Dreams were always strange, and Varajas had been experiencing more than his share since that wizard

—since Loukanos—

That whole business. This dream, at least, didn’t include Loukanos. Didn’t include reliving those endless lifetimes of pain…

So that was something. He’d happily live through a thousand crumbling Uleks as long as Loukanos wasn’t here. As nightmares went, this was pretty bearable.

Almost as though his sleeping mind had gotten him confused with someone else. This was Ádan’s nightmare if it was anyone’s. He was the one who was all broken up by Ulek’s fall.

Varajas wasn’t happy about the situation, of course. Especially now that he knew about the knife, about their true guardianship. But the knights had never been his home, his family, the way they’d been for Ádan. Varajas had come to the knights as so many had—as a last resort—and while he was grateful Derian had taken him in, he wasn’t sentimental about it. Varajas had been someone with training that was useful to Derian, especially as the wolves closed in around them. Derian had been short of people he could trust at his back. Of course he’d accepted Varajas into the knights.

And in the end, it had certainly been more to Derian’s benefit than Varajas’s. Had he known from the start? Had Derian been planning this path all along? However the plan had been formulated, Derian had made the right bet. Once Varajas had learned about the knife, his sense of duty wouldn’t let him turn away. Even if their cause was as dead and crumbling as the dream-castle that surrounded Varajas.

Movement over his head made Varajas jump back, reaching for his sword, but it was only a piece of paper, fluttering down.

No, not paper. A card. One of those silly fate cards. Had it fallen off the balcony? Blown out from one of the rooms above?

Varajas caught it, had just enough time to note the picture of the moated fortress, before the world around him swam and he was sinking.



A note from Barbara J Webb

I have a discord! Come hang out with me and other fans! In addition, when you join, you’ll get a free copy of the ebook for Twisted Magic, the first book in my Knights of the Twisted Tree series!

I have a Patreon! Read scenes ahead of when they’re posted to the public! Gain access to bonus scenes! And most of all, you’re helping support me so I can keep writing the books I love.

Support "Twisted Magic"

About the author

Barbara J Webb


Log in to comment
Log In