Varajas, Ádan, and Nikki had snuck away from the castle in the dead of night, and had been far away before the final destruction had fallen. Seeing everything now, in the full light of day, was shocking.

Thick, fetid air made it hard to breathe, and Samir had already pulled his shirt up over his nose and mouth. Varajas kept from gagging only through force of will. So many bodies had rotted; so much blood had been spilt, that even though there were no more visible signs of the dead, they were part of this corrupted ground and would be for a long time to come.

Once he got past the smell, Varajas could take in the miles of bare, trampled ground where nothing was going to grow for years to come, a barren landscape that had once been so beautiful and alive. The blighted ground ran right up to the castle walls. Those, too, had once been pristine and beautiful, but now they were cracked and stained with blood, smoke, and worse.

Samir had chosen a path that brought them in from the east side, so Varajas was, at least, spared a view of the bodies hanging at the main gate. Small favors.

Bolt trotted between the horses. Varajas didn’t want to imagine what his canine senses must be telling him. But he seemed calm enough.

Because he isn’t here. You’re not here.

Torment stumbled as Varajas tensed. Samir looked back, shook his head the slightest bit. Shh. Not so loud.

This was magic. Samir’s magic.

Yes, and now you’re part of it. Samir’s voice in his head, even though Samir had turned forward again to look at the castle. We need to see. I need to see. So come along and try not to break it.

Varajas wasn’t the only one who had been drawn in. Bolt was here, and Ruan—even if Varajas couldn’t see him. Ruan had been drawn in as well.

They were all here. All watching. Still trapped in the castle, but Samir had done something and Varajas had pulled himself and the rest into it when he’d tried to do magic through the fate card.

His first instinct was to break it, to fight his way free. Just as he had the last time Samir had tried to pull them into this dream of the past.

And where did that get you? Ruan’s testy voice. Where did that get any of us? We need to know what happened. We need to know how we got here. Even Ruan was in favor of letting the wizard do his magic.

Yes, snapped Samir. So if everyone will please be quiet so this can continue, before you break my focus.

Varajas could be quiet. Varajas could let this play out. It wasn’t like he had any better ideas.

He let go of that thought. He let go of all his thoughts, except for taking in the view of Ulek. He let the awake part of his mind sink back down into the part of him that was the memory.

He let go.

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!

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About the author

Barbara J Webb


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