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The Legacy of Androva Series

Connecting Magic Chapter One...

Here's the prologue and first chapter of Connecting Magic 😊. If you've read any of the other books in the series, you know how it goesthe prologue is a short scene from later in the story to hint at the upcoming problem and the first chapter includes catch-up and backstory, just to set the scene. In this book, Darius has the prologue all to himself, which is a first. Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoy the extract!

Prologue 
Darius stood his ground even though fear was stealing the breath from his chest.
I don’t know if I can do this, he thought. But there’s no time to warn the others, and if I don’t try to stop her…
The girl turned to face him, and she smiled slowly.
“I knew you’d come back,” she said.
“Did you?”
“Of course. How could you not, once I’d selected you?”
Darius wished he were someone else. Someone less predictable, who had not put himself exactly where she expected him to be.
I could still try to escape, he thought. Unless she’s expecting that too.
Indecision flickered in his eyes, and the girl laughed.
“I love how you care so much, Darius. Such exquisite self-doubt. It makes you so suggestible, don’t you see?”
“Suggestible?”
She drifted towards him, and the silver mist surrounding her became less translucent. Darius projected his force field in readiness to defend himself. Against what, he wasn’t sure.
“Look at me, Darius.”
His skin prickled. Somehow he knew that looking at her would be a mistake. And yet, he also wanted to do it. Her voice had become irresistible.
“Look. At. Me.”
He looked. Time seemed to slow down, and his breathing relaxed.
“That’s better. Now, I have a job for you.”
“A job?”
“Yes. I want something from your girlfriend. Something I can only take when she’s dead. You’re going to make her death a reality.”
“My girlfriend’s going to die? Because of me?”
Something about that didn’t sound quite right to Darius, but he nodded anyway. The beautiful girl in front of him was the only one who mattered.
“Good,” she said. “You want to make me happy, don’t you?”
He nodded again, this time with enthusiasm.
“I do. Anything you want. Anything.”
Her eyes gleamed.
“Wonderful.”
 
 1 Jax In Trouble  
“What on Androva did you think you were doing?”
Revus was so angry he could hardly speak. The four underage magicians in front of him wished they could disappear under an Invisibility Spell.
Even Jax was quaking slightly. He was out of practice at this. Pretending indifference to his father’s disapproval was something he hadn’t had to do for a long time.
“Well? Have you nothing to say for yourselves?”
“Um… sorry?” said Penny nervously.
“Was that a question?” asked Revus, looming over her. He had black-and-grey hair, which was combed off his forehead, revealing a scowl of epic proportions. Penny stepped backwards, almost treading on Darius, who put his hand on her arm. She leaned into him, grateful for the implied support.
“If you are unclear about whether an apology is even necessary, I fear your punishment is going to come as something of a shock, young lady.”
“You can’t punish them for my spell,” said Jax, squaring his shoulders. His green eyes narrowed. “And it was my spell.”
“I don’t doubt it. But you were all there. And don’t tell me they didn’t know that spell existed before you projected it. All new spells are to be evaluated by the Council prior to their approval for general use,” he added, quoting the Code.
Jax rolled his eyes, and Revus lost his temper.
“How dare you?” he shouted. “The allowances I make for you—”
“We are sorry,” Shannon interrupted, keeping her voice soft. “It really was an accident. Please let us explain.”
It was unfortunate that a professor had got in the way of Jax’s spell, but hardly life threatening. Shannon didn’t know why Revus was quite so upset. However, she was certain their chances of finding out would improve if she did the talking.
Her large brown eyes were sincere, and Revus tried to calm down. He pushed his force field back, having been half-way to teaching his son some manners with a Containment Spell.
“Very well,” he said, folding his arms. “Explain.”
They were standing in one of the smaller training rooms in the Seminary of Magic on Androva. The blue Protection Spell clinging to the walls glowed brightly because of the summer sun shining through the windows.
Shannon looked at Penny, who shook her head slightly, having no desire to do any of the talking herself. Although Penny was usually the more outgoing of the two girls, she had less experience when it came to Androva and magic.
“We were trying to settle a bet,” Shannon began.
“Gambling is not permitted on Androva,” said Revus, frowning.
“Could have bet he’d say that,” muttered Jax, and Shannon elbowed him sharply in the ribs.
“I mean, we were trying to settle a disagreement,” said Shannon, “about which emotion is the best motivator. Penny wants to improve her performance against Jax in Combat, you see.”
She glanced at her friend again. Though they both attended the Seminary on Androva, the girls were actually from Terra, a different world entirely. Shannon and Penny were Terra’s first magicians in nearly two millennia after the recent dissolution of an ancient treaty. Revus was their nominated guardian on Androva.
Combat was one of the six disciplines taught at the Seminary, the others being Living Magic, Remedies, Physical, History, and Manipulation. Combat did not lend itself very well to Penny’s more creative style of magic, and she was fed up with Jax always being able to beat her.
“I’m determined to prove that finesse is more versatile than force,” said Penny, smiling sweetly at Jax.
“I can use finesse,” he protested truthfully.
“Not in Combat,” she replied, equally truthfully.
“Because it’s a waste of time. Be artistic in Manipulation all you want, but painting pretty colours on a containment band, or anything else for that matter, does not give it strength.”
He gave her a pointed look. “Otherwise you’d be the most powerful underage magician at the Seminary.”
Penny glared back. She loved experimenting with different make-up and hairstyles. Today, the plaits in her naturally curly brown hair were threaded with purple and silver ribbons, and her blue eyes were made up to match.
Jax, like most Androvans, dressed entirely in black. As his hair was black too, it was only his green eyes that provided any colour. The dark clothing ensured visibility of the Sygnus, a silver symbol representing the magician’s bloodline. Magically appearing on every shirt or jacket he or she ever wore, it also acted as a key to unlock more advanced spells.
“At least I’m not afraid to express myself,” Penny said.
“You’ll never beat me. Never.”
“Never is a long time,” said Shannon calmly, pushing her long brown hair back behind her shoulders. “And please shut up.”
“Yes, shut up,” Darius repeated. His blue eyes darkened. “Penny doesn’t need me to stand up for her, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it all the same.”
Revus sighed, and Shannon gave him an apologetic look. Her magical strength was by far the strongest in the group, even stronger than Revus’s. In single Combat, she could beat anyone, including him. Although he trusted her now, there used to be a time when Revus thought her very dangerous.
The longstanding treaty requiring Terra to give up its magicians had been shattered rather spectacularly by Jax the previous spring. Fifteen months later, there were still only three Terrans who had acquired force fields: Shannon, Penny, and Penny’s older brother, Andy. But Shannon had been the first, and her partnership with Jax had changed more than just Revus’s opinion about Terran magic.
The treaty between Androva and Terra had come about to contain an evil Terran magician, Angelus, who was responsible for countless deaths on both worlds. The outcome had been life changing on both sides.
When the terms were originally written, Androva’s strength had lain in the skill of its magicians and in the absolute authority of its Council. Terra’s advantage had been the limitless supply of living magic in its forests.
In order to maximise these strengths and safeguard the future, sacrifices had to be made. The treaty had required underage magicians from Androva, like Jax and Darius, to travel to Terra in secret. They harvested its living magic to replenish the magical cage in which Angelus was imprisoned.
Older Androvan magicians had their force fields restricted at the coming of age ceremony, making them unable to harvest magic and preventing any single magician from ever becoming as powerful and dangerous as Angelus had become.
The years passed. Androva gradually became a world dominated by rules and fear, while Terra, as intended, forgot all about magic and that it had ever had any magicians of its own.
Jax, too young at fourteen to know about the treaty (and too stubborn to acknowledge there might be a serious purpose behind the rules he hated so much), opened a portal from his world to Terra in daylight. He deliberately allowed Shannon to see him.
In actual fact, he didn’t allow her to see him. It was more that he lit up her garden with so much living magic it was impossible for her not to notice.
Jax’s wrongdoing should have been a minor problem for the Androvan Council, easily corrected by the usual Distraction Spells. But thanks to a hidden spell even older than the treaty itself, Shannon became a magician when she touched the living magic Jax was harvesting.
By the time the Council found out about her, it was too late to repair the treaty. Ten days later, Shannon and Jax found themselves facing Angelus and his infamous Death Spell. It had taken all of their combined magical skill to defeat him.
The intervening year had been rather more eventful than anyone could have predicted. Jax and Shannon had almost been killed by a Terran kidnapper. Then they got stuck in Pompeii in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius was about to erupt. In between times, Penny and Andy had become magicians as well, and the small group of Terrans who knew about Androva now included Penny’s and Shannon’s parents, and a detective inspector called David Marshall.
Most recently, weeks before, an irresistible and deadly spell had lured Jax and Shannon to the world of Imbera. They had been rescued at the last desperate moment by a combination of Androvan magic, Terran science, and a well-aimed karate kick from Penny’s brother.
After so many adventures together, Jax, Shannon, Darius, and Penny were inseparable. The girls could not imagine their lives without magic, or Jax and Darius. The boys, equally besotted with their Terran girlfriends, were almost as amazed by technology as the girls were by spell projection.
Imbera was now causing problems again, albeit in a less dangerous way than before. Jax had learned some Influencing Spells from an Imberan magician named Callax, and that afternoon Professor Alver had unfortunately got in the way of one of them.
Imberan Influencing Spells generate an emotional response in the recipient that is absolute and, without knowing the Defensive Spells, impossible to resist. Androvan magic, insofar as it relates to emotions, lacks the same degree of precision.
Revus considered what Shannon had said about emotion being a motivator. He gave her a dubious look. “Explain to me why you thought an emotion would improve anything, let alone Penny’s Combat ability.”
Shannon sensed Jax was struggling to keep quiet. He could be quite scathing about his father’s ability to ignore his emotions, a skill Revus had cultivated out of self-preservation when Jax’s mother died.
Although the past year had changed Revus dramatically on this score, Jax still remembered his father being impossibly distant when he was growing up. On the rare occasions they had a disagreement, the old resentments inevitably surfaced.
“Well,” said Shannon, “it has been scientifically proven that enhanced emotions can improve physical performance. Why not magical performance too?”
Revus pressed his lips together at the mention of science. He considered it unnatural. Like Jax and Darius, he owned a Terran mobile phone, but unlike them, he used it reluctantly. He could not trust a device which appeared to perform spells without using magic.
“I find that hard to believe,” he said. “Having to overcome an emotion will usually increase the difficulty of a spell.”
“Are you being deliberately stup… Er… I mean, that’s obviously not what she’s saying…”
Jax trailed off at the incredulous look on his father’s face.
“You’ve chosen this particular moment to accuse me of being stupid? That, in itself, is officially the most stupid thing you’ve done today.”
Darius’s blond head dipped for a second while he suppressed a nervous laugh.
“Sorry,” said Jax hastily. “But we’re not talking about overcoming an emotion. We’re talking about using it.”
“Yes,” continued Shannon, “exactly. For example, would Penny’s attack be stronger if she were feeling hatred for Jax?”
Revus blinked. His mouth twitched.
Penny, encouraged by this, spoke up.
“Maybe something less obvious,” she said, raising her eyebrows at Jax, who grinned. “What if I were finding him hilariously funny? Difficult to imagine, I know, but let’s try.”
Jax’s grin got wider.
“Or,” said Shannon, “it could be emotion for someone else. If Jax were fighting someone Penny loved, would her counter-attack be more powerful then?”
“We all agreed that love would be the best motivator,” added Darius. “But it would be hard to use in practice. I mean, you can’t go around falling in love with random people just so you can win at Combat.”
“Which is when Jax suggested the Influencing Spells,” said Shannon. “They are Imberan,” she went on. “Jax learned them from Cal when he and I last visited.”
“I… er…. I had intended to report them to the Council, obviously,” said Jax. His cheeks turned slightly pink. “I was just waiting for the right time.”
I am on the Council,” said Revus. “We live in the same house. We speak several times a day. What exactly were you waiting for?” His voice took on a sarcastic tone. “The stars to line up in the shape of our Sygnus?”
Jax avoided his father’s gaze.
“And the disagreement?” Revus went on. “How did that arise?”
No one wanted to speak at first.
“Jax… er…. well, he bet Penny that he could make her love him,” said Shannon eventually.
Revus let out a short, incredulous laugh, which broke the tension.
“That’s what led to the spell,” Shannon concluded. “We were in the corridor walking to our next lesson and the argument was getting a bit loud. Professor Alver intervened, and Jax’s force field touched him instead of Penny.”
“I still don’t understand why it’s such a big deal,” added Jax. “I said sorry to him at the time, and I’ll happily say sorry again.”
He shrugged.
“But it was only a Love Spell. It wears off almost as soon as I stop projecting it, and he’s not hurt. I’ve done worse against Professor Livia in a Combat lesson, for Androva’s sake!”
Revus sighed. He remained furious about Jax’s use of unauthorised magic, but it was clear the four underage magicians were telling the truth. Their actions had not been malicious.
“Do you know where Professor Alver went afterwards?” Revus asked.
Jax shook his head.
“To Professor Lenora. To kneel at her feet in front of her entire first-year class and beg her to marry him.”
There was a stunned silence.
Revus sighed again.
“Then he came to see me and he quit his job. Professor Alver is possibly the best professor the Seminary has ever had. But now he says he wants to move to Terra and never see anyone from Androva again.” 

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