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The Legacy of Androva Series

New Book, New Series, First Chapter

Today's post is a chapter sample from my work-in-progress, to be released later in 2018 😊 📓.
Thank you very much for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoy the beginning of this new series as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Prologue 
“If I make it possible for you to attend this school, the restrictions will be significant. Do you understand?”
I nodded. Whatever. Whatever it takes. He could do what he liked. He could do his worst. He always did. But he was the only one who could make this happen for me.
“Aren’t you even interested in knowing what the restrictions will be? I could leave you with nothing, Luca.”
For a moment, I hesitated. “Nothing?”
“I see you haven’t completely lost the sense you came here with.” He laughed. “I could leave you with nothing, but I won’t. Where’s the fun in that? I will do my best to strike a balance. Just enough to give you hope you can succeed, but not quite enough to actually do so. How does that sound?”
I pushed away my irritation. “It sounds… typical.”
He loved nothing more than a new contract. My reputation, my magic, and my life, in exchange for this one chance. I knew I would probably fail, but I had to try. I had to. The alternative was unthinkable.
“Excellent. I do like to live down to expectations. Off you go, then. Classes enroll today. You have until the end of the semester.”
It wasn’t long enough. He knew it as well as I did, but I refused to give him the satisfaction of protesting.
“Oh, and Luca? Good luck. You’ll need it.”

1 A Face 
I approached the school slowly. The sidewalk was solid and unforgiving beneath my feet. If I tripped and fell down, everyone would see me do it, and if I used magic to prevent myself from falling, I would only make myself conspicuous for a different reason.
The more I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, the more complicated it seemed to become. The late summer sunshine reflected off every metal surface, as if it were actively trying to disorient me.
It had been a long time. Could everyone tell? I wished I had checked my appearance. I’d been so keen to get away from him that it hadn’t seemed important. I should probably have checked a lot of things.
Perhaps if I wait on this corner for a minute or two…
“Hey,” came a voice. It was close enough to make me jump. I’d been watching the comings and goings through the school gate, fascinated by the groups of students and their differences and similarities. I turned apprehensively.
“Hey,” I repeated, playing it safe.
The boy grinned. His teeth were white and straight. “You’re new.”
You have no idea. “I guess I am,” I said. “Is that a problem?”
I concentrated on keeping my expression as neutral as possible. It was way too soon to reveal anything about myself. I felt my heart speeding up and my shoulders stiffening as if it were happening to someone else. It was the oddest sensation.
“You tell me, dude. I’m just saying hey.”
“It’s not a problem for me,” I replied, thinking, Liar.
“Are you a senior?”
Was I? I couldn’t be sure. I looked down at my shoes for inspiration. One of the laces was coming undone.
“I… er… I’ll be eighteen soon,” I managed. I would never be eighteen, of course. I remained frozen at the point when I’d
“Me too,” said the boy, interrupting my train of thought. “When’s your birthday?”
“Oh. It’s…” I used to hate my birthday. “It’s on Samhain?” My voice rose, turning it into a question. I had a feeling I might have used the wrong word. “Um… the last day of October?”
He blinked. “You mean Halloween?”
“Do I?”
We looked at each other for a second, then he laughed. The sound came easily, as if he made it often. “Is this like one of those games where we have to keep trading questions?”
The game is a little more complicated than that. I tried for a smile. “Why are you even talking to me?”
I hadn’t gone out of my way to attract his attention. And we didn’t know each other. There was nothing about his energy signature that was familiar to me.
The boy tilted his head. His brown eyes tracked my body down to my feet and back up again. “I don’t know. I guess you look interesting. What’s your name?”
“L-l-l…” My voice trailed off. Damn him. I’m not going to be able to use my name, am I? One of the “restrictions,” no doubt.
The boy waited, settling his weight on one hip. My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth, unable to get past the sound of the L. I was about to choose a name at random, then realized I couldn’t. I didn’t know what name he had chosen. I would have to enroll to find out.
The boy obviously decided to take pity on me.
“I’m Devin. You can come with me to register if you want.”
“I… Why are you being so friendly?”
That laugh again. “You’re hard work, aren’t you? If you’d rather go solo, that’s cool.”
He turned to leave, shifting his backpack into a more comfortable position while he checked the street for traffic. Disappointment made my chest contract for a second, taking me by surprise.
“Stop,” I said. “I’d like to go with you.”
He looked over his shoulder, eyebrows raised. “You going to tell me your name, then?”
I shrugged. The smile took less effort this time. “Wait until we register. I’d rather stay interesting for a bit longer.”
“There’s a fine line between interesting and weird, you know.”
“I’ve heard. I guess it’s a bit like the line between friendly and weird. As long as you stay on the right side of it…”
He frowned, and I bit my lip. Had I gone too far? Fortunately, his frown was soon replaced by a grin. “I’ve got a feeling you’re going to be trouble, newbie.”
I am. But hopefully not for you.
“Define trouble,” I said, following him across the road. He was about to answer when another boy called to him from just inside the school gate.
“Dev! Where’ve you been? All the best lockers are gone, you lazy…” He stopped speaking when he saw me. “Who’s this?”
The second boy was nothing like Devin. He was pale, with sharp features, and his expression was wary.
“This”—Devin reached to put an arm across my shoulders—“is the new guy. He doesn’t have a name yet, but he assures me he’ll get one at registration.”
Devin’s hand was warm and very close to the skin of my neck where my collar ended. I tried not to move. I don’t know what will happen if he touches me. “And this,” he continued, looking at the other boy, “is Gabe, my bes—”
I flinched when I heard the name, and Devin broke off with a howl of pain mid-sentence. He dragged his hand away from me and cradled it to his chest as if he’d been electrocuted. Perhaps he has been. Kind of.
“Dev, you OK?” asked Gabe. He scowled at me and took a threatening step forwards. “What the hell was that? What did you do?”
I ignored him, stepping in front of Devin and blocking his view. I thought I could count on Gabe to be a little nervous of grabbing me, at least right away.
“Devin,” I said softly. “Look at me.” Responding automatically to the instruction, he lifted his gaze. The second our eyes met, I whispered, “Sano. Dedisco.”
His expression cleared and he blinked a couple of times. His eyelashes were still wet from the tears of pain he hadn’t quite shed. Then he looked down at his hand, as if surprised to find it curled against his body.
“Dev,” said Gabe, stepping around me. “What happened? Did he hurt you?”
“I’m…fine,” he replied slowly. “Wait, what? Did who hurt me?”
Him,” said Gabe, gesturing to me with a quick jerk of his head. He was too mistrusting of me to come any closer. “Name-game guy here.”
Devin let out a disbelieving laugh. “Why would you think that? He would never hurt anyone. He’s…” Our eyes met again before I could prevent it. His eyes widened. Don’t say it. Don’t even think it.
“He’s worried we’re going to be late,” I said abruptly, turning away. “Shouldn’t we get going?” I wanted to find out my name. And I wanted to sever the connection with Devin before it had a chance to take hold.
I walked towards the nearest school building, not stopping even when Devin called after me. I heard him and Gabe having a conversation but their voices were too low. I couldn’t make out what they were saying. Devin ran up alongside me, slightly out of breath.
“Why does Gabe think you did something to me?” he asked.
Because I did. “I have no idea,” I replied. “Is it this way?”
“Yeah. Look…”
I saw his hand coming towards my arm just in time and twisted to one side before he could make contact with my skin. This was going to be much more difficult than I’d expected. I could fool his eyes and ears, but his touch would know me for what I was, every time.
He gave me an irritated look. I could see the hurt underneath it.
“I’m sorry,” I said. I didn’t want to hurt him. I liked him. Perhaps I should allow the connection. If I’m careful…
“No, I’m the one who’s sorry,” he replied, before I could say anything else. “You want to be on your own? You got it.”
He walked ahead of me, hunching his shoulders. Gabe followed him, glancing at me on his way past. I avoided his gaze, but there was no missing the satisfied expression on his face. I sighed.
I followed them slowly, keeping the two boys in sight so I would know roughly which direction to walk in. The school layout would have been confusing if it had been my first time, but fortunately I had already committed it to memory on a previous visit. Soon enough I saw a sign saying, “Enrolment ®” and realized the cafeteria had to be where everything was set up.
I slowed my pace even further until Devin and Gabe disappeared from view. The hallways were fairly quiet because classes didn’t begin until next week and most students had registered by now. I attracted a few curious looks, but no one spoke to me.
Finally, I passed an empty classroom. I ducked inside and pulled the blind over the glass pane in the door. There was no key in the lock. I bent down until my gaze was level with the handle. “Sero,” I said. Obediently, the lock turned.
Right. First thing’s first.
I took hold of one of the short sleeves of my shirt. “Amplius.” I didn’t stop pulling until it covered the bones of my wrist, immediately repeating the action with the other arm. It might be warm out, but I needed to cover my skin.
What next? It wouldn’t hurt to know what I look like.
I stared at the pale-green blind covering the door pane. Its edges were frayed and there was a brown stain at the bottom.
Speculo.”
The blind shimmered, once, twice, then a pool of silver appeared in its centre. A boy’s face, my face, looked back at me from the newly reflective surface. It really is my face. I hadn’t seen it like this in a long time, but I was in no doubt.
The boy had bronze-colored hair and blue-green eyes. There was a crescent-shaped white scar on his cheekbone and his skin was tanned darker than its natural shade. Just like before, from all the hours I’d spent sparring in the hot Roman sun, preparing for that fateful day in the Colosseum.
I touched my cheek with my forefinger, remembering how I’d come by the scar. My sparring partner had been delighted to “decorate that pretty face with a taste of things to come.”
I curled the fingers of my right hand into a loose fist. I could almost feel the handle of the sword and the heavy, reassuring weight of the blade extending from it.
The person in the mirror didn’t belong here. The modern clothes looked out of place on him, like seeing a laptop next to an ancient wax writing tablet. I turned away from my reflection, muttering, “Rescindo.” The blind returned to its previous state.
I had not expected to look like that boy. It was very unsettling. I could only suppose that was what he wanted.
Everything was going to be more difficult with this face. The ancestry that had created my physical appearance was like a melting pot of the best and worst the Roman Empire had to offer, but it wasn’t only that. The passing of thousands of years had changed earthbound faces. The changes were subtle, but undeniable. I looked different.
I held my hands out in front of me. They were shaking slightly. I swallowed, trying not to think about what I’d done with those hands the last time I was earthbound. Get over it, Luca. You chose to come back.
Resero,” I said, and the door unlocked. I stepped out into the corridor. Right into the path of Devin and Gabe. 

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