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The Legacy of Androva Series



“An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.”

— Stephen King

Once a year, I dedicate a blog post to YA books with amazing opening lines. It's usually timed to coincide with spring because that's the season that gets off to the most dramatic start where I live! The idea is a simple one—ten books that made it onto my TBR list before I was halfway down the first page. And it doesn't matter what the cover looks like or what the description says. It's all about how the story begins.

I hope there's a book or two in my latest list that catches your eye, and thank you very much for visiting my blog today πŸ’•.


“Obligates live by three simple rules:
Never anger the fae.
Never trust the fae.
Never love the fae.
If we can honor these rules, then we have a chance. A chance to serve out the terms of our Obligations. A chance to atone for sins we don't even remember committing.

Entrancedby Sylvia Mercedes


“I was sixteen when I found out; we're all sixteen when we find out. It doesn't seem old enough. It isn't old enough, not for this. And now, at seventeen and on the eve of when it springs to life, I'm still in denial
.”

The Programme, by I S Thorne


“In Ungardia, not even dreams were safe.
In fact, it was the one place humans and fae found themselves equal in their vulnerability. To fall asleep was to risk their minds falling to the mercy of the invading Nightwalkers; to be unaware of their chilling presence.

An Heir Comes to Rise, by C.C. PeΓ±aranda


“The thing I hate most about my father is that he hates me.
And he has good reason to.
It's something we don't talk about.

The Art of Not Breathing, by Sarah Alexander

Cinderella has been dead for two hundred years.
I've been in love with Erin for the better part of three years.
And I am about two minutes away from certain death.

Cinderella Is Dead, by Kalynn Bayron


“A black cat wove around her legs. Remy released a long-suffering sigh. Now the entire tavern would know she was a witch
.
[...]
She did not fear daggers or tavern spiders or the anger of drunken men. She feared being seen. For if any one of these tavern patrons knew she was a red witch, they would all be clambering over each other to cut off her head.”



“I was in all the newspapers when I was fourteen. I wasn't named, but Mum and Dad could never forgive me. I've still got the clippings, though I can't bear to read them
.

Baby Love, by Jacqueline Wilson

“I am at the top of a hill, and although I know I have done something terrible I have no idea what it is.
A minute or an hour ago I knew, but it has vanished from my mind, and I didn't have time to write it down so now it is lost. I know that I need to stay away, but I don't know what I am hiding from.



“This house was made for someone without a soul. So I guess it makes sense that my mother wanted it so badly. I can imagine how her eyes lit up when she walked through the five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath new construction. I'll bet she thinks this house is the answer to what's wrong with us
.”

The Cheerleaders, by Kara Thomas


“There is a moment when the first spark of a fire appears and it is still possible to ignore the coming blaze.
There is no smoke tainting the air. No damage has been done.
Just a little flash that seems harmless and beautiful.”


Inker and Crown, by Megan O'Russell


“A story only matters, I suspect, to the extent that the people in the story change.”

— Neil Gaiman


Characters are the heart and soul of every story. They bring it to life, allowing the fictional world between the pages to become a part of the reader’s imagination. But more than that, characters evolve. The story is their journey.

 

It got me to thinking about the writing process and the importance of character arcs. Today’s blog post is a few words about my approach with examples from the Beyond Androva series. I should point out that I’m far from an expert, and no two writers will have an identical experience. Characters are endlessly diverse, unpredictable, and stubborn too! It often feels like they have their own ideas about the way they should be written.

 

At the start of each new book, I create a basic three-point plan for the protagonist: ⬇⬇⬇

 













**In this context, plan is not the same thing as a story outline. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m a pantser—someone who “writes by the seat of their pants”—which means I’m not great at planning the story in advance**

 

Likable

I think the protagonist should be someone the reader can root for. They don’t have to be perfect—because perfection isn’t appealing or realistic!—but having a few likable traits is a good starting point. My hope is that readers will care about my protagonist(s) enough to want to find out what happens to them.

 

Matched in Magic (Serena): She’s brave, loyal, and creative.

Engraved in Magic (Art): He’s kind, modest, and determined.

Lost in Magic (Kellan): He’s smart, adventurous, and funny.

 

Relatable

Every protagonist needs a few challenges. Some of the challenges are due to external circumstances while others are more internal. I guess you could call them character flaws, or maybe idiosyncrasies would be a better term! Whatever you call them, they give the reader something to empathise and/or identify with. It’s easier to become emotionally invested in a character that has room to grow, and it helps to define the starting point of their arc.

 

Matched in Magic (Serena): She’s impulsive. She gets frustrated with her brother’s attempts to protect her. She wants to escape her past by making a fresh start.

Engraved in Magic (Art): He’s been told his whole life that he’s less than, and he believes it. He has no autonomy. He’s scared of the future.

Lost in Magic (Kellan): He’s overconfident. He doesn’t trust anyone but himself. He’s determined not to make any friends or to let down his guard when he gets out of the Dimension Cell.

 

Believable

The protagonist’s journey has to be convincing. Someone shy and retiring, for example, is never going to become super confident, no matter how many challenges they successfully overcome. What they can do instead is learn how to take a few risks and trust their instincts. They can surprise themselves.

I also think it’s important the ending makes sense. Each protagonist should get the chance to defeat their opposing villain in a way that gives them closure. It wouldn’t be great to arrive at the end of the story and leave the protagonist stuck halfway through their arc.

(The character info below is deliberately cryptic to avoid spoilers…)

 

Matched in Magic (Serena): The people she meets in Xytovia challenge her to think and behave differently.

Engraved in Magic (Art): He discovers something about his magic that forces him to re-evaluate who he is and what he’s capable of.

Lost in Magic (Kellan): Everything he thought he knew about his past is turned on its head, and he has to reconsider the kind of person he wants to be.

 

If you’ve read any of the Beyond Androva books, you may or may not agree with my character assessments! Right now, I’m working on book four, and I have a brand-new protagonist. Averine’s arc is interesting to figure out because she was partway through her story when her character was introduced in Lost in Magic. That means I’m writing toward a fixed reference point, which is something I haven’t done since Galen’s book.

 

Do you have a favourite character arc as a reader? I would find it hard to choose because I like all kinds, as long as they end well. I’m definitely a fan of happy endings. I hope you enjoyed today’s post, and thank you very much for visiting my blog πŸ’•.


I would not be the villain that thou think'st

 William Shakespeare

Today's blog post is the sequel to an A to Z that I created a couple of years ago for Loki, the legendary God of Mischief and my favourite fictional character. It's just for funor perhaps mischief would be a better word 😏. Loki is complicated, unpredictable, and very smart. It's no wonder so many different authors have given the character a starring role in their stories.  You can find my previous A to Z hereand I hope you enjoy the updated version! Thank you very much for visiting my blog πŸ’•.


is for Absurd. “Please sign to verify this is everything you've ever said.
“What?
“Sign this, too.
“Oh, this is absurd.

is for Bad. “You see, I know something children don't.
“What's that?
“That no one bad is ever truly bad. And no one good is ever truly good.

is for Clever. 
“You're very clever.
“I know.

is for Dagger. “So, you didn't try to stab him?
“Certainly not. Take no offense, my friends, but blades are worthless in the face of a Loki sorcery.

is for Expert. “So let's bring in an expert.
“That's me.

is for Frigga. “You know, when I was young, she'd do these little bits of magic for me. Like turn a flower into a frog, or cast fireworks over the water. It all seemed impossible. But she told me that one day, I'd be able to do it too because... because I could do anything.

is for Get. “Come and get me!

is for Hel. “Is this Hel? Am I dead?

is for 
I live within whatever path I choose.

is for Jet skis. “I think a TVA agent showing up on a jet ski on the Sacred Timeline... that would create a branch for sure.
“It'd be fun though.
“Yeah. It'd be really fun.

is for Kind. “We've grabbed enough temporal aura to know it's our Loki Variant. But which kind of Loki, remains unknown.
“They're the lesser kind, to be clear.

is for Love. “OK, look. You don't trust me. You can trust one thing. I love to be right.

is for Magic. “That was me using magic to dry my clothes. So I don't announce myself with every squeaky footstep like the rest of you.

is for Nightmare. “This is a nightmare.

is for Off the Rainbow Bridge. “I could go down to Asgard before Ragnarok causes its complete destruction, and I could do anything I wanted. I could, let's say, push the Hulk off the Rainbow Bridge.

is for Plead. “Madam, a god doesn't plead.

is for Quip. “I don't have a quip. I've got nothing to say.

is for Robot. “Do a lot of people not know if they're robots?

is for Stab. “I'd never stab anyone in the back. That's such a boring form of betrayal.

is for Throne. “How about this one? My army, my throne.

is for Understand. “Now I understand why Thor found this so annoying.

is for Variants. “Ah, hello. Which one of us are you?

is for Wolf. “We have a saying in Asgard. Where there are wolf's ears, wolf's teeth are near.

is for eXhausting. “Did you watch any of the training videos you were supposed to?
“Well, as many as I could stand. Your TVA propaganda is exhausting.

is for You. “Mock me if you dare.

is for Zzzz. 


 
Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time
like dew on the tip of a leaf.
 Rabindranath Tagore

As I reflect on 2021 and look ahead to 2022, I'm hoping I will have more time to read and write in the New Year ☺. Escaping into a story remains the best distraction from the challenges of daily life and the wider world. 

Time is something of an enigma. It never passes more quickly than when I'm lost in a good book, and it never passes more slowly than when I'm struggling with writer's block. It's a fascinating contradiction—something that is measurable yet always changing. I love exploring the concept of time in a magical setting when I'm writing. Time travel, time loops, ageing (or not!), life trading, curses, ultimatums... the possibilities are endless.

The dawn of a New Year always feels like an opportunity, as if time stops for a moment to allow us to start over. 
Today's blog post includes a few of my favourite poems on the subject of time. I hope you enjoy them, and more importantly, I hope 2022 brings you good health and happiness. Oh, and also lots of new books along with the time to read them! Thank you very much for visiting my blog today πŸ’•.

Two things are yours that no man's wealth can buy:
The air, and time;
And, having these, all fate you may defy,
All summits climb.
― Amos Russel Wells

I had not known before
Forever was so long a word.
The slow stroke of the clock of time
I had not heard.
‘Tis hard to learn so late;
It seems no sad heart really learns,
But hopes and trusts and doubts and fears,
And bleeds and burns.
The night is not all dark,
Nor is the day all it seems,
But each may bring me this relief—
My dreams and dreams.
I had not known before
That Never was so sad a word,
So wrap me in forgetfulness—
I have not heard.
― Paul Laurence Dunbar

You - 
My destiny
Love of my life
Please let me
Return
To where we were
Let us
Try again
Maybe this time
We find a way
Maybe...
― Ann Hirsch

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.
― William Shakespeare


This thing of darkness I
Acknowledge mine.
 William Shakespeare

How much darkness can a Light Mage suffer before it consumes them? Luca and Devin face their most powerful enemy yet in Spell Master, the conclusion to the Light Mage trilogy. 

I loved returning to Lucas and Devins world and figuring out the High Councils backstory. The five remaining Master Mages were nothing like I expected once I got closer to their characters, and one of them in particular turned out to be a bit of a scene-stealer! Lyssa the snowdragon also had an important part to play ❄πŸ‰❄.

Todays blog post contains the description and prologue/opening chapter.  Along with the other two Light Mage books, Spell Master is £0.99/$0.99 on Amazon and free to download on other sales channels. Here are the links:

Amazon UK £0.99 Spell Master
Amazon US $0.99 Spell Master
Other sales channels (free) Spell Master

Thank you very much for visiting my blog today, and if you choose to download Spell Master, I hope you enjoy it πŸ’•.

Description
Luca is having an identity crisis. His magic is behaving strangely, his emotions are out of control, and training to be a Master Mage is tougher than he ever expected. The support of his boyfriend, Devin, is one of the few things Luca can depend on.
Then Luca and Devin learn the terrible secret behind the High Council’s smiling public face. The magical dimensions are in the final stages of an ancient curse. Supplies of magic are disappearing. Everyone could die. And the only clue points to Light Mages.
As Luca’s training progresses, some members of the High Council become convinced he is mixed up in the curse. Loyalties are pushed to the limit. And when Luca and Devin finally uncover the truth behind the history of their world, everything they thought they knew about Light Mages is turned upside down.
The price for breaking the curse is a deadly one. But which of them will pay it?




 



Prologue: Marius (A Century Ago)

It was time to give the pendant to another Light Mage. Marius knew he would not live much longer. He was old by Light Mage standards. Most of his contemporaries were already dead. Being in prison did not suit magicians whose magical cores thrived on positivity. Yet it was well known across the dimensions that Light Mages were dangerous. Their magic was different. Unpredictable. Reduced life expectancy was considered a fair price in exchange for keeping everyone safe.
Marius pressed his fingers to the silver disc around his neck, hidden beneath his threadbare shirt. He could not remember wearing any clothes but these in all the years he’d been trapped behind magical bars. He’d cleaned and repaired them as best he could, but the inhibitors built into the cell prevented all but the most basic spellwork.
The wardens had never noticed the pendant, an outcome that should have been impossible given the complete lack of privacy in the cell and the rules forbidding personal possessions. Marius considered it to be reassuring proof that he had not lost his mind, even if his memories were fragmented and contradictory. The pendant really was a powerful magical object, capable of saving the dimensions from the curse inexorably draining their magic.
It was time. He had played his part. He hoped he had done enough.
 

 

1 A New Life Or Two (Luca)

I bent to pick up the newspaper, thrown haphazardly onto the front porch like always. My bones creaked. I should try that yoga class Haylie mentioned. My granddaughter was always telling me seventy was the new fifty. I smiled. I was so proud of her. She was good to her parents and much smarter than I’d ever been.
After folding the black-and-white pages, I tucked them under my arm. Had it been up to me, I’d have cancelled the subscription. Everything was available online these days. But Albert liked the paper with his morning coffee. He’d never agree to swap it for a screen. He didn’t even have his own email account. “Someone has to keep the mailman in a job,” he would say. I’d given up trying to change his mind.
I hesitated before closing the front door. The new paperboy was smiling at me again. Every day this week, he’d made a point of it. I considered asking him why he hadn’t brought the paper to the door if he had so much time to spare. He touched his tongue to his lower lip and winked. My eyes widened behind their glasses. Cheeky devil. Looking at an old woman that way.
Although… there was something familiar about him. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. His olive skin gleamed in the sunshine. I stared back. His eyes sparkled. It was a little distracting. Oh, Good Lord, he’s coming up to the house. I backed away. One of my slippers caught on the doorstep, and despite some frantic tugging on my part, it refused to come free.
The boy jumped easily onto the porch, taking all three steps at once. I opened my mouth to yell for Albert, inhaling sharply and—
Don’t.”
His voice brooked no argument. The cry for help died on my lips, and my legs trembled. My voice flat out refused to work. Not even a croak. The boy was too old to be delivering the paper. A senior, maybe. My mouth opened and shut a couple of times. I couldn’t even ask him what he wanted. I would have told him we had nothing worth stealing.
Albert was just down the hall in the kitchen, probably grumbling that his coffee would be stone cold by the time I returned with the paper. The boy’s expression was unsympathetic. Impatient, even. “C’mon,” he said. “Think. It’s past time you remembered. This is the last one. Then we’re both done.”
Done with what? He was talking as if we knew each other, yet I was quite certain I’d never seen him before he took over the paper route this week. Almost certain. At least seventy percent certain. His eyes held my gaze. They were mesmerizing. Holy cow. I think I do know him. But where from?
A jumble of images spilled into my head. I raised my hand to the collar of my housecoat, horrified, while a hot blush rose up my neck. The boy relaxed, his expression softening into a smile.
“You always remember that stuff first,” he said. “God knows why. I suppose I should be flattered.”
I repeated my impression of a landed fish, still unable to speak.
“Oh, sorry,” said the boy. No… Devin. That was his name. Devin. “Remove,” he added.
“Look, young man, I don’t know what you think you mean by coming here and making me… me…”
My rush of indignant words trailed off as more images—memories—appeared.
“Don’t fight it,” said Devin. “The binding spell releases easier if you don’t fight it.”
The memories pushed my earthbound life to one side, assuming an authenticity that left little room for Mrs. Carrie Bennett, retired store clerk with arthritic knees and a fondness for hot buttered teacakes.
“Gods, Devin.”
He grinned. “There you are.”
“That was… that was quite a life,” I said.
“Uh-huh.”
“I’ve never been so old before. You… you were Mary, weren’t you? Carrie’s second daughter.” My Light Mage ability to recognize energy signatures alongside physical coverings had reasserted itself. “She, I mean Carrie, was devastated when you died. Well, I guess you know that. Presumably you were watching.”
“Watching and waiting,” he agreed. “I wasn’t allowed to jog your memory until this life’s end.”
“It’s been a long five years.”
Devin shook his head. “Four weeks isn’t so long, and it’s not like we didn’t sign up to it.”
Time passed more quickly in the earthbound dimension. A lifetime here equated to approximately one year in the magical dimensions. It was only possible because here was a magical creation, an illusion. Designed to appear vast, chaotic, and overpopulated, when in fact it was meticulously controlled and monitored.
Our society believed that our true selves were only revealed once all magical ability had been taken away. In order to qualify for a profession, each magician, from the lowliest Spell Mason to the most exalted Spell Master, had to follow an earthbound life path, reincarnating their way along a series of predetermined choices and challenges.
I hadn’t ever thought to go earthbound again after I’d graduated and become a guardian all those years ago. Yet here Devin and I were, training to be Master Mages. If we succeeded, we’d become members of the High Council. Part of me was excited. Part of me was terrified.
“How does she…?” I looked down at Carrie’s hands. Knotted veins showed through the age-spotted skin. I’d scrubbed floors with those hands. Knitted scarves for my children. Held my husband. Packed groceries for thousands of customers. It had been a long life, unremarkable yet at the same time unique.
“You don’t have to stay for that part,” said Devin. “You already know about dying. Getting old was the thing this time.”
He put his hand on my arm. “High Council Headquarters,” he said, and our surroundings flickered, turning into shadows. It was like standing at the center of a fast-moving carousel. I closed my eyes. Everything worked on a higher vibration in the magical dimensions, and a long time had passed since my magical form had been free from an earthbound covering. The crystal-clear precision of it was startling.
We arrived in an empty evaluation room. It was simply furnished, and standard Healer supplies were visible through the glass door of the spell cabinet. Three out of the four walls were decorated to resemble a sunset over water, while the fourth was translucent, made from magic, waiting for a magician to personalize it.
As soon as the flickering came to a complete stop, Devin grabbed my other arm and pulled me into a hug. I lifted my hands to his shoulders, turning my face into his neck and breathing him in. Our magical connection reasserted itself so fast that we both froze in place, the rush of emotion overwhelming.
“You cut your hair,” I murmured.
“I thought I’d make my magical form more like my regular earthbound covering.”
“I like it.” Before I could help myself, I planted a kiss just below Devin’s jawline. Then another. My teeth grazed his skin. It had been so long. He gave a shaky laugh, and his hands gripped my waist. “Our Healer will be here any minute to check you over,” he warned.
“I feel fine,” I said, moving even closer.
“You… uh… you sure do,” he replied. Across the connection, I could feel his self-control wavering, and regretfully I took a step backward. I wasn’t being fair to either of us.
“Soon,” I promised.
Devin reached out a hand and the wall of magic shimmered. A mountain appeared. A snowdragon could be seen flying in the distance, wings extended to create a silhouette that was both graceful and menacing. Devin obviously missed her.
With some effort, I pulled away from the connection and walked a few steps toward the other wall, tipping my head back.
“OK?” asked Devin.
“Yeah. It takes a bit of getting used to—being seventeen instead of seventy. Nothing hurts, for a start.”
“Hmm. If we’re talking about earthbound pain, old age isn’t the half of it,” said Devin. “Childbirth without magic shouldn’t be allowed.”
I grinned. “Of course. You had kids this time.”
He made a face. “Anatomy-wise, the process is fundamentally flawed.”
To fill the gaps in our experience, we’d borrowed from a selection of historic life paths and lived parts of them for ourselves firsthand. It had been tough. Intimidating. We’d tried different genders, nationalities, and centuries, facing the extremes that only the earthbound dimension could offer. Poverty and wealth. Love and hate. No magic. No memory of who we really were.
“Ah, Luca. Good. You’re back,” came a voice from the doorway. It was Mixin, the Healer assigned to watch over us while we completed this part of our training. Her hair, tunic, and Healer’s pin were all shades of gray and silver, creating a backdrop against which her dark eyes appeared quite fierce. She was carrying a folder of mage-paper ready to capture my results.
“Any disorientation?” she asked. “Heightened emotions? Unexpected impulses?”
Devin tried to stifle a laugh and failed.
“No,” I said, ignoring him.
“And your magic? How does that feel?”
“OK. I think. But I won’t know until I use it.”
“Take a seat,” said Mixin, “and I’ll run the diagnosis spell first. Do you want a shot?” Her hand was halfway to the cabinet in anticipation of my answer, but I shook my head. “I’ll be fine. It’s no worse than being audited.”
“Reason enough,” said Devin. “I’d take one for audits if I could.”
“You wouldn’t risk it,” I said. “Neither of us would.”
“Maybe not.” He lowered his gaze. You can’t run from a Spell Master if you’re too spaced out to think.
Spell shots were tiny bottles of concentrated magic. Magicians didn’t eat or sleep, but our magical cores couldn’t sustain themselves without regular supplements of energy. Spell shots were a two-for-one. Magic and a spell. The diagnosis shots used by Healers were like bottled bliss. Most magicians didn’t hesitate to take one.
I leaned my head against the back of the chair and stared at the view of the mountain while Mixin got to work. Ouch. This is worse than I remember. I guess I’m out of practice. Like Devin, I was a Light Mage. Uncommon. Distinctive. My magical core was next to my heart rather than inside of my head and allied with my emotions instead of my intellect. Gradually, I adjusted to the sting of Mixin’s spell, and I was able to enjoy the snowdragon’s acrobatics.
In the replica of Dellarior Mountain from Devin’s memory, Lyssa swooped toward us before rising again, her wings beating with enough power to lift her almost vertically. I caught a glimpse of white fur, glittering talons and teeth, and yellow eyes half closed against the icy air. “She’s grown so much while I was away,” I said.
“I know. And that’s not all,” said Devin. “Look again.”
“I don’t see anything.” At that moment, Lyssa turned sideways, revealing the fur on her belly. It was gold. I was so surprised my shoulders lifted away from the chair.
Mixin pushed me back. “Stay where you are. I’m not a Spell Master, remember?” Her mouth lifted as if she’d made a joke. “I can’t do this without your cooperation.”
“Sorry,” I said, keeping still with difficulty. “Devin? She’s pregnant?”
I felt the diagnosis spell slide across my core in a sudden burn that had me wincing. Devin walked into my eyeline so I could see his face without having to move. He grinned, and his brown eyes lit up. “She is.”
“How did that happen?”
His grin widened. “Well… when a girl dragon meets a boy dragon—”
“Hilarious,” I said, cutting him off. “You know that’s not what I meant. There hasn’t been a viable snowdragon egg for years.”
“Cass and I have been trying a new spell combination. It’s early days, but we’re hopeful.”
“I’m done,” said Mixin. She turned to Devin. “How exciting! I know the High Council prefers to keep it quiet, but the reducing snowdragon population is becoming a major concern.”
Devin hesitated. “The High Council does keep it quiet. With good reason. How come you know about it?”
Mixin opened the folder of mage-paper and pressed her hand to the top page to record my results. A series of charts and diagrams appeared, and I tried to look, but the page was at the wrong angle for me to read it properly. She smoothed her hair, tucking it neatly behind her ears, and met Devin’s gaze. “I’ve been your Healer for quite a while, and it’s my job to notice things. It’s also my job to maintain patient confidentiality, so you have nothing to worry about.”
“Well… OK,” he said. He bit his lip. “All the same, I should probably be more careful.”
“What’s that?” I asked, pointing to the red indicator on the mage-paper.
“Your baseline magical strength,” said Mixin. “The percentage change is outside of normal parameters.”
“Oh. I suppose they did warn us it might happen.”
“Indeed,” she replied.
“Mine went up too,” said Devin, giving my upper arm a brief squeeze. “No big deal. But it does mean another audit, unfortunately.”
Mixin’s hand was already raised. A glow appeared between her fingers as her magic activated the connection between her Healer’s pin and the mage-net.
“No big deal?” I repeated. “How much has it increased that I need an audit?”
“Calm down. It’s not the first time our magic has gotten stronger,” said Devin.
“That was different,” I pointed out. “Very different. The time before was an accidental benefit from a spell we used deliberately.”
I got up from the chair, too on edge to remain seated. I didn’t like unexplained changes to my magic. The last time it happened I’d almost been executed.
“Hey,” said Devin. “That accidental benefit you mentioned was the start of this, and it’s fine. It’s expected. I promise mine was the same.”
He tried to reestablish the connection, and I felt the pull against my magic like a magnetic field. Had it always been so intense? At first I resisted, wanting to prove to myself I still could. Then I allowed his emotions to mix with mine. The tightness in my chest eased off. He’s telling the truth this time.
Devin rolled his eyes. “Of course I’m telling the truth. And you can drop the ‘this time’ shit if you don’t mind. Hampton Court was ages ago.”
I hesitated before replying. “I… Wait, did I say that out loud?”
Mixin glanced from Devin to me, and her lips thinned. She spoke slowly. “You didn’t say anything, Luca.”
That’s impossible.