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The Legacy of Androva Series

Writing about magic brings a lot of freedom because your imagination gets to dream up whatever it wants. There aren't any rules but the ones the writer creates for themselves. However, mixing the story with a little history along the way can be interesting. I enjoy learning something new about the world, and it's fun to creatively fit the existence of magic with past events. So far I've tried Ancient Rome 🏛 and Tudor England 🏰.

This weekend has been a combination of writing and research. On the research side, I decided my next historical reference would have something to do with the fabled Seven Wonders Of The World. I knew very little about them, and I wanted to change that. Also, they sounded like a good fit for the Light Mage Series and its magically created earthbound dimension. How/when is something I'll figure out later!

Tourism is big business in the twenty-first century. We live on a planet full of incredible sights and spectacles, and these days we can travel pretty much anywhere. Back in the Hellenic Period of Ancient Greece (when the Seven Wonders were first written about), people were equally keen to discover the world around them. The Seven Wonders were the biggest tourist attractions of their day. But the Greeks couldn't travel across the entire planet. Therefore the Seven Wonders were inevitably located quite close together.

You can see from this map that they're grouped around the Mediterranean Sea between Europe and Africa. "Seven Wonders Of The World" means more like "Seven Wonders Of The World Within Our Reach." There was also a certain amount of bias. Most of the Seven Wonders were celebrations of Greek accomplishments 😏.

The Hellenic Period is the time between the first democracy in Athens until Alexander the Great's death, which spanned 507-323 BC. Two-and-a-half thousand years ago, more or less. Incredibly, all Seven Wonders only coexisted for less than sixty years. That's not very long!

Here are a few facts from my research. This is definitely not an exhaustive guide to the Seven Wonders--it's just some information I found surprising and/or interesting as I learned about them. The amazing thing is that they were all man-made in a time where there was no mechanisation, no electricity, and no computers. Everything from the design to the construction was manual.

Great Pyramid of Giza

The pyramid was built two thousand years before the others (~2,500 BC) and is the only one of the Seven Wonders still standing today. Therefore it's also unique in having a real photograph! Historians think the pyramid was made as a tomb for the Fourth Dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Khufu. There are three chambers inside it: a burial chamber, a statues chamber, and a mysteriously unfinished "underworld" chamber.

The pyramid is huge, weighing six million tonnes and stretching to 450 feet at its highest point. That's almost half as tall as the Chrysler Building in New York. It was made from 2.3 million blocks of stone. Some of the stones were transported from 500 miles away, which is an unimaginable distance. You'd travel almost half a mile if you walked all the way around its base. No one knows exactly how it was built--because it seems impossible!--though there are many theories about likely construction techniques.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Creating a garden purely for it to look beautiful (as distinct from the production of food) became increasingly popular amongst wealthy private individuals in the Hellenic Period. Flowers, water features, sculptures, and architectural design were all important. The more original the better. The Hanging Gardens were apparently built ~600 BC by the Babylonian Empire's greatest king, Nebuchadnezzar II. This is the only one of the Seven Wonders whose existence is disputed. Evidence of the gardens has never been found, although they were said to have lasted for 1,500 years.

It would have been quite a feat to irrigate the many terraces in such a climate. The sight of such an extravagant and exotic garden would probably have impressed Greek tourists enormously, being so different to the dusty olive groves they were more accustomed to.

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

The most impressive Greek temple that I know about is probably the Parthenon. As it turns out, the Temple of Artemis was actually twice the size of that. It took more than one hundred years to build. I can't imagine a marble temple on such a a scale. It's similar in length and width to a US football field!

Artemis was the Greek goddess of hunting, forest animals, and fertility. Her temple was rebuilt more than once in its long history. Originally constructed around 550 BC, it was the victim of a deliberate arson attack two hundred years later. Then it was destroyed by a Gothic invasion in the third century. Finally, the temple was closed during the rise of Christianity at the start of the fifth century. The ruins remain a tourist attraction today.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia

The Statue of Zeus was forty feet high. That's almost seven times as high as the average person. It was rendered in full colour too, with a wooden frame underneath and ivory (for the skin) and gold (for the hair/beard/clothes) on top. Details were created from silver, copper, enamel, glass, and jewels. No wonder it became so famous.

It would have gleamed too. Apparently the statue was painted with olive oil to protect the ivory. The oil was kept in a pool in front of the statue on black tiles, creating a reflection that made the statue look twice its size. As if it wasn't impressive enough already!

Built around 450 BC, the statue lasted for a thousand years before being destroyed by fire sometime in the fifth or six century.

Mausoleum at Harlicarnassus

The word mausoleum (meaning a tomb above ground / funeral monument) originates from this Seventh Wonder. It was built for Mausolus, the ruler of Caria, around 350 BC. Mausolus himself started planning and building this monument fourteen years before he died. It was completed after his death by his wife--and sister!--Artemisia. He wanted to commemorate his dynasty and the city he'd created.

It wasn't only the structure that was so impressive (it was nearly twice as high as Buckingham Palace) but also the accompanying colour statues. There were lions on the staircase. Gods and goddesses around the platform. Warriors on horseback at each corner. And, of course, Mausolus and his queen. On the roof was a massive statue of Mausolus riding a chariot. The monument lasted a long time. It was weakened and finally destroyed by a series of earthquakes from the twelfth to fifteen centuries.

Colossus of Rhodes

This statue was even taller than the Statue of Zeus. One hundred and ten feet high. That's twice as high as the letters in the Hollywood sign. It was intended to look like the Greek sun-god Helios and was built at the entrance to Rhodes (which had five harbours) to celebrate a victory over Cyprus around 300 BC. Unfortunately, the statue didn't even last a full century before an earthquake destroyed it.

The broken pieces of the statue remained in the harbour for a thousand years before they were finally melted down as scrap in the mid-seventh century.

Lighthouse at Alexandria

Height was definitely a common theme amongst the Seven Wonders! The lighthouse was more than 330 feet high. To put it into context, that means it was twenty-five feet taller than the Statue of Liberty including the pedestal.

Alexandria was a city founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. It had two natural harbours on the River Nile and quickly became a successful trading port. Ptolemy I commissioned the lighthouse in 300 BC, though it was finally completed by his son (Ptolemy II!) twenty years later. It stood on the island of Pharos, a word that subsequently became part of the Greek language to mean lighthouse. Legend has it that the inhabitants of Pharos were "wreckers" (shipwreck raiders) and so Ptolemy built the lighthouse to keep the ships safe. It used a mirror to reflect the sunlight during daytime and a fire at night, lasting more than 1,600 years until the early fourteenth century.

And that's it--all Seven Wonders Of The World present and correct! I hope you enjoyed reading about the tourist attractions of the past as much as I enjoyed researching them, and thank you very much for visiting my blog today 💕.

Spell Tacker continues... and Luca finds out what Cass wants him to do. He has to think fast in order to keep the Spell Tracker from gaining any ground because he still can't access Cass's life path. Unfortunately, Devin doesn't want anything to do with Luca after Luca showed Devin one of his past lives in the last chapter. Being a guardian is never easy, but being an earthbound guardian is almost impossible!

You can catch up on chapters one through eighteen via the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading 💕.

19 Another Name

Mitescere,” I said.
“What did you say?”
Cass gave me a skeptical look, so I tried to come up with an excuse. “I… uh… I was saying it’s a bit scary. Having you be all nice to me like this.”
Now she was looking downright suspicious. “I don’t believe you’re scared of me. Or of any ordinary person. What did you really say?”
We’d taken our lunches outside and were sitting under one of the trees at the edge of the baseball field. The air was hot and heavy, as if late summer had settled on the earth like a blanket, its tightly woven strands keeping back the chill of fall.
“I am a bit scared of you,” I said truthfully. I watched her, waiting for a sign that the spell was working.
She relaxed against the tree, her posture softening. “God, I’m tired,” she said. “It must be the stress of the audition. I didn’t sleep very well last night.”
“Me neither. Well, I don’t sleep, so that’s probably a stupid thing to say.” I made a face. I was so on edge, it was a miracle I was making any sense at all. I couldn’t stop thinking about Devin. Even though it hurt. Even though it was a distraction I didn’t need.
She laughed. “You’re hard to figure out. I don’t understand how you can be as awkward as anything one minute and so impressive the next.”
“Impressive?” Tell me what I do that’s impressive, and I’ll do it all the time.
“Very occasionally,” she qualified. Her pupils expanded a little, and she sighed. “Maybe tired isn’t the right word. I just feel…”
“Tell me about your idea,” I said. That was the whole point of the spell. I thought maybe if she were chilled out when she talked about it, I’d be able to manage the consequences better.
“OK.” Cass glanced left and right to make sure no one was close enough to overhear. “I want you to take me back in time so I can talk to my mother.”
I sat back on my heels. Shit. He’s really outdone himself. I tried to arrange my features into something that would mask how horrified I was feeling. “Er… and what would you say to her?”
“Well, I’d convince her not to kill herself,” she replied. “Obviously.”
She was so certain of success. It was heartbreaking. Even if it were possible to interfere in the historic section of a life path—which it’s not—there was still a high chance that her mother would make the same choice. “Why obviously?” I asked, as gently as I could.
Cass stared at me. “Because… I’m her daughter. She would never have left me if she knew how much I loved her. All I have to do is…” Her voice faded. “Don’t look at me like that. Fine. She did know. I told her every day. Whatever. Who gives a shit.” She became agitated. “At least she could explain to me why the hell she did it. She owes me that!”
It was only the spell keeping her from falling headlong into rage and despair. She was too smart to fool herself for very long. Whatever hopes she’d talked herself into having over the weekend were teetering on the edge of collapse. I had to do something. He wasn’t going to win like this.
“We can try,” I heard myself say. I curled my fingers into fists, willing the lie to sound convincing. “You’ll have to give me some time to figure it out. I’ve never done anything like it before. Can you do that? Can you give me some time?”
I kept talking, my voice low, until gradually, her emotions subsided. Gathering my courage, I reached out with my magic—slowly, Luca—to look at her life path. She immediately tensed up, her shoulders lifting.
“What’s the matter?”
“I don’t know. It feels like someone walked over my grave. Ugh. I don’t even know why I said that. It’s a dumb expression.”
 I pulled my magic back. It looked like I would have to be patient for a while longer and use concesso when a better time and place turned up. Soon, though. It has to be soon.
Cass shivered. “Sorry. I don’t normally let myself get so emotional. When do you think we’ll be able to do it?”
For a second I thought she was asking me about concesso, and I nearly answered, “As soon as possible.” I bit back the words and did my best to be noncommittal. “As soon a-as… as soon as I’m sure I can do it.”
“OK. I’ve waited all this time. I guess I can wait a little longer.”
“Do you want any lunch?” I asked.  Cass wrinkled her nose. The plastic cartons of salad had looked unappetizing enough in the cafeteria, and half an hour outside in the heat had done them no favors.
“Maybe not,” she said.
“Do you want something else? You should eat.” I knew I was sounding like a parent but I couldn’t help my training. The earthbound needed food and she was no exception. Especially after the emotional rollercoaster she’d just experienced.
“I’ll wait,” she said. “My foster mom keeps the fridge pretty well stocked.”
“Yeah, but we’ve got detention, remember? Let me… patella, panem, caseus, pomum, non… rubeus,” I added, turning the apple that had appeared from green to red.
Cass reached out a tentative hand and touched the food I’d produced. “It’s warm,” she said, looking at me. “The bread is warm. How did you do that?”
“Um… it’s only bread.”
“So it’s not just time travel and floating furniture? You can do ordinary magic too?”
I shrugged. It was all magic as far as I was concerned. There was no way to know what would help an assignment until you tried. The simplest of spells could trigger the most unexpected breakthrough.
Cass tore off a piece of bread and then another, eating with increased enthusiasm when she realized it tasted good. It was citizen’s bread. The white bread we slaves had never been permitted to eat. I had shared some with her once before. One of the older gladiators, given a parcel of food by an adoring noblewoman, had been feeling generous and had thrown me a portion.
When she was finished and the plate was empty, I dispareo’d it.
“I feel better,” she said, sounding surprised. “Still tired, though.”
“We have a little while till the bell. If you want to take a nap I promise to wake you up in time for afternoon class.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Take a nap? Are you kidding?”
“Why not?”
“Because I’d feel stupid. No one naps in high school.”
“So you’ll be unique. I thought that was your thing.” I raised my own eyebrows.
For a few seconds it was like we were having a raised-eyebrow standoff. Then she laughed. “Here?” she asked. “You expect me to take a nap right here? Like, put my head in your lap or something?”
Please. You always used to.
I pushed the thought away as soon as it appeared. Not fast enough. The image was too appealing.
“I don’t mind,” I said. I waited. Time seemed to stop.
“Well… maybe I’ll lean against you and close my eyes for a few minutes. Would that be OK?”
Five minutes later she was fast asleep and I was battling to keep my surroundings from shifting into the Ludus Magnus. It was so familiar. Her energy signature was like coming home. I smoothed her hair back, careful not to touch her skin, and muttered, “Non video.”
I’d learned my lesson. I wasn’t going to have him sending students over to stare at us and add to the rumors. I whispered, “Tenuo,” over and over. I couldn’t look at her life path while she slept, but I could dissolve a little of the darkness she carried.
“I’m so sorry, Leander. I tried to find you. I really did.”
Cass shifted slightly, but her eyes remained closed. “Who’s Leander?” she murmured.
Dedisco,” I said in reply, killing off her memory of the name before it had a chance to take hold. Saying it out loud had somehow made me feel better, despite the risk. I had saved him… her… before. I could do it again.
 I squeezed her shoulder. “Cass… it’s time to wake up.”
She blinked up at me and smiled. When she realized where she was, she struggled into a sitting position. “I can’t believe I actually went to sleep,” she said, self-consciously pulling down her T-shirt. “The rumor mill will be going crazy.”
“No one seemed to be bothered,” I said. “Look.” A group of students walked right past us on their way back for afternoon class. Until I said rescindo, we’d be here, but anonymous like background noise.
“About that,” I added. “I’m sorry for what Mina posted. I think Gabe came looking for me and he put two and two together to make Cavi.”
“Yeah. I thought it was something like that. I feel bad for Mina, but I couldn’t let her get away with what she said to me.”
“You were amazing,” I said. “You never even bothered to deny what she accused you of.”
Cass picked up her backpack. “Like I told you in our first Drama class—if people want to assume shit about me, I can’t stop them. As long as I know the truth.”
“And what is the truth?” I asked, curious.
“I did want to kiss you. I was surprised how much. But it would only lead me somewhere I swore I’d never go.”
She started walking, and it took me a moment to recover enough to lift the spell and follow her.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I said when I caught up.
“I thought you’d know. Aren’t you here to help me?”
“I… well, yes, I am, but it’s not as easy as that. I already told you I can’t read your mind.”
“So you did. Just checking.”
It was her life path I wanted to read. Without it, I had no idea which life lesson was causing her so many problems and no idea how to help her past it. But I’d have to wait. The bell rang as we approached the school building. “I’ll see you in detention,” she said, walking away.
I reinstated my non video. I had no intention of going to class, and there were surprisingly few places to be alone in a high school during the day unless you had a layer of magic to disappear behind. Someone was always hanging around no matter where I went.
Methodically, I checked the school for Mina’s energy signature. I was quite familiar with it by now and it should have been easy to locate, even without access to my own dimension. I drew a blank. She must have gone home.
Gabe and Devin were both in Mr. Nux’s English class. I only glanced in quickly. Devin lifted his head, no doubt feeling the same flicker of proximity through our connection as I was. He scowled, so I kept on walking.
Great, Luca. Now he thinks you’re stalking him.
The day didn’t get any better. Mrs. Stanton kept a close eye on me and Cass during detention, and Cass left as soon as we were done, saying she had to get back home. “Work on that thing, OK?” she said. “Let me know as soon as you think you can do it.”
I nodded, unable to come up with a reason for her to stay behind. I was almost desperate enough to run after her, but I couldn’t. Not with Mrs. Stanton watching and no words in my head except the desire to shout, “You have to do what I say—otherwise you’ll belong to him!”
I mean, what girl wouldn’t respond positively to a threat like that?
“Don’t you have a home to go to, Mr. Sequani?”
Mrs. Stanton walked up to my table. I was staring at the empty doorway and wondering if I dared leave the school, just for one evening.
So far, he’d kept me anonymous. He’d honored our agreement. I hadn’t sensed any guardian activity despite the fact that high schoolers were of prime assignment age. I could only suppose they were being helped outside of school hours, at least temporarily. On reflection, that was entirely possible. Even favorable.
Of course, I didn’t doubt he’d also honor our agreement if I failed. It wasn’t just Cass who’d be lost. I’d agreed to the contract. It was bound to my magic.
I sighed. I couldn’t leave the school. His restrictions were part of the deal. I’d given up my chance to negotiate the moment I’d let him see how much this mattered to me.
“Mr. Sequani. I asked you a question. Are you feeling all right?”
Startled, I spoke without thinking. “Oh. Yeah, I’m fine, Samantha. Oh, shit. I mean, Mrs. Stanton. I’m sorry. It was a genuine…”
My voice trailed off when she placed both hands on the table and leaned over me. “A genuine… what? Attempt to annoy me? Win another night’s detention?”
“Mistake,” I said indignantly. “A genuine mistake. I’m used to first names, that’s all.” Guardians always use first names.
“You don’t have an audience this time; so I’m inclined to believe you.” She returned to the front of the classroom to pick up her things. “However, this is your last chance.”
I nodded. We could agree on that. It’s my last chance with Cass. It’s my last chance with everything.

Up to and including Monday 8th July 2019, the Legacy of Androva series will be at a special price on Amazon! Stealing Magic, Capturing Magic, and Seeking Magic will be FREE and the other four books in the series will be priced at $0.99/£0.99 on Amazon US and UK.

You can find The Legacy of Androva: Books 1 -3 here:

Amazon UK The Legacy of Androva: Books 1 - 3

Amazon US The Legacy of Androva: Books 1 - 3

And the series here:

Amazon UK The Legacy of Androva

Amazon US The Legacy of Androva

It's a hot and sunny weekend in the UK, and I'm writing this blog post in the garden 🌳🌺. On days like this, it's easy to imagine stories about living magic 🙂.

Now that Spell Mason is less than a week from its Kindle release date, I'm free to concentrate on something new. In the case of my next book, I'll be writing a new story but also revisiting some familiar faces, and I can't wait! Beyond Androva will kick off with Serena, Galen's sister, and the adventure she encounters when she visits a brand-new world at the end of Surviving Magic. Her story will only mention the Legacy of Androva timeline briefly as a scene setter. Everything afterwards will be completely different.

After a year of writing Light Mage stories, I thought a character interview would be a great way to reconnect with Galen as a starting point for the new book. Here's what he had to say for himself. I hope you enjoy the interview, and thank you very much for visiting my blog today 💕.

Interview with Galen, set after Surviving Magic
Me: Thanks for talking to me again.
Galen: (smiles briefly) My pleasure. Although I have to confess to an ulterior motive.
Me: What’s that?
Galen: You’re a storyteller. And I thought my story had been told. Yet here you are. I can’t help wondering why.
Me: Perhaps your story isn’t over.
Galen: Ah, but it is. My role in the treaty between Androva and Terra is done. I assure you.
Me: Then perhaps it is time for a new story.
Galen: Not for me.
Me: Are you trying to put me off?
Galen: (raises eyebrows) Is it working?
Me: A bit. If I thought you hated the idea, I would probably struggle to write about it.
Galen: What idea?
Me: Serena.
Galen: (pauses) I hope you’re joking.
Me: Readers are interested in her. She’s determined. Smart. Funny.
Galen: I know that. She’s my sister, isn’t she? And she also deserves to be happy. Her story should not be worthy of a Terran book. It should be ordinary. Safe.
Me: What do you think she would say to that?
Galen: Don’t you dare ask her.
Me: I don’t have to. Look, you said you wanted her to be happy.
Galen: (sighs) I do.
Me: She’ll go to a new world whether I write about it or not. You know that.
Galen: Can I go with her?
Me: (smiles) I thought your story was over.
Galen: (rolls eyes) So did I.
Me: I’d rather you didn’t go with her. She deserves some space to figure things out for herself.
Galen: Are you saying you think I would interfere?
Me: No. Just that your magical ability casts a long shadow. And now you’re past the whole Angelus drama… I can see you becoming a bit over-protective.
Galen: Don’t write me out of Serena’s story. I refuse to leave. I’ll haunt your imagination until you have no choice but to include me.
Me: I’ll include you. At the beginning. What happens after that is up to Serena. The same as what happened in Surviving Magic was up to you.
Galen: All right. That’s reasonable. Wait… Serena will be telling the story? Like I told Surviving Magic?
Me: She will.
Galen: Oh. She can be quite outspoken, you know.
Me: So can you. On occasion.
Galen: Fair point. So… which world is she going to?
Me: You’ll find out soon enough. The story is about to begin.
Galen: Not Imbera. Anywhere but Imbera.
Me: No. Not Imbera. I guess I can tell you that much.
Galen: Thank Androva for that.
Me: I’m going to end the interview there. Galen will return in Serena’s story at the end of 2019.
Galen: Yes, I will.
Me: (laughs)

Another weekend, another chapter of Spell Tracker! Luca shows Devin one of his past lives in an attempt to explain what happened between him and Cass. It doesn't go well. Then Luca almost misses his audition for the play. In spite of his feelings for Devin, Luca remains determined to save Cass from the Spell Tracker, but it's becoming more and more difficult for him to remain objective.

You can catch up on chapters one through seventeen via the New series label at the top of this post, and thank you very much for reading 💕.

18 A Past Life

I kept reading. Like vultures offered a brand-new carcass, everyone had jumped on the change of subject, asking questions, speculating, and making crude suggestions.
Where had Mina gotten her information from? It couldn’t have been Devin. He hadn’t mentioned anything on Saturday. Gabe, then. Perhaps he went looking for me after I rushed out of the gym. Damnit. Gabe probably thought I was an asshole, and I didn’t blame him. As far as he was concerned, I’d moved straight from Cass to Devin with only a day in between.
I wasn’t completely innocent, either. I had nearly kissed her. I looked at Devin, bent over his work. The tip of his tongue was sticking out of the corner of his mouth again. I couldn’t bear the idea of hurting him. I already have. And there was still half an hour of this interminable Math lesson to sit through before I could explain.
Suddenly I noticed something I’d missed the first time around. Mina’s relationship status. It said she was with Gabe. Not Nate, but Gabe. I tapped on Gabe’s profile, just to be sure, but it said the same thing. Mina was apparently his girlfriend. Since ten minutes to midnight. Just before Mina posted her toxic little Cavi update. What the hell?
I’d only been offline for half the weekend but it seemed like I’d missed enough drama to create an entire miniseries. Except Mina and Gabe going out was hardly a happy ending. Even if Gabe were straight—which he’s not—there was the small matter of his brother. Mina must have whiplash. I winced. Remember you’re a guardian, Luca. Don’t judge.
I willed the time to pass. Mr. Fennick continued to drone on about partial derivatives.
Devin chewed the end of his pencil. He caught me staring at his mouth and blushed, shifting his gaze back to the textbook. His ears gradually got more and more red.
“Stop,” he whispered, kicking me underneath our shared table.
The bell rang and there was a collective rush to pack up and get to the door. No one hung around after double Math.
“Were you with Cass on Friday?” said Devin, blocking my path. “Were you?”
“Yes. But not in the way you think.”
He shook his head. “What were you doing in secret all that time? Playing chess? Brushing each other’s hair?”
“We were mostly just talking,” I said.
He scowled. “Yeah. Gabe told us he heard you both talking. About how much you wanted to kiss each other, he said.”
Thanks, Gabe. That’s really helpful.
“Look,” I said, “I have to get to Drama for this audition. Will you walk with me?”
“Not unless you answer my question first. I thought… I thought I was the only one who could touch you. Did you kiss her?”
“No. I swear.”
We stared at each other for a few seconds and Devin’s scowl gradually softened. “But you did talk about it. Unless Gabe was lying?” he added hopefully.
I was so tempted to say yes. Gods, Luca. Remember what you are.
“No,” I admitted. “He wasn’t. But you make it sound like we debated it. It was just one of those crazy moments, you know?”
From Devin’s expression, he obviously didn’t know. I felt like a total shit. “So… are you bi or something?” he asked.
“It’s not what you think.” I glanced up at the clock. “I really have to go. Please can we talk about it later?”
“Maybe. I need to… I… I don’t know if I can do this.”
 He turned away and all I could think was No. With every step he took toward the door, the fear that I’d screwed up, perhaps irredeemably, squeezed my throat a little more. The classroom was empty. It was just the two of us.
Occludo… sero,” I said, panic making my voice higher and louder than usual. The door slammed shut in front of Devin, and he spun back to face me with an expression of alarm. I’d have to be quick, or he’d be calling for help.
“Please,” I said, walking up to him. “Let me show you what I mean by a crazy moment.”
“What?” His face made it clear he thought I was the one going crazy.
I grabbed his hand, simultaneously reaching out with my magic to search his historic life path for a time and place that would prove my point.
“Avi,” he said. “It feels like there’s a bunch of spiders inside my head. You’re scaring me.”
There. I didn’t need to say anything out loud, not like when Cass and I had visited the Globe. This was Devin’s timeline. I just had to connect to it. He was trying to pull his hand away when our surroundings shifted into something different.
“It’s OK,” I said in a low voice. “She won’t know we’re here.”
“Then why are you whispering? For God’s sake, Avi, this is someone’s bedroom.”
“It’s your bedroom. Or it was. 1857. Nice four-poster, isn’t it? You were quite the gentleman.”
The room was half in shadow, lit only by a dozen or so candles. They softened the yellow and red furnishings and created flickering shapes on the walls. A young woman about our age entered, wearing a modest cream-colored nightdress. Devin stiffened with shock.
She held up her left hand, admiring the band of gold on one slender finger.
“I know her,” said Devin, almost too quietly for me to hear him.
“Of course you do. She’s your wife. You were married today.”
“She’s my—what? What did you say?”
“Come on, we have to be quick. You’ll be here any minute. I mean… the 1857 you. He’ll be here any minute. And that will make things too confusing.”
I drew Devin closer. Soon we were close enough that his instincts took over and he leaned in, unable to help himself. Their life paths had crossed several times. They’d been friends and lovers.
She tilted her head. She couldn’t see us or hear us, but part of her would recognize his energy signature the same as he recognized hers. Her eyes became sad. An echo of contact like this, across lifetimes, was always emotionally painful. Devin reached out and brushed his fingers against one of her curls. “I can’t believe it. Elizabeth. I have missed you so much.” He sighed.
 “Elizabeth?” came a voice from the door.
Rescindo,” I said, and Mr. Fennick’s classroom crashed back into focus. The transformation was jarring, even for me, and I looked at Devin anxiously.
“Are you OK?”
“I…” He staggered, and I helped him to lean against one of the tables. “What just happened?”
“I took you back to a past life. You already know about the chance to do things over, so I figured there was no harm…”
I trailed off as he glared at me. “How am I supposed to go back to this life knowing I could be with her? Answer me that? How?”
He gripped the table and turned away from my sympathetic expression. “Give it a minute,” I said. “I know it’s intense, but it will fade. I’m sorry.”
“Why would you even do that?”
All of a sudden, my reasons for placing him into a past-life recollection seemed incredibly selfish. Probably because they are, you idiot.
I waited before answering, giving his current life the chance to reassert itself. After a little while, his hands weren’t holding onto the table quite so tightly, and his expression wasn’t quite so furious.
“Um. I know it was stupid,” I said, “but I was trying to explain. You… and Elizabeth. Me… and Cass. I didn’t want to kiss her, Devin. I just remembered… and I couldn’t help wanting to.”
He didn’t speak.
“Say something, Devin.”
“What do you want me to say? This is so screwed up.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Are you? How sorry? Would you make me forget all of this if I asked you to?”
He pushed himself off the table and folded his arms.
Are you asking?” I said. Please don’t.
“I think so.” He avoided my gaze.
“How… how much do you want to forget?”
“All of it. From enrolment to now.”
It took me a couple of seconds before his words registered properly. All of it? I would have to edit his life path to take out so much. It would require a lot of magic. I blinked. The lettering on his T-shirt looked blurry. Don’t get emotional. You brought this on yourself.
The door handle turned, then, with increasing force, a second and third time. A woman’s voice called, “Who’s in there? Why is this door locked?”
Resero,” I said.
The teaching assistant on the other side half fell into the room, and the topmost book from a pile she was carrying slid onto the floor with a thud. She frowned at us. “What’s going on in here?”
“Nothing,” said Devin. He walked out, not saying another word, and I didn’t know whether to go after him or leave him alone.
“Shouldn’t you be in class?”
I stared at the woman like she was speaking another language. Class? I don’t care about what class I… Oh, shit. Drama. The audition.
Running past her, I cursed the fact that the classroom I needed was on the other side of the school. My phone buzzed in my pocket. It must be Cass, wondering where the hell I was. I glanced down and nearly tripped over my own feet when I saw what it said.
I sent the boy to that classroom on Friday. Though even I couldn’t have predicted it would cause you quite this much trouble. Run all you like, Luca. You won’t be allowed to audition.
I directed my anger into running faster. When I arrived, the door was firmly shut and the blind was drawn. I wondered if I should knock or just go in. I was reaching for the door handle when someone came up behind me. I only just moved my fingers out of the way in time.
Based on her height and anxious expression I guessed she was a freshman. She was holding a piece of folded paper with both hands like she was worried about losing it. “Aren’t you going in?” she said.
“What have you got there?” I asked.
“A note from Principal Morris for Miss Randall,” she said, tightening her grip on the paper.
“I’ll take it,” I said immediately.
“I’m supposed to hand it to her,” she said, taking a step back.
Mihi crede,” I said, adding a smile for good measure.
“Oh. OK,” she replied, handing me the note. I took hold of it by its corner, careful not to touch her hand. She gave me a tentative smile in return and walked away.
Thank the gods for Sherbourne High’s cellphone policy. Teachers were  not supposed to use their phones during class to set a good example to students, which meant this school relied on the time-honored tradition of handwritten notes for urgent messages.
I opened it up. Miss Randall had been asked to send Mina Daylin straight to the principal’s office if she showed up for Drama today. I guessed that meant Mina was still missing.
It was a simple spell to amend the note and put my absence down to the fact that I’d been helping to look for Mina. And I will. I will look for her. After I’ve made sure Cass is OK.
Miss Randall accepted the note at face value, telling me she would allow me to audition. Tom, the boy who was Miss Randall’s second choice for Benedick, glared at me as he was forced to retake his seat in the audience. I didn’t care. There was more at stake than a part in a play.
“Sorry,” I said to Cass, who wasn’t looking too happy with me either.
“Getting into character a little early, aren’t we?” said Cass. “There’s no need to be an asshole until the scene starts.”
The audience laughed. I took a bow.
“You can do that afterward,” said Miss Randall. “If your acting skills win you a round of applause, of course.”
We began the first of our two additional scenes, set at a party to welcome Benedick and his fellow officers. Benedick, wearing a mask as part of his costume, pretended to be someone else, and Beatrice, knowing full well who he was, took advantage of the situation to mock him mercilessly.
The second scene was right at the end of the play, when Hero and Claudio are reconciled, and all that’s left is for Benedick and Beatrice to admit their love for each other in front of everyone. Except they both lose their nerve.
“What is your will?” said Cass hopefully.
I waited, letting Benedick’s fear of rejection guide the speed of my response. “Do not you love me?”
Her eyes narrowed. “Why no, no more than reason,” she replied, mixing Beatrice’s defiance with just the right amount of vulnerability.
I pointed out in an aggrieved tone that everyone else had sworn she did. There was a pause, filled with a murmur of laughter from our audience.
“Do not you love me?” she asked hesitantly.
“No. No more than reason,” I said, hiding my character’s hurt behind his customary sarcasm. Several of the watching students laughed out loud.
In the final play, it would be Claudio and Hero who produced love-sonnets stolen from our pockets to prove we did, in fact, love each other. In our audition scene, we skipped over that part.
“Come,” I said, adopting a condescending tone. “I will have thee. But, by this light, I take thee for pity.”
“I would not deny you,” replied Cass, with a put-upon sigh, adding that she’d only been persuaded after being told I was mortally ill.
“Peace! I will stop your mouth,” I said. At this point, we were supposed to lean close enough to fake a kiss, but in our rehearsals we’d always stopped before going that far. Caught up in the moment, I realized almost too late that Cass was actually going to do it. If she touched me, the scene would be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Instead I bent her backward in an exaggerated embrace and pretended to shower her with kisses. She burst out laughing, and our audience clapped.
“Excellent,” said Miss Randall. “You made me believe in your characters’ shared history and your emotions. Bravo. The parts are yours.”
We sat down to watch the rest of the auditions. The hope surrounding Cass had brightened by a factor of at least three. Shit.

“Can we have lunch together after this?” she whispered. “I want to tell you my idea.”

I live next to a small wood, and it's become inextricably linked to my writing. Whether I'm looking at the view of the changing seasons from my window, or walking amongst the trees to recharge my batteries, the wood never fails to leave me feeling happier. I've been writing about living magic since 2015, and it's no coincidence that I moved house the year before. The wood is beautiful and mysterious--the perfect inspiration.

Today's blog post contains a few quotes from other writers whose words do a great job of describing that inspiration.

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” 
― Khalil Gibran

“Nothing had changed in this forest for thousands of years, and all the myths and legends of a hundred different lands seemed much more likely in this green haze.” 
― Stephenie Meyer

“Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy.”
― C.S. Lewis

“Listen to the trees as they sway in the wind. Their leaves are telling secrets. Their bark sings songs of olden days as it grows around the trunks. And their roots give names to all things. Their language has been lost. But not the gestures.”
― Vera Nazarian

“Her thoughts came to life in the stillness of the wood, nurtured by the air and the scent and the vividness of it.”
― Meagan Spooner

“Trees are as close to immortality as the rest of us ever come.” 
― Karen Joy Fowler

I’m really happy to be able to announce the upcoming release of the next book 😊.The Light Mage Series continues with Spell Mason, available from July 5th. This story is told from Devin’s POV, picking up a few months after the end of Spell Tracker.

Here’s the description:

Devin is a Light Mage on the run. When his boyfriend is accused of murder and sentenced to death, Devin manages to rescue him just in time. The two boys escape the magical dimensions for Tudor England, hoping to remain anonymous while they figure out what’s going on.

But witchcraft is a capital offense in the sixteenth century. It’s not the best place for a pair of seventeen-year-old Light Mages to hide, especially when one of them doesn’t know he’s carrying a deadly tracking spell. In order to have any chance of clearing their names, they’ll have to accept help from some unlikely sources and push the limits of their combined magical abilities.

The alleged murder could change things forever. Light Mages are the trusted protectors of the earthbound dimension. Discrediting them could turn magical society upside down. The stakes are high, and the potential prize is more than enough to turn any magician’s head.

All Devin has to do is stay alive long enough to uncover the truth…

Spell Mason, the second book in the Light Mage series, is a contemporary fantasy story with time travel, m/m romance, and no cliffhanger. Recommended for 14+

Amazon UK Spell Mason
Amazon US Spell Mason

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