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Book One in The Crownmage Trilogy
A Novel by Virginia G. McMorrow
Release: February 2012
Editor: Nancy Bell
Line editor: Greta Gunselman
Cover Designer: Suzannah Safi
This first book of The Crownmage Trilogy introduces the very real and compelling mage heroine, Alexandra Daine Keltie. Gifted with magic powers, Alex must decide whether or not to use her long-denied, frightening abilities to save her best friend’s throne from rebellious and traitorous sorcerers. In Alex’s world, mages can control one and only one of the four basic elements—water, air, fire, or earth—but Alex is different. She can control all four elements but also transform one element into another! Slowly facing her fears of what her power can do, as well as the threat of confronting an experienced adversary, Alex rises to the challenge. Through her ordeal, she shares with readers a strong though turbulent commitment to family, an unyielding loyalty to friends, and the courage to fulfill her destiny – and, above all, an ability to be honest with herself.
"You can't change the magnitude of what you're doing."
"Would you rather I set the entire woods ablaze?"
"Alex, be reasonable," Anders tried the diplomatic approach, "for a change."
Well, not quite diplomatic.
"I should be reasonable?" I shouted. "You want me to risk the woods, my cottage, your worthless body, and me, by trying to force my uncontrollable talent to its potential?" I stamped around the clearing, muttering and swearing viciously. "Are you mad? Or just an idiot?"
Anders stood in the center of the glade, arms crossed against his broad chest, legs slightly apart, balanced. The man was persistent as a hungry seahag with delicious, tempting, and cornered prey within reach. Engaging, in an odd sort of way I wasn’t quite able to put my finger on.
"I don't want to push your talent to its limit, Alex, particularly since we don't know what those limits are. These puny manifestations you've been showing may be all you can do.”
“Puny? How dare you?”
“It wouldn't surprise me."
I should have scratched out his eyes the first time I saw him. He was nothing but trouble. Suddenly, he didn’t appear quite so engaging.
"All I want is for you to give me a bonfire, perhaps, instead of a candle flame. Not a forest ablaze with crackling flames. A small hill of dirt rather than a pile no bigger than I'd find in Lady Barlow's gardens. Not a mountain. A pool of water bigger than a bucket. Not the Skandar Sea."
"I quite get your insulting point."
"Then do it." Anders stood motionless, taunting me with a cool stance. "Stop muttering, and do it before I grow old and die."
"I wish you would."
"I'm not quite ready."
“That’s too bad.”
Furious at his nagging, I coaxed the fire and ice and tamed them until they merged with scant effort, copper pendant clutched so tight in one hand I thought the imprint of the tidal crest would burn into my palm. Not a candle, or a hill, or a bucket for this flameblasted old beast. I kept an eye on the fallen, decayed log to Anders' side and envisioned a gust of wind stronger than my first attempt those weeks ago. Not a tempest, of course. The old man wouldn't approve, but a gust strong enough to make him pay close and careful attention.
Envisioned it. Felt it.
Opened my eyes to watch in spiteful joy Anders' dark hair tossing wildly in the wind I'd created. Stubborn, he stood in the same spot, cloak snapping from the force of the wind. I coaxed the talent further, seduced it, pushed it. Felt the gust increase a hundred-thousand fold in strength. Watched as small pieces of deadwood and leaves were swept away. Watched tree limbs bend and sway, fighting the gale.
Watched in horror as the wind snatched Anders up as though he weighed nothing more than a fallen leaf and slammed his body against the oak tree.
Losing control of the cool warmth, I felt the sharp pain of ice and flame rip through my head, blinding me. Shaken, I waited only a heartbeat before running across the clearing to Anders. He lay unconscious, slumped against the tree trunk, just like Jules all those years ago. Frantic, I felt Anders' neck for a pulse in the loud silence of the banished windstorm.
* * * *
"You're reacting like a frightened child."
Refusing to listen or watch Anders limp painfully to my side, I turned my back on him. "I won't use the talent ever again, Anders. I could have killed you."
"But you didn't." He eased the weight from his bandaged knee with careful movements. "Besides, I provoked you. I wouldn't leave you be."
“That doesn’t excuse what happened.” Bitterness and shame nearly choked me. "I risked hurting you to spite you," I admitted, studiously avoiding his eyes. "I was careless and arrogant."
"Yes, you were." Anders put a hand under my chin and forced me to look into his calm gaze. "So you learned a lesson."
"At your expense."
"You would have been well rid of me if the wind was any stronger. That should be a comfort to you should you ever be angry with me again. Or are you so accustomed to my engaging personality you would have missed me?"
"You know I would." My voice was subdued, instinct telling my heart a truth my head wasn’t quite ready to accept. "That's not funny."
He restrained a laugh, hand still resting under my chin. "I'm all right."
"You were lucky." I sat back, forcing his hand to fall away.
Anders straightened, groaning involuntary as he leaned on his injured knee. "At the risk of making me aware of my aging, decrepit bones, you will, at least, admit we made some progress?"
"It doesn't matter. I'll not use it again. Not ever. Not for you or Elena. Most of all not for me."
"Then you'll have wasted everything I've taught you."
"I'll make it up to you somehow; pay you for the time you wasted."
"Don't be sorry, Alex!" he snapped, grabbing his woolen cloak and heading for the door. "And don't insult me. I'm not doing this for money. I'm here because of your mother. And because I believe in you."
"Learn from this mistake and put it behind you. You're not a coward, but you're acting like one. You'll withdraw where it's safe just so you won't risk making another mistake. And another lifetime will pass."
"A wrong one. You'll throw away your talent when you could be doing something useful with it. How can we ever learn or better ourselves without making mistakes or taking risks?" I didn't answer, fighting back tears of grief and humiliation. "Your mother would have been disappointed."
"Get out." I snarled.
Anders shuffled to the door. "When you've come to your senses, you know where to find me."
About the Author:
Virginia G. McMorrow has worked as an editor/writer for 25 years. Ginny has worked for business publishers as an editor of books, journals, and newsletters in New York City. She has had numerous articles and short stories published. As a playwright, she has also had nine short one acts and one full-length play produced off-off Broadway in a black box theater.
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