What I Write

Imprisoned in Stone

Magic imprisoned his soul, but not his will. Love released both.

A Look Between the Pages Excerpts and Reviews

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Review: 

a fascinating fantasy world with engaging characters. ... If you appreciate spells, wizards, blood sacrifices, and sword fights, this is the book for you!

Blurb:

romance, dark magicFor the crime of healing without payment, the Brethren imprisoned Dylan's soul in stone. Every full moon, they awakened him and renewed the bonds. When the blood dried on the stone, his awareness faded, but during those few brief moments, he had one thought--revenge. He embraces the pain of an awakening to reach out into the world beyond his stone prison.
enturies later a mind touches his and hope for escape from his eternal prison soars. However, his possible savior is unaware of her latent magic, the power needed to free him.


Cuhlwich, the current head of the Brethren intends to regain that power--at any cost. He also wants a successor of his choosing, including using magic to enforce his will. Only his son, Colwynn, wants to chose his own mate--an unknown woman whose magic calls him from afar.
 

A spell kept secret for generations.
A father's demands that can't be met.
A woman who stands to lose everything.


Four paths -- one destiny
With the power to bind souls and
control all magic in the balance.



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Excerpt One:

Forcing his emotions behind a wall of ice, determination fueled his attempt to cut the bond controlling Aine. A flick of his wrist and the chains shattered into pieces. The motes floated throughout the room in a black haze. He searched Aine’s face for signs of pain or fear. All he saw was the peaceful sleep of an innocent mind.

Colwynn’s mind worked out the next move as if he played a game of castle and siege. He allowed his racing pulse to slow. Calm, deliberate calculations had to dominate his thoughts. Each incantation he called forth built on the one before. His voice grew louder as he fed more of his power into his words.

A glow of sea sprites replaced the last vestige of the setting sun. Hundreds of the tiny winged creatures flew around the room creating long streamers that swirled and danced in the air. Gathering the living ribbons of light, Colwynn wove them into a glittering crown that he slid over Aine’s blonde curls. After a moment’s respite, he started the protection against any future geas. Although he intended his words to ring out with strength, they sounded barely above a whisper.

“Fire of mountains, strength of iron,
Remove the geas from this innocent’s soul.
Crown of sprites, power of life,
Restore the free will that was stole.
Her destiny be hers to decide,
Not obstructed by man, magic, or tide.
So mote it be.”


His spell echoed with the hum of fluttering wings. After a moment’s respite, he cried out, “Sprites of the clouds, assist me.” Summoning power from deep in his being and merging it with that of the eldritch spirits, he created a stronger block than he had believed possible. The glow flowed over the sleeping woman until a golden light encased her entire body. Still, the sprites’ song rose in volume. At the crescendo, a flare from the bed blinded Colwynn.

His vision cleared to show a faint sparkling beneath Aine’s skin. Aine is guarded from the threat of magic, neither her father nor mine will ever force her to act against her wishes. Now to defend her from the threat of man.

Thoughts swirled in Colwynn’s mind as strategies appeared to be speared and dismissed. When the night was over, he would leave. A man of Jarlath’s wealth and seniority could not be accused without proof. Once again, Colwynn dug into his reserves of energy. His hands traced the ancient runes of truth in the air.

“Chains of iron forged in magic,” he hissed. “Show me the stealer of innocence and will.”

Despite the softness of the command, it contained an unyielding force. The mist of the broken control spell formed into a frame. A face appeared in the shimmering surface of the enchanted mirror. As Colwynn expected, Jarlath’s face was in the center. Then Nemor’s and several other men Colwynn knew were acolytes of the Brethren. Bearded or clean-shaved, some bald, others sporting long curls, image after image appeared until the frame bulged.

An unreasoning fury surged forward. All the Brethren participated. They all knew!

“Show me the man behind the plot,” Colwynn yelled. The hovering reflection wavered. When it stopped moving, one final face appeared.



Excerpt Two:

Maerva stood on the threshold of the hut while Colwynn prepared the arena. With each rune he sketched, her skin tingled from the gathering magic. The air sparkled with his power. When the torches flared to life, her body warmed as if she nestled in a bed of hot coals. She had never before felt such an attraction to a man. Was the firestorm in her veins the result of her magic calling out to his–or her womanhood responding to a magic as ancient as time?

A draft followed Gareth into the room and the chill returned Maerva to a semblance of control. Despite the ease with which he carried the canvas sack, it bulged from the weight within. He dropped it to the floor in a loud clank. His hands free, he stripped off his heavy garment and tossed it in a corner. Bowing to Tralin and Maerva he murmured, “I hope it won’t affront your sensibilities, but this room is warm.” A single tug and the shirt joined the coat on the floor.

Additional waves of energy raced up Maerva’s back. But why? None of the other men of her acquaintance had ever affected her this way. Between swimming and sails on Wayward Bound, it was not as if she had not seen a man’s naked chest.

Gareth noted the way Maerva’s gaze shifted from him back to Colwynn. As he had numerous times since the mage appeared on Tralin’s doorstep, Gareth cursed his lack of powers. Maerva will be a great wizard one day. I will never be a suitable match for her. Frustration fueled the anger until it became a simmering rage.

“Gareth,” Tralin said, “are there any changes you want made to the arena?”

“No, thank you, Mistress Tralin. There is ample room to move, and the sawdust will provide good footing.”
Forcing a tight control over his emotions, Gareth laid out the weapons to be tested. A wave of his hand offered Colwynn first choice.
Colwynn made a show of selecting one of the lighter swords. “This weapon is nicely balanced.” Just the way Colwynn held the blade told a lot about the other man’s experience and training–or lack thereof.

Gareth’s lips tweaked in a smile. I might not be able to have Maerva, but I am under no compulsion to make it easy for Colwynn. Stooping down, he rose in fluid motion with a sword in his hand. He tipped the blade in salute, first to Tralin and then Colwynn. Three strides and he stood in the middle of the room. His muscles rippled from the weight of the blade as he twirled it through a series of one-handed figure eights.

All motion stopped, turning him into a grim-faced statue. Light glinted off the hilt that now hovered at shoulder height. The steel shaft pointed on a straight line to Colwynn’s head. “Your move, my friend,” Gareth said.

Colwynn rushed. His sword struck Gareth’s block. Again and again, the two men sparred. The sound of metal against metal mingled with the grunt of men. With each attack and counter, the fight grew more vicious. Gareth used his heavier weight to force Colwynn back. When the next blow landed, the flat of the blade struck bone not metal.

Maerva’s gasp cracked the control Gareth held over his anger.

Let’s see how much Maerva wants Colwynn when he’s bruised and bloodied.

Three more blows landed. Gareth smiled at the ease of his strikes. “Do you yield?” he asked Colwynn.

“No!”

Flames raced up Colwynn’s sword. The fire leaped from the metal toward Gareth. He fell back a step and raised a hand before his face. Despite the fact he had no real powers, his fingers curled in a ward of protection. The flames exploded into a shimmer of harmless sparks. He did not know whether Tralin or Maerva saved him from harm or if he had more magic than he realized.

“Colwynn, no!” Tralin yelled. “The bout is over. Lay down your weapon. Both of you,” she added with a glare at Gareth. He let the hilt drop from his hand.

Maerva rushed over. Her hands ran over his bare chest, smearing the scorch marks. “Are you hurt?”

Her anger cooled Gareth’s even as her touch sent his heart racing. She cares for me. Forcing a level tone, he softly answered, “I’m fine.”

The glare Maerva threw Colwynn contained a fire of its own. “How dare you? To use magic against one who has no power is despicable.”

“Don’t let him fool you,” Colwynn growled, “He has more magic than he lets on.”

A strange look crossed Maerva’s face. She stood, a statue of white marble. “And you, Gareth. I saw you summon a magical block against the flames.” Anger laced her tone. “Colwynn is no skilled swordsman The match was not even and you took advantage.”

“Mistress Tralin, I’ll leave these two... barbarians to your tender mercies. Rascal needs tending.” She spun and stalked across the room now returned to its original state of stone and wood.

“Mar,” Gareth cried. His fists clenched at the rigidness of her back.


Copyright 2013 by Helen Henderson

Cover Art by Fantasia Frog Designs


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