Spellweaver - By Lynn Kurland


The magic was a mighty wave that rose with terrifying swiftness toward the sky, hovered there for an eternal moment, then crashed down again to earth, washing over everything in its path.

The lad who had been standing at the edge of a glade watched with horror as the wave rushed toward him. He started forward to save his mother from being washed away only to remember that he had another task laid to his charge. He took hold of his younger sister’s hand only to feel her fingers slip through his grasp despite his efforts to hold onto her. He shouted for her, but his calls were lost in the roaring of the evil as it engulfed him, sending him tumbling along with it. He groped blindly for his sister in that uncontrollable wave—

Only to realize he wasn’t a lad of ten winters, but a man of a score-and-ten, and it wasn’t his younger sister Mhorghain he was so desperately seeking.

It was Sarah of Doìre.

And it wasn’t a wave of evil from a well he was running from, it was a terrible storm washing down the hill from the castle that had collapsed in on itself, the castle at Ceangail where his sire had lived for centuries, endlessly honing spells that never should have been created ...

Ruith woke with a gasp.

He forced himself to remain motionless and breathe shallowly, simply because it was his habit. When one had to rely on more pedestrian means of protecting himself than magic, one learned early on to not give an attacker any more advantage than necessary.

It took him longer than it might have otherwise simply because he was still fighting against the memories that flooded back in a rush that was unpleasantly similar to the wave of spell that had overcome him in his dream, and, it would seem, in his waking life. He kept his eyes closed and felt for Sarah’s hand—

Only to realize that he couldn’t move.

But that could have been because he was sitting with his hands tied tightly around the tree behind him. He opened his eyes a slit, then fully when he found that no one was watching him. His companions were none but a trio of rough-looking lads who stood twenty paces away, arguing not over the best way to put him to death, but the quality of his weapons and how they might reasonably poach the same without harm to themselves. He prayed their discussion might go on for quite some time so he might determine where he was and why he seemed to be the only one within earshot who wasn’t talking about his knives. He took another slow, careful breath, then looked around himself.

There was no one else there.


He suppressed the urge to panic. Anything could have happened to her. She could have been lying where he couldn’t see her, or been slain, or carried off beyond his reach. There were any number of mages infesting not only the keep up the way, but now no doubt the woods surrounding the keep, mages who would have taken her and ...

He wrenched his thoughts back from that unhelpful place. He couldn’t rescue her if he were dead, so the most sensible thing to do was get himself free and make certain he remained alive. Sensible sounded so much more reasonable than frankly terrified at the thought of what could have befallen her, which he was.

He quickly assessed his own situation. His knives were both still down his boots and two others were still strapped to his back—not that he could have reached either set at the moment, but he would remedy that as quickly as possible. He also still had his magic, safely buried inside himself in an impenetrable well capped with illusion and distraction that he knew from recent experience was impervious to all assault. Lastly, and perhaps most fortuitously, the lads in front of him weren’t paying him any heed.

He kept those lads in his sights as he focused on his hands, working the rope binding them against the bark of the tree and finding the knots poorly tied indeed. If he had been in the market for potential guardsmen, he would have invited them to tie a knot or two so he might examine their work before entrusting them with anything more complicated than securing a bedroll to a saddle—

The rope gave way without warning. He froze, partly because he didn’t want to reveal what he’d just managed to accomplish and partly because

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