Cursed (Beholder Book 1)
by Christina Bauer
GENRE: Fantasy, YA, Romance
Most days, Elea couldn’t care less about having Necromancer magick. Who needs to conjure skeletons and sprits when you’re a farm girl? Elea only uses her powers to speed up chores and scare off suitors.
Everything changes when the evil Necromancer Tsar curses Elea. Now, she only has five years left before she burns as a ghost, tortured for all eternity. They say there’s nothing she can do, but Elea disagrees. She decides to embrace her Necromancer powers, train as a magickal assassin, and kill the Tsar… All before his curse kills her. Impossible as it may sound, Elea thinks she has it in the bag, but then everything goes horribly wrong.
That’s when a handsome mage named Rowan steps up to help. Elea wants an ally, but she doesn’t need all the mixed-up feelings that come along with Rowan’s crooked smile.
An assassination mission is no time to fall in love, but Elea’s heart may have other ideas…
*The book is available NOW for pre-order
Also available on iBooks
“Hail and well met.” His deep voice rumbled over the sands. “I’m Rowan.”
I stopped an arms-length away. “Elea.”
“Your transport spell caught with mine, Necromancer.” The way he said the word Necromancer, I might as well be dripping with the plague. “Why did Viktor send you?”
It was an effort to keep my voice low and features still. Of all the people in the realm, I would never help Viktor. “It’s not your place to question me, Caster. I’m going to transport away. This time, you won’t interfere again. Do we understand each other?”
“If you’re an agent of Viktor’s, then I’m not allowing you to go anywhere until you explain yourself.”
After five years of monotones, his voice sounded positively wild with inflection. It made me even more anxious to leave this man behind. “I don’t have time for your nonsense. I’m going and, unless you want to eat a fireball, you won’t stop me.”
I lifted my left arm and pulled in some magick. My body still felt shredded from the last trip, but I had to risk it. I must transport to the Midnight Cloister right away. Energy streamed into my torso. My limbs shook.
Quick as a heartbeat, Rowan stepped forward and grabbed my wrist. How dare he? Anger made my vision collapse until all I could see were his determined green eyes. This man had a lesson to learn.
Well, I warned him.
I started the incantation for a fireball spell. My bones glowed blue with power. Rowan began some kind of counter-spell. I didn’t recognize the words, but there was no mistaking the surge of foreign energy that coursed through me. The hold I’d kept on my power shattered. My magick drained away.
I locked gazes with Rowan. Not even Petra had been able to block my spells so well. “You’re a gods-damned menace.”
“Interesting comment, coming from an agent of the Tsar.”
“I am not aligned to Viktor. I give you my word.”
“You know how many times I’ve heard that? Your kind does nothing but lie.”
“My kind?” This mindless thug was calling my sweet Sisters a pack of liars. Well, I had more than one way to cast a fireball spell. My totem ring was pre-loaded with a cluster of them. Unlike the traditional spellwork, I only had to speak one word to launch the magick. It angered me to waste this weapon on some brute in the desert, but it might be my only way out of here.
I raised my left fist. “Fire!”
Five ghostly skulls shot out from the ring, each one surrounded by blue flames. They slammed into Rowan’s chest, knocking him onto his back. Good. I’d feel sorry for the dolt, but he had it coming.
After that, everything happened so quickly, it was hard to keep track. I know the veins in Rowan’s right hand glowed red with Caster power. Giant worms burst up from the sand, gulping down my fireball skulls, before burrowing under the ground once again. I stared in shock. I knew Casters could control nature, but I’d no idea they could make something strong enough to swallow a fireball skull.
The next thing I knew, I was pinned to my back with Rowan’s bulk on top of me. Panic skittered down my spine. I tried to summon power into my body, but his damned counter-spell was still in place. With his right arm, Rowan held both my hands above my head. His torso and legs pinned down the rest of me. That got my blood boiling and how.
I writhed and kicked, but he was so huge, my movements barely made him shift his weight. “Get off me, you sick son of a bitch!”
“You serve the Tsar, I know it.” His left hand gripped the neckline of my robes and tore down.
I fought harder than ever before, not that it did any good. Well, there were spells that could make him pay, now or later. “Leave me alone or you’ll regret it!”
Rowan’s warm fingers brushed the bare, smooth skin of my left shoulder. “You were telling the truth.” His eyes widened. “You don’t have a mark.”
“Of course, I was telling the truth. Now get off me or I swear, I will find a way to kill you, in this life or the next. You can rely on it.”
Rowan’s voice turned pleading. “I’m so sorry I did that, it’s just—”
“I said, off!”
“I’ll get up slowly now. No need to keep fighting.” He gently rolled his massive bulk away. Why would anyone need so many muscles, anyway? It was bad enough the guy could cast like he did. I’d never seen anything like it.
The moment his weight lifted, I hopped to my feet. My throat tightened with rage and hurt. The Zelle worked me hard, sure, but no one ever raised a hand against me, let alone pinned me down.
This is the big, bad world, Elea. If you’re going to kill the Tsar, then you have to get used to such things. Maybe even worse.
With trembling hands, I tried to retie the ribbons on my shoulder. I didn’t want to transport into the Midnight Cloister looking like this. A real Grand Mistress never let her robes get messed. But there were too many torn ribbons, and my coordination was shot. I couldn’t risk casting a spell just to fix my robes when I needed all my strength just to transport to the Midnight. I redid my shoulder into some semblance of proper form and then focused my attention on Rowan.
“You’re a bastard.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. An avowed girl geek, Christina loves creating immersive fantasy worlds with action, adventure, romance, and kick-ass female protagonists. As part of her work in Ink Monster, Christina has co-developed the ‘Heroine’s Journey,’ a blueprint for telling female myths inspired by the work of Joseph Campbell. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and golden retriever Ruby.
Christina Bauer will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.