I always like to post a little teaser before I publish and I am very excited to introduce my amazing fans and readers the prologue of The Cursed Charm! I hope you are as excited for its release as I am.
The early morning air was cold and soft mist clung to the barren branches of the forest. The once green and lush trees were now waiting for the warmth of spring to arrive in the realm of Aislinge. A woman bundled up in a purple cloak was scurrying through the desolate woods. She raised her head when she heard a crack but smiled nervously at the lone red bird that had flown to a nearby tree.
“Are you hungry little cardinal?” she asked.
The bird cocked his head and flew away after a moment. The woman smiled ruefully and continued on her journey through the woods. There was something about being out here all alone in the desolate woods at the dawn of a new day. It was strangely peaceful yet foreign because she was not used to being by herself. As the queen of the Fae witches, Avalon could not afford the luxury of having personal time.
Most of her days were spent running her kingdom and keeping peace within her realm. She visited with the locals, helped in the potion rooms, and listened to every one of her subjects that needed her wisdom. Avalon did not see her being the queen as a curse but a blessing. She tried to ignore her lonely heart and accept the love of her people as her only source of comfort.
Not that she was complaining. There has never been a day that she regretted being born to the Goddess Arianrhold. She loved her mother and was grateful to be the one chosen to come from her womb. Although, her mother had long since passed from this world to another, she still saw her in her dreams and occasionally in her ghostly state.
Avalon thought of how she came to be and the story her mother had always told her when she was a youngling. Gaia, the mother of the Gods, decided that she wanted to create the very image of herself and so she created Avalon’s mother, the Goddess Arianrhold. Arianrhold was the epitome of beauty and light. She was a powerful magical being whose goodness shone from her entire essence.
Where there is light though, there is always darkness, and the darkness that resided in Gaia was overwhelming, so she created her other daughter, the Goddess Morrigan. Morrigan thrived on death and war. She was not evil but a solemn presence to those she showed herself to in times of impending battle. Gaia decided that each of them could balance the other one out, so she created them a beautiful realm on a different dimension.
The God’s, who were the children of Gaia, were not happy though, they feared the powerful Goddesses. So they created the Fae, who would have the power over the elements of nature. The children who came from the Goddesses did not like the interference from the Fae, and the Fae were weary of the power of the Fae Witches. A pact was made by the King of the Fae and Avalon to divide the land of Fairlia amongst them equally.
Arianrhold and Morrigan worked for days to create the new Fae Witch realm and appropriately enough named it Aislinge, the land of dreams. Their people thrived in this new world, and they lived their life out of the shadows of the Fae who had come to look upon them with prejudice. While the Fae used the elements and kept the energy inside of them, the Fae Witches used instruments to focus their powers and then they released them back to the source. The Fae thought the witches were mad not to keep this awesome energy, and the Witches thought the Fae were selfish creatures that did not respect the power of the elements.
Even several hundred years the delicate balance between the realms of the different factions of the Fae always weighed heavily in the relatively young queens mind. Avalon and King Cormagglia were polite to one another, but there was always a tension between the two of them. She hoped that one day they would be able to sit down with each other and work out their differences of opinions.
The strain with the Fae was not something she wanted to think about today. She wanted to forget about the Fae and for the first time in her life she wanted to dismiss any thoughts of her subjects. Avalon may never fully be able to stop being a queen, but this morning she was doing something just for herself.
Today she was going to meet her love and for once put her wants above the needs of her people.
She slowed her pace and tried to calm her racing heart. There were so many thoughts and emotions that were coursing through her body. She tried to remind herself of who she was, but those thoughts were now clouded for all she could see was the love and passion that had recently come into her once dull life.
For several hundred years, Avalon had worked hard to ensure her people were safe. She wanted them to preserve their way of life and grow to be prosperous and kind beings. Unfortunately, not all that lived in the realm of Aislinge thought this way. Morrigan’s son, Kronan, desperately wanted more power and more control.
For a while, everyone seemed to think that Avalon should marry Lord Kronan. The majority of people thought that her goodness would rub off on the darkness that emanated from his very core. Kronan had recently declared his love for her and even though she did think he cared about her in some way, she knew his motive was not for love but power.
Any guilt she felt over rejecting his suit quickly was squashed when she went into the fields that surrounded the castle and met Arthur. He was the son of the head farmer for the castle and after meeting him properly for the first time, she immediately fell in love. His gentle way calmed her, and his warm smile sent butterflies erupting in her stomach.
After meeting in secret for several weeks, last night he sent her a letter asking her to marry him. He was so worried that she, as a queen, would reject him that he thought it best to ask on paper rather than in person. Regardless of her answer, he wanted to meet in the forest at dawn.
Avalon smiled to herself and continued to rush along the path. She was so caught up in her excitement she didn’t even notice the raven that was following her in the trees. She finally came to the end of the path into a small clearing and broke out into a run as she spied a tall man pacing near the large boulders.
“Arthur,” she breathed as she flung her arms around him. He grasped her tight in his arms and held her close for several long minutes.
“Oh my darling,” Arthur said. “You’re so beautiful.”
“Please do not jest with me,” she replied. “My hair looks terrible this morning and I’m wearing a simple shift that I stole from one of the maids.”
“Your hair sparkles like a ray of sunshine and if you wore a potato sack, you still would look amazing.”
“Love blinds you my love,” she said.
His smile dimmed, and Avalon took a moment to study his face. His blond hair which was a shade darker than hers was slightly damp from the morning’s mist, and his blue eyes looked serious. His dimples that framed his mouth were nowhere to be found because his handsome face was set in such a severe manner.
“Avalon do not tease me,” he said. “Will you put me out of my misery and tell me your answer?”
“Arthur, there is only one answer, and that is yes,” she said. “Yes, I will marry you but only if you will have me.”
He smiled and took her face in his hands. He leaned down and touched his lips to her. Avalon felt as though she was floating in the air as he continued his gentle perusal. She finally pushed him away and took a deep breath. She had to get this out in the open before they were to go any further.
“Arthur, have you really thought about this?” she asked.
“I have thought of nothing since the day we met,” he answered.
“I am the Queen,” she said. “It’s not an easy life for a man to walk behind one’s wife.”
“It certainly will be a lovely view though,” he said after a moment.
Avalon laughed and soon Arthur joined her. They were so lost in each other that they didn’t see the raven fly down from the trees and land on the ground. The bird turned into a tall man who stood menacingly as he took in the scene before him.
“Well, this is rather disappointing,” the man said
“Lord Kronan, what are you doing here?” Avalon asked as she and Arthur jumped apart.
“I was out for an early morning stroll when I saw you heading into the woods,” Kronan replied. “I thought it was best if I followed you to make sure you were safe. Obviously I should not have worried about your safety but your utter lack of common sense.”
“Excuse me?” Avalon asked.
“Having a dalliance with the farmer’s son is quite provincial and far beneath your station,” Kronan said with disgust. “I thought you had more sense than that Avalon.”
“You forget yourself Lord Kronan,” Arthur said quietly. “You will address my future wife as your majesty for she is the queen.”
“How dare you speak to me,” Kronan replied. “I command you to remove yourself from here.”
“Kronan,” Avalon admonished. “This is unacceptable.”
“No, what is unacceptable is your relationship with this man.”
Avalon stood for a moment in silence as she took in Kronan’s rigid stance. The sharp look on his face only accented his almost cruel handsomeness. His dark hair was cut short, and his thin lips were pressed tightly together. Kronan’s dark eyes looked black in the cold morning light. Avalon felt a twinge of pity as she realized that maybe his feelings for her weren’t as meaningless as she thought.
“Kronan, we are first cousins, and I care for you deeply but Arthur is the man I am going to marry,” she said gently.
“He is a peasant and unworthy even to be in your presence,” Kronan replied. “We were expected to be together. We were meant to rule this realm as equals. Our powers combined will be greater than any being that has ever walked this earth.”
“Arthur is the man I love and the man I want to be with for the rest of my life,” she said. “His worth is vastly greater than mine.”
“I cannot let you do this Avalon,” Kronan said.
“You have no choice,” she said. “One day you will find someone that you want to be with and…”
“I have found someone I want to be with,” he interrupted angrily. “I have known you were the one since we were young children.”
“Oh Kronan,” Avalon said sadly.
“Do not look at me with pity,” Kronan said. “I will still have you even if you have sullied yourself with him. Let us leave now and forget this ever happened.”
Avalon walked over to Kronan and touched his face with her fingertip. “My dear cousin, the only man I am leaving with is Arthur.”
Kronan grabbed Avalon’s hand and squeezed tightly. When she cried out in pain Arthur rushed to her side and pulled her from Kronan’s grasp. The two men stared at each other for several long moments.
“Yes, avenge your whore’s honor Arthur,” Kronan said in disgust. “I am looking forward to your efforts.”
All of a sudden Arthur let out a gasp and started clawing at his throat. His eyes bulged out of his face as his skin turned blue. Avalon rushed over to his side and tried to help him, but the hex that Kronan had cast upon Arthur was powerful.
“Stop this,” Avalon cried. “Stop this at once Kronan. Release him now.”
Kronan flicked his wrist dismissively towards Arthur, who immediately started gulping large amounts of air into his lungs.
“I should throw you in the dungeons for that Kronan,” Avalon said. “You are very close to being banned from the realm of Aislinge.”
“Aislinge is mine and I will not let you continue to rule if you take this man as your husband.”
“You have no power over me,” Avalon replied. “I will not have you use your powers for harm. That is not our way, and you know that better than anyone.”
“My mother is the Goddess of war and death,” Kronan said. “Sometimes we do need to use our powers for the destruction of others, especially if the person we use it on, is going to wreck havoc on our race.”
“Arthur is a good man, he will not bring annihilation and carnage, he will rule beside me in peace and love me unconditionally.” Avalon said
“No, I will not let this happen,” Kronan said. “I will not allow this tragedy to occur.”
“You have no choice in this matter Lord Kronan,” Arthur said. “Leave us.”
“Do not command me farm boy,” Kronan said in a low dangerous voice
“Do not call me boy,” Arthur returned.
“Enough,” Avalon said. “This discussion is over.”
“You’re right,” Kronan said. “This ridiculous conversation is indeed done.”
“Thank you Kronan,” Avalon said. “Now if you will excuse us, Arthur and I need to go back to the castle so we may announce our engagement.”
“I’m sorry, but I cannot let you do that your majesty,” Kronan said
“Kronan,” Avalon sighed.
Kronan raised his hands to the sky, and Avalon began to feel fear. The Air began to swirl around almost violently, and the wind howled with Kronan’s fury. Avalon immediately erected a wall of protective energy around her and Arthur.
“You cannot stop me Avalon,” Kronan yelled. “I have become more powerful than you could imagine.”
“Dear Gods, what have you done?” Avalon breathed. She could feel his immense power and was surprised at the strength that emanated from him. She knew that only an act of soul-shattering cruelness could generate this much rage.
“I knew it was him,” Kronan laughed. “I knew you were conducting an illicit affair with this filthy peasant. I killed them all Avalon. I killed his family, and I took their life force and made it my own.”
“No,” Arthur said shaking his head. “No.”
“It is forbidden for us to kill one another,” Avalon said in disbelief. “We protect each other and when one of us does depart from this world, we release our energy into nature. How could you do such a thing? Do you have any idea how this will affect you even after you leave our world? You have broken the most sacred of rules that we live by every day.”
“That is one rule I do not agree with any longer,” Kronan said.
“You have committed a heinous crime and for that I sentence you to a lifetime in the darkest dungeon beneath the hallowed floors of the castle of Aislinge.”
“I no longer answer to you Avalon,” Kronan replied. “I am taking your place as ruler of Aislinge.”
“This is madness,” Avalon said. “You have no claim to the throne. The instruments of power will not work for you.”
“You’re right,” Kronan said thoughtfully, “I will have to rectify that, won’t I?”
Avalon had enough. She pushed her energy towards him, but Kronan must have anticipated this from her. His dark magic threw her to the ground, and she looked at him in shock.
“Listen closely darling,” he said before throwing his hands up towards the sky once more. “Gods and Goddesses hear me now. From this day forth I place a curse upon the queen of Aislinge and all who come from her.”
“Kronan, stop this, stop this right now,” Avalon pleaded
Kronan ignored her and reached into his long cloak and withdrew four objects. Avalon and Arthur both sucked in their breaths at the sight of the royal tools that were the symbols of the ruler of Aislinge. Avalon did not know how Kronan had attained these sacred and powerful devices. They were only to be touched or handled by the sovereignty.
“Put down those items and move away now Kronan,” she ordered.
“I curse the charm, the wand, the dagger and the scepter. I cast them out into the realms where they were forged so long ago and only when the queen has these weapons back in hand will she be able to rule again.”
“Kronan,” Avalon yelled but still he ignored her as he continued his spell.
“If by the time the first child of the queen’s offspring reaches thirty and does not find these instruments than the full power and all that comes with it from being the supreme monarchy of Aislinge shall be mine. I curse you and your family and may your souls wither and die if, by sundown on the child’s thirtieth birthday, you do not have these sacred tools in hand.”
“Kronan, dear Gods, do not do this,” Avalon whispered. Kronan paused for a moment and as their eyes met; Avalon saw a shadow of the man she had cared for come over his face. He took a deep breath, and Avalon could sense the darkness slithering in his soul takeover his being.
“I cast you out of Aislinge, you and your love,” he spat out. “The human realm is the only place for you and your wretched, whoring souls.”
Avalon and Arthur screamed as a portal suddenly sprang in front of them. Their bodies were both being sucked through, and as the portal closed, Kronan spared one last glance at the woman he had loved. Her blue eyes bore into his and for a split second he wanted to reach for her but then he stepped back and smiled cruelly before she disappeared from his sight.
The air was still howling, and the sacred instruments of Aislinge rose into the air before turning into dust. Kronan stood in silence before glancing over to the large boulder on his right. A tall, ghostly figure of a woman with white blonde hair was weeping quietly. He turned away from her in almost childlike indignation before transforming back into a raven and flying towards the castle.