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Authors: Kate Sparkes

03 - Sworn

BOOK: 03 - Sworn
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SWORN

BOUND TRILOGY BOOK THREE

   

KATE SPARKES

   

CONTENTS

Copyright 2016 Kate Sparkes
Dedication
1.
Rowan
2.
Aren
3.
Nox
4.
Rowan
5.
Rowan
6.
Aren
7.
Nox
8.
Rowan
9.
Rowan
10.
Aren
11.
Nox
12.
Rowan
13.
Aren
14.
Aren
15.
Nox
16.
Rowan
17.
Rowan
18.
Aren
19.
Nox
20.
Rowan
21.
Rowan
22.
Aren
23.
Aren
24.
Nox
25.
Nox
26.
Rowan
27.
Aren
28.
Nox
29.
Nox
30.
Rowan
31.
Aren
32.
Nox
33.
Rowan
34.
Aren
35.
Nox
36.
Nox
37.
Rowan
38.
Aren
39.
Rowan
40.
Nox
41.
Rowan
42.
Aren
43.
Rowan
44.
Nox
45.
Aren
46.
Rowan
47.
Nox
48.
Rowan
49.
Nox
50.
Aren
51.
Rowan
Author’s Note
Acknowledgments
About the Author
Also by Kate Sparkes

Cover art by Ravven

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the author.

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without the publisher’s permission. Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material.

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

 

Created with
Vellum

For the readers~

The ones who believe in fairy tales, who carry the magic of stories in your hearts, and who bring worlds to life in your imaginations.

Thank you.

       

1

ROWAN

T
he fairy tales that once fed my hunger for adventure made it all seem so simple. After the heroes overcame their challenges, the happily-ever-after followed just as dawn follows the darkest night. Small losses led to greater gains, love overcame all, and those with the purest intentions were certain to win in the end.

My own recent adventures had turned my thoughts away from those stories, but I longed to inhabit them again as I struggled to calm my pounding heart and the magic within me. Never had I felt so far from living the fairy tale I’d once dreamed of.

My prince had rescued me, and I had personally vanquished my greatest enemy. But instead of riding off into my happy ending, I found myself surrounded by enemies—a band of disheveled and tough-looking thieves who had stopped us on this dark forest road and taken our weapons. The ever-after I so hoped for seemed to be retreating as quickly as my dear friend Florizel. I’d told her to flee when enemies came, and the flying horse was now no more than a dark speck against the blue sky that showed between the branches overhead.

Florizel’s departure didn’t leave me without allies. I had Aren by my side, a man I once feared and now loved more than I loved the magic and the freedom he’d helped me discover. Counting him, myself, and Ulric, the deposed king of Tyrea, we had three powerful magic users in our little party.

Added to that we had Aren’s sister Nox, a gifted Potioner who, even without channeling magic, could hold her own in a fight. Flanking her were the merfolk, Kel and Cassia, appearing to be nothing more than beautiful, bronze-skinned humans as they sat astride their horses and shot glares as cold as the ocean’s depths at our would-be captors.

Thirteen thieves surrounded us in a neat circle. The thief standing next to Ulric was needle-thin and sharp as a blade. He let his eyes wander from face to face, then down over my body. I pulled my ragged, filthy skirt a little lower over my legs and wished we’d found time to stop in a town to pick up a change of clothes. My comfort was a minor concern, but I had a history finding myself in inappropriate clothing when I needed to flee. I had no doubt we would be doing just that as soon as Ulric gave the order. They had taken our blades, but we still had our power.

I glanced at the king, who had ordered us not to identify him, and found I couldn’t read anything in his expression. He was as hard and inaccessible as the first time I’d seen him in a lonely prison cell, if somewhat more fearsome now that I knew who he was and what he was capable of.

The leader of our enemies, a fellow in a jaunty cap completely out of place on a rogue thief, released my horse and Aren’s as the others closed the circle around us and finished distributing our few weapons among themselves. He shifted his attention back to the dirty, pale-haired girl who had burst in moments before to leap to our defense.

“They’re not coming with us,” the thief said.

She crossed her arms. “They have to.”

Patience had spoken for us after the thieves attacked, but I still didn’t know whether she counted as friend or foe. She’d been friendly once, when her family of Wanderers had sheltered me and Aren on a rainy night, hiding us from enemies. Much had changed since then. My stomach clenched as the sunlight illuminated scars on her face that hadn’t been there the last time we met. Back in the autumn, Patience had been bright, cheerful, strong-willed and ready to command the world. She’d been whole, and running through a fire-warmed tent with her friends. Now she walked with a limp, and her left eye was gone, replaced by a scarred mess of shiny skin.

Her remaining eye, blue as the sky, never left me as she spoke to the thief. “They can help us, I know it. Jevan, please. Just bring them back, and let Goff and Laelana decide what to do with them.”

“This is foolishness,” interjected a broad-shouldered brute who stood near Ulric, gesturing with his newly-stolen sword as he spoke. “Cut their throats or toss them on their asses and take the horses. I don’t care either way, but we’ve been standing here too long. We should be gone as ghosts by now.”

This Jevan fellow had stated their mission clearly enough.
Death to the monarchy.
He clearly had no idea he’d announced this to the rightful king of Tyrea and his son, that his words should have been justification for the Sorcerers killing him where he stood. To these thieves, we were a small band of travelers unfortunate enough to have been caught in their trap. Powerless.

The urge to release my magic’s destructive potential grew stronger as Jevan eyed his weapons and the others gripped their mismatched daggers and clubs tighter, eager for a fight. The familiar tingling of magic flowed through me as I struggled to hold back, to obey orders. My horse shuffled nervously, and Ulric shot me a sharp look. His gray hair, peppered with brown now that his magic was recovering after years in prison, hung over his eyes and gave him a savage look.

Aren watched my struggle as well, guarded and concerned. “Better control that,” he muttered.

The thieves would think he meant the horse. I knew better. Aren hadn’t seen the flooding I’d caused back in the city, but he knew what my magic could do if unleashed, its potential to harm friends as well as foes. His dark eyes never left me, even as a thief stepped closer to his horse.

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