Authors: Rebecca Chastain
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mythology & Folk Tales, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #New Adult & College, #Sword & Sorcery, #Mythology, #Fairy Tales
Mika was trying to save a gargoyle, not doom the world...
Mika Stillwater isn’t known for her skills with combat magic. As a gargoyle healer, she spends her days mending broken appendages and curing illnesses in the living-quartz bodies of Terra Haven’s gargoyles. But when a squad of the city’s elite Federal Pentagon Defense warriors requests her assistance in freeing a gargoyle ensnared in a vicious invention, Mika jumps into the fray.
No one could have predicted that her involvement would ignite a chain reaction set to destroy the city, the world, and magic itself.
Brimming with epic magic and loveable gargoyles,
Curse of the Gargoyles
is the second story in the mesmerizing Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles trilogy. Fantasy fans young and old will delight in this highly original world and exciting, action-packed adventure.
Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, dialogue, places, and incidents either are drawn from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 by Rebecca Chastain
A Fistful of Evil
copyright © by Rebecca Chastain
Cover design by Yocla Designs
Author photograph by Cody Watson
All rights reserved. In accordance with the US Copyright Act of 1976, scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without permission of the author constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. If you would like to use material from this book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained from the publisher. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
Mind Your Muse Books
PO Box 374
Rocklin, CA 95677
Also by Rebecca Chastain
Madison Fox, Illuminant Enforcer
Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles
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For all the fans who asked for another story about Mika and her gargoyles—
“How’s Oliver doing, Mika?” Kylie asked.
I jerked and glanced up from the journal open across my lap. We sat outside at a bustling café, soaking in the afternoon sun, and while I’d started out focused on double-checking my notes about my latest patient, a prasiolite and onyx gargoyle who had ingested moldy quartz loam, I’d long since stopped seeing the words. Instead, I’d been idly spinning a pentagram of the five elements above the pages, tuning them to perfect harmony with Oliver.
“Should I get another coffee?” Kylie asked, indicating her empty cup.
“Let me check.” We’d been here a little over an hour. It was probably long enough.
I nudged the pentagram into flight, lifting it above the heads of people in the busy city pentagon before zeroing in on Oliver. The half-grown gargoyle crouched two buildings over and three stories up on his favorite perch on the peak of the library’s marble facade, craning his long neck to peer over the edge to watch people come and go. Several government buildings and a few restaurants, including the café, ringed the pentagon, but Oliver preferred the magic of library users. I’d chosen the table where Kylie and I sat partially because it afforded me a view of Oliver at all times, but mostly because it was an outdoor seat close enough for me to reach him with my magic.
The pentagram kissed Oliver’s side and dipped into his body. In the past five months, I’d perfected the elemental blend of my gargoyle companion: carnelian quartz earth, with a strong band of fire and smaller portions of wood, water, and air. I tried to be discreet and not disturb him, but he lifted his head to find me even as my magic told me he was feeling balanced and healthy.
“He’s better now,” I told Kylie. “Between an hour or two a week here and a couple hours at the market, he’s stabilizing.”
I let the weave dissolve and shut the journal. It’d been a gift from Kylie, and she’d had
Mika Stillwater, Gargoyle Healer
embossed in gold on the leather cover. After all these months, I still got the same nervous thrill at seeing my name and title together. Most of the time I still considered myself a midlevel earth elemental with a specialty in quartz—a specialty that happened to make me uniquely suited to work with the living quartz bodies of gargoyles. I loved my new career as a healer, but I kept expecting someone more powerful and knowledgeable to come along and replace me.
Standing, I hefted my bag filled with twenty-five pounds of seed crystals that I’d purchased earlier and wedged the journal on top before tightening the drawstring. Kylie deftly wove a basket out of air and levitated the cumbersome bag to knee height. I admired her skill. I could have created the same elemental lift, but I would have needed a boost of extra magic from Oliver to help me. I grabbed the over-the-shoulder straps and used them like a leash to keep the bag close to us as Kylie collected her research books and we exited the café.
“Do you think Oliver will stay behind this time?” Kylie asked.
“I doubt it.”
He might if I encouraged him to.
I ignored the thought. “He’s not like other gargoyles. He likes to wander.”
“I think he just likes to be near you,” Kylie said.
“Which is the problem.” Gargoyles had a symbiotic relationship with humans. They could enhance our magic, making them coveted additions to any building or home. In turn, while they bolstered a person’s magic, they also fed off it. Despite being made of stone, gargoyles required a balance of the elemental energies to be healthy. I suspected it was why most gravitated toward busy public buildings and the households of full-spectrum pentacle potentials, or FSPPs, where the inhabitants all possessed powerful control over all five elements. Living with me, Oliver consumed mostly earth, and it threw his system out of whack, making him lethargic and potentially stunting his growth. As soon as I’d realized the problem, we’d started making frequent trips to public places where he could supplement his diet.
“It’s not a problem,” Kylie said. “You’ve figured out how to keep him healthy, and when he’s with you, he’s happy. Besides, look at it from his perspective. He’s assisting Terra Haven’s one and only gargoyle healer. I bet the other gargoyles are jealous.”
“Ugh. That makes me sound disgustingly self-important.”
Oliver released a trill loud enough to turn every head in the busy pentagon, and the sound lifted my heart. He launched from the roof, startling a flock of pigeons when he unfurled enormous stone eagle’s wings from his sinuous Chinese dragon body. Oliver was a glossy orange red of almost pure carnelian, from his square muzzle and stone beard to the feathery rock tufts at the tip of his long tail. With the sun shining through his rock feathers, he looked like he was suspended on wings of fire as he dove toward us. The graceful roll of his long body through the air made it easy to forget he weighed over a hundred pounds—until he landed too hard and his stone feet clapped against the cobblestones loud enough to echo through the surrounding buildings.
“Where are we going now?” Oliver asked. His voice had deepened as he’d grown, but it still carried the undercurrent of chimes and in no way sounded like it came from a stone throat.
Here was the moment to encourage Oliver to stay. With the variety of elementals who frequented the library, it would be a good, healthy home for him. But the words stacked up in my throat, and I swallowed them.
Oliver and his four siblings had been my first gargoyle healer case, and after I’d saved them, they’d stuck around to roost on the Victorian where Kylie and I both rented rooms. However, over the last few months, the other four had begun to explore various rooftops around the city, looking for more permanent homes. I kept waiting for Oliver to follow suit, all while hoping he’d stick around a little longer. Life without him was going to be lonely.
“To the gallery and then home. Unless you have somewhere else to go, Kylie,” I said. I’d been pointedly avoiding looking at Kylie so she wouldn’t see my guilt, but I glanced her way when she didn’t respond.
Kylie had stopped a few feet behind us, eyes riveted on a whirl of tangled air hurtling through a gap in the buildings and heading straight toward her. Though it moved fast enough to blur, I recognized her signature elemental twist on the bubble of captured sound: One of Kylie’s rumor scouts had found something.
She pulled her white-blond hair aside as the air cupped her ear, feeding the message privately to her. Her blue eyes lit up and a flush brightened her pale cheeks.
“Well?” I asked. “What’s the story?” If anything put that glow on my journalist friend’s face, it was the possibility of a front-page piece of news.
“I don’t know. Maybe nothing. I’ve got to go.”
The weave dropped from beneath my bag and it crashed to the cobblestones, jerking my shoulder with it.
“Oh, sorry. Here.” Kylie thrust her books into my arms. “I’ll send word if I’ll be done by dinner. Bye!” She spun and sprinted toward the nearest alley, shoulder-length hair streaming behind her as she disappeared around the corner.
“Okay, then. It’s just you and me, Oliver.” I crouched to add Kylie’s books to my bag. This wasn’t the first time Kylie had literally raced away, chasing a story. If it panned out, I’d find out about it tonight or tomorrow. In the meantime, I had errands to finish and work of my own. “Unless you want to stay,” I forced myself to say.
“I want to see what sold,” he said.
The tightness in my chest eased as I shared a smile with the little gargoyle.
I swung one strap of the bag over my shoulder and rested the awkward, poky bulk against my left hip, leaning to the right to compensate. After two steps, I switched sides with Oliver. His long body and four stubby legs gave him a bunching, loping gate, and his back kept bumping the bottom of the bag. Perhaps
wasn’t the right term for him anymore. He was almost three feet long and half as tall with his wings closed. When he’d first come to live with me, he’d been small enough to hold. If I didn’t stunt him and he kept growing at a normal rate, he’d reach over six feet long.
“Want to make any predictions?” I asked.
“The gargoyle pendants will be sold out, of course,” he said. “Especially the ones of me.”
“That goes without saying.” My lifelong dream of becoming Terra Haven’s preeminent quartz artisan had veered off course when I’d discovered I could heal gargoyles. Now, I wouldn’t change a thing, but I still enjoyed working with inert quartz, and since being a gargoyle healer provided sporadic income, I made jewelry and sold the items through a local gallery to supplement my earnings.