Authors: Sabine A.Reed
Tags: #romance, #shapeshifter, #fantasy romance, #shape shifter romance, #wizard fantasy, #shapeshifer
Smashwords Edition, License notes
Thank you for downloading this free ebook.
You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be
reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes,
provided the book remains in its complete original form. If you
enjoyed this book, please buy other books of the author, available
in all major online stores.
Arya was running to escape from his
Jumping over a fallen log, he dodged
through the ancient oak trees. Raising his hand, he blasted the
tree behind him with a ball of fire, hoping that the diversion
would buy him some time. Despite his magical powers, he dared not
hurt Archan’s men. That mistake would cost him his life. Rushing
through a thicket of brambles, he hardly noticed the thorns that
left bloody scratches on his arms and face. Swerving to his right,
he ran past a startled herd of deer and emerged in a circular grass
There stood Archan, the chief wizard of
Arya cursed and turned back. Too late!
He was cornered. Behind him stood the seven wizards who were
Arya felt the lure of magic in his
blood, the power that threatened to unleash against the men who
trapped him like a helpless animal. With an effort, he controlled
his rage. There were too many of them, and Archan himself was as
powerful as three wizards.
Unwilling to give up with such ease,
Arya took a step back, gauging his distance. Could he make a run
past them? Archan’s men were all big and hefty. Even if they didn’t
use any magic, it would be impossible to run past them.
He was doomed.
Swiping his hand across his face, he
stared at Archan. “Can’t we talk about this over a tumbler of
You’re a dead man,” Reno,
the man on the far left, said.
Hush!” said Archan as he
crossed his arms at his chest. The edges of his long, black cloak
trailed the grass as he took a few steps forward. “Good to see you,
Arya. It’s been a while,” Archan drawled, almost as if he was
entertaining a guest in his lavish hall.
Arya was well aware that Archan was a
dangerous man. His outward calm was a façade. Inside, he was a
seething mass of ruthless and violent rage.
I can explain,” he
Archan raised his hand. “Now would be a
good time to do so.”
I searched that particular
world. Although I discovered an old lair, the inagimi wasn’t there.
It must’ve moved somewhere else.”
You came back empty handed
and thought to escape my wrath in this gloomy forest.” Archan’s
tone was cold and bitter. “You know me better than that, Arya. We
had a contract which you are obliged to fulfill…or else admit
defeat and pay the price of failure with your life.”
Arya’s world was one that consisted of
magic and magical beings. Magic was power, but since everyone had
almost the same measure, the balance usually tilted towards the one
who collected the most witches or wizards in his tribe. It was a
world that was torn with violent conflicts and bloody wars. The
three main tribes, the akhumbas, rishas and lagos ruled different
areas. Archan was the undisputed leader of the akhumba tribe, and
his lust for power was so great that he created portals that
carried his men to other worlds to collect powerful talismans or
beings that would further enhance his magic.
The inagimi was a prize he lusted for
with all his heart, and Arya was the only one who could get it for
him, for Arya was a heredity snake charmer. One of his magical
talent included being able to communicate with snakes, not with
words but through feelings and emotions.
I’ve good sources who have
confirmed the existence of the inagimi on the non-magical earth,”
Arya blurted out the words as Archan narrowed his eyes, getting
ready to let his magic annihilate Arya.
Oh, Arya, Arya.” Archan
stretched his lips in a thin smile that didn’t quite reach his
eyes. “Won’t you ever give up? You said the same thing about the
inagimi on the world of dryads, but it slipped through your grasp.
I don’t tolerate mistakes. You know that.”
Give me one last chance. I
won’t fail this time.” Sweat trickled down his cheeks as Arya tried
to ignore the terrible danger that surrounded him.
Creating a portal to
another world is a cumbersome and draining task, Arya. It’s not
something I undertake happily. You’ve already visited three worlds
and failed to capture the grand prize. Why should I waste my energy
on this foolhardy mission anymore?”
I’ll deliver this time.”
Arya thought fast as he fought to save his life. Immortality was a
prize Archan wanted above all. “Think about it. You told me the
inagimi can bestow immortality to any man. If you capture one,
you’ll be the only wizard in possession of a shape-shifting snake.
It’s the chance of a lifetime.”
Archan’s eyes gleamed with the lust for
such a trophy. “And you’ll be dead if you don’t come through on
your promises. Oh dear, I hope I don’t regret this.” Archan shook
his head. He lowered his hand. “I’ll give you one last chance.
You’re a snake charmer, supposedly the best in this world. Get me
that snake. Two moon cycles is all you’ve got.”
That is not enough. Give me
Two cycles of the moon.”
Archan raised his index finger. “Or else your life’s forfeit. I’ll
create the portal tonight in my camp. Be there as dusk takes the
land and do not fail me this time.” He turned around and walked
into the forest. His men followed him.
With a deep sigh, Arya walked in the
opposite direction. If he was going to travel to another world,
there was much preparation to be done in too short a time. He had
won himself a respite of twenty eight days.
It wasn’t enough but it will have to
Maya picked her way through the
sun-drenched graveled path towards the Nairobi zoo’s snake house.
In the enclosure to her right, a crocodile glided in the water with
a grace that belied its heavy mass.
Slipping into the cool interior of the
snake house, she breathed in a sigh of pleasure, relieved to be out
of the hot merciless sun.
One of the staff handlers, Liaz, took a
puff adder out of its cage with a grip hook. He examined the snake
from head to tail. Annoyed at being so rudely awoken from its nap,
the adder hissed a warning.
Be careful,” Maya said in
his native Swahili. “It can be frisky. Here, let me do
She grasped the back of the snake’s
head, holding him as lovingly as another woman might hold her
newborn baby. With her other hand, she rubbed its gleaming body and
cooed to it.
It sure likes all the
attention it’s getting,” said Liaz. He pointed to the tail of the
snake where a bite mark could be seen. “Got into a nasty fight,
this one did. Where did you find it?”
Someone dropped it off.”
Her eyes crinkled at the corner in amusement as the snake twisted
in her hands, trying to wrap its body around her arm. “It must’ve
got hurt when they tried to capture it.”
Well, we’ll take care of
that soon enough.” Liaz cleaned the wound with a cotton swab dabbed
in a medicine.
The adder twisted and flicked its tail
Maya stroked the back of its head.
“Here, off you go.” Gently, she eased it back into the cage. “Where
He’s cleaning the fish
aquarium. You’ve a visitor.” He nodded towards the entrance where a
tall man leaned against the doorframe, a thin briefcase in one hand
and sunglasses on his eyes.
Oh, yes, I was expecting
him,” Maya muttered and turned around, a practiced smile on her
face. She resisted the urge to pat her hair to make sure it was
still tied in the severe bun she had made at the back of her head
in the morning. Tugging the sleeves of her blouse down, she walked
over. “Good afternoon,” she said in perfect English, albeit with a
slight accent. “Mr. Manav, isn’t it?”
Call me Arya,” he said and
removed his sunglasses. “And you must be Ms. Lois.”
Call me Maya. Please come.”
She indicated to her office. Oh my! Here was a fine specimen of a
man, with a lean face that bordered on handsome, black hair
reaching down to his shoulders and sea-green eyes that appraised
her with intelligence. “Mr. Araman told me that you might drop by
today. The zoo is closed today, but I can give you a tour of the
snake house. You’re a writer, aren’t you?”
Mostly I write travel
columns and articles for magazines,” he said.
Maya’s office was small, with one
window looking outward into the garden, but somehow it had never
seemed as small as it did now. When he sat down on one of the two
chairs placed opposite her desk, his presence filled the room - and
filled her senses, too.
He was not exactly handsome, she told
herself. His face could be called ruggedly attractive, his cheeks
were hollowed and his smile easy - but it was his eyes that held
her captivated. Green, with hints of silver flecks, they peered at
her with an intensity she found annoying, and yet
So, Arya? What can I do for
you?” She smiled despite the churning in her stomach.
Mr. Araman told me that you
were an expert on snakes? I’m writing a book on African snakes.
It’s my first attempt,” he said. “I’d appreciate your
African snakes?” Maya
placed one hand over her desk. “There’ve been many books on the
species of African snakes. What makes yours any
That’s exactly what my
publisher asked me?” He smiled.
Maya waited in silence.
I want to add some folklore
in my book. I believe that has never been done before,” he said.
“It should make for an interesting read, don’t you think? And I’m
hoping that it will attract the common reader towards this rather
And you believe that adding
these folk stories will make your book sell?” Skepticism laced her
It’s a theory.” He
shrugged, his eyes candid as they rested on her face.
Maya did not think he was telling her
the truth. There was something more, something he was not sharing
but she didn’t have a choice. Her boss had specifically asked her
to give him all the information he required. She had to do as she
had been ordered.
Well, let’s take a tour
then,” she said. “Or would you prefer some coffee
The tour, I
Maya stood from behind her desk. “Well,
then…we’ve some very interesting specimens. You can take
Arya opened his briefcase and took out
a small digital camera. He got up. “This will do for now. May I
leave my briefcase here?”
Of course.” Maya slipped
past him. Her hand brushed past his arm, and for a moment a brief
tingle ran up her spine. “Please, follow me,” she said.
For the next hour, the two of them
toured the snake house.
This is one of our prize
possessions.” Maya stopped in front of one of the pens, open for
viewing from one side with a glass window, concealed bulbs bathing
the pen in a gentle non-intrusive light. “That is an African-Rock
Python, unique to Kenya. They’re non-poisonous, but can be deadly
in combat. You wouldn’t want it to come across you if you were
sleeping and it was hungry.”
Arya laughed. Ignoring their rude
observation, the python snoozed in the sunlight trickling in
through the glass roof.