Authors: Lisa Blackwood
A Gargoyle and Sorceress Tale:
victories feel more like defeat.
the Siren’s downfall was necessary, it also brought about a growing divide
between Lillian and Gregory. However, personal matters will have to wait, for
there is a more immediate concern which must be dealt with first.
authorities are now aware something equally as intelligent but far more deadly
shares their world, and Lillian’s hometown has been placed under quarantine. To
her dismay, it is not just a 'guns in the woods, boots on the ground' kind of
hunt. Scientists are spearheading this pursuit. Lillian soon learns she and
Gregory are their intended targets.
And this just
might be one hunt her gargoyle protector is ill prepared for.
2016 by Lisa Smeaton
Edition. All rights
Previously published as Stone’s Divide
This is a work of fiction. Names, places,
and characters are the product of the author's imagination or are used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely
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COVER ART BY: Heather
EDITED BY: Laura
Gargoyle and Sorceress
Sorceress Triumphant (Fall
In Deception’s Shadow
Death’s Queen (Forthcoming
City of Burning Water
(Forthcoming Fall 2017)
Warships of the Spir
Vengeance (Forthcoming 2017)
Long after the Avatars had left the glade, a lanky
figure shrouded from head to toe in black and crimson armor dropped from his
perch two-thirds of the way up the hamadryad. He landed lightly, only the
slightest rattle from his armor and weapons betrayed his presence.
He straightened and looked around the clearing, which
was protected on all sides by a manicured, evergreen maze. After another quick
glance around, he turned his attention to the ground beneath his boots. Giving
it a prod, he dug a furrow in the soft earth.
The Mortal Realm—the one place he’d never thought he’d
step. Yet, here he was, for good or ill. Distaste twisted his lips, exposing
his fangs. Already, he could feel this realm plucking at his magic, wanting to
drag it from him and render him as helpless as the other Fae he sensed guarding
That wasn’t something he would allow. Weakness of any
kind was abhorrent, and he had eliminated any personal softness at an earlier
One didn’t survive to rule over the Battle Goddess’
armies by being weak.
Commander Gryton took another look around before
moving out of the hamadryad’s shadow. He was still mildly shocked the Gargoyle
Protector had not sensed his arrival.
But then again, the male half of the Avatar pairing
was still exhausted in mind, body, and spirit from recent events. Events which
the Sorceress’ hamadryad had willingly shown Gryton as she transported him
Another perplexing mystery in need of resolution. He
didn’t know why the hamadryad had shared knowledge with him, or so willingly
brought him to this realm. However, that particular mystery would keep. He’d
come to this cursed land for another reason—his collars. He’d known the moment
the warded collars had left the Battle Goddess’ domain, had in fact been
working on the other set when the theft had occurred. He’d acted immediately but
still hadn’t been fast enough to stop them from vanishing into the abyss of the
Mortal Realm. It hadn’t taken long to discover who had dared the wrath of his
That Stalks the Darkness would take his newborn child
and run wasn’t a great surprise, but Gryton had soon discovered the gargoyle
hadn’t been alone.
The truth was a greater shock. The gargoyle’s dryad
keeper, the Battle Goddess’ own confidant, had fled willingly. Worse, they’d
taken two of
collars with them.
With that act, his path had been set—follow Darkness
and River to the Mortal Realm and bring them back to the Battle Goddess or, at
the very least, retrieve the collars.
To go to the Lady of Battles with only an explanation
would have ended badly for all concerned.
So here he found himself in the Mortal Realm with a
most unusual set of circumstances arrayed before him. He’d assumed Darkness and
River were simply defecting and had taken the collars as a goodwill gesture to
show the Gargoyle Protector.
Had that happened, it would have been disastrous for
the Lady’s plans. Given a little time with the collars, the Protector would
have studied them and taken steps to neutralize the spells and then adapt his
personal protections to become impervious to such an attack in the future.
But that wasn’t what had happened at all. No, a siren
from an ancient time had unbalanced the male half of the Avatars, and her act
of interference had opened other unforeseen possibilities.
The hamadryad had shown that in a moment of panic over
the lives of humans, her young and very foolish dryad mistress had collared
herself and her other half.
Well, in truth, the tree’s version of events showed
the protector collaring himself, but that must be incorrect, surely?
Fate was not normally so kind to him, Gryton reflected,
but whether it came about due to an idiotic young dryad or a befuddled Gargoyle
Protector, he would happily benefit from their mistakes.
Now all he need do was capture one of them and return
to the Magic Realm. The other half would follow.
With the Avatars’ return, the Battle Goddess would be
content, and Gryton could keep his head and his immortality intact.
He merely had to avoid detection until he could set
traps. Though it might not be the easiest task to complete with the number of
Fae he sensed lurking around this maze and surrounding land. There was also the
matter of the three gargoyles who would require a healthy dose of caution.
But the greatest danger should have been the Avatars
When he’d arrived in this realm, the Avatars were
still in the glade, learning from the hamadryad that the ancient siren had
sacrificed herself and in so doing defeated the Riven army.
The Protector’s attention was diverted, but not so
much he should have completely missed Gryton’s arrival.
Or the hamadryad’s meddling?
Neither idea was appealing as both scenarios placed
events out of his control.
Though he might also credit it to the Protector having
his natural senses dulled by years trapped in this realm, and the new collar
around his throat.
That was a much happier explanation than the Sorceress’
hamadryad manipulating events to her liking.
Whatever the cause, it led to a rare set of
occurrences he couldn’t pass up, not if he wanted to remain free of Death’s
clutches. That one knew what Gryton was. Another thought slipped through his
mind. None in this realm knew what he truly was. Here, he would be safe after a
fashion—at least as safe as any being could be from the Lord of the Underworld.
Even the Avatars didn’t remember what he was.
Perhaps he might have a use for the Mortal Realm after
When fate handed out her gifts, it was always best to
accept them graciously.
With a final glance at the hamadryad, he eased out
from between her branches and traversed the open center of the glade, past a ring
of broken ward stones and into the maze’s shadowy corridors.
All the time, he felt the hamadryad and the enchanted
cedars of the maze watching him with an awareness not based in the physical
world. He didn’t care what she had planned, he would not be manipulated by a
tree, no matter if she was the Mother’s Sorceress.
He had his own agenda.
One which might take days or moons to complete, but he
was nothing if not patient. Besides, the Avatars had already shown themselves
to be less than they were.
A flicker of a hunter’s bloodlust stirred in his core,
his magic awakening at the thought of a challenge.
He soothed his emotions and his magic soon returned to
its slumber. With a final glance back at the watchful tree, Commander Gryton
made his way out of the maze and into the gardens beyond, heading for the dark
canopy of the forest in the distance.
There he would hide until he’d learned more about this
realm, and just how compromised the Avatars had become.