The League of Illusion: Destiny

BOOK: The League of Illusion: Destiny
8.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

The League of Illusion: Destiny
By Vivi Anna

The conclusion to the League of Illusion

Five years ago, Sebastian Davenport tried to go back in time
to reverse a fatal mistake, but found himself trapped in another reality.
Unaware of the jeopardy facing his family and the League of Illusion, he gave up
his magic for a quiet life as a blacksmith. Quiet, until a monstrous
three-headed goddess of war called the morrigan comes to town...

Seeing Sebastian poised to charge the goddess, healer Drea
Blairwood has no choice but to hit him over the head to stop him. Nursing the
mysterious outsider back to health afterward is just an added benefit. She knows
he’s hiding something about his past, but has no idea what kind of adventure
awaits them both.

Sebastian has no desire to risk the life of anyone else, let
alone someone as enticing as Drea. But after militant elves kidnap Drea,
Sebastian needs to find a way to reclaim his magic. The fate of the League—and
the world—hangs in the balance.

39,000 words

Dear Reader,

I’m writing this just after having returned from Disney World. It wasn’t my first trip to Disney and it won’t be my last. Even though I’m not fond of big crowds, I get sick if I even look at a twisty ride (though I still like to ride a few) and by the end of our visit we’re all invariably cranky, I still love it there. Disney truly has created something magical.

Luckily, for those of you who don’t have a trip to Disney in your future, they’re not the only ones who can create something magical. Every month, Carina Press authors deliver us books that transport us to new times, new places and new adventures. This month is no different!

I’m pleased to introduce
New York Times
bestselling author Stephanie Tyler’s new series, launching this month. This romance, set in post-apocalypse America, centers around the survival of the fittest: the motorcycle gangs of the future. Dark, edgy and steamy,
is the first in this can’t-miss new series.

New York Times
bestselling author, Marie Force, is back with the next installment in her bestselling romantic suspense series. An error on the baseball field leads to murder in
Fatal Mistake.

And I’m happy to welcome Victoria Davies to Carina Press with her newest paranormal romance,
Seducing the Demon Huntress.

Joining these three is a lineup of fantastic authors returning to Carina Press. Don’t miss the latest installment of
Love Letters Volume 3:
Wicked Whispers.
Verbal foreplay goes a long way in these four steamy stories. From author Christine d’Abo comes
Sparks fly between two rival internet bloggers in this erotic contemporary romance.

Our last erotic offering for the month of June is the long-awaited sequel to Dana Marie Bell’s
Blood of the Maple
. In
Throne of Oak
, dark forces are converging on Maggie’s Grove, and a horde of hunters stalk supernaturals from the shadows.

If you’re looking for more paranormal romances, Sheryl Nantus, PJ Schnyder, and Eleri Stone all have releases this month. Check out the new installments from Sheryl and Eleri respectively,
Family Pride
Witch Bound.
Meanwhile, join PJ on a new adventure as she kicks off her London Undead series with
Bite Me
. Zombies have taken over London and a werewolf finds himself protecting a woman who seems determined to put herself in harm’s way.

Still in the “other world” genres, we have two releases: Fae Sutherland’s
Sky Runners
, a delicious male/male space opera; and the conclusion to Vivi Anna’s steampunk romance trilogy.
The League of Illusion:
wraps up with sorcerer Sebastian Davenport’s story.

If you’re a fan of
Downton Abbey
, you’ll want to make sure you’re not missing out on Julie Rowe’s War Girls books. World War I generated many heroes—only some of them were men. Check out
Enticing the Spymaster
, her newest release, and go back and catch up with
Saving the Rifleman
, the first in this series. And while you’re in the past, why not stay there? Wendy Soliman’s
Beguiling the Barrister
also transports readers to a past time in this regency romance.

Last but not least, two powerhouse authors have new releases to center you in the here and now. HelenKay Dimon explores love and lust in her return to Holloway with contemporary romance
Just What He Wanted.
Sexy Travis is the story we’ve all been waiting for!

Adrienne Giordano rounds out our month of magical releases with
Opposing Forces.
In this romantic suspense, when a pharmaceutical distribution manager uncovers secret drug shipments at work, she and a savvy executive with political ties must risk everything—including their hearts—to stop the criminals and stay alive.

No matter where your reading tastes take you, whether it’s the past, the future, or an alternate world, we’ve got an extensive catalog to help give you a magical experience without ever leaving the comfort of your own house (or needing to stand in line!).

We love to hear from readers, and you can email us your thoughts, comments and questions to
[email protected]
. You can also interact with Carina Press staff and authors on our blog, Twitter stream and Facebook fan page.

Happy reading!

~Angela James
Executive Editor, Carina Press


Once again this book wouldn’t be possible without my editor Deb Nemeth, whose continual patience and understanding helped me to push myself when I didn’t want to be pushed. Thank you.

Chapter One

The darkness of the night hid most things but as Sebastian made his way down the cobbled street by the Whistling Pig tavern, he could still make out the two men crouching behind a wagon. They were thieves, most likely, or why would two grown men hide in the wake of another’s passing? Drink probably spurred them on. By the sounds coming from inside the wooden building, the party was in full swing.

On another night, Sebastian might have joined in the revelry, but he had other pressing matters to attend to. He sensed something colossal was about to happen and he needed to prepare.

He’d been having dreams of his brother Rhys lately. Long, strange dreams of a man grown, not the one he’d last seen five years prior. It could mean only one thing—Rhys had found a way to open the portal.

Maybe he could finally go home. Five years was a long time to be stuck in an alternate world without family, without a sense of who he truly was.

As Sebastian neared the wagon, his hand went to the hilt of the short sword in the sheath fastened around his waist. It was something he’d forged himself in the smithy.

“Lads, you best be staying where you are,” he said to the crouched men. “I’ve not time to play with you this evening.”

The two popped up from their hiding spot and came around the wagon.

“Yer sure do talk fancy for a blacksmith,” one of them said.

Sebastian recognized the men from around the village. Drunkards and bullies the both of them. The one who spoke was Tomas. Sebastian had dealt with him one time before when the lout had been harassing the healer’s daughter, Drea Blairwood. One late night, he’d dragged him into an alleyway and made sure Tomas never even looked at Drea again. Now he was just out robbing folk.

“I suggest you boys go back inside the tavern and have another drink.”

“Or else what, blacksmith?” Tomas glanced at his friend and they both sniggered.

Shaking his head, Sebastian moved on past the two men. He didn’t have time for this kind of distraction. He had to prepare for his brother’s arrival. He was becoming more and more certain every second that it was going to happen that night. He could feel it in the air. A monumental change was approaching.

Tomas stepped in front of him, scratching at the scruff on his chin. “You forgot to pay the tithe to pass this way. How much was it again, Martin?”

The smaller man rubbed at his bulbous nose. “Five silver.”

“That’s right, five silver.” Tomas poked Sebastian in the chest. “Pay the tithe or face the consequences.”

Sebastian took in the two men, sizing them up. He could’ve easily conjured a spell which would’ve taken them both out with one powerful blast of magic. But he refrained from using his power. Since arriving in this world some five years ago, he could count on one hand the number of times he’d used his magic. And it had never been against someone. He’d learned too well the power he had. It was the reason he’d ended up in this place to begin with. To atone for his misuse.

He considered paying the men the five silver to avoid an inevitable fight, but five silver was a lot of money to him in this world. Back in the other world, in nineteenth century London, he’d been a rich man, the heir to the Davenport fortune. But here he was a simple blacksmith who worked his fingers bloody for one silver piece a day.

So, no, he wasn’t going to give these men anything except for maybe the steel kiss of his blade.

With one fluid motion, he had his sword unsheathed and pressed to Tomas’s throat. The man’s eyes bugged out.

“Whoa, now. Is that really necessary? We were just messing with yer. No harm done there, blacksmith.”

Martin backed up with his hands out. “It was his idea. I just want another drink is all.”

Sebastian slowly lowered his blade and took a distancing step away from Tomas. “Go get your drink then.”

Tomas let out the breath he was holding. With Martin, he made his way across the road toward the tavern, leaving Sebastian watching them go, his hand still wrapped around the sword hilt.

They were just at the door when the bells in the church tower started to clang. The sound echoed throughout the village. The town crier ran down the road toward Sebastian, nearly tripping on his own feet.

“The morrigan! The morrigan is coming!” He grabbed onto Sebastian. His eyes were wild, fear making him unfocused. “Run! Hide!” He let go and continued on his way, running and yelling. He looked back once. “Don’t hide near anything metal! It’ll find you then!”

The smithy. He had to go back and make sure Claude, his old metallurgy master, wasn’t lying drunk anywhere near the smelt or the finished metal products. Claude had a tendency to drink while he worked, especially on the secret contraptions and devices he thought no one knew about. It would make sense for the morrigan to go there first, since they had the most metal.

Tomas and Martin had already ducked into the tavern. All the way down the street to the village square, Sebastian could hear doors being barricaded and window shutters snapping shut. He was obviously on his own to save the smithy.

He ran back up the road from where the town crier had come. The smithy was just on the edge of the village proper, as was his own small house. He hoped he could get there in time.

Two years ago—the last time the morrigan had come—he hadn’t been in the village. But he had heard the stories. They were wild tales of a three-headed monster made mostly of metal that stood taller than the bell tower. The songs in the tavern sang of eyes of fire and the ominous sound of clanking limbs as it moved. The tales came from the healer’s daughter, Drea Blairwood, since she’d seen the beast when it had killed her little brother many years ago.

At first Sebastian had been skeptical about the accuracy of such accounts but he’d known magic since he was a young boy and had seen elves and Druids and strange mechanical devices that defied logic, so he knew such things existed, despite being outside the realm of possibility.

He also knew the myth of the morrigan from his schooling days. It was said that the morrigan was a war goddess waiting for her time to escape her realm and wreak havoc on the mortal world, plunging it into complete chaos. Sebastian guessed the portal he’d opened all those years ago just happened to be the one she existed in.

It was an elven legend, part of their religion and he’d learned about it during his lessons. It had been important to his father that he learn about all the races of people that he might one day govern as heir to the head seat of the League of Illusion. A position Sebastian had always dreaded receiving. It was not his dream to lead, but his father’s.

As he neared the edge of town and heard loud clanging and the slow
chug chug
of a steam-powered machine, the stories appeared to be as real as the hand in front of his face. The sounds intensified the closer he got to the smithy, yet he didn’t think it was right in the village. Just outside, coming from the Black Woods.

Sebastian pushed open the door to the shop. “Claude!” It was so dark inside, he couldn’t see a thing. The man could easily be passed out in some corner and he’d never see him.

Since he had no time to find and light one of Claude’s crazy light inventions, Sebastian rubbed his hands together frantically against his better judgment. Within seconds he created a glowing green ball of witchlight. He released it and it floated up to hover next to his face. When he moved, it moved with him.

The sounds were getting louder and there was a slight vibration under his feet, as if the ground itself was shaking in fear of the approaching danger.

He searched the smithy, scanning each corner thoroughly until he found Claude passed out drunk in the far corner, his face buried in the pile of hay reserved for the mule that turned the crank of the smelter.

“Claude!” He grabbed the man and rolled him over, which was no small feat considering the man was twice his girth.

The old blacksmith groaned, then farted, but didn’t appear to have any intention of waking up. Sebastian grabbed a nearby bucket of water—dirty water, mind, but it would do. He tossed the entire contents onto Claude, soaking him from head to toe.

He bolted straight up. “What?”

“We need to get out now. The morrigan is coming.”

“What?” he frowned. “Don’t you play with me, boyo.”

“I’m not playing. Listen.”

There was a clunk and a clang of moving metal parts just outside the smithy walls. The ground no longer just vibrated but actually shook with each step the morrigan made.

Claude was on his feet and stumbling for the door. Sebastian was right behind him. Just as they made it outside, the roof was torn off. Claude ran screaming into the nearby clump of trees. “You can’t have my secret stash! I’m sorry!”

Sebastian stayed, wanting to get a good long look at the monster. He could barely believe it existed, let alone loomed in front of him. His father and brothers would be chuffed to hear about this. He hoped to be able to share the story one day. Jovan, for sure, would be envious, as he’d always longed for dangerous adventures.

Crouching along one wall, Sebastian crept forward. His witchlight stayed with him, casting an eerie glow over the ground. He thought about snuffing it out so as to not draw the morrigan’s attention, but he needed light if he was going to see it. It was too dark otherwise. It was times like these that he longed for the gas lamps along the street in front of his apartment in London.

He could hear the morrigan rummaging around in the smithy, probably searching for large pieces of metal. What it was using it for, he could only guess at. The whirr of several moving parts got louder the closer he crept. His curiosity was too great—he had to see the beast for himself.

Before he could jump out to approach it, pain exploded down the back of his head and he collapsed to the ground. He saw a dainty bare foot in his path just as everything went black.

BOOK: The League of Illusion: Destiny
8.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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