Read The Wellspring Online

Authors: M. Frances Smith

Tags: #romance, #erotica, #adventure, #mystery, #fantasy, #magic, #spell, #atlantis, #lost civilization

The Wellspring

BOOK: The Wellspring
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THE WELLSPRING

 

By

M. Frances Smith

 

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2013 M. Frances Smith

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Table of
Contents

Chapter
One

Chapter
Two

Chapter
Three

Chapter
Four

Chapter
Five

Chapter
Six

Chapter
Seven

Chapter
Eight

Chapter
Nine

Chapter One

Denial was futile: Prosser Teomond possessed
everything needed for success.

Magus Teomond, Yule corrected herself with a
sarcastic inner voice, glaring at the attractive male image
magically reflected in her vanity mirror.

Disapproval marred her candid, usually
pacific features as she brooded on the intelligent, aristocratic
face of the preeminent psycho-archaeologist and dissected the
moving passages he read aloud from his current best seller,
The
Earth Is Whole Again, Are You?
.

This was one contender for the Throne whom no
crafty Magus would ever prevail against in combat or Court, she
allowed grudgingly, cognizant of a gently vindictive desire to
witness exactly that circumstance. There was imbalance when any man
or woman possessed too much charm, intellect, success, wit and
beauty—

“You did not just describe Prosser Teomond as
beautiful,” she chastised herself aloud.

“If you didn’t, I sure as hell will,” Hermes
declared, entering the master bedroom suite and waving a manicured
hand, igniting every candle in the room simultaneously, diminishing
the clarity of the attractive visage who was the instrument of his
young friend’s personal discord.

“You only think he’s devastating because he’s
Magus
Teomond,” Yule scolded fondly as the handsome man
moved around her bedroom closing windows and drawing the drapes. “I
like the night air,” she added complainingly.

“You wouldn’t like the
things
that
come in on the night air,” he ignored her complaint.

“And I like the morning sun to wake me,” she
groused further.

“You’re a brat when you wake up that early,”
he dismissed her pout as he turned down her bedcovers. “You’re in a
foul mood tonight. Did the tutor give you a hard time?”

“No more than usual.”

Hermes considered the back of her glossy
sable locks and noted the tilt of her head. His discerning gaze
moved to the wraiths within the mirror. “Is that Prosser
Teomond?”

“You know it is,” Yule replied with feigned
boredom.

“Why didn’t you say you were spying on
him
?” Hermes scolded, drawing a straight back, red
velvet-upholstered chair over to hers and sitting.

“I’m not spying on him. This is a public
broadcast,” Yule denied her friend’s allegation.

“I’d spy on him,” Hermes sighed. “He’s
powerful, handsome, and he’s probably going to ascend the Throne.”
He gazed at the intense face in the mirror. “Why are all of the
good ones straight?”

“You’re not.”

“Was that a compliment?” he teased her.

“No, just an observation. You
are
good.” Yule frowned at the mirror. “I don’t think he is.”

Hermes chuckled. “Prosser’s not a bad man,
he’s powerful, and power has always bothered you. Oh, is that what
this sour mood of your is all about? Did you hear back about your
application?”

“My application.” Yule scowled at the mirror.
“It never got as far as H.R., it was rejected in the mailroom! It
was sniffed out by a sorting imp as
imprinted by decelerated
magic
,” she didn’t conceal her bitterness at the bigotry
magically inclined folk showed toward their own who happened to be
less powerful.

“I’m sorry,” Hermes commiserated, taking her
nearer hand. “It doesn’t matter very much, does it? You don’t even
like Prosser Teomond. Why would you want to work in his spell
pool?”

“I don’t, but I need the extra money for the
Grove. If payment lapses the deed will be snapped up by a developer
looking to build the next family vacation getaway.”

“Would that be so bad?”

The tenor of Hermes’ question surprised Yule.
The startled look in her hazel eyes elicited a wan smile on the
man’s firm lips. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound heartless, but
sometimes I wonder if the damn Grove is worth all of the sweat and
magic you’ve put into it.”

“How can you say that?” Yule exclaimed,
unable to believe her guardian and friend would make such a
suggestion. “That’s my Family Grove! You saw it when we came here,
when it was turning brown and dying of neglect, and you’ve seen it
since I assumed possession, how the color and life has
returned—”

“I know you’ve done a wonderful thing—a
selfless and honorable one. I’d never deny your sacrifice, but how
is it going to benefit you?” Hermes glanced down at their joined
hands and back to Yule’s angry face. “I’m only telling you the
facts, Yule, you spend every spare moment in the Grove, riding over
proverbial hill and dale to a power-spent Grove that isn’t going to
recharge in your lifetime—if ever. I know, I know—it’s growing
again and it’s your Family Grove,” Hermes added quickly, “but that
area’s gone back to wilderness and the power isn’t regenerating,
which likely means it never will. Don’t pretend you haven’t
noticed. With new Groves being allotted every day, closer in, the
old ones are gradually vanishing. In no time at all the oldest,
most inaccessible ones will be abandoned altogether—in favor of
urban Groves—so why do you insist on throwing away every spare cent
and extra ounce of power on an archaic venture?”

“Marc doesn’t think it’s an archaic venture,”
Yule argued peevishly.


Marc
doesn’t, does he?” Hermes
propped an elbow on the back of Yule’s chair. “I can’t help
thinking you’d obsess less if Marc Woodmont weren’t so involved in
the Reclamation Project.”

Yule blushed, confirming his suspicion.
“That’s what I suspected. You can’t keep tagging along after his
heels like a lovesick sex imp. You have one of the oldest Family
names, but he’s got you following him in adoration the same way he
has all of those Acolytes following him. It’s as unhealthy as a
binding spell and I damn well don’t approve no matter how good he
looks in a pair of tight jeans.”

“My Family name is barely remembered,” Yule
pointed out. “And Marc is a talented spell-caster no matter what
kind of jeans he’s wearing.” She pushed his elbow off of the back
of her chair. “You never complained when he stopped by for coffee,
to discuss the R.P., or when he started to help me with the Grove.
In fact you used to be happy that I was spending more time at the
Grove and less at the Grotto. Why do you suddenly have a problem
with him?”

Hermes propped his muscular arm on the back
of her chair again. “I don’t have a problem with him, and I’d
better not catch you falling in with Liza Silvercrest’s power
hungry Grotto again. Not after what I went through getting you away
from them.” He stroked her dark hair soothingly. “You need to
socialize, network with others like you, make friends—and see more
of the world and the men in it, not cloister yourself away with one
man who will never take advantage of you and another who’s too high
on a pedestal to reach.”

He sighed with exasperation and gave a
handful of her hair a playful tug. “I’m late for a thing—I’ll have
to use the wind, but we’ll discuss this more tonight. All of this,
and you, must change.” With this pronouncement he rose from the
chair, waved a hand, and vanished, leaving behind a mildly curious
Yule to dress for out of doors work and find her way out of town to
the surrounding wilderness and to her Family Grove.

As was often the case of late, the Grove
bustled with activity as Acolytes moved throughout the clearing,
among the trees, carrying water, fertilizer, and gardening
implements, when Yule arrived on foot. The glade fairly glowed with
vitality and health, the complete opposite of its woebegone,
forsaken, and decaying state in which Yule discovered it when first
coming to the ancient Grove. It seemed to thrive as much on pure
attention as it did on the water, plant food, and pruning. She
supposed this was probably true since power groves were attuned to
magical energy, but unfortunately the attention was too late to
recharged its depleted power base. It would survive and grow, but
not as a true Grove, only as a representation of powers past.

Still, this was her ancestral Grove and she
felt pride and happiness as she strolled up the trimmed
grass-and-clover path and into the sylvan depths where ancient
stone walls still surrounded the altar that served her family as a
power base in centuries past. One of two Acolytes worked busily at
scrubbing moss from the large stone and greeted her with casual
friendliness as she entered.

“Hello,” she replied. “Is Marc around?”

“Not yet, he called to let us know he had to
attend a meeting that might run long,” said Brenna, who relaxed
nearby, a willowy redhead whom Yule privately resented because she
was already a skilled spell-caster with an old, revered Family name
whose power base had diluted very little down the ages. There was
no doubt in Yule’s mind that Brenna Nova’s membership in the
Reclamation Project had more to do with politics and personal
interest in its founder than any sense of respect for the past. In
fact, because of her family’s connections she spent more time with
Marc than any of them. “Anything new going on in the
spell-crowd?”

Yule shrugged vaguely. “Very little, that’s
obvious. I wanted to talk to Marc about a couple rumors. I’d like
to get his opinion.”

Brenna gave a small toss of her head. “He
probably won’t be very late. He’s meeting with the Sayer of the
West Coast—she’s willing to broadcast a dialogue about the Project.
She may even use a Visionary in tandem, which'll be a super boost
for the Project.”

“Absolutely,” agreed Yule.

“And I managed to get Laura Lyra
interested.”

Laura Lyra was born in Catahiti after the
previously banished realm of magic reemerged to blend with, and
reshape, the average-human Earth, and she currently enjoyed wide
success among spell-casters and the non magical as a pop star.

Her latest single was fairly skyrocketing up
the charts and looked like it would be number one, worldwide, by
the end of the week. Fans who indulged in learning trivia about
their idols would almost certainly back any organization fortuitous
enough to garner the support, and especially endorsement of the
particular organization by that idol.

It deeply offended Yule’s sense of etiquette
to namedrop so blatantly.

“And my father plans to bring the matter
before the Apex at the next Moon’s gathering,” she added, seeming
to take great pleasure in the expression of awe on the other
Acolyte’s face.

“You must thank your
father
for all of
us,” Yule remarked, making certain to clearly indicate to Brenna to
whom the gratitude belonged. The flush on Brenna’s arrogantly
attractive face told Yule she’d hit her mark.

“Have you been contacted by Teomond yet,
Yule?” asked the other Acolyte, Jory, a young man of nineteen whose
enthusiasm to be helpful never waned.

“I’m afraid not,” she reported somberly,
hating to disappoint him. “I’ve messaged him and spoken to his
assistant, but I’ve been unable to gain a personal audience.”

“Maybe it’s time to get more aggressive?” he
suggested. “We’re in serious need of a political figure to
broadcast regularly for us and he’d be wonderful.”

Brenna nodded at that observation. “He spoke
for the Grotto in Orange Acres and kept the human developers from
violating the building treaty, remember? The rumor is that he did
it free of barter or charge. If he’s willing to speak for them why
not us too?”

Yule didn’t say so, but she thought a handful
of small, power sapped Groves sinking into obscurity differed
vastly from a venerable Grotto steeped in power, culture, and
historical significance. Numerous skilled spell-casters argued with
local politicians against destruction of historical landmarks and
the unbridled expansion of humans into previously magic
endowed-only occupied territories, but even though an honorable
principle was involved in rescuing and protecting historical
Groves, would Magus Prosser Teomond view it as worthy of his
support? Especially if there was no profit in it? All of the
Project’s limited resources were committed to the groves in their
care.

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