Read Witch Born Online

Authors: Amber Argyle

Witch Born

BOOK: Witch Born
12.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

WITCH BORN

Book II of the Witch Song Series

 

By Amber Argyle

 

 

*****

 Copyright 2012 Amber Argyle

License Notes

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

*****

 

*****

 

Author’s Note

 

While the world in Witch Song and Witch Born is strictly a fantasy setting, the author wished to use America’s resonance with the Salem Witch Trials. Therefore, the technology and setting for Nefalie are loosely based off of seventeenth century New England. Conversely, Tarten is loosely based off an amalgamation of South American landscapes, mostly Columbia.

 

*****

 

 

*****

 

Dedication

 

To Derek Smith

For giving the greatest gifts.

 

*****

 

 

 

 

WITCH BORN

Book II of the Witch Song Series

1. Shadows

 

The night was so deep the shadows seemed to bleed darkness. Senna glanced toward the hidden sky, searching for the moon that would not come. Not tonight. Even the strongest starlight was strangled by the dense canopy of trees. The temporary blindness was frightening, but it ensured no one would notice her slipping away.

With each step she took, the roar of the waterfall grew louder. Finally, she reached the staircase carved into the side of the cliff. Mindful of the slippery steps, she climbed upward until her muscles burned and sweat broke across her skin despite the chill.

When she’d crested the top and crossed the bleak expanse, she glanced at the frothing sea far below. Sea spray misted her skin. She faced westward, towards the distant land of Tarten. Closing her eyes, she cast her senses across the vast ocean, searching and feeling the faraway echoes of the Four Sisters—Earth, Water, Plants, and Sunlight. She concentrated until she could hear their pain, an aching melody.

Senna’s tears started again, wetting the salty tracks already on her cheeks. At night, her dreams haunted her. Dreams of a withered land and a dying people. With all the strength she had, she sang.

Let not the curse of Witches

Destroy a land of natural riches.

Plants, preserve life in thy roots,

Seeds sleep in earth, send forth no shoots

Until the Witches shall disperse

This terrible and unjust curse.

She came to the cliffs every night she could manage to slip away. Hoping to right the wrong she’d done, she sang for Tarten—the lands she’d helped destroy months ago.

When her throat was scratchy and she could no longer hit the high notes, she stared at the land she knew was struggling to hold onto any life at all. Because of the Witches’ curse, no rain had fallen in Tarten for over two months—death to any jungle, but this one held on deep in the ground, waiting for the promise of her song to be fulfilled.

She withdrew her senses back to her home, Haven. Above the crash of waves, Senna thought she heard the scuff of a boot against stone. She whipped around and peered in the direction she’d come, her heart pounding in her throat. If the Discipline Heads discovered she was subverting their curse, the punishment would be severe.

“Who’s there?” Her whisper sounded like a shout in the darkness.

No answer. She wished Joshen were here. The Discipline Heads had done their best to keep her apart from her Guardian. She hadn’t seen him in two months. Not since he and Leader Reden had gone on a recruitment assignment.

Hugging herself, Senna trotted back to the staircase and began the long descent into the uninhabited quarter of Haven. At the base, she plunged between trees that towered above her, the tallest over eight stories high, the smallest just over two. Some were so wide it would take twenty witches stretched arm to arm to encircle one. Each tree was hollow and had once been inhabited by a Witch. Now they were empty, proof of the Witches’ lingering decline into ruin.

Here, everything still bore faded signs of the Witches’ final battle with Espen. A door in a tree creaked on its rusted hinges, a hole yawning where the latch should have been. Broken windows gaped like mouths with hungry, serrated teeth. The destruction was at odds with the life bursting all around.

Still, Senna couldn’t shake the feeling she wasn’t alone. There was no indication anyone had marked her sneaking away, no indication she’d been followed. But some instinct inside her seemed to chant a warning—through the gloom, someone was watching.

The feeling grew, and with a start, Senna heard music again. But this wasn’t the distant music from Tarten. This was closer.
Here.

She halted and tipped her head toward a sound so soft and natural she realized she must have been hearing it for a while and mistaken it for the sounds of nature.

But there was no mistaking it now. The melody carried a warning.

The wind picked up, snaking along the path and tugging at her cloak. Senna held her hood close. The thick vegetation before her shifted against the breeze. Someone was coming. Trying to calm her ragged breathing, she reminded herself she was safe on Haven. The Witches’ headquarters were an impenetrable fortress—surrounded on all sides by cliffs that were in turn surrounded by the frigid ocean. The only way in or out of the island was for a Witch to sing you through an underwater cave.

So this was simply another Witch out for a stroll in the middle of the night in the abandoned part of Haven. The witch would see Senna and wonder why she was out for a stroll in the middle of the night in the abandoned part of Haven.

The tempo increased, matching the pounding of Senna’s heart. She backed off the path and hid behind a plant with leaves the size of her chest. Her hand strayed to her seed belt, her practiced fingers automatically finding the pouch of Thine seeds. She waited, as motionless as a mouse at the mere whisper of a wing.

A figure emerged onto the path, features hidden by the dark. Coming level with Senna, a muscular hand brushed some of the overgrown vegetation out of the way.

The hand was distinctly male, but there were no men on the island. They weren’t allowed, not without the Discipline Head’s permission. If this man shifted a mere fraction, he would touch her cheek. She gasped softly.

He paused and cocked his head as if listening. Holding her breath, she closed her eyes so they wouldn’t catch a stray bit of light and reveal her. The man hesitated before moving forward, his pace faster this time.

Senna let out her breath in a rush. She bit her lip as the man disappeared back into the shadows that had birthed him. Steeling herself, she stepped onto the path.

A man where no man should be? Perhaps she was mistaken. After all, it was so dark. But there was a way to find out. Obscured by time and neglect, the gravel path held a perfect imprint of a boot. She eased her foot inside. It was easily half a dozen sizes bigger.

She hadn’t been mistaken. But why was a man here? The music changed, luring her forward. Her fingers buried in Thine seeds, Senna slipped after him. She kept him just in sight—the solid darkness of his form, the scrape of his boots. He rounded a bend. She crept forward, but when she glanced down the path, he was gone.

She paused, listening. The hollow tap of a boot on wood. There. He was slipping up the steps to a tree house. Dropping into the shadows of the plants, Senna parted a leafy branch and peered upward.

The man glanced around before tugging the door closed behind him. It shut soundlessly, as if someone had oiled the hinges recently. Senna heard voices that were too muted for her to make out the words. The tempo of the music picked up, pounding out a savage beat.

Something was wrong, and she had to know what. Her breath catching in her throat, she eased silently up the steps. At the top, she couldn’t help but notice the creepers had been carefully pulled away from the doorframe. Whoever this was, they’d met here before.

Senna peeked past the vines that partially covered one of the broken windows. Through the gloom, she could only make out two distinct silhouettes. That meant there wasn’t just one man on the island. There were two.

“Why?” asked a bass voice.

A tenor answered, “Because I had to know for certain.”

“And
now
you’re certain?”

“Yes. She’d put the rest of us to shame. Even Krissin.” He paused. “Have you spoken with our contact?”

The bass grunted. “She’ll make sure we’re clear to depart with our captive tomorrow. And she guarantees our forces will breach the island.”

Senna gripped the sill until her fingers ached. Why would anyone attack Haven? And who would help them?

BOOK: Witch Born
12.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Woodhill Wood by David Harris Wilson
Scars of the Future by Gordon, Kay
At Every Turn by Mateer, Anne
Royal Elite: Leander by Danielle Bourdon
We Put the Baby in Sitter 2 by Cassandra Zara
Inshore Squadron by Kent, Alexander
Stone Guardian by Kassanna
Learning to Like It by Adams, Laurel
Life's Lottery by Kim Newman