Marked (Book One of the Marked Saga)

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The Fox and the Eagle

Stupid, Grace thought as her captors dragged her into a room. Two of her captors grabbed one of her arms, holding them out to her side. She pulled against them, but they tightened her grip. Frustration and anger coiled in her stomach when she saw Basil and Malcolm side by side on their knees, hands on their heads. Men dressed all in black stood behind them, holding a gun to the back of their heads.

Really? Grace thought. Come on! She had immersed herself so deeply into the Dark Realm, accepting that supernatural beings existed, and that she was one herself, she forgot all about modern weapons and warfare. Her heart dropped into her stomach when she saw the insignia on the bottom of the grip. It was a capital M, surrounded in a circle. It was the insignia for MacEntyre Enterprises, the weapons and modern warfare kingdom that her parents had founded.

It wasn’t fair. She had spent weeks training her body to fight, and conditioning her mind to cast larger, more powerful spells. She had worked hard to get where she was at now, and Diana’s men had guns? All they had to do was pull the trigger, and it would all be over.

She was relieved to see that Beck was there as well, his hands hanging limply in his lap. He was sitting in a corner, with bruises decorating his face and neck, and a long, thin cut slashed across his left cheekbone. He blinked slowly, as if in a daze.

“Well, well,” Diana purred as Grace was brought before her. “Grace MacEntyre, the annoying little roach.”

Hatred reared its ugly head. Grace wanted to kill this woman. She wanted to wrap magefire around her body, and burn her to ashes. Basil seemed unable to fight the snarl that tore from his throat. Diana smiled and stepped towards him, resting her hand against his cheek. Ice started forming on his skin, and his skin began turning a pale blue.

She sighed, stepping away from him. She grinned at Malcolm, and then turned back towards Grace.

“You, my dear,” Diana said, “have been a royal pain in my ass.”

Grace narrowed her eyes. “Thanks,” she bit out. “I try.”

Diana glared. “It’s not something to be proud of,” she said. “As a mage, you must learn kindness, and humility.”

“Oh, I have plenty of humility,” Grace snarled. “It’s just difficult to be kind to someone who is working to make my life hell, to screw over my name and take everything from me.”

Diana sighed in frustration. “Child,” she said, “you can’t use that excuse for everything you do forever. And for mages, unless I kill you, forever is a very long time.”

“What did you do to Beck?” she demanded, her eyes flicking towards her best friend.

“Oh, I just had a bit of fun with him,” Diana said, a cruel smile twisting her lips. “He wasn’t being very nice, so I decided to become his friend.” She stepped towards him, crouching by his side. She grabbed a fistful of Beck’s hair, tilting his head back and baring his throat. He looked terrible, but he was still able to turn his amber eyes towards her. Hate and anger flashed across his face, and Grace’s stomach dropped.

Some instinct told her to run. To run very far, far away. Waves of power radiated from him, and Diana either didn’t notice, or she didn’t care. Grace looked over at Malcolm and Basil. Both had worried, fearful expressions on their faces. Malcolm met her gaze, his eyes wide.

This is bad, she thought.

“Well,” Diana said, “I’ve had enough of this.” She stood, and held her hand out towards one of her men. He reached behind him, and then he was placing a knife in her hand. Diana twirled the blade in her fingers for a moment, and then turned to Grace. “As fun as this has been,” she said, “this game is over now.”

She came towards Grace, and fear tore through her gut. Grace pulled against her captors, but their hold on her tightened until she cried out in pain. A large, rough hand gripped a handful of her hair, jerking her head back so her throat was bared. Diana stroked a soft hand down her cheek. “I can’t have you in the way of the throne,” she said. “Goodbye, Grace MacEntyre.”

Diana tightened her grip on the knife, and raised it high above her head, then brought it down towards Grace. Distantly, Grace was aware of the chaos ensuing. Malcolm and Basil launched forward, turning to attack the nearest guard. She heard someone call out, “No!”

Just when Grace thought she would die, Diana cried out in pain and dropped the knife. The blade caught her cheek, grazing her skin as it clattered to the ground. Diana clapped her hands over her ears, slowly falling to the ground as she screamed. Grace’s guards released her, and then they began screaming as well. Grace looked all around, and everyone was falling in pain. Even Malcolm and Basil. Grace jerked her gaze to Beck. She saw him standing, and cold fear ran through her veins, turning her blood to ice. His eyes were completely white, even the pupils and irises. He was glaring at Diana, and she seemed to be suffering the most.

That was the last thing Grace saw before searing pain slashed through her skull. She raised her hands, screaming as the pain moved through her whole body. She fell, and then there was nothing but pain.

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