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Rising Shadows (Shadows Book 2)

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Summary

Riley Archer has not long been proclaimed High Witch of the Coven of the Obsidian Star before trouble is once again brewing. Demons are rising and Riley must find a way to put them back down beneath the pentagram. In the end, she will have to call on all those dear to her, Arden, Fawn and her coven putting everyone's lives at risk. All the while craving the angel who left her, even though she knows seeing him again would mean her death.

Genre:
Fantasy / Romance
Author:
Marie Murphy
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
2
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

Prologue

Dawn had broken and blood streaked the sky.

“The High Witch will summon you soon.” Ingrid said, raising her chin to acknowledge the rounded head of the emerging sun on the horizon. A pink sea ebbed and flowed spraying the rocks at the base of the castle.

Astrea Darkmore stared at the same view, hypnotised by the beauty of nature and the power of a new day. “I know.”

They sat together in between the battlements on the castle’s highest tower, legs dangling over the edge, nothing but a sheer drop and certain death below them.

Ingrid bit her lip. “Do you think she will go through with it? It could have been a spur of the moment-”

“Have you ever known the High Witch to do something on a whim? No, she’s thought it through and is bound by her words. She will go through with it and there is nothing we can do to stop her. With the angel powers coursing through her, no-one is a match.”

“No-one except Hester.”

“Riley. I want to use the name Celeste gave her. But yes, if the rumours are true and she has the ability to wield two core manipulations then she just might stand a chance.”

Astrea awaited her mother’s summons. When it came, the High Witch of the Iron Moon ordered her to select a dozen of their coven and prepare for flight. Naturally, she chose her six witches. Although Riley had been found, Astrea’s original six had humbled their heir by sticking by her.

They still had hope.

Astrea prided herself on being right about them. They yearned to be led towards the light, a direction their High Witch refused to take them as she spiralled further down into madness.

The Iron Moon witches took off from different towers. Once in the air, colours of their core manipulations painted trails behind them. They merged seamlessly, forming one streamlined V with Nova at the head and Astrea to her right.

No-one spoke. Each witch wore their dread like a mask.

The witches sailed above the sea over the now submerged Demon’s Walkway, a stone path which once connected the island to the mainland. They flew inland where the toes of their boots skimmed the bare, brittle treetops, snapping them off. The dead branches plummeted to the forest floor.

Nova directed them to a place not far from the Iron Moon’s island fortress. She landed first, Astrea next. Thuds followed their landings, as one after the other, the witches touched down.

Astrea took in the surroundings. Her mother had brought them to a circular clearing in the middle of the forest. The whole area was awash with decay. A layer of spiky frost covered decomposing leaves and fallen twigs. The ground was sodden and thick underfoot.

Nova’s shrill laugh focused Astrea’s attention. “Your face betrays too much Astrea. You’re wondering why I’ve brought us here?” Nova twirled in the open space with her arms spread wide. “This is where William Darkmore sacrificed himself to the demon horde. He had devised a spell that would make him King of the Demons so he could control them thus allowing his descendants and covens worldwide to live in relative peace. And now I’m going to bring him back.”

“But that will free the restraints he placed on the demons,” said Astrea aghast. “They will break into this world, there will be no stopping them until you return William to where he needs to be.”

One corner of Nova’s mouth tugged up and she turned to address the assembled witches. “Form a large circle around me.”

Astrea caught Ingrid’s eye. She furrowed her dark brows. “Are you OK?” she mouthed.

Astrea nodded and gestured for Ingrid to join the circle as the others had. After the last time, she was not going to give the High Witch another reason to hurt Ingrid.

The witches moved until they were shoulder to shoulder, boot to boot. Astrea’s six questioned her with darting eyes. But she did not answer them. She couldn’t stop Nova. The best she could hope for was that they’d be able to clean up the aftermath. Astrea’s gaze fluttered to the ground.

Nova stalked around the circle, flashing a glint of something that made Astrea suck in a breath. With long, spindly legs, Nova took two strides into the middle and swept a flat palm across mid-air. A light breeze whipped up, turning leaves and shifting twigs and branches until the High Witch stood on moist brown earth.

“With Darkmore blood the deal was done,” Nova spoke aloud, clear as glass as she unsheathed a dagger from her side. “With Darkmore blood the deal shall be undone.” The Dark Lady swiped the sharp edge of the blade across her palm, deep so the wound opened pulsing red blood. She clenched a fist and let the scarlet droplets form the dotted outline of a pentagram. Steam sizzled when the drops hit the ground turning to neon flames. She only stopped when a pentagram of green fire burned bright.

Astrea saw Nova stand back, as the flames grew higher, towering over heads. Lightning flashed and thunder clashed around the forest clearing.

The last thing Astrea remembered before falling was Ingrid reaching out for her hand and twelve witches tumbling like dominos.

Through half-open lids and hazy vision, Astrea could make out the blurred outline of Nova standing firm in front of the flames. Another figure formed a dark shadow in the fire.

“Why have you summoned me?” the gruff voice boomed. “Do you have any idea of the consequences of what you have done?”

“Most certainly.” Nova still gripped the blade dripping with her blood, the flames dancing in the silver. There was a strong smell of sulphur leaking from the pentagram.

“Then why have you summoned me here to this place? Even in these brief moments my power has weakened, and demons will be free.”

“Exactly my intention, great ancestor,” Nova bowed low, mocking.

“Ancestor?”

“I am Nova Darkmore of your line.”

Astrea pushed herself up, her eyes trained on the tightening grip of the weapon in Nova’s hand.

“Mother! No!”

But it was too late. Nova had pushed the blade into the heart of the shadowy figure. But it wasn’t a creature from the demon world who stumbled from the flames but a human man. Even if Nova had not told her his name, Astrea would have known who he was. She had seen his portrait hundreds of times staring back at her in Celeste’s archives. Now the greatest of all known witches was reduced to a grovelling wreck on the floor.

Astrea was on her feet in seconds racing towards the pentagram. She ignored the groans as the other witches stirred awake. She caught him just before he hit the ground, a head of silken black hair fell against her shoulder. Astrea’s knees crashed into the forest floor beneath the weight of him. She managed to flip him over, so he lay on his back in her arms.

Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth; his eyes rolled back into his head, glazing over.

A thin shadow fell across them and Astrea dared to look up.

“What have you done?”

Nova turned the blade over in her hand, mesmerised by the red stained metal. “I have sealed Hester’s fate. If she will not join us, then she is nothing more than an obstacle that must be removed.”

“You’re going to make her sacrifice herself to close the doorway, to seal the demons back underneath the pentagram?” Her stomach churned.

“By now they will already be making their way to the surface and once they are unleashed on the world, she will be so desperate she’ll do anything to be rid of them. Even become the Queen of Demons herself. I warned you Astrea, no High Witch will get the better of me, Darkmore blood or not.”

Astrea took deep breaths. She couldn’t take anything in.

“Take the coven back to the fortress.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m waiting for an angel.”

Astrea looked down at the body in her arms. She couldn’t help feeling that with his last breath all hope had been snuffed out. Twisting her neck, Astrea looked to the witches, to her six and wondered how she would tell them all was lost.

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