When playing games of power, you better learn fast or die.
Nadya was never one to seek power or authority, but both are thrust on her when she is pulled from her normal life into a strange new world of magic and turmoil. Caught in the middle of a bloody civil war she must choose which side to fight for and which brother to trust: Levah of the White Rose or Tylev Lord of Raven House. But not everything is as it appears. In this world words are power and magic is everywhere, magic that Nadya herself must learn to wield, but darker motives lay just beneath the surface.
Nadya’s decision will turn the tides of war, but the wrong choice could mean she losses her her very soul.
Nadya bit her lip as she lightly touched the blue-green stone again. As soon as her fingers brushed the smooth surface the light returned, curling around the edge of the stone. The air seemed to tingle around her.
With lightning speed the light swarmed from the edges to her hand, climbing up her arm in a warm rush. Nadya tried to pull her hand back, but it was held firm in the flood of light that was now crawling over her body. Opening her mouth, she tried to scream, but was suddenly pulled off her feet in a swirl of color. The world tipped and tilted in a sea of flashing light. She was tumbling through the air with nothing to hold on to. The light suddenly fell away and Nadya was thrust out into the open, her tennis shoes crunching on uneven stones as she fell forward onto the ground.
Gasping, Nadya clung to the rocks beneath her, trying to get her vision to stop spinning. A hot blast of air hit her face, blowing back loose strands of her hair. Nadya blinked the grit from her eyes, her gaze drawn up the sheer walls of red stone that rose to imposing heights above her. Another smooth wall was to the other side of her, forming a narrow canyon. Light filtered down from above, shining off the rock with a blood red haze.
Nadya rose with shaking legs and turned, coming face-to-face with a glassy, blue-green monolith of stone. Words were carved along the top in bold letters, but the script was one she had never seen before. The stone stood out with stark contrast against the red of the canyon that wound away behind it. Nadya took a step away from the stone, fearful of whatever power had brought her here. Wherever here was. It couldn’t be a coincidence that the stone under the bridge was the same color.
Nadya glanced down to the three-sided pendant in her hand. Did this have anything to do with it? Maybe if she tried to put it back it would take her home again.
She raised a shaking hand towards the stone, biting her lip as she again touched it. Just as quickly as before the light sprang to life along the edges of the stone before swarming down to her hand. The light raced over her with tingling warmth and frightening power.
An instant later she was pushed back into the light of day. Cool air blew over her smelling of damp earth and pine. Wide-eyed, Nadya turned in place looking at the thick forest around her. A soft mist floated in and out of the low branches of the pine trees.
This was definitely not where she wanted to be.
Nadya took a step away from the towering stone behind her. Though the stone was the same color as the other, it was shorter and broader. Like the other one this one was roughhewn with a single smooth cut side. The stone was so smooth that she could see her reflection like a dark mirror in its glassy surface. Looking down to her hand she saw that she still clutched the pendant in her fist. For a fleeting moment she thought of throwing it away in frustration, but something made her keep hold of it. Glancing down at her feet she saw what looked to be cobblestones, half-hidden beneath the moss. To the side were other stones forming a half-collapsed circle surrounding where she stood. Whoever had made this hadn’t taken care of it for many years.
Before she had a chance to think of what to do next, Nadya heard the soft snap of a stick breaking underfoot. She spun around just in time to see a huge white tiger spring into the clearing. The creature spotted her and slid to a halt.
Nadya eyes widened as she recognized wings rising from the tiger’s shoulders, sweeping back in a graceful arch. Nadya was frozen with fear as the tiger eyed her. She found that she could not look away from the creature’s deep blue eyes.
Something whizzed through the air and clattered onto the stones right at the tiger’s feet. Its gaze was broken and Nadya glanced down to see a white-fletched arrow laying on the stones. Another shot whizzed through the feathers of the tiger’s wings, sticking fast into a tree. The creature growled deep in its throat and took off again, sprinting right past Nadya and disappearing into the underbrush.
The branches of the trees shook and clashed as a group of riders came charging through. Five men on horseback pulled to a stop in the clearing directly across from her. The men looked like they had come out of some ancient history book. Two of them had quivers of arrows strapped to their backs, daggers hanging from thick leather belts at their sides. One of the men even had a sword, its shining silver crosspiece gleaming in the forest light as his horse shifted nervously. All the men except one wore thick leather breastplates, the shape of a white rose in full bloom painted right in the center. Each had olive skin, as well as dark hair and eyes. A stark contrast against her own fair skin and golden locks.
As soon as the men spotted her the two archers drew back their bows, arrows trained right on her. For a split second Nadya thought of trying to touch the stone thing again, but there was no way she would make it before they shot her.
“Oche ash me’vore?” The closest riders snapped.
All Nadya could give him was a wide-eyed stare.