Twist of Fate
Release date: November 3, 2020
Publisher: Saray Books LLC
Print pages: 150
Content advisory: Does not have an HEA - Prequel to Fantasy Romance Series
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Twist of Fate
Wisteria - March 17, 1944
Fate didn’t have much time. The voices warned her that an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius had complicated the world’s war, but wasn’t enough to stop it. Even though the disaster happened in the Earth realm, it didn’t bode well for her homeland of Wisteria. The parallel dimensions shared energy, and Fate felt a toxic shift in the magick at the exact moment Erebos was stripped of his powers.
She worried she and her sisters had only made matters worse. There would be more disasters to follow if the planet and its people couldn’t find a way to co-exist. Only empaths seemed to understand the delicate balance between the two, and she had yet to find one equal to the task.
There was no way to know how the release of the dark magick Erebos had been gathering would impact the already battle-torn Earth realm. But she couldn’t risk Erebos tapping back into it, nor could she have anyone know her plans, except for Theo. He had a larger part to play moving forward. As she shuffled forward, she heard his voice to her right.
“Sevilla is two feet in front of you,” he said quietly.
Fate heard her sister stirring and shot a pulse of energy from her fingertips toward her. “Altum somnum.” The words caused her to be still once more. Fate felt terrible casting a sleep spell, but it had to be done. If Sevilla knew what Fate had planned, she’d most certainly try to stop her.
“About three feet beyond your sister.”
She was slow to find him, as she was unfamiliar with the space and had been blind since birth. She raised her hands over Sevilla’s husband Ryker, but there was no need to spark the Mage; he wasn’t moving and she couldn’t sense his life force. It was entirely possible that he hadn’t made it, but she didn’t have time to check. Theo stepped toward her, the echo of his steps on the stone floor reaching her before he did.
“You’ll need to move him,” she said. “If he’s alive and regains consciousness you will need to perform a banishment spell. He can’t know the others are alive, and he can never leave this place.”
“But he’ll wonder about Sevilla especially.”
Theo answered after a slight pause. “I’ll take him upstairs for now.”
She had the impression he had more to say but thought better of it. Relief swept over her when she heard his exhalation of breath as he hoisted Ryker’s body up and took weighted steps away from her and up the stairs. It was then she felt her way to her other sister Zilla and knelt at her side.
“Zilla,” she whispered as she shook her gently. She heard a murmur and shook harder. “Zilla, you need to get up.”
“I’m up,” she said, giving Fate’s hand a squeeze. “Where’s… oh my Goddess. Erebos.” The tapping of her sister’s shoes gave Fate the impression that Erebos was about twenty feet away.
She crawled on hands and knees toward Zilla. It was safer than standing and tripping on something along the way. “If you want him to live, you need to get him out of here.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Something went wrong with the magick we struck him with, and Ryker was killed by the explosion. Sevilla doesn’t know yet.”
“Surely she would know it was an accident…”
“Yes. But it won’t matter to her. Her heart will be shattered and she will want to lash out. You need to take him back to the Earth realm for a time.”
Fate reached her sister and stretched out her hand to touch Erebos’s shoulder. She slid it upwards and pressed her fingertips to his temple, whispering the words that would ensure their safety. “Āvĕho memoria.”
Zilla’s gasp sounded. “You erased his memory? How could you?” Her grip on Fate’s arm was frantic. “Take it back.”
Fate shook off her sister’s hand. “You know I can’t, and even if I could we’ll be safer this way. From what Theo described, Erebos’s essence has been split. We can’t take the chance that the evil will find him before we have a chance to rebalance his aura.
Zilla stuttered, her voice shaking with anger. “Fate, I really don’t…”
“You had better go,” Fate interrupted. I’m not sure how long Sevilla will stay asleep.” She needed her sister to leave with Erebos before Theo came back. The sooner she separated everyone, the better off they’d all be.
Zilla’s voice thinned as her transformation took place. Her next sentence came out more as a squawk than the smooth tones Fate was used to hearing. “I’m not sure I will ever be able to trust you again, Fate. He won’t ever be the same.”
She edged over, making way for Zilla’s wings. Since her shifting ability was limited to feline creatures, transforming into a griffin was the only way Zilla could get Erebos out of the building quickly. Fate wished she could see her; she was sure she was splendid.
Spending time with her sisters would be sorely missed, and the lies she would need to layer moving forward would be her greatest regret. “I’m not sure any of us will be speaking for a long time,” she whispered as her hair ruffled from the breeze formed by Zilla’s powerful wings. The fading eagle’s cry was the last thing she heard before Theo returned to the room.
“Now, what are we to do?”
2 weeks earlier…
Fate’s gifts weren’t acting right. She wasn’t sure why, but the future before her was void. There were those who would argue that she was blind and therefore couldn’t see anything but darkness anyway, but for one of the daughters of Destiny, that had only recently been the case.
She had always wanted to be more like her sisters. In her opinion, they had fewer responsibilities. Fewer worries. Since Sevilla was in charge of things that had already come to pass, she provided insight on past mistakes that could impact future events. And since Zilla embodied the now, like the ever-present ripples on the creek near Sevilla’s house, she was always in motion and hard to contain. While they each had their own gifts, to be used for the greater good of their universal purpose, Fate had always been jealous. Sevilla could work miracles with earth magick and healing, and Zilla had the ability to shapeshift with a thought. Fate could see the future, but the trade off was that she couldn’t see what was in front of her.
Her particular gift was directly tied to madness, as far as she was concerned, not that anyone in her life would agree. Seeing into a future that most could only imagine was looked at as a positive gift. What others didn’t realize was that the voices in her mind were incessant. They whispered options for the future and their misdirection often had devastating effects. It was up to her to navigate all the paths and guide everyone toward completing their divine purpose as safely as possible. The job, as well as her life, had been endless.
She supposed that was why she didn’t look much like her sisters. The stress and responsibility of keeping everyone’s future self from mucking up the present had taken its toll on her. While they were all born at the same time and were identical in almost all ways, their hair remained black, while hers had turned completely white. She had to be told what she looked like since her eyes hadn’t seen anything but shadows since she was born. Not that she minded; it was all she had ever known. And because her vision was affected, she was more insightful than most. It was a blessing and a curse.
The voices allowed her insight into a future that no one else could see. While she always assumed Zilla’s ability to shapeshift was what had kept her out of trouble all these years, Fate realized it was more likely the hints she dropped to her sister about her dreams and visions. Her sisters never made the horrible choices she had envisioned; therefore their toxic fate had never come to pass.
They feared her because of her abilities and heeded her cryptic warnings. They didn’t want to upset her to the point where she stopped helping them navigate the future, or worse, lead them astray. She supposed they were right to fear her; some of the visions she had were not easy to digest and had strange effects on her mind over time. But lately, things had changed.
The voices that called back to her from the unknown had been quieted, and she felt as though she couldn’t trust her own intuition. It was eerie, really, those voices going silent after hearing them her whole life. It made her feel alone. She sat near the fire, staring into the pocket of shadows that flickered with crackling heat, wondering if her inability to see certain pieces of the future was tied to an illness or something she had eaten. Although she had bemoaned her challenges with the gift almost her entire life, she now worried that her ability wouldn’t come back. And then what use would she be? What would become of her?
“I feel the weight of your worry, my darling.”
Fate jumped slightly; she hadn’t heard him enter. It was more likely due to her noisy mind than his light step. Anton’s hands kneaded her shoulders just before his warm lips caressed the side of her neck. She leaned her head to the side to allow him full access. The warmth of his tongue made her breath catch, which prompted a smile she could feel against her skin. It was close to the full moon, and he was frisky.
“I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about, my love,” Fate soothed. “Just not feeling myself.”
His kisses along her neck halted, and he moved around to kneel before her, taking her hands in his and caressing her palms. She loosened them from his grip and cupped his face, moving the tips of her fingers over the whiskered lines of his jaw. While she could only see subtle differences between light and dark, she could feel that the expression he wore was of concern. But there was also something more. Expectation?
“Perhaps I should get Sevilla? You have need of something to settle your stomach? Are you feeling well?”
She shook her head against the false hope in his tone, giving him the same sad smile she always did when the topic came up. He knew that children weren’t in the stars for them, but he had once argued that miracles were known to happen. Perhaps he was right, especially considering the trouble she was having with her visions. But her heart told her otherwise; children weren’t part of her future with Anton. Perhaps not ever, with anyone.
“I’m fine, Anton, there is no need to bother Sevilla. Besides, we’re going there tomorrow. I can chat with her then.”
Fate was relieved to feel a smile crease his face, the earlier misunderstanding all but forgotten. While he had told her throughout the years that she was family enough for him, she had a hard time swallowing her guilt. Especially since he had left his pack and hoped for a future she could never provide.
“All right. What can I do for you, my heart? Perhaps some rosehip tea? Some wine? We can open the bottle Zilla and Erebos left the other night.”
“Wine sounds perfect.”
She listened to the familiar sounds of his light tread as he made his way to the kitchen and looked through the drawer for their corkscrew. The glasses clinked softly against the table and she heard the twist and pop of the cork being pulled from the bottle. She remembered Zilla saying it was red, something she had brought back from her travels to the Earth realm. From the sound of the liquid hitting the inside of the glass, Anton was pouring two healthy doses. When he returned to the sitting room, she could smell the cranberry tang of the wine long before he placed the glass into her raised hand.
“Thank you.” His shadow bent and she felt the tinkling push of his glass on hers.
“Cheers, my love.”
Anton sat in the seat next to her, not quite settling as he shifted against the cushion. She took a sip of her wine and heard the click of his tongue and intake of breath as he decided how he wanted to start the conversation. It was obvious that her explanation of not feeling herself wasn’t good enough. They had been together long enough for him to know she wasn’t being forthright. She decided it would be best to change the subject before he posed questions she wasn’t prepared to answer.
“So, how has the training been going with Erebos? It seems that he’s catching on pretty quickly.”
“He is,” Anton said. The lingering pause created more unease. He was worried. About her or something else?
“But, if I’m being honest, he’s different.”
Fate could tell by the release in his breath that Anton feared telling her. Considering it was her sister’s lover they were speaking of, and how powerful Zilla was, she understood why. Fate had never thought Erebos would make a good choice to harness one of the elements as humans were historically weak. But, since she and Sevilla had each selected the men in their lives, and the voices had hinted at them choosing their mates, they had to go along with Zilla’s choice. If Anton was sensing something, it could be deeper than the fact they hadn’t known Erebos very long. She needed to pay heed to his instincts.
“Different how? What makes you say that?”
He answered without hesitation. “There’s something in his eyes. It isn’t always there, but when it is it doesn’t sit well with me. It raises my hackles.”
“I’ve felt the tension between you,” she agreed. “I thought it might have to do more with your nature than his.”
“My being a lycan has nothing to do with this and you know it.”
She took another sip of wine, allowing herself to taste his words and let them seep into pit of her stomach. He was right; there was something off with Erebos. There had been ever since Zilla gifted him the powers he now controlled. Perhaps they had been wrong to select a human host. Not that they had much time to find other hosts, since nature had started to change noticeably and had needed to be rebalanced at the time. They needed four hosts and the men in their lives, along with their dear friend Theo, were the best fit. Or so they thought at the time. Could it be that she had misinterpreted the signs?
Anton was still waiting for her response. She nodded. “You’re right. That wasn’t fair. Erebos has been different, much more secretive if that’s at all possible. Although, I’m not sure what it could be.”
“I don’t understand what you mean. You can see into a future that most can’t even fathom. If anyone has insight into Erebos’s nature, it’s you.”
She decided a partial truth would be the best response since she didn’t want him to know that the entire future had darkened in her mind. “I started having trouble seeing his future a few weeks back. There is something blocking my ability to see his path.”
Anton stood and walked to the kitchen. From the sounds of it, he was refilling his glass of wine. Good idea. She held out her glass for him to top hers off, and took a full sip as he settled back down in his seat. The bottle thunked on the floor near his feet. His silence was almost worse than the questions she knew he wanted to ask. She didn’t have to wait long for him to share his thoughts.
“If your ability is blocked, the results could be devastating. We need to find the reason.”
“The others can’t know.”
“Especially Zilla,” Anton remarked. Fate wasn’t sure she liked his tone. It was her sister he was talking about.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t mean anything by it, my love,” he soothed. “It’s just that we share everything and I would imagine Zilla and Erebos would be the same. Since we don’t know much about him, we need to proceed with caution.”
“Zilla wouldn’t violate my trust. Besides, if their fights are any indication of their relationship, I’m not sure there is any talking going on.”
“Depends on what kind of talking you mean,” Anton said playfully. “Making up after a fight can be very invigorating.”
He moved closer.
“Perhaps we can find some answers at Sevilla’s tomorrow when we are there,” she mused.
His hand folded over hers and squeezed. The sign of unity was just what she needed. “No one can know that your abilities are lacking, especially when we are unsure of Erebos’s nature. It wouldn’t be safe for you. This needs to stay between us.”
“I think you are over-reacting,” she said, unsure about her comment now that it was out. Was he truly over-reacting? She couldn’t be sure. Not without the voices.
“If your powers aren’t working right, there is no over-reacting. This stays between us.”
His tone was slightly tense, like he was trying to keep the conversation light but still get his point across. She might not be able to hear the voices, but her stomach was starting to turn, as it did when she was making bad choices. When she thought in her mind that perhaps he was right, the feeling subsided.
“Okay,” Fate agreed. “Between us.”
She rubbed the top of his hand in response and gave him a soft smile. He was the best thing that had ever happened to her, and she hated that she couldn’t be completely honest with him. In a way, he had known that about her before he committed to her. It was her nature to be elusive, just like the future she represented.
He knew her well enough to know that the truths she hid from him were ones she was forbidden to share. But now, she was hiding truths that weren’t in the same category. At least, she didn’t think they were. For the first time she was making decisions without knowing the paths before her, and it was frightening to imagine her future if the change became permanent. As much as she wished for fewer responsibilities over the past several centuries, she was terrified to imagine the ramifications of that wish coming true. Knowing that the future she was blocked from seeing could be her own was the most terrifying thing of all.
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