Dark Moon: The Ward of Shadow
[Final revisions underway; 96,000 words]
[Final revisions underway; 96,000 words]
Lena Angeles is the last person you'd want saving the world.
She's fourteen, average intelligence, and about as motivated as a potato--unless it comes to horseback riding or magic tricks, of course. Not a hero, and she'd be the first to tell you.
Unfortunately, nobody asked her. One minute, she was hallucinating in her high school hallway. The next minute, she's in a place called Mystala and a bunch of powerful, immortal beings called Watchers are telling her that she's a Ward, chosen at random. No special powers. No sixth sense. Just bad luck. The Wards are an old secret society who for centuries have secretly influenced the course of history, all to keep Mystala as chaos-free as possible. Because there are others, the Malines, who also work in secret. Only the Malines want to cause as much chaos as possible. If the Malines can bring Mystala to the brink of ruin, they can recreate it without free will. It's all part of a rogue Watcher's misguided plan to bring harmony to the world.
Lena doesn't really care about the Malines, the Watchers, or much of anything besides learning enough magic to find her way back to Earth. And maybe surviving Darkmoon, her partner, a snarky horse who's personal mission is making Lena's life miserable. That is, until a talking raven begs Lena to save him from the Malines. In exchange, he'll tell her a secret. The kind of secret that people would kill for.
Literally. Suddenly, there are Malines trying to murder Lena and nowhere is safe. Her only chance of survival is to find the raven's secret, hidden in a distant country full of dangerous creatures and even more dangerous people. If Lena and Darkmoon can follow the raven's map and find the clue it leads to, they'll have the key to an ancient sorcerer's most powerful discovery. If they can't, they'll both be dead long before the Malines destroy the world.
Welcome to Mystala.
An excerpt from Dark Moon: The Ward of Shadow
“Get out of here, go!” Ayla shouted, hurling a ball of green light at one of the unicorns. It exploded into the unicorn’s flank and wrapped around its body like a gelatin coat, twisting and stretching the horse’s skin into a gnarled, jagged shape. The unicorn screamed as her skin hardened into bark and tore shoots into the ground. Carmella reared to meet the flailing hooves of the other unicorn. Lena’s heart pummeled her ribcage. Her hands and forehead dripped sweat. She just managed to squeeze her knees tight when Darkmoon exploded beneath her towards the forest and wove into the trees like a panicky barrel racer.
“Will they be okay?” Lena shouted. As glad as she was to escape, the sight of those razor-horned horses lunging at Ayla and Carmella made an odd guilt swirl in her stomach.
Darkmoon said in her mind, ‘We can draw him off, give them better numbers.’
“No one’s following us!”
Making a hairpin turn that almost threw Lena to the ground, Darkmoon turned back and lunged at the alicorn before the creature could ram into Carmella. With a shudder of hesitation, Darkmoon bit at the alicorn’s shoulder and with skin in his teeth, bucked off in the other direction. Roaring in pain, the alicorn bolted after him. His steely horn and wings glinted in the moonlight. The swirl in Lena’s stomach rose to her throat. She hugged Darkmoon’s neck tight, struggling not to cry. She was useless, unless lighting a candle or conjuring a few droplets of water would stop the black stallion barreling after them.
‘Fire!’ Darkmoon screamed in her mind. He dodged around trees so fast that the branches whipping at Lena’s cheeks drew blood, but the alicorn kept pace. Clinging to Darkmoon’s back, Lena sparked tiny flames over her palms and willed them into the alicorn’s eyes. She was so flustered that half of them sputtered out midflight.
With Darkmoon navigating the darkening forest, Lena alternated between hyperventilating and pulling at her magic. Slippery and faint with her fear clouded around it, it dodged her will and sparked out in spurts—a tendril of fire that bounced at the alicorn’s feet, a few accidental drops of water that stung his eyes, a wall of illusory fire that fizzled fakely and puffed out like smoke. Panic made Lena’s body chill and tight. She couldn’t concentrate. Branches clawed at her arms and Darkmoon’s flanks, slowing them. Darkmoon puffed like a winded racehorse.
‘Do something!’ mind-Darkmoon screeched.Lena choked, “I’m trying!” Dripping sweat in sheets, she twisted around, just in time to see the alicorn’s horn lunging for her chest.