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Shadow City by Diana Pharaoh Francis - Fantasy
The world is falling apart. The magical apocalypse has come. Now is the time to guard the covenstead against both raiders and refugees. But Max has been stolen by a powerful demi-god who is determined to force her to find a way to use a magical power she never knew she had--even if it kills her. Meanwhile, back in Horngate, a Fury is birthing. When the creature breaks free of the fragile bonds that enclose her, her rage will scour the covenstead from the earth.
Max finds herself in the Shadow City, a place of mysteries and magic, where she must battle for her freedom or become a slave to creatures of dreadful greed and power. Back in Horngate, Alexander must swallow his anger and pride if he hopes to defeat the Fury, a creature that no one has ever successfully fought before.
In the end, it will be courage, friendship, faith and loyalty that win the day. Or else so one will live to see tomorrow.
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ALEXANDER CROUCHED ON THE RIDGELINE. HIS head swiveled as he sniffed the crisp, still air. Uncanny and Divine magic washed across his tongue: bitter and sweet, caustic and cloying. His eyes narrowed as he tried to sort the scents of what belonged from what did not.
It was impossible. There was simply too much magic in the air. But at least one thing was clearly out of place. On a small flattish spot on the slope below him was a fairy circle made of deep-pocketed morel mushrooms. It was about seven feet in diameter, and the edges of the ring were thick and deep. There had to be at least a few hundred mushrooms. But that was not what caught Alexander's attention.
Inside the circle was a pile of skinned bodies. Alexander could see two wolves, five rabbits, three raccoons, a pair of ducks, three deer, and a small bear.
He reached for a rock. He found one the size of a hubcap and weighing a good fifty pounds. He tossed it one-handed. It thumped down heavily inside the circle. The ground heaved and funneled downward. The bodies and the rock plunged into the sudden maw. A second later, the grass rippled back into place. Alexander pursed his lips in a silent whistle. Something down there was hungry.
He frowned. A flicker of motion caught his attention, and he tilted a glance upward. An angel glided across the night sky, silent and deadly. Alexander's teeth bared as he watched Tutresiel circle. Suddenly, the angel's silver wings folded with a metallic hiss, and he dropped to the ground only a few feet from the fairy ring.
He landed in a crouch before straightening with tiger-like grace. He stared at Alexander with scarlet eyes. His face was pale marble, his body hard with muscle. His black hair hung to his shoulders in sharp contrast with his white skin. He wore black jeans, heavy biker boots, and a scarred leather vest laced loosely around the roots of his wings.
Alexander's nostrils flared, and his body went taut. He rose to his feet but held himself tightly leashed, despite the nearly uncontrollable urge to pummel Tutresiel's face into a pulp. Not that he could. But something about the angel triggered a primitive reaction in Alexander that had nothing to do with logic and reason and everything to do with animal instinct.
"What do you want?"
"Niko sent me to find you."
Alexander's lips flattened. "What for?" But he knew what for. Niko wanted him to become the Prime of Horngate's Shadowblades. He'd been after him about it since Scooter had taken Max. It was the last thing Max herself had asked for before she had been taken.
Fury, frustration, and unspeakable pain churned molten in his gut. It had been weeks, and there'd been no word, no sign. The beast inside him howled with loss, and he doubled over, bracing his hands on his knees as he fought to breathe. She will return, he told himself. If she does not, I will go find her.
He straightened, meeting Tutresiel's gaze, expecting mockery. But the angel only offered a short nod of understanding. Except he could not possibly understand. He was cold-blooded as hell and cared nothing for anyone. As his next words proved.
"When are you going to pull up your big girl panties and get over it?" he asked, folding his arms and cocking his head to the side. "If Max could see you now, she'd be puking up her guts with disgust. She needs a man, not a weakling child."
Alexander's anger hardened. His Prime bristled, and he went iron-cold as the beast took over. "What would you know about Max?" he asked softly as reason fled. He was going to kill the angel. Somehow. "You tried to destroy Horngate. The only reason you joined the covenstead was to get out of the Guardians' shackles. You are...
Shadow CityBy: Diana Pharaoh Francis