Today’s featured book from an author friend is something different: a fantasy romance from author Barb DeLong. Barb is active in our local Orange County, California writing community. She’s a wonderful writer, and I can’t wait to read this story!
The Witch Whisperer, Keepers of Magic Series, Book 1
What’s a perfectionist witch to do when her magic breaks?
Finding a cure for Willow’s broken magic takes her and the Witch Whisperer on extraordinary journeys from this world through a portal to another realm full of friends, foe, and danger. What will the seekers sacrifice for life and love?
In this scene, Never Ravenwood, The Witch Whisperer, has travelled through a portal from this world to the realm of Tae-wen seeking a rare herb that he hopes will cure Willow of her broken magic. We start with Nev on the run from some men from the fierce Malgren race that hunt down and kill all creatures with magic, especially witches. They’ve wounded Nev with a poisoned arrow. Their pet dake is a dog-like animal.
Nev kept running blindly. Change direction. This way. His sides heaved in pain. No, this way. He stopped, bent over, and dropped his hands to his knees, gasping. He listened. Silence in the woods now except for a swift-flowing stream nearby. The dake hadn’t followed him.
He’d lost his cap somewhere. He removed his boots, tucked them under one arm, and waded barefoot into cold water up to his ankles. If any Malgren had followed his tracks, they’d lose him here. He walked upstream for about a half-hour, wincing as sharp rocks and submerged twigs bit into his feet. When the stream veered south, he climbed the bank, sat, and donned his boots.
Panting, he took a swig of water from the flask. Sweat stung his eyes. The scratch on his arm from the arrow burned like the end of a lit cigarette. Too early for infection.
Nev groaned. Shit and hellpots. He had no idea what kind of poison, its effectiveness in small doses— its lethalness. The waning moon had risen higher in the sky, providing more light to guide him. He grunted getting to his feet. He had to reach the portal, which he figured was less than a mile away. He patted his pocket. Willow’s hope lay inside. He wouldn’t fail her.
He laughed. Who do I think I am? Some bloody hero?
One step in front of the other. One more and one more. His face burned. Before long, his shirt was soaked with sweat and his vision blurred. He stopped to rest and take another drink. The flask was empty. A fierce thirst clawed at his throat. I have magic. I can summon water. His shoulder bumped a tree. Frickin’ hell. Hot pain pulsed down his arm. The all-consuming spasms brought him to his knees.
Something tugged on his boot. Creeper! The lime green vine, thick as a man’s wrist and pocked with red pustules, coiled around an ankle like a festering boa constrictor. Knife. Boot. Why didn’t his fingers work? He felt for the hilt and pulled. His slick fingers slipped off. The vine squeezed. Another vine crept out from the brush. And another.
So this was how he’d die? A midnight snack for an Audrey wannabe?
Hell, no. He chose a slow death by poison.
He tried to focus on his magic. Knife—hack. Images of Willow and snakes and arrows danced in front of him. Back home at Trowbridge House she’d be sleeping. He longed to slip in beside her…
He shook his head. Staggered to his feet. Pieces of vine oozing blood-red sap were scattered along the path. His stained knife hovered in the air. He tried to grab it. Missed. His eyes swam. The knife made a slow descent into his boot top.
He started off again. Did his feet hit the ground? The trees thinned around rocky outcroppings. He was close. The rock face. A stumble. This is it, right? Feel for a deep chink. Yes. This is the place.
Nev planted both legs and tried to straighten. He closed his eyes and held his hands out. The right arm refused to cooperate, but he carried on with the ritual. He summoned the deep magic, the spark in the soul of a witch. The energies swept through him. Soon the vortex materialized, a small swirling eddy of rainbow colors that grew and grew and threatened to mesmerize him. He swayed, a blackness beginning in the corners of his eyes. He pitched himself forward into the vortex as unconsciousness took him.
Buy Links for The Witch Whisperer (on pre-order until release date of Jan. 30, 2023):
About the Author
Barb loves reading, writing and animals, not necessarily in that order. She writes contemporary and paranormal stories of love, laughter and magic, and you’re gonna know there’ll be a feature creature in there somewhere. Her short stories appear in several anthologies, including Secrets of Moonlight Cove, Love for Christmas, The Truth That Can’t Be Told, and The Truth That Can’t Be Told 2. She is currently working on a paranormal romance series called Keepers of Magic, about a society of witches desperate to keep their existence a secret. The first in the series, The Witch Whisperer, is currently under contract with The Wild Rose Press with a release date of Jan. 30, 2023. A transplant from the Canadian cold, she enjoys sunny Mission Viejo, California, with her husband and a pampered, blue-eyed, ragdoll cat.
You can find her at: