sorcery and science 04.5 - masquerade

Table of Contents

 

 

 

 

MASQUERADE

Sorcery and Science: Book 4.5

 

Ella Summers

MASQUERADE

Sorcery and Science: Book 4.5

Copyright © 2015

Version: 2016.01.02

 

Cover art by
Rebecca Frank

 

To be notified when Ella Summers’s next book is released, sign up for her mailing list at:

http://www.ellasummers.com/newsletter

Story Summary

 

Seven tales of magic, technology, and adventure plunge deeper into the fantasy world of Sorcery and Science.

The Selpe emperor comes to Elitia to forge an alliance—and falls for “The High Priestess of Rosewater”, the only woman Silas has ever loved.

In “The Pendant”, Jason and his friend Terra are betrothed.

A band of dangerous sorcerers chase Jason and Terra through “The Portal Loop”.

With Elitions going rogue in record numbers, Davin “The Enchanter” fears that his aide, too, has betrayed Elitia.

Sent to the remote town of Lear, Leonidas’s career as an agent in the Selpe Intelligence Network is at a standstill—at least until he is ordered to steal a piece of advanced technology from the Avan spy in town in “Masquerade of Magic”.

Marin has always wanted to take part in the Solstice Games. And now she has the chance to join the Selpe team competing there—if she can only survive “Trial by Bombing”.

In “Masquerade of Technology”, a mysterious man claims he can lead Leonidas to the two Elitions whose thievery shattered his reputation. All Leonidas has to do is betray everyone and everything he has sworn to uphold.

Masquerade
is Book 4.5 in the
Sorcery and Science
fantasy adventure series.

Stories

 

ONE  
The High Priestess of Rosewater

TWO  
The Pendant

THREE  
The Portal Loop

FOUR  
The Enchanter

FIVE  
Masquerade of Magic

SIX  
Trial by Bombing

SEVEN  
Masquerade of Technology

 

 

 

 

STORY ONE

The High Priestess of Rosewater

 

 

 

 

~ 1 ~

510AX May 10, Rosewater

 

 

SILAS WATCHED THE priestess walk out of the temple and into the water gardens, her footsteps as graceful as a dancer—and as silent as an assassin. The wind rustled, throwing her long cape up in the air, where it rippled like a giant turquoise silk flag. Beneath her cape, she wore a black wrap-top and balloon pants. The pants were translucent, and the wrap-top cut to expose a triangle of skin at her midriff, just enough to see her bellybutton ring. The tiny diamond stud twinkled pink in the early morning light.

The high priestess of Rosewater had always been such a tease.

“I know you’re there, Silas,” she called out. “I can see your hair sticking up out of the bushes.”

He stepped out from behind said bushes, which truth be told had looked a lot higher than they really were. Being taller and bigger than everyone had its perks, and Silas wasn’t shy about showing his brawn. Sleeveless fitted shirts were especially good for this. Most people took one look at him and decided to back the hell off. But his size could also be inconvenient. Such as when looking for hiding spots.

“What are you doing sneaking around out here anyway?” Her eyes, as turquoise as her cape, stared him down.

“I just stopped to smell the flowers.” Silas allowed his eyes to phase white, just a tad. She’d asked for it, after all, when she’d initiated the staring contest.

“Smell the flowers?” she laughed, the song of roses and bluebells pouring from her coral lips.

There was a strong, confident tilt to her hips as she strode forward. Every part of her from head to toe was magnificent, and she knew it. Silas felt his eyes phase—unintentionally this time.

“Yes, that certainly sounds like you.”

Keeping his eyes locked on her and his grin wide, he bent over to take a sniff from the nearest rose tree.

“Cute,” she said, her breath hot against his skin. She smelled of roses a hundred times more delectable than any flower. “The big, bad Silas Thorn, Rosewater’s most fearsome guard, stopping to smell flowers.” Her scent deepened, the roses melting away to a cinnamon musk.

Silas caught her by the wrist, his jaw clenched as he said, “Stop it.”

She shot him a confident smirk, her scent deepening further. It was a dirty trick.

“You are playing a dangerous game, Enchanter.” He brushed his nose against her neck, inhaling deeply.

“You are no novice Phantom.” She leaned back against a tree trunk, her cape sliding off her shoulders as she perked her chest forward. “Your self-restraint is legendary.”

He threw her hands up against the trunk and pressed himself against her. “A reputation I earned before meeting you.”

A gasp broke her lips as he kissed her neck. When he pulled back, her hands clutched at his head, tugging him back to her. Her cool confidence had cracked, allowing hints of her true resonance to seep through. Uncertainty, longing, love. Silas kissed her, and as her lips moved to match his, her resonance exploded, pulsing out with unfettered desire.

“Silas,” she said, her breath catching as his hand slid the sleeve off her shoulder.

He kissed her naked arm. “Livia.”

“I really need to…” She moaned as his hands rounded her bottom. “…to go.”

Silas peeled his lips from her bellybutton and looked up. “You want to leave?”

“Want? No. But I have a meeting with Jasmine and…” She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. “Aurelia’s Crown, Silas, you really need to stop that, or I’ll never make it there.”

“Your sister will wait for you.”

“I’m already late!”

“Then she can wait a bit longer.” He took her hand, setting it over his heart.

“Don’t you have a meeting too?” she asked, wrapping a leg around him.

“It can wait. All that matters is you.” His head was dizzy with her scent. He could smell nothing but her.

She stared him straight in the eye. “I love you, Silas Thorn.”

“And I love you, Livia Cross.” Silas had waited over five hundred years to find a woman he could truly tell that. And she was worth every century he’d waited.

“But,” she said, bracing her hands against his chest. “We’re both late. We need to be responsible.”

“Responsibility is overrated.”

She laughed out. “Eat with me tonight?”

“Oh, I intend to, Livia. Of that you can be sure.” He held her tightly to him for one final moment, her pulse pounding in harmony with his.

Then Livia Cross—high priestess of Rosewater, little sister to the high queen of Elitia, Enchanter, the only woman Silas had ever loved—stepped back and walked down the path, throwing him a final coy wink as she disappeared through the trees.

 

 

 

 

~ 2 ~

510AX May 10, Rosewater

 

 

“AMBROSE SELPE ARRIVED here just an hour ago,” King River said from behind the hot cloud steaming up from his teacup.

Husband of the high queen, he was the one responsible for dealing with Elition external affairs. Jasmine didn’t much care for the Selpes, the Avans, or anyone else outside Elitia. If it had been up to her, Silas was sure she’d have closed off Elitia completely, preferably behind the magical Shroud that had once kept the sixteen kingdoms hidden. But the Shroud was no more. It was torn and broken—all except for the few isolated pockets that remained.

So Jasmine had her husband deal with the humans. He was a good choice. Chameleons were known for their changeable natures. Some could alter their appearance. Others, like King River, were masters of adapting themselves to suit any situation. He seemed to be always five steps ahead of anyone. And yet even when things didn’t go as planned, he didn’t complain; he simply changed tactics to deal with it. Silas liked him. He was a survivor, just like he was.

“So the Selpes want an alliance?”

“They’ve always wanted it,” replied King River. “But now more than ever. The Selpes and Avans have been flinging taunts at each other for months. The Selpe military stationed a few hundred extra soldiers in neutral areas that, like Lear, are close to the Avan border. The Avans responded by flying a few jets over Selpe territory. They are spitting across the border at each other, the acts ever escalating. It won’t be long before the two empires are at war.”

Childish behavior. But not unexpected. After all, the two empires had hated each other for five hundred years.

“I take it Ambrose Selpe wishes to ally with us to counter the Siennans allied with the Avans,” Silas said.

“Yes, and Jasmine wants to accept his offer.”

Now that was a surprise. “I was under the impression that the high queen doesn’t care for the Selpes.”

“True. But she likes the Avans even less.” King River tapped his fingers on the walnut table, over and over again, as steady and constant as a war drum. “The Avans were behind the kidnapping of our younger son.”

It had been only a few weeks since the infant Sorin was snatched from his bed. The thieves had tried to take his twin sister Terra as well, but they were forced to retreat when the Laelia guards stormed into the room. Silas hadn’t heard that the Avans were behind it, but he wasn’t surprised. Their civilization was just as technologically-driven as the Selpes. Unlike the Selpes, however, the Avans actually believed in Elition magic and prophecy. And there were at least a few prophecies floating around about the high queen’s twin children. People believed they would wield a power greater than any since the days the Shroud concealed all of Elitia.

“And our son is not the only one,” King River said. “Bandits and looters cross our borders every day. Elitia’s borders are too large for us to keep them all out. The Selpes have promised to help.”

“Some will still get through,” Silas told him. It was impossible to keep out everyone forever. Someone who wanted in would figure out a way sooner or later.

“Yes, but fewer of them.”

“And there is a threat implicit in their promise. If Elitia does not ally with them, they will invade.”

King River dipped his chin. “I know. I’d like to think the Wilderness is enough to stop them, but history tells us that will hold them back for only so long.”

The fact that the Wilderness killed anything electronic had once kept the Xenens out. But only for a time. Eventually, they’d found ways around it. King River was right. The Selpes were not as technologically advanced as the Xenens had been, but they would find a way. Elitia was not safe. Any Elitions who believed that were young and naive. They had no inkling of the horrors Silas had seen.

“And I’m more worried about the Avans than the Selpes,” King River said. “They know a lot about our magic. Too much. If they emerge the victor of the coming war, things will go very badly for us. They would try to use us as weapons.”

“If we do ally with the Selpes, have you considered that they might also eventually try to use us as weapons?”

“Yes. And they would, if they got the chance.” King River folded his hands together and looked at Silas. It was not a challenging stare. He was letting Silas read the determination in his eyes.

There was no need. Silas could feel it flowing out of him. This was a man who would defend Elitia with everything he had. He wouldn’t be taking the easy way out and dying before he was done either.

“We won’t give them that chance,” he continued. “We will make them need us. If they are dependent, that will make it harder for them to move against us.” King River finally took a sip of the tea that had been sitting on the table since before Silas entered the Assembly Chamber. “I have further plans, but we’ll just have to wait and see which ones pan out.”

Other books
Dip It! by Rick Rodgers
Freak City by Kathrin Schrocke
Sterling by Emily June Street
Cradle to Grave by Eleanor Kuhns
The Best American Essays 2014 by John Jeremiah Sullivan, Robert Atwan
Bound by Shannon Mayer
Three More Wishes by Sean Michael
God of Clocks by Alan Campbell