Dear Mr. Clemens,
Ah. Dear me. Where to begin?
The impetuous (dare I say reckless?) young Viviane, Lady of the Lake, committed the heist of the century when she, on a dare no less, stole Merlin’s spell book. The headstrong High Priestess of Avalon then fled to her island sanctuary with the purloined grimoire. When warned by the magical waters she commands that the wizard would, indeed, not be amused, and would, in fact, imprison her in an ice castle, the Lady of the Lake fought magic with magic.
One does not reveal in polite society the specifics of such invocations. Suffice to say, two spells were cast forward in time to sixteenth century Scotland. The enchantments had a calamitous affect on Lady Fenella, Thaness of Thorburn. Was her subsequent kidnapping by the ruthless Lord A— a coincidence, or a spell repercussion? I leave it to you, Dear Reader, to decide.
What is known is that Lord A— desired Lady Fenella’s Highland holdings and kidnapped her with the intent to marry her to his son, Edward. Allowing the guiltless Edward and Lady Fenella to fall in love was never part of Lord A—’s murderous plot. Quite the contrary! But then, Lord A— could not have imagined his coveted prize would be magically lured back in time to Avalon and Fairy afore her wedding.
Mayhap Lady Fenella’s deepening attraction for Edward will prove to Lord A—’s advantage. After all, what more powerful reason can Lady Fenella have to bend time and return to her unfortunate situation than love?
Blurb from The Beltane Escape
Lady Fenella, Thaness of Thorburn, has no idea her fate is shackled to a powerful sorceress. She believes Merlin and the Lady of the Lake are myths, Gran’s warnings about Fairy are superstition, and Fairy was invented to make children behave. But a spell cast forward to sixteenth century Scotland finds Fenella and leads to her being branded, stolen, and betrothed. Traumatized and separated from her clan, the Highland heiress finds an unexpected ally in her kidnapper’s son. But their fragile romance is tested when the young Lady of the Lake lures Fenella’s cousin into Fairy. Fenella has seconds to decide. Should she remain with Edward, or should she dive into Fairy to rescue her beloved cousin, endangering her clan, and abandoning Edward to his ruthless father?
Trapped within the doeskin pouch, Merlin’s spell book pulsed like an angry heart. Viviane, the young Lady of the Lake, pushed her qualms aside and knotted the stolen treasure to her waist. An eerie quiet settled over the woods. Either the tree spirits sleep, or they watch me in silence, Viviane surmised as she carefully surveyed the canopy. Knees quaking, she deftly concealed the pouch beneath her cloak, then ran. Shallow breaths caught in her throat, and a sharp pain needled her side as she quickened her pace. She pressed her hand against the twinge and kept running. With each pounding stride, the prize slapped vehemently against her hip.
Viviane chanced a glance over her shoulder. Hah! No sign of Merlin. In her arrogance, she stumbled, her heel catching on her long indigo cape. Her heart cartwheeled. With an oath, she righted herself. Ahead, the Enchanted Forest’s dark mantle ended, and gloaming’s early light shone. She bolted towards the dawn.
Dry pine needles crunched beneath her deerskin sandals. The spell book’s muffled rage beat louder, waking a nearby tree spirit whose angry screech roused others. As one, they grabbed at Viviane with their prickly branches. A wizen-faced pine scratched Viviane’s cheek, stirring the creature marked into the skin above her cheekbone. Agitated, the blue sea serpent threaded itself around the crescent moon inked near her eye. Its nostrils flared, assessing the danger. Viviane shoved the impudent branch away. Catching scent of the lake, she broke through the trees. Her lungs heaved as an ache bloomed between her shoulders where the tree spirits’ angry glares thrust against her.
Viviane ran to the coracle moored at the water’s edge. The woven willow boat creaked when she scrambled into its hull and drew in the rope. Her long gown and flowing cape pooled around her as she crouched. Clutching the boat’s wooden sides, she commanded, “Hasten to the isle!”
The water surrounding the boat surged, forming a current that propelled the craft forward. A flock of startled grebes took flight, their wings thrumming.
“Mist, cloak me from Merlin’s sight.” Viviane arced her arm above her head. Her prisoner pummeled against her hip. But the spell book’s blows were futile and inconsequential.
The air thickened and grew damp. A dove-gray cloud engulfed the lake, swallowing the creaking vessel and its sole occupant.
Viviane knelt, closed her eyes, and raised her chin. Cool mist beaded her face. Merlin will rue the day he dared me to prove my cleverness, to prove I can outwit him. No doubt, he had expected me to stay within my watery realm, not venture into his forest. Does Merlin think because I am ten and eight, and he two years older, I lack cunning and daring? Hah! How dare he insult me?
The book writhed.
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About Ariella Moon
Ariella Moon draws upon her experiences as a shaman to create magical Young Adult fiction. Her Two Realms series includes THE BELTANE ESCAPE, a medieval Scotland and Fairy fantasy adventure, and THE AMBER ELIXIR, a Lady of the Lake novella. Ariella’s Teen Wytche Saga is a series of sweet contemporary paranormal romances. Her “Covert Hearts” appears in Second Chances: A Romance Writers of America Collection.