The original paperback version (2008) had this dream smack dab in the very beginning--which is, as everyone knows, is a no-no. So this portion I'm sharing with you today is no longer part of the book (as an ebook).
Chill bumps shrouded Zofia Trickenbod. She wanted to Transvect the hell out of here. But where to?
Zofia peered down into a deep chasm of copper, ocher and bronze cliffs from a dizzying height. At the very bottom of a V-shaped valley, brownish-green mud bubbled thickly like soup, and smelled like rotten eggs. At least now she knew what that smell was. Jagged tips of rocky spires and stone needles jutted up from the fumarole. She couldn’t be more lost if she’d stepped through a Portal. Well, maybe she had, she just couldn’t remember how she’d gotten here, wherever the hell here was. A crisp, cerulean-blue sky canopied this canyon of wind-carved rock while the huge scarlet disk of Antares, their sun, rode the sky like an exalted stoplight from First World.
Okay, wait just a troll minute! When did she arrive back on her own world, Euphoria? And why was she standing on this rock ledge with no way down pulling in sulfur fumes?
As if this place couldn’t get more exotic, just across from her standing majestically on a high precipice, was a black unicorn. His long mane, beard and tasseled tail billowed in the breeze like ebony flags. A deadly pointed and spiraled horn sprouted from his forehead.
Wait a minute. Unicorns are usually white. Aren’t they?
At least that’s what the Immortal Paradeep had always told her.
The unicorn pawed the earth nervously, sending a spray of loose rock down the bronze and tangerine cliff side. A mist rose and undulated slowly on the rocks in front of him as he tossed his head. Black eyes roved crazily at the phenomenon. He whinnied as though sensing the force wavering beside him. The smoky mist darkened and coalesced into something solid. A tall, thin man with sallow skin and a sharply chiseled face finally appeared. He looked like a vulture in need of a ripe corpse. Long, greasy ebony hair was pulled back off his expansive brow, falling in uneven lengths over narrow shoulders.
“Zofia!” his voice issued across the chasm like a cracking whip smacking the air. Dagger-like brows slashed across his forehead. Coupled with an odd-looking, pencil-thin mustache, it gave him a formidable, somewhat mesmerizing look. But the eyes were his most prominent feature. Even though Zofia was not that close, she knew from past experience that the right eye was a glacially cool-blue, while the other was as black as a raven’s back. But both held a rapacious look in them as one brow plunged lower than the other, pinioning her. His deeply lined, age-spotted face betrayed his age. He was old, but not as old as many other wizards. She figured he could be around five hundred and fifty Euphoria years old, but no more than five hundred seventy-five, even though he was a third generation wizard. Unless she’d been drinking Merry Widow, she was pretty sure it was Vesselvod Blood standing right before her. In any case, she really didn’t want to be here now. But when she tried to use her Powers of Transvection to fly away, nothing happened. Dragon spit.
This wasn’t good. First the black unicorn, then Blood, and now her Powers had failed her. Could it get any worse? Of course Blood was the wizard who’d murdered her parents, and then came after her in search of the Stone of Irdisi when she was ten. Zofia had become the Stone’s Keeper after Blood had killed her mother, but she had not become the official Keeper until her seventeenth birthday. By that time, Blood’s Powers had been revoked by the Heathweian Council of Wizards and Immortals and sent into Hamparzum’s for the rest of his life. So, how could the ex-Dark Lord of Scyldings be out of Hamparzum’s and standing here?
Okay, Zofia take it easy, she told herself, the memory is first to go when you hit the forty mark. Blood had escaped Hamparzum’s Place of Darkness about five or so years ago. He had come looking for the Stone of Irdisi, which would give him unlimited powers.
“I’ve been looking for you,” Blood hissed maliciously.
“Me? Why?” she choked the words as though she’d swallowed dust from the parched earth.
“You know why,” he said, his sardonic smile in place, his chest filling with a deep breath. “The Stone!” His one blue eye seemed to glimmer maliciously in the strange orangy sunlight. He held a long, black scepter and wore the black robes of his clan, the Karballa Wizards of Scyldings from the northern most part of the Province. But Blood’s entire family was pretty cruel. Aside from torturing Ugwumps, he used their body parts in potions and incantations—Yuck!—which was against the Code of Ethics big time. She could think of no one more ruthless and more murderous—unless you counted the Frisian Warriors who ate their victims, or the monstrous Helsingas, who ate their victims.
Waving the black scepter high above his head, he said, “Are you ready?”
“Ready for what?” Zofia asked, but didn’t really want to know.
“Varro numa pythis!” his voice echoed off rock walls as though he had a bullhorn. He must have been showing off. No one used old incantations like that any more.
Zofia felt an electric tingle all around her—which always accompanied grand wizardry workings—and all at once the cliffs trembled. Brown, cinnamon, ocher and rust melted and fused together like wax under intense heat. Suddenly, she was standing on a flat stone surface. Well, at least she was down off the cliff.
“Are you ready to play?” Blood asked. “Oh—yes . . . we need the pieces.” He waved his scepter once again. “Et te invoco Salibatum!” he incanted.
An octet of angry Bloods now stood in a line in front of her, staring at her with that same wicked, imperious smile. Blood had multiplied his image several times.
Zofia shivered uncontrollably.
In the same moment, a leathery, wrinkled-faced woman with wild white-as-gossamer hair, and gray-blue eyes appeared to her left.
“Aunt Tillie?” Her full name was Ottillie Anubis. She was actually Zofia’s great aunt on her mother’s side.
On her right side, as though he had just Evasserated, a tall, handsome man with collar-length, blue-black hair and savage sapphire eyes appeared.
Eyes going wide in surprise, she uttered, “Dorian?” on a bewildered breath.
Dorian Grandier was her husband. He was dressed in royal blue robes of the Brhynoth Wizards with a golden seal of the Knights of the Witenagemont over his heart. A black wand in his hand, Dorian stared down Blood. His six foot stature gave him a few inches over Blood. Broad of shoulder, steely eyes, and a bump in what would have been a straight nose, where it had been broken in a fight. This combination made him look all the meaner.
Wait another troll minute here. Was she hallucinating? Dorian had been dead for five First World years. What on Euphoria was going on?
“Are you ready, Zofia?” The repeated question echoed in her ears.
She looked over at the line of Bloods. “Now what, you ugly bastard?” Zofia growled. Hadn’t he done plenty already?
At the same exact time, each and every Blood drew back their scepter and thrust them forward—“Destructus malefica!”—from their tips flew red bolts of fire, so hot she could feel its searing heat. It slammed into Dorian, turning him instantly into ashes that fell in a pile at Zofia’s feet.
©2008 Lorelei Bell
"Spell of the Black Unicorn" scheduled to be out by May 15th 2013