Read an Excerpt
By Karen Widdon
Copyright © 2004
All right reserved.
Formless shadows, stealing through the dark. A scream, a
shout, a child's shrill wail. Alanna of Rune bolted up in her
bed, turning instinctively to look for the slumbering form of
her russet-haired son.
Like the night before, he was not there.
The small sleeping pallet was heartbreakingly tidy,
undisturbed by a small boy's restless slumber. Caradoc had
not slept in his bed, not since he'd been taken two nights
ago. Again she saw the dark shapes, felt the impossible power
of the magic that had kept her frozen, horrifyingly unable to
move while Gorsedd stole her son.
She uttered a low, keening, cry. Her child was gone. And if
Gorsedd truly believed Caradoc to be the changeling child of
prophecy, he would never be returned.
As a Fae princess and Caradoc's mother, Alanna knew better.
One night of violence had given her Caradoc. She wanted only
to find her son and bring him home. That she had not enough
magic to do so tore at her.
Once, like all of her kind, she had glowed bright with power.
But the magic had been waning for a long time. Now, with the
remnants of her power clinging to her like a tattered cloak,
she could not even determine where Gorsedd had taken her boy.
Her beloved son. Caradoc.
Unable to sleep, Alanna began to pace.
"They will notharm him."
Alanna spun. "Wynne." Alone of all the Fae in Rune, the
Oracle's remaining magic still leant her that soft glow. Her
silver hair, so gray it appeared the startling white of
moonlit snow, matched the shimmer of her flowing gown.
"Aye." The older woman's lined face looked serene, the
opposite of Alanna's churning emotions. "I have spent the
night trying to find out where Caradoc has been taken."
"What did you- Were you able-?"
"No." The single word hovered in the air. "Neither mirror
nor water would ripple for me. Like everyone else, my own
magic has finally begun to fade."
"I must find out where they took him." Jaw aching, Alanna
forced herself to unclench her teeth. She lifted her head and
met the wise one's gaze.
"They will not harm him," Wynne repeated. "They believe him
to be the child of prophecy, of power. They believe him to be
son of the mortal Darrick of Thorncliff."
"But he is not." The words burst from her, pent up
frustration and worry and rage making her voice as sharp as
the ceremonial blade that had long hung above the throne.
"Are you certain?"
"You have seen him." Bitterness made her throat ache.
"Caradoc is not Darrick's son."
The old woman's gaze was sharp. "Is it possible you are
"I have wished to be wrong more than you know. We shared one
night of love, Darrick and I, a fortnight before I was
attacked. I prayed that it might be so. I didn't know for
certain until Caradoc was born. His coppery hair bespoke his
parentage without a doubt."
"And our magic has continued to wane." Though no hint of
accusation sounded in the Oracle's calm tone, Alanna felt the
jagged edge of it prick her skin.
"I've failed our people." Anger made a sour knot in her
belly. "Worse, I have failed my son."
"They do not know ... Then tell them. Tell the world. Name
the one who sired Caradoc."
Name him. Alanna opened her mouth, then closed it. She
swayed as memories of that awful night flooded her. She'd
been caught unprepared, for even then her magic had been weak.
She'd strolled in the forest dreaming of her upcoming
nuptials. He'd been waiting for her, grabbing her when she'd
walked past his hiding place. He'd tied her hands so tightly
her wrists had bled. He'd muffled her screams with a wet
cloth stuffed in her mouth. Then he'd taken her from behind,
savagely, laughing as he brutally raped her.
She never wanted to speak his name out loud. To do so
reminded her of what had been, until now, the worst night of
But losing her son was far worse. She'd thought she knew then
what it was to feel utterly powerless, at the dark mercy of
another. But she'd been wrong. The horror of that night was
nothing compared to this, the awful terror of not being able
to find Caradoc.
"Morfran Mortimer," she said, her voice brittle enough to cut
through stone. "His hair is the color of flame. He is
Caradoc's sire. The one who raped me has long been enemy to
Darrick and his family."
"As he is still," intoned the wise woman of Rune, anger
coloring her unwavering tone. "When last I was able to see, I
learned that much has changed in the human world since you
left it. Gone to war and returned, Darrick is now fatherless,
thanks to that one's hand."
Alanna thought her heart would stop. She hadn't asked, hadn't
wanted to know. "Morfran has slain Oren Tadhg?"
"Aye. And even now, your betrothed attempts to defend
Thorncliff against Morfran's army."
"He is not-" Alanna froze as Wynne's words registered. "Why
would Darrick need to defend that which is his by right of
Wynne shook her head, her closed expression one of dismissal.
"You must go to him. Darrick of Thorncliff is the only one
who can help you regain your son."
"Help me? Why would he help me? Darrick knows naught of the
boy's existence, nor the reason why I broke our betrothal. He
will hate me now."
"'Tis of no consequence. You can help each other. Darrick is
the one you must seek. Tell him the truth. This much I have
seen." Wynne pointed at Alanna's heart. "If you wish Caradoc
returned, you must go now to Thorncliff and ask Darrick's
Excerpted from Soul Magic
by Karen Widdon
Copyright © 2004 by Karen Widdon .
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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