Book Two of The Witchcraft Wars
© 2010 by Tracey L. Ali, All Rights Reserved worldwide under the Berne Convention. May not be copied or distributed without prior written permission.
This book is dedicated with love and thanks to two of the nicest, most genuine women it has ever been my pleasure to know….
Cynthia Old, more than a sister but a true and loyal friend – for all the good times and whose never-ending support, encouragement, advice, assistance, and love has meant more to me than words could ever convey.
And for my dear friend, Liz Moore for decades of loving friendship, late night conversations, fun, laughter, and always being there for each other through the good times and the bad. Very special thanks for a late night Kindle email.
Cover artwork courtesy of http://www.freeclassicimages.com
The tangy smell of autumn pricked at Ursula’s nose and all around her she could smell the tang of the Eastern Sea in the chilly early morning air. As she walked along the parapet of the castle walls towards the massive Horned Gate in the west, the rising sun was behind her casting long, eerie shadows across her path, elongating her form beyond recognition.
In the distance she could see the squat, shining headquarters of The Tears of Ilmater. It was a sight she normally found reassuring but somehow, on this particular early morning, she felt as though the building were some kind of omen or reproach although she could not say why she felt that way.
A slight breeze caused her thin linen nightdress to curl sensuously around her body as she walked but Ursula ignored it. She also ignored the tiny prick of wondering in the back of her mind as to why she was out walking the palace walls so early in the morning wearing nothing but her sleeping attire.
Approaching the Horned Gate, she could feel the steady thrum of the approaching dragon’s beating wings stirring the chill autumn air long before she heard the regular thwack of its massive wings. Turning slightly to face the huge black dragon as it approached she wondered at herself; that she felt no fear, only a surge of love so powerful it took her breath away. Ursula knew this dragon. In a way she could not even begin to explain to herself or to anyone else, she knew this huge beast to her very soul. When the dragon’s huge mouth opened wide she was hardly surprised to hear the great creature call her own name, “Ursula, Ursula.” Somehow it had been exactly what she had expected. The enormous black dragon was searching for her, just as she, in some indefinable way, had been searching for the dragon.
When the sudden darkness and deep chill descended upon her position on the Horned Gate she knew it had nothing to do with the majestic beast still flying slowly towards her. With great reluctance Ursula turned away from the beauty of the dragon and turned into the darkness, waiting patiently, although what she was waiting for she did not know. Soon enough her beloved father’s voice filled the darkened air, calling her name just as the dragon had done.
“Ursula, delight of my old age, my child, help me. I am lost, The Kingdoms are in danger. You must help me, my child. Find the key. Search the ruins, walk the labyrinth, find the key. Look not for me. Find the key and I shall be found, The Kingdoms saved but you must find the key, my child, find the key….” her father’s voice trailed away, leaving her alone with the now hovering black dragon. Deep in her heart she knew the importance of her father’s message yet still the now hovering black dragon entranced her. Gently she reached up with one dainty hand to touch the magnificent beast; its scales were warm to her touch, pulsating with life. “My love,” she breathed the words out and as she did so finally awoke, the dream lingering.