When Magic Sleeps

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#1 in the Darkly Fae series

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When Cathair O Cuana stepped beyond the edge of the fae veil, he felt his presence disappear. Felt the magic that hid him from human eyes prickle over him like ice crystals in a fierce wind. He walked forward into the forest. Walked. Then ran.

As he moved between the trees, an unseen breeze that drew the attention of forest creatures, he willed himself to transform. First came the feathers—black, white, and a thousand shades of brown and gold. Like his hair. His eyebrows drew out into great winged arches and his nose hardened, sharpened into the beak of a deadly bird of prey.

Finally, he allowed the physical changes to overtake him. His arm bones hollowed and bent. His torso fattened. His legs shrank into short, scaly, clawed things. One moment he was running, the next ... flying.

He flapped his arms and soared.

He banked into a turn toward the mountains, toward the valley sanctuary protected by a legion of fae and seer guards. The sanctuary had been created to ensure his people would pass their la ainmhi—the one day each month they must spend vulnerable in animal form to maintain their magic—in peace and safety.

After the worrying council meeting, spending a day as an eagle owl was the last thing he wished to do. The growing threat of war with the Arghail, a conflict the Moraine could not hope to survive, coupled with the fading magic of his clan weighed on his thoughts. As high prince of his clan, heir to the throne his family had controlled for generations, he felt the pressure of duty like no other. He needed to be back at the palace, helping his mother, the queen, and the rest of the council decide on a course of action. Instead, he was trapped in feathers and claws.

Such was the price of immortality.

What he wouldn't give to be as carefree as his younger brother. Aedan felt no such pressure, no such responsibility.

Cathair forced his worries from his mind. Now that he was in la ainmhi, not only could the human world see him but they could also harm him. He needed to remain ever-vigilant as he traveled through dangerous lands.

Far below, a flash of swift movement caught his eye. Even from the distance of two hundred feet, with his keen sight he could tell it was a human on a bicycle.

A human girl.

There seemed nothing exceptional about her. An ordinary human girl with ordinary hair, an ordinary face, an ordinary appearance. Then turned her face up to the sky and he saw her eyes. A perfect, clear green, the exact shade of the moss at the base of his mother's throne. The human's eyes sparkled with a joy, an energy, a magic he had not felt in any of the countless days of his life. And they felt immediately familiar.

Without conscious thought, he angled his wings and followed her home. Through the gridded streets, into the older part of town where the lanes began to wander and the trees grew tall and broad.

He followed, as if drawn by an invisible force, to her home, to a tall and ancient oak in the back yard. To the branch that looked over a window he knew instinctively to be hers. As his talons wrapped around the limb that offered a perfect perch, he had the oddest sensation that he had landed precisely where he belonged.



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