Aren Tiernal knows that safety is an illusion, that his cruel and powerful brother will never forgive his betrayal. Still, returning to Tyrea to challenge Severn for the throne would be suicide. It’s not until Severn himself comes to collect what’s owed to him that Aren decides to risk everything in an attempt to bring down the most powerful Sorcerer Tyrea has ever known. The mission seems doomed to fail, but it’s Aren’s only chance to save himself, his country, and the woman who thawed his heart.
Rowan Greenwood has troubles of her own. Though she should be a great Sorceress, years of being closed off from her magic have left her unable to control her incredible power. When a pair of ominous letters arrive from her home country, Rowan has to choose between her new life and a chance at saving her family—and just maybe changing an entire country’s beliefs about the evils of magic.
Torn apart by separate quests, Rowan and Aren will have to discover untapped strengths and confront their darkest fears in order to overthrow a ruler determined to destroy them both.
Bound Trilogy, Tome 2 : Torn
Prologue: Nox (one year before)
They called me too late.
The grieving father handed me a burlap bag and cabbage heads as his wife wept over their daughter's body. My finger brushed his, and he jerked them away.
'It's all we have', he said, and wiped his nose on the discoloured sleeve of his shirt.
The child had been hardly more than a baby, dirty and thin, probably not especially well looked-after at the best of times. Her parents had sent their older son to fetch me early that evening. I hadn't been able to do more than ease her suffering as she left us, but they'd been grateful for that.
The poorer folk always waited too long. Their pride held them back. If they couldn't afford afford to offer a Potioner a decent fee for her devices, well, they wouldn't take charity. Not until things got so bad that even I couldn't fix them.
Their hour reeked of weak cabbage stew and the effects of illness, but beneath that lay the lingering soap smell of the laundry the wife took in, their only source of income through the winter. A pittance, really, and likely abandoned when the child fell ill. Had i been up to me, I'd have told them not to worry about paying. My husband would expect me to bring something home, though. He'd have preferred coin, but I could hardly ask that from these people.
Instead, I expressed my regret over their loss and accepted the sack of vegetables.
Even when they need me and after all the good I did for them, people in northern Tyrea were superstitious about Potioners, especially one like me. At twenty-two years of age I was too young and inexperienced to be considered trustworthy, but too talented for them to ignore my gifts. At least this man had the good grace to look embarrassed about his nervousness as he showed me the door.
The wind pulled my breath from me as I stepped into the frigid night and found my way home, holding my lamp in front of me like Pourana, the woman of legend who guided spirits of the dead to paradise.
We saw so much death that winter. A terrible sickness had swept through the province, and though other villages lost far more than we did, the guilt over those who died still weighed heavily on me. Not everyone was as kind as that family, and many blamed me when I couldn't save someone they loved. But they needed me, and I tried to keep my resentment over their ingratitude and unending demands to myself.
There was no one at home interested in listening anyway, and I wasn't about to start muttering to myself.
I had been practicing forbearance for several years, silently weathering my husband's criticisms and demands, shrugging it off when he insulted me, quietly tending to my own wounds when the need arose.
Denn was the son of a local businessman, and accustomed to a certain lifestyle, of which I was an integral part whether I wished it or not. The folk of the village saw him as an upstanding citizen and hard worker, and they looked away from his many indiscretions. If they suspected what went on behind the walls of our little home, they never offered to help. I was an outsider for another town. Dean had charmed me into marrying him, and the consequences of that were mine to deal with. I didn't need anyone's help or pity.
A stone gust of wind ushered me into the house, scattering snow across the scratched and dented wood floor. I struggled to close the door and silently cursed Denn once again for building his home facing east, with its back to the town and nothing to protect us from the winter winds.
I crept across the floor and set my black bag on the kitchen table, careful to not let the glass bottles within clatter against each other. I kept meaning to wrap them properly, but the past week had left me barely any time to eat, sleep, bathe, or brew, let alone take care of small chores. My supply shelves covered the smallest wall in the kitchen with rows of glazed pots and glass jars. Best to get it done, though my hands shook with exhaustion. Someone would need me again soon, and I had better be ready.
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