Home > Ignite the Magic (Dark Kings #0)

Ignite the Magic (Dark Kings #0)
Author: Donna Grant





Long, long ago



It was now or never. Ailis’s heart thudded against her ribs in an erratic rhythm. She was out of time. She’d thought she would have at least half a day before they tracked her, but it appeared as though her luck had run out.

She gripped the small book firmly between her hands. Its weight was solid—dense, even. The leather had darkened in spots, while other sections possessed a sheen from countless hours of handling and sunlight, leaving marks to create a one-of-a-kind appearance. But she wasn’t looking at the book. Instead, her attention was focused out the window of her hiding spot on the fifth floor of the building, where she’d caught sight of the king’s guards approaching her. The jig was up. They knew.

Ailis immediately teleported to a different location. It would take the soldiers a little while to find her. Giving her just enough time to formulate a new plan. She had known the guards would come for her. After all, no one stole from the king’s sister and got away with it. But Ailis had counted on being out of the city when that happened. Someone—or something—must have alerted the guards. Not that it mattered now. She had what she needed.

She glanced around the area to ensure she was alone, her heart tripping over itself. Her hands wouldn’t stop shaking at what she had dared. She couldn’t get caught. She had planned everything meticulously, down to the last millisecond.

But she hadn’t factored in Fate. She should’ve known the tricky bitch would cause trouble. She always did.

One way or another, Ailis wouldn’t be on the Fae Realm when night fell.

She didn’t pause to take in the splendor of the lush hillside as she usually did. Though she probably should. It would be the last time she saw it. This plan had been set for months, but part of her would miss her realm. This was her home, despite the seemingly constant bickering between the Dark and Light Fae. Things had taken a drastic turn of late, however. There was talk of war. And not the small battles that had been happening—an all-out civil war. If that happened, there wouldn’t be time to feed her adventurous soul, the wanderer spirit that begged her to discover what awaited.

Besides, she had seen all there was to see on her realm. It was time for something new, maybe even something dangerous. Ailis hurried toward the small cottage near the river. Aunt Beatrix had left it to Ailis when she passed on from this life. Bea was all she’d had, and with her gone now, nothing was holding Ailis here. She and Bea had been kindred spirits—adventurers eager and impatient to explore.

Ailis held up her hand, whispering the words to unlock the wards she had put in place. Her boots thumped on the wooden porch as she swung open the door and quickly stepped inside. Her gaze moved over the eclectic knickknacks Bea had collected throughout her long life. Fae could live for thousands of years, and Bea had filled each day with various escapades—and spent her final years looking back on all of them fondly without an ounce of regret. Ailis wanted that with every fiber of her being.

Each unique item in the cottage had come from their realm, but Bea had often spoken of yearning to go to other worlds. Bea had known it was possible, but despite her attempts to learn how, she never had. Ailis had taken it upon herself to do what her aunt hadn’t been able to do.

The past handful of years had been devoted to discovering if travel to other realms was possible. That had taken much longer than anticipated. So many Fae said it was impossible. A fine notion, indeed, but not something any Fae will be able to do for generations. Yet she’d looked at the stars and knew it was possible.

A select few believed it could be done but were unwilling to talk. She’d settled on one and earned her trust over many months. Even then, the professor hadn’t shared everything. Once Ailis had the basics, she focused on what she needed to accomplish her task. In her mind, magic was magic. All she had to do was discover how to work it. However, it hadn’t taken Ailis long to realize it wasn’t nearly as easy as she had believed. It wasn’t just creating a Fae doorway. She had to get the location correct so she didn’t walk through and find herself in space—or a volcano. Creating that kind of doorway took an astonishing amount of power, knowledge, and expertise. Not to mention the restraint needed to control the magic used so she didn’t rip a tear in time and space.

Of course, that was the theory. Or so she’d been told. But she had to start somewhere.

Ailis had meticulously studied everything about developing her magic. All Fae were inherently born with it. It was a part of them, like talking and breathing. For some, the ability to master complicated magic was easy. For others, they had to work at it. Always, though, Fae craved to be more powerful. Ailis was shocked at what she’d learned and how much her magic had flourished just from taking the time and absorbing the lessons in the numerous books she read.

She stood in the middle of the cottage and held the small book between her hands, wishing Bea was with her. But Ailis would take this adventure on her own. She cracked open the book, the pages yellowed from time cracking as they separated. It was this little tome that had put her into her current situation. She had stumbled upon a contact who’d spoken about the book in soft whispers, glancing around to make sure no one heard him. From then, she had made it her mission to locate it. Sadly, that had taken far longer than she had hoped. But if Bea had taught her anything, it was to never give up.

Once Ailis discovered who had the book, she’d sought out the owners and offered to purchase it. They’d instantly rejected her. She’d then offered payment if she could study it—in their home if that’s what they wished. They also refused that proposal.

So, she’d done what any adventurer being denied something would do—she’d borrowed it. Ailis had every intention of returning it when she finished, but she’d made the mistake of not waiting before she stole the book. The fact that the owner happened to be the king’s sister made an already complicated situation volatile.

And when the king sent his guard, it told Ailis they wouldn’t give her time to explain. They were after her head. At the end of the day, she had taken something that wasn’t hers.

Ailis inhaled deeply to calm her racing heart. Sweat beaded on her forehead, and her hands shook. Was it excitement or fear? A little bit of both. She couldn’t remember ever being so terrified and enthusiastic at the same time. She had dreamed of this moment for what felt like a lifetime. She’d thought she would have more time to study the book and ensure her magic was ready before creating the doorway and walking through. Fate had decided differently.

“Best laid plans and all.” She whispered Bea’s favorite saying.

She glanced at the door. They would come here for her. Family was always the next stop. She needed to go somewhere else, a place no one would think to look. Somewhere she’d have the opportunity to read at least the section she needed, if not the entire book. She mentally ticked off locations one by one but none of them seemed right. With her blood pumping in her ears, Ailis teleported a dozen times in rapid succession. It was rare among the Fae for someone to be able to follow another’s magic when they jumped, but the King of the Dark recruited those who could do it to find any Fae on the run. The ability was time-consuming, and the more stops Ailis made, the more time it would take the Fae to locate her—and the more time she would have to read.

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