Ann Macela--Author
 
 
Legendary Magic by Ann Macela
Cover illustration Copyright 2011 by Winterheart Design

Legendary Magic

Sixth book in the Magic series



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About the Book

What if you could cast a spell to help you do your everyday job? But . . . your everyday job is destroying evil magic items, and the biggest, baddest item of all time has reappeared? And you and your soul mate have no clue how to use the biggest, goodest items of all to fight it?

 

Once upon an ancient time in practitioner lore, the wizards who commanded the most powerful magic items ever known fought the Last Great Battle.

 

Blaze Stone, Wielder of the Pinnacle of Heaven and Keeper of the Veil of Serenity, waged war against Toyfel, the Manipulator of the Depths of Hell. Blaze Stone and his supremely good crystals won, and Toyfel and the Depths of Hell, a crystal growth of enormous evil, fell into the abyss.

 

Now the Depths has risen to create a new Manipulator and wreak havoc on the modern world. The hereditary Wielder of the Pinnacle and Keeper of the Veil will be called upon again to destroy both Toyfel and the Depths of Hell.

 

Wielder Lucius Blasdon, 32nd English Earl of Bartlett, does not, however, possess the Pinnacle, and worse, he doesn’t know how to use it. Worst of all, the Pinnacle has killed would-be wielders of its powers. Enter American Kendra Degen, the most powerful Sword ever born, with the perfect means to lure Toyfel into battle and the talents to help discover how to use the Pinnacle.

 

The clues to the Pinnacle’s secrets are vague and difficult to interpret, and the battle will be upon them soon. The discovery that Lucius and Kendra are soul mates should help their cause. But Kendra has her own secrets, powerful ones that may ruin their ability to mate and become more powerful magically. In fact, her secrets could kill Lucius. The two mates must take two chances: mate without harm to either and use the Pinnacle without it killing them.




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Read an Excerpt

 

The Pinnacle of Heaven, the Depths of Hell, the Veil of Serenity

The Legend

 

      Once upon an ancient time, so the bards sing and the scribes record, the wizards who held the most powerful magic items ever known fought the Great Battle.

 

      To protect Earth and all mankind, Blaze Stone, Wielder of the Pinnacle of Heaven and Keeper of the Veil of Serenity, waged war against Toyfel, the Manipulator of the Depths of Hell.

 

      As the two unleashed their powers against one another, red fireballs plummeted from the sky, silver lightning bolts cracked and flashed, gold or black energy beams crashed against pentagonal fortresses. Mountains heaved, rivers boiled, and huge chasms swallowed forests until it seemed the very planet would disintegrate.

 

      No matter what spells Toyfel cast, however, Blaze Stone and the Pinnacle’s brilliant white goodness stood strong against the malignant green, red, and black evil of the Depths.

 

      After hours of battle, Blaze Stone finally saw his chance. He held the Pinnacle and the Veil in their pentagonal frames and his weapon in his arms. He roared a mighty battle cry that thundered across the land. Through the Pinnacle and with his weapon, he hurled an immense beam of good power. The white energy sliced through his opponent’s fortress walls and struck the evil one in the chest. The tremendous blast ruptured the square frame in which the Depths of Hell resided.

 

      From its broken holder, the monstrous crystal flew up, high over Toyfel’s head, turned four times in midair, and started falling toward the ground. As it tumbled, it blasted open at Toyfel’s feet a fetid abyss in which poisonous green and red and black waves of evil roiled and crashed against the walls as they reached upward for the abominable object.

 

      Before the Depths could fall into the maelstrom, its Manipulator caught the pernicious crystal and clasped it tight.

 

      “You’ve not heard the last of us, Blaze Stone,” Toyfel screamed and leaped into the pit.

 

      With a resounding boom, the sides of the chasm slammed shut, and the ground reeled and rippled from the impact.

 

      When the earth stopped shaking, all that remained on the battlefield were Blaze Stone, his weapon, the Pinnacle, the Veil, and the Depths’ broken frame, its pieces linked by the chain that allowed the evil amulet to be worn around Toyfel’s neck.

 

      Blaze Stone picked up the frame, snapped the chain in two, and put the pieces in different pockets. Then he uncovered the Veil of Serenity and went home with his wife, and peace returned to the land.

 

      So the bards sing and the scribes record.

 

      Chapter One

 

      It is foretold that one day the Depths of Hell will arise from its chasm deep in the earth, corrupt a powerful practitioner to become its Manipulator, and attempt to return to power. Only the Wielder of the Pinnacle of Heaven is strong enough to stand against them.

Ancient Prophecy, first written in The Revelations of the Wizards,

as translated from the Phoenician, 4 B.C.E.

 

      Light! Everywhere!

 

      A rainbow danced around Kendra Degen as she stared up at the ceiling of the five-sided tower high above her. She was standing in a waterfall--no, a lightfall--drenched in vivid, sparkling color.

 

      The people she was with, the man who had ushered them inside, what the place looked like, the briefcase with its most important cargo in her left hand, everything faded from her consciousness. She existed only for the light.

 

      The entire tower roof--a mosaic of stained glass with every hue of the solar spectrum and somehow also silver and gold--glowed as vibrantly as the window of a medieval cathedral. Brilliant sunlight flowed through the structure, glanced off hundreds, or maybe thousands, of facets, and turned the space beneath it into a wonderland. Bits and flakes and ribbons of color floated in the air, rose and fell along invisible currents. The very air in the tall stone tower shimmered with enchantment.

 

      And, somehow, it welcomed her.

 

      Kendra almost drew her magic sword to salute in wonder and awe.

 

      Most surprising was the apex of the roof. A huge, clear crystal at the summit focused the sunlight into a coherent beam of white like a spotlight, straight down to the floor.

 

      Kendra knew immediately, absolutely, she had to stand in that circle of white light, to absorb it into her body, to luxuriate in its splendor. Head thrown back, concentrating on the crystal, she walked toward the thick ray of white.

 

      She stepped into the circle of light . . . and ran into a wall.

 

      The collision brought her gaze down.

 

      The wall had eyes, the bluest she’d ever seen--bright blue, sky blue, mesmerizing blue. With a slightly puzzled, slightly shocked look in them.

 

      The wall had hands, strong ones that grasped her shoulders and kept her upright when she stumbled.

 

      The wall had a voice--baritone, resonant, very English, which a hero in a romance novel should have and which an actor would kill for. It murmured, “No one’s ever done that before.”

 

      For the first time in her life, Kendra was speechless. The man she had run into, the man who still steadied her, the man she couldn’t take her gaze from, that man smiled, and she couldn’t think of one solitary word to say.

 

      She did, however, manage to return the smile before she felt her face heat. Heat? Was she blushing? She never blushed--this was another first. Fearing she was turning the color of a tomato, she took a step back and out from under his hands--and from under the spotlight. It was colder outside the beam.

 

      He dropped his hands to his sides and shifted his blue gaze to the others in her party.

 

      Kendra looked at the gray stone floor and took a deep breath as she tried to relax by force of will. What in the world was she doing? She’d never reacted to any man that way.

 

      Her confusion, consternation, and embarrassment returned fourfold, however, when she heard Jeremy Hucknall call the man, “My lord.”

 

      Oh, wonderful. She’d run smack into the man they’d come to Britain to see, the man from whom they’d come to ask an enormous favor, the practitioner on whom so much depended: Lucius Blasdon, Earl of Bartlett, Wielder of the Pinnacle of Heaven and Keeper of the Veil of Serenity.

 

      Kendra told herself to ignore the light streaming from above and to pay attention to the others. It was not easy to do. Her center, that spot under her breastbone where her magic power resided, was humming like crazy. Like it did when she spotted a particularly old and valuable artifact or when, as a Sword, she readied herself to use those special magic abilities.

 

      In his obsequious, boot-licking manner that made Kendra’s teeth clench, Jeremy introduced himself first and as representing the United Kingdom Practitioner High Council.

 

      Yeah, right. The only reason the balding, skinny, nervous guy was here at all was because his uncle, Sir Basil Hucknall, the UK High Councillor, had broken his leg yesterday and sent Jeremy in his place. Kendra, however, kept her mouth shut and didn’t mention that fact. She held the lowest rank in this group.

 

      Jeremy next presented to the earl Defender Miriam Chandler, president of the American Defender Council. The earl knew Sword Robert Middleton, head of the United Kingdom Defender Council. Finally, Jeremy came to “Sword Kendra Degen.” As he’d been doing since they met at Heathrow Airport, Jeremy mispronounced her last name.

 

      Kendra had her feet under her, literally and figuratively now, and she repeated her name to the earl as “Kendra Degen,” saying the first syllable “day” instead of Jeremy’s “dee.” When she shook his hand, however, a warm tingle ran through her, not unlike the feeling of magic energy moving. Surprised, she quickly let go.

 

      Where did that tingle come from? She’d never had that reaction from a handshake in her thirty-year-old life. Probably she was still under the influence of all the light in the room. Finally again aware of her surroundings, she was not surprised to realize that the whole tower was saturated with magic power. She gripped the silver Zero Halliburton briefcase tighter--a tangible object would help her settle down.

 

      While Jeremy blathered on about how much they appreciated the earl meeting with them, and as unobtrusively as she could, Kendra studied the man, the latest in the long line of Wielders of the Pinnacle of Heaven and Keepers of the Veil of Serenity. If she was going to work with him, she needed to take his measure.

 

      Lucius Blasdon, Lord Bartlett, was not a handsome man, not like one of those to-die-for perfect British actors all over the movie screens these days. No, the earl was more rugged, with a firm jaw and a nose that could have once been broken, a muscular torso that his navy Savile Row suit, gorgeously tailored though it was, couldn’t hide, and a bearing that left no doubt who was in charge. Although his posture made him look taller, she estimated he was about six feet.

 

      And, to go with the blue eyes, he was blond--not surfer blond, all highlights and sun bleached, but with a darker tinge to his short, businessman’s-cut hair. His brows were lighter, more golden brown. His eyelashes had golden tips.

 

      Standing in the crystal’s spotlight with colors dancing all around him, he could easily be imagined as a modern incarnation of the practitioners’ legendary hero, Blaze Stone. He radiated courage, confidence, competence . . . and masculinity.

 

      On the other hand, he also lived up to his billing in the tabloid press as “Luscious Lucius,” where he was known both for his business acumen and for his success with women. He had never been linked with any woman, however, for longer than three dates--which gained him another nickname: “Love’em and Leave’em Lucius.”

 

      To be fair, however, those gossipy articles Kendra had read online were about Blasdon in his twenties. Nowadays at thirty-five, he appeared only in the business columns or when mentioned as a supporter of a philanthropic cause.

 

      Practitioners all had magic talents for their work, be it plumbing, cooking, music, computers, or the million-and-one jobs and professions in the world. Bartlett’s were in business, high finance, and management. He had built on his family’s success to create a highly profitable conglomerate, and his net worth was in the billions.

 

      In her profession, she often met members of both business and blue-blood aristocracies from many countries. Like other people, they came in all sorts of personalities, some engaging, others rude, some “regular” people, others pretentious and pompous. The one in front of her looked more remote and wary than friendly. More cautious and reserved than welcoming.

 

      Kendra didn’t expect the earl to be ill-mannered or look-down-his-nose rude. Not that she couldn’t handle such people. She been raised to be thoroughly democratic and treat all with respect and good manners, regardless of their social or economic standing. Her staunch union-member parents back in Chicago made sure of it. Furthermore, her own natural arrogance--gained from her scholastic and business successes and from her other talent, being a practitioner Sword who could destroy evil magic items--told her she was as good as anybody else. Still, it was hard to suffer fools gladly.

 

      She couldn’t help wondering, however, what her parents’ reactions would be to the earl. Her carpenter dad, definitely of the old school, would mumble about “so-called noblemen living off the work of poor slobs,” even if it was not true. Her school-teacher mom would chide him about his nineteenth-century thinking and want to hear every detail. Kendra told herself to reserve judgment until she knew Bartlett better--especially until he responded to what was in her briefcase.

 

      This particular earl had another side and a possession that thoroughly intrigued Kendra. At Oxford, Bartlett had been awarded First Class Honors with Distinction at graduation--in classics, meaning ancient languages. He could read Ancient Practitioner, that mix of Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, and several other languages particular only to practitioners. So could she. Furthermore, he owned the Blasdon family archives, filled with centuries of history, forgotten spells, and legends. She hoped he’d grant her access.

 

      It remained to be seen what type of man Lucius Blasdon would turn out to be. Ruthless corporate type, or introspective scholar? Pure alpha-male aristocrat and business leader? What attributes did the Pinnacle confer on its Wielder? How he reacted to their proposal would tell her a great deal.

 

      “What do you think, Kendra?” Miriam asked with a wave of her hand as if to encompass the room.

 

      When everyone turned to her, Kendra realized she hadn’t been paying attention to the conversation. She blinked at Miriam.

 

      “About the tower,” Miriam stated with a grin.

 

      “Oh. It’s wonderful. Enchanting,” Kendra answered and finally took better note of her surroundings.

 

      They had entered through a large double door in the center of what appeared from the outside to be a three-sided tower stuck on the front of the elegant Blasdon mansion. The structure seemed out of place, even though she’d often seen architectural style mixtures in many old buildings.

 

      The gray stone tower was, in fact, a sixty-or-seventy-foot-wide by fifty-or-sixty-foot-high pentagon with no windows, and it obviously needed none, given the amount of light pouring in from above. The corner opposite the entry did not come to a point, however. Instead it opened through double doors into a hall, presumably leading into the mansion. Stone staircases hugging the walls on each side gave access to a balcony with similar doors above the opening. An archway at the back of the balcony showed another hall directly above the one below. Thick oak double doors guarded each entrance.

 

      “Come this way,” the earl said and led the group down the corridor on their level.

 

      They emerged into a large, marble-floored reception area, beyond which and down three steps stretched what could only be called a grand hall or ballroom. Two or more stories high, with windows on the other three walls, seating groups and rugs scattered around the shining wooden floors, and a huge fireplace at the end, the space was perfect for a ball--or receiving the lord’s vassals.

 

      From the outside, the tower had appeared to be the remnants of a medieval castle stuck on an eighteenth-century great house. Although Bartlett probably called the seat of his earldom simply his country house, the building behind the tower was definitely what the guide books called a “stately home.”

 

      Of course, Kendra reminded herself, Blasdon Hall did sit literally in the middle of ancient Blasdon Castle. To enter the grounds, they had passed between the round double towers of the gate house and under the portcullis. Even without seeing its other buildings, she’d bet that the whole estate could be a movie set. It was hard to imagine living in such a historic building. She hoped she’d be able to explore the mix of styles and structures on the property.

 

      In the reception area, they turned left, passed a staircase on the right and two closed doors on the left, and entered a comfortably furnished parlor. Or should she call it a drawing room? Definitely not a “living room” as it would be in America. The large room held a mahogany table and matching chairs that could be used for food service or for card games. A cozy nook with overstuffed chairs would be perfect for reading or a nap. A previous earl and countess gazed down haughtily from large oil paintings. The present Wielder certainly took after his ancestor in looks and attitude.

 

      “Please sit down.” Their host gestured to some chairs and a sofa grouped around a coffee table. He stood before a wing chair and waited until she and Miriam had taken their seats--she to his right and Miriam to his left--before he sat down. Jeremy and Robert took the sofa.

 

      A voice from behind her said, “Should I bring tea or coffee, my lord?”

 

      Kendra looked over her shoulder at the man standing by the door. The butler, no doubt. He had greeted them at the tower entrance and asked them to wait outside while he notified the earl of their arrival. He was in his fifties, also in a business suit and very fit looking.

 

      “Coffee or tea?” Bartlett inquired of the group.

 

      Before anyone could answer, Miriam suggested in her deep voice that could override all objections, “Why don’t we get down to business? This isn’t exactly a social call.”

 

      The earl seemed amused by her words, and to the man by the door he said, “Thank you, Woodson, I’ll ring if we need something.”

 

      “Very good, my lord.” Woodson left, closing the door after him.

 

      “When he requested a meeting, Basil Hucknall did not explain its purpose,” Bartlett said, lounging in his chair and glancing around the circle. “I must admit, I’m curious.”

 

      Although the earl appeared perfectly calm, something about him--a tension or alertness or wariness--made Kendra think otherwise. He reminded her of a lion disguising his intent to pounce on a deer--or of a collector on a precious object--he’d long been hunting. An agenda of his own, perhaps? If her hunches were true, she needed to watch him even more closely.

 

      Before Jeremy could open his mouth, Miriam jumped in to seize control of the meeting, and Kendra almost smiled. The Defender didn’t trust the “High Council Representative” any more than Kendra did. Since Miriam was six feet of physical and magic power with abilities of both command and persuasion, Jeremy showed good sense and didn’t argue when she said, “Kendra, you found the item. You begin.”

 

      Kendra placed her briefcase on the floor at her left side, sat back in her armchair, and looked straight at the earl--who intently returned her gaze. Whatever his own plans may be, at this moment she definitely had his complete attention. The feeling of being prey struck her again, and she sloughed it off. If he thought of her as weak, he had a surprise coming.

 

      “My primary occupational talent,” she began, “is to authenticate and appraise antique jewelry and other objets d’art for collectors, museums, insurance companies, and auction houses.”

 

      “I know,” he answered. “You’ve done some work for several friends of mine. They spoke highly of your abilities.”

 

      “That’s nice to hear. As part of the process and to keep my talents sharp, I regularly conduct research in museum collections, both large and small. A month ago, in the Brideley Museum in Boston, I was looking through their flat files, shallow drawers divided into segments of various sizes. As I opened one, it caught on something sticking up from a cubbyhole. When I reached in to push the obstruction down, a wave of unease washed through me. Have you, sir, ever felt the emanations coming off an evil item?”

 

      “Yes, I have,” Bartlett responded. His gaze grew sharper, even more attentive. “It was a distinctly unpleasant experience.”

 

      “Agreed.” Kendra nodded her head and continued, “I maneuvered the drawer open very carefully. In the recess at the back, I found a metal object that appeared to be cast of silver and gold. It was blackened, as though it had been in a fire.”

 

      She held up her hands to demonstrate the size and configuration of her discovery. “It is a flat rectangle, about six inches by three, varying in thickness from a quarter inch on one long edge to half an inch on the other. The long thicker side has an irregular ‘bite’ taken out of it. At one of the corners opposite the bitten side, a black chain was attached. The free-end link had been broken, but twisted so it remained with the chain. Both the outer edges of the bitten side and the end of the chain were jagged and sharp, even though the object is of a great age.”

 

      “That sounds like . . .” the earl interjected.

 

      “Yes, doesn’t it?” Kendra agreed. “The museum database listed the item as a ‘broken piece of jewelry,’ with no estimate of its age or its value. It had been acquired as part of a collection of miscellaneous artifacts from a ‘Fluger’ family in 1920. I immediately went to the Brideley curator and told him I wanted to buy or trade for a couple of their pieces if they were willing to de-accession them. Since the pieces I wanted had not been out of their cubbyholes in decades, he readily sold them. I brought the item back to the HeatherRidge Center outside Chicago.”

 

      Miriam took up the tale. “The Defender Council began a thorough investigation of the item and its history. All our North American experts agree on the latent evil power of the object. We couldn’t find information about its origin, however.

 

      “The Fluger family had no practitioner connection in our ancestry records or the U.S. census. They made a great deal of money in the mid-to-late 1800s--in shipping and railroads, mostly. In typical fashion for many newly rich in the period around the turn of the twentieth century, they went on a worldwide buying spree--art, jewelry, furnishings, you name it. When tired of the objects, they dumped their discards on whichever institution would take them, hence the Brideley became the recipient of this item. The family went bankrupt in the Great Depression, and we were unable to find any descendents.”

 

      “The item remains, however,” Bartlett said. It wasn’t a question.

 

      “Yes,” Miriam answered.

 

      “And you are here to see if it matches the half I possess.”

 

      “Yes,” Miriam repeated, and Kendra nodded.

 

      “Show it to me,” the earl ordered.

 

      Kendra lifted her brushed aluminum briefcase to the coffee table, unlocked it with a spell, and clicked open the latches. Inside, foam padding held in position a black lead box. Moving the case so it sat directly before Bartlett, she lifted the box lid. A putrid odor wafted out. Jeremy coughed violently.

 

      The earl sat forward and scrutinized the object in the box. He extended a hand about six inches above the blackened metal. Although his impassive face gave away none of his thoughts, his eyes became an icy blue.

 

      Kendra kept herself still, but the importance of his conclusion tightened every muscle in her.

 

      After a few minutes, Bartlett sat back and stated, “Yes, that’s definitely the other half of the frame of the Depths of Hell.”

 

###

Thanks to all of you who are buying and reading my books

I really want to know what you think of them.
Please write and tell me at ann@annmacela.com

 
Copyright 2011, F. Meiners
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