The Witch's Mark
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by Daisy Banks
Description: Reviled and exiled from her home, Nin finds her powers when she meets her Mage. Their love is one writ in the stars, but he can only be hers if she has the courage to journey with him. Rating: Sensual Genre: Paranormal Romance
eBook Publisher: New Concepts Publishing, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: April 2010
11 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [352 KB]
Reading time: 233-327 min.
Fear gripped so strong, she needed to pee. Nin smarted for painful minutes and crossed her legs. The wooden arch of the door loomed unforgiving before her.
She strained to hear footsteps from within the round tower, but as the long, aching seconds trickled by, all remained undisturbed by her tentative knock. Birdsong continued in the nearby branches, the light breeze rustled through new leaves, and no sound came from inside the grey stone tower.
Why does he not answer the door?
Biting her lip, she could hold her need no more. She darted behind one of the nearby tall bushes, and with a grateful sigh, relieved her bladder. Her fear did not lessen with the thin hot stream. But more comfortable now, she adjusted her gown, strode through the long grass, over the weedy gravel, back to the step.
The massive door remained closed, and taunted her to knock again. She dared not touch the cascade of oak leaves carved so deep in the wood, though silent, they begged to be stroked. Her chin rose as she studied the two darkened, arched windows above. More windows ran up the sides of the solitary, circular tower, but when she craned her head to look, all were black curtained.
What happens inside
Her gut twisted
Is the Mage so awesome? Does he really make magic all the day
Bile from her empty stomach stung at the base of her throat, and she swallowed the bitter taste. Please, Gods, let him feed me before he does anything else
Shivers ran over her skin, but she did not turn away. Whatever he did, it would be less than the death she faced in the village.
A sigh escaped before she set her jaw. I must find some courage. To fear him is foolish, I've no choice but to stay here, if he'll allow it
The sun climbed over the zenith. A long time had passed since the village gate slammed behind her. Stones the baying crowd flung had fallen hard, and near enough to force her into the forest edge. Half the morning she'd searched among the tall weeds for the path here.
Fingers laced together, she squeezed her palms tight. He has to be here, and he must let me stay. She glanced at the trees. Even in daylight, the malevolence they hid smoked like steam after summer rain. Any moment she anticipated golden wolf eyes to announce her death.
A deep breath pushed away the panic. Courage held tight in her fist, she rapped at the door. The loud thumps echoed on the wood to send the birds squawking.
Her hand about to make contact again, the door shot forward toward her. She yelped at the blow and stumbled back. Her knuckles throbbed and she stuffed her hand into her armpit.
"What do you want, girl?" The deep voice growled from the shadows.
She whimpered, gritted her teeth and pressed her hand tight under her arm. Every muscle locked solid, for here stood all she'd dreaded. "I'm from the village," she squeaked, and her stomach rolled. "They've sent me to you."
He stood in the gloom of the doorway. She could just make out a brown boot, and the hem of a green robe.
"Oh, by the Gods and all that's holy! I don't want them sending me wenches. Go back to your home. Tell them I won't want a wench until after Samhain. Tell them to send me bread instead."
She had no hope to do as he ordered, and at the risk of his anger, raised a glance when he stepped forward. His green hood sucked in the light, and her gaze could not penetrate its depths. "I can't go back. I have the mark. They said I belong here." Tremors shook her, but she couldn't stop the babbled words. "If you won't take me, I'll be lost to the forest." Her voice drained down to a whisper, when he pushed his hood back a little, and bent his head towards her.
His eyes gleamed like January lake water. Green, with dark flecks, and much colder than the lake ever got. "Show me this witch's mark. Utter superstitious nonsense, but show me."
Sickened he should name the thing, she held out her cursed palm.
"I can see nothing. Go home. Tell them, they are wrong." He turned away.
No! You mustn't go yet.
His fine green robe swirled in his haste, and she grabbed at his sleeve.
You must hear me out.
From the moment Agnes, who on seeing the mark, shrieked the discovery, and dragged her from the weaving shed, fear threatened to swallow her. The revulsion on the faces of those known from childhood still filled her vision. Their contempt would haunt her forever.
The terror had swelled for two days. Held captive in the tiny wicker cage, she'd listened as the old wise woman, who did not leave her side, dripped words like poison. The wound of them festered to consume her.