“Why is the girl still alive, Lucian?” said a woman’s voice from a shadowy corner.
“I’m working on it, my queen.” The Archmage of Avalonia swept into the darkened room, his black mage robes, bordered with gold, billowing around him as he walked. Broad-shouldered and regal in his bearing, he raised his right hand and the damp fireplace flared to life, warming the cold stone floor.
Morgana sat in a red velvet chair, staring into the flames that suddenly appeared before her, illuminating her heart-shaped face. The windows were shut against the cold wind that had started blowing down from the north and a dark mist swirled outside as the wind howled, racing through the kingdoms of Avalonia, heralding the coming of winter.
“Then why does she still live, Lucian?” Morgana snarled, rising slowly from her high-backed chair and turning to face the Archmage. Her obsidian hair was loose and tangled and her emerald eyes were bloodshot red.
“We have no idea where she is.” Lucian bowed before the queen of Illiador. His eyes narrowed as he addressed Morgana. “It is proving impossible to find her with magic. As long as she wears the Amulet of Auraken, I cannot determine her whereabouts.”
“Yes, I know that.” Morgana waved her hand, dismissing the thought. “But surely there are other ways to find her?”
“Not with magic.”
“Then find her without magic,” Morgana hissed.
“I have spies everywhere, looking for the princess,” said the Archmage, his jaw tightening. “The last we heard, she left the Summer Palace in the dark of night. That was days ago – by now she could be anywhere in the seven kingdoms.”
Morgana clasped her hands together and started pacing in front of the fireplace. “She won’t get far on a normal horse; at least she doesn’t have the added advantage of a pegasus anymore.”
Lucian coughed and looked down.
Morgana’s eyes widened and her eyebrows rose. “What are you not telling me, Lucian?”
“There was an incident in the ruins, after you, um, left. My sources say that the princess healed the pegasus.”
“How is that possible? The pegasus was dead, I saw it with my own eyes.” Morgana paused as she assessed the Archmage. “Is her healing power so great?”
“I believe it is. She has the blood of the immortal fae running through her veins. You know how powerful their healers are, and she is stronger still. My sources say that the healing she performed on that day was something no one has ever seen before.”
“The Shadow Guard were supposed to kill the pegasus and the princess, but they failed.” Morgana looked utterly unimpressed.
Lucian looked down.
“Why did they fail, Lucian?” Morgana’s green eyes narrowed. “I thought you had trained them all personally? How can a little chit of a girl defeat the deadliest warriors of Illiador?”
“She is too strong,” the Archmage said, his face almost feral at the thought of the girl who had evaded them for over fifteen years. “The more she uses her magic, the more her power grows. There is no mage who can stand in her way now.”
“Rubbish!” The flames in the fireplace leapt and danced as Morgana’s anger flared. “There is always a way.”
Lucian bowed his head, not so much as blinking an eye. “Whatever you say, my queen.”
Morgana flashed him a glare. “And what news is there from Eldoren? Are you sure your sister and her husband know what they’re doing?”
Lucian nodded. “The Blackwaters will take over the throne of Eldoren as you have commanded. The plans are already set in motion.”
“That is not enough,” Morgana snapped. “I want Prince Rafael dead as well. The Ravenswood dynasty supports Aurora, none must be allowed to survive. We will strip her of all her allies and all her friends; she will have no one to turn to, no one to help her. Without proper guidance the girl is likely to destroy herself. Then we will strike when she is at her weakest.”
“What about Izadora? The fae queen will never bow to your rule, and you know that.”
Morgana’s eyes narrowed. “Izadora will have no choice, once I am done with her,” she gave Lucian a pointed look. “My plans concerning Elfi are already underway. You just make sure that Aurora never reaches her grandmother’s kingdom.”
Lucian shook his head. “Forget her, Morgana.” He came closer and put his hand on her shoulder. “She is weak and foolish. She doesn’t have it in her to be queen. Like you said, she will eventually destroy herself. Concentrate on taking over the other kingdoms first. Once you are crowned High Queen of Avalonia, Aurora Firedrake will become just a memory.”
“I want her dead, Lucian.” Morgana moved away from him, and turned to face the flames. “I should have called for the Drakkar assassins much earlier,” she said quietly, dismissing the Archmage with a wave of her hand. “They will find her and they will destroy her, even if you can’t.”
“But, Your Majesty.” The Archmage’s spine stiffened. “The Drakkar are not to be trusted. They will extract a high price for this – remember what happened after you hired them to kill Azaren.” He paused and took a step closer, lowering the tone of his voice. “Morgana, let me find the girl. I will not fail, just give me more time.”
“There is no more time,” snarled Morgana, turning back around to face him. “The people have already heard that she is alive. You told me yourself that rebel factions have sprung up all over Illiador and they are searching for her too. We have to find her before those troublemakers who call themselves the Silver Swords do. They are the last remnants of Azaren’s supporters, and I want them gone as well. Burn the forests where they take cover, and scorch the villages and towns that conceal them. If anyone is found supporting Aurora, they must be made examples of. My niece must have no place to go, nowhere to hide, then we will strike and make her wish that she had never been born a Firedrake.”
The Archmage bowed, his eyes like shards of cold steel. “It will be done, my queen.”
“See that it is.” Morgana turned to gaze into the dancing fire. “If I want to become High Queen over all the seven kingdoms, Aurora Firedrake must die.”
Farah Oomerbhoy is the international bestselling author of The Avalonia Chronicles. Her first book, The Last of the Firedrakes, was originally published on Wattpad where it gained nearly two million reads and a Watty Award. Since publication, her debut has gone on to win a silver medal in IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards and the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, along with winning a finalist placement in the USA Best Book Awards. Farah loves the fantastical and magical and often dreams of living in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest. With a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Mumbai, Farah spends her creative time crafting magical worlds for young adults. She lives with her family in Mumbai, India.
Tour-wide giveaway (US/CAN)
Prize pack incl print copies of books 1 & 2 + swag