The Blood Spell (Ravenspire, #4)

The Blood Spell (Ravenspire, #4)

C. J. Redwine


THE WRAITH CREPT through the darkness of its forest prison, hunger gnawing at its bones. It was skeletal now, brushing against the thorn ferns and moss-covered tree bark with bony fingers that rattled in the breeze.

Once, its strength had been unrivaled. Its magic unmatched.

Until its sister had joined forces with others against it.

Now the wraith haunted the vast, damp darkness of its cage, a shadow bound by a spell it couldn’t break no matter how hard it tried. The thought of vengeance was the meat and marrow of its dreams. It was the strength that bound its bones together and the breath that filled its lungs. Some days, memories of the ones who had trapped it blazed to life, leaving behind the scorched bitterness of shackled rage. But most days, it could feel only hunger.

As the gray-black light within the forest sank into the total darkness of yet another night, the wraith stalked the edges of the vast prison, hurling itself against the invisible spell that bound it here, feeling the magic spark, blister, and burn.

One day, it would break free. It would rush over the hills and move through the long stretches of farmland that stood between it and the city. It would find its sister and those who had helped her hunt it down, and it would destroy them all.

And then it would feed and feed and feed, and there would be no one left to stop it.

Hunger stabbed. The wraith dug its fingers into the closest tree trunk, gathered its magic, and shrieked, a long, razor-tipped wail that shivered through the air, sending birds screaming for the skies as the sound winged its way across the distance between the wraith and the city that sheltered its enemies.

The iron bells that hung along the road to warn people when a fae monster was near clanged wildly. The wraith lifted its face as their discordant, chaotic melody reached its ears, and smiled.



Bernadina “Blue” de la Cour yawned and blinked at the golden sunlight that bathed the streets of Falaise de la Mer, the capital city of Balavata. People bustled along the wide main roads that cut through the large city like swaths of ribbon, hurrying toward the open-air market that was held once a week in the heart of town. Others moved along the warren of side streets that curled away from the main roads and burrowed through each of the city’s nine quarters.

Everyone seemed cheerful. Or if not cheerful, at least fully awake.

Blue didn’t know what it took to wake at dawn and be cheerful about it, but whatever it was, she didn’t have it.

“Isn’t this a beautiful morning?” Papa asked as they moved through the iron arches that marked the entrance to the Gaillard quarter and headed for their alchemy shop. The arches were meant to weaken anyone with fae magic in their blood, but they’d never affected Blue. Maybe it was because the magic in her blood was harmless. Or maybe it was because the royal council was wrong about iron arches doing a single thing to protect the people from the kind of fae magic that wasn’t harmless.

Blue shrugged away her thoughts and took a sip of the hot spiced chicory Papa had made for her before they’d left their farmhouse on the outskirts of the city. The drink tasted of bitter chicory root, sweet cream, and nutmeg, and it almost made up for the fact that the sea fog was still clinging to the edges of the city.

Nothing good came from getting out of bed before the sun had chased the fog away. Actually, nothing good came from getting out of bed before the noonday meal, but in seventeen years of trying, Blue had yet to convince Papa of that.

Papa slung an arm around her shoulder and laid his cheek against the pink headscarf Blue had hastily wrapped around her short black curls. “Almost awake?” he asked, laughter sparkling in his voice.

She grunted and took another sip as they reached the corner where he would turn left to open up the shop and she would turn right to join those moving toward the large square where the market was held.

“It’s only one day a week that you have to get up at dawn,” Papa said, his smile a wide slash of white against his light brown skin. “Need any help at the market today?”

Blue yawned again. “I’ll be fine. Ana is meeting me there to help carry my purchases to the shop.” She hefted the burlap sacks she’d tossed over her shoulder before leaving the farmhouse, though she knew as well as Papa that she’d carry most of them herself. Hiring little ten-year-old Ana, one of Falaise de la Mer’s many homeless, as a delivery girl had been more a decision of the heart than of practicality.

Papa nodded and reached for her nearly empty cup, the smile disappearing from his face. “Be careful. Don’t let anyone catch you using your magic to check the goods before you buy them. Remember—”

“No one will believe I’m harmless, no matter what I say. I know.” She finished his oft-repeated warning for him and leaned up to plant a kiss on his cheek. His skin was thinner now, sagging at the edges as strands of silvery gray worked their way into his close-cut black hair. There were laugh lines fanning out from his brown eyes, and sometimes when he thought she wasn’t watching, he leaned heavily against the shop’s counter at the end of the day as if being on his feet for hours on end was wearing on him.

He returned her kiss and then studied her face with a smile. “You remind me of your mother. She was always the most intriguing woman in any room. And she didn’t like to take my warnings about her magic seriously either.”

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