In the centre of the ornament was a tiny pinprick of red. It was the smallest of flaws, but she frowned. Perhaps it was a trick of the light? She leaned in for a closer look, but the glass had risen and was hovering a double handspan over her palm.
She blinked, sitting back against the wall, her head as far away from the floating ornament as possible. It bobbed in the air for a moment and then moved toward her, the pinprick of red growing larger until the entire piece of glass was glowing with it.
Tabia rose to her feet and took a few steps away. The glass followed her every step for several seconds, until Tanatu cried out loudly. Tabia only looked away for a moment and the ornament fell out of the air and shattered on the ground. The light seemed to leach out and disappear into the dirt.
"What in the name of Zuleso was that?" Tanatu demanded, staring at her, his eyes so wide they showed as much white as iris.
Tabia didn’t think the situation was bad enough to invoke Iljosk’s god, even though she was trembling with fright. "I didn't think the trader would miss it, he had so many things—"
"Ay, you should have taken some food."
Tabia agreed. "I didn’t know it did that or I would have." She poked a sliver of glass with her toe. For a fraction of a second, it winked at her with red light and then went out. She stepped away from it.
"Let's go to the river for a swim," she suggested. It was a hot day and she needed to cool off after her fright. Tanatu probably would as well.
He didn’t agree.
"I have to go home." Tanatu took a few steps back, his eyes goggling more than usual. "My mother’s expecting me, you know how it is."
No. I have no mother. Tabia’s had died soon after giving birth to her. "Tanatu, since when did your mother expect you home before dinner time?" Tabia tried to laugh, her hands resting on her hips, but the look he gave her stole her mirth.
"Uh, since… right now." Tanatu shrugged. "That flying glass was scary, all right."
"Tanatu, I didn’t do it, it was just a… a… I don’t know."
"You said a sorcerer made it."
"You don’t believe that, do you? It was just a story so someone would buy it."
"I don’t know, Tabia, glass doesn’t float by itself."
"Well no, but…"
"I have to go," Tanatu said apologetically. "I don’t think I should talk to you any more. Just in case."
"Tanatu, you coward!" Tabia called after his back as he ran off. "Fine, I don’t care!" she yelled.
Title: Crimson Fire
Author: Mirren Hogan
Magic was the last thing on Tabia’s mind — until she discovered she could use it. When her father hands her over to the princess of a neighbouring country to pay his debts, she may have the chance to learn how to control her new abilities.
But her new mistress’ enemies have plans of their own. Caught up in a web of divided loyalties, coercion and betrayal, Tabia can trust no one.
Can Tabia find a way to regain her freedom and return home — or will the struggle cost her the ultimate price?
Mirren Hogan lives in NSW Australia with her husband, two daughters, dog, cat, rabbits and countless birds. She has a Bachelor of Arts (English/ history), a Graduate Diploma of Arts (writing) and a couple of degrees in education. She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal fiction.She has several books due for release with The Dragon’s Rocketship publishing within the next year, including a trilogy co-authored by Erin Yoshikawa. She’s also had several short stories published and has co-edited two charity anthologies; for breast cancer research and Plan Australia.
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