The Shadow Court
Don’t you forget about me…
She’s a Tarot-reading artifact hunter finally willing to own her supernatural abilities. He’s the all-powerful Magician of the Arcana Council who once loved her…but now doesn’t remember her, the result of a battle to defeat a terrifying enemy.
Isolated and alone, Sara must race time to help the Magician uncover his ancient knowledge, but can she live with what she finds? Will his dark past destroy them both?
Worse, a rival council, known only as the Shadow Court, has emerged to wage battle against the Arcana Council. And if Sara can’t help the Magician recall how to combat this insidious, mind-bending threat, the world will descend into devastating war.
Love could be your last, best weapon when you confront The Shadow Court.
Read an Excerpt
Time was, I’d go anywhere, find anything, if the price was right.
Times hadn’t changed all that much.
“Bats,” whispered the man in front of me. I could smell the fear oozing out his pores, along with half his body weight in sweat, as he pushed aside a thick, heavy strand of vines to reveal the cave beyond. Though it was night, the humidity in this section of the French Guiana rainforest was clocking in at approximately two hundred and thirty-five percent, and the sweltering heat of the day hadn’t diminished much. It was like being trapped in a wet wool sock. With mosquitoes.
“You know that for sure? Or were you told?” I peered into the dark, slightly cooler space beyond the makeshift hole he’d just created. I’d already learned that a great deal of Alonso’s knowledge of this blighted section of South America was from hearsay and ghost stories. Some of which was helpful, most of which was not. Still, I needed the guy.
Here in the armpit of South America, nobody knew or cared that I was Sara Wilde, mighty Justice of the Arcana Council, dedicated to righting the wrongs perpetrated against the psychic underdogs of the world. They only knew I was a treasure hunter with money to burn. Sadly, not enough of them cared about that either. Even after I’d laid down an impressive number of euros in the shambledown café in Kourou, Alonso was the only guide willing to set aside his rum-soaked Ti’ Punch and take me into the jungle.
His terms had been specific and nonnegotiable. We could travel only at night under a clear and star-filled sky, alone, and as silently as possible. He didn’t necessarily believe in the old gods of his people, but that didn’t mean he wanted to piss them off.
“I don’t know firsthand,” he confessed, surprising me. I appreciated honesty in my petrified guides. “But the men who survived Île du Diable and found this cave said the bats here were worse than there.” He left the implications of that hanging like the bats themselves, and I fought the instinct to flinch.
French Guiana wasn’t known for a heck of a lot besides being hot, sticky, and the site of one of the world’s nastiest penal colonies ever conceived, built on a cluster of three islands just off its coast. Devil’s Island had been closed in the 1950s and was now a tourist attraction, of course, but the stench of despair that still radiated from the very rocks of the place reached all the way to the mainland. It’d been a very bad place for very bad men…the guards even more so than the inmates.
The stories of the vampire bats were part of that lore. Hovering above prisoners who were tied to the point of virtual immobility, the bats would wait until the men drifted asleep, then swoop down and feast, sinking in sharp fangs and, true to their name, lapping up the blood. It was only one of a host of tortures the prisoners endured, and very, very few men survived the place. Of the eighty thousand souls condemned to Devil’s Island by the French government, mostly for crimes against the state, all but two thousand had ended up as food for the sharks that circled the island like it was free sandwich day at Chick-fil-A.
A tiny fraction of those two thousand had actually escaped Devil’s Island and survived to tell the tale. One of those tales had brought me here tonight.
“Let’s go in,” I said.
“You go in,” Alonso countered. “I will keep watch here to protect you from the wrath of Guabancex.”
I leveled a stare at him. “You’ve seen Indiana Jones, right? You know the guy who stays behind is the one who gets impaled by a million arrows?”
“I stay here.” His dark eyes shone with terror in the moonlight, terror that seemed completely out of proportion to the threat of flying things with sharp teeth. Not that I was a huge fan of getting bitten by bats, but we were both wearing sturdy cargo pants and long-sleeved shirts, despite the staggering heat. Our heads were covered with mosquito-proof burka-style hoods, and a veritable arsenal of bug, bat, and crawly-thing repellant hung from our belts. Or hung from mine, anyway, and I was more than happy to share.
Alonso remained resolute. “I watch the gate to the underworld, where the Sun Lord dwells until morning. You disturb the Goddess of Storms at your peril, not mine. I am but a humble guide.”
“You’re a humble guide who’s been paid a thousand euros for a walk in the woods, buddy,” I pointed out, but it was clear this battle had already been lost. I turned and surveyed the cave. “How deep is this, according to the stories you’ve heard?”
“Three levels,” Alonso said quickly, relief rushing his words. “The first is an ordinary cave with an unstable floor and many holes, close together. Only one hole is the right one. The others drop you to your death. The second, it is little more than a ledge. Below that, the treasure rests in a hole off the side of the ledge. The treasure is too heavy to move. The men who fell into the chamber could not take it out, but they saw it, reached for it, and that was enough to curse them. They all died.”
“We all die eventually.” I squinted into the hole, which looked very hole-like, as Alonso’s words devolved into a low muttering. I could speak the local language credibly well, but I couldn’t decipher mumbled prayers. Though my client had warned me to expect this, I hadn’t believed local superstition would still be so strong sixty years after the last attempt for the treasure. Clearly, I’d been wrong. Virtually no one outside Kourou even knew this hoard existed, which was probably why it was still here.
If it was still here.