As a poor farmer, Dante can’t afford the cures that would bring his brother back from the death-like sleep that has claimed him, but when his sister finds a healer in town, one who promises to help, his family is overjoyed. Naturally cautious, Dante hopes they don’t put too much faith in a stranger, but he is unwilling to turn his back on the chance for his brother to be well again either.
The healer requires very little from them, a family heirloom and as much nightshade as Dante can carry. Though he questions why a healer would need such a poisonous plant, he is far more concerned with saving his brother. When he brings them to the healer’s home, he finds a black unicorn that has been enslaved by the healer.
Aleon is distrustful of people, and with good reason. As the dark mage’s captive, he has endured only torture and pain since he was a child. The mage uses shavings of his horn to heal others, and it is a brutal experience for Aleon. When Dante offers him a way of escape, Aleon is wary, but trusting someone new, or staying a slave until he is killed, isn’t a choice he can afford to let slip away.
With Dante, Aleon begins to understand that he is safe, and possibly even loved, but when the dark mage realizes his unicorn has been stolen, their lives are ripped apart in his rage to get Aleon back. Staying together, and keeping his family safe, is all Dante wants, but it might be a hopeless dream when a world of magic and darkness rises up against him and he’s forced to make a choice between the man he loves and the family he wants to save.
The world was crashing down around Sethos, and though some may have thought that to be an exaggeration on his part, as he was often known for doing such things, it was the truest thing he could have said in such a moment. By looking at the sunshine and listening to the birds chirping in the forest no one would have known it was so. Sethos had chosen to use blood magic, one of the greatest sins for their kind, and he would have done it again in a heartbeat. He had tried to explain his reasons, the power and clarity that came with using blood for his spells, but they had refused to listen to him. It was on them if they wished to hide behind their supposed morals instead of seeking greatness. He had no such quandary.
They may have called him crazy and ran him out of his comfortable home but he would not let them take what power was already gained. He had spent many exhausted hours trying to be a part of that straight-laced and prudish coven but now they had thrown him out with no chance of return or even reconciliation. He was angry, though who could blame him honestly? Certainly, they could but they hardly mattered now that he was free of them.
Though the coven had forced him out, he remembered the spells he’d learned in his short time with them. He also had managed to write the spells on small pieces of parchment paper he snuck into the coven library. Writing down the spells was expressly forbidden. However, to Sethos it was more important to have the spells for himself than following a ridiculous rule of a pompous coven—who only wanted to keep the power for themselves. Those parchments he knew would come in handy for him in his quest to be the most powerful mage along the coast—No, the entire territory. He would make it on his own, he was sure of it as he made his way along the rocky coast with sand falling into his well-worn shoes.
He was determined to one day be proclaimed as the kingdom’s richest, most powerful mage. His healing abilities would get him there, he was sure of it. He had a natural gift, one passed down from his mother who he had promised, on her deathbed, to make proud in this world. He had promised to make something of himself, though how he would accomplish that needed some planning now that he had no longer had the coven to rely on for his growth. Without the books and teachings of the coven, he knew that he was going to have a hard time keeping that promise.
There was one spell though, that he cherished more than the others, it was a spell that gave him the gift of magic sight. He’d been casting it on himself regularly, practicing with it over the weeks that he’d been with the coven until they’d found out his bloody secrets and had found it invaluable to say the least. The glamour allowed him to see the most powerful herbs in bright colors and those colors told him, which ones would heal, usually in blue or greens to the plants with poisons in red and blacks.
Unfortunately, the spell did not last very long and it took much of his energy. More than that though, it told him when people were hurting, when they were weak, and he knew he could exploit that to his advantage. His coven had been strong but most people in the world were not so formidable. One day, he was sure he would be stronger than all of the covens around the world put together were. They would grovel at his feet. They would beg him to be a part of his own personal coven. He planned to laugh in their faces before wringing the blood from their bones to make his spells.
With a smile, Sethos leaned down to grab one of the herbs he would need to start this powerful journey. The magic sight made the plants glow in radiant colors letting him know which plant did what. Green for fertility, red for poison purple for protection, blue for healing, black for poison, and so on. Sethos was collecting the blue plants since health would be the easiest to sell around this sickly country.
That’s when the sound of someone crying had Sethos stop moving through the dense forest. He realized there was no possible way he could get any more pathetic, standing in this enchanted forest looking for herbs while he was forced to listen to some idiotic child cry. He would be powerful someday, but today he was a man wearing rags and walking through the forest after being along the beach in search of some herbs that would give him the power he needed to become noticed by the noble people.
Usually there was no one else out here, especially this deep into the trees. He hardly ever saw any deer along this path and the whispers from the people who lived nearby kept most of them away as magical and dark creatures roamed the trees, although Sethos was sure he had been the only thing wandering the woods.
The crying continued, and it sounded like it was coming from someone young, and if he was not mistaken, which he hardly ever was, the sound might have been from someone not quite human. What had been a nuisance to be avoided suddenly piqued his interest. It could be a trick from one of the creatures to lure in an unexacting victim. So Sethos pulled his white hooded cape, the only thing of any finery he had on, as he followed the grief stricken noise to an open field at the edge of the trees. He would not be fooled if this were a trick. He was too smart for such trickery and had magical sight to see any creature’s true form. What he saw had him stopped short in disbelief. He wanted to believe his luck, although the lack of such a thing in his life led him to question what his eyes told him plainly stood in front of him. It had to be a lie for sure, a trick, a glamour, some sort of illusion meant to test him or drive him further away and into the madness that had long since plagued his family. Perhaps it was even his old coven wanting to torment him so.