Calista Faulkner never believed in fairy tales…until she is thrust into one.
While attending a college party, she’s attacked by terrifying creatures straight out of a modern day Dr. Frankenstein’s handbook. Fleeing for her life, she discovers that her human memories are a lie and nothing is what it seems.
Calista becomes a target and her only chance of survival is to trust the mysterious Brendan Parnell. He seems to know all of her secrets, even those she doesn’t remember herself.
Together they must fight to protect the most important part of their inheritance, the Relic of Knowledge. Unfortunately, Calista has no memory of her magical life and no idea where she hid the relic. As her memories begin to resurface with bone crushing agony, Calista must face the facts: she is a Volshebnitsya of the High Realm of Skazka and it is her duty to stop the Glava, the masters of Shadowlands.
The world around them begins to falls apart. Plagued by storms that are destroying cities and torn by the sinister monsters of Russian lore. The secrets locked deep inside her mind are her destiny and her undoing. If both worlds are to survive, Calista and Brendan must face the darkness around them—and the darkness threatening from within.
“What’s going on?” I shout, as the stranger shoves me into the room used to store all of our stuff, shutting the door behind him. I expect someone to come to my rescue, but it’s like no one can hear me yell. Stumbling back against the bed, I turn around and find myself face to face with another man already in the room. They tower over me, flanking me on both sides, wearing an expression of hatred that I don’t understand. I’ve never seen them before.
“Look, I don’t know who you think I am, but you’ve got the wrong girl. I have no idea who you are or why I’m here.” I say, and my words sound a lot calmer than I feel. Staring at the large men, I keep backing away until I’m on the other side of the bed.
“Volshebnitsya Skazki, sechasze otdavai Znaniye, ili mi ybiyom vseh.”
“Umm, what?” My brain pushes to comprehend the strange words as the man in front of me growls with every syllable. His eyes narrow and he exhales, almost like a dog, before trying again.
“You are Calista Faulkner,” he says, his voice thick with an accent I can’t quite place. “You will tell where Znaniye hides or we kill everyone in this house.”
It takes a second for the broken English words to register before I find the courage to reply. “Kill? Did you not hear a word I just said? You’ve got the wrong girl!” I’m shouting now, but I don’t care if I sound like a lunatic. Someone has got to hear me.
“Do not bother yelling, Protector.” The goon who dragged me in here speaks again, as if reading my mind. “Walls now sealed with majyk of land. No one hear you now.”
I’ve always thought of myself as a logical person. I’ve always thought that presented with a situation where my life is in danger I will do the right thing. Those corners of my mind are trying to piece together what’s happening, but the rest of my body is shaking in fear. It’s as if I’m two people all of a sudden. One, fully focused on getting out of here, with a calm mind. Second, shaking like a leaf with no coherent thought. Thankfully, the logical me wins out.
“Listen,” I try again, my voice coming out soothing, but I do take a step back to put some distance between us. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. If you’ll just let me go, I can find someone who lives in this house, I’m sure they’ll be happy to show you where whatever you’re looking for is.”
“Do not lie, Protector!” the stranger booms, shaking the floor I’m standing on with just his voice. “This house has no wards, no majyk. You would not be so careless to leave the relic here.” I move a bit farther back, putting the bed between us.
“You guys have had a little too much to drink.” I say, because I can’t even fathom this being my reality right now. With every word, my mind shouts at me that this is not a joke. These…things…are here to hurt me. I can’t constitute them as men any longer, as their faces continue to ripple in an otherworldly way, each time they breathe.
“Enough!” the man who was already in the room bellows, speaking up for the first time. “Do not play games, Protector. Tell us where it is and we kill you fast. Lie to us, and we kill you slow. Then, we kill all humans in this house.”
The man takes a step toward me and suddenly, there is a sword in front of my face. I jump as it manifests itself in his hand, my own hands flying over my mouth. I don’t think I drank anything but soda, so my mind must be playing tricks on me. I swear the man grows in size right before my eyes. He’s almost seven feet tall now, towering over my small frame, his face twisting and turning, becoming something other than human. His eyes bulge out, taking over his face, and from what I can see, there seem to be scars all over his skin. As if someone stitched pieces of flesh together. I watch, frozen, as the giant stalks up to me, pinning me against the wall in one breath. I try to struggle, but the hand on my throat is cutting off any circulation.
“Tell me where it is,” he growls, the words almost unintelligible with the noise coming from deep within his throat. I try to shake my head, give him some indication that I have no idea what he’s talking about, but he growls again and then there is pain.
I feel my blood drip down my arm where his sword tip cuts me and that’s when I realize this is no joke. These men–monsters–are here for me and they will kill me if I don’t tell them what they want to know. If only I knew what they were asking, but none of this makes sense. I’m gasping for breath, my thoughts a jumbled mess as the pain spreads through my body. He cuts deeper, and any moment he’ll scrape the bone, leaving a permanent mark.
I push against the burning sensation spreading up my arm, struggling to breathe as he crushes my windpipe with his gigantic claw. My vision swims before me as I try to focus on his face and there is more distortion than before. It’s as if layers of a mask keep coming off the longer he’s around me. I don’t understand how my mind manages to catalogue anything through the pain, but I fight it. I fight with my whole being.
An instinct I didn’t know I possessed kicks in, overshadowing the pain. It’s as if a switch has been turned on inside of me and just like that, the pain stops. It becomes manageable. As if, all of a sudden, I can push it back. Get it under control.
There is no time to dwell on the new discovery as the monster drops me to my feet. I land hard, my bones rattling with the impact and I don’t see the blow coming. His hand connects with my cheek and I’m on my knees. Tears sting my eyes, but I push them back, just like I’m pushing the pain back. The response is automatic, almost like a reflex. I watch my attacker stalk across the room and I’m on my feet.
Acting on pure instinct, I kick out as the stranger comes barreling toward me, sending him reeling into the bedpost. Surprised my action has the desired affect, I scramble to my feet, but I don’t make it far. The door on the other side of the room opens, and a blur of movement catches my attention as the other man comes flying across the room.
I don’t wait to see who or what did that, as I turn to the window, push it open and run.
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