Hello again, lovelies! I come to you with another sneak peek into my Snow White retelling and contribution to Enchanted Kingdoms--The Ruin of Snow!
This time we're going to take a look at my interpretation of the huntsman--or huntswomen, in this case, I guess. Sent to retrieve protagonist Neyva's heart, sisters Sarafine and Tulia are skilled witches and hunters trained from birth. While they both love the "game" and are fearsome enemies, they couldn't be more different from each other. Where Sarafine lives for luxury and social standing, Tulia prefers to slip under the radar and find her own path--preferably one that gives her plenty of time to paint. Their different approaches, sort of a good cop, bad cop dynamic in a way, play off each other perfectly. They were so fun to write both together and separately.
I really love writing interesting relationships between characters and it was fun to take advantage of it here. While Sarafine and Neyva indulge the rivalry between them from the start, Neyva and Tulia have a much friendlier history that complicates the situation. But when it comes down to who lives and who dies, all bets are off. The three are wonderfully matched--in a very violent way, of course--and the hunt is a long and brutal one.
Neither of us moved, but neither did we look away from the other. “You sent a shadow-curse to kill me in my own bed,” I stated. Not a question.
“A mirror enchantment?” she guessed.
“Yes. You took no precautions against it. That was a child’s error.”
“I didn’t expect you to be alive to try one.”
I couldn’t resist a quiet laugh. “It took me one spell to end it. It was a weak curse. I expected better, if you were going to try something like that.”
She made a face as if she agreed and wasn’t happy about it. “Mother insisted I not allow any stronger of an intent. I’m sure in the hope it would kill you slow enough to take your magic.”
Taking a witch’s magic—it was a delicate and dirty move, but one the Morningspells had made more than once. I had my suspicions, based on all I’d heard of my grandmother’s death, that my mother had orchestrated a similar stunt to increase her power. There were rumors that those without magic could do it, should they want to make themselves into a witch and have the knowledge and courage to try.
“That’s not a bad idea. Maybe I’ll take yours.”
“I don’t think you’ll be in any condition to try, sister.”
I spread my arms wide, an open invitation. I was tired of the circles, the banter, the game. I didn’t want the Morningspell fortune anymore, but if they insisted the one way to give it up was to die, they could do their best. “If you’re going to kill me, get on with it.”
She tilted her head, watching me, and stepped toward the next closest tree. As if she planned to circle me like a wild animal stalking its prey. My own magic rose, preparing itself, though for what I didn’t know. A witch couldn’t attack immediately with her magic; magic required preparation, ritual. Drawing the power from the world to cast a spell took time. Despite one knowing how to do it quickly and effectively, like we did, it wasn’t instantaneous. Magic was, simply put, not a tool for battle, not in the way some believed.
Yes, Sarafine might very well have been able to boil my blood or change my lungs to ice, but not quicker than I could stop her.
Though in the same vein, I couldn’t use it to defend against her.
When nothing happened, I swallowed another laugh. “I always thought you could work without books and scrolls, but maybe I was wrong.”
Her eyes narrowed. “It’s a shame, Neyva. You have all the talent, but put it in all the wrong places. Child’s curses and rash murders.”
I shook my head and started for my horse. “I almost wish I could see the look on Mother’s face when Katherine returns without my head, or whatever proof she’s demanded.”
I heard the grim, triumphant smile in her voice. “Your heart.” I froze, halfway to my horse, and my pulse increased. “She’s demanded your heart. One way or another.”
You can find The Ruin of Snow exclusively in Enchanted Kingdoms--preorder now!