Ink & Incantation Preview
Take a peak inside this limited-time collection of YA Sci-Fi and Fantasy stories, featuring libraries and books!
Excerpts from three stories:
Sentinel of Braidward Library
A Tomb of Roses
From "Ruthless Hearts" by E.V. Everest
Enora had never been more bored in her life.
Well, that wasn’t exactly true. She had been precisely this bored every Saturday since her eleventh birthday—the age when her mother had begun to demand her attendance at society events.
Today, they were attending a private luncheon at the estate of Lady Sylvia Rockwell. The three of them sat around an elegantly dressed table with a full tea service.
Enora’s mother beamed across the table at the other woman. Her hair was coiffed, not a strand out of place. “Enora has the highest grades in her class. She’s doing especially well in finance and literature,” she bragged.
Enora fought the urge to roll her eyes. Such kind words were rare when she and her mother were alone. No, that time was reserved for lectures on Enora’s duty to her family and society at large. Often, the lectures were followed by list-making and goal setting to ensure Enora would excel above her peers.
It didn’t matter how high her grades were or how many leaderships positions she earned. Nothing she did was ever good enough.
Lady Rockwell returned a smile. “Oh, how lovely. My Peter also enjoys reading though I must admit it’s often military strategy. I suppose he takes after his father.” She laughed into her lace-gloved hand.
“An excellent role model,” Enora’s mother bolstered.
It was painfully clear why they were all here. Lady Rockwell’s son, Peter, was twenty-years-old. Enora would be eighteen in two months. This was political matchmaking. She wondered when the military strategy reading Peter would arrive. Perhaps not until a second meeting but one could never be sure.
It had been two dreadfully dull hours of vapid conversation, and she’d do almost anything for a respite. Peter be damned. She sighed over her teacup.
Her mother shot her a glance that said quite clearly, No sighing at the table. Sit up straight and be pleasant, young lady!
So, she slouched further in her chair and gave a dramatic sigh.
This time, her movements attracted Lady Rockwell’s attention too. “Enora, my dear. Are you feeling well?”
Enora almost smirked, but she held back. Instead, in a stroke of brilliance, she pulled her face into a pained expression. “I have a terrible headache, and I fear I may be coming down with something.”
“Oh, my dear, you must go and rest then.”
While the woman was addressing Enora, her mother was shooting her a look that could kill.
Enora ignored it. “You’re quite right, Lady Rockwell. I should adjourn, but please give my best to Potter.”
The woman’s smile faltered for just a moment, but she recovered quickly. “When you’re feeling better, I look forward to introducing you to Peter.”
It was a subtle correction, but neither Enora nor her mother missed it. Of course, Enora already knew his name. She had an exceptional memory. What she didn’t have was any interest in this arranged marriage or any other.
She stood and dipped a small curtsy.
Her mother’s eyes narrowed. There would be words later.
But for now, she was free.
From "The Sentinel of Braidward Library" by Ben Green
You are a library,
You didn’t mean for this to happen, but it did. And the thing that bothers you sometimes, the thing that gets under your skin—not that you’re truly alive anymore—is that you kill to survive. It’s a defense mechanism, you know that, but still… not very nice.
Oh, but you wish you could still let people in the doors. The towering shelves, sturdy and weighed down with wonder. All the little magic things set out on a thousand counters, hovering in fields of energy. The sprawling trees and hanging garden. Things that once played in neon holograms long ago triggered by little footsteps. And you love the smell of silver and gold, of paper and ancient glues, of magical craft.
What you don’t love are the traps. The murderous vines, terrifying machines hidden behind your happy doors, fire, smoke, and burning lights. Those would break your heart, if you had one left. Because the thing is, you adore stories—the faker the better. Human stories are the most transcendent. Maybe that’s because you’re not human. You never were.
You were Loamin. And to be Loamin means a life of underground cities bristling with light. It means a metal magic called craft. To humans, your world would seem like fiction. To you, craft and underground suns are as bland as a “drive to work”—something you’ve read about in human books.
That’s why the council cursed you. Loamin do not make up stories. Their world is full of true and living legends, champions of power, and dungeons filled with danger and puzzle work. And neon light. There’s always neon light.
And the council…
Wraithspit, you hate them.
When they learned that you had been traveling around carrying fiction—both Loamin and Human—they had sent the best of the best to hunt you down and destroy your library. And they got close once. So close, you opened the large purse that was your library—bigger on the inside—and snuck down to safety. You felt their ignorant hands trying to destroy the purse.
You barred the door with the only relic you could think of—your braidward. You untied the knot of tungsten and gold magic from your hair and bent it around the latch. It took any craft they used against you and turned it against them. They tried to burn you with light; you now have a ring of white fire at your core defending the purse. They tried to use silvercraft to weaken your mind; you turned it into a magical distraction that forces people away from you. They buried you for a century with goldcraft to sap your youth; you forged it into an eternal fountain of years.
When they had locked the purse—you included—in a prison of ironcraft, you grew stone appendages and broke free from the grave. Now, a monstrosity, you wander under the mountains. Three hundred years? No, a breath more maybe.
You want to share your library with the fiction-starved Loamin. Maybe some of them would even love the human books you’d stolen from the surface years ago. Maybe they would even read your story. No. Or maybe. Don’t think about that.
You pull your monstrous self through another tunnel, dig deeper through granite and shale. And then—
Someone’s approaching! All your traps buzz to life. Trollbrick!
Don’t get close, you think. This library will kill you.
From "A Tomb of Roses" by R.L. Perez
Prue stood on the shore, the tide tickling her bare feet and the salty air swelling around her. Her fierce curls billowed behind her, and she kept imagining Mona’s teasing laugh as she pushed the hair off Prue’s face.
Now Mona would never laugh again.
Because of Prue.
Prue clutched the sacred urn in her hands, keeping her gaze fixed on the horizon. The sea breeze mingled with the orange glow of the setting sun. Seagulls cawed around her. The air whispered with the voices of a thousand spirits welcoming her sister home.
This was meant to be a joyous occasion. Prue felt the eyes of each witch in her coven behind her as they stood reverently to pay their respects. Mona had always loved the sunset rituals. She’d felt like it was an expression of the circle of life. Life and death. Creation and destruction. The beginning and the end.
But this was not the natural order of things. Mona had only been eighteen. What kind of circle of life was that, to take someone so young? Someone in their prime? It was too soon for Mona to return to the earth.
And so, even though her sister always felt peace and acceptance during these ceremonies, all Prue felt was anger.
The final amber rays of the sun winked out of existence, and her hands moved of their own accord. She had attended so many of these ceremonies that her body knew what to do even if her mind rebelled.
The urn tipped. Mona’s ashes spilled into the sea. Voices murmured behind Prue as the coven began their chant.
She didn’t join in.
A warm hand slipped into hers as Polina, her mother, drew closer. But her hand could’ve been a palm frond for all Prue knew. She continued to stare numbly at the horizon, even as the rush of magic swept over her, signifying Mona’s passing to the next life.
Prue and Mona had been ignorant. Had they sought answers to the origins of their magic, they might have prevented this tragedy. For years, they had grown up hearing the stories of the Gemini magic flowing in their blood. As they got older, they believed them less and less.
They had been reckless. Foolish. And now one sister was gone, and the only one left to blame was Prue.
They were twins, bound together by blood and magic. Mona and Prue, the twin witches, inseparable even from birth. They thought nothing could come between them. Not even death. No matter what those bedtime stories warned them about, they truly believed their bond was stronger than any magic.
They were wrong.