The Poison of Woedenwoud
Publication date: February 12th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Magic is draining from the world threatening everything, the tatters of her own family, the warlocks, and the Mari alike. Ling and her companions search desperately for the key to ending it all, but warlocks dog their every step. Meanwhile, Ling, isolated and afraid, struggles against a rising tide of darkness far more threatening than anything in the Darkling Sea.
In the distance ahead of them, black smoke billowed into the sky. Ling was certain the others had also seen it, as it was too obvious to miss, but no one spoke of it. There was nothing to be done but continue forward toward whatever it was that awaited them. They thundered into town to find themselves in the midst of an angry mob of Brisians. Their voices were raised in shouts, their normally friendly and open faces contorted with grief and anger. Beyond them, the docks burned just as they had in Nantes, but here there was no pile of corpses. Instead, arrayed in front of those burning docks was a line of warlocks. They wore robes of purple and gold—Tovenveran and Tovendieren.
Ling yanked her horse to a stop so sharply the beast squealed in protest, its hooves throwing up a cloud of dust and debris as they slid to a halt. Without a word Dreskin drew two glass globes from the saddlebags behind him and lobbed them into the midst of the warlocks. Ling caught a glance of a swirling red liquid inside one of the glass balls before they both exploded in an angry fire at the warlocks’ feet.
“This way!” Drake shouted, and they spun almost as one to follow her. They didn’t run back the way they’d come; there was nothing back there but more warlocks. Instead, they ran somewhat parallel to the coast, but angled inland. Ling heard screams and shouting behind her but dared not pause even long enough for a glance. They barreled across the dusty landscape, grasses whipping by them. Navire was beside her still, his breath a constant snarl.
The coyotes turned to follow, but this time closed in to attack. Navire launched into them, ripping and tearing with teeth and claws. He was a giant of a dog, but there were too many. Ling yelled at him to follow, her words whipped away in the blinding wind of her passage.
Ling’s eyes teared up as the wind ripped past them. She could hear nothing, had no idea if the others still rode with her; her senses were consumed with the harsh breathing of the horse beneath her, the steady drum of its hooves as it ran, and the smearing countryside passing by her.
Ahead she could make out a low wall, and beyond that a mass of tangled trees and shrubs and grasses. She aimed for the wall, tightening her legs against her horse and wrapping her hands in its mane. In an instant she was airborne. The horse landed hard, and Ling struggled to stay in the saddle as they swooped into the tangle of vegetation. She was swallowed instantly, leaves and branches slapping at her violently, threatening to tear her from her already unsettled seat. Her horse snorted, stopping suddenly, and Ling found herself airborne once again, for an instant, before she hit the ground.
She rolled as she hit, and came to a sudden stop against the trunk of an enormous tree. She looked up to see her horse quivering where it had stopped, head down, sides heaving. She realized she was alone and climbed to her feet in a panic. Before she could take a step back toward the wall the others came crashing through the trees toward her. She counted as they came, Celene with Amalya clutched in her lap. Fern. Dreskin. Several breaths later, Drake came barreling through the trees as well.
They leapt off their horses and began furiously pulling goods out of saddlebags. She was vaguely aware of them talking. Drake said something about the wall not stopping them for long. Dreskin protested, saying no one, not even warlocks, would follow them into the Woedenwoud. Fern spoke quietly, but her words cut through the din of panic that surrounded her. “Only a fool would enter these woods, and we, the biggest fools of them all.”
With a start, Ling realized they must be in the Woedenwoud. But she had little time to consider that any further. She was focused on the woods behind them, back toward the wall. There was one member of the party yet to come through.
K. Ferrin spends her days surrounded by engineers, technology, and humming machinery, but her evenings are steeped in magic, myth, and adventure. She writes fantasy, loves gardening, and eats way too much pie. She lives at the foot of the Colorado Rockies with her husband and two pooches.
Her novels include the stand alone YA fantasy novel Magicless, as well as Across the Darkling Sea, and A Dying Land, the first two books of a series. You can find her online at http://www.kferrin.com.