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The Sorceress Transcendent by Casey Blair
Book & Author Details:
The Sorceress Transcendent by Casey Blair
Once mortal enemies on the battlefield, what can they become supporting each other instead?
When Varius, the greatest general of the Aurelian Empire, is forced to flee his homeland, there’s only one person he can turn to.
A powerful sorceress and once his most deadly enemy, Theira is the only combatant who’s ever escaped the war between their peoples. But with the memories of how they kept each other going from opposite sides of a battlefield, when a bleeding Varius knocks on her door, she lets him in, even knowing what will follow.
Theira may have gotten away, but as long as the war goes on, she’ll never really be free. Now with both their peoples actively hunting them, the two most dangerous fighters in a never-ending war will have to join forces to do the impossible: end it once and for all, on their terms.
And if they can dare to dream boldly enough, maybe find happiness for themselves, too.
The Sorceress Transcendent is a stand-alone enemies-to-lovers epic fantasy romance novella about badasses who enjoy a cozy cup of tea after a long day wreaking epic destruction, because why choose? This story is for everyone who knows what’s coming when your former mortal enemy and best rival knocks on the door in the middle of the night and says, “I had nowhere else to go.”
“I was beginning to wonder,” Theira said, cool amusement in her voice, “if you thought that this time for sure you would be able to simply stare me into submission.”
It was the sound of her voice after all this time more than even the vision of her alive and well and free and gorgeous that almost undid him. His knees tried to buckle, and Varius caught himself.
Theira tracked the movement, and the thorny vines withdrew abruptly. She never missed anything, even if she didn’t speak. How long had he stood at the door like a dumbass?
And now she also knew he was at her mercy, that he had no hidden strategy she needed to counter, that she could kill him at any time without worry. A first, for them. Varius might have been ashamed if he hadn’t suspected she was nonplussed.
He stared at this sorceress, his once-best enemy, who waited with endless patience for him to get to the godscursed point. He sucked in a breath to greet her politely and make his case, to explain and formally request her forbearance, but what made it out was:
“I had nowhere else to go.”
The words dropped into the night like a stone in a pool.
Theira’s deeply expressive eyes flickered, knowing.
Unimaginable, that his life had somehow come to this.
But the empire he had given his life and body and soul to had betrayed him—betrayed them all. No one there could protect him or anyone else any longer.
Varius had spent almost his whole life at war, and now it was only an enemy he could turn to.
Theira held his gaze for a long moment and then said, “You’d better come in.”
Theira stepped back. “Start drinking the tea. I’ll get some salves.”
She was already across the room before Varius asked, “What’s in it?”
She almost sagged in relief. Thank Gaia, something other than blind obedience. He wasn’t dead yet.
Without missing a beat, Theira answered, “Mind control potion.”
A faint huff. She glanced back over her shoulder as Varius met her gaze and deliberately took a sip.
“Always such a liar,” he murmured. Fondly—or was that her imagination? It wasn’t as though Theira had any experience relating to another person honestly. She’d have to decide—later.
Theira sniffed, turning back to her shelves so she didn’t have to care what her face did as she enjoyed the spark she always felt playing with him. “I could brew a mind control potion if I wanted.”
“Far be it from me to question your skill.”
No, he knew that all too well.
Abruptly she said, “It’s for rejuvenation, with a little added for pain management. It’ll help you heal faster to get back in the game.”
Varius didn’t answer.
When she looked back, he didn’t look encouraged—his whole body sagged.
Her heart clenched. He might have been her enemy once, but that was not a good sign.
Looking forward to sparring with him had once been the only light that kept her going. If he didn’t want to fight, was there anything left between them? Since her escape she had thoroughly demonstrated she didn’t know how to be a light for anyone else.
But he was here under her grace and knew it, so maybe she could try the direct approach and just ask what in Gaia’s name he needed from her. How novel.
Potion bottles in hand, Theira returned to his side, set them down, and looked him hard in the eye. “Are you going to tell me what happened?”
“They’ll follow me,” Varius whispered. “I shouldn’t have brought you into this.”
Oh for Gaia’s sake, what a f***ing martyr. “I promise I was perfectly capable of not opening my door.”
Varius suddenly smiled faintly, and it was like the whole room grew warmer. Oof.
“Were you capable of not opening the door?” he asked her. Teased her. “Not knowing what I was here for?”
Ha. He had her there.
In a way, he knew her better than anyone. That was dangerous.
But part of the whole point of leaving was that she didn’t have to care about that anymore. At least, not the way she had.
“You’re on my turf,” Theira reminded him. “I can maneuver you into a truth spell any time I want. Tell me.”
His plate was piled high with an omelet full of vegetables, sausage, fruit, toast.
“I was hardly going to let you starve after inviting you in.”
Varius took a sip of tea first before saying, “And what an easy way to dose me with a potion, too.”
Theira smiled. “Too easy, no challenge. It’s not as if I want you to decide you need to forage for yourself in my garden.”
Varius snorted. “I’d probably kill myself trying.”
“It’s not all poisonous,” she said primly.
He grinned. “In the interest of inspiring you to greater challenge, I admit I probably couldn’t tell.”
She rolled her eyes. “Soldiers. If you can’t stab with it, it’s not worth learning about.”
He wasn’t a soldier anymore. But rather than dwell on that he said, “You’re not going to sit there and tell me you can’t grow a perfectly normal looking plant that would actually kill me.”
Theira smiled like a blow to his chest. “No, I’m not.”
Varius felt unreasonably pleased with himself for getting that smile out of her.
She should smile that wickedly all the time, and maybe that was one thing he could do for her.
“I didn’t get a good look last night, but it looks like your gardens are expansive and flourishing,” Varius said. “Do you grow your own food, along with everything else?”
“Is that so you’ll always know what’s poisonous?”
Theira rolled her eyes again, but, he thought, fondly. “As if I couldn’t tell if someone else tried to poison me? Please. No, it’s mostly convenience.”
“Ah. You are pretty far from anything out here.” Sausage would keep, but she must use sorcery for the eggs. Had she broken out a few from a precious stash so he could eat something familiar?
Then again, for all he knew he was eating eggs of something other than a chicken that she kept in her basement.
Another thought struck him. “Has the Sorcerer Ascendant pressured people to not sell you food?”
Theira shook her head. “No need. I’m not going to put people in any more danger to help me. The people who built my house are protected, but if I started doing that commonly Tychon would make a point of… challenging that protection.”
And the Sorcerer Ascendant was the one person alive who could definitely break it.
Varius frowned, wondering anew about that guest room. But he said, “You said ‘mostly’. What else is it?”
Theira considered him for a moment, then shrugged as if it didn’t matter. “I like growing things.”
The simple statement hit him like a punch in the gut.
Gods. He knew how much she reveled in sorcerous destruction, and he’d be lying if he said he himself didn’t take satisfaction in knowing he’d hit an opponent just right to take them out.
But there was another side of her, too, that she was trying to give space to in this house. \
She liked growing things.
If he didn’t have to kill for the empire, what would he do?
He’d barely considered the question before; it was an impossibility.
Theira had a garden, though, and it was flourishing.
But her house was empty.
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Casey Blair writes adventurous fantasy novels for all ages, and her serial fantasy Tea Princess Chronicles is available online for free. After graduating from Vassar College, her own adventures have included teaching English in rural Japan, attending the Viable Paradise residential science fiction and fantasy writing workshop, and working as an indie bookseller. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest and can be found dancing spontaneously, exploring forests around the world, or trapped under a cat. For more information visit her website caseyblair.com or follow her on Twitter @CaseyLBlair.
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