Here is a sneak peek into Fire’s Hart, a tale of Snow White, and the second book of Tales of Evermagic.
“Geert!” Rose cried suddenly.
Ulrich looked around, and hurried to her side. He looked down at the young man. He was smiling foolishly, his eyes wide and glassy. He was lain on his side, and pale. He was naked. Rose had put his coat over him. She frowned, and pressed a hand to her face.
“She’d done it to him,” she said angrily. “That evil witch. My stepmother,” she spat through her teeth. “She’d gone and made him lie with her, and drove him mad with her sorcery.” She looked down at the boy, and caressed his face. He had been beautiful, now he was hallow, and empty. “She stole his beauty…and fed him to that thing,” she said sorrowfully.
Ulrich glanced at her, confused. The boy was still pleasing to look at, though sick in his appearance. “What do you mean?” He asked, not understanding.
“The beauty of his heart,” Rose whispered. “The most threatening beauty to those who are driven by darkness. She is the Evil Queen that feeds on goodness, and gives the rest to that ghost.” Tears slipped down Rose’s cheek for her anger and frustration. She stroked Geert’s hair, and kissed his brow. She sniffed. “I am so sorry Geert,” she whispered.
Ulrich frowned. He put a gentle hand on Rose’s back. “What is to become of him?”
Rose shook her head. “He will have to be sent to the ward where the others have gone. There is no other place for him to go…” She stood, and wiped the tears from her eyes. “I wish I could stop her from taking them,” she said. She glanced up at the mirrors with hate. “If only I could shatter them,” she growled.
Ulrich rose, and looked up at them with her. He wondered. “Can’t we?” He asked.
“I’ve tried,” Rose sighed. “They are protected.” She sniffed, and wiped her nose with her sleeve. “Well, since you are here, would you carry him?” She asked with a gesture to Geert. “I’ve gotten stronger, but hefting grown people has not gotten any easier.”
Ulrich nodded, and scooped up the boy. He was only a little younger than himself. Ulrich frowned, and started toward the horses. Rose sulked behind him, and followed slowly. She bit her bottom lip, and hesitantly lifted her eyes to a place she avoided with all her will. It got harder every time she came to this part of the forest. The crystal of its make was the only beautiful thing here, but she knew better than to trust it. She knew its story.
Rose forced herself past the thing, and hurried to catch up with Ulrich. He’d put Geert on top his horse. Rose nodded to him. She sighed, and put a hand on Elfriede’s neck. The horse grunted, and nodded. Rose paused to see the gesture. She looked around, and froze with a wide-eyed stare. Ulrich looked also. His brow was low.
“Help me, please?” A little girl was standing near them, her eyes wide with fright. She swallowed, and looked around. “I do not know where I am.” She had an accent foreign to their land and the neighboring kingdom’s. She brought the smell of earthy truffles in the otherwise stale scented forest. It was strange for the scent was not a common one in Geran.
Ulrich glanced at Rose, and seeing she did not make a move to go to the child, approached her himself. He squat down, not aware of the terrified tears that slipped down Rose’s round, petrified eyes. “Are you lost?” He asked.
“Yes!” The child cried. “Oh please!” She reached out her hand to grab Ulrich’s. He held out his fingers, but found that the girl’s could not touch him. The child cried.
“What is this?” Ulrich stood, and looked around at Rose. She’d backed away so far from the girl she’d gone onto the dark path. “Rose?” He called.
“Set me free!” The child cried. “Why will you not set me free?”
“I can’t,” Rose cried. She was shaking like a leaf. “Please. Don’t make me open it!”
“Rose?” Ulrich went to her. He held her by the shoulders, but she would not look at him. Her eyes were set on the child. “Rose can you set her free?” He asked. For a ghost to be trapped in their world was a terrible fate. To see a child there pained him, but he did not understand.
Rose whimpered. Her foot slid forward. “Make me run, Ulrich. Please! I cannot make myself run this time,” she whispered.
Ulrich looked back at the little girl. “Why won’t you set her free?” He asked.
“She is not what she seems,” Rose cried quietly. “Please. Take me away!”
Ulrich looked back at the little girl. He wondered at the expression on her face. It was coaxing, mean, and conniving. Rose whimpered again. She took another step forward. Ulrich grabbed her arm tightly to stop her. She took another step despite his grip.
“Set me free…” The girl growled through her teeth, glaring under the tilt of her brow.
“Why won’t you leave us alone?” Rose shouted at her. “We did nothing to you! You cursed yourself! You deserved your end!” She bellowed frantically.
The little girl screamed, and Rose found herself running forward, a hand on the key that hung from around her neck. Why did she bring it? Why did she always bring it? Why did the magic force her to put it round her neck every time?
“Rose!” Ulrich shouted. He ran after her as she raced to that crystal thing she had avoided every time she was forced to come here. Coming was like a drug, she couldn’t stop herself. She secretly wanted this, but knew it was bad. It was the magic. The magic made her want to hurt herself, to make its power stronger, and feed it so that it could take over and ruin her life.