The Blood Spell (Ravenspire, #4)(4)

A shout broke through Blue’s thoughts, and the crowd around her surged toward the stage, carrying her with it.

“The laws of our land have been broken. The queen wishes you to bear witness!” a man’s voice boomed from the center of the stage. Blue dug her heels into the soft ground to avoid being pushed past the first row of benches as guards from each quarter brought prisoners onto the stage to have their crimes read aloud and their punishments delivered.

“Up first, we have Selina Bisset, who has been accused of breaking the law against using magic.”

People around Blue murmured and shot fearful looks at the stage, where a woman stood facing the crowd, her hands tied behind her back. Blue was too far away to see the expression on the woman’s face, and she didn’t want to.

“According to the law, no person shall use fae magic in any form.” The man held a scroll in his hands, his eyes scraping over it as he read. “No magic may be used for healing, for spells, for altering the physical appearance of objects or people, for divining the future, or for affecting anything that lives on the land, the sea, or the air. It was the use of fae magic that turned the witch Marielle into a blood wraith who drank the blood of our children and terrorized the streets of Falaise de la Mer.”

Actually, it was the misuse of fae magic that had created the blood wraith, but Blue knew no one was interested in the nuances. Not when most of them remembered the wraith haunting their streets, destroying lives in its unending quest for power. She took a few steps backward before running into a solid wall of bodies standing close behind her.

The crowd murmured louder, and Blue caught many of them saying the name Marielle like a curse.

The man onstage turned toward the woman. “You were seen using fae magic to transform rotten fruit into fresh in an attempt to deceive your customers. Do you deny the charge?”

Blue closed her eyes. There was no point in denying the charge. The magistrate wouldn’t have brought the woman here if he didn’t have at least three sworn witnesses. Blue’s hands burned as if her own magic was reaching for the woman on the stage, and she clenched her fists and tried to take another step back.

Whatever the woman said in reply was lost as the crowd began chanting, “Death to witches!”

Not everyone who had fae magic was a witch, either, but that was another nuance no one who remembered the blood wraith wanted to discuss.

“According to the law of Balavata, under the blessing of our gracious queen, I hereby sentence you to death,” the man shouted.

Blue’s stomach lurched, and she turned and fought her way through the crowd as the guard next to the accused woman drew his sword from its sheath with a metallic hiss and plunged it through her chest.


BLUE ARRIVED AT the Mortar & Pestle shaken and queasy, the awful rasp of the guard’s sword leaving its sheath ringing in her head. The shop floor was busy, and Papa had his hands full. Blue nodded to him as she made her way to the storeroom at the back of the shop.

The storeroom was a cozy space with floor-to-ceiling shelves against each wall, a long worktable in the center, a two-burner stove, a sink, and two chairs. A door at the back of the room led to the alley behind the shop. Blue set her purchases on the table and drew in a deep breath, taking comfort in the familiar scent of herbs, spices, and dried flowers that permeated the storeroom.

It had been wrong of the woman on the stage to magic decaying fruit into something that looked edible to others, but it hadn’t been worth her life. If anyone saw how Blue harvested her ingredients, how she knew which items wanted to be combined into her potions, she’d find herself on the same stage faster than she could say, “I’m not a witch.”

Before that thought could spiral into the cold fear that sometimes tore through Blue’s dreams at night, turning them into nightmares, she threw herself into her work. The morning passed quickly. Blue packaged the shop’s deliveries, sorted through her new supplies, shelved what she wasn’t using for the day, and filled her worktable with everything she needed to make oils to treat beestings, powders to disinfect wounds, and tonics to combat everything from fatigue to insomnia. She then spent the next few hours moving from the table to the stove and back again, chopping, grinding, and steeping her ingredients. Letting her magic whisper to them in the solitude of her storeroom as she coaxed them to combine into the potions she wanted.

While her hands worked, she kept her thoughts away from the events on the stage by poking at her failed attempt to fully transmute lead into gold. Did she need to add more heat to speed up the molecules that bound the lead together? Build a better pressurized pot? There were still several rare minerals she could try adding. Or maybe the map to success was as simple as figuring out how to use her magic to coax the metal to do what she wanted.

What she wouldn’t give for a magic wand, despite the danger of being caught with it. She could use it only when she was sure it was just Papa with her in the shop. That would be safe. Maybe if Grand-mère understood what was at stake, she’d finally relent and teach Blue how to use one. Or maybe Grand-mère’s ability to briefly transfigure items into something different could be helpful.

Of course once Grand-mère’s spell wore off and the merchants realized the gold had turned back into ordinary lead, Blue would be in the kind of trouble even her family’s friendship with the queen couldn’t fix. Besides, she wanted to do something to better the kingdom, not cheat merchants out of hard-earned coin.

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