Storm and Flame
by Mallory Wanless
Publication date: September 22nd 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Elena has always been a disappointment. Her magic is practically non-existent and now, on her sixteenth birthday, she is expelled from magic school by the strict headmistress–also known as her mother. Cast out into the world of the magically inept with only her familiar for company, Elena feels lost and alone until she meets a strange boy in the woods.
Quinn is a thief, a hunter, and a hothead. His unexpected friendship with Elena awakens a fiery side in him–quite literally–and uncovers new and surprising magical abilities. Except men aren’t supposed to be capable of magic.
With Quinn’s help, Elena carves a safe new life as a barmaid, but when she is attacked, her powers awaken with shocking ferocity. Elena’s explosion of magic creates a power surge that attracts the attention of magical investigators, sent to uncover and contain the source of the power surge.
But the awakening of their powers kickstarts an ancient prophecy. Will they be able to escape those that hunt them? Can they fulfill the prophecy, destroy the turmio and save magic from being destroyed once and for all?
“Come on. Just work, dammit,” Elena muttered to herself, trying for the millionth time to cast her spell.
Agon had stretched his lithe, weasel-like body across a long, skinny patch of sunlight on the floor of the testing room. He’d spent the morning basking in the warmth of the sun-drenched stone and flicking his fluffy blue-black tail back and forth. As her closest, and arguably only, friend, Agon knew nothing he could say would make her feel better. She was in a mood, and the best thing he could do was to leave her be.
Sparks flared and quickly sputtered out from Elena’s fingertips.
“Dammit. Why can’t I get this stupid spell right?” It was a rhetorical question, but Elena was so frustrated by her own ineptitude that she would have traded everything she owned to successfully complete a spell on the first try.
Elena was easily the worst enchantress in her class, probably the whole school. The other students mocked her mercilessly. It didn’t help that her mother, Madame LaBelle, was the most famous enchantress in the whole country, possibly the world, and the headmistress of their school. She could turn a seed into a centuries-old tree with the flick of her wrist. Elena could grow a seed into a sapling with twenty minutes of chanting, flicking, waving, and praying. Maybe. On a good day.
Madame LaBelle was notorious for her skills with magic as much as her beauty. Unfortunately for Elena, she inherited her looks from her father. At least, she assumed that’s where she got her flat hair and dull brown eyes. She’d never actually met him. In Waverly, as far as enchantresses were concerned, men served one purpose: impregnating women. The men were used and released of all parental rights, whether they liked it or not. Most men didn’t even know the woman they had lain with was an enchantress, much less that they had fathered a child as a result. The women opted to disguise themselves — bar wenches, visitors lost in the big city, damsels in need of aid on the side of the road, etc. — just to get what they needed and be gone before the man even knew her name.
It was crass and cowardly, but Elena had been raised to believe it was for the best. Men weren’t capable of raising children, especially magical ones, and an enchantress always gave birth to another enchantress. Never in the history of the world, had an enchantress given birth to a non-magical child. Or a boy, for that matter. Enchantress beget enchantress. End of story.
Elena dreamed of love and happy endings when she was younger. All the girls did, but their time at Harbor Ridge taught them that magic was their top priority, followed closely by their loyalty to the school and Madame LaBelle. Elena always felt that it was a tad hypocritical how often her mother preached about loyalty to their family — the school and their classmates — when she never paid any attention to her own flesh and blood. What sort of mother neglects her own child to favor those who are more adept at magic? Not a good one, Elena mused glumly.
Agon had been with her since before she was born, like all familiars. They were born together and stayed attached for an “unusually long time,” according to her mother. Typically, familiars disconnected from the baby’s umbilical cord within a few days before settling into their permanent animal form. Agon and Elena stayed connected for two weeks, all the while Agon remained a blob encased in the placenta. Her mother had many specialists, including a Therionology Enchantress, or an animal enchantress, come and inspect Agon and try to coax him into taking any form at all. Nothing worked. Baby Elena just spent her days cuddling “this disgusting blob of goo” and sleeping. Madame LaBelle often liked to remind Elena of how unusual that was, and how that should have been a sign that her daughter was going to be different, and not in a good way.
Agon did eventually develop into an animal; however, he didn’t change into anything anyone had ever seen before. When she was young, Elena overheard one of the scholars reminiscing with another about how they’d managed to identify Agon as a Raju. Madame LaBelle had tasked all of the scholars in the Therionology department to scour all the history books and tomes to identify him. Agon was the only known Raju in ages, and Madame LaBelle hated it. Rajus were blue-furred, weasel-like creatures that had lightning abilities. Another frustrating hiccup, as far as Madame LaBelle was concerned. Familiars weren’t supposed to have magic of their own; they were just meant to be guides to help the enchantress learn to control her powers.
Mallory lives in Texas with her husband and their two young boys. She spends her days homeschooling and full-time parenting. Her nights, and any free time she manages to carve out during the day, are devoted to reading and writing.
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