The Necromancer (Amber Lee Mysteries Book 3)

By: Katerina Martinez
PROLOGUE





The darkness was coming for me. I had been able to endure the chase for a few days, maybe a few weeks, but the darkness was implacable. Relentless. It chased me over mountains as high as clouds, through caves and cities, and across fields of grass and snow. Everywhere it went the darkness ate, turning the world black in its wake. Soon, I feared, it would catch me and consume me too—and then it would win.

But I could not allow that to happen. Though my bones ached and my muscles screamed out in pain I continued to run, fighting to stay ahead of the darkness. To stay alive. To find the one person who could help me, the only witch on the planet with the power to fight the growing darkness. With my Shadow ravens at my side I moved across entire continents on faith alone, hoping that one day I would be drawn to her energy like a moth to a flame.

And it was in a sleepy grove that I found her.

White flecks of snow clung to her red hood and cloak. Streaks of auburn hair fell lazily over her shoulders and her skin, as white as the snow itself, seemed to glow in the cold, sharp light. But it was the wolf at her side that caught my eye most of all. Tall and powerful, the gray wolf watched me closely, its yellow eyes narrow slits which promised death at the first sign of aggression. But I was no aggressor.

The wolf emitted a low growl and I felt my insides quiver. The red witch placed her white, porcelain hand in the space between the wolf’s ears and scratched, and the growl receded. This is how it had been in each of my dream encounters with the red witch. She never spoke and neither did I. Sometimes the wolf would howl into the sky and cause large black birds to scatter out of the trees. Other times it wouldn’t so much as growl.

My heart started to race. This was new. I could feel it beating hard against my chest and for a moment saw my dreaming self squirming in bed, my forehead glistening with sweat. Behind me, the darkness was coming. I sensed the cold chill as it approached, colder even than the air in this snowy glen. It was a cold that made even the Shadow birds perched on wayward branches over my head shiver with dread.

The red witch snapped her head to the left and then to the right, her copper locks cutting through the air like red blades. She could sense the darkness now too. This, too, was new. I felt, this time, that the darkness was closer. Close enough even for her to perceive, no matter how fleeting her glimpse was. The darkness was coming for me, but it would consume her too if she allowed it.

This time, unlike any other time, I felt the need to speak. To warn her.

“Red witch,” I said.

She brought the weight of her green eyes on me and stared.

“The darkness is coming. Will you help me?”

The red witch stood motionless, eyes shining on me like Jade crystals deep in the eye sockets of a statue. The moment hung like a strand of time suspended in a great vacuum, but then the statue nodded and relief came rushing at me from all sides. I sighed, smiled, and for the first time in forever felt the hopeful touch of salvation grace my skin. But the red witch turned away from me and started to walk through the trees. Her wolf followed, silently padding the ground behind her.

“I must find you,” I said beneath my breath, “But I don’t know where you are.”

As if responding to my cues, the birds took flight and began to circle around me. Tens of them. Hundreds of black, flying creatures, part shadow, part real, zooming around me so fast they encapsulated me in a tunnel of air. Then they took off, one after the other, deeper into the woods and I followed them, and followed them, and followed them, until I came across a sign in the middle of the woods.

‘Welcome to Raven’s Glen’





CHAPTER 1





I was glad to have Frank next to me at the hospital. I would have ground my fingernails to bone if he hadn’t been here, sitting with me in this sterile white hospital waiting room. Up until now my day had been fine. I was in the garden, enjoying a beautiful spring afternoon in the sun with Frank, talking about Aaron, Magick, and the future. But now my knees were bouncing up and down, my stomach had cooled some ten degrees, and I couldn’t formulate a coherent sentence to save my life.

Me? Nervous?

Never.

But Eliza was about to have a baby. Sure, babies are born everywhere in the world every single day, but this one was Eliza’s! I wanted to be an aunt way more than I wanted to be a mom and now I was finally going to get what I wanted. Of course, every good thing comes at a price, though, and for me that price was a couple of hours in a hospital waiting room with Frank and my nerves.

“Do you know what I don’t like about doctors?” Frank asked. His voice cut through the silence like a knife.

I didn’t look at him. My gaze had been enraptured by the pentacle clasped between my fingers. I was trying to pray, pray for a safe birth, and failing. “What?” I asked.

“They’re impersonal. I mean, why would I let a doctor stick a finger up my ass without taking me out to dinner—or at least having the decency of trying to get me drunk—first?”

“You can say the same about gynecologists.”

“That’s what I’m saying. It’s like they get a free pass.”

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