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Chains of Obsidian

Chains of Obsidian

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Kuma and Pandora are on the run in the Eternal City, seeking help to defeat Pandora's grandfather who controls the Undercity. Pandora leads Kuma through dangerous territory to find her former mentor, Hylakane, hoping to unlock her potential and save everything she believes in from ruin.


Kuma and Pandora are on the run in the Eternal City—the deadly realm of the city fae. With her grandfather in complete control of the Undercity, Pandora knows their chances of defeating him are slim, but she's not willing to give up while she still holds breath. She leads Kuma on a dangerous journey through a realm filled with enemies to find a former mentor who she'd failed years ago. Hylakane—the Steel Sun—is an outcast, the last remaining member of Ebony Court and the only one she thinks might be able to help them. If she can't convince him to take her back as a student and unlock the potential everyone thinks she has, then everything she ever believed in will fall to ruin.

Chapter One Look Inside

Chapter One

Pain was familiar to Camina. To become a waku meant a continuous dance with the agonies of training. The best made pain their friend. During her few short months in the Drops, she'd witnessed Duro working out in a cavern, running up a vertical wall, thirty feet high, then leaping to a hanging bar where he did a hundred pull-ups before dropping to his feet, then starting all over. Camina got bored long before he'd finished. It'd been a lesson that greatness did not come cheap. The stones, while powerful, were not a shortcut to glory. They were only the beginning of a long and torturous path.

The pain Camina was experiencing now was not meant to better her, but to break her spirit. She knelt in a pool of her own blood and sweat. Minutes became hours. Hours had become days.

To her surprise, they'd let her keep the opal and amber stones attached to her belly button. Under normal circumstances, she'd use the opal to heal her wounds, but drained of energy from the constant beatings, she had little left in the tank, and what was there, she was saving in case she needed to find an early exit. It was theoretical, of course, how to take one's life using one's own opal, whispered late in the night when they'd gathered at the Academy discussing the limits of their powers. But it'd been a practical discussion given that a competent torturer with an opal could injure and heal someone for months, or years on end. Camina wondered if they'd let her keep her stones to test her will.

When a door opened somewhere nearby—she could barely see through puffed-up eyes—Camina's arms started to shake in anticipation. They were clamped in manacles and hanging above her head, and the involuntary movement made the ache in her shoulders worse.

A set of expensive leather shoes approached her spot at the center of the room, staying outside the puddle of bodily fluids. Camina spat, wishing she could mar the shoes in a pointless act of defiance.

"Release her arms."

The voice was like honey mixed with glass. Even though she wasn't the target, she felt the compulsion layered within the tones. She was being visited by a maetrie—a city elf.

The clicking of locks was followed by the release of her arms, which fell to her sides, the blood rushing back in, bringing on a new round of agony. Camina whimpered as she bent over on her knees, the shame of vulnerability long since past.

"They tell me you haven't been very cooperative."

Camina flinched. The voice felt like she was being grabbed roughly and forced to pay attention.

"I don't know anything beyond the plan, which you already know about since it's over."

"That's not what I'm asking."

Hearing him was both sweet and bitter, rich chocolate mixed with eye-watering capsaicin powder.

"Where is Pandora?"

"I don't know. I told the others the last time I saw her was when we first entered the complex. I hoped she was right behind us when we jumped into the waterfall. Your patrol picked me up at the end of the canyon and here I am."

A long pause. "Look at me."

Her head was as heavy as a boulder. Camina squinted through one partially open eye to see the leader of the Alliance clan, Dominion Thule. Some called the maetrie handsome, but he made her stomach crawl despite his superior features. He should have been attractive, but something about the sharpness of his cheeks and chin and the deadness in his eyes made him ghoulish. He wore an expensively tailored suit, probably custom made, but it did nothing to hide the fiend beneath the clothing.

"I told you—"

"Where is Pandora? You're holding something back."

"I don't know where your granddaughter is," said Camina, feeling the urge to answer every question to make the tension of his presence diminish.

A hiss sucked through his teeth. "So she told you."

"Unlike your kind, we find lying and secrets to be abhorrent."

"A weakness to be sure, one I'm happy to exploit," said Dominion. "Who was she with last you saw? Or heard?"

The answer bubbled up her throat even as she fought to keep it down.

"Kuma went back to find her instead of joining us in the waterfall. If you don't know where they are, they must have gone out another way, or followed us in the waterfall later. I swear that's all I know."

The compulsion popped like a bubble and she took a shuddering breath. She collapsed onto her knees, sobbing even though she didn't have a reason.

The voice of a second person that she hadn't realized had entered the room startled her, but she quickly realized who it was based on descriptions she'd been given. Titus Cabone.

"There was no sign of either of them. They could have gone back over the cliff."

"Kavano would have seen them if they had."

"Not if they went before the fight."

Dominion hissed. "Or he's keeping this information from me."

"Would you like me to talk to him?"

Dominion laughed. It was short, like breaking glass. "And lose your head? No. As I said when this venture began, I don't want you interacting with him. He maliciously follows orders."

"Then why do you use him?"

"Because there is no finer warrior. He might be the greatest of the eleven."

"Nothing an enchanted bullet couldn't solve," said Titus.

"I recognize your time conquering other realms might have given you the misconception you are his equal, but you are not. Take no offense. It is only the truth. Which is why I want you to stay away from him."

Even without her amber, Camina could sense the bristling of the maetrie mercenary. She wondered if Dominion was purposely planting this seed in Titus' mind. She'd heard both mercenaries came at an extremely high price. Getting them to kill each other would be an easy way to cut costs.

"Go and search the Undercity again. Check all the usual haunts at the Terreno and the other settlements. Anyone or anywhere they might think to hide. I would like my granddaughter returned to me at the earliest juncture."


"Now where were we?" said Dominion as heavy footsteps went the other direction. He stepped into the pool of blood, placing a finger under her chin. Looking into his eyes from up close felt like staring at the sun. She worried she'd be blinded.

"So young and fierce. You'd be a wonderful addition to my cadre of waku."

Camina screwed up her mouth. "Never."

"You must seriously misunderstand that word," said Dominion, chuckling. "I've made my career overcoming the word never. Call it fault that when I hear it, I find myself awake at all hours, my mind working away at it like a sculptor finding the truth in a piece of stone."

He let her chin drop, and Camina found herself desiring his touch again, which made her sick to her stomach. A moment later, one of her guards was placing a small glass to her lips and tipping her head back. If it was poison, she didn't care. Camina drank it down before she considered what it might have been. The liquid created warmth in her chest, a spark that grew to a bonfire until she felt what she could only describe as adoration for her captor. Camina warred internally with herself as she wanted to throw her arms around his ankles and kiss the soft leather of his shoes.

"What is that?" she gasped reflexively.

"Menya," said Dominion. "It will help make you an obedient and loyal waku who will do anything I ask. Even kill your friends if it should come to that."

Camina looked up, intending to be defiant, but found herself craving his attention.

"Never," she choked out, the word lacking the passion she'd intended. She felt shame and heat rise to her cheeks. Dominion chuckled and turned to the guard.

"Put her through the program. I want her working as soon as possible."

A collar was placed around her neck and she was led from the room and thrown into a shower. The guard stayed outside while she stripped and climbed into the steaming water, which simultaneously hurt and refreshed. The entire time she leaned against the cold tiles, all thoughts consumed by the picture of Dominion Thule leaning into her vision.

"I hate you," she whimpered, knowing that the combination of his maetrie compulsion and the elixir had put his hooks deep into her mind.

Main Tropes

  • Urban Fantasy
  • Magical Academy
  • Found Family
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