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Strange & Sundry Magics

When freshly graduated witch Velta Quorrie finds the skeleton of the King’s Champion in her swamp, her plans of a quiet life studying magical plants are uprooted. The kingdom of Gishkel will fall to a dark invasion if there is no Champion to defend them. An ancient prophecy says so. Velta might not believe in prophecies, but the ghost of the Champion, Berrick, sure does. He won’t leave her alone until he’s certain the kingdom will be safe. 

To Velta, the answer is easy: the king just needs to name a new Champion. When he does, no one is more surprised than Velta when the King chooses her. Now she and Berrick have to figure out how to be a hero using brains instead of brawn.

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Sneak Peek

There was a skeleton in Velta Quorrie’s swamp, and she had no idea how it got there. 

Perched on her broom, the young witch looked down at the gleaming skull that sat in the murky water. It was deceptively close to the surface, resting in a patch of grasping aloe. Thick tentacle-like leaves wrapped around the skeleton and the golden breastplate it wore. Nutritious and helpful for burns, the plant was one that Velta harvested regularly. It was also, unfortunately, quite carnivorous. 

Unwary travellers only had to place a foot too close to one of its leaves and the aloe would wrap around them, pulling the unfortunate soul underwater to drown. The heavy breastplate would have made escape nearly impossible for the traveller. 

Reaching into the satchel hanging from her broom, Velta pulled out a small glass bottle of sea salt. Bottle in hand, Velta slipped off her broom and lowered herself into the water. Freshly fed, the aloe stirred, but was sluggish as it reached out to wrap one of her legs in a strong tendril. The water was up to her mid-thigh, and if she didn’t act quickly, Velta risked becoming yet another plant meal.

Unstopping the salt vial, she shoved her hand down as deep as she could without having to put her face underwater. Shaking the vial, she let the water dissolve the salt and carry it to the base of the aloe. The tendril around her leg twitched, then let go as the whole plant recoiled, squirming its leaves over itself to clear its surroundings of the saline water.

“Hah!” Velta said. “I know your tricks.” Pulling her hand back up, she tucked the now empty vial into her belt and pulled free a small sickle. Its sharp blade sliced off one of the aloe’s outermost leaves and with a grunt, Velta pulled it out and draped the leaf over the handle of her hovering broom. It curled around the wood instinctively, a clear jelly oozing from where it had been cut. 

The skeleton posed a bigger problem, however. Now that the aloe had let it go, Velta could see that a heavy shield and sword were still grasped in its hands. It would be too heavy for her to pull free, even using her broom for leverage. But she couldn’t just leave it here. Someone with armour that shiny was important, and too often witches ended up on the sharp end of misunderstandings when important people turned up dead.

Leaning over the water so her nose was almost touching the surface, Velta looked for something smaller she could take. Reaching down, she rummaged around the bones and her fingers caught on something small and around, about the size of a coin that had fallen into the hollow of the breastplate. Pulling it free, she wiped the mud from its surface underwater. 

A medallion gleamed on a simple golden chain. She was lucky that it hadn’t been strung on leather, or the aloe would have consumed that, too. Tucking the treasure into her vest, she hopped back onto her broom and made for home.

It was a beautiful day in the swamp. Shafts of sunlight pierced through the canopy overhead while frogs sang and dragonflies buzzed past with jewel wings. Velta had set out early that morning to gather some supplies for her dissertation. It was while she was looking for the patch of aloe that she had spotted its latest meal. She was used to finding fish, birds and other small animals that fell prey to the grasping tentacles, but a skeleton in armour was new.


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