Trial of Magic (The Fairy Tale Enchantress #4) - K. M. Shea

Chapter 1

Angelique, enchantress-in-training and still technically a mere apprentice, sat on the back of Pegasus—the constellation—and wondered when her life had taken such an unexpected turn that she came to be arguing with a magic horse.

“I know it’s early in the day,” she patiently said. “But I don’t want to push on any farther. We’re only a short walk from Alabaster Forest, so I’d like to stop and check the border.”

Pegasus snorted and tossed his head.

He didn’t say anything—the legendary equine of the sky had only spoken to her once, and it had made a…lasting…impression on her. But based on the way he pranced and the muscles in his neck bulged (making some of the stars shining in his coat twinkle), it was pretty clear he was unhappy with this response.

“I know the original plan was to go home to Torrens,” Angelique said, keeping her voice pleasant—it wouldn’t do to further upset Pegasus. “But that was before the black mage I encountered in Zancara jumped me.”

To be precise, he’d planned an ambush for her on the road, using soldiers as a distraction while he attacked her.

Angelique had beaten him off by releasing her deadly core magic—which was a strain of war magic that allowed her to control anything with an edge. But to her frustration, the mage had still gotten away. Even worse, Angelique almost lost control of her tantalizing and terrifying magic as he fled.

It was bad enough to have proof that she was a monster; no one would believe otherwise considering her incredibly powerful and blood-thirsty magic. What made the situation a failure so bitter that Angelique could taste it, however, was that the black mage knew the location of Lord Enchanter Evariste—Angelique’s teacher and friend, whom she’d been separated from for years, and whom she’d been traveling the continent in search of. Unfortunately, she was unable to get Evariste’s location out of the mage before he escaped.

Angelique ignored the sudden lump in her throat and fussed with the black cloak, not for the sake of warmth, even though it was late autumn and the air had a cold bite to it. No, she wore the cloak for the sake of covering up the bright, ever-changing colors of her charmed dress. The last thing she wanted was to attract attention just now. With her luck, she’d stumble on someone with some kind of curse that involved love for the umpteenth time.

She twitched the cloak again and focused on Pegasus.

He was gnashing his teeth with obvious irritation, his ears pinned.

“Yes, I know you’re mad about missing that fight. But it couldn’t be helped. I didn’t have time to call for you.” Angelique sank her fingers into his coat, ignoring the odd sensation his hair produced.

As Pegasus was a constellation and not a true horse, his body was almost ethereal. His mane and tail consisted of flickering blue flames, and his body looked like night sky molded into the shape of a fearsome horse. Stars dotted his body, and a shooting star twitched across his cheek as he snorted red embers.

“But that’s why I want to stop here instead of going home,” Angelique continued.

Pegasus tucked his head so he could nibble on Angelique’s silk slipper poking out of the saddle stirrup.

“I want to linger around the border of Alabaster Forest for a few days and see if I can catch sight of any elves.”

If Angelique thought her reasoning might persuade Pegasus that stopping was for the best, she was sorely mistaken.

Every muscle in his body tightened, and for a moment she worried he meant to rear and throw her when his back hunched oddly. But when he struck the dirt road with a hoof, producing a deafening thunderclap, she realized he meant to bolt from the area—with her still in the saddle on his back.

A runaway horse might not be able to go very far, but Pegasus was no mere horse.

He could cover great distances in mere minutes. A two-week trip by horseback would take just a few days when riding him.

The flames of his mane burned brighter, and he snorted.

Angelique hurriedly kicked her feet free of the stirrups and flung herself off his back before he could bolt.

She flipped midair and tumbled, letting her shoulder take the brunt of the landing so she could roll with her momentum and pop to her feet. The roll was less glorious than it would have been if she was only wearing trousers and a shirt—the thick layers of her gorgeous dress and the