The Witch's Daughter (Lamb & Castle Book 1)

Free The Witch's Daughter (Lamb & Castle Book 1) by J.M. Sanford

Book: The Witch's Daughter (Lamb & Castle Book 1) by J.M. Sanford Read Free Book Online
Authors: J.M. Sanford
he could think about what he was doing, he put his nose to the strange tracks, and besides the paw prints in the snow he saw his own furry black paws. Laughter rang out amidst the trees: a horrible, cruel, cackling. He looked up to find an old hag standing before him, and the grey she-wolf at her side gazing at him with beautiful golden eyes. He tried to speak but could only whine and growl.
    “At last,” said the witch Bolgria, cackling. “I’ve always wanted a breeding pair.”
    “Just like a man,” said Meg. “Running off after the first pretty young thing to bat her eyelashes at him, never mind that she’s a wolf dressed up. Are we really supposed to believe he didn’t know, what with her ‘golden eyes’ and ‘silver hair’ and all?”
    “Obviously he was blinded by her beauty,” said Percival. “I thought Amelia told the story very well,” he added, making Amelia blush.
    Meg shook her head. “Oh dear, what romantic fiddle-faddle has your stepmother been filling your head with, Amelia? We’ll have to teach you some better stories than that.”

    In a tower far above the clouds, a handsome prince leant at the window of his study, frowning deeply as he stared out across the endless sea of white. His hair had the gloss and rich colour of new copper; his eyes almost glowed, gold as a sunset. His clothes were beautifully tailored at great and obvious expense, and his study was filled with antique furniture and fine tapestries. Opposite the grand desk hung a single enormous portrait, larger than life size, of a haughty girl with long black hair and eyes the colour of the ocean. The portrait was so exaggeratedly beautiful – so ethereal and perfect – that the young lady’s family might not even recognise her from it, but she was the prince’s bride-to-be, and no-one dared criticize anything about her to his face. The prince himself had learned rather too late how wayward and headstrong his intended Queen could be, but pride and love of beauty prevented him from letting her go. He clenched his fists and growled in spite of himself. He’d never anticipated that the girl of his dreams would force him to prove his love for her at such great lengths…
    “Archmage Morel is here to see you, Master,” called a voice, disturbing the prince from his reverie.
    The prince looked up to see a man in smart blue uniform standing in the open doorway.
    “Very well. Bring him in.” The prince straightened himself up and tried to make his expression neutral, as his Commander escorted the elderly Archmage into the study. The Commander waited at the door, ready to return Morel to his rooms.
    The Archmage wore the robes and many rings associated with his station as an elite practitioner of high magic, and his arms were full of rolls and rolls of parchment. He put down his burden on the desk, carefully disentangling his waist-length white beard before looking up at the prince. “Good morning, Archalthus,” he said, sitting down in the prince’s chair. Morel’s casual manner irritated Prince Archalthus, but even the lower level Mages could be a law unto themselves, and Morel had once been the greatest Archmage the world had known. Efforts to improve his manners only ever ended in tears and sulking.
    “Good afternoon, Archmage Morel,” said Archalthus stiffly, striding across the room to watch as the Archmage set out his work. “I hope your work has been progressing at a greater speed now that you have the extra materials you requested.”
    “You know, it isn’t that simple a matter,” said the ancient Archmage, with an air of almost schoolboyish petulance. “The time taken to develop the required elements to the state of maturity…” he tailed off, apparently having forgotten what he was talking about, distracted by the page in front of him.
    “I appreciate the necessity of taking time over a work of such intricacy, Archmage Morel. I am a man of great patience, but you are trying

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