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Emma L Adams

Faerie Curse: The Changeling Chronicles Book 5 (Paperback)

Faerie Curse: The Changeling Chronicles Book 5 (Paperback)

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Book 5 of 7: The Changeling Chronicles

When the leader of the local witch coven is murdered, all evidence suggests foul play of the faerie variety. With a group of anti-supernatural assassins running around town, I have to figure out their connection with the dark faeries before my best friend Isabel, the new coven leader, becomes the killer's next target.

Nobody ever crosses the witches and escapes unscathed, but with the ancient Sidhe, all bets are off. I need to have my wits about me, otherwise one mistake might spell the destruction of our world.

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“Never mess with a witch,” I said.

My friend Isabel, the witch in question, nodded to me as I set up a tracking spell outside the wide, one-floored building. Once, I’d pretended to be a witch to hide the fact that I’d stolen my magic from a lord of Faerie. I didn’t need to lie any longer, but I was still more than happy to act as Isabel’s assistant to find out who’d been stealing supplies through the coven’s back door. Nobody ever crossed the Laurel Coven and got away with it. That they’d been robbed three times in a week was as unlikely as a faerie getting the sudden urge to join the necromancer guild. This time, the thieves had even had the nerve to leave graffiti behind. The unreadable words, smudged by rainwater, stood out above my head as I activated the tracking spell.

“The thieves struck a couple of hours ago at most,” Isabel said. “That means the tracks will be fresh.”

I nodded. “Unless they covered their traces.” But if they’d managed to steal from the witches’ stores, then they must know how to avoid detection. Especially as a significant number of the spells inside the store were used to erase evidence. There were two main branches of tracking spell: those used to track a location—usually a person’s—and those which involved looking into what had recently happened in a certain place. With the second version of the spell, I’d get a glimpse at the last person to walk on this particular patch of pavement—except for Isabel and me, of course.

One disadvantage to tracking spells was that they played like old movies with no sound. As green glyphs swirled up both my arms, my vision tunnelled. For a few seconds, I saw nothing. Then, figures walked out of the door to the warehouse.

All four wore black and had their hoods pulled up. From their posture and the way they walked, I’d guess they were human. One turned and locked the door, and then they walked away.

“Dammit.” I hadn’t expected them to come out wearing name tags, but come on. Hooded figures in black masks. Really helpful for identification. Which, of course, was the point.

I withdrew my hands from the tracking spell, and the circle collapsed into fine powder. Isabel threw down a cleansing spell which would obliterate our own DNA traces in case anyone else came near.

“See anything useful?”

I shook my head. “Masked people. They didn’t use magic. Not faeries, and probably not shifters either. I’d say human.”

But why—and how—would non-supernaturals, humans without magic, steal supplies from the coven? Only a witch could make a spell. Non-supernaturals couldn’t even use one—which at least explained why they hadn’t erased their traces.

Weird. Definitely weird.

“How many?” Isabel paced to the door’s side, careful not to tread where I’d put the spell.

“I saw four come out of the door. One of them had a key, or something that locked the door again.”

“No signs of how they broke in to begin with?”

“Lock pick?”

“It’s trapped.” Isabel pointed to the faintly disguised shadow spells on either side. “I found them disabled—like the last two robberies. Whoever our thieves are, they know how to detect and negate spells.”

“So they have a dispeller?” The device revealed and negated certain spells. But the only one I’d seen was Vance’s, and they weren’t easy to come by.

“Maybe. Or a counter-spell.”

“But only someone with magic can use one. Not to mention, if they could do that, they could have thrown a cleansing spell down to erase their traces.”

Isabel sighed. “I’m going in. Cover for me?”

“You sure?”

“Nobody’s inside. We reset the wards right after we found the break-in.”


My eyes followed the movement as she unlocked the door. The dark, wide room lit up, fluorescent overhead lights casting everything in soft tones. One of my hands rested on the sword strapped to my waist and I unsheathed it a couple of inches, but no blue glow warned me of faerie magic. Boxes and crates filled most of the space inside, overflowing with spell ingredients of all kinds.

I positioned myself so I covered the door, ready to run inside and help if anything went wrong. Though if an aggressor waited inside a storeroom filled with spells, they’d be in for a nasty surprise if they tried to jump Isabel. My best friend might be mild-mannered, but stealing from the witches’ stores was an unforgivable crime.

I glanced inside, then knelt to check on the shadow spell hiding the wards at the entrance. Standard security wards, which detected threats and prevented anyone from passing by who wasn’t a witch. In fact, they’d gone one step further. I rested my hand over the ward and met an invisible barrier. They’d fixed the ward so nobody aside from a select few—the members of the coven—could walk through without meeting resistance. An iron boundary, also disguised, kept faeries out, and the door itself was reinforced in iron, too. I suspected there were other wards hidden under more shadow-spells around the immediate area.

I didn’t wear one myself. Shadow-spells didn’t work as effectively on me as they used to. My magic was only visible to those with the Sight—in other words, anyone with faerie blood. Problem was, to those people, I looked like I’d taken a bath in neon blue glow-paint. In other words, stealth was a hell of an issue. Especially considering I was faerie bait whether I used my magic or not.

On cue, a passing piskie spotted me and let out a high-pitched screech. I stood as still as possible, willing my magic to die down. The glow dimmed, but the faerie had already spotted me.

“Shoo,” I muttered, waving a hand.

The piskie, naturally, flew towards me, colliding with the barrier on the door. There was a popping noise, and the small creature shot into the air like a cork from a champagne bottle. I winced at the noise. It was mid-June so it wouldn’t get dark for another couple of hours, but nasty things came out to play in the evening.

Until last year, I’d slipped by under the radar, killing any rogue faeries out to cause trouble but never acquiring a reputation that went beyond the relatively insular mercenary guild. Half-faeries didn’t stare at me openly as they did now, and the mages hadn’t known it was possible for a human to have faerie magic. Even now, only a handful of people knew the full story.

My sword’s blue-tinged glow warned me of approaching trouble. I rested my hand on the hilt, where glyphs were carved in the faerie language I couldn’t normally read. The sword, which I’d christened Helena, was a replacement for Irene, my old iron blade. Forged in the faerie realm from one of their ancient trees, this blade was the physical manifestation of the magic I’d stolen from a Sidhe lord. In addition to boosting my speed to levels which would let me keep up with a faerie, the talisman was stronger and sharper than any other blade I’d seen. I was fairly sure it physically couldn’t break, too, which was another major bonus in my line of work.

Movement in the shadows. I swung my sword to the right in time to decapitate the flame-wielding creature sneaking up on me. Fire imps. They always travelled in packs.

The blue glow of my magic, combined with the bright red-blue blood dripping down the side, brought five more imps scurrying out, yowling.

“Oh no, you don’t,” I said as they ran for the nearest alley. We were on the brink of witch territory where it overlapped with a non-supernatural neighbourhood. I wouldn’t let anyone fall victim to their pranks.

With a quick glance behind me to make sure Isabel wasn’t being attacked, too, I went after the fire imps. Magic burst from my palm and slammed into all five of them at once. I’d toned the attack down, but it sent them flying in all directions. A fireball flew past my head. I deflected it, my magic humming like a blue force field between me and the miniature fey-kind. They might be small, but the buggers packed a hell of a magical punch. They’d once skipped past the wards on our flat when my old employer had had them switched off, and set Isabel’s flowerbeds on fire.

Apparently not taking the hint, a fire imp leaped into the air. “Evil Sidhe!” it shrieked, brandishing a knife the length of its arm.

I used my shield to deflect another two fireballs and caught the imp on the end of my sword. Magic burst through the blade, sending the imp’s head flying into the air. Oops. I still hadn’t quite got the hang of imposing limits on my magic when something was attacking me. 

Three swipes and I’d taken down all the imps except the last one. Glancing down at the bodies of its fallen companions, it glared pure murder at me and threw a fireball at my head. I conjured another shield, knocking the fire imp aside as it swiped at my hand. The knife caught the edge of my finger at the same time as the fireball bounced off the shield. The imp howled, caught in its own fire attack, and I finished it off with a single stab.

I grimaced, tossing my hair over my shoulder. I’d tied it back, but blue-tinged faerie blood had splattered it, plus my leather jacket and jeans. I’d perfected the denim-and-blood look. My lifestyle didn’t give many chances to make fashion statements. Luckily, the wound on my hand was shallow.

Isabel appeared behind me, raising an eyebrow.

“Faeries,” I said in explanation.

“Of course. I leave you for five minutes and you’re bleeding in an alley surrounded by bits of dead faerie. Ivy, I think you have issues.”

“You think?” I wiped my bloody hand on my sleeve. “Find anything in there?”

“No.” She frowned. “Not a sign. It’s bizarre. If the thieves really are humans, non-supernaturals, they’d have left DNA traces. Only a witch would know how to erase them. Or a mage, but the mage guild is where half the delivery was bound for in the first place.”

“It won’t be a mage,” I said. “Any rival witches in the area?”

“No. And people in our coven wouldn’t have reason to steal supplies. We’re allowed to take as many home as we want to, and we have keys to the storeroom anyway.” Her forehead creased. “I’m missing something.”

“The graffiti?”

“The what?”

I pointed. She squinted at the neon paint. “What am I supposed to be looking at?”

“The words. I can’t read them, but it’s definitely writing. Not our alphabet, though.”

Isabel turned slowly to face me. “I don’t see it.”

My heart sank into my shoes. “You don’t see the writing?”

That meant one thing. The writing was glamoured.

Faeries were responsible.

Isabel’s face told me she’d had the same thought. “It might not have been the thieves who left it. There’d be no point in leaving a message for us if we can’t read it.”

Unless it was for me, I couldn’t help thinking. I had more enemies than I could count, almost all faeries… but there was no reason whatsoever for the person stealing the witches’ supplies to assume I’d wander over here and see the message. I couldn’t even read the damn thing.

Isabel gave me a concerned look. “Did those faeries who attacked you…?”

“Nah, they didn’t know me,” I said. “Must be a coincidence.” This time, anyway.

“Didn’t know you personally, or didn’t know about…” She looked at my sword.

“Both. It happens sometimes.”

Though less often than before. Every half-faerie, at least, knew I was Ivy Lane, faerie killer and wielder of a branch of faerie magic most half-bloods would envy. I had run-ins with faeries almost every day. Most wanted to kill me or at least cause me a minor inconvenience. Some, like the exiled Sidhe lords and their gods, wanted to burn the world down. But I hadn’t met one of those since I’d let one escape nearly six months ago.

I frowned at the message. Faeries wouldn’t steal witch spells. They didn’t like any magic except for their own. In fact, of all the supernatural groups, I couldn’t think of any who’d have reason to steal from here. The necromancers and mages had arrangements with the local coven so they received the best spell supplies before they went on sale to the public. Perhaps a little unfair, but the mages shouldered most of the risks when something supernatural went awry. The next largest batch of spells went to the local mercenary guild, though there was too much demand and they often had shortages. It was actually down to some of the changes I’d made since joining the mages as an unofficial adviser that the mercenaries had more access to spells than before—not that Larsen, their boss, showed a jot of gratitude for it.

Shifters were typically distrustful of most spells and didn’t frequent the market. Which left regular, mundane humans as the most likely suspects. Considering the wards outside had been disabled, they must have had the help of at least one magic user… or someone with witch or mage blood. Hmm.

“So there’s no DNA traces, no tracker imprint, and no way to identify them,” I concluded. “I’d say checking the road’s probably a waste of time because other people will have passed by… On second thoughts, nobody ever really comes down here.”

“Worth a try.”

Isabel used the tracking spell this time, at the corner where the road intersected with the main street to the shopping district. I, meanwhile, pulled a small notebook from my pocket to copy down the odd text. Then I joined Isabel. An expression of concentration crossed her face as the glyphs of the spell overlapped, green light bathing her dark skin. Then she blinked and the spell vanished.

“You’re right,” she said. “Hooded figures. They came from that way.” She pointed. “Not the town.”

Both of us turned to face the street’s opposite side, where a high fence cut through the road. Beyond was a series of warehouses.

“You mean they climbed over the fence?”

“Unless they looped around the other way.” She frowned. “Seems a hell of a weird way to commit a robbery. If they were intent on eliminating traces, they’d have stolen a cleansing spell and used it.”

“Huh.” I considered this. “So they avoided the main road, but didn’t have the foresight to know you’d use a tracker. That doesn’t sound like someone who knows how witch spells work—unless they wanted us to see. What did they take?”

“That’s the thing. There are some cleansing spells missing. But they didn’t steal any others I’d expect of thieves, like cosmetic enhancement or illusions. They mostly took tracking spells, and nothing dangerous. I keep all the explosives at the flat. They didn’t touch any of the protective spells, nor the iron boundaries.”

“So you mean to say they robbed the witches’ most secure store and didn’t steal anything important?”

“Yeah.” Isabel shook her head. “I can’t think why anyone would go to the trouble of stealing trackers. They’re all but useless to non-witches.”

“Hmm.” Even if I went with the most paranoid scenario—that the person who’d left the message wanted to find me—they didn’t need a tracking spell. Or even a phone book. The mages’ manor was one of the most well-known buildings in town, and the entire magical community knew Vance and I were together by now.

Yeah. It definitely didn’t make sense.

“Maybe we should hang out by the market and see if someone brings an unusually large shipment of spells,” I said. 

“Just what I was thinking.” Her eyes glittered with amusement. “It’s been a while since we got to experiment in cloak-and-dagger.” But a steely undercurrent to her words betrayed her annoyance. It wasn’t every day that Isabel’s top-notch witch-enchanted spells malfunctioned.

“Anything else?” I asked her.

Isabel shook her head. “No. I’ll run through some more tests, but our thief has slipped away again.”

We turned our backs on the warehouse to walk home.

Isabel and I owned a business which specialised in investigations—particularly involving the faeries. Half our jobs or more came from the mages, thanks to Vance Colton, head mage and my long-term partner. The rest was made up of independent clients who couldn’t afford the mages’ fees. Even with my ex-boss’s attempts to sabotage us, Isabel and I had done just fine since I’d quit working for Larsen. Thanks to the reputation I carried around with me, everyone looking for help with rogue faeries had flocked over to Isabel and me.

My phone went off as we reached our flat, a one-storey block on the brink of witch territory. Isabel and I owned the whole building now—our flat was on the bottom floor and the offices for our business at the top. I paused to check our own wards were intact, just in case.

“Ivy!” yelled Erwin the piskie, flying out to meet us.

“Hey, Erwin. Have you seen anyone here?”

“No bad faeries.”

“Good.” He answered the same every day. Isabel and I had long since given up on trying to evict our guest, so we compensated by putting him on guard duty. The piskie might have less brains than a gnat, but he’d got the hang of keeping an eye out once we’d drilled it into him a few times. It helped to have one of the fey-kind watching for trouble, especially when Isabel was alone here—she didn’t have the Sight like I did, and couldn’t see through faerie glamour.

Isabel knew it wasn’t the usual faeries I’d asked him to watch out for. Our many tripwire spells, including plant-eating cacti, were enough to take care of most threats. No—my biggest fear was a faerie would walk past the iron wards like it was nothing. I hadn’t seen Fionn, former commander of the Wild Hunt, since he’d disappeared after Calder had woken him up. Fionn had made my powers look like a joke. I’d failed to put him back to rest, which meant he had free run of all the realms. Unless he was enjoying freedom in the Grey Vale too much to come back here.

My phone went off again.

“Vance?” Isabel said questioningly.

“Yep.” I pulled out my phone. “Date night.”

“Nice.” She opened the flat door and Erwin flew in ahead, making noises like an out of control motorcycle.

I turned back to the wards. “Maybe you should put an alerting spell somewhere out in the garden in case our friend who left the message decides to show himself here.”

“Good point.” She frowned. “These robberies don’t make any sense at all.”

“Tell me about it.” I headed to my room to change out of my bloodstained clothes and into something nice—which admittedly had a high chance of acquiring its own set of bloodstains by the night’s end. Trying to get on with life with faeries around didn’t come without its challenges.

Once I’d changed, I left the flat for my second home, the manor belonging to the mage guild and the property of Lord Vance Colton.

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