Exciting news everyone, Zahir has officially gone off to the editors and a pre-order is live!
When I say this book poured out of me after sitting on it for two years…it POURED out of me. My ADHD went into hyperfocus and I got through it in half the time I expected. I love this world so damn much and you can tell that I am thrilled to be back in this fantasy Venice.
This book picks up a couple of months after the events of ‘King of Swords’ and the epilogue in that is setting the scene for ‘Wands.’ If it’s been a while, I recommend you do a re-read of it before you jump into Zahir and Ezra’s story. You will also see some old faces from ‘King of Swords’ too, including plenty of Arkon (the attention whore that he is), Stella, Dom and Nico.
Now, depending on how quickly I get through the editing process, I will probably update this pre-order day from May to April. I’m thinking of St Marks Day, because I am a sap like that.
In the meantime, please enjoy this prologue and chapter one!
(please note, this is a draft so a few mistakes might have slipped through Grammarly. If that’s the kind of thing that annoys you, maybe wait :P)
The Last Ancient Wonder
There are many stories about Zahir the Eternal. With time, they have grown more outlandish, exaggerated, terrifying and magical, much like the King of the Djinn himself.
When asked which stories are true, Zahir has always replied, with a wink and a smile, that they all are.
If you try to point out the tales that couldn’t possibly be real for some reason or another, you would be invited to prove him wrong.
No one ever could.
One story about Zahir goes as follows; The year was 492 BC, and takes place in the city of Babylon. The powerful Djinn King has been enslaved to the Persian throne. He has been used many times for his power of foresight and prophecy, so the great king Darius demands that Zahir look into the future, to the land of the Greeks, where Darius plans to make his next conquest.
Zahir asks for three days and nights to summon his most powerful visions. This, the great Darius granted.
On the dawn of the fourth day, Zahir once again was summoned before the throne of Darius.
“Oh, wise and divine King of Kings, I have spent all of my power to divine the answers you seek,” Zahir declared. “The great Persian King will burn Athens to the ground.” This prophecy was met with much cheering by the courtiers…. until Zahir held up his hand.
“But-” he continued. “I have also seen that Persia will need more than the strength of your army in order to accomplish this glorious victory. I must travel with you to the land of the Greeks and appear to their senate as a freeman, like themselves, to spread fear and ensure they bow to you.”
“And if I refuse?” Darius demanded, for freeing a djinn as powerful as Zahir was a high price to pay.
“If you refuse, you will die defeated by these backward tribes, who are too ignorant to give you the respect you deserve. As a broken man, your body will be covered in wax, and this great glory that you would be remembered for all time will pass to another empire.”
Darius refused to give his ruling on the matter until the day their fleet sailed into the Cyclades’ blue waters. Finally, he summoned Zahir.
“You have served my family and this throne faithfully for a hundred years. I know what you want of me, but I am still reluctant to give it, and miss your wise council in the future.”
Zahir bowed low, ever the faithful servant. “Great king, I have served your throne so well and you most of all, because of my deep love and devotion to Persia. Free me, and I will serve you still. You need no ring binding me to you for that,” Zahir assured him.
Pleased by this announcement, Darius took the dull bronze ring carved in sigils from his finger, and passed it to Zahir, granting him his freedom.
“Go, my servant, and do as you foresaw. Sow animosity and fear into the Athenian hearts and minds. Prepare my way,” commanded Darius. With a parting deep and solemn bow, Zahir left the king and crossed the waves to the city of Athens.
Once there, Zahir appeared as a shining being of living flame before a general from the Leontis tribe.
“Marathon!” Zahir declared in a voice as old as creation.
“Are you the mighty Apollo?” the general asked, his face filled with awe.
Zahir’s flames rose higher. “Of course I am! Now, do as I say and take your men to Marathon!”
This general’s name was Themistocles, and he defeated Darius’s army at Marathon so thoroughly that it drove the King of Kings mad with the shame of it. When he died soon after, and his body was covered with wax, it was as a broken man.
When asked, Zahir has always argued that his prophecy to Darius was true; a great Persian king burned down Athens when Xerxes invaded some years later, and if he didn’t appear to Themistocles it never would have happened.
This story reveals two very important warnings that one must heed for their own good.
The first is that to enslave a djinn is not taming a dangerous creature. It is merely inviting it into your home so that it can learn all of the ways it can eventually destroy you.
The second is never, ever, fuck with Zahir the Eternal.
In the city of Florence, deep in a warehouse basement, Ezra Eliyahu swayed under the flashing blue and crimson lights. The music was pounding hard, and she was dancing, dancing, dancing. She needed this release like she needed her heart beat. She had drunk enough, and there was enough weed in the air, that the week’s stress dulled down and her good vibes amped up.
Raising a hand as she moved, Ezra sketched an invisible sigil in the air. Golden stars rained down from the ceiling, making the crowd cheer and gasp. Every star that landed on skin glowed and magic sent a natural high through the party goer’s blood stream.
When you can do nothing else, you dance, her father’s voice whispered to her through the music. She always thought it was one of his nonsense sayings, but as she got older and life got harder, she knew the truth in it. Her life could be a total garbage fire, and she would head straight to the dance floor. Somehow, everything would turn out okay.
Ezra missed her father every day, but she couldn’t bring herself to return to Venice. A few weeks before her twenty – eighth birthday, her mother, Lucia, had died, and for the two years afterward, Ezra and Judah had clung to each other in their grief. They had started doing magic together and father and daughter had created wonders.
It had all gone wrong when her father made some new friends in a group of mages.
The ‘Cabal of the Wise’ had creeped Ezra out from the minute Judah had mentioned them. She tried to warn him they weren’t to be trusted, that they were only out to use him. They had fought for the first time, and it ended when Ezra had packed her bags and left Venice. Six months and neither one had reached out, both too angry and proud.
Don’t think of it. Think of the music, Ezra told herself, the thorn still lodged in her heart. Blinking back her tears, she shouted a wordless sound amongst the music and noise, and sent a bigger rain of magic over the crowd. It was mere tricks compared to what she could wield. It made people happy, and that was what she was paid for.
She had planned on using her degree in magio-history to work in some museum or academia. When she had gotten to Florence, her hopes had fallen apart, and she had ended up bartending before doing party tricks. It paid the bills. Her study could wait. Everything could wait.
Two hours later, Ezra picked up her money that had been left at the bar and stepped out into the warm night. Summer was ending soon, and she wasn’t looking forward to it. Heat made her blood and magic feel like it could flow properly.
Ezra had no fear of thieves or miscreants on her walk home to her apartment in Santo Spirito. She was more than adept at self-defense and had kept a thin spike of a dagger in her boot at all times. When that failed, magic was always burning on her fingertips.
You are made for more than party tricks, Judah’s voice echoed in the back of her head. Ezra knew it was true. She just didn’t know what else to do with herself. She had thought Florence would inspire her magic and the power of creation. Ezra was uninspired to even pick up a pencil. Until she could get herself together enough to work on more complex sigil designs, the dance floor would have to do.
Ezra instantly spotted the man leaning against the wrought-iron gate that led into her apartment building. It wasn’t an unusual occurrence, but something about him made her wary. Under the glowing street lamp, his pale eyes studied her.
“Excuse me, signorina, are you Ezra Eliyahu?” he asked in a Veneto accent.
“Depends. Who is asking?” she replied, digging around her bag for her keys and slipping them between her fingers.
“I’m here representing your father’s lawyer,” he explained, taking a step toward her. “I’m sorry to tell you like this, but your father is dead, signorina.” Ezra stumbled, all thought of her safety vanishing as disbelief, anger and shock hit her body all at once. She couldn’t hear what the man was saying, his words coming from underwater. She was still shaking her head when someone moved behind her. Sharp pain pierced her neck and Ezra was out before she hit the ground.
Thanks for reading! You can pre-order ‘King of Wands’ here, and also keep an eye out in the next little while because I’ll probably post a few more chapters before release,