Every year, in the old log cabin in the heart of the woods, a face appears at the window. A haunted face, illuminated by the light of the moon with the backdrop of the dark forest. It is the same story each year, the same cabin, woman, circumstances. But not the same story. This story is her story, because behind the haunting and the shadows and the fury, there was a woman. Three years. Three years, and seven people are gone. Seven, plus her.
Years before these hauntings, in the very same woods, the village held a trial. All of those with magic, lined up in chains at the stake. One wrong move and they will be sucked underfoot. They know this well. But maybe being trampled by hundreds of feet of all sizes is a better fate than what awaits them. After all, the body, no matter how deep its wounds, heals faster than the heart.
When Rose was a teenager, she entered a dare into the woods. Everyone said La Esperanta was folklore, nothing but a story. But now, she’s eighty years old and she is the last

Table of Contents

Prologue


Every year, in the old log cabin in the heart of the woods, a face appears at the window. A haunted face, illuminated by the light of the moon with the backdrop of the dark forest. It is the same
story each year, the same cabin, woman, circumstances. But not the same story. This story is her story, because behind the haunting and the shadows and the fury, there was a woman. Three years.
Three years, and seven people are gone. Seven, plus her. Years before these hauntings, in the very same woods, the village held a trial. All of those with magic, lined up in chains at the stake.
One wrong move and they will be sucked underfoot. They know this well. But maybe being trampled by hundreds of feet of all sizes is a better fate than what awaits them. After all, the body, no
matter how deep its wounds, heals faster than the heart. When Rose was a teenager, she entered a dare into the woods. Everyone said La Esperanta was folklore, nothing but a story. But now, she’s
eighty years old and she is the last link to the dark past that Forest Arcadia hides in its thick tangled branches and twisting shadows.
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Chapter One

The breeze shakes the leaves on the tree. A few more days and they’ll be blown to the ground, floating in masses in the river’s wat... Read Chapter

Chapter Two

The peasant folk walk fast in the forest. When in the realm of the fairies and the beasts, it is best to keep your head down. Even the ... Read Chapter

Chapter Three

Thursday, August 11th, 1398:   “Grandma, tell the story again!” The little children sit at her feet, begging with th... Read Chapter

Chapter Four

“Grandma? Grandma?” Someone is tugging at her skirt hem. “Ah?” She snaps out of it, still somewhat tangled in her haze of... Read Chapter

Chapter Five

She returned every year. Time had no essence to her, she could never measure it anyway. Her brain was befuddled. How many years had it ... Read Chapter

Chapter Six

Friday, August 13, 1400. Morning.    The peasant people hurry along, baskets over their arms. They all bustle along... Read Chapter

Chapter Seven

Friday, August 13, 1400. Noon.   17 people file into the town square, shuffled along by the large crowd and jostled on a... Read Chapter

Chapter Eight

Nimue  Her feet jangle in their chains. She’d held them all back, and she knew it. Was 17 and a half a child or an adult?... Read Chapter

Chapter Nine

The trials continue despite Nimue’s unconsciousness. She stands there like a statue, her eyes forced open but not seeing anything. ... Read Chapter

Chapter Ten

Freya   Freya doesn’t understand what is happening. First they shot Circe, who sometimes gave her piggyback rides when s... Read Chapter

Chapter Eleven

Nimue   She can’t blink. She can’t move. She can’t do anything, nothing but take shallow breaths in rapid succession... Read Chapter

Chapter Twelve

Arian   Arian can do nothing but watch. Again. His limbs ache, and his muscles are tight from his previous struggle. There... Read Chapter

Chapter Thirteen

Nimue    He’d gone from her to Arian, and now he was back again, leaning close to her frozen face and hissing th... Read Chapter

Chapter Fourteen

Arian   There’s a wash of heat where Nimue’s fingers left his cheek that’s still burning. Out of the corner of his e... Read Chapter

Chapter Fifteen

Freya   A hush has formed over the crowd. They clearly don’t know what to expect, so they guess danger. She knows better... Read Chapter

Chapter Sixteen

Nimue   Her breath comes in ragged gasps as magma heats up in small fireballs at her fingertips. She can’t keep this up ... Read Chapter

Chapter Seventeen

Freya    She drops her hands, suddenly tired. But she keeps her lids open, with however much force she needs. She ... Read Chapter

Chapter Eighteen

Arian   He watches the little girl in shock. Two days ago, was it? Two days ago they were playing with the wind, and now l... Read Chapter

Chapter Nineteen

Nimue   Nimue stares at him and the children in shock. It takes a lot of power to break away, and their powers have not fu... Read Chapter

Chapter Twenty

Arian   It should take energy to keep up this amount of wind for this amount of time, but it doesn’t. He feels no trace ... Read Chapter

Chapter Twenty-One

Nimue   But then the bubble breaks. Someone grabs her, hard, and pulls her out of the line, pulling until her shoulders ac... Read Chapter

Chapter 22

Nimue   Her breath comes in short gasps. Not happy, excited ones like before that made her want to float and giggle and la... Read Chapter

Chapter 23

Arian   “I’m going.” It was a whisper, yet he hears it as if she whispered it directly into his ear, not Jinx’... Read Chapter

Chapter 24

Freya   In her mind, her hands ball up into a fist. In her mind, she can run. In her mind, she can get up and drag Nimue b... Read Chapter

Chapter 25

Arian  The longer this lasts, the more pain he feels. Every bone in his is on fire, utterly furious and dumbfounded. How da... Read Chapter

Chapter 26

Nimue   Lies. Lies. He’s telling lies. Her parents loved her… didn’t they?  She feels salty water on her... Read Chapter

Chapter 27

Arian   In one fluid motion, she’s gone. Her honey hair is swirling as she pivots, the edges of her skirt dancing around... Read Chapter

Chapter 28

Arian    What on earth is she doing? She’s been standing there for the past few minutes, no one daring to m... Read Chapter

Chapter 29

Freya   To be perfectly honest, she has no idea what she’s doing. It all comes together perfectly naturally, just like h... Read Chapter

Chapter 30

Arian   Arian wakes up in a different world. Literally but not literally. His body lies in place on stage, but his soul is... Read Chapter

Chapter 31

Nimue (30 minutes prior)   The first step is her all-doing, but she strides with a purpose from there. She walks even ... Read Chapter

Chapter 32

Arian   The blood is draining out of his face, and it’s draining fast. He gets to his feet dizzily, feeling the world sp... Read Chapter

Chapter 33

Freya   Her head sinks into her hands as she gulps back another rising sob. I’m sorry I failed you Nimue. Please forgi... Read Chapter

Chapter 34

Delphine   These children are surprising her. Although, she supposes, desperate times call for desperate measures, and sur... Read Chapter

Chapter 35

Arian   Arian isn’t really thinking as he hurries past guard after guard, throwing out one hand, then another to halt... Read Chapter

Chapter 36

Arian   He bites his tongue and looks around, for a boat, a piece of wood, any sort of vessel that would probably be usele... Read Chapter

Chapter 37

Lucifer   Arian’s hands on his back is nerve wracking. Half of him is terrified his friend will pull a knife out and sta... Read Chapter

Chapter 38

Arian   They’re on the other side now. A chill runs through him the second his toe lifts from the dry riverbank. He does... Read Chapter

Chapter 39

Lucifer   This time it is he who stalks ahead, biting back the furious word that would otherwise spill out of his mouth un... Read Chapter


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