Fire witch Deirdre only knows how to run—from the magic she broke by avenging her coven, and from the corrupt witch who’s hunted her since. When she returns to her homeland—a fae-protected forest—she faces an ultimatum: heal her powers or resume her perilous exile. But time is short. Her pursuer approaches, endangering her newfound coven. Deirdre must fix her magic if she’s to stand and fight.
The sun was setting by the time Deirdre finished drawing the protection runes across the roof tiles. She stretched her stiff back, watching the light stream through the canopy, only to wince when the worn shingles dug into her legs. It had taken hours to fix the roof, but at least she would finish with daylight to spare.
As she worked out the knot between her shoulders, warm light painted the glade surrounding the abandoned stone cottage in hues of orange and red. A charming sight, and yet her mind tripped at the thought of the long twilight hours that would follow, wondering if she would find sleep this night.
Neck aching, Deirdre groaned as she picked up the final tile. She adjusted her bit of charcoal, working out the last piece of the rune. It had been tedious, reviving each tile from its dilapidated state, but it felt good to work with her hands, to stir a little life into the place. Better still, it served as a distraction from her audience.
The ceaseless muttering of the fae rose above the warbling of birds and calling of insects. In the three days since her return to this forest, they had stalked her every move, their never-ending gossip droning in her ears. Fire Child, they called her. And she’d heard worse as she straddled the steepled roof, readying the cottage for the next storm.