A Court of Spells and Hexes Sample



Chapter 1

Come to the world Lillon now, or thousands of lives will be lost. That’s the message that interrupted my dinner. The day had started off so well too. I was with my boyfriend eating the best food that ever existed…

 Bellgot chicken. Too bad it was only sold on the world Bellgot. Well, that wasn’t really a bad thing. I loved coming here to eat it.

Bellgot chicken was a whole chicken, cut up and mixed with baeq peppers, thelee herbs, and garlic. Then, they tossed these long, curved noodles into a thick Bellgot sauce.

They sold this dish at the Runjup café. That’s where I was at the moment. My boyfriend Tix sat at a different table a few feet in front of me. His plate was filled with beef ribs.

Tix and I were very different in appearance. Tix was tall, six feet two. He had long black hair that curled around his shoulders.

Since he was a witch like me, he had signs and sigils tattooed on his skin and on his great big, massive arms. I’m not kidding, those things were huge.

Me, on the other hand, I worked out, but my muscles didn’t bulge like his. Also, I only stood five-eight and my orange-tipped purple hair stopped right at my neck.

We were different, but perhaps that’s what made it work.

Tix raised his glass of wine and toasted to me. I toasted back. Tix and I owned rival hexing firms, so talking about work was always off-limits.

I slurped some Bellgot noodles into my mouth. I didn’t care how sloppy I looked. “There’s food on your chin,” Tix said, speaking into my com.

I slurped some more then started to answer. Before I could, my digit beeped. Digits were smartphone-shaped communication devices with millions of functions. But they could change and rearrange to any shape or size.

I swiped to check the message. My brows furrowed when I read it. Come to the world Lillon now, or thousands of lives will be lost, it said. My digit tightened in my hand. Thousands of lives… What the?

I heard a slurping sound and realized I was still eating the Bellgot noodles. Who was this message from? I heard a chair scrape and looked up. Tix had stood, tucking his digit away. “I have to go,” he said into his com. “Business.”

I nodded, waving him away. I’d see him later tonight. For now, my mind was focused on the message from Lillon. I called my partner, Red. We owned Arched Designs together.

Red was a speeder. His speed made building houses a lot easier. Red opened a portal to the Runjup Café. He walked up to my table with confidence and swag. He was a tall man with skin just as pale as my own.

He had red hair that hung loosely around his shoulders. Red was the party type. He loved a good time, and had since we were teenagers.

He was a love ‘em and leave ‘em, guy. Never the same guy twice. Until recently that was. For this last year, he’d been dating a prostitute named Thunder.

Now, whether Thunder still worked the corner or not, I didn’t know. I didn’t like him, so I never asked questions about him. He was just too intrusive in our lives, always popping up, no matter the situation.

Red looked around the restaurant. The café was filled with delicious food smells, all wafting through the air, invading my nose and tastebuds.

Red sniffed, then licked his lips, hand on his stomach. “I missed lunch and dinner. Don’t judge me.”

When I didn’t answer, he grabbed me by the elbow and hauled me up. “Let’s go, Driz. I got the same message as you. Let’s just give it a look. If we don’t like what we see, we can leave.”

I hurriedly spooned more Bellgot noodles into my mouth, while he dragged me away, leaving a large stack of cash on the table.

We entered the world Lillon at the height of the day. Cars buzzed by in the sky, going at speeds that’d make your hair blow back.

We must’ve entered the business section of Lillon because I noticed many people dressed in suits and holding briefcases.

Red pointed to a tall brick building, checking the coordinates on his phone. “It’s right here. They should have the wards down because they called us here.”

Most companies and homes were warded up. No one liked uninvited guests. The wards on my home were designed to let a select few in without question, but for anyone else, well… They’d best knock at the front door and wait for me to answer.

With Red and I owning one of the top hexing companies, competitors were always after us, trying to steal our hexes and rumbles. We did what we had to in order to protect ourselves. We would always protect ourselves.

Red looked around, the street was quiet, not too much noise. Everyone was either on their digit or their phone. They walked with their heads down, noses buried in their devices.

Red nodded his approval. “At least it’s not violent.”

I had to agree. We’d had our share of violence lately. I was happy for the reprieve. We walked to the front doors of the building together and waited until they were opened to step inside.

Busting into the doors of a business without being let in was a good way to get your head knocked off. Even if you had been invited to said business.

The name of this place was Roch. I had no idea what they did here. I hadn’t had time to look it up. But from the black marble floors and accented walls, I’d say the place was pretty high-class.

A woman with short blonde hair and orange eyes smiled at us. She didn’t offer her name and we didn’t ask. People could be cagey about personal details. I understood, so I never pushed.

“This way, please.” She led us to a large conference room. I started to comment on the décor of the place, but my words froze in my mouth when I saw the other occupants in the room.

Tix was here. I stared at him, searching for an explanation as to why he was on Lillon too. He’d left dinner abruptly. This must’ve been why. He’d gotten the same message as I had.

Not only him. Thunder stood and smiled. Thunder was only a year younger than Red and me. Where we were twenty-nine. He was twenty-eight. He was a tall guy with green hair and a jagged scar across his face.

He was a hustler, used to working the street. He had a toughness about him that I admired. But some of his behavior still made me suspicious. I didn’t trust him just yet.

Thunder carried an air of ruthlessness about him. Those who crossed him didn’t live long. He made a motion like he was tipping his hat to me. My jaw set. He didn’t have on a damn hat. He could’ve just waved.

Elliot stood beside him. Elliot was from my homeworld. He was a top wrecker, but what a pompous asshole. I had a sneaky suspicion he was dating my brother, who was also a pompous asshole. So the two fit well.

Elliot was a tall black guy with dark brown skin. He had orange hair that was constantly falling in his face. It was loose, almost reaching his shoulders.

He also had brilliant orange eyes. Orange eyes that’d bamboozled my brother, apparently. They were both so smug, and self-righteous. I hardly understood how they could stand each other. But somehow, they seemed to get along great.

Perhaps they spent all their time looking down their noses at others. Elliot was smart and from a high-class family. He may have been a pretentious jerk, but he knew what he was doing when it came to spells and rumbles. I respected him for that. 

He smiled at me and winked, like we shared some great secret. Never one to be rude, I nodded at him. It was the best I could do.

My brother Trick was already a handful on his own, but Trick and Elliot together… Well, let’s just say family dinners were a lot more interesting now.

I looked at all three of them. Why were we gathered here like this? What was really going on?

I took a deep breath, the scent of pine needles hitting my nose. I sniffed again. It was a pleasant enough scent, but I was more of a eucalyptus guy myself.

I walked across the maroon carpet. It was deep and my feet sunk into it. The walls were the same color, as were the table and chairs.

I frowned, suddenly feeling like I’d gotten lost inside of a large red grape. It was kind of suffocating in here. Not a pleasant atmosphere at all. But this was a place of business. I imagined cutthroat decisions were made here, so I understood the atmosphere.

A tall, slender lady stood at the front of the room. She looked to be about thirty, dressed in a black dress that stopped just above the knees.

She had shoulder-length green hair, pale skin, and blue eyes. She was a beautiful woman. There was an elegance about her. Yet, her eyes were hard, unyielding. This woman wasn’t to be trifled with.

“My name’s Star,” she said. Her voice was low, but not quite baritone.  She motioned to a long table, with six chairs under it. “Have a seat.”

I walked past Tix. This was business. We’d talk later. Red and I sat at one end of the table. Elliot sat at the other. Thunder and Tix sat in the middle.

Star’s face was serious, severe. “I’ll get straight to the point since time is not on our side. I know who you are. You five stopped the Plague from happening. Don’t look at me like that. More people than you think know about what happened with the Plague.”

I cleared my throat. Well, she’d certainly thrown me off my guard. The incident with the Plague had happened six months ago. The Plague was a device that could’ve killed millions as easily as blinking an eye.

And yes, we five in this room had been key to stopping it. I shook my head. That should’ve been my first clue as to what this meeting was about. Why else would all five of us be in the same room again?

Star kept talking. “I’ve met with every wrecker agency on Lillon. None can help me. You five stopped the Plague. You’re known as the Rampage Wreckers. Or Rampage Witches. Different word, same meaning.”

I sat up more in my chair, a feeling of unease going down my spine. Rampage was the name of an all-consuming rumble or spell. It tore through a business or home, ripping apart everything in its path.

It tore at the very foundation of a business, figuratively and literally, leaving nothing but dust in its wake. Who would call us that? We weren’t deranged lunatics.

I looked at the others to get their reaction. A small smile tugged at Red’s lips, though he kept his head low. Probably so I wouldn’t see it. 

Tix’s brows were drawn tightly together in deep concentration. Maybe he was trying to figure out how to stop people from calling us that before it got out of hand.

 Elliot looked horrified. Like this would mess up his pristine reputation.

Thunder grinned like this was the best news he’d heard all day.  

Star went on talking like she hadn’t just called us a bunch of murdering crackpots. “I need your help. Each of you will be paid twenty million dollars for your participation.”

Red and I shared a quick look. That would mean forty million going straight into the coffers of Arched Designs. It was a nice payday and one we needed. We’d created a rampage a year ago and destroyed a business. A few of our clients had run from us because of it.

A year later, we were just about recovered but this payday would put us back over the top. Still, we couldn’t get ahead of ourselves. Also, depending on what she wanted, the price could go up.

We charged based on the complexity of the job. It didn’t matter how many other firms she had working with us. Our prices wouldn’t waver.

Red waved a hand at her, leaning back in his chair. “We’re listening.”

Star reached for her digit. Digits were shaped like a regular smart phone, hers was silver. She stretched it, until it was as big as the table we sat under.

Then she swiped at it, casting an image to appear in the air in front of us. It was as long and wide as the table. Digits had lots of capabilities. This was just one of them.

I looked at the screen. Ten people were on their knees. Their faces were bruised. Blood leaked from their throats and mouths. One lady’s ear looked like It’d been sawed in half.

The man beside her no longer had eyes, they’d been gouged out. The man on his right had hands, but the fingers had been sliced away.

My mouth went dry. I gave Star a hard look. Why the fuck was she showing us this?

“Who are they?” Tix asked before I could.

Star pointed to the man missing his fingers. That’s our high king, Taddis.

She pointed to a woman whose neck was leaking blood. Her hair appeared to have been ripped out in chunks, leaving bits and pieces here and there. “That’s our high queen, Meou.”

She pointed to the man whose eyes had been gouged out. “That’s our second high king, Fadious. Lillon is ruled by three. It’s been that way since the beginning of time.”

She shook her head. “They’ve been captured. All three of them, along with key members of their families. They’re on the world Crutch. It’s a prison world.”

Star’s eyes turned to ice. She balled her fist tightly, then released it. “We don’t know who took them. If we did, we’d invade their world and kill ten generations of their family!”

The tight set of her jaw told me she meant every word she spoke. “We get these encrypted images, but they’re hexed so tightly, none of the other hexing firms have been able to break through with a trace.”

“So you want us to crack the hex?” Elliot asked, a bit of caution in his voice.

Star looked at Elliot, then at the rest of us. “You are the Rampage Witches. You own the top hexing firms on your world. But breaking the hex is only part of what I need from you.”

“You want us to rescue them.” I licked my lips. I could still taste the Bellgot chicken on my tongue. “Perhaps they did something fucked up. Who are we to intervene? Why wouldn’t the Warden let them go?”

Star looked around the room. “The Trien aren’t popular on other worlds. He’s probably getting a nice payday for torturing and killing them. We already tried that route. It didn’t work. His prison. His rules. We’ll deal with him at a later date.”

She swiped the image on the digit away. “Look, if you rescue them and later find out they deserve to be there, you’ll find a way to drop them back on Crutch. I already understand that.”

Well, she was right about that. There was no use lying about it. No, I didn’t have some unyielding sense of justice. But I also didn’t like bullies. I wouldn’t let people be hurt and do nothing about it.

Another thing I couldn’t stand was being lied to or played for a fool. If that’s what Star was doing, she’d pay for it. She must’ve researched us thoroughly. So she probably knew how lethal it was to cross any of us.

She nodded. “I understand who I’m dealing with. I know the risk. The Lillon Trien are callous and brutal when the occasion calls for it, but they are never unnecessarily cruel. You can talk to the people of Lillon and get their take on the Trien.”

The people of Lillon were probably trained to never speak out against their rulers, but if there was enough discord, they’d eventually let something slip.

Red and I shared a look. We were close enough that sometimes words weren’t needed. “We’ll think about it,” Red said, speaking only for Arched Designs. “We’ll let you know when we come to a decision.”

Star began to gather her things. “Let me know tomorrow. I’ll meet you here at the same time. The air’s tense here on Lillon. Speculation abounds. If we don’t do something quickly, the people of Lillon will attack any world we’re on bad terms with. I’d like to stop that from happening, but my hands are tied.

“There are three worlds, in particular, we have a problem with. They could’ve attacked the Trien, but what if they didn’t? If we attack them, they will attack back. If that happens, millions of lives will be lost on both sides. I beg you. Give me an answer tomorrow, so I can cool the temperatures on Lillon.”

I stood, thinking it over. Crutch was a vicious, harsh world. They had top wreckers there. If we went there and started breaking hexes, we could find ourselves in worse shape than the Trien.

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