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Dead Men Walking by Raquel Lyon

 

Overview: Piper thought her father’s disappearance was her biggest problem until she met Lambert and discovered her whole life had been a lie. But in the small town of Fosswell everyone lies, even the ones who are supposed to be dead.
When one particular empty coffin unearths a past heartache, Piper wants to help despite the fact that her magical interference could lead to trouble. Her training isn’t going as well as she hoped, and Lambert is a tough taskmaster. He’s also stubborn, annoying, undeniably cute, and itching to leave. So when another clue to her father’s whereabouts points to Lambert’s homeland, Piper is eager to discover if it could provide the answer to both their problems.

Dead Men Walking is the second book in the Dragonblood trilogy which is part of the Fosswell Chronicles. This trilogy has a complete story arc and can be read as a separate series or as a follow on from the Foxblood trilogy

 

Dead Men Walking by Raquel Lyon Book Chapter One

 

WAKING TO FIND HER bed on fire wasn’t an unusual occurrence for Piper, but it was beginning to annoy her.

She pulled the residual flames back into her palms and stood on the bed to waft the smoke alarm until it stopped wailing, embarrassed that everyone else in the house was getting yet another early morning wake-up call. They were probably as fed up with it as she was. She was also fed up with the sleepless nights and dreams of being burnt alive—especially considering that the first time it happened, she almost had been—but with the dragon’s breath raining down in her nightmare, her scream had ensured that Lambert came running.

Thinking about Lambert always brought a smile to her face and a twist to her heart, and he’d been on her mind rather more than he should have been, recently. She often reflected on how strange it was that someone could enter your life and totally commandeer it. The likelihood of him being her half-brother was something she’d struggled to come to terms with, but one she’d grown to accept. His strict schedule of training and naps, however, sometimes had her wishing he was a bed sheet.

She climbed from her bed and crossed the luxuriously piled carpet of her room at Lovell Towers to slide up the window sash and let in some air in an attempt to get rid of the acrid smell. A sharp winter breeze blew through the gap, promising rain, and in the distance, the clouds were already gathering above the hills. As she looked out over the extensive grounds of her temporary address, frustration tainted her happiness.

It was a beautiful building with its high walls, turreted roofline, and many rooms. The owners, Sophie and Sebastian, had been nothing but kind in allowing her and Lambert to stay, but it wasn’t home. Home had always been a small shop in the centre of town, filled to the brim with curiosities from years gone by. She could see her father now, bursting through the door, excited by his latest find from a house clearance or the local flea market, or hunched over the counter, his beard almost touching the page as he meticulously catalogued every purchase.

But those days were gone.

This was her life now.

The discovery that you descended from an ancient race of witches should be an exciting revelation for any seventeen-year-old girl, and for Piper, it had been—for about a second—before she found out it came with pitfalls. Burning sheets was one of them. Thank goodness she’d invested some of her recent windfall in a cabinet full of flame-retardant linen—which might not ignite, but did melt in rather large holes and leave a godawful smell.

Returning to the task at hand, she bundled her bed sheets for the bin and counted the days since she’d unknowingly drained her magic. With Lambert insisting she refrain from channelling any of her power until she grew stronger, boredom had been quick to follow. His orders had resulted in far too many hours spent in the Towers’ library, researching the theory when what she was really itching to do was start on the practical. But Lambert had grown up in a world of magic. He knew its technicalities and understood the consequences of its overuse. Piper had to trust he knew what he was doing.

When he’d finally allowed her to start training again, the wish to rid herself of her current affliction had been at the top of her checklist, yet despite extensive study, nightly bakings remained on the menu.

She barely had time to remake the bed and get dressed before there was a knock on the door, and as usual, Lambert entered without waiting for it to be answered. He glanced at the crumpled material spilling out of the waste bin with a frown, and Piper readied herself for a barrage of criticism, but instead, he chose not to comment, and his frown changed to a smile.

“I have a gift for you,” he said.

“You do?” Piper beamed. “I love presents. What did you get me?”

“Actually… nothing, but…” His spring-green eyes sparkled as if sprinkled with morning dew as he brought his hand out from behind his back with a grin. There was a drawstring pouch dangling from his fingers. It looked just like…

“Did you take that from my drawer?” Piper asked, a mixture of disappointment and anger tainting her voice.

“I cannot deny… I did.”

The pouch was one of the items left to her by her father. It contained nothing more than a few pieces of broken ceramics, but that didn’t mean Lambert could just help himself. “You’ve been sneaking around in my stuff?”

“My apologies, but I saw the contents on your bed that first night, and I was curious.”

“Why?”

His grin widened. “Open it.”

Piper took the pouch from him. It was much fatter than before, and no longer rattled. She opened the top.

“Careful,” Lambert said.

Puzzled as to quite what he meant, Piper gently squeezed out the item it contained into her palm. The previously fragmented white and gold enamel now had form. It was an egg—not elaborate enough for it to be Fabergé, but just as pretty—and holding it up to the light caused sections to glimmer with a silvery opalescence.

“You fixed it for me?” she said. “It’s beautiful.”

“I believe it to be Voltignian.”

Piper ran her fingers over the patterned surface. The shape was seamless, with nothing to suggest it had been formed in a mould, and it was as light as a paper cup. “Whoever made it was very talented.”

“It was not made; it was laid.”

“Laid?”

“If I am not mistaken, yes. Our schooling taught us how to identify Voltignis eggs, but I will admit, I have never seen one quite like that particular specimen.” Lambert sat on the bed and leaned back leisurely as Piper studied the egg closer. “Why do you suppose our father had it in his possession?”

“I’ve no idea, but it must be important if he left it to me.” Piper took it over to the dressing table to place it with the rest of her strange acquisitions. All of the items had belonged to her father. He’d kept them in a cabinet at the shop—his personal collection, ‘never to be sold’, he’d warned. She’d brought a few of them with her to offer some comfort in his absence, and it was only when Lambert had entered her life that she had discovered their true origin.

As she thought of her father, she stroked her finger over the egg again, and her hand froze. Around her, the room darkened. Her muscles cramped, and a wave of nausea rippled through her as she swayed on the spot, a swirling mist blurring the edges of her vision. In the centre of the mist was a familiar scene. The man had his back to her as he studied a scroll laid out on a wooden table. He rolled it up, stuck it under his arm, and started to turn. The breath left Piper’s body and her head snapped back. Lambert caught her before she fell.

“Piper? Piper, speak to me!”

Her eyes blinked once, and with one extended gasp of air, the image was torn from her. She stared into Lambert’s concerned eyes.

“Was that what I think it was?” he asked.

“Um… yes. Yes, I think so.”

Lambert eased her over to sit on the bed. “What did you see?”

“Um… Dad… maybe.”

“Surely, you would know. You are the one who has been with him these past years.”

Piper took deep breaths as her dizziness subsided. Lambert always knew exactly how to make her feel as if she’d done something wrong. It wasn’t her fault he’d never known their father, and if she hadn’t saved his life, he wouldn’t now have the chance. Was it too much to ask that he show some gratitude for the possibility?

“It wasn’t clear,” she said, finally. “There was definitely a grey-haired man wearing Chimmerian clothes, but I couldn’t see his face.”

“Next time, look harder. If our father has found a way to send you visions, we need to know.”

“Do you think he was trying to communicate with me?” she asked, wondering how that could be possible when, as far as her father had been aware, she knew nothing of her lineage—although it would make sense, she supposed, to leave behind a way to get in touch. From what little she’d learned of the other dimension, it was doubtful there were telephones there.

“I feel it more likely than the alternative,” Lambert said.

“Which is?” Piper asked as she pushed to her feet to run a comb through her hair. She’d spotted another bit of melted sheet stuck in it, and it wasn’t a good look. If she didn’t banish her fiery nights soon, she was going to have to dye her blonde hair brown to prevent any stray debris standing out.

“That you have a power very few Divimagi possess.”

“What power?”

“The power of sight.”

“You mean seeing the future?”

“Have you?”

“No.”

“Hmm. As I said, the first option is the most plausible one.”

He would think that. Despite Piper’s best efforts over the last few days, Lambert remained unimpressed by her magical prowess, and quite frankly, so did she. If her experiences so far were anything to go by, the likelihood of her having a rare power was laughable. When it came down to it, she was a pretty pathetic witch.

“Well, if he wants to tell me something, he’s going to have to work harder on his communication skills, because I got nothing from that.”

 
 

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