An extract from Cornered Magic (The Void Series Book 1) by Charissa Dufour.
Sam took one look at the bodies and averted her eyes, as though she had no say in where her eyes looked, but the image of what she had just seen remained etched on her consciousness. At least three bodies, maybe more, hung on display, their limbs arrayed over concrete left slippery with more blood than she thought possible.
She absently noticed that Amber, the gentle empath, had already clamped a hand over her mouth. In fact, most of the small mob had their eyes on the floor and hands over their mouths. No one was handling the row of bodies well and for very good reason.
Sam steadied herself and forced her eyes back on the first body as she walked through the hastily-formed walkway made for Mr. Newberry and herself. Sam didn’t much want to draw nearer to the bodies, but if she was the fae’s unofficial investigator—ironically working for their lead suspect—then she had to look closely at each body.
Before she could give them a close examination, the whole room seemed to fill with panic as a wave of horror washed through each person. Sam felt it too, almost drowning in it. The all-encompassing emotion nearly brought her to her knees before she realized its source.
Sam jerked her gaze to where Amber stood, her gaze fixed on the macabre scene laid out before them, her bottom lip trembling and tears dribbling down her cheeks unheeded. The crowd was quickly losing control, the powers of each individual fae coming out as they fought the overpowering emotions spreading out from the empath.
One fae was already creating fire where none should be. Thankfully, he was standing next to a water elemental who accidentally put him out. Next to them a man with tentacles was tripping his neighbors. Beyond them, stone spikes were appearing in the ceiling. Electricity jumped from one rack of hooks to the next, released by a one extremely scared fae. A fae with the power of speed raced in circles, weaving through the group and knocking over those unfortunate enough to step in her way. The results were quickly shifting from comical to dangerous.
Sam gave Amber’s arm a jerk, trying to drag her attention away from the bodies. It didn’t work. In desperation, Sam slapped her friend across the cheek.
Amber blinked, her eyes focusing in on Sam’s face. Sam tore her beanie off and shoved it on Amber’s head, pulling it down until it covered Amber’s eyes from the sights surrounding them.
Sam could feel Amber’s emotions ease away from the crowd, but the mayhem did not cease. Sam could still feel her gift raging against her own defenses. No doubt the others had no idea how to control their own gifts after Amber’s emotions had drawn them all up into a frenzy.
Foolish humans, she thought. Didn’t they realize how stupid it was to cram all these powerful fae into a tiny space, like cattle?—all pun intended.
She took Amber’s hand and closed her eyes. Slowly she focused on each fae’s magic that raged around the slaughterhouse, sparking off the various contraptions. They were as numerous and as different as they could be. Sam had no idea what this many different types of powers would do to her, but she had to try something.
With all the concentration she could muster, and Amber’s stabilizing touch, Sam gave each power the tiniest jerk with her own Void magic. It was just enough to knock them off their feet, so to speak. The various fae stopped their antics and stared at her.
She had just done what they all feared. She had taken their powers, but she had taken so little and done it so carefully they couldn’t be angry however much they might want to be.
They stared at her, and she at them, waiting to see what the other would do.
Slowly, the crowd dispersed.
Sam stayed with her back to the crime scene. “Amber, I need you to go get Jason and bring him back here. Now. Fast.”
“What’s wrong?” asked one of the fae clan leaders.
“You want a mage here?” asked one of the other men.
“Sam?” was all Amber said as she lifted the beanie enough to peek at Sam.
“Now,” whispered Sam as she raised a hand to forestall any further questions from the clan leaders.
Her fingers crackled with power—electricity, fire, and droplets of water all trying to jump between them at the same time while the digits faded to invisibility. The world began to spin as Sam grappled with her reality. She knew it might be a mistake to take from various fae at the same time, but the effects were proving to be more than she could handle. She needed help.
And Jason seemed to know the most about Voids.
“Get the mage,” she repeated as she stumbled to her knees, the worried thoughts of the others fading in and out of her consciousness.
Slowly, the world around her went black, and she slumped to the bloody floor.
Charissa Dufour in her own words:
Question one: Who have been the three greatest influences in your life, and why? A literary influence. A moral influence. And somebody you just love the heck out of.
Without a doubt, the greatest literary influence has been Anne McCaffery. While many other authors have contributed, Anne McCaffery the author of the Dragon Riders of Pern series, specifically the Harper Hall trilogy within that series. Melony was the first character formed by words that I connected with. Melony was all my brokenness, all my insecurities, and all my hopes and dream for the future. I couldn’t help but feel that if she, of all people, could find her community, then so could I. Ironically enough, I found my own community when I became a writer.
It is so hard to pick one moral influence. My integrity is built on the foundation of so many various people. If I had to pick one, I guess I’d say my maternal grandmother, Susie Huddleston, may she rest in peace.
As I describe her, I may step on some toes due to our own pasts and heartaches. My grandmother married a man who had fought in WWII. Long story short, he returned home shell shocked to the extreme. The hospital’s shock therapy didn’t help matters either. Even when he got frightening and violent, she did not divorce him. She did get a restraining order to protect herself and her children, but she did not abandon him or turn to another man. While still protecting her children from harm, she walked through life with him—in and out of the Veterans Hospital in Roseburg, Oregon. I realize that we all have our opinions on whether or not she had done the right thing, but I think none of us can say that she acted without integrity. She had made a vow to this man and she kept it, regardless of the damage done to his mind and the threat it had created.
Lastly—whew!—someone I just love the heck out of! That is easily my bff Jordan. Much like my grandmother and her husband, Jordan has stuck by me through thick and thin. We met when I was fighting the beginning of a life-long illness. Instead of writing me off as useless, he befriended me. Seventeen years later and we still talk on a daily basis even while we literally live oceans apart. It is the single friendship in my life that will last until we’re in rocking chairs screaming at the children to get off our lawn. So, in short, I just love the heck out of him!
Question two: What is your secret vice and where do you indulge in it?
Considering the amount of blogs that want to know this, I’m not sure it is a secret anymore, but that would be cereal. Like I could eat a bowl of cereal for every meal every day for the rest of my life and I’d good. I mean, I’d likely be dead shortly after starting this, but I’d be happy.
Question three: You can make one unbreakable law for the benefit of the whole of mankind. What law do you make, and why?
I probably shouldn’t make the law that cereal magically has no calories anymore with this new power of mine. So since that is off the table, I think I would make that law that everyone pays 5% taxes, no more no less: regardless of how rich or poor they are, regardless of whether they have an energy efficient refrigerator, or regardless of how many children they have. We all are equally responsible for our country, and while we shouldn’t all pay the same dollar amount, I believe we should all pay the same percentage of our income. With this simplified system, we could also decrease our government spending by eliminating most of the IRS.
On top of all this, we could stop arguing about who should pay more or less on taxes and we could move on to more important matters.
Which brings me to my next law *she says magnanimously*… I like being master of the universe…
About Charissa Dufour
My journey to become a writer began in 8th grade, when I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and pulled from school to recover. During this time, I was left alone for hours on end and it was then that I discovered new friends within the pages of books. I also learned the blessing of creating my own friends by writing down the stories that plagued my lonely mind—as demented as that sounds. Therefore at the ripe age of fourteen, I wrote my first novel. It sucked! But I kept going and now I am an Indie Author with numerous books out. I never imagined that first horrible novel about a man who crash landed on his long-lost home world would turn into a lifelong passion.
I now live in Chicago, IL with my amazing husband and two rambunctious cats, Groot and Rocket.
You can find Charissa Dufour on Bookbub, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The Void Series is available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Smashwords.