As a boy, he hadn’t thought much of what he was entitled. He would succeed by simple fact of his birth order. As knowledge of his talents spread through the realm, his hold on the succession became stronger. Now with the safety of the auspicious one secured, the Elders had wanted to quickly name a successor before things in Hell got out of hand. Before they lost their chance to have a formal leader at the brink of war.
War. He didn’t fear the imminent chaos and massacres. He didn’t care if his life were cut short. He was a human, after all. And in this supernatural world, their chance to play at the game always ended earlier than the others.
For the hundredth time, Miller went over everything he planned the say. Unease tucked into the folds of his stomach. He had called the Elders quite suddenly last night, asking for a meeting. To his surprise, they said they needed to see him also. Why would they need to see him unless they had suspected what he wanted to discuss already? He bit his lip. They knew.
Had they called him over to depose him before he had even succeeded?
It had happened twice before in the House of Witches recorded history. The Elders had declared the heir at the time unfit to rule. But that was in the old days. Once had been a coup by one of the Elders and another time the main branch of the Lang family had produced an individual later discovered to have poisoned his older sister. A cousin had been chosen instead.
Those were extreme cases. His powers in witchcraft were known throughout the realm. Perhaps he wasn’t the most personable witch ever produced by his family, but he certainly hadn’t done anything that would give cause to lose his rights. At least not yet. If he said what he planned to say today, it would be cause enough. He supposed he had always known it could come to this.
The door opened and Miller knew this was his signal to enter. He strode inside, hoping his tangled nerves didn’t show on the outside.
Elder Patrick, James, and Sebastian sat around the circular table and motioned for Miller to sit also. Patrick, with the snow-white hair and friendly smile led the fold at seventy-nine but it was James, the second eldest who clung to life by a wheezing thread. A green pallor suffused James’ face and the once tall man barely filled his chair. Sebastian was the youngest of the Elders and Miller had always considered him a trusted friend.
Miller pulled out the plastic chair and sat down gingerly, eager to hear why he had been summoned and to say his piece. That’s when he noticed the book.
A large, leather-bound tome sat in the center of the table. Its brown binding darkened at the edges, likely from years of handling. The thick pages showed yellowing in the center. The book’s age spoke of its importance, but he had never seen it before in his life.
Patrick spoke first. “Tomorrow is the day of your succession and as is customary for all those who ascend to rule the House of Witches, we pass the Book to you.”
Miller again glanced at the book but said nothing.
“Rule comes with a price,” James added, his voice barely above a whisper. “It’s a price that all those who have headed the House of Witches have paid. It’s a price you too, must pay. But only if you want to.”
“The Book contains the origins of your family,” Sebastian clarified. “Only those who succeed are allowed to read the contents inside. We hope it will help you.”
Miller stared in skepticism at the book. If they expected him to finish reading that thing overnight, it was a tall order, but certainly not impossible. Especially for him.
“Help me with what?” Miller asked.
The Elders exchanged sad looks before Sebastian said, “To break the curse.”
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the author is illegal.
Thank you for supporting the author's rights.