Tangled in Magic: the beginning of the Karakesh Chronicles

Chapter One

Agatha Flees Hawk Hill

Agatha strapped her dagger around her hips, preparing to escape from her childhood home. At fifteen, she refused to be married off against her will. Her uncle Chaucey may have considered Santer, his counselor, an acceptable husband, but she did not.

Santer was half-warlock. He had left his apprenticeship early to manage Sir Chaucey’s lands. Fifteen years younger than Chaucey, the counselor was still old in Agatha’s eyes. He was a slim cobra of a man, given to wearing hooded tunics and sliding soundlessly through the stone hallways.

Agatha had always avoided his company. His slitted gaze made her uneasy. Everything about the older man repulsed her, from his yellowed teeth to the way he flicked his tongue like a snake.

She would not stay in the manse another day. Instead she would run away to seek her twin brother, Malcolm.

Until today, Agatha believed her twin brother had drowned, along with their parents. But after a surprise visit from Aunt Viola, news of her brother set her head spinning.

Her twin brother could still be alive.

Agatha descended the spiral stairs in her soft boots. No one intercepted her. Chaucey and Santer were snoring at the oak table, their heads resting on their arms, legs flung out and loose. The strong sleeping potion she had dropped into their goblets after supper had done its work.

Sliding past them, Agatha paused for one last look at Chaucey, her guardian for the past three years. His beard, once reddish-brown, was now dull and threaded with gray. His eyes, even in rest, were wreathed in wrinkles.

“He was not unkind to me,” Agatha thought, “but he did not care for me. He only cared for his dogs and his birds.”

She didn’t spare a glance for Santer, the counselor. Good at his job of managing the estate, the man was a snake in all other respects.

Agatha left through the scullery door.

By the light of the moon, she crept out to the stable of Hawk Hill Manse, and hastily tightened the girth on the saddle of her gray mare, Manakshi–a gift from Aunt Viola for Agatha’s fifteenth birthday.

Manakshi nuzzled Agatha’s cloak looking for a treat while she fixed the saddlebags. She froze when the horse knocked into a wooden bucket. The clatter it made on the cobbles disturbed the birds in the mews.

She began to lead Manakshi past the mews to the stable door when there was a rush of beating wings.

Archer, her uncle’s prize gyrfalcon, left her perch and landed on the grille. Agatha stifled a squeak of surprise. She stared nervously at the bird who stared back with unblinking onyx eyes.

“Take me with you,” said Archer.

Agatha soon learns that Archer is a valuable companion on her quest. She also discovers that Santer is pursuing her. Meanwhile, Malcolm records his harrowing adventures in a journal. Will Agatha reach Malcolm before Santer succeeds in destroying them both?

Tangled in Magic is also available at www.handersenpublishing.com

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