Less than 30 days to the release of book 2. I think it is definitely time for another sneak peek.
A Taste of Your Own Magic
Agents of A.S.S.E.T. Book 2
Sample Chapter 3
Game night was supposed to be fun. Unfortunately, no one sitting around the small table in her kitchen had gotten that memo. Rage simmered below the congenial smiles, passing like an infectious disease with the rotation of the dice. Barely nine o’clock, and all the temper tantrums and interruptions had worn Sage’s nerves as thin as the cards she held in her hand.
Dice clattered against wood.
Mournful howls followed.
Outside her tiny kitchen window, silence beckoned; still and calm. Not even a breeze dared disturb the sleeping trees. A picture perfect summer evening, just beyond her reach; peace that sharply contrasted with the raised voices and empty threats flying around the room where Sage sat waiting for her turn to enter the fray.
“You’re stunned for two rounds, Matt,” Josh called from behind his Game Master’s divider. “Or wait. Hold on a moment. Do you remember the number on the red die?”
It shouldn’t take a degree in calculus to figure out if a player failed an attempted attack, but this wasn’t their normal dungeon crawl.
Julie had already scooped up the dice to take her turn, a blessing in disguise that prevented any further argument over what number the die had landed on.
“Forget it. I’m stunned. Let’s just keep going.” Matt’s tone carried a raw edge that failed to mask the annoyance he’d been desperate to hide. He was more than partially to blame for subjecting them all to this hellish fantasy land. His boyfriend Josh had command of their fate as Game Master. Matt could have taken one for the team and said no when Josh demanded they all play his new game. But love makes people do stupid things.
Coward. Sage groaned and sank lower in her chair, wishing she possessed the magic to melt into a puddle under the table and slither away. If only. Magic or not, her turn to roll the dice would come soon enough. Death might be her only way out.
Julie took her turn, whooping and cheering as she successfully snuck past the Black Mage.
The dice landed like a judge’s gavel in front of Sage. If she played her cards right, she might be pardoned. She took her deck in hand, spotting a winning combination, and a smile etched its way across her face. Luck, at least for the moment, had chosen to be on her side.
“It’s hero time!” She laid her playable cards on the table before taking her roll. “Does the Black Mage have any last words?”
“You can’t use those!” Josh pounced with the speed of a cat before the dice hit wood.
She ground her teeth audibly while Josh scrutinized her cards.
“You need Divine Aura to protect you against the Mage’s attack.” He shoved the cards back toward her.
“I have magic immunity in my abilities.” Her temper on a hair trigger, Sage teetered on the edge of a self-destructive rage quit that might end game night forever. If he would just let her use the cards she’d chosen…. But no, another damn interruption. Another look at the rule book. At this rate they’d all die of natural causes before reaching the main boss.
“No one has immunity to magic.” The moment the words left his lips, Josh ducked behind the flimsy shield of his Game Masters folder. It wouldn’t protect him from the angry mob staring at the top of his head. Sage might have been his latest target, but she was far from his first. All the others around the table were shooting murderous glares his way. Nearly every turn had necessitated the same pause to check rules. The Game Master controlled the fates of everyone around the table, but clearly Josh hadn’t bothered to study before subjecting them to this indie dungeon crawler; a game that hadn’t passed the crowd-funding phase of production.
“Magical immunity is an innate ability,” Sage argued, slamming her remaining cards down on the table. “I don’t need to use Divine Aura if my character already has a natural defense.”
“Who has magical immunity?” Matt cut in sharply, targeting Sage with his anger. “Where does it say that on your character sheet?” His words were more accusing than inquisitive, and as soon as Sage realized what he’d implied, embarrassment replaced the rage she’d been ready to unleash. Confusing fantasy and reality, she’d nearly let her secret slip.
Among all those she counted on as friends, Matt alone knew that Sage was part of a magical lineage as old as time itself. The Terras had once been members of the three magical races, but when the Great Mother chose them to be her soldiers - and guardians of magical law - their active powers had been exchanged for innate magical immunity.
Short of the gods themselves coming to strike her down, Sage felt certain she would never need to fear a Shadowrunner’s deadly mist or an arc of conjured lightning from an Ethereal Pixie. Fae, Otherkin, Fair Folk–whatever name they chose to go by–none could harm her with their power. But, just like in the rule-books of the games she played, there must always be balance.
Sage’s gift negated any magic she might hope to conjure for either good or evil. Characters can never be too powerful.
Had she been raised to know all of this, keeping the secret wouldn’t be an issue. But Sage had only recently learned about her special lineage: an inheritance passed down with the death of her mother.
All at once, magic bled like an open wound into every aspect of her life, and with the veil lifted, she saw the truth of what lurked in the shadows and peeked behind the masks magical creatures wore. A crash course that left Sage’s head spinning as she questioned everything she’d ever known.
She opened her mouth to reply to Matt, but no words came. What explanation could she give him or the others now glaring at her? Interruption number…whatever. Her fault.
Josh lifted his head behind the shield of his GM folder, impatience etching deep lines across his forehead.
Awkward silence hung like a fog in the air. Her mind had gone blank.
“I… uh…” Sage had no explanation for her near slip as she gave up the pretense of searching her character sheet. “I guess I didn’t add that. Whoops.”
Julie pushed back from the table. Her chair scraped across the floor like nails on a chalkboard drawing attention away from Sage. “Since we’re on a break – again – anyone want a beer?” Julie helped herself to one from the fridge.
Matt’s annoyance deflated into exhaustion. Sage could see it in his eyes – the desperate pleading for the game to either start going somewhere or just end completely. “Cheating isn’t going to get us through this raid.” He held a red die in his hand. “Divine Aura. Throw down the spell and roll for it.”
Sage pulled the card from her stack and laid it on the hand-drawn map next to her character token. She rolled the twenty-sided die and closed her eyes, praying for a ten or better.
“Two,” Josh called from behind his GM folder.
“Dammit!” Sage yelled.
“Your shield spell failed.” Josh pulled up a page as he rolled his own blue die. “And I rolled eleven, so it looks like… you’re dead.”