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The Consumption of Magic (Tales From Verania #3)
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Sam of Wilds faced the Dark wizard Myrin and lived to tell the tale. Granted, the battle left him scarred, but things could be a hell of a lot worse.
It’s not until he reunites with Morgan of Shadows and Randall that he realizes just how much worse things could be.
Because the scars have meaning and hint at Myrin’s true plans for Sam and the Kingdom of Verania.
With time running out, Sam and his band of merry misfits—the unicorn Gary, the half-giant Tiggy, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart, and the dragon known as Kevin—must travel to the snowy mountains in the North and the heart of the Dark Woods to convince the remaining dragons to stand against Myrin. Along the way, Sam learns secrets of the past that will forever change the course of the future.
A reckoning is coming for Sam of Wilds, and there is nothing he can do to stop it.
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I: Meridian City
Chapter 2: That Time I Got It in the Face in Meridian City
EVEN NOW the Darks march toward Meridian City where the people sleep, unaware of the fate that awaits them. At my word, the city will be razed. And they will have my word, Sam. As an example to you. This will be to show you that you are on the wrong side. That you cannot win. Morgan and Randall were weak. They still are. There will be a new order, one that will begin with you and end with me. You can either join me or watch as I tear your whole world apart.
Oh, I would, Sam. You’re playing with the big boys now. The stakes are a little higher than what you’re normally used to. Their deaths will be on your head, every man, woman, and child in Meridian City. I told you once that I would rip the lighting-struck heart from your chest.
Trust me when I say I will do just that.
IF THE City of Lockes was the brains of Verania, then Meridian City was its diseased heart that beat strong and proud, always on the verge of exploding. It was debauchery and sin, dirt and grime. The underbelly of Verania sought refuge here, the liars and the cheats, the thieves and the murderers. People could disappear here never to be seen again. Or their bodies would be found the next morning facedown in the gutters, the working boys and girls stepping over them on their way home from a night of turning tricks. You didn’t fuck with Meridian City or it would make sure it was the last thing you ever did.
I loved it. Maybe it was because it was everything I wasn’t. Maybe it was because I knew it could chew me up and spit me out. Maybe it was because the people here tended to be more honest about their sins instead of putting on false faces like most in the King’s Court did.
Or maybe I just loved it because it was wrong. I could never live in Meridian City. I could never even spend any length of time in Meridian City. When I left, it always took me a day or two to clear my head, to get back to being the Sam Haversford I knew I was. Mama always said that even with all I’d done, even with all I’d seen, I was still too innocent and pure to last in a place like this. I’d thought for the longest time that she’d been insulting me in that razor-sharp way she did so well. It took me a while to figure out she meant it as a compliment, that I could still be the way I was, regardless of what I’d seen. “You’re not jaded, precious. You’re not corrupted. You’re the sweet sunshine on a stormy day, and I will always want you to be that way. Now get the fuck out of my sight. I have a business to run, so unless you’re a paying customer, I don’t have any more time for you.”
And I’d always done as she’d asked, given that both she and I knew I would never become one of her paying customers (or better yet, one of her working boys, much to her chagrin).
Mama ran the Tilted Cross, the only gay brothel and tavern in Meridian City. Some unfortunate soul had attempted to open another one before my time, but the story goes that Mama accidentally burned the place to the ground after she headhunted all the working boys and girls. No one ever attempted to open another gay brothel in Meridian City again. Mama was terrifying like that.
The fact that the Darks were descending upon Meridian City told me that they—and Myrin—had no idea who they were fucking with.
But I still remembered the vision I’d had when Vadoma had blown her mindfuck powder directly in my face. I’d been at the gates and Meridian City had been on fire, the screams of the working boys and girls rolling over me as they burned. Something had exploded, and a guard tower had fallen, the Darks surrounding the main gates, and there’d been magic, so much magic rolling from them, tearing through everyone and everything.
So I expected the worst as the day wore on, as the Dark Woods below gave way to roads I’d traveled upon many times before. Morgan wasn’t answering the summoning crystal on his end, and I thought we’d arrive to see Meridian City razed just as Myrin had threatened.
So imagine my surprise as the city came into view… and nothing appeared amiss.
There was no plume of smoke.
The city walls and gate stood as they always had.
“What the hell?” I asked as Kevin began to descend toward the ground. “Did I miss something?”