Love and Legends by Zoey Indiana

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Whether it’s haunted castles, witches, or hidden demons, there’s something for everyone within the pages of Love & Legends.

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“Before we see St. Michael’s Tower, you’ll want to see this. Not everyone knows it’s on the side of Glastonbury Tor, and there’s an extra special story that you’ll love.” Beatrice walked ahead of me on a thin path worn deep into the dirt. Sir Lancelot loved the walk. The little black cat pounced on grass as the wind moved it, then rolled around in the dirt, before lunging ahead to jump on something new. As we neared a few trees, Beatrice waved me closer. “This is it. Oh goodness, I get so excited every time I come here.”

I stood by her side and looked down where she pointed. In the worn dirt path sat a large oval-shaped stone, with a patch of grass growing around the base. It vaguely made me think of an Easter egg in a colorful basket with the fake plastic grass underneath. “A rock?”

Beatrice’s eyes narrowed at me. “It’s not just a rock. It’s the Egg Stone!”

I had to hold back the facial expression that would betray me as less than impressed. So it was a big, smooth rock, I didn’t see the appeal. To emphasize my lack of amazement, Sir L hopped onto the stone and perched there like he owned it.

Beatrice scowled as she crossed her arms. “You’ve never heard of the cosmic egg or any other reference to eggs in ancient history?”

“I mean, Easter eggs and the bunny were a sign of fertility adapted from paganism, so kinda.”

The look she gave me almost made me shrink back. Then her lips pulled into a fake smile, one that didn’t meet her eyes at all. “Well, the origins of this stone and the other one found on the Tor are unknown, but there are a lot of theories. Including one that marks the entrance to the path deep into the Tor. But I won’t bore you with that, since there are no real links to Avalon.”

Beatrice took two steps toward the path leading to the tower before she stuck a finger in the air. “Oh, I almost forgot. We have to make a wish.” She gestured for me to turn around, then dug in my shoulder bag. She pulled out two strips of cloth, handing me one. “I’m not sure of your faith, but it’s an old tradition here in the Isles to make a wish when you visit a wishing tree.”

She held out a long slender scrap of roughly torn purple fabric. It felt like cotton, but as my fingers slid over the material, the tips tingled. Beatrice stood next to the tree, tying it around one of the small branches. The tree looked haggard where it stood, alone from any other trees on a small outcropping for the Tor. Despite the winds, rain, and other erosion of the Tor, this spindly tree stood defiant.

At that moment, I knew what I wanted to wish for. Despite what stood in my future, I would remain strong. Defiant as I took my own path in life. The tingling crept up my fingers and into my hands as I wished for the strength to go back to my boring, stressful life and make it into a life I would be proud of. I hated my job, and it felt like every day was just pushing myself through the motion of staying alive without actually living.

When I turned toward Beatrice, she smiled from ear to ear. I moved toward the Egg Stone without conscious thought. Pressing my fingers against the smooth surface, I felt something snap inside of me. Like invisible chains broke, releasing me from a bondage I’d never realized I’d endured. A flash of purple light reflected on everything in front of me.

Sir Lancelot’s fur stood on end as he hissed. Beatrice stepped closer, her smile far more sinister than I’d remembered. “I’ve waited so long for you to show up. Who knew you’d be so damned young?” Ice slid into my veins as my head spun. “I should have known they would assign you a guardian. Except he was too stupid to realize what was happening. Now I’ll be rewarded with the power I deserve. All because of your sacrifice.”

Her hands slammed into my chest, knocking the air out of me. I fell backward as I gasped for breath. Purple light swirled violently around me. Everything else disappeared except her evil smile as I slammed my head against something hard. Then oblivion swallowed me whole. 

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