Dark Forest: The Revelations of Oriceran, Soul Stone Mage, Book 2
By Sarah Noffke & Martha Carr
The Kingdom of Virgo has lived in peace for thousands of years… until now.
Azure froze, but then a smile broke across her lips. She’d recognize that voice anywhere. As she turned to the other side of the alleyway, a laugh of relief spilled out of her mouth. However, as soon as she saw the guy standing in the opening to the alleyway, her smile faded.
Before her stood a man who resembled Ever with his black hair and slanted blue eyes, but this one didn’t have pointed ears. He looked like Ever when he was on Earth. What stunned Azure was the guy with pale mousey-brown hair next to him. He wore jeans and a black T-shirt with a smiley face on it, but she recognized the grin he wore.
“Monet?” She squinted at him.
“I know, I look like toad poop. Believe me, I’m really not okay with this. You’ll pay for the things I’ve done to rescue you.” His voice was his own.
“You have brown hair,” she remarked, taking a step nearer to him.
“Don’t remind me. And I’m wearing a T-shirt with a fucking smiley face on it,” Monet said.
“It’s an emoji,” Ever corrected.
“Emo-whatever.” Monet brushed him off.
It felt so good to see Monet, and even Ever, but Azure didn’t allow herself to get distracted.
“Did you go to Earth to change your appearance?” Azure asked.
Monet’s eyes swiveled to the man at her back, curiosity written in them. “I wish. No, Negative Necromancer over there wouldn’t allow it,” he said, hooking a thumb in Ever’s direction. “Instead I changed my hair and borrowed some of his clothes.”
“Well, just try not to look at anyone directly. Your eyes aren’t a natural shade for here,” Richard advised from beside Azure, referring to Monet’s mint-green eyes, which had previously matched his mint-green hair.
“Is that…” Monet asked, inclining his head at her father.
“Yes, and unfortunately he doesn’t have my mother’s soul stone. We just broke out of jail, and now we have to steal the stone from the Duke.” Azure rushed through her sentences, trying to catch these guys up fast.
“Jail? That sounds fucking awesome.” Monet’s eyes sparkled with excitement.
“It’s just a place full of gray,” Azure informed him.
He grimaced, shaking his head. “Man, humans are the worst.”
“Uhhh, I’m right here,” Richard remarked, garnering everyone’s attention. Azure noticed that his blond hair and blue eyes had already returned, and his nose was back to its original shape.
“Wait, I transfigured him. Why’d his face…” Azure asked, her words trailing off as she studied Richard, who looked confused.
“Transfiguring humans is a bit more difficult. They don’t take to it as naturally, since they aren’t purely magical,” Ever explained.
“Well, how are we going to get into this event to retrieve my mum’s soul stone with him looking like that?” Azure asked. “Richard, you’ll be recognized, so we’re going to have to leave you here.”
“You can’t leave me here. I’ll be imprisoned again! There’s no way the Duke will grant me a pardon for having a witch child.” Panic had crept into his voice.
“I’ve got a brilliant plan,” Monet declared with a triumphant smile.
“Well, that’s a first,” Azure shot back dryly.
“Hey, I scaled the walls of this place to rescue your ass, so shut it!”
“Those walls were charmed to prevent that,” Richard stated.
“Yeah, about that. Humans really suck at charms, but hey, you’ve made some nice shiny buildings,” Monet told him.
“What’s your plan?” Azure asked. Her heart started to beat faster in anticipation. If they were caught here, they wouldn’t escape jail as easily the next time.
“I’ll take the emperor to the border, where we’ll pass into the Dark Forest. I’m a master at disguise and sneaking around, so getting him through the city will be easy-peasy. You two,” he indicated Azure and Ever, “will retrieve the stone. We’ll meet up just outside the border. Ever knows the spot. It’s where we left Gillian.”
“Gillian is still with you?” Azure asked, shocked that the grumpy gnome hadn’t disappeared.
“Actually, the little munchkin gave us this,” Monet said, holding up a small disc. It had a tiny red dot on it, inside a black circle.
“What’s that?” Azure asked.
“It’s a finding device,” Ever supplied.
Monet pointed to the red dot. “That dot is you. The black circle is us. We just had to keep moving until our circle met your dot. It was pretty cool.”
“Wow, Gillian actually helped you?” Azure asked.
“Don’t tell the little guy this I said this, but I think he missed you.” Monet cupped a hand at the side of his mouth in a fake attempt at stealth.
“He just wants me to become queen so I’ll supply the gnomes with our honeysuckle crops,” Azure guessed.
“Probably. Gnomes are so self-serving,” Monet agreed.
“Which makes me think you’re half-gnome,” Azure said before turning to her father. “Monet will take you to safety. You’ll most likely be okay with him, although his stories are dangerously boring and he’s offensive enough to piss off an orc. Try and stomach him while you’re together.”
Richard nodded, pressing his lips together. This wasn’t like anything he was accustomed to, but he was making a show of being brave.
Azure slid her gaze to Monet, giving him a half-smile. “Don’t get caught! No messing around, just go straight to the border.”
“Yeah, totally. Don’t worry your little blonde head.” Monet winked at her and strode forward, waving for Richard to follow him. “Hey, do you have any money? I’ve been dying to try some more human food.”
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