Come on boys and ghouls! It's time to hop on Route 666 for a spooktacular Paranormal Road Trip.
This week's stop is Kingsholme, Faerie and our special guide is C.T. Adams. C.T. is the author of THE EXILE, the first novel in The Fae series, and co-author of A Tale of the Sazi series, the Thrall series, the Magic series, and the Blood Singer urban fantasy series.
Keep reading for a chance to win The Exile by C.T. Adams!
A wrinkled brown creature the size of a small child wearing a blue dress comes running up and hands the tour guide a note, before running off. Reading the note, the guide pales, blinks several times, and looks around before visibly straightening. Squaring her shoulders, the tour guide turns to face our group with a bright (if not particularly sincere) smile pasted on her beautiful features.
“Ladies and gentlemen, while I know you were looking forward to a tour of the palace grounds and complex as the culmination of your tour of the capital—known as Kingsholme to the lesser Fae—I’ve been advised that a change of circumstance has necessitated our cutting the tour short. I’m very sorry, and if you check with your travel agents in a day or two, the company will have arranged a partial refund . . .”
“What’s happened?” A voice in the back of the crowd asked.
“Nothing you need to worry about. But we do want to get you back to our start point as soon as possible so that our human mage can . . .”
“Do I hear fighting? Was that a gunshot?” A young woman in a yellow sundress looks around in obvious alarm.
“There is absolutely nothing to worry about.” The tour guide’s voice is commanding and all fifteen members of the group turn to her—to find that her previously fairly ordinary beauty has been transformed into something shining, compelling and irresistible. “Follow me,” she commands.
Bemused, the group falls into line, following her through a doorway that seems to lead into the thick stone walls that buttress the east gate to the palace grounds. Inside, the stygian darkness is cut by the guide’s glowing form and a shimmering crystal clutched in her right hand. As the last of the visitors clears the doorframe the door closes with an ominous thud that seems to echo, the sound oddly muted by the layers of dust that coat the narrow stairs that lead steeply downward.
“You are being given a rare privilege—few have ever been allowed to move freely through the complex of tunnels beneath the city. Come along.”
“Doesn’t seem like much of a privilege to me.” A man in the back mutters.
“It’s awfully dirty in here.” The woman in yellow complains.
“Come along!” The tour guide’s words have a power that is impossible for the tourists to resist. So follow, they do, on what turns out to be an exhausting trek through a confusing maze, deeper and deeper into a darkness that somehow is more frightening because it is so obviously not empty. Huge cobwebs and active spiderwebs adorn corners, the webs filled with the hollow husks of insects, and, more disturbingly, the skeletons of small pixies.
“These tunnels were created generations ago in a cooperative effort between some of the greatest mages our people have ever known and the dwarves who were then our allies. They honeycomb the ground beneath the entire city and provided a means of surreptitious travel for the royals and their servitors so that they could leave the city discreetly. They’ve not been used much in millennia, but the quality of the construction shows in their excellent state of repair.”
“That path to the left,” she gestures with the hand carrying the crystal so that it illuminates a narrow way that goes forward only a few feet before narrowing and turning to the right. “Leads to one of our holy places, with ancient standing stones. It is a lovely place, but well guarded by the pixies and their allies.”
“Let’s go there. I want to see pixies.” The woman in yellow looks around, trying to gather support from the other tourists, who, for the most part ignore her, staring blankly and adoringly at the tour guide. “LIVE pixies. And I want out of this dark, dirty, tunnel.”
“Pixies can be very dangerous. And that is not our path.” The guide admonishes. “We’re taking the right tunnel. If you look you can see footprints in the dust where a group has gone before us—quite recently from the look of it.” The plastic smile has returned, with even more wattage, so the woman in yellow subsides. “It is a fairly long hike, but it will take us to an inn frequented by members of the Guard. It is very safe there, the food is excellent . . .”
“I could go for some food right now.” A man of about twenty, handsome, with a full beard, grins.
“And,” the guide continues, ignoring the interruption, “it is very close to the edge of the city.”
“Why does that matter?”
“There are prohibition spells built into the foundation of the city that make it impossible for anyone to open a veil within the confines of Kingsholme.”
“But I thought you said that the King had a permanent portal linking his daughter’s home to the palace.”
“I did. But it is the only such portal. The prohibitions had to be circumvented to create it—and the amount of power required to do so was stupendous. And that portal has now been destroyed. Now come this way.” She leads them forward, keeping a surreptitious eye on the woman in the yellow dress who keeps turning to look longingly toward the other path.
“The prohibitions were installed to prevent magic being used to transport large groups of troops, devastating weapons and the like, into the very heart of our power. But it means that we’re forced to use physical means of travel rather than magical within the city.”
“So do you use magic to move around outside of the city?” The bearded man asks.
“Of course. In fact, there are the King’s Gates—actual gates located in positions throughout the kingdom and guarded by members of the King’s Guard. They can be used to travel between one area of the kingdom to another in the blink of an eye by magic. It’s very complex magic, but very convenient.
“Will we get to use one of the gates?”
“No. I’m afraid not. Now this way please. Be careful, the way narrows quite a bit. We’re almost there.”
“But . . .” The woman in the yellow sundress stops, unwilling to go any further.
The tour guide is now shining like a star. Walking purposefully up to the woman she takes her by the hand. The moment their skin touches all of the woman’s resistance melts away. “Come along. We’re almost there. You need to go back home.”
“But I want to stay. Not here in the tunnels—ugh. But with the Sidhe, in Kingsholme. Can’t I stay.”
The tour guide’s eyes soften, and she squeezes the woman’s hand. “I wish you could. I would keep you. But now is not the time. You must be kept safe. And Faerie isn’t safe for humans right now.”
A disembodied male voice comes to them from the darkness of the tunnels they’d just left. “It never has been. And never will be.”
Thank you C.T. for giving us such a haunting tour of Kingsholme!
To learn more about C.T. Adams and her books, please visit her website. You can add her new novel Exile here on Goodreads.
The Exile Book Giveaway
We are giving away a trade paperback edition of THE EXILE by C.T. Adams to one lucky winner!
To enter, please leave a comment on this post and include your email address so we may contact you if you win. This giveaway is open to the US and Canada. Giveaway ends April 3, 2015 midnight EST. Good luck!
What did you think of C.T.'s picks for spooky places?
Last week on Paranormal Road Trip we visited Kennian with E.L. Tettensor. Next week we'll be traveling to Fairy, Texas with Margo Bond Collins.
Join us for another spine-tingling Paranormal Road Trip...
if you dare!
if you dare!