Umbra Series Book 1
The Queen ‘neath the Hedge
A Rumour in Georgian England
The Queen ‘neath the Hedge came from nowhere to conquer two worlds. Her Treaty unites them still, binding every Briton to their shadow selves – to their Umbra. By the 1790s, the Queen had been dead for centuries, but rumours persist that she will return to enforce and renew her Treaty.
The same rumours say she will resurrect first as a young girl or rebellious Umbra, spending time among the realms before she can grow into her powers. But, if they can find her before she regains her full strength, they can kill her and then a new candidate must be sought.
As there is no knowing who or where she is, many innocents will be killed too. But it is surely worth that price to delay her return until her hated Treaty ends. Suspicion could fall on any spirited female – including Amorrie, and the four young Gracegirdle sisters.
Death of the Borderer
It was his fourth call since he had begun to ready himself. Damn the girl. She never came easily. ‘Amorrie, do not make me summon you here. I warn –’
‘Naked.’ The word flitted into that portion of his mind she was wont to inhabit.
He did not believe her. ‘I do not care if you are at your toilet. If you are not in this room upon the moment –’
Her sound came; a lost breath entering a catacomb. A wrinkle creased the candlelight. He spun away from his dressing table, for she rarely ventured close to his mirror. A misty mouth of darkness swelled upon his crowded drawing desk, a swamp of unwashed pots, pungent scents and oily cloths where wooden brushes rose up like hunting herons. The mist congealed where the shadows congregated, consuming any lingering light, and there she was, half-sitting, half- sprawled on top of his rough sketches for the portrait of Countess Harrington and Scampion.
‘By all the Saints, Amo… you are naked.’ He threw a crumpled paint rag at her. It landed close but she didn’t move to claim it. The velvety dark earth scent of her world had entered with her.
‘Cover yourself,’ he averted his eyes. ‘Get you dressed; in finery, mind. We are out within the hour. Have you your finery?’
Though he had quickly turned away from her unsettling female form, the vision of her small exposed body dawdled in his mind. Shocked at what he recalled, his gaze jerked back. Crimson smudges daubed her pale features and its stain ran over her hands. Drops of the taint initialled her naked chest.
‘Is that blood? What is the matter with your leg?’ It was misshapen, and she nursed it with both hands. ‘Gods, you have broke it.’
Not two hours since, he had clutched at his own leg after a violent spasm of pain that he had put down to cramps.
‘It mends.’ She nurtured it purposefully, concentrating her will and forcing energy into it. ‘You will insist on calling me at the most inconvenient of times and from uncommon
‘What is it you do over there to arrive in such a predicament?’
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