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Magia Books

The Shadow Weaver's Gambit: Unsigned Edition (Paperback, Hardcover)

The Shadow Weaver's Gambit: Unsigned Edition (Paperback, Hardcover)

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A Stand-alone Romantic Fantasy for Teens and Adults! For fans of Dance of Thieves, The Remnant Chronicles, and The Cruel Prince.


- She'll marry her enemy to take back her crown -

The city-states of Xaca and Anillo have fought for dominance in a blood feud spanning generations.

Mariela, donita of Xaca, has spent her entire life punished and berated by her own family for her inadequate magic, despite being heir to the crown. As her eighteenth birthday approaches, she is ready to step out of the shadows and prove her worth... until an assassin tries to end her reign before it begins.

Alone and trapped in enemy territory, desperation turns Mariela to the most unlikely of allies: a talkative firebird and her sworn enemy, the don of Anillo. To regain her stolen throne, she may have to sacrifice everything else.

The crown of Xaca belongs to Mariela. But is she willing to pay the price?

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    • Chapter One: Alley Brawl

      Mariela watched the fight from the shadows, not quite a part of the crowd. She could have pressed herself closer to the sparring men, but the humid air was too thick with the smell of ferment, sweet wine, and body odor. The day’s heat hadn’t broken despite the sun disappearing behind the mountains and the darkness that clogged the alley. She also knew that city guards occasionally joined the fights and the gambling, and she didn’t want to run into any she might know.
      She wasn’t supposed to be here. She wasn’t supposed to be in town, and she definitely wasn’t supposed to be betting on illegal brawls in grimy alleyways. But after dinner, when her stepfather disappeared into his office with her brother, and her mother had retired to her rooms claiming a headache, Mariela hadn’t been in the mood to sit in her bedroom alone, feeling sorry for herself.
      The fights were a great way to earn some extra coin behind her parents’ backs. They might have given her a “generous” allowance each month, but they didn’t know how much she spent wandering the city streets when she was bored and restless.
      The two men fought brutally, neither relying on their magia alone. They were physical fighters, their muscles as well-honed as their powers. The storm brewer used his magia to throw the occasional blast of wind or call up a dark cloud to obscure his opponent’s eyes, but only long enough to send a surprise kick to his ribs or an uppercut to the jaw. The man he fought against was a water healer, a skill set that wouldn’t appear to be an advantage in a fight. However, for every punch or kick dealt to him, he bounced back easily, healing the worst of his wounds even as the storm brewer continued his assault.
      Still, as she watched the contest, she knew the water healer didn’t stand a chance. His punches were weak and his dodges were slow. And sure enough, only a few minutes into the fight, the storm brewer landed a sharp kick to the other man’s head, and he stumbled, collapsing onto one knee. The crowd breathed in as one as they waited, and then the man pounded his chest, admitting defeat. More than half the crowd erupted in cheers, happy their bets had paid off.
      Mariela herself smirked from her corner, mentally calculating her winnings as two new opponents took to the circle. The leaders announce the opponents’ fighting records and magia abilities, and a handful of women and men in the crowd recorded the bets. With narrowed eyes, she placed her money on the shadow weaver. He was shorter than his opponent, but his eyes burned with a passionate hatred that could only lead to victory.
      As they settled the bets, the two bruyas began the traditional exchange of verbal punches that always made Mariela roll her eyes. The women who fought in these contests rarely bothered with this unofficial tradition, but the men always felt compelled to prove their prowess before they threw the first punch, as if it might distract from their weaknesses. Mariela was half paying attention to the words, impatient for the true fight to begin. But something shifted in the atmosphere as the two men spoke, their voices thick with vitriol.
      “You sound like a mountain cochino, boy,” the shorter man spat at the sandy-haired man across from him. “I haven’t heard an accent like that since the last Anillan was executed here.”
      “I’m from the farmlands, you racist pig,” he snapped back. “Perhaps you should pay more attention to who feeds you in this city.”
      The next response came from somewhere in the crowd. “You’re just as likely feeding Anillans, traitor!”
      A portion of the crowd appeared to agree as a sudden cheer rang out. The change in entertainment intrigued Mariela. It wasn’t often she got a first-person view of the political fights in her own city, her stepfather only too happy to hide her from these pieces, claiming to protect her.
      “The Xacan crown is responsible for feeding its people, so maybe look to them if you’re starving,” the farmer sneered.
      A few others in the crowd cheered at this, probably a scattering of other farmers or people with family in the lowlands. Mariela fidgeted uneasily, the tension in the crowd changing from verbal jabs to physical restlessness as the crowd shifted, rearranging itself into a new configuration of us versus them.
      She stepped deeper into the shadows, her back hitting the rough wall of the building behind her, cold through her thin dress. The jeers rose. Some called for the overthrow of the Xaca family, and others yelled for the destruction of Anillo. And like a fire coming to life and spreading, the violence sprang from the crowd with a crackle.
      Even pressed against the wall, Mariela was shoved and jostled as the two groups converged into flying fists. Magia sizzled through the air. The earth underneath them quaked as an earth shaker took out their anger, and a shadow weaver threw a small part of the alley into darkness, obscuring Mariela’s view of the brawl.
      She moved sideways, shuffling against the wall and trying to keep her distance. The alley was open on either side and she needed to slip from the crowd and leave before…
      Even as she moved past the brunt of the fray, she noticed a new commotion and watched as a set of city guards came running around the corner, drawn by the change in tone of the evening’s entertainment.
      “Mierda,” she cursed under her breath, pivoting and pushing back through the press of people. While at times her smaller stature was an asset, allowing her to slip through crowds unseen, now she felt like a minnow fighting against the current. As she ran, a stranger’s fist grazed the side of her face, ringing against her ear. It was tempting to stop and turn, to kick whoever had dared hit her, but she knew it would do no good. The crowd had already shifted, and she couldn’t see who had attacked her.
      After what felt like a century of wading through bodies, Mariela was spit out on the other side of the alley where onlookers were still running to join the fight. Above the cacophony of chants, jeers, cracking bones, and the quaking earth, the guards called for order. They were trying to shut down the alley and trap everyone where they were. Even if they didn’t make arrests, they would question everyone here and take down their names.
      She needed to get out now.
      Closing her eyes for a second, she tried to center herself, seeking the core of her magia from within her chest. It was a warm spark, barely there, but she pulled at it anyway, sending it out to meet with the shadows along the alley. The shadow weaver back in the crowd had been powerful, able to blanket the brawl in an inky darkness. She only managed to deepen the surrounding shadows.
      Moving with care, she pressed herself against the wall, letting the natural darkness of evening do most of the work for her. She didn’t need to bother with quiet—the alley was too loud to hear much above the riot. But she moved slow enough to allow her magia to drag the shadows with her. It wouldn’t allow her to disappear, but it would take an extra careful eye to notice her slipping away from the fight.
      And of course, because she had the luck of one cursed by the gods, as she reached the end of the alley, a guard came whirling around the corner, slamming into her. They both went sprawling to the ground.
      She rose quickly, only a little shaky on her feet as she ran. The guard came up just after her, the sound of his feet pounding in her ears.