Blood for the Spilling
Warlock in Training series
Sheets of ice are spreading across the human world, ushering in an ice age as the magic drained from Demonside turns that world into a desert. Angus and reluctant warlock Terrance have defected from Vinland to the Mayan Empire—a land of dark and potent magic. But the Mayans aren’t offering sanctuary for free.
Nor is the world willing to stand back as Vinland attacks, and the backlash will affect all magic users.
Mage Saka has no tribe. He is now just another refugee fleeing the dying Demonside. He knows the conflict brewing now will be worse than the first demon war. Countries are banding together—not just against Vinland, but against all magic. Where will the powerful Mayan Empire stand?
Angus might have the power to fight Vinland and the Warlock College, but the cost will be terrible. Saka is torn between helping Angus and stopping him. And Terrance would do anything for Angus, but he’s terrified of the man Angus is becoming, even as Saka is warming to the idea of a relationship between the three of them.
No matter what choice they make, victory will be bittersweet, and when the ash settles and the snow melts, nothing will be the same.
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Angus had been returned to his apartment and ignored for the last few days. Was Cadmael hoping the isolation would make him more compliant?
The air hummed with insect life as though nothing were wrong with the world, but the sky was an odd, sickly green. Angus had been watching from his balcony as the sun set. He had nothing more pressing to do with his time, and he’d yet to work out how to escape from his tower prison.
Not that anyone called it that.
The magic dampeners were featherlight on his skin, not like the ones in Vinland, and he was tempted to experiment to see what would happen if he did some magic. Would alarms go off? Would he get a visit from Cadmael?
He was in no rush to see the priest.
He ran his finger along the balcony railing. Terrance was out there somewhere, Saka was unreachable, and every breath hurt. He’d lost the people he cared most about. What was the point? What exactly was he fighting for?
He didn’t give a shit about the correct use of magic, but he believed everything should be kept in balance. He didn’t really care who was in power in Vinland as long as they weren’t screwing it up for everyone else.
Maybe he was just fighting for himself and the right to live his life the way he wanted. In that case, he was doing a shit job of that too.
Suddenly the hairs on his arms drew tight and the temperature dropped.
He lifted his gaze to the green, boiling sky as a flash tore across. He shielded his eyes with his hand, and the familiar feel of magic tingled across his skin as though he were raising power. It had been so long that he gathered it to him just to feel the rush. The scar on his chest warmed and then burned.
Then the breath was taken from his lungs.
His back hit the glass door, and the building shook as though the magic-laced air were trying to pulverize him.
Panic made him throw up a circle in defense, but it wasn’t enough. Sirens and alarms were going off. Then as quickly as it had hit, the wave of magic started to recede and drag everything with it. The magic Angus had pulled to himself wanted to flow out of his body.
That was not a good thing.
Nails scratched the inside of his veins trying to tear all magic from him. It hurt worse than Demonside slowly draining him, but the result would be the same. He resisted and used everything he had to keep the magic within him. When his body wasn’t strong enough anymore, he reached out to the building, to the magical dampeners and the wiring beyond. Light bulbs hissed and cracked, and the building shook as though it were being ripped in two.
His teeth were going to be pulled from his head, and his nail beds ached, but if he let go, even for a breath, he was dead.
Whatever was happening was trying to kill him by taking the magic that was part of him. He hadn’t survived for this long to be taken out by some kind of storm. He pressed his nails into his palm deeply enough to cut. Drawing blood didn’t bother him anymore. His own had been spilled so often. He peeled himself off the door long enough to run his palm and his blood over the railing to create another line of defense.
The dragging sensation faded. The building still quaked, and other buildings did too. It was as though the ground were trembling.
Was there a spell in the storm to harvest magic?
His breath came in hard pants, and he was on his knees by the time everything went still and the sky brightened to pink. Alarms echoed across Uxmal, and his apartment was ringing as the dampener screeched its warning.
His head was ready to split open, and red stained the front of his shirt. He peeled it away from his skin to see that the mark Saka had carved into him had been torn open as though the wound were fresh.
Around him, the metal and stone glowed as though lit from within. He should go inside, but it was too noisy in there. He’d be better off trying to heal himself outside. Something hot and sticky hit his lip. He wiped it away with the back of his hand, not surprised to see more blood staining his skin.
He lay down on the warm, glowing patio to rest.
That he was alive seemed amazing, but if that storm happened again tonight, he would be fucked.
Finishing a series
With the last book in the series out I thought it would be nice to look at where it began…in a field near the Warlock College where would be warlocks learn how to summon their very first demon. This isn’t something that Angus ants to do. He never wanted to be a warlock like his father, so he’s trying to flunk the class and get kicked out—which of course goes horribly wrong.
It wasn’t that Angus Donohue couldn’t summon a demon; it was that he didn’t want to. He didn’t even want to be here. A cool breeze brushed against his skin, and the trees around him rattled like a closet full of old bones. Maybe if he didn’t put enough will into the spell the whole thing would fall apart.
If he couldn’t summon a demon, he’d fail the class and get kicked out of the exclusive Warlock College his father had forced him to attend. While there was a certain prestige in being a warlock, it wasn’t what Angus wanted to do with his life. He certainly didn’t want a demon to draw magic from. He had to fail this class. His father would be horrified, but Angus would be free from all things magical.
“Widdershins, three times,” the lecturer commanded.
All the college students of Demonology 102 started walking anti-clockwise around the circles they had carefully constructed out of will. Angus suppressed the shiver. He wasn’t afraid of demons. Okay, maybe just a little. What if his demon was something truly monstrous?
Last semester they’d been learning about the different types of demons and the theory behind drawing magic from one. This semester was about putting that knowledge into practice. Those people with magic who didn’t draw on demons were called wizards and usually sold their services cheaply in the local paper. Angus didn’t want to be a practicing wizard either. Just because he had magic didn’t mean he needed to make a career out of it, and telling his father that hadn’t been a wise move. His father had spent three hours railing about why wizards were dangerous and should be banned from practicing magic.
So here he was, trying to summon a demon that he didn’t want, to give himself more of the magic that he didn’t want either. He let his circle weaken and his attention drift. He would not summon a demon.
The series also ends in the same field, but after all of Angus’s adventures he is no longer the reluctant warlock. He is a mage with a demon. He has learned who he is and what magic can do and he is prepared to do what it takes to put things right.
Because of possible spoilers I can only include a really short excerpt from the end of Blood for the Spilling.
While there wasn’t a body in every tree, their yellow clothing made them stand out against the dark trunks, and the breeze gave them life and rocked them. Branches creaked, and bones whistled, and the whole place felt wrong.
He drew in a breath, closed his eyes, and tried to imagine these woods as they had been that first day. For a moment he remembered his uncertainty and how he’d tried not to summon a demon. And then Saka took him across the void. At the time he wouldn’t have said it was a good day, but it had been the best. It was the day he woke up.
He opened his eyes. He could do this. He had to.
While I had fun writing Angus’s story I think he deserves his Happily Ever After with [redacted].
TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer, TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels, it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily. Writing urban fantasy allows TJ to bring magic to the every day.
With two cats acting as supervisors, TJ has gone from designing roads to building worlds and wouldn’t have it any other way. After traveling all over the world and Australia, TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.
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