First Page: Bad Magic
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When Regis was a child, his mother told him a fairytale about a man trapped in a tower, cursed by a sorceress and guarded by a dragon, waiting to be awoken by his true love. Regis, five years old and no fool, hadn’t believed a word.
Now, fifteen years later, he thought back to that tale.
He stood propped against a door, heart pounding. Outside the tower, the dragon shrieked, hopefully in triumph and not in fury — Regis was fairly sure the beast thought he was dead. He’d had managed to sneak past it into the tower, but only after being half-singed.
Regis wasn’t much for slaying things.
He took in his surroundings. Broken furniture and old blood decorated the floor. A single window lit the room; beneath it, bathed in light, was a bed. A man laid there, propped against the sill. One arm was extended, as if he were reaching for something outside. His legs were curled, as if he’d been about to jump and had instead collapsed.
Regis stepped forward, dust swirling beneath his boots. He knelt, then lay the sleeping man out on the bed.
He was younger than Regis had expected. He wore a pain leather tunic with a white shirt and belt, a sword and knife at his hip. He was handsome, in a rough kind of way, with the dark skin and fair hair of someone who spent too much time in the sun. Callused hands and hard muscle made it clear: this man was a warrior.
There was a scar across the side of his lips. Regis traced it with a curious fingertip. “Bet you had a pretty girl waiting for you somewhere,” Regis muttered. “Ah well. Here goes nothing…”
He clasped the amulet around his neck, then leaned down and pressed their lips together.
At first, nothing happened. Regis squeezed his eyes shut, then began to kiss for real, relaxing into it. The amulet grew hot in his grip. Regis inhaled through his nose, breathing in the scent of dust and old leather.
Then – the man’s lips parted, and he took a breath. Regis moved away. Beneath him, the man groaned, eyes fluttering.
‘Huh’, Regis thought. ‘It worked.’ He smiled.
The next moment, Regis found himself being slammed into the ground, a knife at his throat.
‘Well, shit,’ he thought.