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A TRAVELLER RETURNS

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The traveller knelt next to the nearest tree, her palm outstretched on its trunk. A large jade stone ring, resting delicately on her third finger, searched for the tree’s lifeforce under the weight of an unknown burden. A green orb of light glowed from her fingertips and the health of the tree was restored for a second, before her power was swallowed by the dark forces at work here.

The distressed trees pulled their roots, trying to breath, squirming in the infected earth, the tips of the roots dripping with a black, oozing tar. The forest was shifting.

Time was of the essence. The cloaked woman flies fast through a clearing towards an opening at the edge of the forest. She abruptly stops, her shoes with turned up toes land hard on the woodland floor. Her cloak and skirt fall around her ankles. Dust and leaves swirl around the base of her broom. With her face shadowed by her hair and cloak, she looks out at the town in front of her. The traveller’s gaze is fixated on the looming dark cloud of black matter that swirls above it.

She shifts her focus to what’s in front of her. The Von Ruthro estate looks different after all these years. It’s clear, even in the moonlit shadows, that so much had changed, that a place she had once regarded as home had shrivelled and tattered in her absence.

The blueberry grove lay before her. His house, the house she’d dreamed they’d share one day, lay just in the dip on the other side. Her heart panged a little at the thought of Claus Von Ruthro, the warlock she’d loved from afar for the past thirteen years.

These lands have lived through a dark time since the binding union of the Curdle and Von Ruthro families. But now it was her time. The time for Delilah Crocket has come and she’s here with secrets that could break the Von Ruthro family apart.

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