Home > Bad Lands (Savage Lands #4)(4)

Bad Lands (Savage Lands #4)(4)
Author: Stacey Marie Brown

“No.” Liam’s fingers wrapped tighter around his bardiche, his green eyes watching me coldly.

My attention flicked to my group behind me, then back to my mom, my mouth going dry. Eabha moved in next to Liam, Morgan next to her. All of them building a wall between me and the nectar.

“What do you mean, no?” My shoulders rolled back, my hackles rising. “Lives depend on me getting it.”

“And many more lives depend on us keeping it safe,” my mother said evenly, taking a slight step forward, showing her leadership. “We stole it from those who did not understand what power it possessed and have kept it hidden for fifteen years. Around us, it cannot be seen or felt. It is safe.”

Ash let out a dry laugh, his hand rubbing at his face like something finally registered with him.

“What?” I asked.

“It’s why the fae book stopped recording events right after those pirates stole the nectar. It was you guys waiting in the shadows? Who stole it from them?” Ash indicated to my mother.

She dipped her head. “We had been tracking it for a long time and finally found it.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” I glanced at Ash.

“Remember when I told you the book can only document life? It only records the living.”


“They aren’t—or weren’t—living.” He nodded to them.

Holy shit. That’s why the book cut out the moment they robbed the pirates. Why nothing showed for the last fifteen years. Because it had been here, in a well, guarded by necromancers.

“That is why we cannot let it leave here,” Eabha stated, her accent growing a little stronger, her voice coming out clearer after 20 years of not speaking. “As witches or as necromancers, we have sworn to keep it protected from both human and fae. From those who cannot withstand its magic and will crumble under the weight of greed and power. It seeks it too much. Desires it. Her power is too much part of it, and it is not safe to be out of our care.”

“What do you mean, her power is still too much a part of it?” I tipped my head, knowing they weren’t referring to me.

A sad smile touched my mother’s mouth in response. “I’m sorry, you cannot have it, daughter. We swore by blood magic… it is no longer even a choice. We will keep it hidden no matter what.”

“Witch magic?” Kek snorted behind me, taking a step up to me, looking her usual bored self. “That’s like Ouija boards, naked circles, and cute little séances, right? Can you call that real magic?”

I shot Kek a warning look.

“What? It’s true.” She rolled her eyes with a shrug.

Witches were human and held no “real” magic. Druids had gained the favor of the fae gods and were given true magic and long lives—but in exchange, they had to work in service of the high Fae rulers. No matter if they were treated well or not, it was still servitude.

Things changed as druid power grew and fae realized they couldn’t control them. Propaganda spread far and wide, especially during Aneira’s reign, when druids were slaughtered by the thousands.

What did my mother’s witch coven have to do with any of this if they weren’t considered powerful? And how did witches become necromancers?

“Don’t forget, demon,” Liam sneered with disgust. “Your bones are just as easy to rise and play my bitch as any human.”

Kek lunged for him. Their side reacted, drawing their weapons on us as my group did the same.

“Stop!” Eabha held up her hand, stopping her clan in an instant. She might not have magic like a fae, but you could feel power and strength resonate from her. The quality that made people listen and want to follow her.

Ash grabbed Kek, tugging her back as she scowled and hissed at Liam. A smirk curved Liam’s mouth, forcing Ash to hold her tighter.

“We aren’t leaving without it.” Warwick stepped past me, his shoulders widening, making his threat clear. “No matter what.” He repeated her oath back, his lip curling. There was so much riding on this nectar, but it was his family who Killian was using as collateral.

Roan’s lucerne hammer jabbed a hair away from Warwick’s throat. The Wolf’s eyes dropped to it with a snort.

“You think I’m afraid of death? I’ve walked straight into it, and it spit me back out.” He smacked the sharp blade away from him like a fly, stirring up the coven, all their weapons directed at the legend.

“Then we are at a crossroads.” Eabha’s chin lifted as she peered up at him, then over to me. “As much as I wished in those final moments when you were being born that I’d have a chance to know you, to hold you…” I swear I saw a flicker of grief and love hint in her eyes, but then it was gone, leaving me to think I imagined it. “But our oath is binding. I do not want to fight you, daughter.” Her manner was so matter-of-fact. “But I will.”

The fragile thread between our groups snapped, hurling the opposite sides at each other in a clatter of metal. A whirlwind of energy and determination erupted, both sides believing they were right.

My head churned in the opposite direction of my heart. To find my mother after all this time… to discover I had family, and I had come from a line of witches. My mother was human, as my father was. We should have been hugging, rejoicing in this moment, catching up on lost years. Instead, I faced her on the other side of the conflict, her terrifying but beautiful war scythe pointing at me. I yanked out a smaller saber from my hip, the clash echoing in the night.

“I’m sorry.” She twirled, her scythe crashing into my saber, making my bones rattle. “But I can’t let you have it. This goes beyond your needs.”

I gnashed my teethed together, our weapons knocking together. “You don’t know why I want it. You know nothing about me.”

The tip of her blade nicked my chest, reeling me back.

“And you know nothing, daughter.” She grunted, coming for me again. I spun away. “You have no idea what power it holds.”

“Does it?” I countered. “It looks useless now.”

She shook her head, almost in pity at me. “Don’t ever underestimate it.”

Grunts and clanks of metal rang around me. Even if they had two more than us, our side was mainly fae. We should have them down in seconds. The coven might be struggling to be human again, to move and talk, but they had no problem fighting. It was as if they trained all day for the last twenty years. Fast, precise, and strong, they wielded their weapons with deadly strength.

I peered over at Warwick, watching him fight. Something rubbed me wrong. Granted, he was fighting three at once, but he seemed a bit slower, not as brutal as he could be. I mean, I witnessed him topple a giant in less than a minute.

I felt stuck in the middle. My mother wouldn’t let us take the nectar, and he would not leave this place without it.

“Warwick?” I reached for our link.


A tremendous explosion detonated in the air, stopping us all with a gasp. Our heads snapped in the direction of the city miles away. The ground vibrated under our feet, our eyes reflecting the fire and smoke billowing into the sky.

I knew in my gut this was no Samhain prank. It was too vast, the glow of fire igniting the sky all the way over here. This was something massive and deadly.

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