C. L. Schneider
Indie Book Spotlight: Lightning Assassin (The Solomon Academy of Magic Bk #2), by M. W. Arita
With a band of magical assassins hot on her trail, Cass must venture into a deadly den of dragons.
Cass has barely just begun her second semester at the Solomon Academy of Magic when she narrowly survives a harrowing encounter with six assassins who serve a mysterious shadow syndicate.
Possible suspects include Cass’s classmates, a teacher, and a familiar face from her past: Nick, her betrothed. And Nick is more than just her fiancée--he is an exiled prince who hails from a vast desert kingdom of dragons where only the strongest survive.
He also claims to be a spy who’s infiltrated the ranks of the syndicate to uncover what they’re really after. But is he telling the truth? Only one way to find out...
Together with the six accused, Cass must embark on a treacherous journey to Nick’s dragon-infested homeland to find the one enchanted object that can prove their innocence...or their guilt.
Can she trust any of them? Or are they simply waiting for the right opportunity to stick their daggers in her back? And here she thought her homework was murder...
On the chilly and windy night of the 13th birthday of Caelia Cassia—the “Lightning Princess” of Albalon—they came to put her and her father to death.
Six shadows cloaked in black robes and the dismal darkness of winter. Triangular hoods obscured their faces. Their capes fluttered in the frosty evening breeze as they darted down the shabby slums of Ouranopolis, the capital of Albalon. They huddled together, moving as one. To the beggar onlookers of the poor parts of town, the assailants must have looked like the sycophants of some infernal cult.
But these invaders were something much worse…
Assassins with a mission more crucial than their very lives.
“Do not forget,” one of the veiled figures spoke. Its voice was feminine, yet gruff and husky. “We cannot kill them until we retrieve it first.”
“I know that, Big Sis,” a dainty, bubbly voice responded. “You’ve seen what I’m capable of. It’ll be, like, a piece of cake to get in there and—”
“Quiet,” another one hissed, speaking in a terse but gentle and boyish tone. “The guards are comin’.”
The other ephemeral figures nodded. The six shadows pressed their backs to a cracked wall and waited with bated breath.
Boots tramped along the main marble road. A pair of muscular soldiers clad in cerulean uniforms marched past. The symbol of House Caelius—a golden eagle carrying a lightning bolt—glistened on their belt buckles in the dim glow of the street lanterns. Their hair was slicked back in the same style as the lord they served.
“There are just two of them,” one of the assassins whispered, a female with a detached, dispassionate way of speaking. “And six of us. I say we slit their throats. No risk of being caught by any eyewitnesses that way.”
Firm fingers caught her dagger-filled wrist.
“No, you fool,” a snobby woman admonished. “The more bodies we leave, the more questions they’ll ask. Stay your hand.”
“I am second-in-command here. You will follow my lead.”
“Pull rank on me if you like, but…Father’s orders were clear: we are only to spill the blood of the Caelius family and obtain it. Do you wish to disobey him and incur his wrath?”
“I…I suppose not.”
“Aw, man,” a masculine voice said with a demented laugh. “And here I was hoping we’d have a bit of fun.”
The soldiers continued their march and vanished from sight.
“Coast is clear, boys and girls,” the crazed one said, laughing once more. “Time to crash ourselves a party.”
The second-in-command sped off first, followed by her subordinates. The wind howled as they dove around twisting street corners and up rolling hills. They moved with the shadows until they came to their destination…
A majestic acropolis, the tallest building in the city. The home of Flavius Caelius Aetius Augustus, reigning emperor of Albalon, and his daughter, Caelia Cassia. Outside it sprawled an opulent courtyard lined with olive trees, ornate statues of Zeus, and trickling fountains. More guards stood here, pacing back and forth in turns. Among them was a teen boy with bushy, unkempt hair and an unbuttoned shirt.
Blending into the shadows, the assassins slipped past them unnoticed and ventured deeper into the palace grounds. They split into two teams, with one half of them sneaking down the halls and the other half remaining outside.
The interior was lit with Artifices—magical devices powered by gemstones. Lively music and chatter rang through the windows and into the night skies. The scent of various fresh fruits, lavish cakes, and grilled meats filled the air. The chatter and laughter grew louder, and then the six shadows’ targets appeared.
The first was the Lightning Emperor himself. A proud, broad-chested man whose physique seemed to have been sculpted by the gods themselves. A Classical Greek statue come to life. Thunderstorms swirled inside his irises. His blond hair was polished and oiled, with only a single cowlick hanging over his immense forehead. His muscles protruded through his azure-shaded toga.
He towered over a trio of children that flanked him. The first was a scrawny urchin of a boy clad in a fiery-red tunic. A pair of goggles rested atop his shaggy black hair. The goggles displayed the hammer seal of House Tellus, the descendants by marriage of Hephaestus, god of smithing. An impish smile remained plastered on the scamp’s face as he conversed with his friends.
“How gauche,” the snooty assassin whispered from behind a bush.
“Shut it,” the boyish one hissed, elbowing her in the side. “They’ll hear us.”
The cloaked figures’ gaze fell upon the girl beside him.
She sported short, platinum-blond hair and sky-blue eyes that seemed to shine amidst the darkness. Her body was covered by an Amethyst-colored sundress that had all kinds of strange runes and symbols etched into it. A mysterious orb hummed with life in her chest. The steps she took were stilted and unnatural.
On the other side of her strutted the infamous and troublesome “Lightning Princess” herself. She was as haughty as she was beautiful. Locks of curly blond hair fell on both sides of her, making drill-like shapes. Much like her father’s eyes, her own pair of gray crackled with fierce lightning. Her spiraling curls rested against a snow-white linen tunic. Over that draped a baby-blue palla.
The palla trailed behind her as she chattered and giggled with the other two children. She carried herself with vanity, dignity, and grace. A necklace with a sparkling green Malachite stone hung around her neck.
“Are you sure we have to do this?” the boyish assassin wondered, admiring the princess.
“Why are you of all people hesitating now?” the second-in-command snapped. “Are you not thirsting for vengeance?”
“You’re right.” He sighed through his hood. “Sorry about this, my dear princess, but…”
He rose over the hedge and drew a curved dagger. “It’s time for you and your old man to die.”
About the Author
M.W. Arita is the founder of Aeonian Entertainment and the creator of The Dark Covenant Universe of stories.
They reportedly live in southern Japan with their partner Michael and a mysterious white wolf creature named Toki.
Like the gods and monsters they write about, however, Arita might just be a creature of myth. Legends say if you search hard enough, you might find them training at a karate dojo or riding around on a motorcycle on the seaside highways of Japan…
Drop by and say "hi” anytime!