All Riana has ever wanted is freedom. Unfortunately, that’s the one thing her kind cannot have.
Bound by the curse in her demonic blood for millennia, Riana has tried several times to bend the rules and live out her life in the mortal realm. Now her consistent rule breaking has drawn the attention of Loki, God of Mischief, the main tormentor of Riana’s kind. But instead of punishing her, he offers her the escape she has always desired. All she has to do is save the kingdom of Moonshadow from a mysterious magical plague.
Armed only with the inherent power of her own blood and Loki’s pet dragon, Riana is
determined to fight for the right to create her own destiny. However, when her mission forces her to destroy the last remnants of an ancient culture, Riana must ask – what is freedom really
Moonshadow’s Guardian is a tale about the meaning of belonging, and the struggle to create a
future not defined by your past.
The bell hanging around Ma’s neck rang out, the little sound barely loud enough for me
to hear, and her face darkened.
“It’s time.” She grabbed a small cloth bag from the table and ushered me into the
I moved to the centre and then sat cross-legged. Ma had walked me through the
ritual a dozen times since we reached the cabin, but my body still shook with fear.
Nobody knew much about what happened to demons during their transformations, and
the scenarios playing out in my mind grew more gruesome by the moment.
Ma leaned forward, precariously hanging across the salt circle, and kissed my
forehead one last time.
“Whatever happens, I love you,” she said, her eyes shining with tears.
“I love you too, Ma.”
“I know, sweetheart.”
Ma straightened and took a large handful of red rock salt out of the cloth bag. She
opened a small hole between her forefinger and thumb, letting the salt drain out as she
walked around the demon circle. The clumps melted into the gleaming black paint,
making it glow an eerie almost-white.
“I call upon the power of the great goddess Magdalene,” she said, her voice rising
slightly with each word. “To contain and confine the beast within, to let the mortal live.”
She dropped a final, large clump of salt onto a rune I didn’t understand. It solidified instantly, then cracked apart with a sound as violent as lightning hitting a tree.
Blinding white light poured out from between the cracks, and the circle around me grew
brighter to match. I threw my hands up to cover my eyes and screamed as scalding heat
filled my veins. The skin on my hand began to boil and bubble. I forced my eyes closed. I
tried to push back a wave of bile, but I couldn’t. My body was too hot, and filled with…
something. I was bursting at the seams.
I exploded out of my skin, becoming something different, messier, almost
without form. My mind lost its connection to my body and I drifted up to the ceiling,
watching the red mass that used to be me fill the demon circle. Ma stood on the other
side, her body shaking but her expression calm.
The red stuff that used to be me hit the walls of blinding light, crashing against
the demon prison again and again. Each time the circle grew a little darker. Some
distant part of me felt the magical barrier weakening, the new me growing stronger as it
absorbed Magdalene's magic.
That thing, the thing that used to be me, if it got out—
I tried to scream at Ma, tell her to run, but she couldn’t hear me. I couldn’t even
really scream. The demon was too powerful, too visceral. It had already destroyed me,
and Ma would be next.
The red mass pulled back from the edges of the circle, forming into a tight ball.
Had it changed its mind?
No. That ball was a weapon, growing tighter with every moment only to—
This time the explosion crashed against the shimmering magical barrier, like a
thousand simultaneous lightning strikes, engulfing the entire cabin in a red glow. It
went straight through Ma, tearing out her insides, and continued on to rip at the cabin
walls, blasting away chunks of stone.
A giant of a man with bright red hair appeared by the door. He spread his arms
apart and opened his palms, then pulled them together, whispering as he did so.
Something yanked me back into my body, only this body was entirely different.
Solid, now, or at least solidifying—and changed. Red, and bigger, and stronger, and
filled with a deep, burning power. Every inch of my skin still burned, but now the fire
felt good, like it gave me life instead of taking it away.
Taking it away—
I whirled to stare at Ma’s body. The red mass—me—had punched a hole through
her chest, and her heart lay several feet behind her in a growing pool of blood.
I fell to my knees and heaved, but nothing came out. There wasn’t even bile left in
The man grabbed my shoulders and brought me roughly to my feet, spinning me
to face him. He chewed on the left side of his lip like it was a piece of straw and squinted
at me. I stared back at him, wondering why he looked so familiar.
Of course. I had seen him in books, in paintings, even statues.
“You’re Loki,” I said, with a voice that sounded entirely too grown up to be my
He smiled, but there was a deep bitterness behind that smile. “And you, my dear,
are one of the Cursed Children.”
“Cursed… Children?” That was much nicer than anything they called demons
He tightened his grip on my shoulders. “You have to come with me now. Hold
A burst of magical force grabbed our feet and dragged us into the ground. My
body compressed as thousands of tonnes of pressure forced it through thousands of feet
of solid rock, and pushed the wind out of me on the way.
Then the crushing stopped, and I crashed into a solid stone floor. I took several
shuddering gasps, filling my lungs and gathering my strength. My arms trembled like
they were made of jelly, but after a few tries, I managed to sit up.
I gaped around the room. It was easily the largest structure I had ever seen, made
of bright red rock. The same colour as my new skin. Several pillars shaped like harpies
held the ceiling up, their clawed hands piercing it in several places.
Each harpy also had a looped metal ring piercing its belly, and a pair of black
manacles hung from the rings. They were covered in ancient blood, but nobody was
locked into them now.
About the Author
Dianna Gunn is an author of fantasy and science fiction with strong horror elements. Her first full-length novel, Moonshadow's Guardian, was released in 2018, with the sequel set to arrive in 2023.
She also runs the Weeknight Writers Group, a social enterprise dedicated to creating accessible educational and community supports for writers, including the #WeeknightWriters Twitter chat on Thursdays at 7PM EST.
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