A Beth-Hill Novel: The Shadows Trilogy, Book 3: Bound in Shadows 3d cover 2023

A Beth-Hill Novel: The Shadows Trilogy, Book 3: Bound in Shadows by Jennifer St. Clair

Are creatures of the night and all manner of extramundane beings drawn to certain locations in the natural world? In the Midwestern village of Beth-Hill located in southern Ohio, the population is made up of its fair share of common citizens…and much more than its share of supernatural residents. Take a walk on the wild side in this unusual place where imagination meets reality.

A Dreamer dreams the future when the past is not yet laid to rest. Ten years ago, a plague swept across the Seven Kingdoms. Ten years ago, the Queen of Iomar’s son was exiled and named the author of the magical plague. Now, in the present, Terrin works to complete his ultimate goal: Control of the Seven Kingdoms using his son’s power to supplement his own…


A Beth-Hill Novel: The Shadows Trilogy, Book 3: Bound in Shadows 2 covers 2023

With his power crushed, brother to the king and father to Alban, Terrin is forced to take drastic measures to regain his sons after they are freed and harness the power they possess. But he has an ally inside the healer’s house where they are recovering who works to further his plans. The Queen of Iomar, Skade’s son, courts redemption to try to save his mother’s life, and the vampire who no longer remembers his own name dreams a dream that might save them all…or damn them if success is thwarted.

GENRE: Fantasy       Word count: 30, 338

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Continue the Series:

A Beth-Hill Novel: The Shadows Trilogy, Book 1: Prince of Shadows continue the series A Beth-Hill Novel: The Shadows Trilogy, Book 2: Lost In Shadows continue the series 2023 A Beth-Hill Novel: The Shadows Trilogy, Book 3: Bound in Shadows continue the series 2023

Chapter 1


Nicodemus opened his eyes. For a moment he could not remember why he stared out from a strange mirror at such terrible destruction; then memories started to trickle forth into his mind. Skade. Espen. Michael. Terrin escaping.


He touched his chest and saw his body, lying forlorn and forgotten in the midst of debris. They had left it behind, of course–the survivors were more important–but he still felt a bit lost that they had left him behind. How would he go to his Queen, when he did not know where Espen lived?

He thought he might be able to follow the portal, if Skade had not set barriers that kept him trapped in this mirror. He doubted she’d had time to form anything in the way of a cage; Terrin’s spell had eaten her strength even as she saved his life one more time.

Of course, she could be dead already, and perhaps Espen would never return for him. Perhaps he would haunt Leysan’s halls forever, or until Teluride returned as its King.

If Teluride returned.

A movement near the door caught his eye, and Nicodemus watched as a dark lump on the floor crawled into the light of a dying torch.

Evidently he wasn’t the only survivor.

At first, Nicodemus didn’t recognize Terrin’s partner, for Cathan’s face was streaked with soot and blood, and the look in his eyes was far from sane. But when he realized Nicodemus watched him from the mirror, the look in his eyes chilled what was left of the Ghost’s soul.

Cathan spat blood on the ground and pushed himself to his knees. “They left you behind as well, I see.”

“I would prefer to be left behind if my Queen’s life is saved in my stead,” Nicodemus whispered warily.

“If Terrin infected her with his spell, she’s as good as dead,” Cathan replied, and saw Nicodemus’ body lying five feet in front of him.

A strange look passed over his face at the sight. Nicodemus tensed, waiting for him to do something unspeakable, but Cathan merely stared.

“She will not die,” Nicodemus whispered, refusing to court the thought.

Cathan laughed. “Everyone dies.”

Without bothering to ask permission, he set about undressing Nicodemus’ body until it lay naked and bare on the rubble-strewn floor.

“What are you doing?” Nicodemus asked. Cathan didn’t bother to reply, and in a moment, when his exposed skin started to shimmer, Nicodemus realized what he planned to do. “No!”

Cathan smiled and stared at his new reflection in the mirror. “What will happen to you if I break that mirror?”

Nicodemus couldn’t tear his eyes away from Cathan’s new face. “I…I don’t know.” If he knew where Espen lived, he’d try to go there now, to warn her, to…

Cathan’s fist lashed out, but the mirror didn’t break. Nicodemus cringed away from him, entranced despite himself. Had his face ever shown such hate? He braced himself for another blow, but Cathan paused.

“Wait. I might need you, if this works.” He patted down his pockets, cursed, then disappeared into the hallway, limping slowly past Nicodemus’ body. A moment later, he was back with a crystal pendant swinging from one clenched fist. “I should be happy he had a spare.”

“A…a spare?” The sight of Cathan’s face cast a strange sense of deja vu over Nicodemus’ mind. Had this happened before?

And then he remembered. Cathan had worn Michael’s face in Iomar to steal him from Skade, and now…now he wore…

Cathan knelt beside Nicodemus’ body and sliced one flaccid arm with a small dagger. Sluggish blood seeped out–blood that shouldn’t have seeped anywhere if he were truly dead.

Nicodemus couldn’t breathe. He watched as Cathan smeared blood on the crystal pendant and his free hand, then struggled to his feet. He watched as Cathan approached the mirror to place a bloody handprint on the glass.

As before, Nicodemus felt himself drawn to the crystal, but that was not the only source of blood in the room.

He had split himself in two before, in essence, to keep an eye on two things at once. He drew upon that skill to save himself now, and pushed as much of his…spirit…into his body as the crystal drew the rest of his spirit into its prison.

Coldness chilled his soul. Blackness threatened to suck away what little life remained in his body, but he held right to consciousness and felt his wounded heart begin to beat.

He watched through slitted eyes as Cathan stowed the crystal away, and felt the velvet folds of a familiar bag close over part of his sight. The larger part remained, but living eyes were no match for ghostly ones. He did not know how long he could stay in his body…or how long he had to live with Terrin’s spell eating away at his very limited strength.

He only knew he had to try to warn Espen and his Queen that Cathan now wore his face…before it was too late.



Chapter 2


Rumors had always flowed quickly through the Seven Kingdoms. Each King and Queen–or Steward in Aberdus’ case–had heard of the death of King Valdis, and Terrin’s ascension to the throne before a month had passed. Loathe to involve themselves in what seemed to be a minor struggle for the throne, they kept their minds on their own affairs, but listened avidly for any news. By the time Skade vanished from her bedroom, Cynara, Severin’s Queen, had already set in motion her limited supply of spies, but she found no new information, and the Kingdom of Iomar had no statement for the rest of Cruinne.

Although she had promised Kyne she wouldn’t send her out again, Cynara doubted she had any other choice. Kyne was, after all, already intimately acquainted with the inside of Leysan’s walls. She knew Terrin as well, and his son, both of whom seemed to have vanished with Skade. She knew how to keep to the shadows and move around unseen. That had not helped her last time–Cynara had yet to discover what foul tortures Kyne had endured at Terrin’s hands–but as far as she had been able to discern, Terrin had vanished from Leysan some days before.

It only took her fifteen minutes to find her sister. Kyne was, after all, predictable in her hiding places.

“I know why you’ve come.”

Cynara could barely see the dark figure of her sister nestled in between two gargoyles at the top of the west wall of the castle. “If you know why I’ve come, then I know your answer,” she replied.

Kyne shifted on her perch. “I’ve heard…disturbing news.”

“As have I,” Cynara said. “The Queen of Iomar has vanished.”

“Her son is said to be involved,” Kyne said.

Cynara frowned. “I hadn’t heard that piece. Do you have spies where I do not?”

Kyne slid from her perch and leapt lightly to the stairs. She stared down at her sister for a moment, then smiled. “Of course I do, sister dear. But my spies know no more than you now. We are equal in that respect.”

“How did you know of her son, then?” Cynara tried to remember if she had ever met Skade’s son, but she had only met the Iomarian Queen once or twice. She couldn’t remember a son at all. But then again, Iomar was the least social of the Seven Kingdoms and did not usually involve itself in mainland affairs.

“He was exiled ten years ago,” Kyne said. “He had something to do with a scandal Skade covered up.”

“A scandal? What kind of scandal?” Cynara asked.

Kyne shrugged and sat down on one of the lower steps. “I haven’t been able to discover anything else but that. Whatever the secret is, it’s buried deep. No one in Iomar will talk.”

Cynara tucked this interesting information away in the back of her mind for later, and focused on the task at hand. “I need you to go to Leysan,” she said.

Kyne just stared at her.

“Please, Kyne. I’m not asking you as a Queen. I’m asking you as a sister.”

“That’s worse,” Kyne said sourly. “I’d almost rather you ask as my Queen.”

“What you told me…” she sighed, “I have a feeling that whatever Terrin plans will destroy the Seven Kingdoms. It might take years, but I…”

“You don’t think he will stop at his brother’s throne?” Kyne asked.

“If he has taken Skade, then, no, I don’t,” Cynara said. “And if he has taken Skade, he has overpowered the most powerful Queen in Cruinne.”

Kyne nodded. “And that would mean he can overpower anyone.”

“Yes.” Cynara didn’t want to worry about Terrin and his plans, but she couldn’t help herself. Severin’s borders had been quiet for too many years to count. They still maintained an army, but not one of the soldiers had seen a battle fiercer than the occasional skirmish with the bandits who preyed on travelers through the mountains.

And she had met Teluride once; a long time ago when he was young and his mother still lived. No one deserved to be blamed for a murder unless they were truly guilty. And she could not believe he was guilty.

“I should refuse,” Kyne said slowly. “You did swear to me you wouldn’t ask me to go back.”

“I know I did.” Cynara would have wrung her hands if she thought it would help. “But…”

Kyne sighed. “Yes, I know. I’ll admit that I’ve been curious to see what has happened. I left Alban and the prince and the vampire in Skade’s care, but if she is gone…”

“Then where are they?” Cynara whispered.

“Exactly.” Kyne hesitated. “I will go to Leysan. And I will try to contact Iomar as well. They know me there, at least. And I will send word.”

“Thank you,” Cynara said. “As both your Queen and your sister…thank you.”

Kyne’s smile did not reach her eyes. “Thank me when I return,” she said. “For if you’re right, and Terrin does not mean to stop with his brother’s throne, I might not return. But I will send word. I promise you that.”

She left at dawn the next morning, heading down the mountain to Leysan…and hopefully, answers.



Chapter 3


In the end, Espen almost had to pry Michael’s fingers from his mother’s arm. Only Enapay’s voice shocked him out of numbness and brought him crashing back to the present.


Michael threw his arms around his daughter and held her close. He breathed in the scent of her, that unique smell children have, and tried to shut out what had happened in one desperate moment before sanity prevailed.

He opened his eyes and raised his head. “Espen?”

“She’s alive,” Espen said from where she stood over Skade’s motionless body.

Considering the amount of magic her last two spells had cost, Michael knew she should be dead. More powerful people than the Queen of Iomar had died after doing less.

He did not want to ask the next most obvious question for fear of Espen’s reply. But he could not live without knowing, either. Even if Espen sent him back, he could not return home without knowing if she would live. “Will she…”

“Questions later, Michael,” Espen said. “Let me stabilize your mother’s condition before I make any assumptions. Okay?”

Michael nodded. “I’ll…I’ll just stay here.” For the first time since he stepped through Skade’s portal, he took time to look around.

He had been in Espen’s house once before, a long, long time ago. It hadn’t changed much since then. The amount of clutter had grown, which did not surprise him, but the basic layout of the house remained the same.

He remembered a time when the house and Espen’s source of power had worked against him, and shivered as long-buried memories raised their ugly heads.

He had to remind himself that he had not been accused of any crime this time. That he had not been in prison, but had been dragged into this unwillingly. But even with that assurance, it was hard not to feel on edge. He had only spent eight of the last twenty-eight years free, after all. And liberty was still enough of a novelty for the possibility of imprisonment to be all the more undesirable.

Enapay fell asleep in his arms an hour after Michael stepped through the mirror. He sat against the wall, cradling her against his chest, too unsure of his place to demand a bed for his daughter or an explanation from anyone.

The witch worked on his mother silently, with only the barest illumination of healing power to light her way.

Michael could have told her that her power would not work on Terrin’s spell. He had tried to heal some of the earlier victims with his own paltry healing talent, with disastrous results. But since Skade didn’t seem to be getting any worse, he supposed Espen knew what she was doing. After all, she was the head of the Healer network, and he was only an exiled prince.

After a little while, even though he did not want to fall asleep, he found it easier to close his eyes and lean his head back against the wall. Even though his wounds were nothing compared to what Terrin had done to Skade, he could not ignore how they sapped his strength. He had tried so hard to do the right thing. To redeem himself in his mother’s eyes. Even though he had made a life for himself in exile, he always held that hope that someday his mother would forgive him and welcome him home.

Now he would never know.



Michael awoke with a start. He opened his eyes to find Enapay still asleep in his arms, and Espen standing in front of him, her expression a strange mixture between concern and amusement.

“Where are you hurt?” Espen asked as soon as she was certain she had his attention.

Michael ignored her question. “Is my mother…”

“She’s stable, for now, and sleeping comfortably in another room,” Espen said. “I’ll let you see her when she wakes up. Now answer my question.”

“I’m fine.”

Espen stared at him. “Martyring yourself isn’t the right way to go about regaining her trust, Michael,” she finally said. “You’re as bad of a liar as your mother. Now, tell me where you’re hurt and I’ll let you meet the others.”

The others. Michael smoothed down Enapay’s hair. “The others?” He had seen Zaira through his makeshift mirror, but who else… And then he remembered Terrin’s odd accusation. “His son? You have his son?”

“I have both his sons,” Espen said. “Alban and Alexander.”

Michael shook his head. “I had nothing to do with…”

“I’m not saying you did,” Espen said. “I’m just trying to bring you up to date.”

Michael sighed. “I’m not sure I want to be brought up to date. I’d made my peace, Espen. I…”

“The eighty-five people your mother’s spells hold in stasis haven’t made their peace with you,” Espen said, an undercurrent of anger running through her voice. “We’ve searched for a cure for ten years now, Michael. How much longer will we have to look?”

Michael’s cheeks burned at the grisly reminder of what he had allowed to happen. He could not believe how naive he had been, trusting Cathan, Nicodemus, and Terrin with no thought of what they intended to do with their creation. He should have been the responsible one, but instead he had ignored common sense and embraced ruin.

He had been so happy, in exile, when he found a place he could let down his guard, and look what had happened then.

“I didn’t know you were able to save anyone,” he finally whispered, not daring to glance up at Espen’s face.

“There’s a lot you don’t know,” Espen said. “And I’ll try my best to bring you up to date. But first…”

Michael raised his head. “Wait.”

Espen frowned at him. “Michael.”

“No.” Michael struggled to stand with Enapay in his arms. “I’m not badly hurt, honest. I just…what happened to Nicodemus?”

“That’s a very good question,” Espen said. “And the short answer is, I don’t know. Skade did manage to put him back into the mirror, I think, but I have no idea where he went from there.”

“He’s gone?” Michael struggled with vague memories. “Terrin…Terrin escaped through a portal.”

“I know.” Espen knelt beside him and held out her arms. “Let me put Enapay in one of my spare rooms.”

Michael shook his head, unwilling to release her just yet. “I almost lost her.”

“But you didn’t,” Espen said. “She’s here, with you.”

This was true, but Michael still did not want to give her up. “Terrin escaped through the portal my mother created. The portal to your house.”

“Yes. But he changed its destination. If he hadn’t, he’d be in custody right now.”

Michael closed his eyes. A moment later, he felt Espen carefully pry his daughter from his grasp. He thought to protest, but he couldn’t seem to gather up enough strength to open his eyes.

“Michael.” Her voice lacked all anger, and he remembered that Healers were bound to help anyone who came to them for aid. “Where are you wounded?”

Michael finally pried open his eyes. “I’m not…” he sighed, “I hit my head. And I think…I think Cathan…”

Espen gently lifted up his bloody shirt. A moment later, Michel felt the first stirring of healing magic course through his veins. It wasn’t an entirely pleasant feeling, but he did not have enough strength to complain.

“You’re lucky you didn’t faint from loss of blood,” Espen remarked after the bloody wound in his side had healed under her touch. “Anywhere else?” She touched his knee.

Michael stayed her hand. “That’s an old wound.”

“I know. But it’s not properly healed, even though I feel the work of another Healer here,” Espen said. “It shouldn’t bother you at all.”

“It…it reminds me,” Michael whispered, almost too weary to care what she discovered about his life in exile.

“Reminds you of what?” Espen asked.

“My other mistake.” He would go no further with this line of questioning. She did not need to know how his life had turned out while in exile; only that he was not the person he had once been. But he couldn’t seem to keep his mouth shut. “I’ve…I’ve only been free for eight years.”

“You’ve been gone for ten years here,” Espen reminded him.

“Twenty-eight years where I ended up,” Michael whispered. Even with Espen’s healing, he desperately needed to sleep. “And I spent twenty of those years in Hell.”

Espen’s hands stilled on his knee. “Ah.”

Michael managed to crack open his eyes far enough to see the neutral expression on her face. “Ah?”

“Sennet told me about you,” Espen said, naming the Healer who had healed the original damage to his knee. “I didn’t put two and two together until now.”

Since Espen was the Head of the Healer network, Michael was surprised to hear she hadn’t put two and two together sooner. After all, how many other exiled princes were there who ended up in Hell? He half-expected her to order him out of her house, but she did not.

“You need to rest,” she finally said. “I can heal your wounds, but I cannot replenish your strength.”

“I know,” Michael said. Sennet had said the same thing. “I’ll rest.” He allowed Espen to help him up. His knee twinged in protest after being in one position for so long, but it held.

“I’ve put you in a room right beside Enapay’s,” Espen said. “You’ll be able to hear her if she needs you; I promise you that.”

“Thank you,” Michael said, and meant it.

Espen fixed him with an unreadable stare. “Help us fix this, and you’ll get much more than thanks.”

That thought stayed with him even after darkness bore him away, coloring his dreams with the faint hope of redemption.


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