Anomaly (Causal Enchantment #4)

Anomaly (Causal Enchantment #4)
K.A. Tucker

Prologue – The Fates

“How could this have happened?”

The four ethereal creatures encircled their game board—an enormous bowl-like structure—and watched the aftermath unfold within the image pool. Though there was no longer a need for physical form after sending the sorceress and human back to their crumbling world, the Fates maintained the angelic illusion for the time being, their white gowns and gossamer wings fluttering in a nonexistent breeze.

There was nothing angelic about their kaleidoscopic eyes, though, as three sets skewered Incendia, ripe with accusation.

“What have you done?” Terra’s shrill voice screeched through the vast nothingness, her civil demeanor for the human a façade. The Fates were far from civil.

Rage ignited the God of Fire’s wings, the flames lashing out in every direction. “How could I possibly have done this!” he bellowed, throwing his hand at the image. None of them were capable of this. None of them would ever want to do this.

They watched in horror as the girl’s eyes came into focus, as their magic coursed through her body. His player in the game—his “child”—had finally been granted her desperate wish to be immortal.

Only this is not what the Fates had granted her.

“Do you know what will happen if she discovers what she can do?” A’ris trilled, more in panic than anger. Of course, that was a rhetorical question. They all knew what would happen.

She would undo everything.

They couldn’t allow that.

In a much calmer manner—they were all in this together—Unda stated, “We must hope that the full extent of her powers remains lost to her.”

“Yes. She must remain in the dark,” Incendia spoke as if passing a verdict. “And, if she does not …” He reached down to pick up the tiny green and blue sphere from the pedestal. Holding it up between his thumb and index finger, he detected the extreme fragility of it. Just a little pressure and it would dissolve into powder. “Then we shall have to interfere.”

As appointed wardens, they were not permitted to stop a game from running its course. But they had also never faced such meddling in their choices before. Why would they be meddling now?

“We still have Terra’s player. We can demand an audience and request that she end this problem,” A’ris said, slightly calmer.

“I do not trust that she will comply,” Terra admitted. “She is irrational when it comes to that girl.”

“We will have to convince her otherwise.” Incendia placed the tiny world back on its pedestal.

All four heads nodded in silent unison, the unspoken question of why this was happening—why they were trying to ruin them—still heavy in the air.

Chapter One – Evangeline

“Why do you keep staring at me like that?” Why was everyone staring at me like that?

Caden’s feet stalled as he regarded me for an intense moment, the silent internal argument visible behind his jade eyes. A large, feathery snowflake landed on the furrow between his brows, holding its unique design for only a second. More snow fell from the cover of clouds above to join the thick white blanket already on the ground. “No reason,” he finally said. “You just … look different.”

“Isn’t that what happens?” I asked with apprehension. I certainly saw the difference in Veronique and Julian the second I woke up, imperfections I hadn’t noticed before smoothed over. By the lingering gazes of Caden, Sofie, and the others, I knew they weren’t the only ones. I had also gone through a visible transformation, becoming an immortal. But exactly how different, that remained the question. Given the cement mine was full of nothing but old tracks and broken wood, it would be a while before I found a mirror to see for myself.

“Yeah, it’s just …” He paused, his eyes roaming my face. “It’s nothing.”

A spark of panic ignited. “It’s obviously not nothing, Caden. Is it bad?” Reaching up, my fingers grazed over my nose, my cheeks, my mouth. They felt slightly off as compared to the face I’d known for eighteen years—the ridge on my nose more flush, my top lip fuller—but they were all still there.

So, what could it be? Did the Fates curse me with pointed ears? Horns?

“What are you doing?” Caden’s eyes trailed my hands with a mixture of amusement and curiosity as I sized up my features.

“Nothing,” I mumbled, laughing at myself.

Caden roped his arm around my waist. We picked our way through the snowy path, my eyes scanning the woods, taking in the snowy graveyard of rusted tools and dilapidated wooden sheds. We were less than two hours away from a bustling metropolis, but one would never know it, the quiet almost eerie.

“This reminds me of Ratheus,” I murmured.

“There was no snow in the jungle, Eve.” Caden’s arm tightened around me, though not to provide warmth, even in the frigid December temperatures.

Because I would never be cold again.

Even as the thought circulated through my head, as I experienced the reality of it, trekking through two feet of snow in nothing but a light knit shirt, it still didn’t register.

“I meant this decaying state,” I countered. This cement mine had long since been abandoned. Now time was challenging it, leaving rubble in its wake. According to Sofie, it made the perfect “safe house” for us. “Do you think this is really necessary? Wouldn’t it make more sense to be in New York City right now?”

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