Mages and Mysteries
In Regency England, women are expected to confine their magical acts to mending dresses or enhancing their beauty, but Elizabeth Bennet insists on crafting her own spells to fight goblins and protect the people of Meryton. She even caused a scandal by applying for admission to the magical Academy. When Hertfordshire is beset with a series of unexplained goblin attacks, Elizabeth is quite ready to protect her family and friends. If only she didn’t have to deal with the attitude of the arrogant mage, Fitzwilliam Darcy.
Mr. Darcy doesn’t need to be associated with a scandalous woman like Elizabeth Bennet—no matter how attractive she is. But as the goblin attacks accelerate and grow more dangerous, Darcy realizes that he could use her help in identifying the cause—and is forced to recognize her magical ability. Unfortunately, continued proximity to Elizabeth only heightens his attraction to her—which is particularly inconvenient in light of his engagement to Caroline Bingley.
Can Elizabeth and Darcy unravel the mystery of the goblin attacks before more people are hurt? And how can they manage their growing mutual attraction? It’s sure to be interesting…because when Darcy and Elizabeth come together, magic happens.
This scene takes place early in Mages and Mysteries. When a goblin attacks the Assembly Hall during the ball, Darcy and Bingley go outside to fight it. Elizabeth also goes out when she realizes her father is outside. Although women aren’t supposed to command major magic, she casts an illusion that helps Darcy kill the goblin. Earlier she had overheard Darcy tell Bingley that she had “insufferably high self-regard” because she fancies herself a mage.
Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley carefully skirted the pile of ashes – all that was left of the goblin – as they strode toward Elizabeth and her father. She clambered to her feet while her father remained propped up on the bottom step. Mr. Darcy glanced down at him. “Mr. Bennet, my thanks for the timely intervention.”
Her father snorted a laugh, indicating his bloodied shirt. “You vastly overestimate my abilities if you believe I could create such a spell in my current state.” He threw a meaningful glance at Elizabeth.
“You cast it?” Mr. Darcy’s voice was thick with disbelief.
Elizabeth’s camaraderie with the paladins evaporated. She should be used to such a reaction, but it was still vexing. “I did. You are welcome.”
Mr. Darcy colored. “Yes, of course, I thank you. But—How did you—? I have never witnessed a fully realized illusion on that scale. Usually the large ones are quite flat and unrealistic.”
Elizabeth could not discern whether he was disapproving or admiring, not that it mattered. She shrugged. “Many women are accomplished at minor illusion spells.” That was true enough. From a young age, girls were taught how to conceal a stain or rip in their dresses. When they grew older, most women used a touch of illusion to conceal blemishes or make their cheeks a little rosier. “I have experimented in the past with making larger ones.”
“Experimented?” Mr. Darcy said in alarm.
“It is perfectly safe; nobody has ever been killed by an illusion,” Elizabeth said dryly.
“It was most extraordinary!” Mr. Bingley said with the false cheer of someone endeavoring to prevent an argument. “The level of detail was amazing, and the phoenix moved so fluidly.”
Elizabeth blushed a little at his praise. “I once convinced my mother that the chickens had invaded our drawing room.” Her father chuckled at the memory, and Mr. Bingley smiled. Mr. Darcy’s expression was stony.
“I would never have prevailed upon you to risk your safety,” he said stiffly.
Elizabeth sighed inwardly. Could the man not simply say “thank you” and be done with it? “Fortunately for you, I did not wait for an invitation. I could not stand idly by and do nothing, Mr. Darcy—any more than you could have.”
He blinked several times. “I am a paladin.”
Elizabeth was tempted to laugh. “And I am someone who did not desire to see a paladin get mauled.”
The muscles in Mr. Darcy’s jaw tightened as if he tasted something extremely unpleasant.
“I am exceedingly grateful for your assistance,” Mr. Bingley said emphatically. “I shudder to think about the consequences if that creature had gained entrance to the hall.”
“Indeed. I wonder why it was so intent on reaching the hall.”
Two servants brought out a litter, and they gently transferred her father to it. One man told Elizabeth in soft tones that they had summoned the healer. Elizabeth watched the men carry her father up the steps and into the hall, preparing to follow them. But Mr. Darcy cleared his throat to gain her attention. “It was an unnecessary risk.” He scowled and crossed his arms over his chest. “You could have suffered magical depletion.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. She had certainly practiced magic long enough to recognize when she was reaching the limits of her energy. Between worry for her father and Mr. Darcy’s condescending attitude, her forbearance had frayed. She smiled through gritted teeth. “What a shame I did not have a chance to study magic at the Academy. Then I might have high enough self-regard to be a real benefit to you.”
Without awaiting a response, she turned on her heel and climbed the steps back into the hall.