TITLE: Lord Randolph and the Witch
Valentina Roselli’s off-the-grid summer hideaway in Nova Scotia has, unknown to her, been transported to an alternate earth where magic works. A group of locals think she is a witch and show up with a knight and his sergeant to burn her out. The house is entirely powered by a 500-gallon propane tank. It’s on fire.
Valentina had no idea if one hundred yards would be enough if the tank exploded. Kneeing Brownie she got him trotting, then galloping away from the burning shriek behind her. The heat penetrated even through the heavy denim shirt.
A patch of brown homespun caught her attention as she galloped toward safety. Lying in the dirt was the man Brownie had kicked. Damn. She pulled the horse to a reluctant halt and turned. She couldn't leave the man, even if he had tried to kill her; it was far too close to the fire.
He lay sprawled, not much more than a kid, really, eyes staring blindly at the blue sky. A trickle of blood, already dry, leaked from the corner of his mouth. He was obviously dead. She shook her head and turned the horse back toward safety, kneed him…
A savage slam drove the air from her lungs, bugged her eyes open. A thunderclap of sound deafened her. The shockwave passed, flicking a line of dirt and vegetation along the ground as it traveled toward the group ahead of her. She saw it hit, jerking them like puppets, bowling some over.
She screamed along with the horse as the fireball overtook them, yellow tendrils curled around, engulfing them. She burned. Her back was on fire. Brownie reared and took off running. Valentina felt herself start to slip and she kicked her feet from the stirrups.
The ground came up to meet her and the world went black.