Happy Winter Solstice everyone!
Winter Solstice is one of the holidays featured in Myths and Mistletoe, my holiday story collection. I’m excited to share an excerpt from “Of Solstice Dreaming” with you. This story stars Winnie from When Magic Sleeps, and this is the scene where she realizes that her dreams of attending the Winter Solstice celebration in the fae realm might not come true.
Over the last few months, since the night Cathair first showed her the veil was real, she had walked this path dozens of times. She knew it better than the route from her house to her school. It was carved into her memory.
Tonight, the forest felt different. Full of energy. It was almost as if the very air around her was charged with electricity.
No, not electricity. Magic.
The magic of Winter Solstice. It was all around her. In the way the birds sang brighter, the way the trees rustled sharper, the way the air smelled fresher.
The entire forest was primed to celebrate the darkest day of the year.
Winnie could relate.
She hurried along the path, eager to cross into the veil as quickly as possible because Cathair would sense when she did. Their connection was that strong. It would only be a matter of moments before Cathair appeared at her side.
As she entered the ever-darker depths of the forest, a heavy feeling settled into her stomach. She had long since gotten over her fear of the woods. This was different. Not fear, but unease.
“Must be the hot cider,” she guessed. “Shouldn’t have downed it so quickly.”
But as she drew closer and closer to the veil itself, the feeling grew. Soon, her entire body shook with it. Something was wrong, and that worried her.
When she reached the small clearing where the path passed into the veil, Winnie fought the overwhelming urge to purge her cider onto the forest floor.
Whatever was happening, she wouldn’t let it stop her.
She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. Gradually, the sensation faded to dull nausea. She could deal with that.
Eyes open, she took a step forward and prepared to pass through the veil.
She crashed into what felt like a solid wall. Winnie blinked several times, trying to clear her vision. She placed her hands before her and tried again.
Again, she ran into a solid surface that wasn’t there. Or one that wasn’t visible anyway.
It could only be the veil.
Winnie’s hands reached out and felt the pulsating energy of it, a dark magic designed to keep curious humans out of the fae realm.
The veil wasn’t an actual barrier. It drove humans away with fear. It shouldn’t have been able to keep her out physically. If she was able to overcome her fear, entry should have been easy.
The fear hadn’t bothered her much since the first time she approached the veil on her own. With the spell of acceptance that Cathair had cast on her, she wasn’t supposed to be affected by the dark magic at all.
Judging from the nerves bubbling in her stomach, the spell must have worn off.
But still, it should not have been a physical barrier.
Maybe the realm had instituted stronger security for some reason. Winnie hadn’t dreamed of any new threats. Since Ultan’s defeat, tensions in the veil had been relatively low. Liam and Tearloch, the heads of the Palace Watch and Royal Guard were the nervous kind, though. They might have increased protections for the holidays, just in case.
Maybe she needed someone to escort her in.
“Hello?” Winnie called out into the seemingly empty forest. “Regan? Liam? Anyone?”
The Morainian guard patrolled this area of the forest. One of them should have been within earshot. They stood watch, ever at the ready to protect their clan from intruders.
And yet, there was nothing. No one. No guards. No fae. Nothing.
Winnie wasn’t sure whether to be annoyed, upset, or worried. She settled on a combination of all three.
Not knowing what else to do, she sat down on a fallen tree and waited for someone to come by.
If you want to find out what happens to Winnie (and characters from the Oh. My. Gods., Forgive My Fins, and Sweet Venom worlds in other stories) be sure to give Myths and Mistletoe a try!