To Tempt a Sorcerer (a Brides of Prophecy spinoff)

Brooklyn Ann

Tiana Dìlleachdan was raised in a mage school. Her pointed ears and the lock of faelin hair she was found with make half of her parentage known, but the other half was kept secret—until she is chosen by high sorcerer, Rayven Niltsiar to be his apprentice. Tiana knows that the grumpy mage only wants her for her lineage, but something about the rare smiles she teases out of him makes her long for him to want more.

Rayven Niltsiar, rival of the King, has been feared for centuries. He'd always refused to take an apprentice—until a beautiful mage with a secret lineage enters his nightmare forest for cooking herbs. With Tiana at his side, he will achieve his constant goal: accumulate more power.

But as the world of Aisthanesthai prepares for war and Tiana's training progresses, Rayven comes to learn that there's more to life than power—just as impending danger and revealed secrets place him at risk of losing her forever.

Subgenres: fantasy romance, new adult romance, urban fantasy

Tropes: grumpy-sunshine romance, college romance, age gap romance, alpha hero, grumpy hero, slow burn, colleagues to lovers, forbidden romance, strong heroine, master and apprentice romance


Mage’s University of Desmana

Shalafi, Aisthanesthai


Tiana Dìlleachdan shouldered a large basket and walked quickly through the common room, hoping her classmates ignored her.

A hand seized her shoulder roughly. “Where do you think you’re going, penny-head?”

Sallie had given Tiana the ridiculous nickname to mock her metallic copper hair back when they wore the white robes of beginner mages. The headmistress and teachers had made Tiana cover her hair with a glamour spell to make it look plain brown, so as not to distract the other students. But Sallie had seen her real hair in their fourth year at the primary mage school and had never let Tiana forget it.

Tiana turned with a sigh to face her nemesis. “Why do you care where I go?”

“The headmistress and directrix are gone, so no one’s supposed to leave campus until they get back.”


“Yeah,” Mara Luni said. “You’ll get in trouble.”

Delia Brewer was the only one of the Wolfsbane Coven who spoke to Tiana without rancor. “Don’t you want to know what answer they’ll bring back from Lord Niltsiar?”

“I already know.” Tiana suppressed an impatient sigh. “Same as the last hundred times. No.”

Sallie sneered. “I know you’ve lived at the school for the past twenty-four years, but that doesn’t make you know everything. Besides, how do you know if Lord Niltsiar’s been asked a hundred times to take a Desmana student as an apprentice?”

“Because the directrix told me.” Tiana shifted her empty basket from one hand to another. “Every three years, the school officials ask Lord Niltsiar if he will take an apprentice, and every three years, Niltsiar sends them on their way with gold and some magical contribution. Last time was a rare spell book, and the time before last was eight ounces of starleaf.” She couldn’t suppress a wistful tone at the memory of the difficult-to-acquire herb. “Honestly, I think the reason the school pays these visits is for the funds and gifts, and they don’t really care whether or not he ever takes an apprentice.”

“Then they shouldn’t have to visit him at all,” Sallie declared with an imperious sniff. “As the high sorcerer of Shalafi and longest-standing member of the mage council of Desmana, it is Niltsiar’s duty to be the school’s biggest patron.”

Tiana didn’t disagree, but she wasn’t going to give Sallie the satisfaction of an assent. “I suspect that he wants the visits. He’s probably lonely, having lived in that tower alone for a thousand years.”

Lonely?” Mara echoed with a mocking laugh. “He’s a monster. Women have been seen going into his tower, but they never come out. He probably kills them or makes them part of some horrible experiments like Mephistopheles is said to do.”

Tiana shook her head, used to the many rumors about the ancient reclusive high sorcerer. Rayven Niltsiar was feared throughout the duchy of Shalafi and beyond. In the primary mage school, they were warned that if they didn’t behave, the high sorcerer of Shalafi would take their eyes and fingers for his spells. Never mind the fact that he never visited the school, even though she’d heard that was supposed to be a high sorcerer’s duty to his county.

She’d never feared him, even when she was a small child. Tiana couldn’t recall ever being afraid of anything. It was yet another attribute that alienated her from her peers.

There was one thing that interested her about Niltsiar, and that was his nightmare forest. Or rather, some precious herbs growing within the groves of twisted trees. She’d been waiting for the headmistress and directrix to embark on one of their visits to the high sorcerer’s tower, giving her the opportunity to leave campus and enter the forest with no risk of being caught by either party.

But Sallie and her coven had detained her for far too long. Tiana slipped away while they continued to argue and speculate on Niltsiar’s dastardly deeds. To regain some lost time, she used some of her energy on a teleportation spell, but as usual, it didn’t take her far. Tiana didn’t mind, since she was proud to finally be gaining a skill that wouldn’t be taught for another year or two, when her class began training for the blue robes.

A mage’s robes coincided with their level of power and training. White robes were for children just beginning to learn magic from their parents, or at primary mage school. Yellow was for children in junior mage school as well as skilled amateur humans who didn’t have formal training. Green and red were for intermediate mages, while blue, purple, and black belonged to the highest levels. Most mages stopped training once they achieved blue. The University of Desmana, along with every other university, began at the red robe level, and only taught as high as purple. Those who wanted further training needed to find an apprenticeship with a high sorcerer.

Tiana wasn’t sure whether or not she wanted to seek out a high sorcerer to help her gain a higher power level than blue. But she couldn’t wait to get out of her red robes, which were almost as conspicuous and clashing with her skin and real hair color as the yellow robes in junior school had been.

As Tiana walked towards the nightmare forest that guarded Rayven Niltsiar’s tower, she wished her only friend, Akinyi could be with her. But Akinyi was in bed with a broken leg after her levitation spell backfired. Tiana suspected that Sallie’s coven had sabotaged Akinyi. They had to still be angry at Akinyi for the hair potion incident.

The crisp air and the late autumn sun warmed her back and raised her spirits. Tiana hoped that in addition to the majerium, she’d find some marrow root, which was crucial for a bone mending spell. If there wasn’t, she’d sneak out to the village and see if a Wurrak healer was in town.

When at last she came to the western border of the nightmare forest, Tiana rejoiced. Unlike the new king’s forest, which was said to include specters, carnivorous trees, and other actual denizens from people’s worst dreams, Rayven’s forest simply emitted a sense of pure terror that kept everyone out and guarded his tower, which rose up from the center of the gnarled trees like a black scepter.

Tiana had first discovered her immunity to the forest’s powers a little over three months ago, when Sallie’s coven had set loose a hive of wasps at her. She’d run over a mile past the campus grounds. Only when she’d been several yards beneath the twisted boughs did she realize that she was inside the infamous nightmare forest of the high sorcerer of Shalafi. Sprouting up from the lush forest floor were morel mushrooms. Tiana had filled her robe pockets and returned to the campus in triumph, where she’d made a delicious creamy soup for her, Akinyi, and Sloane, the teacher who’d found Tiana in a riverbed twenty-four years ago. But she’d also found another treasure sprouting in the underbrush of that forest: shoots of majerium, which not only worked beautifully in seeking spells, but also added divine flavor to many dishes. It wasn’t ready to harvest until autumn.

Now, as Tiana entered the forest for the second time, all was quiet. There was something distinctly unsettling about the lack of birdsong, the missing buzz of insects, and no chittering of animals in the trees. A slight breeze wended between the gnarled gray trees, making them creak, groan, and howl through their various crevices. She walked further beneath the boughs, searching for signs of the majerium in the undergrowth. Toadstools and what could be a species of vision quest mushrooms sprouted up in plenty. Tiana crouched down and gathered a few, cutting the stems with her herb knife, so as not to disturb the underground mycelium network. Soon, she was so deep within the forest that she had to call up an illumination spell.

The orb of light hovered a few inches above her forehead, helpfully revealing the forest floor while keeping her from crashing headfirst into a tree. She wished the orb could emit heat as well. It was a lot cooler in the dark wood than it was outside. A few minutes later, she found the delicate six-pointed leaves of the majerium. Tiana claimed the anticipated harvest, making sure to leave enough plants to go to seed and propagate next autumn. As if to reward her, the forest revealed stalks of marrow root on her path. Now she could make bone-mending tea for Akinyi.

While pulled up the thin stalks to dig up the thick, white roots, Tiana sang softly to herself. “Death of an Angel” by Rage of Angels, the Earth realm band she and Akinyi had been obsessed with. When the lead singer, Xochitl Leonine, was brought to Aisthanesthai and revealed to be the Lioness of Light from the Prophecy, Tiana and Akinyi felt like the only people in the entire world who weren’t shocked at that development. What surprised them was that no one else in their world had figured out that Xochitl was special and magical. Even other fans of Earth entertainment first sneered at the idea of any magic being left on that barren planet. But then they gave way to gaping awe when Xochitl and Rage of Angels proved otherwise, bringing back the sun and crowning Zareth Amotken as the new King of Aisthanesthai.

A wistful sigh escaped her lips. The King and Queen of Aisthanesthai had toured multiple territories of Aisthanesthai after they’d married. Tiana and Akinyi were dying to meet Xochitl Leonine, but thus far, their queen and musical idol had yet to pay a visit to Shalafi, much less the mage school of Desmana. But they knew such a visit was unlikely because Zareth Amotken, the new king, and Rayven Niltsiar were on hostile terms with each other.

Tiana didn’t know the reason behind the animosity. Only that Rayven had been Zareth’s apprentice nearly a thousand years ago, and that they’d parted on bad terms. Rayven had ascended to the ranks of the black robes on his own and taken on a hydra, a non-corporeal demon that fed on emotions and sustained its host, gaining immortality. Such a feat had never been known to be accomplished before without help. Zareth hadn’t taken an apprentice until Xochitl Leonine. Rayven never had an apprentice. And from the pattern of his constant refusals, he likely never would.

Probably for the best, Tiana thought. The man has to be the most unpleasant person in the world to have spawned such foreboding rumors.

“Well, well,” a raspy voice spoke behind her. “It seems I’ve found a trespasser.”

Tiana jerked to her feet, her basket slipping from her fingers to tumble onto the ground.

A tall thin figure in black velvet robes loomed over her. The pale jewel atop his mage’s staff not only made a shield from the effects of the nightmare forest, but also illuminated his golden eyes, white-streaked black hair, and saturnine features.

“Lord Niltsiar,” Tiana whispered, unable to hide her awe at his unique appearance and the power that radiated from him, leaking past his shield.

“Who else would you expect it to be? These are my lands.” The sorcerer raised a sardonic brow before those startling gold eyes narrowed. “I’m supposed to be here. Unlike you, little luminite. I thought Kerainne Leonine was the only survivor of the destruction of Medicia. Or did you come down from Luminista?”

“I’m not a luminite.” Tiana was too taken aback by his bizarre error to apologize for trespassing. She lifted her hand and moved her hair to reveal one of her pointed ears. “I’m faelin.”

He walked closer and bent down as if his vision was poor. Yet Tiana was certain he could see her perfectly from where he’d been. His fingers lightly sifted through a lock of her hair, making her scalp tingle. She wondered if he could sense the glamour. “Faelin ears and eyes, yes. The fingers, almost.”

Something in his tone seemed mocking. Tiana glared up at him. “Your eyes aren’t human or faelin. What are you?”

His thin lips quirked. “Nothing pure, that’s for certain. What is your name, girl?”

Nothing pure. An odd answer that told much while also not answering the question at all. “Tiana Dìlleachdan. And I’m a woman, not a girl.”

“Dìlleachdan. The name given to all foundlings. Where do you come from, foundling, and why are you in my forest?”

Between flinching at the battery of questions whose answers never satisfied anyone, the truth that she was indeed trespassing sank in Tiana’s stomach like a heavy stone. “I’m from the university. I am sorry for entering your forest without permission. I wasn’t intending any harm. I only wanted to gather some majerium.”

Lord Niltsiar looked down at the spilled contents of her basket and smirked. “And some marrow root and vision-quest mushrooms, I see.”

“Well, they were there, so…” She shrugged.

“You must be intending a strong seeking.”

“No. I want the majerium for cooking mostly.” She put her hands in her robe pockets to warm them.

“Cooking,” the sorcerer repeated with a chuckle. “Well, gather your harvest, and let’s be on our way.”

“Thank you for letting me keep them,” Tiana murmured, then knelt to scoop the mushrooms, marrow root, and majerium back into her basket. Then, the rest of his words sank in and she bolted back to her feet. “Wait, where are you taking me?”

“To my tower to warm up. I’ll not send you back to the school red-nosed and shivering.” His long fingers closed around her forearm as he pulled her forward, not ungently.

Tiana shivered again, this time not from the cold she’d hardly noticed. In fact, the heat of his hand seemed to burn through the velvet of her cloak. “If you don’t mind, I’d rather go back the way I came. The directrix and headmistress said no one was to leave campus while they were visiting you, so if they see me enter your tower…”

“That ship has sailed since they departed an hour ago.”


He quirked a brow at the epithet. “Well, since you’re going to be in trouble anyway, you may as well have a comfortable return.”

Once more, her mouth got away from her. “I’d heard that women who enter your tower don’t come out.”

The sorcerer laughed, a low, raspy sound as if unused to mirth. “The way you said that. You’re not afraid of me.”

“No.” Tiana wondered what was so amusing. “After all, the directrix and headmistress always return. And if you were killing people, the Conclave would have an issue. Or the King.”

“Fuck the King.”

Shit. She should have known better than to mention King Zareth in his presence. Tiana forced an airy tone. “What I meant was that I’m certain you’ll let me return to the school.”

“You shouldn’t be.”

Brooklyn Ann

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