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The Witch King (Witch King Duology #1) by H E Edgmon

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Books by H.E. Edgmon
available from Inkyard Press
The Witch King
THE WITCH KING
H.E. EDGMON
For every trans kid scared to embrace their magic. A new world is waiting.
We need you in it.
Contents
A Note from the Author
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Twenty-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Acknowledgments
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
DEAR READER,
My debut novel, THE WITCH KING, is not the first book I ever wrote. For
years before sitting down with this story, I fretted away at other manuscripts.
I’d always known I wanted to be a writer. It was obvious, from a very young
age, tromping through southern swamplands and talking to the creatures my
imagination concocted, I only ever half-existed in this world. The rest of me
was elsewhere, in places of my own creation, and writing allowed me to
craft a doorway through which others could join me.
The problem was fear. I was terrified. See, the stories I wrote before this
were not bad. They were interesting and heartfelt and each one made me a
little better at what I do. But they were not honest. I wanted so desperately to
share my inner world with other people, but I didn’t believe I could show the
truth of it. For as far back as I can remember, there have been parts of me
I’ve been made to feel ashamed of. And I truly believed, if I put all of those
parts onto paper, no one would ever want to read about them. How could I
expect you, Reader, to embrace the pieces of me I was struggling to come to
terms with myself?
THE WITCH KING is what happened when I finally confronted that fear
head-on. Wyatt Croft is the closest thing to a piece of my own heart I’ve ever
written. Into him, I poured so much of myself. All the parts of me I’d been
taught to hide, I handed him. His transness, his gayness, his trauma and anger
—all of them he inherited from me. And as such, he also inherited my shame.
But as I finally allowed myself to deal with these things on paper, coming to
terms with them in the real world became easier and easier. If I could love
Wyatt, if I could recognize he was just a boy doing his best to handle
impossible situations, if I could accept he was flawed but no less deserving
of a happy ending, I could extend myself the same compassion.
And in that way, this book became about embracing ourselves for
precisely who we are. Wyatt’s struggles as a witch mirror many of the
struggles queer people, especially trans people, face in the real world. He
deals with losing those who are supposed to love him and the guilt of that
loss. He’s treated like a pariah by a regime that does not want to understand
him. And he feels as if his future is not his own, being forced to simply play a
role he knows he doesn’t actually belong in.
Unfortunately, because of the exploration of trauma I finally allowed
myself to write, there is content in these pages that has the potential to trigger
you. Specifically, I would like to issue warnings for: violence, child abuse,
childhood sexual harassment and assault, allusions to pedophilia, suicidal
ideation and mentions of suicide, misgendering, drug use, and mentions of
infertility and miscarriage. I want you to go into this book prepared for what
you may find.
But I also want to be clear that this is not a queer pain narrative. It is a
story about queer hope. Because Wyatt is also capable of incredible humor in
the face of terror. He’s powerful in ways he doesn’t even realize yet. He’s
wanted. And he is so loved. For every person he’s lost because of who he is,
there is someone who truly loves the most authentic version of him. This, too,
mirrors the experiences of our community. We are not defined only by the
worst things that happen to us.
Writing this book was a healing experience for me. And I’ll admit, I’m
still a little afraid. It is a vulnerable act to take a piece of my heart and hand
it off to a stranger. But I’m also hopeful. I’m hopeful this story will land in
the hands of those who need it most. Hopeful Wyatt’s journey will resonate
with you, and maybe offer you a bit of the same healing it gave me.
Now, come on. Let’s step through the doorway together.
—H.E. EDGMON
CHAPTER ONE
DEATH, REVERSED
I open the back door to let the dogs out, and Nadua’s got her gardening shears
buried like a knife in one of my fiancé’s wings.
Today turning out to be a shitshow isn’t a huge surprise. Every morning, I
pull a card from my tarot deck to get an idea of what the day stretched out in
front of me might hold. It’s the one piece of magic I let myself dabble in, the
one reminder of my old life, besides the scars. This morning, I pulled Death,
reversed.
Resistance to change. Refusal to let go. Bitterness. Transformation.
I’d known right then and there something unfortunate was about to go
down, but I hadn’t expected him.
Emyr North. Prince of the North American fae.
The first sight of him in years doesn’t put me on my ass the way I always
worried it might, though the feral animal of my heart threatens to claw its
way out of my rib cage.
Down, boy.
He looks like he did three years ago, but also not. Every part of him is
bigger than the lanky pubescent boy I remember. His body has stretched from
boyhood to manhood, gangly limbs giving way to chiseled muscle and a
frame that has to be a foot taller than my own. All the pieces might be bigger
than they used to be, but it doesn’t matter. I would know the pieces of him
anywhere.
Massive brown wings—thin, veined, and leathery—stretch out on either
side of him, tipped with golden claws. His horns have curled into two spirals
of soft brown atop his forehead, glinting gold in the light of the afternoon
Texas sun. His fangs, long and lethal, peek over his lower lip.
The last time I saw him, he was just a boy. Now he’s a monster.
The fae are all monsters.
But so am I.
He’s more put-together than I remember, too. No more dirt stains on his
knees or leaves tangled in his hair from romping around in the woods. His
nearly obsidian skin is flawless, the sides of his head shaved to expose the
dramatic points of his ears but left long down the center of his skull.
He’s dressed in a pink suit so dark it could be red, patterned with gold
flowers, subtle enough that they almost blend into the pink fabric. A chain is
hooked into his septum ring and stretches up to connect to a gold cuff on the
tip of his ear, and an assortment of bejeweled rings decorate his long fingers,
necklaces dangling around his neck. His lids are painted with black eyeliner
and a shimmery golden powder.
The softness I remember from our youth has been carved away to reveal
the regal warrior underneath. Even with blood spilling from the wound in his
wing, he looks like he’s the one in control.
One thing hasn’t changed. The golden glow of his energy sweeps around
him like a halo, framing the sharp angles of his face, draping down over his
shoulders. A constant emanation of light, like he’s some kind of wicked
angel.
Of course he’s beautiful. But he was beautiful the last time I saw him. It
doesn’t change anything.
I still don’t want him here. I never wanted him to find me.
The dogs rush him, losing their ever-loving minds, barking like they do
whenever a rabbit hangs out just past the fence line. He doesn’t seem to
notice them. Some of those mutts are near a hundred pounds, and he’s got six
of them banging up against his legs, but he doesn’t sway an inch. Neither do
Nadua’s fingers around the shears.
There are three types of fae magic: Feeling, Influencing, and Healing.
Emyr is a Healer, able to use his magic like medicine on wounds. Not just the
kind that come from weapons, either. Healers

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