Alternative POV Scene: Rowan in The Final Formula

As promised, here’s a new alternative POV scene from The Final Formula.  Like the first scene I did, this one is also in Rowan’s POV.  If you didn’t get to read the first one, it’s offered as a bonus when you sign up for my newsletter.  If you’d like to learn more about my newsletter, I did a post about it here.

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The Element and the Alchemist

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-two-glasses-burning-absinthe-image29511525

The door closed and Rowan slumped in his chair. Just one more petitioner to go. God, what a long morning. He leaned his head back and rubbed both hands over his face. Normally, this aspect of his job didn’t bother him. He actually enjoyed talking with his people and helping them settle disputes, or work out some magical anomaly. But he just couldn’t get into it today—and deep down, he knew why.

He shoved himself to his feet, and tugging up the hood of his gray robe, walked to the nearest bookshelf. He pulled down a book at random and began leafing through the pages, hoping something would draw his attention. Something to make him stop thinking about last night, when he found an intruder in the kitchen right here at the Elemental Offices. An intruder he had ended up kissing.

“Don’t go there,” he told himself, though it was too late. He was already thinking about the little thief in the skin-tight body suit he had caught pilfering one of his glasses. At some point, he had lost his mind and let her take a glass in exchange for a kiss. Clearly, he needed to take his brother’s advice and date more.

A knock sounded at the library door and Rowan’s heart beat quicker despite himself. She wouldn’t be knocking at his door. Hell, he would probably never see her again. No doubt, she congratulated herself on the successful heist of one of the Flame Lord’s glasses. It would impress her friends, or maybe the handsome young stud she was dating.

The double doors opened and Bradley stepped inside. The young man stood at attention, looking every bit the polished servant in his black livery. Rowan still found it a surprise that people of this day and age felt it an honor to work for him. Then too, the salary was good and the benefits generous. He probably would have been pleased with such a job as a young man, just starting out in the world.

“Your Grace?” Bradley said, his voice almost regal. “The last petitioners of the morning.” He gestured at the young man and the smaller hooded figure beside him.

Rowan resisted the urge to shake his head. Why did so many of the magical feel the need to dress in archaic clothing and imitate the mannerisms of some Hollywood-inspired mystic? All it did was give the non-magical more fodder to use against them. Though, that attitude probably made him appear a hypocrite. After all, here he stood in similar attire. But he only wore a robe to protect his identity. Otherwise, he would never have any privacy.

“Thank you, Bradley,” Rowan said, dismissing the servant.

The two new petitioners stood where they had stopped. Rowan couldn’t see the face of the smaller figure, but the young man beside her—it had to be a woman in that cloak—watched him with an unblinking attention that made Rowan a little nervous. Yes, the robed figure was a woman and this kid was her muscle.

Rowan walked back to the chair he had just vacated and laid his book on the table beside it. “What can I do for you?” he asked the pair.

“I have a few questions for you,” the cloaked figure said, confirming Rowan’s suspicions that she was indeed female. She walked over to him. “And a gesture of good will,” she added when she stopped before him.

“A gesture?” More like a bribe, Rowan suspected. “That’s not necessary.”

The woman didn’t answer. Instead, she reached in her pocket and pulled out something. She held it before him, rotating it in the light until he could see the engraved flame on the side of the crystal water glass.

Rowan’s heart surged in his chest. It was one of his glasses. Could it be the one he had bartered away for a kiss?

She took a step closer and set the glass on the table beside his book.

He eyed her, unable to make out any distinguishing features through the heavy black cloak, but the height was right. “Addie?”

Her head came up, the light falling on her lower face. Her lips moved. “Oh, shit.”

He chuckled at her reaction and reached out to push back her hood. It was indeed the same young woman from the night before. “Decide to return it?” he asked, trying to ignore the happy burst of adrenaline singing through his body.

“Rowan?” Her dark brows lifted.

He pushed back his own hood and grinned. She had come back. She had—

Wait. She hadn’t known until this moment that the man she’d kissed and the Flame Lord were one and the same. But she had come here this morning to see the Flame Lord, bearing the glass she had stolen.

He frowned, opening his mouth to question her.

She lifted her hand and snapped her fingers. A puff of green powder exploded in his face.

Rowan coughed and took a hasty step back. Was she attacking him? He reached for his element, intending to ash the dust she had thrown in his face.

The young man grabbed the front of his robe and shoved him backward with surprising force. Rowan slammed into the book shelf, knocking several volumes to the floor.

“James!” Addie called after him, alarm in her tone.

Rowan tried to push himself off the bookshelf, but the young man still had him by the front of his robe, holding him in place easily.

A faint glow lit the boy’s green eyes, but it wasn’t the glow that told Rowan this kid was something more. His intense stare triggered Rowan’s instincts and made him want to fight—or flee. The boy watched him like a predator watched its prey.

Falling back on years of training—and the element of surprise—Rowan struck the boy with a hard jab to the solar plexus.

The young man gasped and his grip on Rowan’s collar loosened.

Rowan hit him again, a blow to the sternum that knocked him back. The move gave him enough room to kick the young man’s legs out from under him and he landed on his butt at Rowan’s feet.

Again, Rowan reached for his magic, preparing to defend himself as he took a step toward his downed opponent.

“Stop!” Addie commanded.

Rowan did, instantly. What the hell? He shifted his attention to her.

“No magic,” she added.

Without conscious thought, Rowan clamped down on his high emotions, struggling to wrestle the Fire back into submission. It wasn’t easy, not with the rush of adrenaline when he realized she was making him do this. Was she some kind of hypnotist?

The young man sprang to his feet, but Addie stepped in front of him before he could attack. Doffing her cloak, she handed it to him before facing Rowan. She wore something like a robe, though the black garment was more fitted through the bodice. She crossed her arms and the long, loose sleeves parted at the points of her shoulders, revealing her bare arms and the tattoos encircling each of her biceps. Suddenly he recognized the garment—and the tattoos. She was an Alchemica alchemist. A secretive organization said to dabble in the dark arts and prior to the explosion that had supposedly killed them all, an organization that had been vying for power within the magical community. Perhaps they weren’t all dead, and now they had decided to make their move.

And he had let a pretty woman dupe him into ignoring all the warning signs.

“Shit,” Rowan muttered.

“See? A gesture of good faith.” She waved a hand at the glass. “Have a seat, Your Grace. This won’t take long.”

He gritted his teeth, but couldn’t resist the compulsion to pull out a chair and take a seat. “What did you give me?” he demanded.

“Do you want the formula?”

He glared, refusing to be baited.

“It’s just a little something to encourage your cooperation. I didn’t think you’d be willing to chat with me otherwise.”

“Aren’t you a brilliant girl?”

“Well, brilliant is stretching it.” Her smile lit up those dark eyes he’d found so intriguing last night. “But I can see where a one trick pony like you might think that.” She pulled a vial from one of the slim pockets lining her ribs and removed the lid. “Drink this.” She held out the vial.

He tried not to obey, but he couldn’t stop his hand from reaching out to take the vial. “What—” He didn’t even get to finish the question as he brought the vial to his mouth and drank it down. His heart hammered in his chest. Was it poison?

“Truth Serum,” she answered his unfinished question.

His stomach clenched. That might be worse than poison. He let the vial fall from his fingers and it shattered against the floor. He thought about his family: Era, Cora, Donovan. “I won’t betray my brethren, alchemist.” Rage filled him and he gripped the arms of his chair. The emotion called the Fire, and he felt it rise within him.

The boy, James, took a step toward him, but Addie caught his arm. “Would you quit?”

He frowned at her, but didn’t speak.

“What have you done to him?” Rowan demanded, furious that she clearly controlled this boy. “He’s magical.” He wanted to help the young man, but once again, he was unconsciously forcing the Fire away. God, that was so weird.

The boy’s dark brows lifted. Surprised that Rowan had come to his defense? “She’s given me nothing. I’m hers of my own will.”

Addie gave James a curious glance before addressing Rowan once more. “I didn’t come here to chat about who my friends are.”

“Why are you here?” He made effort to rein in his anger—more out of habit than a need to keep his magic under control.

“To ask a question. Why were you at the Alchemica the night it burned?”

“I received an invitation from your…” he glanced at her tattoos, trying to remember the pretentious titles the alchemists used, “Grand Master.”

“What? The Grand Master invited you to the Alchemica?”

“He invited all four of us. Shall I summon the others to vouch for me? They all saw the invitation. White linen embossed in gold. Talk about pretentious.”

“I don’t need verification. At the moment, your word is enough.” Her tone made it clear that she didn’t like having her words from the night before thrown back at her. “You’re certain the invitation came from the Grand Master?”

“You mean Aemilius Archimedes?” Rowan sneered at the name. “You know, if you alchemists insist on hiding behind a false name, you might want to find a more plausible one. Though he did scrawl Emil across the bottom of the invitation.”

Addie’s sharp gaze drifted away and she swayed on her feet.

James was at her side in an instant, gripping her shoulder. “Addie?”

She blinked a few times. “I’m okay,” she whispered to him. She looked surprised by his nearness, as if she hadn’t seen him move.

“Too many potions over the years?” Rowan made the quip in jest, but her dazed expression left him wondering. Who knew what she might have ingested during her time as an alchemist.

Her attention snapped back to him, and any confusion over her…episode was gone. “What happened to the Alchemica?”

He recalled the write up in the newspaper and answered honestly. “The papers said an explosion in the lab took down the building.”

“I’ve been there. The labs are intact. The explosion took place in the auditorium.” Her eyes narrowed. “You didn’t answer my question.”

Could he refuse to answer a question? “No, I didn’t burn down your Alchemica. If not for my brother Element throwing up a wall of earth, we would have been among the injured.”

“Injured? There were no injured. They all died!”

“You didn’t.”

Her hands curled into fists. “I saw you there when I lay in the rubble. What happened?” Her brow wrinkled and the despair in her tone made him feel almost sorry for her. Almost.

“All I know is that there was an explosion.”

Something in her expression changed and for a moment, she looked like she could cry. Abruptly, she lifted her chin and turned to James. “Let’s go.”

“That’s it?” Rowan asked. She wasn’t here to assassinate him?

Her eyes met his once more, her gaze direct. “Would you prefer I stay and question you some more?”

“Until this potion wears off?” He smiled. “Yes.”

She squared her shoulders and that stare didn’t waver. The girl had guts. “That’s not the only potion on my person.”

His eyes dropped to the pockets lining her ribs, then slid upward. The snug black fabric reminded him of that body suit she had worn the previous night. When his eyes returned to her face, he noticed the blush. She was thinking about last night, too.

He smiled. “I may be a one trick pony, but it’s a doozy of a trick. Are you certain you wouldn’t like to stay?”

“Tempting, but no thank you, Your Grace.” She gave him her back and James draped her cloak around her shoulders. So that was it. She was just going to leave.

“You thought I burned the Alchemica,” Rowan said.

She looked over her shoulder, her eyes meeting his.

“And if you’d been right?” he asked.

She turned to face him once more. “I would have avenged them.”

“By killing me,” he concluded. Her determination to make him fear her was amusing.

“You don’t think I would?”

Then too, she was an Alchemica alchemist. He shouldn’t let himself forget that. “I think you’d try.”

“Ah, you don’t think I could.” She gave him a soft laugh. “Tell me Rowan, are you immortal?”

The compulsion hit him with the force of a punch and the answer rolled out before he could even think of stopping it. “Yes.” He gripped the arms of his chair, furious that she had forced that from him.

She blinked. “Magic hasn’t been back long enough for you to know that.”

He kept his teeth clenched tight, refusing to answer. Once again, the Fire responded to his anger and rose within him. But just when he thought he could command it, he found himself forcing it away instead. Damn, this girl was good.

Addie smiled, her expression nothing but pure confidence and triumph. “Thank you for your time, Your Grace.” She walked to the door and grasped the knob. Like last night, she glanced back. “Don’t move and don’t call for help.”

“This isn’t over, alchemist.” He put every bit of his conviction into his words.

“Sure it is.” Her lips curled into a smug smile. “Nice to see you again, Rowan.” A final grin and she was gone.

Rowan tried to rise from his chair, but discovered he couldn’t make himself get up. Nor could he call out for Bradley. Though after he tried, he thought better of it. The alchemist was long gone by now and he would only look like an idiot for allowing himself to be duped.

“Damn it.” Rowan turned his head to glance at the clock. How long would he be stuck here? He glared at the ceiling. And the more burning question: how had she slipped through his defenses so easily?

Fifteen minutes slid slowly past and he found no answer. Well, no answer he wanted to admit. He straightened in his seat and gripped the arms of his chair. Focusing on his desire to stand, he shoved himself to his feet.

“Ha!” His voice echoed around the room and he glanced toward the door, suddenly embarrassed. Yes, Rowan, you have defeated the alchemist and managed to stand. She’s no doubt quaking at your awesome power.

He snatched up the glass and pulled back his arm to hurl it at the wall. But the anger to complete the act just wasn’t there. He lowered his arm and studied the glass he held, turning it in his palm to the engraved flame.

“You won this exchange, alchemist.” He released his suppressed emotions, igniting the air within the glass. For an instant, the glass held a blue fireball.

“But this is far from over.”

The fire winked out, the final glint of light catching on the etched flame. Rowan smiled. He was going to enjoy this.

4 comments

  1. David Eason

    I have been enjoying your final formula series. On finishing one book I have gone to the next to find out what new drama you have developed to keep my interest. I have not been disappointed yet. I noticed it was not simple to see which book was next after the second book. I am reading in Amazon Kindle. I just finished THE BLOOD ALCHEMIST.

    • Hi, David. Glad to hear you’re enjoying the series. If you click on “books” at the top of the page, you can see a list of titles in order. If you’re reading the novellas–which I do recommend for a fuller experience–the next title after The Blood Alchemist is The Necromancer’s Betrayal. If you’re only reading the novels, the next title is The Alchemist’s Flame. Thanks for giving my books a try!

  2. Rachelle

    Absolutely love reading these different POVs! Just finished everything, I wish I could keep reading Rowan’s POV!

    So happy that I searched this series online and came across your website by chance. Although I read the novellas, finding and reading these small excerpts was indeed a treat. Thank you!

    • Hi, Rachelle. So glad you’re enjoying the extras and rest of it. 🙂 In case you missed it, you can score another Rowan POV scene by signing up for the newsletter. Thanks for reading!

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