A Conjuring of Ravens

A Practical Guide to Sorcery Book 1

Siobhan Naught loves magic.

In a world where magic is a science controlled by the elite, she has the mind for it, too. But when she becomes an unwitting accomplice to the theft of a priceless magical artifact, she is banned from the country’s only magical university. Unwilling to give up on her dream of becoming the world’s most powerful sorcerer, she will do anything to change her fate.

Even if that means magically disguising herself as a boy and borrowing tuition money from a gang of criminals.

With the coppers after her, the pressure of vying against her fellow students to keep her spot in the devilishly competitive classes, and the gang calling in favors to repay her debts, Siobhan will need every drop of magic she can channel.

Chapter 1: Escape Via Unexpected Transmutation

Siobhan

Month 9, Day 28, Monday 1:00 a.m.

For once, Siobhan felt grateful that the average person was such an imbecile. Even in a big city like Gilbratha, the coppers were no exception. Shivering in the dark, she took another peek out of the alley behind the inn, tugging down the hood of her ratty, stolen cloak. She had to be sure the ambush they’d set couldn’t snap shut around her. They were positioned at the street corners, and she guessed they were waiting in the inn’s common room, and probably outside her door, as well.

The coppers had the right idea, staking out the room her father had rented for them.

Siobhan would have preferred not to return to the inn. But she had no choice, because her belongings, including her grimoire, were there. She couldn’t afford to lose what little she had.

Except, the coppers had apparently failed to consider the fact that she wasn’t a blazing idiot. She wouldn’t simply walk, oblivious, through the front door. As far as she knew, the room was still undisturbed, probably because they had noticed the rudimentary alarm ward she’d set on the doorframe. Tripping it would have alerted her to the manhunt’s progress and kept her from walking into their trap.

Either that, or they’d subverted the ward and were waiting for her in the unlit room, the more obvious guards only a decoy encouraging her to discard her vigilance.

Siobhan grimaced, looking up at the dark, many-paned window on the second floor. She would be careful. ‘Climbing a building can’t be so hard, can it? It’s not as if I have a choice, after all.’ With a nervous breath and a very careful twisting of her thoughts away from the possibility of falling, she crossed the alley. Her hands reached for the wooden slats, and she began to climb, fitting fingers and the tips of her boots wherever she could.

The wood was faintly damp, and in more than a few places had bred a slimy film. When she reached the second floor, her right hand slipped, but she managed not to cry out. She broke a few of the nails on her left hand digging her fingers even harder into the crevasse. ‘And it took so much effort to grow those nails,’ she thought wryly. ‘I guess I really never will fit into high society.’ She shuffled sideways till she reached the window of the room she’d left that morning, a time which now seemed a lifetime away, full of innocence and hope.

Bracing the toes of her boots between the wooden siding panels, she peeked in, moving her head slowly to avoid drawing notice. Her fingers trembled on the edge of the sill with the pressure she placed on them. She was excruciatingly conscious of how close she was to falling backward. She saw no one within, no inky shadows that looked more suspicious than any other.

Siobhan had placed the alarm ward over the window as well, but that didn’t matter, unless they were very much cleverer than she was giving them credit for. If they were that clever, she would simply have to run, again.

No, the problem was her lack of formal training or experience with breaking and entering. The latch was locked from the inside. She was sure there were spells that could reach through a barrier and undo a simple latch-lock. However, she didn’t know any of them.

That would have posed a problem, if not for the versatile nature of sorcery.

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