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Authors: penelope fletcher

Demon Dark (5 page)

BOOK: Demon Dark
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My eyes closed, and I lifted my brows slightly in question.

It means you cannot be taken from me. Our High Lord will finally bless us.

 

My lifted brows lowered in worry.

Couldn t he try to separate us?

 

Lochlann clung to the argument that historically High Priestesses and High Lords mated. I was going to have to be firm the next time the subject came up because it would and my past attempts to claim Breandan as my own to the Tribe had failed miserably.

 

The High Lord that tried to separate a bonded pair before lost an entire Wyld. That is something Lochlann would not allow.

 

We can t let it happen either. We were lucky nobody was hurt at Temple.

 

Not luck. Many people owe Ana and Conall their lives. If they hadn t held us back as long as they did, we wouldn t be as calm about the experience as we are. We would be hunted.

 

I scowled.

Uhuh. I saw you and Conall fighting. I didn t like it.

 

He had the right, some things to get off his chest.

 

He slammed your head onto the ground,

I protested.

Repeatedly.

 

You think my face is too pretty to take such a beating?

 

I smacked his shoulder.

Not even your skull is hard enough to be blasé about it.

 

I was planning to mate his baby sister,

Breandan replied dryly.

Had someone looked at Maeve the way I looked at you, I would have tried to kill them too.

 

He tried to kill you?

I squeaked.

I thought that you were just sparring and &.

I trailed off knowing how dumb I sounded.

 

Conall had known that the bond existed between us, and had known what would happen if we came together so frantically after such a long separation, not to mention he was the Elder of my family, protecting our honor. He was also simply my older brother, and a natural protectiveness would have kicked in.

 

The two of them had to reconcile this rift between them. It had gone on for too long and was swiftly getting out of hand.

 

I eyed Breandan.

Would you have killed him?

 

You ve had little time with your family, and I know how much they mean to you. I avoided it because my greatest wish is to make you happy and his death would not have seen to that.

 

I had a clear memory of Breandan standing over an unconscious Conall. It was clear because we had locked eyes a moment after and the heat between us had sent me into a frenzy. He could have ended my brother then, well within his rights as Conall attacked with the intention of seriously hurting him.

 

Conall and I were long overdue a talk. Maybe we could slip away for a few hours after things began to settle and we d figured out what to do with the he-witch.

 

I was interested to know if Lochlann prepared to fight him, and had been all this time.

 

Breandan, you saw Cael, didn t you?

 

He stiffened ever so slightly.

Hmmm.

 

I ve been thinking, about the way he looked at me, the way it felt when I touched him. This will sound weird, but, I knew him. It was like looking in the mirror or through fog? Damn it.

I shook my head.

That doesn t sound right, I can t explain well.

I looked at him, seeing if he had noticed anything strange about the man.

Did you feel anything? Did you know about him?

 

I knew he was Ana s father, and I knew he was searching for you and the amulets.

He shrugged.

But you are the Priestess. Many people will search for you.

 

Yes, but I doubt all of them can summon lightning to smack me in the forehead.

I rubbed the cool, segmented links of the circlet on my brow. I crossed my eyes and looked up, seeking the gentle sparkle I knew would be there.

 

Breandan chuckled.

What are you doing?

 

Trying to see my circlet.

I pushed some hair away then finally gave up, briefly rubbing my nose in agitation as my mind wheeled back around to the rather large problem of Cael.

I wish I d known about him sooner. I feel unprepared to deal with how dangerous he is.

 

There were more pressing issues than telling you of all the adversaries you would have to face. It has been a long time since any real order has been imposed on the world.

 

I guess, but I still think a small heads up would have gone a long way. He just appeared out of nowhere in the middle of a fight. If I hadn t visited Papa Obe, and he hadn t blessed me, the gods only know what might have happened when Cael used his witchcraft. I mean, did you see when that lightning stuck me? I thought my head would explode.

 

You visited a Houngan?

he asked sharply.

You called on the Loa?

 

I shifted, hearing the distant rumblings of anger beneath his calm.

Well, yes. Papa Obe called on them. That s how Voodoo works, right, the Loa lend him the power.

 

Did he give you anything to keep? A bag, a charm maybe, anything?

 

Stunned by how he started to pat me down and flap my clothing I batted his hands away.

No.

 

Did you leave any clothes or hair behind? Did you touch anything?

 

Well of course I touched things. I didn t leave any hair behind, I mean, who does that?

I paused,

Though I do play with it a lot, so some might have fallen out, I don t know.

 

He shook me, rattling my teeth.

Never speak to that man again. The Vodoun don t play by the same rules we do. They trap the dead and dance with gods. They do the bidding of those who have passed over, one foot in, and one out. They re no good. You mustn t give them any power over you and you must never accept gifts.

 

But I already have, he gave me the shield. I told you, it saved my life.

 

Whatever this Houngan said or gave, he did so for his gods, not for you, and most certainly not out of the goodness of his heart & if he still has one.

 

I hear you, let me go.

I pushed his hands off me and rubbed my arms.

 

How was I supposed to know all this? When Roland risked himself to save me from the Clerics and secreted us to the Slum Dwells to hide in Papa Obe s shack I d been a mess. Yes, I had been uneasy at the time, but my shock over seeing Lex as a zombie then rejecting Tomas had sent me a little barmy.

 

Overall, I did the best I could do at the time. Papa Obe s blessing had been creepy as hell, but it had saved my life. If that meant there were gods looking down on me, and protecting me, why couldn t that be a good thing? I pray and curse to them enough, it was kind of reassuring to know they re actually listening.

 

Why is it not okay to receive protection from the Loa?

I asked, knowing a sulky silence was going to get me no answers.

They re gods, they meant to help guide us aren t they?

 

Breandan ceased his brooding stare into the middle distance and fixed me with a cross look.

This is why Conall and I wanted you to pay attention to our teachings. There is too much you don t yet know about our enemies and us as a people. You ll never be safe unless you learn how to protect yourself, and there is no greater protection than knowledge.

 

I twisted around and settled my back against him.

Fine. Why are the Loa a danger to me?

 

They re godlings, minor deities, two men and one woman who were once mortal but died and returned to their bodies as divine spirits. They interfere in this world and as far back as we can remember they have tried to cross over. They meddle, and delight in it. They use the Vodoun to extend their reach letting the Mambos and Bokors touch the Source by channeling magics through them. Their High Priests, the Houngan, can hear their whispers, warnings and instructions.

 

Wow. That is downright creepy.

I picked at the edge of my tunic, wondering what the Loa really got out of giving power to their followers.

It seems like a kindness, to give lesser beings more power and in return only ask for a bit of worship.

 

Ah, but is that the true price? The Vodoun were hunted down by humans, and we did not stop them. We could see that behind the grand displays of magic that the Vodoun were greedy and self-centered. Their darkness is not as obvious as is with witchcraft, but it s no less potent. The Loa themselves retain too much human emotion to achieve omnipotent rule like the gods from the upper echelons. They use power hungry humans as their weapons in this world, and that confirms they cannot be trusted.

 

They want something else?

 

To return here, to this world.

 

Oh.

I pondered that. Powerful godlings set loose on the world. Who would have the power to control them?

Them coming here is not a good thing is it?

 

No, but do not fear, since they first appeared the Vodoun have tried to pull their masters over here. The human form is not able to withstand the level of power it takes to complete the bridging between worlds. The Otherworld is held far apart, and the gods wisely limit entry. Once you pass over there s little chance of coming back.

 

So why don t the Loa give up?

 

Stubborn.

Breandan kissed my shoulder.

They remind me of someone I know.

 

Playfully slapping his leg, I giggled when his hands crept up my side and wiggled.

Thank you for telling me more about them, I was curious.

 

You always are.

His fingers climbed up my sides, and I clamped my arms down.

 

The Loa aside, their followers can t all be that bad. Ro helped me escape, and Lex has been my best friend for years. Let s not forget we wouldn t have the amulets if they hadn t helped our ancestors.

 

True. I did not say they were evil, I don t truly think there are many beings who are wholly evil, all have some light in them, but the there are those who are born with more darkness than others.

 

Like vampires and witches,

I muttered.

 

Yes.

Breandan s fingers inched higher and rested on my ribcage. He wiggled them teasingly, and pig-like snorts of laughter tripped from my lips. I squirmed; mortified such unattractive noises had come from me. Who knew what I d do next. I d probably bray like a donkey if he kept at it.

You re ticklish,

he mused, and his fingers twitched.

 

Grabbing his hands, I pulled them down and around me to rest on my lap. This madness stopped now. I scanned by brain for a distraction.

Thirsty,

I blurted triumphantly.

 

He laughed.

You want the water? Bring it to us.

Nodding, I was setting myself into motion, but Breandan placed his hands on my waist and held me still.

No Rae. Bring us the water.

 

He was talking in riddles and code again and I hated it. We stared at each other. I rolled my eyes.

You know I m not going to work it out so just tell me.

 

He took my hand and entwined our fingers, his hand on top. Leaning us over, he placed my palm on the earth and helped me burrow in until only the back of his hand was visible.

 

The forest and the woods are our home,

he said.

Everything we need grows here. We gather berries. Pick fruit, dig for vegetables, and plant grain for harvesting. With the help of those who can physically touch the Source, the magic all fairies are born with helps these things grow. We want for nothing. Wyld Knights are taught basic spells of protection for battle, and how to harness their natural connection with the earth to provide them sustenance when far from home.

 

We re going to call the water here?

 

It flows deep underground and gathers in lakes before reaching the sea. This region is surrounded by water call some to you.

 

And do what with it?

 

Make a spring.

 

I scoffed.

You say it like it s easy. When I think of water I think of pipes and taps.

 

How many times must I remind you you re not human and you can no longer live like one?

 

Easier said than done,

I grumbled and wiggled my fingers.

 

Right. A spring. What the hell did a spring look like? To conjure with magic, I imagined the thing I wanted in my head and channeled the Source, just like Conall had shown me. He had said eventually I wouldn t need to visualize, just think it, but I wasn t quite there yet. Problem was, I couldn t remember ever seeing a spring. I d seen lakes and ponds. I d never seen the sea, but Breandan said we could go once this was all done, he claimed there were fairies that lived close to the water.

 

Think of a clear spurt of water breaking free from the earth,

Breandan murmured in my ear as he moved his hand over mine, coaxing my fingers to rake the earth.

Imagine the water flowing towards you, passing through the soil in a steady stream before shooting up to breach the surface.

 

Our palms warmed and I knew he used magics. I added my own power, holding fast to the image of clear water punching through the soil and trickling over our hands. The earth under my palms rose, the grains from underneath popping out the top and tumbling down as a small mountain no higher then my knee grew. Out the top spurted a cool trickle of water that ran over our hands and through our fingers.

 

I laughed, amazed, and Breandan turned our hands over so we could gather a small puddle.

 

There. I knew you could do it.

He nuzzled my neck as I stared at the flow of water that had begun to trickle away from us into the undergrowth.

BOOK: Demon Dark
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