Authors: Scott Prussing
This is a work of fiction. All the characters or events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2012 by Scott Prussing Publishing
All rights reserved.
Scott Prussing Publishing
1027 Felspar St.
San Diego, CA 92109
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eesa Nyland sat on the fender of her rented Ford, exhausted. Her wizard mentor Dominic leaned against the car alongside her. Just a little more than half an hour before, she thought they both were about to die at the hands of the deadly black waziri—renegade members of Dominic’s own clan who had been tracking him for more than a century. Only the unexpected appearance of four vampires—who had torn out the throats of the weakened wizards—had saved them.
With her own nascent magic diminished by the same mysterious spell that had sucked much of the magic out of Dominic and the black waziri, Leesa had played only a very small role in the battle. Still, the fear and anxiety engendered by the near death experience—combined with the ebbing of the adrenaline rush inside her body—had left her drained.
She turned toward Dominic. He looked far less tired than she felt, but he had been doing this kind of stuff for hundreds of years and was much more used to it. His black button-down shirt and khaki pants looked as if they had just come out of a closet—the result of a minor spell that kept his clothes appearing clean and fresh day after day. It was a very handy spell to know when you were on the run, as Dominic had been for more than one hundred years, and you did not want to draw attention to yourself. The wizard’s face looked equally fresh, and his thick salt and pepper hair and short pointed beard were completely unmussed.
Leesa hoped she didn’t look as bad as she felt. Reaching behind her head, she pulled the scrunchy from her long blond hair and let the tangled locks fall loose over her shoulders. Ever since she was a little girl, she’d had an unconscious nervous habit of twirling her fingers in her hair when she was nervous or upset, but this time when she ran her fingers through her hair it was to try to remove as many of the snarls as she could. Some of the gnarlier tangles refused to come undone, but several bits of dead leaves, obviously gathered when she was lying on the ground hiding, fell from her head like miniature leaves falling from a tree in late autumn.
Dominic reached over and brushed a few leaf remnants from Leesa’s shoulder.
“You look fine,” he said, “especially considering all that we just went through.”
Leesa managed a weak smile. Once again, the wizard seemed to be reading her mind, though she guessed it wasn’t very hard to do right now, the way she was fussing with her hair.
“Thanks. It’s nice to hear, even if you don’t mean it.” She sucked in a deep breath and exhaled it heavily. “I thought we were done for this time.”
“Me, too,” Dominic admitted. “My plan really backfired. Thank the stars Jenna came along with those vampires when she did.”
Leesa’s feelings about the witch Jenna were still mixed. They had only recently become friends, and Jenna had infiltrated Leesa’s mind under the guise of helping Leesa practice her magic. Jenna had apologized for the betrayal, promising she meant no harm. If Jenna had not been able to listen in to Leesa’s thoughts, she would never have been able to bring the vampires here to destroy the black wizards. Vampires were not generally in the habit of helping others, but two of the creatures owed Jenna some kind of debt and so had come along with her.
Leesa had accepted Jenna’s apology, but she was still a bit uncomfortable with the way Jenna had sneaked inside her head. Jenna had been equally uneasy at making the revelation and had refused Leesa’s offer of a ride back to Middletown, saying she wanted to be alone for awhile and that a long walk would do her good.
For the first time that afternoon, the sun poked its face out from behind the clouds, sending a slanting beam of pale golden light down onto Leesa and Dominic. Leesa would have liked to believe the golden ray from the heavens symbolized the birth of a new day or something portentous like that, but she didn’t really believe in that sort of stuff. Of course, she didn’t used to believe in vampires, wizards, witches and zombies either, but she had encountered all of them in the past few months. And that list didn’t even include supernatural vampire hunters known as volkaanes, one of whom happened to be her boyfriend Rave.
She wished Rave was here right now, holding her in his strong arms, but the same strange phenomenon that had weakened her magic had weakened the magical inner fire that volkaanes used to slay vampires. Without their fire, volkaanes were no match for the tremendous strength of the vampires, and so the volkaanes had fled the area until their fire returned. Volkaanes were strong—much stronger than humans—but their strength paled in comparison to a vampire’s. Amazingly, they could move even faster than vampires, but without their inner fire they could not hope to defeat a vampire in combat.
Leesa sighed. She had no way to contact Rave even to talk to him, because the fire inside volkaanes prevented them from using electrical or battery-operated devices of any kind. She would just have to wait until he showed up or sent her another letter inviting her to come meet him somewhere, as he had done just a few days ago. The memory of that wonderful day they spent together made her smile.
“Thinking of Rave?” Dominic asked.
Leesa’s smile widened. “I used to think you could read my mind,” she replied, “but now I know you just read my face and my body language.”
Dominic grinned. “You do wear a special smile whenever you are thinking of him. It’s not hard to recognize.”
“I don’t doubt that one bit.” Leesa eased herself down from the fender of the car. “I suppose you’ll have to get going again now. Back on the run again, I mean.”
Dominic shook his head. “I do not think so. At least, not yet.”
Leesa’s brow wrinkled in confusion. “I don’t get it. You used active magic a little while ago. Won’t the black waziri be able to track you?”
Leesa knew that whenever Dominic used his active magic, his enemies were able to follow him for weeks until the aura dissipated. He had gone more than a hundred years without using any active magic, hiding from the black waziri, until a drunk driver forced him to use some to save Leesa’s life a few weeks ago. He had been running from his pursuers ever since, until the diminishing of all magic in this area of central Connecticut had birthed a plan in his head to destroy his enemies—a plan which had nearly backfired, except for the timely arrival of Jenna and the vampires.
“You are forgetting about how weak our magic is,” Dominic reminded her. “It will give off a correspondingly weak trail. Besides, only Viktor remains of the black waziri—well, he and his apprentice Jordan. After losing his three other lieutenants and two of their acolytes, I do not think the Necromancer will be too keen to risk Viktor by sending him after me alone.”
Leesa realized that what Dominic said made sense. The Necromancer was the power behind all this, an evil being somewhere in far away Romania she had seen twice in her dreams. An involuntary shiver shook her body as an image of his hideous, hairless countenance rose in her brain. The Necromancer was working to break the seal between the world of the living and the world of the dead. It was his power, together with the black waziri, that had the brought the zombies to life that she had also dreamed about. Three zombies had even attacked her dorm a few weeks back.
“So you’ll be staying here with me?” she asked eagerly. “We can get back to you teaching me how to use my magic?”
“Not exactly,” Dominic replied, “but I will be remaining in the general area, so I’ll be able to help you now and then. Not too often or for too long, though. You are still my hidden secret—I do not want to risk you in case I’m wrong about the Necromancer’s plans.” He stroked his narrow beard with his right hand, as he often did when he was thinking. “But if Viktor does come after me here, his magic will be diminished. That might give us the chance to destroy him.”
Leesa did not like the “not too often or for too long” part of Dominic’s reply, but any help from him would be better than the last few weeks, when she had been forced to train by herself with a magic book he had given her before he left in order to draw his enemies away from the area.
“I guess something is better than nothing,” she said.
“Yes, it most certainly is. And do not forget…” Dominic pulled his magic wallet out of his back pocket. Scarcely bigger than an ordinary wallet, it somehow held more stuff than a full-sized suitcase. He stuck his hand inside—his arm disappeared almost to his elbow—and retrieved the cell phone Leesa had bought for him a few days before. “…I’ve got this now.”
Leesa had forgotten. To elude his enemies, Dominic had been off the grid for more than a century. He had no address, no identification of any kind, no phone. To set their recent plan in motion, he had allowed Leesa to buy him the prepaid phone, which she had programmed with her number. At least she would be able to get in touch with him now if she had questions or needed to see him. She wished she could work out something similar with Rave, but of course his inner fire made that impossible.
“You’re right,” she said. “That is a big improvement. At least we can stay in touch.”
“Exactly.” Dominic pushed himself off the car. “It’s time to go. Return to your dorm. Take it easy—except for practicing your magic for an hour or two each day. Try to be a normal college kid for a little while. You’ve earned it.”
“I will. I promise.”
Dominic kissed her lightly on the forehead. He waited while a beat up van rumbled by on the highway and then crossed the road to the car Leesa had rented for him. He turned and waved once before climbing inside.
Leesa returned his wave and then got behind the wheel of her car. She really was looking forward to being a normal kid for awhile—she just wasn’t sure if that was possible.
eesa swung the Ford to the curb about half a block down the street from the entrance to her dorm. She would return the car to the rental company tomorrow; all she wanted to do right now was take a shower and lie down. She was not even certain which of the two she wanted to do more—maybe she would just lie down in the shower! There was something she had to do first, though.
Twilight was deepening into dusk as she limped up the sidewalk toward her dorm. The evening was growing cold, so she hugged her arms across her chest as she walked. She was glad she had nabbed a parking space so close to the dorm.
Inside, Leesa spotted one of her dormmates, a girl named Missi, waiting for the elevator. Leesa walked over to join her. More often than not Leesa used the stairs, but she was tired and with Missi having already pressed the up button the car should be there quickly. Leesa didn’t know Missi very well—really just to say “hi” to when Missi dropped off mail at Leesa’s room, which didn’t happen all that often. The last time, Leesa had noticed a cool tattoo on Missi’s shoulder—a heart formed out of blue fire, which of course made Leesa think of Rave. She had decided right then that if she ever got brave enough to get a tattoo, she would get something similar. The blue fire tattoo was covered by Missi’s sweatshirt now, though.
The two girls barely had time to exchange hellos before the elevator dinged and the door slid open. The car was empty, so Missi stepped in and Leesa followed, leaning against the side wall. Missi pressed the button for the second floor and then pressed four for Leesa. As the dorm’s mail person, she knew where everyone lived.
“Hit three, please,” Leesa said. “I have to stop by Cali’s room.”
Missi pressed the three button as the car started upward. She got out on the second floor, leaving Leesa alone in the elevator for the short trip to the third floor. When the door slid open, Leesa stepped out and headed down to Cali’s room, which was near the far end of the hall.
Halfway down the corridor, Leesa could see that Cali’s door was open, as she guessed it would be. While Dominic had been using his weakened magic to dig a grave for the black waziri, Leesa had called Cali as promised to let her know everything had turned out all right. Cali had asked Leesa to come by as soon as she got home, to recount however much about what had happened as she felt comfortable sharing. Leesa had agreed, so here she was.