Fiction Friday – Lost and Found – Chapter 24

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We rode toward the coast and made pretty good time. Ashrem didn’t want to push the horses too fast so that they would be ready to run if need be. It was hard to me to not worry about Eliza and the others after the story Os-tur told, but I knew that worrying about it wouldn’t do anything except give me a headache. Based on what he had told us, I knew that Eliza was the only one conscious when the soldiers arrived and I had to keep myself from thinking that any of the blood was hers.

Deciding that the best way to keep my mind off what was happening to Joel and the others, I figured conversation was the best course of action to occupy my mind. “How did you learn of this way into the castle?” I asked Ashrem.

“When Bloodmark came to Horsetower I escaped through them,” he answered, his eyes never leaving the path in front of us.

“What were you doing there to begin with?” Siofra asked.

“It was my home.”

Siofra’s expressed turned to one of surprise. “Who are you?”

He glanced back at her. “I am Ashrem Itemron.”

“Are you the true ruler of this land?” I asked.

“My father was.”

Siofra and I looked at each other in amazement that the women hadn’t mentioned this before. “Is your father alive?” she inquired.

“Bloodmark killed him, and my mother,” was his short, unemotional reply.

“Then you are the true ruler of this land,” I remarked, wondering how this new bit of information changed things.

I didn’t think that it was possible, but Ashrem’s spine got even straighter in his saddle. “At this point no one rules until Bloodmark is dead,” he commented, but I could hear his desire to see her removed from power in his voice.

“Well, today might be the day that you have to take over,” I told him. “She may have to die for us to succeed.”

He didn’t turn again when he spoke. “There’s no ‘might’. She will die.”

“Yeah,” Siofra breathed lowly.

“Okay, so it shall be,” I said, not sure that how I felt about the idea of it. Sure, Taeynd wasn’t the nicest person by any stretch of the word, but I had a hard time allowing myself to be part of killing her. She had kept Joel here as her prisoner and slave for two years and that angered me greatly, but I didn’t like being anyone’s judge and jury. It wasn’t my place to be something like that.

A few minutes of silence past before Ashrem turned to me. “Where did your sister train?” he asked me, meaning Eliza.

“The school of hard knocks,” I replied, my thoughts turning back to the fact that Eliza was being held by Taeynd and I hoped to Gaia that she and the others were still alive. I held tight to the feeling that if they weren’t that I would somehow know it. Eliza was the closest person in the world to me as well as my mother. Something time me that if she weren’t alive anymore that I would someone know.

Dwelling on the negative makes it real, I told myself as I prayed that she was okay. Willed it with all my being.

“I’ve never heard of that before,” Ashrem commented, reminding me that we weren’t in our world anymore and my witty euphemisms were lost on him. “Is it near here?”

“She’s been on her own since she was about your age,” I explained, knowing that I would never tell him the whole story so I hoped he didn’t ask too many more questions. “She’s lived a long time; she’s had to fight in the streets to survive.”

Ashrem looked back at me. “She had no family to care for her?”

I remembered Kate and the few stories that that I had managed to get out of Eliza about her vampiric mother. “At that point, no.”

“I can’t see how she could pick up the skills to kill so many of Bloodmark’s black guards,” Ashrem commented, clearly perplexed. “La’usel said she was a Dagger?”

I shrugged. “Some may call her that.”

“My mother was a Dagger,” he said with pride.

“What exactly is a Dagger?” Siofra asked.

Ashrem turned to her. “Your brother-wife is a Dagger and you don’t know what one is?” he asked.

Siofra shook her head. “Nope. We’re not from here,” she explained.

“Daggers are women trained in weapons and defense.”

“That’s Eliza,” I said with a grin.

Ashrem continued. “They guard persons of high rank and will defend them even until death.”

Siofra looked at me and nodded with a grin of her own. “Yes, that’s her.”

“And she learned her skills on the streets?” Ashrem asked.

“In the beginning,” I told him.

“Where we come from there are many ways of learning pretty much anything,” Siofra informed him, prompting Ashrem to name off three or four holdings she might have trained at in his world and Siofra shook her head to each one. “No, no, and um, no,” she told him.

Ashrem, of course, seemed confused. “I once knew all of the training centers for Daggers. They were trained here, once.”

“They will be again,” I assured him, trying to steer the conversation away from the fact that there was no way Eliza could have gone to any of those places since we weren’t from this land.

“As I said before, we are not from around here,” Siofra told him, echoing my thoughts, but not necessarily in a way that would take away his interest from the topic.

“So what do you do to support yourself?” I asked.

Ashrem glanced at me. “I am La’usel’s guard,” he said, as if I should understand everything by that statement. I got the feeling I was missing something.

“And that pays you?” Siofra asked.

Ashrem shrugged. “Yes, more or less.”

That didn’t seem to make sense to Siofra because she crinkled her nose and commented, “You’re the would-be ruler of this kingdom, and you’re just guarding someone?”

Ashrem glanced at her and his expression said that he couldn’t believe what she was asking. “If Bloodmark knew I lived, I would be dead,” he explained carefully. “And it is the way of our people for the men to guard the women.”

I turned to Os-tur, who had been quiet up till now and said, “That must be what you are to Peorth.” I think I was finally understanding a little.

The other man nodded. “Yes, I am.” I nodded in understanding and he asked, “Do you have no guard?”

I shook my head. “No.”

“She has her family,” Siofra told him.

I shrugged and smiled at him. “We protect each other.”

“But you have a guard,” Ashrem said to Siofra.

“I have a husband,” she corrected.

“Some times there is no difference,” he replied.

“I can take care of myself,” she told him.

Ashrem studied her for a moment, and then a knowing smile sprang to his features. “You’re a witch, aren’t you?” he asked.

Siofra smiled back. “Yes, I am,” she confessed.

Ashrem regarded her a little differently now. “Then you can take care of yourself,” he conceded.

“Yes I can. I said that before.”

“So do you only guard one person at a time, or multiple people?” I asked, wanting to know how it worked. “Do you guard all three of them, or just the one?”

Ashrem nodded. “When necessary, I guard all three, but La’usel is my charge.”

“Your charge?” I asked, not understanding the term.

“My Lady,” he explained. “I’m bound to her for a year and a day, or longer if we both find it agreeable.”

“Are you like her husband as well?” Siofra wanted to know.

Ashrem shook his head in embarrassment. “Oh, no. She’s too old for me.”

“My husband is much older than I am,” Siofra told him.

“It is different when a man is older,” he replied adamantly.

“Is there a girl that you are interested in?” I asked, wondering if he was so unwavering because someone else had caught his interest.

Ashrem look slightly embarrassed again. “There is one,” he confided slowly, watching the road ahead.

“Really?” I asked. “What is she like?”

He then told us about a strong girl who was hard willed and stubborn. One who did not always listen to her mother as she should. But there was something missing from his story. Something that made me wonder if he even knew the girl he was speaking of. There was a surety to his voice, but the fact that he never gave her name or spoke of any time spent with her that made me wonder.

“That sounds familiar, Corrinemackenzie,” Gwrhyr said in my head, pulling me from my thoughts and causing me to give him a look that said he wasn’t funny.

“She works hard at learning,” Ashrem finished.

“She lives in the village then?” I asked, wondering if I had seen the girl he spoke of and if she knew he liked her. “You grew up with her?”

Ashrem shook his head. “No, she lives far away.”

“How did you meet her?”

Ashrem never answered my question because at that moment he looked off toward Horsetower and said, “We’re nearly to the cliffs.”

 

*****

We left the horses in a small stand of trees near the cliffs. Ashrem led the way into the unsteady terrain that was at the base of the high rock walls about twenty feet away and I was happy to be off the horse and on my feet again. I wasn’t used to long hours riding like I’d done as a kid on the farm and my butt was killing me.

Once we were at the base of the cliff, Ashrem soon found a stony path that was hidden until just as we reached it that led downward. It wasn’t an easy path, but we managed, Ashrem leading, then Siofra and myself, and finally Os-tur and the wolf bringing up the rear. We carried torches to light our way and packs that held food, water and the cloaks strapped to our backs. Ashrem recommended that we not use magick until it was absolutely necessary because Taeynd would know.

We walked in relative quiet until we came to a small cave where we would now have to crawl about twenty feet on our hands and knees in order to get through. Once on the other side Ashrem said that we were officially in Horsetower, which caused Siofra and I to then pulled out our cloaks and put them on. As soon as I had mine on I disregarded Ashrem’s recommendation and used magick to try sense the people they’re looking for, but I came up empty handed.

“Where does this tunnel end?” Siofra suddenly asked Ashrem.

He glanced at her. “In the Chamber of Torment.”

Sounds like a charming place, I found myself thinking to myself as I tried to keep my thoughts from going to the fact that we might find all of them there. Now that we were so close, the only thing I could think of was getting to Eliza and the others and getting them the hell out of there. “Can’t we go any faster?” I asked Ashrem. I had edged in front of Siofra when we started again and was close behind the young man. I knew that I was pushing him and doing some serious invasion of personal space, but I didn’t really care.

“If we go too fast, we’ll be heard,” he cautioned.

I tried once again to sense any of them and this time I was successful in locating Joel. Unfortunately, what I was feeling was that he was unconscious and that only made me want to get to him that much quicker. I wondered where Mac and Eliza were and why I couldn’t find them and I wanted to run.

Regrettably, I knew that there was no way Ashrem was going to let me do that, so I decided to bide my time. Siofra was unusually quiet as well, so I was surprised when her voice broke the silence to ask Ashrem how much longer before we arrived at the entrance.

“About ten minutes,” he told her. She fell silent once again after that and I wondered if she were talking to one of them. If she were, then it was likely that she was talking to Glenn.

After about five minutes Siofra spoke up again, “Ashrem, we need to step it up a little.”

He looked back at her as we continued. “Why?”

“Eliza’s unconscious, Mac is bartering for everyone’s release in a rather nice room, and Glenn’s getting pissy,” she informed us, her first comment causing my heart to stop in my chest.

Ashrem glanced back at her questioningly, but to his credit didn’t say anything, just continued to move forward. Apparently this wasn’t his first exposure to magick users so I was glad that we didn’t have to explain anything to him.

For a third time I used my own magick in an attempt to locate any of the four people we were looking for. Surprisingly enough I found Mac first, even though he was the furthest away from us. He was fairly healthy, only having a few minor injuries, and I was able to determine that he was higher in the keep than the others were. Glenn was okay as well and located very close to the next person I found. It took me a minute to realize that it was Eliza because as Siofra had already informed us, she was unconscious and injured very badly.

Joel was the last person I sensed. He was slowly regaining consciousness again and was in a considerable amount of pain that he could feel more and more as he woke up. He was on same level as Glenn and Eliza, which would make it easier to locate him, and I could feel that he had many injuries, but not as many as Eliza had. I knew that we would have an easier time of getting him, Glenn and Eliza, but I had no idea how we would get Mac since he was on a higher floor and would no doubt be under stricter guard.

“We need to pick up the pace,” I said, worried that if Eliza didn’t get immediate medical attention she might not make it. “Where are we coming into the castle?”

“The Chamber of Torment,” Ashrem repeated, making me think that was where Joel was since he was the closest to us.

“How soon will we be there?”

“Five minutes.”

“Why do you feel the need to hurry?” Os-tur questioned from the back of the line. “I realize that they are all in danger, but why the sudden urgency?”

I looked back at him to answer. “Two of those that we seek are seriously injured. Mac is higher up in the castle, meaning that he’s separate from them. We’re going to have to find him.”

“We’ll have to find them all,” he pointed out.

I nodded and continued to move forward. “Well, I can locate them.”

“You should listen to your father and follow his wishes,” Gwrhyr said in my head before starting to list several times when those who should have listened to their father didn’t and came to a bad end. I had the feeling that Siofra was included in the conversation, but I wasn’t sure.

“And what are his wishes?” I asked the wolf since Mac hadn’t told me what he was planning, but Siofra, so I felt no need to allow him to continue with his crazy idea. Eliza watched him die twice already; I wasn’t about to let it happen a third time.

“He wishes you all to leave as he is bartering for everyone’s release.”

I felt my eyes narrow as I looked down at the wolf again in the torch light. “Is he included in this bartering?” I asked dryly.

“I wouldn’t count on it,” Siofra said, adding the conversation for the first time and confirming that Gwrhyr had been speaking to her as well.

“He was not specific, but I’m sure…”

“Then why don’t you specifically ask him if he’s included?” I interrupted, wanting nothing more than to drop this line of conversation. Mac wasn’t getting left behind and that was that.

But the wolf didn’t get my drift. “Cormacalaster is a bright boy, I’m sure he has a way out.”

It was a good thing that I choose not to answer him because at that point a bubble of fluctuating blue light suddenly appeared around us as we continued to move down the tunnel.

“By Ishonmir’s beard, what was that?” Os-tur asked as he started to pull his sword from its sheath.

“Just a little bit of protection,” Siofra answered as if he should have known what the bubble was.

I glanced behind me just in time to see him push the sword back in its sheath as he muttered, “I hope you’re not getting us caught before we even get in.”

“I’ve been using magick all along,” she replied without looking at him. “Relax.”

Finally, Ashrem slowed and motioned for the rest of us to be quiet as we came close to the end of the tunnel where it became a wall of stone about thirty feet ahead of us. I sensed the area around us, expanding my perception into the room ahead and the first thing I felt was how aggressive the people in the room were. I was also aware of Joel, the current of his being filling me with a sense of calm that I needed to keep a level head.

I felt Gwrhyr pop out suddenly as I continued to probe what was happening in the castle above us. There was a thin spot in the stone, one that might indicate the way in that Ashrem had promised, the door.

Siofra edged around me and came to an abrupt halt. “Stop, I’ve got to do something,” she said, reaching behind her for me. “Hold my hand. I have a way to get them out. You need to help me.”

I took a tight hold of her hand without hesitation. “We’re going to do one at a time,” she explained, “starting with Glenn.”

I felt her drawing on my magick before I had a chance to argue that Eliza and Joel both needed help more than Glenn, but the amount of energy she was drawing off of me quickly made me realize that we would need Glenn to help with whatever it was she was doing if we were going to get all of them out quick enough.

I heaved a sigh of relief when Glenn materialized next to Siofra and the two embraced. Then my aunt turned to me and asked, “Joel?”

I gave her a nod as I removed my pack long enough to pull out the extra cloak we had brought from the Fates. Glenn looked and me in confusion when I handed it to him and I said, “It lets you work magick.”

Glenn turned to his wife. “And you didn’t give it to me an hour ago because?”

Siofra rolled her eyes and told him crisply, “Put it on.”

I had no idea what we were doing or why we hadn’t done it before, but we linked hands again as Os-tur and Ashrem stood guard, waiting for the possibility that we might be discovered. Joel appeared in front of us and started to fall forward, face first toward the ground. I tried to catch him, but ended up going down as well so that he was on his side and I was on my knees. There was a great deal of blood on his clothing and he was covered with sweat and grim from whatever it was they had been doing to him. I laid my hands on his chest and used magick to try to heal him, but I wasn’t focusing properly and it didn’t work very well.

 

 

 

 

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ABCs of Angel Mythology – Lailah

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Lailah (lay-lah) is the Hebrew word for ‘night’. The ending of the name, lah, is feminine, making Lailah the only angel with a female name and from descriptions, distinctly feminine characteristics as well.

Lailah is referenced in the Talmud, the central text of Rabbinic Judaism. “And he [Abraham] fought against them, he and his servants, “by night” [Hebrew lailah] and smote them.” is interpreted by Rabbi Johanan who said, “The angel who was appointed to Abraham was named lailah [Night].” Rabbi Isaac, the smith also related either God “He”, or an angel “he”, to the stars fighting against Sisera, a commander of the Caananite army of King Jabin of Hazor.

 

“‘If I go [to battle] and am successful, I will sacrifice my two sons to thee’, he vowed. But his sons heard this, so they killed him, as it is written, And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword etc.6 And he fought against them, he and his servants, by night [lailah] and smote them.”

  1. Johanan said: “The angel who was appointed to [aid] Abraham was named lailah [Night].

as it is written, [Let the day perish wherein I was born], and the Lailah which said, There is a man child conceived.”

 

  1. Isaac, the smith, said: “He [the angel] set into motion the activities of the night [viz.. the stars] on his behalf, as it is written, They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.” Sanhedrian 96, Soncino Talmud.

 

Also in the Talmud, the interpretation is found of Rabbi Hanina ben Pappa in the 3rd century AD, that Lailah is an angel in charge of conception who takes a drop of semen and places it before God, saying:

“The name of the angel who is in charge of conception is ‘Night’, and he takes up a drop and places it in the presence of the Holy One, blessed be He, saying, ‘Sovereign of the universe, what shall be the fate of this drop? Shall it produce a strong man or a weak man, a wise man or a fool, a rich man or a poor man?’” (Niddah 16b).

Lailah chooses a soul from the Garden of Eden and commands it to enter the embryo. Lailah watches over the development in the womb and shows the rewards and punishments available to the individual. Then right before birth, Lailah strikes the newborn above the lip, making it forget what was learned and creating the philtrum. Lailah serves as a guardian angel throughout a person’s life and at death, leads the soul into the afterlife.

 

 

leliel_by_one_vox

The beat of her wings rests upon our ears

like distant thunder
like the strike of the moon across the hot black sky
She is a rising star and a falling thought
the sweet caress of the mind washed smooth by sleep

Beautiful Leliel, Angel of Night
you’ve been away too long

 

 

 

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Fiction Friday – Lost and Found – Chapter 23

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A young man in his late teens entered the kitchen, wearing peasant-style clothing under a leather jerkin. I looked him over prudently, wondering if he would be of any use to us when we faced Taeynd. What I saw in his eyes were shadows of memories that told me he had seen more in his life that most would in twice the time. He looked to be only a few years younger than I was, but under the jerkin I could see the lines of muscle that told me he knew how to use the sword that hung from his belt.

“Ashrem knows a way into the castle,” An’daril told us, drawing my gaze back to where she sat at the head of the crowded table.

Even though he looked capable, Ashrem seemed to be not quite sure of himself and was a little uncomfortable being the center of attention. “I have walked the caverns beneath the white cliffs. I can get you in,” he informed us in a quiet voice that still held bits of higher tones of his youth in the deepening timber.

“How long will it take?” I asked.

“We can be at the opening in two hours,” he said. “Another hour beneath the cliffs to the castle.”

“That’s a long time, but it’s our only choice,” Siofra commented as she gave the boy a once over as well.

I nodded to her and looked at the other women. “I need boy’s clothes.”

La’usel spoke up. “We can accommodate that.”

“We can pay you for them,” I told her

She shook her head. “There is no need.”

I nodded in consent and turned to Ashrem again. “How soon can you be ready to go?”

Ashrem straightened his shoulders and replied, “I was ready two years ago when the castle fell.”

There was obviously a story there, but I was too eager to be on our way to ask.

Siofra asked to leave Kenaz behind, promising the child that we would be back for her when she prepared to put up a fight.

“Do you think we should take more than just us?” I asked, wanting to make sure that we only had to go back once.

“I suppose we can see if Peorth or Os-tur wants to go,” Siofra suggested.

Remembering how weak Peorth had looked after we helped guide her out of the dream, I knew we couldn’t count on her or Os-tur, who probably wouldn’t leave her side, for aid. “Is there a rebellion around here?” I asked An’daril, thinking that even if the two did join us we might need a little more back up.

Unfortunately, the old woman shook her head. “Bloodmark killed them long ago. What do you plan to do when you get in the castle?”

I looked at her, feeling very much like Mac for a moment. “We need to get in, find Mac, Eliza, Glenn and Joel and get them out.”

“Sounds like a lot to do without using magick,” she commented pointed out.

“There has to be a way to use magick in there,” Siofra informed her. “We used magick in the bathroom in the dream.”

“That part was dream,” she told her flatly.

“You could undo the wards,” Gwrhyr suggested in our minds.

Siofra thought a moment then replied, “Yes, but in my dreams we also-”

“Can we undo the wards?” I interrupted.

La’usel shook her head. “It’s been tried.”

That wasn’t good enough and I wondered if we could somehow try again. “How close is the magick of this world to the magick we have?” I asked.

The older woman shrugged. “Having never been to your world or met one of you, I don’t know. But, Cal’lore has been working on a cloth that could possibly allow you to use magick within the castle.”

“How sure is she about this ‘possibly’?” I asked.

“It’s never been tried,” An’daril explained. “But given what we know about the wards, it should work.”

“I’m willing to try anything,” Siofra said, looking at me for an opinion.

“What if Taeynd is killed?” I asked. I wasn’t eager to kill anyone, but saving my family meant more to me than the life of a tyrant.

“If she’s killed, it will be much easier to undo the wards,” Cal’lore offered.

“Wouldn’t they just falter?” Siofra countered.

The other woman nodded. “Most of them.”

“They’re locked within each other,” I said, understanding what she meant.

La’usel told us that she happened to have three of the cloaks done and that we could try them out if we wanted. I was more than willing to do so and we carefully folded them and put them in the packs we would take with us into the tunnels under Horsetower for use later.

We went upstairs to check on Peorth and found that she was still weak, and not sure how much help she would be. Os-tur agreed to go in her place and I was grateful. As for Kenaz, she was upset to be separated from us, but Siofra promised her that we would be back.

Most of our belongings had made it to the cottage with us, including most of the weapons, though I noticed that none of them were Eliza’s, which made sense because she would have had them all on her person during the attack.

We changed into boys clothing for the journey and after bidding the Fates goodbye, we rode out of the yard and were finally on our way. I figured that it was close to nine o’clock by then and as we lost site of the cottage Siofra began to ask Os-tur more details about what had happened the night before.

“Im-ryn don’t need much sleep,” he explained. “Peorth wouldn’t wake when she’d told me to wake her. The wolf came and spoke to me of the trouble in your room, the same trouble my Lady Peorth was experiencing. I brought my lady to your rooms, and your Dagger was determined to free those of you Taeynd had put into danger. She sent Kenaz with me to fetch the wagon and threw Peorth and both of you down to my arms once I had brought it around, but there was no time left for her to send down either of the men. As she threw you” he said indicating Siofra, “she bade me go, to see you to safety, and stayed behind to guard her husband and yours as well.”

He paused as we digested the story he told as if making sure that we understood that he didn’t purposefully leave anyone behind. “There was not enough time to get everyone out. I don’t know what happened after we left. I went back after I knew the rest of you were safe and found the innkeeper was gone. There was blood in the room.”

“There was blood in the room?” I asked, a knot forming in the pit of my stomach. I was really glad that he hadn’t told this story back at the cottage because there was no way in hell that anyone would have stopped me from leaving as soon as I had heard it.

Os-tur turned to me. “There were many bodies of the black guard taken from the room. I cannot say whose it was.”

I said a silent prayer to Gaia that she would protect my family until we could get to them. I hoped she was listening.

 

 

 

 

 

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ABCs of Angel Mythology – Kakabel

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Kakabel

Kakabel is a powerful angelic prince whose name means “star of God” and rules over the stars and constellations. He is referenced in ‘The Book of the Angel Raziel’ as a high and holy angel. He is a controversial angel, who performs the honorable task of looking after the Moon and stars. However, according to some accounts, he lost his reputation by teaching humans astrology. Even worse, he was accused of mating with human women. Despite this, he still looks after astrologers, as well as the stars and their formations.

Enoch claims that he is a fallen angel, but all agree that he is very powerful and rules over 365,000 spiritual legions.

kakabel talisman

 

 

 

 

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Fiction Friday – Lost and Found – Chapter 22

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I awoke and felt someone next to me.

I opened my eyes slowly; not knowing what awaited me, and found myself in a small, but homey room that was sparsely appointed. It had a welcoming air to it that made me relax slightly as I looked to my left to see who was beside me. It was Siofra’s still sleeping form, and we were lying on the only piece of furniture in the room, except for a rocking chair I saw in the corner where an old woman sat rocking as she carded wool quietly. Her eyes were milky white, indicating that she may have been blind, but that in no way hindered her in her work. There was a child of about nine sitting on the floor beside her who was helping her with nimble fingers that said this wasn’t the first time she had done such work.

Siofra stirred next to me and the old woman seemed to sense somehow that we were no longer asleep. “I was beginning to wonder if you would ever wake,” she commented dryly as she continued to concentrate on her task. Her eyes closed as she worked with the wool and I could see that there were fine lines on her lids that looked as if they had been tattooed there, they were so dark and perfect.

I sat up slightly and it was the child that somehow reminded me of what had to have been a dream from the night before. The one of us rescuing Joel and of Taeynd’s abrupt presence in the stone circle and our subsequent loss of consciousness.

“Where are we?” I asked, trying to keep the panic from rising in my chest. Where are Mac and Eliza? my mind was screaming when I didn’t see them right away.

“You were brought in the night to my house here,” the old woman said. “It is where I live with my sisters. I am called An’daril al Na’tryn.”

“Where are the others?” I asked, knowing that I probably sounded rude with my abrupt questions, but at the moment I wasn’t really caring. Siofra was fully awake as well by now and listening to what the old woman was saying.

“The child is asleep in the next room,” An’daril answered. “So are Peorth and the wolf.”

A lead weight formed in my chest as I looked at Siofra, who still had yet to say anything herself. My mind was demanding to know where Eliza, Mac and Glenn were and my first instinct was to wake Kenaz to determine if she knew anything about how we came to be here without the others. Siofra seemed to understand where my thoughts were going because she nodded when my gaze met hers and I moved off the bed to leave the room. “How did we get here?” I heard Siofra ask.

“Os-tur brought you,” An’daril informed us as her sightless eyes followed my movements across the room. “He said that Bloodmark walked in your dreams.”

That was putting it lightly, I thought wryly as I tried to suppress the ever increasing worry I felt for the three missing members of our family. I forced myself to breathe in and out evenly so my mind didn’t run wild with the various tortuous acts I thought Taeynd would come up with to punish them, as well as Joel.

Siofra stayed in the room with the old woman while I went to the one next it to rouse Kenaz. Os-tur was seated in a straight-back chair next to the bed and he stood when I entered. Peorth and the child lay in another bed similar to the one Siofra and I woke up in and I quickly crossed the room to shake Kenaz’s shoulder, bringing her yawning form awake.

Siofra and the old woman joined us and the child and Os-tur began to fill us in on the details of what had happened while Siofra and I were unconscious. Eliza had awakened in the night and hadn’t been able to rouse anyone but Kenaz and Os-tur. She had done her best to get all of us out of the inn before Taeynd’s men arrived by dropping our lifeless bodies and our gear out the window of our rooms and into the wagon where Os-tur waited to catch us. Unfortunately, they hadn’t been able to get everyone out before the guards burst into our rooms, taking Mac, Eliza and Glenn hostage.

I wasn’t sure exactly when Taeynd’s dream manipulation had taken over. Had my most recent dream with Joel been real, or something created by Taeynd? What about Siofra’s conversation with the other woman in her own dream and the subsequent discussion with Mac and Eliza about waiting to go to Horsetower? Or Eliza using her powers on me? At this point, I didn’t have any answers.

And I was worried about Peorth. The entire time that Kenaz had relayed the story of what had happened to us the previous night had done nothing to wake the other woman. As in our previous dream, I was figuring that Peorth had little to no training in the dreamworld like Siofra and I had. And since she had required assistance in escaping from Taeynd’s trap during our manipulation, I wasn’t surprised that she might need that same help again. Thankfully Siofra and I had been involved in enough in what Mac was leading Peorth to do that we were able do use the same methods to get her out again.

Peorth looked very weak when we finally managed to wake her and Os-tur relaxed slightly for the first time since we had entered her room. Siofra linked with me to heal her somewhat, but she was still physically spent and would be of little help in freeing the others, which meant we were yet another person down when it came time to go to Horsetower.

“An’daril, where am I?” Peorth asked faintly when she was finally able to make some sense.

“Weaver’s hut,” was the mental answer that Gwrhyr gave everyone. He had come into the room sometime while Siofra and I were instructing Peorth on how to break Taeynd’s spell and wake up.

Peorth looked up at Siofra and myself and offered with a meek smile, “Thank you.”

“We knew what to do,” I told her with a smile and reached out to squeeze her hand.

“Where are the others?” she asked, her eyes filling with concern.

I glanced at Siofra, who had been unusually quiet with worry for her husband throughout what little time we had been awake. “They’re in Horsetower, we have to go,” I informed the other woman.

“We should make a few plans first,” my aunt said, looking to the old woman as if she would somehow have all the answers.

An’daril nodded. “There’s no use going off without doing so,” she commented as she got to her feet, making a big show of looking old, but appearing to be just as nimble as the child beside her.

“What if we used the Umbra to get in?” I suggested, knowing that both Siofra and I could do that with our magick abilities. The Umbra was a spirit land that ran parallel with our world back home. I wasn’t sure that it existed in this one, but it was an idea.

“It won’t work,” An’daril replied flatly.

Showing some signs of her normal self, Siofra gave the old woman a dark glance and said, “Aren’t you just a bowl full of negativity?”

An’daril’s milky gaze moved to her and she said, “Many ways and many things have been tried to enter Horsetower.”

“How many people have tried to use the Umbra to get in?” Siofra asked.

One of the older woman’s gray tinted brows lifted. “Do you want me to list the ones that failed, or the ones that died trying?”

My aunt expelled an annoyed sigh. “What would you suggest?” she relented.

“I would suggest coming downstairs for breakfast. I believe that La’usel has it ready now. We can discuss it.” She turned then and walked out of room, maneuvering around people as if she could actually see them and patting Kenaz’ head as she went by her.

Sitting around and discussing the situation was the last thing I wanted to do. Some of the most important people in my life were being held captive by a crazy woman that I was sure was capable of the most horrific of things. There was no way that I could possibly sit down to a morning meal and be expected to hold down food when any one of them could be bleeding to death or dead. The thought made my stomach turn.

My thoughts must have radiated to Siofra because she looked at me and said, “You’re not going to run off, are you?”

“Make it quick,” I replied irritably as we filed out of the room and down the stairs that led to the main floor of the small house. I still wasn’t sure what was real and what was part of Taeynd’s game from the night before, but if Siofra had put us all in danger by confronting crazy woman, I couldn’t help but feel that we might be sitting better if she had left well enough alone to begin with. I chose to keep quiet about it for now.

What she said when we reached the bottom of the stairs nearly caused me to slap her. “You need to learn some patience.”

Only clenching my fists together so tightly that my nails dug into my flesh kept me from actually doing it and I had to breathe deeply as I pushed ahead of her and into the kitchen. If that wasn’t the pot calling the kettle black, I wasn’t sure what was.

 

*****

As soon as we met the other two women of the house I was pretty sure that we were dealing with this world’s version of the Fates. La’usel al Na’tryn and Cal’lore al Na’tryn made up the other two-thirds of the ‘sisters’ who lived in the cottage and seeing them with An’daril was like looking at the three women from the trailer in Nashville.

La’usel looked to be in her mid-thirties and seemed very protective of her sisters in a motherly fashion. We quickly learned that she handled the selling and money end of the small clothing shop the three ran out of their home. Cal’lore was in her mid-twenties and very beautiful, not trashy or man hungry like Carlene had been.

I glimpsed bits of tattoos on both of these new sisters as well. I could see some sort of tribal tattooing along the neckline of La’usel’s dress, while Cal’lore bore a red dragon on the back of her right hand. I didn’t know if the tattoos meant anything, but the work had been done with a sure hand and the colors were true. There were a few children playing nearby, a boy of about two and a girl that looked to be five, as the two women finished preparations for the morning meal and La’usel told us to have a seat at the set table.

“I’m having a déjà vu thing,” Siofra commented to Gwryhr who was sitting on the floor next to her.

“Yes,” I heard him reply in my head. “They do bear a striking resemblance.”

“I’m sorry,” La’usel said, looking toward Siofra. “I didn’t understand what you said?”

“Déjà vu,” Siofra repeated.

“Your counterparts in our reality bear a striking resemblance to yourselves,” the wolf explained to everyone telepathically.

La’usel’s gaze moved to Gwrhyr in surprise. “Oh, look, an intelligent wolf. Are you hungry?”

Gwrhyr nodded in a way that was so human that it still struck me oddly every time I saw it. “Very. Meat and potatoes if you have them,” he requested at the same moment La’usel suggested the same thing audibly. The meal was served and I noticed that Kenaz was even quieter then she usually was and clung to either Siofra or myself from her seat between the two of us.

“What’s wrong?” Siofra asked her.

Her eyes looked like they belonged to someone who had been through a traumatic situation and was holding tight to what was left. “Eliza poured water on you, and you still wouldn’t wake up,” she said in a quiet voice, causing Siofra to hug her close and tell her that everything was going to be alright.

“What are your suggestions to get in there and get them out?” Siofra asked as we started to eat.

The women exchanged looks amongst themselves, but it was Cal’lore who spoke. “Many have tried to enter Horsetower; no one has succeeded using magick.”

Since I knew that already, I was still waiting for something new to surface before saying anything.

“Okay,” Siofra agreed as she looked around the table. “Then we’ll do it without magick, but I’m not leaving without them.”

Cal’lore nodded. “That is understandable. If you are willing to listen to our suggestions, then perhaps we have a way into Horsetower.”

Siofra nodded and picked up her fork. “Okay.”

La’usel rose from her seat and went to the doorway to horse yard and called out, “Boy, come in here.”

 

 

 

 

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ABCs of Angel Mythology – Jophiel

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Jophiel

As the angel of beauty, Jophiel has a distinctly feminine energy. Her mission is to bring beauty to all aspects of life, including:

Thoughts: Helping you hold more positive viewpoints about your life, relationships, and circumstances.

Feelings: Filling your heart with warm feelings of gratitude and enjoyment.

Home and office: Helping you reduce clutter and create a meaningful environment that’s conducive to work and relaxation.

Personal self: Guiding you in all aspects of self-care, including beautifying yourself.

Archangel Jophiel can help you quickly shift from a negative to a positive mindset. She’s also wonderful to call upon to heal misunderstandings with other people. Jophiel casts a wide net with her ability to bring beauty to your life, including helping with hair, makeup, and wardrobe.

When you ask Jophiel to help you beautify your life, you may feel compelled to start donating or selling unwanted items. I affectionately and respect-fully refer to Jophiel as the “Feng Shui Angel,” after the ancient Asian art of room arrangement. Jophiel knows how much an organized environment affects our energy levels, mood, sleep patterns, and even health.

Jophiel’s halo color is deep fuchsia, so if you begin to see flashes or sparkles of hot pink light or if you’re suddenly attracted to this color, it’s a sign that this archangel is with you.

 

 

 

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Fiction Friday – Lost and Found – Chapter 21

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cw-02-lost-and-found02

It was the greatest amount of magick that I had ever held, much less manipulated on my own. Usually I was just an added amount of magick that another, more experienced mage like Siofra or Glenn. This time, however, it was me that was calling forth the energies and using them to expel whatever it was that was in Joel.

My eyes were closed as I concentrated on my task, but I could still feel Joel’s warm hands around my wrists and they were a sure anchor that helped me remember what I was doing. The amount of magick nearly overflowed inside me as I sought whatever had invaded him and I needed every single ounce of will that I could muster to find the little black spot inside Joel’s chest that was the center-point of the spell Taeynd had used. Once I found it, it was easier to carefully detach it from him and break it up so that the smaller pieces left his body without harming him and fell to the ground where they then soaked harmlessly into the dirt.

As the last of the spell left his body, I felt Joel’s body lean against me and I looked at him quickly, worried that I had in some way hurt him. Thankfully he was alright, the expression in his eyes telling me that it was exhaustion from the healing that he was feeling and not pain. His fingers were still around my wrists, but his grip wasn’t as sure as it had been and he weaved against me so that I feared if he passed out he would take us both down.

I released the magick I still held and felt incredibly drained, but determined to do what I could to replenish his strength. Siofra must have had some indication of what was happening because she stepped forward and laid her hands on Joel’s shoulder before I called for help. Within seconds the light was back in his eyes and his grip once again tightened around my wrists as his gaze watched me intently.

I smiled up at him and was rewarded with a similar one. I parted my lips to speak to him, but Mac’s voice interrupted me.

“It was too easy,” Mac said in a low voice. He was scanning the forest around us as if he expected an army to attack from all sides at any moment. I had to admit that getting Joel away from Taeynd had been rather easy in the over all scheme of things, but I hadn’t put much thought into it until Mac had voiced his opinion.

As if to give proof to his statement, the stone in the center of the circle suddenly exploded, throwing dust and smoke into the air. We all dropped to the ground to avoid the flying bits of rock and when I turned around again I saw that Peorth, Kenaz and Siofra were all on the ground and appeared to have passed out from the blast. Eliza was still on her feet and looking between Mac and me, wondering who to go to. Glenn quickly moved to his wife’s side to be sure she was alright.

Mac unsheathed his sword again and told Eliza to move over toward me, but she moved closer to his side instead. I quickly scrambled to my felt and was looking around me for Joel, but he and the old lady were gone. I was beginning to feel slightly dizzy and was about to call out Joel’s name when Mac spoke. “It’s a dream.”

I leaned back against one of the rocks of the circle to keep my footing as the scene shifted back to our rooms at the inn. I watched as Taeynd materialized in all her dazzling splendor near Eliza with her men surrounding us in the room as well. Waves of nauseating warmth washed over me as I realized that Eliza’s body was bloodied as if she had fought off many season fighters. I was afraid that I was going to pass out and I fought to remain conscious.

“It was too easy, wasn’t it?” she asked as she smiled at Mac coyly. “Not quite as much fun as shooting me, to be sure.”

My mind tried to latch on to a meditation exercise that I hoped would keep me awake. Before I could fully slip into the trance I felt my body drop forward, first onto my knees and then further down still until I felt the ground beneath my cheek and everything went black.

 

 

 

 

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ABCs of Angel Mythology – Israfel

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Israfel-whole

Israfel

The Angel of Music

This powerful angel and his legions embody the creative word of God/Goddess through songs from the heart. Think of a time when you heard music that was so powerful and beautiful that you were touched deeply by its vibration. Archangel Israfel was there, opening your heart through sound. Music and sound are vibration, which is a powerful tool for transformation through the higher self. Allow the magic of music to move you into dance and celebration of who you truly are. Call upon Israfel to invoke the sound of God through the vibration of music as you listen to the songs of angels.

 

 

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ABCs of Angel Mythology – Haniel

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Haniel

In the Kabbalah, Haniel presides over the seventh sephirah, Netzach. This sphere is related to victory and represents our inner world of intuition, imagination, and emotions.

The Netzach marks the beginning of humans’ free will, and the expression of endurance and tenacity. It is the embodiment of earthly love. Archangel Haniel radiates inner qualities outwardly like the full moon. Mysterious and feminine, Haniel has been revered since the Babylonian era, which tied astronomy into religion.

Archangel Haniel can help you develop your intuition and clairvoyance, as well as any aspect of sacred feminine energy. It’s very effective to call upon Haniel during the full moon, especially if there’s anything you’d like to release or heal. Haniel can particularly help with women’s issues.

As the expression of the inner world of intuition, Archangel Haniel is a supportive guide for those who wish to develop their spiritual gifts, like clairvoyance. Her bluish white halo color reminds me of the moon, and wearing moonstone can both amplify intuitive transmissions and also help you feel connected to Haniel.

Men as well as women can benefit from connecting to this archangel, as men also have feminine energy (just like women have male energy). Haniel can help members of both sexes awaken and trust their inner guidance.

 

 

 

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Fiction Friday – Lost and Found – Chapter 20

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cw-02-lost-and-found02

My gaze met Joel’s for the first time in the waking world as we sped for the gate that meant freedom and it was then that I finally saw recognition in his eyes as he looked at me. I felt what was fast becoming a familiar tug in my heart whenever I thought of him and a smile touched my lips as magick continued to flow from me and into my aunt. He smiled back even as he urged his mount to go faster and that was the last thing I saw as a blinding pain enclosed around my entire head.

“Ahh,” I cried out, as my hand left Siofra’s to hold my head. Within seconds the pain had subsided enough for me to open my eyes and look around, but it still throbbed slightly as I tried to gauge how long I had been out of it. An educated guess was telling me that the pain had been a result of Siofra and I doing magick while we were still inside the castle walls. Did Taeynd known where we were? Was she following? What had happened inside after Eliza and I left? As the pain continued to slowly abate my gaze found Kenaz, who was now watching me in complete terror as she cowered in the skirts of the old woman who had accompanied Siofra.

“Keep her down, keep her safe,” I managed, trying to assure the child that I was okay while I looked around us and saw that Mac was in the process of throwing the oil I had given him at the guards near the gate, the substance landing on them as well as the wall close behind them. Without thinking, I attempted to light fire to the oil to stop them from attacking us, but it didn’t work and the headache that had been receding to a dull ache become blinding again.

Lightning struck the wall then, igniting the oil that Mac had thrown and the men that it covered. I looked to Mac as he lifted the powder bag and threw it in the fire as we sped past.

The guards that weren’t on fire began to shoot at us as we edged ever closer to the opening that I hoped we made it through before it closed. Since I had given my gun to Mac I was now weaponless for the moment. I wasn’t about to try to use magick again while we were still inside the castle walls, the pain was too great. So I waited until I could be more useful.

Siofra had produced a gun of her own and was firing at guards along with Mac. She was still cradling an unconscious Glenn in her lap. Panic grew in my throat as I saw a bullet graze Mac’s shoulder, but when he kept his seat on his horse I knew that the wound wasn’t a life threatening one for the moment. That didn’t stop me from making a mental note to check him when we stopped.

Finally, we cleared the gates and were on the other side of the castle walls. I used magick to heal my headache and watched as the people that were still waiting in line to enter the castle scatter confusedly as Os-tur in dragon-cat form cleared a path in front of the wagon for us. He must have flown over the wall and landed in front of us.

Amidst the rain of bullets Glenn finally regained consciousness and sat up in the bed of the wagon. Fortunately, the guards that were following us had really bad aim and aside from the flesh wound that Mac had received, we were making a pretty good escape.

Mac stopped on the bridge after everyone else was safely on the other side and dismounted his horse long enough to dump a line of the gunpowder across the structure. He then strategically placed the pouch in the middle of the roadway and stepped back enough to fire at the line, the flames igniting the rest of the powder and quickly moving toward big pile. Then he mounted the horse again and pushed the animal hard to catch up with the rest of us before the whole thing blew.

I heard Eliza muttering something about Mac being reckless that caused me to look at her where she sat on the wagon seat, urging the horses to go faster. I wondered if she could use a break from the constant strain that holding onto the reigns of the horses was doing to her. “Do you need help up there?” I asked, thinking that I could take some of the burden from her since neither of us was accustomed to using our arms in that way.

“No, I’m fine,” she replied. I looked down her body and noticed blood on her shirt so I made to climb onto seat to heal her now that we were on the other side of the castle walls. “Get in the back,” she bit out.

“No, you’re hurt,” I insisted.

She flicked the reigns again. “I’m fine. You’re gonna fall.”

I ignored her as I tried to lift her shirt to get a better look. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” she said through clenched teeth.

“You’re not. Did you heal?”

“Get down with the others,” she yelled as she started to pull the horses into a slower pace as we approached a crossroad. She didn’t seem to be favoring anything for the moment as she pulled the wagon onto an old road and finally stopped it, all be it with some difficulty, but she did manage to do it.

I decided to drop my questioning for the moment, figuring that if she were hurt bad enough she would have let me help her. Quickly we all climbed out of the wagon or off our horses and I joined hands with Glenn, who had regained consciousness again, and Siofra to create a gateway that opened next to the circle of stones where we had arrived in this world in the first place. The gateway was large enough for everyone to move through quickly as Mac caught up with us and we passed through to the other side and assembled inside it.

I was eager to get back to our world, but I couldn’t keep myself from glancing at Joel as I took Kenaz’s hand and kneeled before her. He was checking the horses over as the others quickly scouted around for signs that we had been followed.

“Kenaz,” I said to the little girl, trying to form the words that I hoped would make her understand what I was about to tell her. “I don’t want anything to happen to you here once we leave. Do you want to come home with me?”

She looked at me quizzically, not sure what to say. “But I live here,” she said matter of factly. “I don’t want to go anywhere else.”

The old woman that Siofra had brought along came forward and put her hands on the girl’s shoulders. “I will make sure that no harm comes to the girl once you have gone.” She looked down at Kenaz kindly and smiled a gentle smile. “It would do my heart good to have someone to take care of.”

I nodded my head silently in agreement and got to my feet again as I caressed Kenaz’s cheek with the tips of my fingers. All around me preparations were underway by Mac and the others to return home. Packs were being removed from the wagon and brought into the circle and Os-tur had rejoined us again, now back in his human form.

Like a magnet, my eyes were drawn back to Joel. I worried about any lingering effects that he might have after being liberated from Taeynd even as I continued to wonder if he had in fact had feelings for the other woman. Then I started to think about some of the things that he had said in the limited conversations we had and suddenly I had an idea.

I called forth Spirit to look at Joel in such a way as to determine whether or not he was possessed. That had to be it. He had said that he was bound to her… what if the only place he had free will was in his dreams? It made perfect sense to me, but I needed to find proof of it, or something close to what I was thinking, in him.

I couldn’t tell for sure, but there was definitely something inside Joel that resembled a poison or parasitic infection that triggered an alarm in my mind. Siofra was only a few feet from me and I crossed to her quickly as I reached into my pouch and pulled out the little stone wolf that my Grandfather had given me. “There’s some kind of parasite in him,” I told her, managing to keep the panic from my voice that was rising in my chest.

Siofra looked at me oddly, and then glanced over at him. “In Joel?”

I nodded. “I can’t recognize what it is.”

Siofra looked at me quizzically. “Do you want me to figure it out?”

I didn’t know what it was, but the last thing I wanted was to leave whatever it was inside him. “Can we just get rid of it?”

“I don’t know,” she said with a shrug as she seemed to watch him closely, as if she might. “I don’t know what it is.” She continued to watch him for a few seconds as he checked the gun that had been strapped on one hip and the sword that was hung on the other. I recognized his attitude from the times I had seen Mac prepare for an altercation. Joel was in battle mode, I told myself and that, along with the fact that we were running for our lives, was why we hadn’t yet had a chance to really… connect, for lack of a better word. There would be time for that when we were safely back home.

Eliza was fawning over Mac’s flesh wound. “You should be more careful,” she scolded as she tried to pull the material of his shirt and tunic back enough to get a good look at the damage.

Mac stopped and looked at her incredulously. “Ring, hello?” he commended as he glanced down at her blood-stained shirt. “Pot?”

She brushed his concern off. “You could have been seriously injured, and you need to take more care.”

Mac grinned as he took her hands gently and pulled them away from his shoulder. “Yes, but then I’d have been dead and you’d have to kill me,” he pointed out, humorously, his voice full of mirth.

“That is not funny,” Eliza bit out.

“Can’t see anything,” Siofra said finally as Joel went over to Glenn to make sure that he and Peorth were both okay after our quick escape from Horsetower. “You’re seeing things.”

“No, I’m not,” I insisted as Gwrhyr padded closer, having heard our conversation while the others were checking things over.

“No spirits per say,” I heard him say in my head, but he did agree that there was some sort of corruption about him. “You’re right, little one,” he told me.

“Do you think it’s something we need to look into right now?” I asked. “Or do you think it will wait until we get home?”

“What does your heart tell you?” he replied.

That was all the prompting I needed. I crossed the space that separated Joel and me. He was facing away from me as he talked with Peorth and I had to turn him so that he looked at me, then I laid my hands flat on his chest. “Why do you have…?” I started, then stopped and swallowed because this was the first time I was touching him in the waking world and a familiar warmth was coming from his chest and into my fingers.

“There’s something in you, what is it?” I started again. “Did she do it to you?” I was trying not to look in his eyes. Trying not to show how scared I was at the thought that maybe Taeynd had done something to him we hadn’t anticipated. Something that she may have the ability to trigger whenever she chose. Something that might kill him before I… before we could do anything to stop it.

Joel lifted his hands and enclosed them around my wrists. “I told you, she used her blood in a spell,” he told me in a quiet, soft spoken voice that caused goose bumps to sprout on my skin.

“I think I know what it is,” Siofra said as she came up behind me. “I think I understand.”

“We have to get it out,” I told her, not taking my hands from Joel’s chest. “How do we get rid of it?”

“I have no idea,” he told me.

“Does her blood make you stronger?” Mac asked.

Joel shook her head. “No, it’s not like that, it-”

“Binds you to her?” Siofra finished for him.

His eyes moved to her. “Yes.”

I looked up at him and said quietly. “It needs to come out. How do we get rid of it?”

“Not standing in the middle of the circle,” Mac said, eager to get the hell out of here before Taeynd and her men found us.

I glanced at him over my shoulder. “We need to get rid of it before we go home because it might be a tracking device.”

“I will try to help you, but I don’t know,” Siofra said as she put her hand on my shoulder.

“I’m thinking Life,” I told her, referring to the types of magick we could pull from to create what we were looking to. I glanced up at Joel again, who was smiling down at me reassuringly. “I’m thinking Spirit, Matter.”

“Okay,” was all she said, opening herself to her magick so that I could use it to, hopefully, get whatever was in him, out.

“We could try it together,” Glenn said as he, too, linked with Siofra and me.

 

 

 

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