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|Jacob(Nightwalkers #1) by Jacquelyn Frank|
“A wedding? You guys have weddings?”
“Yes.” Isabella stepped a little closer to the edge of the pentagram. “We have weddings, we have husbands and wives and children. We have artists, poets, doctors, and ministers, just like you do.”
“Yeah, sure you do.” Ingrid snorted with her laughter.
“Why would I lie?”
“Because you’re going to do anything you can to save your neck.”
“And do our acts of self-preservation differ so much from what you would do if our places were exchanged?”
That remark seemed to make the sorceress uncomfortable. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other, snapped her gum, and burrowed her hands deeper into her pockets.
“Yeah, well, if our places were switched, I wouldn’t end up looking like that.” She indicated the Demon in the second pentagram.
“Are you so sure? The magic you use is full of poison and evil. It may be that it could make anyone look like that. Even a human.”
“Yeah right.” Ingrid laughed, a short barking sound. “The magic just strips away all this glamour magic you things use. Every Demon we summon is always impossibly good looking. It isn’t natural. There’s what’s natural for you monsters.”
“Monsters? What makes us more monstrous than you? You who enslave a living, breathing person and use them viciously, with no sense of mercy or compassion?”
“You aren’t a person, you’re a Demon from hell. I’ve read the stories of the mischief, cruelty, and seduction you all take so much delight in. It’s what you do that’s wrong. But unlike other humans, we aren’t so blind to the existence of magic and the disgusting things that live at night, poisoning innocent people with vampirism, lycanthropy, and God knows what else.”
“You sound so very sure of yourself.”
“Because I know I’m right.”
“I wonder,” Isabella remarked quietly, “I wonder how you’d feel if our positions were reversed and someone believed that of you. You are, after all, using magic. People will be afraid of you for that.”
“Don’t be stupid. This isn’t the same thing at all. And don’t think your sly words are going to work, spawn. I know your tricks.”
“You don’t know half of my tricks,” Isabella said, her eyes flashing dangerously.
“Go ahead,” Ingrid taunted. “Try it. Try and use your spells and magic. I’d love to see you twisting in agony on the ground when the pentagram reflects it back on you. Would serve you right for trying to screw with me.”
“You first,” Isabella baited her. “Let’s see some of this power you use so righteously. Surely it can cross the barrier. Come on, you know you want to fry my insides with that electrical charge you use. Oh, yes,” Isabella informed her with a smile when Ingrid’s eyes practically popped out of her head, “I’ve met your kind before. Oh! And look at that! I’m still alive and well. Imagine that,” she hissed.
“You’re a liar. You’re a no-good, lying Demon bitch!”
“You probably knew him,” Isabella continued matter-of-factly. “He did say you were some kind of society. I can’t imagine it’s a very large society. Tall, dark-haired fellow? A cross between a geek and an athlete? No?”
“Shut up,” the woman hissed, her hands escaping her pockets and clenching in anger. Ghosts of blue energy began to snap through her aura. “You better shut up or you’ll learn real fast how easily my magic crosses the pentagram.”
Isabella took a step closer, allowing a taunting smile to play over her lips.
“Ingrid, get the hell away from there!” Kyle grabbed the woman’s arm, jerking her back from the pentagram. “What’re you, stupid?”
“Let go of me,” Ingrid snapped, jerking her arm free of his grasp. “It can’t cross the pentagram. I was perfectly safe.”
Kyle glanced warily at Isabella. She gifted him with a sly smile and was rewarded with the shiver of discomfort that coasted through him.
“So,” he said, “you do talk after all.”
“I can’t vouch for my diction, but yes, I talk.”
“Kyle, she doesn’t sound like the others,” Ingrid whispered fiercely. “They all had that weird accent. She sounds like… I dunno… like she’s from Brooklyn or something.”
“What difference does that make?” Kyle snapped irritably. “She can sound like Scarlett O’Hara for all I care. She’s still a Demon. They’re all liars and actors, trying to trick us. Stop being so naпve, Ingrid.”
“I’m not being naпve! I’m telling you, I’ve a bad feeling about that one. It’s like she isn’t even afraid. All the others were terrified of being trapped.”
Kyle seemed to stop and think about that for a moment. He turned and walked over to the second pentagram.
“You! Do you know that one?” He pointed to Isabella.
“That one… ” The Demon gurgled with contemplation, its clawed hands reaching to scrape and gouge the wood of the floor on either side of it.
Just then Legna made a soft sound from behind Isabella. Bella turned, torn between what the Demon was going to say and aiding Legna. She hoped that whoever the Demon was, he had not met her. However, it wouldn’t matter in the end. He was going to say whatever it was he was going to say and she wasn’t able to stop him. She turned to face Legna, watching her raise her head, then draw herself up to her hands and knees weakly. Bella didn’t move toward her, afraid that she would affect Legna’s regained energy.
“Aine ya hulli caun,” Isabella said suddenly, only then realizing she could put her language skill to use for something besides interpreting prophecy.
Legna turned her head toward her, her eyes widening with shock and fear.
“Demon speak,” the other trapped Demon chortled. “Demon that one is. Yes.”
“What did she say?” Kyle demanded.
Damn it, Isabella thought fiercely.
“Demon speak. Yes… ” The Demon pulled an impressively large splinter out of the floor. “Afraid, be not. She says to be not afraid to Legna… Indirianna… pretty, tasty Indirianna.”
Isabella swallowed hard, wrapping her arms around herself for warmth. She knew the Demon had just spoken Legna’s power name, she could see it in the weakened woman’s eyes as her expression turned to utter horror.
“Lucas,” she said hoarsely.
“Indirianna!” Lucas chortled, suddenly leaping about his cage like an excited chimpanzee. “Rentinon Siddah to Indirianna!”
“Lucas!” Legna sobbed, scrabbling over to Isabella’s side of the pentagram in order to get closer to Lucas.
“Legna,” Isabella warned softly, taking the other woman by the arm and drawing her under her hold. “He isn’t the Lucas you know,” she whispered into the trembling woman’s ear. “Don’t provoke him, his reactions will only hurt your heart.”
Legna swallowed loudly and Isabella could feel the nausea that washed through her friend.
“How long?” Legna managed to ask, suddenly sitting up and inspecting herself, running shaking hands over her body, raising limbs into her line of sight.
“A little over an hour. Legna, how much time do you have?”
“I do not know. None of us knows. We have only saved one Demon from Summoning in all these centuries.”
“Only one?” Isabella repeated in shock.
“Yes, and he was never the same in spite of it. It was as if all of his civilization warred with an insane animal inside of him.”
“What happened to him?”
Legna’s eyes filled with tears and fear.
“Jacob killed him. He had to. He began to attack our females. When Jacob caught up to him, they had a terrible fight, and Jacob was forced to kill him to save his own life. Oh, Bella… I am so frightened. What will Jacob do when he finds me?”
“Legna… Legna, Jacob isn’t going to kill you.”
“Jacob the Enforcer! Enforcer comes! Kill me! Kill me, Enforcer!” the wild animal across from them started to taunt, laughing maniacally as he leapt and rolled around his prison wildly.
Legna gasped, and Isabella paled.
“Do you know Jacob’s name?” Legna whispered fiercely.
“No. I don’t.”
Legna sighed with relief, relaxing for the first time since she regained consciousness.
“Good. Lucas is a male Mind Demon, meaning he is a full telepath. He could steal it from your thoughts.”
“No, Legna. You forget. I’m immune to telepaths. No one can read me but Jacob.”
“Yes, that is right. Yes, good,” Legna agreed breathlessly, her chest rising and falling rapidly. “But… Destiny help me, without my power I cannot keep him from taking names from me.”
“Move away from me, Legna, maybe that will help.”
“No. Do not make me leave you,” Legna begged fearfully.
“Okay. Shh. It’s okay,” Isabella whispered, hugging her close. “Let’s try and figure something out. Do you know how long the rescued Demon was caught for?”
“I do not. But Jacob told me that it had taken him four hours to find Saul.”
“It’s okay. Don’t be afraid. I won’t let that happen to you.”
“Hey, spawn. Quit chattering. If you’re plotting an attempt to escape, you can forget it,” Kyle barked, making Legna start in Isabella’s embrace. “Your males couldn’t escape no matter how much they tried, so you can bet you’re far too weak to even try it.”
“Great. A chauvinist necromancer. Just what the world needs,” Isabella said dryly.
“You better watch your mouth,” Kyle warned.
“Isabella, do not provoke them,” Legna begged.
“It’s all right. I won’t.” Isabella stroked Legna’s coffee-colored tresses comfortingly.
She went silent, and the necromancer seemed pleased at her obedience. He crossed over to Ingrid again, a decidedly smug saunter in his step.
“You see? She’s just as afraid as the rest. She’s just trying to hide it, Ingrid.”
“If you say so. When will we do the first spell? I want to see what kind they are. Especially the small one.”
“Give me about a half hour. When the others get back.”
Isabella looked up into Legna’s eyes. She had heard Kyle as well, and it was clear she was putting her fear aside as she tried to think more logically. Bella almost wished she wouldn’t. If Legna began to think about Bella’s powers with the other Mind Demon close enough to read her thoughts…
“Pink elephants,” Legna murmured. “Pink elephants.”
Isabella smiled, allowing herself a small laugh. “Pink elephants in polka-dot dresses,” she added.
“Pink elephants in polka-dot dresses with bright red parasols.”
“Pink elephants! Pink pachyderms. Dots. Dots everywhere!” Lucas giggled happily.
Legna and Isabella exchanged victorious looks. As long as Legna kept the absurd image in her head, Isabella’s identity and abilities were safe from theft. Bella had to admit she would not have had the discipline. She might inadvertently steal power, but she couldn’t have stolen Legna’s experience, her wisdom, and her centuries of training herself to remain in control of herself at all times.
So they were alone with only two magic-users. Isabella considered it would be a good time to try and escape, but that would leave two others out there who knew Legna’s name. She also couldn’t depend on Jacob reaching them in time, but it would really help if he were there.
“God, Jacob, where are you?” she muttered against Legna’s hair.
Isabella was leaning her weight on her hand, her fingertips brushing the chalked circle that bound them. She noticed this and glanced to see if she was being watched at all. The necromancers were distracted. Using Legna’s body as a block for her actions, she could test her ability to cross the outline. Slowly, biting her lip hard, she crept her fingers over the edge of their prison, and then quickly drew them back.
One test successfully completed, Bella thought, with a sigh of relief when there was no adverse reaction. She wasn’t bound to the pentagram.
Suddenly, Legna shivered, her entire body locking up. The empath suddenly went lax, falling back onto the floor, blacking out. But then an eerie, soft breeze ruffled the unconscious woman’s dress and hair. A moment later her eyes opened and she sat back up. She looked straight at Isabella.
“Greetings, little Enforcer,” she said, her silver eyes flickering with experience of the ages.
“Gideon?” Bella whispered in shock.
“None other.” Gideon stood up, his way of carrying himself radiating distinctively through Legna’s figure. He looked around slowly, assessing everything he saw. Then he closed his eyes and concentrated.
After a long moment, the medic settled Legna’s body across from her, sitting with one knee raised and her wrist resting leisurely on it. It was such a distinctly male position that Isabella had to turn down her eyes before she ended up laughing.
“Tell me what you know,” he instructed with his usual lack of gentility.
“Four necromancers, three males and one female, and, as you see, Lucas.” She indicated the Demon across the way. She paused. “Gideon, how is it that I’m here?”
“I do not know the truth of the matter. I have hypothesized, and when my research is complete, I will give you the fact of it.”