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|Priestess Dreaming(Sisters of the Moon #16) by Yasmine Galenorn|
But as we approached the porch I lost track of what he was saying, because the front door burst open and Vanzir came racing out, the look on his face somewhere between guilty and terrified. He scrambled down the stairs, leaping to take the last few.
“Run! Get out of the way!” The dream-chaser demon pushed past us looking like hell itself was on his heels.
Confused, I glanced back at the door. Holy. Fuck. It couldn’t be—no, no . . . I couldn’t be seeing what my brain thought it was seeing. Could I?
But there, on the porch, with gleaming yellow eyes, stood a very large, very burly creature with bluish-white fur covering its body. It was bipedal . . .
“Yeti! There’s a freaking yeti on our porch!” I dropped my purse and backed away from the steps, never letting my gaze waver from the creature. Trillian and Smoky were doing the same.
Yetis were unpredictable. Like their cousins, the Sasquatch, they are large and muscular, but their hair runs from white to a dusky silvery-blue, compared to the deep brown of the Sasquatch’s fur. Camouflage, no doubt. But what the hell was a yeti from the mountains of Tibet doing here, on our front porch? And more importantly—at least for the moment—what was it going to do?
The creatures were wild, almost alien in nature. In fact, back in Otherworld, there were rumors that the entire Sasquatch-Yeti family were originally from another planet, though nobody knew if this was true. It could have just been an urban legend. They belonged to the Crypto family, but they weren’t found in Otherworld and they sure didn’t mingle with the Cryptos over here, Earthside. Or with the Fae. Pretty much everybody but monster-hunters gave the primate-like creatures a wide berth.
I searched my memory, trying to calculate our options. Attempting to communicate wouldn’t do any good, not unless the creature was willing to talk. And so far, nobody I knew had gotten close enough to one to invite it to tea, at least not without getting mauled. Usually, approaching beyond a certain range triggered their defense mechanisms, and the creatures would attack. And an eight- to nine-foot-tall agitated primate who was feeling hemmed in wasn’t the safest of critters to be around.
“Anybody have any suggestions about what we do with the big white giant on the porch?” I tried to keep my voice even and neutral. No use setting it off with any loud noises.
“My babies!” Heedless of the danger, Iris broke into a run, heading around the left side of the house. Her home was in back of ours, and her twins were there, waiting for her with their grandma and their daddy. I pitied any fool who tried to get between her and the babies, that was for sure. The house sprite might be a gorgeous, buxom hottie, milkmaid-pretty with golden hair down to her ankles and cornflower blue eyes, but she could turn a grown man inside out if she got mad enough. Literally.
“Astrid!” Chase followed Iris at a dead run. He and his daughter Astrid lived with Iris and Bruce. No doubt, he was just as freaked.
Startled by the sudden movement, the yeti let out a roar and bounded down the steps. My men moved immediately to intercept—Smoky, Trillian, and Morio dropped their parcels and darted to cut off the path so it couldn’t follow Iris and Chase.
I backed up, looking at the sky. The clouds were thick. It was almost cold enough to snow, and there should be enough energy around to summon the lightning. I raised my arms and called on the Moon Mother. She was huge tonight—not quite full but nearly there, and I could feel her shining down even though she was obscured by the boiling clouds.
As I drew the energy into me, a crackle of silver racing through my arms, I began to feel giddy. What the hell? Her magic made me drunk at times, but never like this, and never this fast.
I wanted to dance, to spin and cackle and laugh. Trying to focus, I forced my attention back to the tingling moon-fire, but it was no use. The next moment, I heard music. Faint at first, the melody quickly swept up to surround me. Reverberating with a rhythm as deep as the soil, the singer enticed me to join the dance, his voice deep and guttural.
I began to whirl, laughing as I looked toward the sky. The Moon Mother, she was up there, and I could hear her singing along. But whatever the words were, I could not understand. Weaving in and out like a sinuous chain of dancers, the words sang of adventure.
The sky shimmered, a thin veil of sparkling lights flitting around me. Enchanted, I reached out, trying to capture the twinkles in my hands.
A low growl startled me. To my left, Delilah, in her panther form, bounded by, chasing a translucent figure with wings. Tiny, it was barely a foot tall. Oh hell! Some semblance of coherency broke through. I knew what that creature was! A pixie. A freaking pixie.
We were friends with a pixie, but the majority of them were annoying pests and worse. They liked to lead people astray, and they had it in for witches like myself. And this one was darting around, sprinkling dust right and left.
No wonder I wanted to dance. But then, reason escaped me as once again the music lured me in. I whirled, holding my arms out, and the energy I had drawn down from the Moon Mother suddenly cut loose in a volley of bolts as I became a spinning wheel of silver fire, sparks flying from my fingers.
Delilah snarled and lumbered out of reach. I heard Nerissa curse as I hit her with one of the mini-bolts. I wanted to stop, but my feet kept moving, I kept twirling, and the sparks kept flying.
“Stop me! Somebody stop me! Pixie dust!” I managed to shout between the violent fits of laughter that were erupting from my core. I had no clue what was so funny, but I couldn’t stop that either.
By now, it occurred to me that if I had to be shooting out sparks, why not move to where they’d do some good? I tried to catch sight of the yeti in my dizzying spin and realized that if I shifted in a northwestern direction, I’d end up near the creature, who was now fully engaged with Smoky and the boys.
As I danced closer, still spinning like a crazed top, Smoky let out a shout, and then Trillian. The next thing I knew, the smell of burning fur filled my nostrils, and with each spin I found myself facing one very pissed-off and scorched yeti.
One circle around and I caught sight of him gazing at me with those glowing, angry, topaz eyes. A second circle, and a large fuzzy white arm came flying out. The third and I staggered to the ground as his big ole fist met my crazed body.
I landed on the frozen driveway. Apparently the temperature had dropped enough for frost to form. The f**king dirt was hard and cold. But even getting smacked by Mr. Abominable Snowman couldn’t shake the pixie dust off me, because I began to struggle to my feet, still needing to dance. The next moment, Smoky had grabbed me under his arm, dragging me behind him as we raced through the yard toward the studio that had originally been a shed.
The minute we hit the door, he swept me up and barreled into the bathroom, where he shoved me—clothes and all—into the shower. One more second and he’d turned it on full blast. The water was cold, and shocked me into silence. As the spray warmed up, it began to wash off the pixie dust and my foggy thoughts began to lift. My body was still jazzed higher than a kite by all the energy I’d drawn in, but at least I didn’t feel the need to go gallivanting in a crazed polka around the room. I stood there, mutely, under pounding water. Yeah, this outfit is a goner.
After a moment, Smoky turned off the spray. “Pixie dust gone?”
I searched for the dazed feelings brought on by the dust, but the only thing I felt was wired and bedraggled. After a moment, I nodded.
“Yeah, I think so. I’m pissed, but I’m thinking clearly and I don’t feel quite so possessed to go frolicking with Mr. Yeti. The yeti! Where the hell did it come from, and more importantly, what are we going to do about it?”
“I don’t know. When I saw it attack you, all I could think about was to get you out of the way. You were in no shape to protect yourself.” He held out a towel. I stripped and, leaving my wet clothes in the shower stall, I stepped out and wrapped the thick terrycloth around me. The soft cloth against my skin felt good, and I suddenly realized that I was rapidly growing tired—another side effect of too much pixie dust.
“I need to find something to wear and then we have to get the hell back to the house. The fact that pixies are having a field day in our yard is bad enough, but a yeti bounding out of our front door? More than a little scary.” A sudden thought hit me. “Maggie! We have to make sure Maggie is okay!” Pushing past him, I rushed out of the bathroom.
“You can’t go racing out there in a bathrobe.” Smoky motioned toward Rozurial’s room. “Grab something from the incubus’s closet and I’ll go check on Maggie. I’ll let you know the minute I find her and Hanna.” And he was out the door before I could touch the knob.
Wanting to run after him, but realizing that dashing na**d through the storm wasn’t exactly the brightest idea, I hurried into Roz’s room and tossed my way through his dresser. I found a tunic that fit over my Double-Ds, and a pair of drawstring pajama bottoms. Cinching them firmly, I realized I’d have to go barefoot. My shoes were ruined, and I couldn’t wear any of Roz’s boots—they were far too big. Sopping hair and all, I headed out of the studio, back toward the house, my feet freezing. The frozen soil and frosty grass made for a slippery mix, and I struggled to keep my footing as I jogged back toward the house.
All hell had broken loose. Trillian and Morio were still fighting the yeti and from what I could see, the damned thing seemed tougher than a dubba-troll. But that was only the half of it. Glimmers flickered from all over the yard—and every glimmer seemed to have some sort of creature attached to it.
The pixie was still flying around like a crazed maniac, and to my dismay, I spotted a couple more nearby. Hell. They were bad news, in general. Mistletoe was the exception to the rule and that’s only because he was our friend.
Beneath a huckleberry bush near my herb garden, I could see some sort of frosty hedgehog-like creature. Not certain what it was, I decided I had better get dressed before investigating.
Trampled shopping bags were scattered all over the yard, and I scanned the area, trying to locate everyone. I finally spotted Nerissa, in her werepuma form, and Delilah, who was still in panther form. They’d treed something, and both big cats were standing up against the trunk staring at whatever it was they’d managed to trap in the branches.
Menolly was up on top of the roof. She was after—what the hell? It looked like some sort of gremlin. She was climbing along the shingles, but the creature scampered over the tiles as if it were running on flat ground.
Rozurial was nowhere in sight, and Iris and Chase had taken off for Iris’s house. Vanzir was struggling with a figure beneath a cedar. They were rolling around on the ground, locked in a wrestling match, and I heard Vanzir utter a string of curses. Shade was chasing another glimmer around toward the backyard.
Motherfucking son of a bitch, what the hell was going on?
Just then, one of the Fae guards who patrolled our land ran over to my side, panting. “Camille—we’re overrun. Four of the men are out back fighting a group of barbegazi. And two of the men are chasing a couple of ice wolves.”
“Barbegazi? Ice wolves? What the hell are they?” I wasn’t sure I wanted to know, but then again, there was a lot I’d learned the hard way that I wished I didn’t have to know about.
“Barbegazi are creatures from the Northlands. They’re very much like dwarves only smaller and hardier. Usually they’re kindly natured but this batch appears to be a particularly surly lot. As for the ice wolves, they are also known as amaroks, at least to one Earthside tribal group. They’re wolf demons, dangerous and hungry for human flesh.” The guard glanced around, shaking his head. “I don’t know what happened, or where all of these creatures came from. The wards suddenly went off and we were swarming with them.”
“The rogue portal out back? Could they have come through there?” I motioned toward the porch steps, which were surprisingly clear. “I need to get dressed and get back out here.”
He followed me up the stairs. “No, the portal hasn’t been active at all. I—”
As we entered the house, he fell silent. First of all, the foyer was filled with snow. White, cold, sticky wet snow. And it was snowing up a storm. Inside the house. Second, a loud humming emanated from the living room.
“Well . . . this is a new look. Ice palace décor, for the win.” But my sarcasm fell flat, even to my own ears, as I stared at snow on the floor. All twelve to fourteen inches of snow. My feet were beginning to freeze.
“Wait here, Lady Camille.” The guard plowed his way into the living room, then within moments returned. “There’s a portal in your living room. The snow’s coming through there. Ten to one, that’s where all of these creatures came from, too.”
A portal? In the living room?
“Okay, then, well. I don’t know what to say to that.” I wanted to go prowling around, looking for Maggie, but Smoky had promised he would let me know the moment he found them and truth was, I was starting to chill. “Come with me, please. I need to change and I don’t know what else might be rampaging through the house. I’d rather not be surprised while I’m getting dressed.” I darted through the snow, wincing as the sting of the frozen water hit my feet. The guard—whose name was Dez—followed me, sword out and ready.
The snow was beginning to drift up the living room walls and out into the foyer and the parlor. But even more alarming, the room was also decked out in the most garish holiday décor I had ever seen. In one corner stood a ten-foot-tall tree, blazing with neon flashing blue and green lights that made my eyes hurt. The lights also ran the length of the room, following the ceiling around to form a terrifyingly bright border. Huge, ugly, acrylic ornaments bedecked the tree, catching and reflecting the lights like crazed prisms.