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|Priestess Dreaming(Sisters of the Moon #16) by Yasmine Galenorn|
At that moment, a loud siren whooped and the marching band scattered as a crazed float came careening—as fast as any float can careen—down the middle of the street. Oh, for the love of . . . it was a cartoon float, but it had been commandeered by a group of the famed Seattle Pirate Boys—a performance group who ran around cosplaying pirates and winning the hearts of little boys and grown women. The float was also sparkling—more pixie dust, no doubt.
“Fuck, those damned little pests have been busy since Chase called us.”
“It took us over a half hour to get here. A lot can happen in thirty minutes.” Morio stared at the mayhem, looking mildly dazed. “What the hell are we supposed to do about this?”
“Find the pixies and put a stop to them. Somehow, I don’t think we’re going to have much luck rounding up all the players, so let’s concentrate on finding the supporting cast. The engineers of this debacle, so to speak.”
I looked around. The pixies couldn’t have gone far, not having caused all this chaos. For one thing, even for a pixie, it took a lot of time to sprinkle enough dust to bring down a parade. For another, pixies tend to like to watch the results of their interference.
“Now, if I were pixie, where would I hide myself . . .” Hmm, they were small, so chances are they’d be higher up in order to view the goings-on. Which meant . . . I glanced up. Sure enough. Atop of the market across the street, I caught a glimmer of something—just a flash, but enough to tell me that whatever it was, it was magical.
“There—let’s go, get across the street. But be cautious of the pixie dust—it’s heavy in the air and you know we’re all susceptible to it.” The last thing we needed was for Delilah to go sprinting down the street in panther form, or for me to start shooting energy bolts around.
Shade grunted. “I’m immune to it. Take my hands, you two, and I can rein you in if you start to misbehave.”
Delilah stuck her tongue out at him but offered her hand. I took his right hand, and Morio took mine. We crossed the street on a dead run, trying to avoid the thickest patches of dust. But the pixie dust was settling into the snow now, and the snow was starting to stick to the street, and before I knew it, Delilah had tripped over something and went face-first down on the pavement.
“Oh, f**king . . .” Delilah didn’t swear as much as I did, but the fall took her by surprise. As Shade dragged her to her feet, her chin was trickling a little blood. She’d managed to pop herself a good one.
At that moment, I began to feel a little light-headed. “Dude . . . it’s starting to get to me. Better get us out of here, pronto.”
Shade didn’t have to be told twice. Once again, he broke into a run, dragging us behind him, and we were across the street. One of the wayward clowns took a stab at Morio with a pointy umbrella, but Morio just let out a growl and the clown backed away, his red nose bobbing. I shuddered. FBH clowns gave me the creeps. They were a far cry from the jesters and harlequins of the courts over in Otherworld.
We pushed through the crowds on the other side, toward the building. The brawl had now reached epic proportions, and was spreading rapidly. I sneezed, light-headed. For a moment, everything shimmered and I wondered why the hell we were rushing. There was a party going on and it felt like playtime!
Shade must have sensed my impending defection because he tightened his grip on my hand and yanked me harder toward the door. “Don’t you go AWOL on us now, Camille.” He was usually soft-spoken, but now his dragon heritage reared up and the authority in his voice shook me out of the borderline haze I had entered.
Blinking, I nodded. “Right. Sorry about that. I have a strong sensitivity to pixie dust and it’s everywhere right now.”
We maneuvered around a group of men who were playing football, using what looked like a ham for a ball, before reaching the door. I glanced back at the game. The ham made a weird sort of sense, it had once been close to a pig, after all. As we made it to the building and rushed into the hallway, Shade slammed the door shut behind us, cutting off the clouds of pixie dust in the air.
I leaned against the wall, trying to clear my rapidly clouding head. After a moment, my thoughts started to sort themselves out. I inhaled slowly, filling my lungs with the canned air of the building, a welcome relief to the fresh air that had been clogged with joy dust.
“How many pixies does it take to create that much mayhem?” Shade sounded vexed, and looked like he was about ready to bite the head off anybody who crossed him. “They’re nasty little buggers, aren’t they?”
“Most of them, yes, to be honest. They delight in causing chaos, and frankly, except for Mistletoe, I prefer to steer clear of the entire lot of them.” I let out a long breath and shook my head, feeling back to myself.
“Mistletoe is nice, though.” Delilah flashed me a smile. “But even I have to agree, we’re better off without them around.”
I caught sight of the staircase. We had four flights to the top of the building and I didn’t want to chance hunting down an elevator. If the pixies caught wind we were on their tail, their dust could affect things like cars, elevators, electronics. The thought of being locked inside an elevator with a bunch of laughing pixies outside didn’t set well with me.
“Stairs—up to the roof.” I opened the heavy metal door and headed for the steps, the others following suit. Concrete stairs and shoes meant that anybody who happened to be in the stairwell would hear us coming, but too bad. Chances were, most of the pixies were up top, watching the chaos they had caused in the streets.
We wound our way to the fourth floor, then up the last flight to the roof. The door was locked. I stepped aside and motioned to Delilah. One of her skills she had first developed for her private eye business—the Cat’s Eye Investigations Agency, as she’d recently renamed it—was that of picking locks. She pulled out her picks and fiddled with the lock for a moment, then stepped back, a satisfied smile on her face.
“I did it. We’re in.”
“Let me go first, since I’m not affected by their magic.” Shade took the front, Morio going second. Delilah was third, and I brought up the rear since I seemed to be the most susceptible.
As we burst out onto the roof, I scanned the area. The roof was covered with snow, and there were four pixies in sight—but I knew there had to be more. Sure enough, as we made our appearance, another five popped out from behind what was probably an air-conditioning unit for the building or a heating unit or some such machine.
“Nine of them, looks like.”
They were about a foot long at the biggest, with long, silvery wings that shimmered with frost. Their skin wasn’t as dark as Trillian’s, but they were a glowing coffee color, and they wore ivory-colored loincloths. They didn’t look like the pixies I was used to, but considering they came from the realm of the Northland Fae, I wasn’t surprised.
“Try to avoid killing them—they aren’t really evil.” I frowned. This was going to be harder than attacking a monster or demon. Killing pixies wasn’t high on my list of things to be proud of.
Shade stopped in his tracks, glancing over his shoulder at me. “Then what do you suggest we do with them?”
That was a good question and one we obviously hadn’t thought out. We were so used to being in seek-and-destroy mode that, until this moment, I’d forgotten that we really shouldn’t be killing these creatures.
“Talk to them?” Morio suggested, but then shifted nervously as the nearest three pixies moved toward us, looking for all intents and purposes like they were ready for some action.
I thought fast, but Delilah was faster. She shifted—transforming into her panther self in a blur of motion. A moment later there was a big black panther on the prowl and she bounded toward them, startling the little freaks.
The pixies chattered, darting out of the way, their attention off of us and onto the big black kitty who looked all too willing to play chase. Delilah took another leap and reached up with her massive paw, swatting the nearest one out of the air. Her swat was gentle enough to not actually hurt it, but hard enough to send it careening back across the roof.
I snorted. Sometimes my sister was pretty damned bright, that was for sure. Then, before the pixies could shift their focus to us, I summoned a bolt of energy from the Moon Mother, praying it wouldn’t backfire, and sent it into their midst, trying to aim so that it hit none of them. The energy raced through my body, into my arms, but suddenly, I felt a strange surge as it neared my fingers. Oh f**k, what was happening? Maybe the pixie dust I’d inhaled had managed to affect me after all?
I gulped, trying desperately to pull back the energy, but it was too late. The bolt shot out of my hands, into the air. Watching it shoot up, rather than toward the pixies like I’d intended, I prayed that it wouldn’t sweep back on us.
While the death magic I was learning with Morio tended to be spot on, my Moon Magic had always been a little off-kilter. Since I’d discovered that I was meant to be a Dark Moon Witch rather than the Bright Moon Witch for which I’d been trained, I’d been trying to re-learn my spells but it was going to take quite a while. My half-human heritage didn’t help matters much when it came to my spellcraft.
The energy bolt rose into the air, high overhead. Below in the streets, people were shouting and pointing. Oh good gods, they probably thought it was some sort of fireworks display. Maybe I’d luck out and that’s all it would be, but I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that whatever I’d just done would be something I’d live to regret. Hopefully, we’d all live to regret it.
The next moment, the situation got worse. The energy I’d sent up collided with a thick cloud of pixie dust. Oh f**k, f**k, f**k.
As we all watched—the pixies were also aware that something was happening and their gazes were as riveted as ours to my faux pas—a large cloud began to form out of what was rapidly becoming an energy convergence zone.
The next moment, a hail of slugs and frogs began raining down on us and the street below. People started to scream as hundreds of the critters pelted the sidewalk, stirring up the snow. I groaned as a slug hit me, sticking to my arm. It barely moved. The current temperature wasn’t conducive to slug activity.
A frog was next, and it managed to use me as a launching pad—bouncing off and hitting the ground alive, a fate sadly not shared by many of its fellow base jumpers. It looked as startled as we were, and I wondered how long it would last in this frigid temperature.
Morio let out a shout—he and the others were as surprised as I was by the sudden rain—and he yelped as a frog bounced off his nose. Shade looked bewildered, and Delilah—in panther form—was suddenly taken by her feline nature and went bounding after a frog that landed near her and tried to hop away.
Frogs, slugs, snow, pixies. Yep. That about summed it up.
As I stood there, rooted by sheer confusion, the snow softly fell around me. The rain of creatures stopped as quickly as it had started. The cloud vanished, and all I could hear were screams echoing up from the street, and the tinkling laughter of the pixies. They were near the rooftop’s edge, cracking up, pointing at me as if I had just slipped on a banana peel. With one spell, I’d managed to magnify any chaos they’d done by tenfold.
Silently, I walked to the nearest edge of the roof and peeked down. People were scrambling in the streets. Not only was the pixie dust still thick down there, but now kids were running after what frogs had managed to survive, and the slugs were freaking people out. One of the na**d revelers was having a screaming fit—from what I could tell a giant banana slug had affixed itself to his penis. All in all, the scene belonged to some surreal Dalí painting.
I turned back, staring at the pixies. The little freaks. If they hadn’t started it, all this wouldn’t have happened. Before I realized what I was doing, I charged toward them, sliding a bit on the snow, uttering a string of curses.
“You f**king little freakshow perverts—get the hell out of here! Go home to where you belong—”
As I drew near, they began to look worried. I must have sounded like a harpy straight out of the Sub-Realms, because their laughter turned to anxious chatter and the next thing I knew, they disappeared, vanishing in a puff of sparkling dust. I skidded to a halt before I ran into the cloud of pixie dust, and glanced around.
Nope, there was no sign of them. Maybe they’d gotten their jollies off enough, or maybe they thought I was going to kill them. Back in OW, pixies steered clear of witches because there were a number of my kind who trapped them to steal their pixie dust, an act that was frowned on but still prevalent. It didn’t kill the pixies, but it wasn’t pleasant for them by any means. Kind of like milking spiders and snakes for antivenin.
I turned back to the others. Delilah had changed back into her normal shape, and we all just stood there a moment, silent, staring at one another. After a pause, Morio cleared his throat.
“Well, that was special.” But his eyes were twinkling. He let out a hiccup that sounded suspiciously like a laugh.
Delilah wrinkled her nose. “Sort of a This is Camille’s magic. This is Camille’s magic on pixie dust moment?” She snickered, and Morio cracked up. The two of them began to laugh. Shade just shook his head, but he was smiling.
“That’s not fair! I had no idea that was going to happen!” I swatted at Morio, smacking his arm. “If you guys want to act so smart, then what now?”
Shade struggled to restrain his laughter. “Well, we’ve chased off the pixies. I guess we’re done here?”
“What about the chaos going on down in the streets?” Delilah glanced over the side of the roof. “It’s like bedlam down there.” She scooped up a frog that was struggling in the snow. “Poor little guy. He’s going to freeze.”