|Home > Yasmine Galenorn > Sisters of the Moon > Priestess Dreaming (Page 17)|
|Priestess Dreaming(Sisters of the Moon #16) by Yasmine Galenorn|
He inhaled slowly, exhaled even slower, keeping an even pace so the cadence of his song never changed. Mournful, it was, and haunting. I closed my eyes, trying to follow the thread of energy. It reminded me of a vine, tendrils creeping out from his voice. The words probed the energy of the portal, testing the edges, tapping them, looking for a place to burrow in.
I wanted to join Tanne, to lend my strength to his, and I could feel Morio itching to do the same. But our magic was different and we’d most likely be an interference rather than a help. So we stood vigil, watching the progression.
The tendrils of Tanne’s spell worked in a widdershins fashion—counterclockwise—around the vortex’s opening. Every few inches, the thread would stop, probe, then move on. I could see it clearly now. Anyone who worked magic couldn’t possibly miss it as Tanne’s focus strengthened.
And then, he found whatever it was he was looking for. The current of energy paused, tapping against one area of the portal’s edge. Like a snake, it struck, burrowing into the neon blue, penetrating it with a forceful thrust. A moment later, the tendril swept into the swirling vortex and began infusing it with its own energy.
And then, the fun began.
There was a crackle as the two forces met. As Tanne’s magic wove into the portal, a deep resonance echoed through the air, like thunder rumbling below the surface. Every hair left on my body stood to attention and I turned to run.
“Get out of the way, it’s gonna blow!”
Morio scooped me up, racing away from the area. He’d shifted within the blink of an eye and an eight-foot youkai met very little resistance. Smoky snatched Iris up and he and Delilah were bounding away from the portal. Vanzir was hot on their heels. Tanne caught up with us, his eyes wide.
“I didn’t expect this to happen so quickly,” he said, just as an explosion rippled through the air. The force sent us sprawling to the snow-covered ground. Unfortunately, the snow wasn’t deep enough to provide much of a cushion, so when I hit, I landed face-first in a low-growing fern. The fronds weren’t sharp, but they were strong and tough enough to scratch me a good one. Luckily, my face didn’t land center, but to the side, in the snow.
I lay there for a second, trying to ascertain if anything was hurt more than the usual bruises and scrapes. Ankles? Check. Knees? Check. Arms? Check. No sensation of bleeding out anywhere. Warily, I rolled into a sitting position. Everything seemed to be in one piece. Shaking my head to clear it from the shockwaves that were still reverberating through my body, I looked over at the portal. It was still there, but the opening had frozen over, and was a tangle of vines interlaced with the ice.
“Cripes. What the f**k happened?” Whatever Tanne had been attempting, I had the feeling it wasn’t this.
Tanne shaded his hand against the still-blowing snow. “I’m not sure, to be honest. I was trying to unravel it with the Song of Unraveling. Apparently, it didn’t work quite like I’d planned.”
“Maybe not, but that was pretty impressive.” I frowned, noticing something. “At least it’s getting warmer.” That much was true. The wind was still blowing but the temperature felt like it was starting to rise. Without the Northlands polar air, maybe we’d be able to ease off on the snow shoveling. Sure enough, by the time we’d all picked ourselves up off the ground, the snow had turned to sleet. It would probably shift over to rain in a few minutes.
“Well, at least nothing can get through, right?” Delilah cautiously edged toward the portal, staring at it suspiciously.
“I don’t think so.” Tanne paused, then added, “The truth is, I have no idea. Something strong enough can probably break through. Unfortunately, to put it to a test, we’d have to find something big enough to crack the ice and that would undo what . . . whatever it is I did.” He looked as confused as he sounded.
“Do you think the block will hold?” I joined Delilah, holding my hand up a few inches away from the frozen swirl covering the center of the portal. The energy still thrummed from within, but felt muffled, the way snow muffled sound.
Tanne shrugged. “I have no clue. As I said, I don’t even know what I did. I was trying to unravel the spell that opened the portal but . . . instead, my magic seems to have infused itself with the magic inherent within the runes.”
Iris pulled her coat tighter around her and joined me. “I think I know what might have happened. Or at least, I have a theory. I’ve seen spells backfire like this before. Only it’s not so much of a backfire as a mismatch of energies. For example, Camille—you know how you don’t dare touch a Corpse Talker?”
I nodded. If I were to touch one of the magical beings we used to talk to the dead, an implosion would happen. Our energies were so off-kilter that they wouldn’t cancel each other out, but they’d conflict, a lot like an inadvertent magical battle.
“Right. You think that’s what happened?”
“I think Tanne’s energy conflicted with the energy of the witch who created the scroll. The nature of their magic must be fundamentally different enough to cause a disruptive episode when they meet. When Tanne tried to unravel the spell, the energies grappled and, instead of burning each other out, they solidified.” She reached up and—before we could stop her—ran her fingers over the surface.
“Iris! Don’t do that.” I grabbed her hand and pulled her away, but not before she could slam her palm against the ice. A moment later and another layer of water rippled across the surface of the block, freezing as it went.
“Don’t interfere, girl. I was just strengthening the blockade. Why didn’t I think of that? I could have frozen over the opening, albeit in a different way.” She shook me off and returned to the portal. I let her go. I had an instinctive reaction to protect her, but babies or not, Iris could turn me inside out if she was mad enough.
She motioned to Tanne. “You are Black Forest Fae. I am Finnish. We aren’t that far off in our roots, although my kind are crazier than most. But I am thinking, if we tried together, we might be able to shatter the portal now that it’s frozen shut. I cannot perform your magic, but I can make ice shatter, and if you tried the spell of unraveling again, perhaps we could shake things up a bit.”
At that, I took a step back and so did Delilah.
Smoky just frowned. “Are you sure? Experimentation doesn’t always bode well. Not for our group.”
“I’m not Camille,” Iris said, winking at me.
I wasn’t sure whether or not to be insulted, so I kept my mouth shut.
“But you’re right,” she continued. “We are experimenting. Until—and unless—you first find the witch who created the scroll, and second, make her remove the spell, then our doorway to the playground of the north is going to remain open. Because the block won’t last. It’s already weakening. The ice won’t hold for long.”
Tanne took his place beside her. “The Lady Iris is right. We need to close it down. Together, we might be able to do so.”
I glanced at Smoky and he nodded. Turning back to the house sprite, I motioned to the portal. “Have at it, you two. Just be careful, all right?”
The rest of us stepped back—lesson learned from take one of Let’s Destroy This Portal. Tanne and Iris consulted. After a moment, he pressed his hands against the left side of the vortex, right on the frozen rings of energy. Iris stepped back about five feet and pointed her palms toward the center of the portal. Tanne began to sing again.
Iris also took up a tune, her voice countering his dusky tone.
I blinked. I’d heard her sing before—we all had—but for some reason, I’d never paid that much attention. She’d sang lullabies to Maggie and had joined in our songs during ritual, but now, her voice rang out rich and throaty and sultry. She could be a siren with that voice.
Another moment, and their voices blended together, weaving around each other like a braided rope, and the portal began to vibrate. I watched, fascinated, as the ice began to fracture. Spiderweb cracks raced through the block, then along the outer rim of the vortex, their rift a deep blue as they rippled in waves.
Tanne kept his hands on the portal, even as the ground began to shake. I grabbed hold of Morio’s arm for stability. But neither Iris nor Tanne moved.
A high-pitched hum filled the area as the cracks grew more pronounced. Iris suddenly stopped, her voice hovering over a single note. Tanne did the same, his voice a good octave lower, underpinning the magic they wove.
The vibrations of their voices thrust into the cracks, racing along the channels. As they infused the grooves with energy, the portal began to phase in and out. I could barely stand the cacophony—between their voices and the humming and the groaning of the portal, the noise was rapidly rising to an unbearable level.
Then, in a fraction of a second, Iris and Tanne fell silent.
The last rush of energy poured into the fractures lining the vortex, and it broke into a thousand pieces, flying every which way. With one last shriek, the portal shattered, and it vanished in a swirl of light. The area was clear. The portal was gone.
Iris dropped to her knees, as did Tanne. She held up her hand when we started to rush forward, and we were smart enough to hang back. Sometimes, residue energy could produce a nasty jolt when you touched someone who had just been working magic. We waited as it dissipated, and only when Iris motioned to us, did we approach her side.
“I can’t believe it. We did it.” She was smiling, although she looked worn out.
Tanne burst out with a goofy grin that softened the stoic look I was used to seeing. “We did at that, my lady. We did at that.”
Smoky swept Iris up in his arms. “I will carry you back to the car. No protests. You worked harder than you should have to, little mother.”
Iris shook her head. “Times being what they are, we all have to work harder than we should. You’ll hear no complaints from me.
I sighed. “You know, as much as I don’t want to, I think we’d better go check out that store. And if she’s there, the witch who supposedly knows me.”
Iris nodded. “Please take Morio and Vanzir with you. I’ll go home with Delilah and Smoky. Tanne, will you tag along with Camille?”
Tanne nodded. “Of course.”
I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to deal with it, but Iris was right. Better to take care of matters now and know the truth of what was going on. And Morio was a better choice for the job because, in a magical situation, he and I could work it a lot harder.
“Okay then. Looks like we’re going for a ride.” I glanced at the others. “The rest of you, go home. We’ll see you in a while.” I shoved Vanzir in front of me and he grumbled, but with one look at Morio, he quieted down and led the way.
We were on our way within less than five minutes. Tanne sat in the back with Vanzir. Morio punched the street address that Vanzir gave him into the GPS and I was surprised to find out that we didn’t have all that far to go. The shop wasn’t in Seattle proper, but up in the Lake Forest Park area.
We ended up in a deserted neighborhood of hole-in-the-wall shops, most looking either empty or like they were waiting for the after-eleven crowd. That is, the after 11 P.M. waiting for the hookers and pushers to come out crowd. Vanzir pointed to a little shop up ahead that was called Broom Stix.
I groaned. Cutesy names were not my thing, and I had the feeling the shop made its money on the wishes of poor people—you know, the “win the lottery if you buy this spell” or “we’ll get your husband back for you if you pay us enough” types. Witches who owned shops like this were usually FBH scam artists, but now and then, one of the Fae set up shops such as this one, and they were trouble, too. They preyed on people’s insecurities and their desperation.
As I parked in front of the shop, I mentally steeled myself for a confrontation with the owner. I wasn’t looking forward to getting into it, but I would if I had to. While I was a live-and-let-live type of woman, scammers and moochers drove me up the wall, and I detested those who took advantage of other peoples’ pain and fears.
I nodded for Morio, Tanne, and Vanzir to follow me in. I wasn’t in the mood for subtle, and we needed as much information as we could get, as fast as we could get it.
The shop was dark, decked out in postmodern goth, with fake ravens perched on the tops of the shelves, dripping cobwebs—all black and sparkly—hanging from the ceiling, and the requisite resin skull candleholder sitting on the counter. Jars of herbs lined one wall and candles in all colors, another. At least they had something useful in stock. But dozens of what looked like homemade spell kits stocked one set of shelves, and some of their names made me cringe. HOODOO JUSTICE CROSS, LOVE-SLAVE, and GIVE ME YOUR MONEY were three examples of why I had a sudden urge to shut the place down. Then I saw the piles for the holidays—and it was clear to see how some of the scrolls could easily have rolled into the wrong section. They were separated by about an inch of space with little in the way of dividers. Or it could have been deliberate. The thought just wouldn’t leave, but niggled in the back of my mind.
The woman behind the counter looked all of seventeen and she was FBH. I was surprised to see she wasn’t decked out like Elvira, but instead, she was wearing what looked like an anime schoolgirl’s outfit, and her hair was tied high in two ponytails. She took one look at us and her smile turned to fear.
“How . . . what can I help you with?”
I rested my hands on the counter and leaned toward her, giving her a big smile. She was wearing a nametag that read JENNY. “Well, Jenny, here’s what you can do for us. First—you can make certain those stacks of scrolls over there are in the correct pile. Somebody caused us one hell of a mess and cost us quite a bit of money. Second, I hear there’s a card reader here? A Svartan from Otherworld? I’d like to talk to her.”