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|Priestess Dreaming(Sisters of the Moon #16) by Yasmine Galenorn|
She winced, but managed to sit up. “Yeah, I think so. Nothing broken that I can feel but I bruised my butt, that’s for sure. What’s going on?”
“Yvarr—it has to be Yvarr! And since I’m not being pulled into trance, I have a really bad feeling that this is far worse than last time.” Yvarr had been waking up. He’d been trying to break out of his astral prison. And now, I had the feeling he’d managed it.
Pictures began to fall off the walls, and we scrambled out of the way as a large framed painting of a bowl of fruit hit the floor, the frame splintering. One of our friends had painted it—I couldn’t remember who at the moment—but now it was a twisted mess.
“So much for that.” Delilah nervously glanced overhead, looking to see if there was anything that could fall on us. Luckily, the light fixtures were still firmly in place and there were no chandeliers up here to come crashing down.
“You know, given that we came through the siege on Elqaneve, I think we’ve weathered too much in the earthquake department. It’s time for something new,” I grumbled. “We don’t need any sentient storms here.”
The rumbling slowly ground to a halt.
She stared at me. “Don’t even joke. Not about that.”
We waited, but there were no aftershocks, and so we scrambled to our feet and hurried downstairs before the quaking could start again. In the kitchen, Hanna was staring at a plate of overturned hamburgers and a large tureen of soup that hadn’t quite made it to the table. I felt unaccountably angry at whoever had been doing the shaking. Damn it, I was hungry!
Nerissa led Morgaine in from the parlor, and Shade brought Myrddin in from Hanna’s room where the high priest had showered and was now wearing a pair of Chase’s jeans and a turtleneck. He looked oddly out of place without his antlered headdress. His hair, though, shone brilliantly red under the lights now that it was washed. Yeah, I thought as I ran my gaze over him. The Merlin cleaned up quite nicely.
“Where’s Bran?” I looked around.
“He stayed outside to talk to his men, then he was going to return to Talamh Lonrach Oll. But I think he’s still here.”
I sucked in a deep breath. “I didn’t have the psychic contact this time with Yvarr, but ten to one, it’s him.”
“You think so?” Smoky looked worried. “Even my kind hesitate to take on the ancient wyrms. Not only are they dangerous and crafty, but they are our forebears. Some among the Dragon Reaches think it heresy to even speak of fighting them.” He paused at my look, then blinked. “I will, of course. Make no mistake about that, my wife.”
That Smoky sounded so cowed made me want to break out in laughter, but I quickly sobered. This was no laughing matter. “Good, because we’re going to need every hand on deck. How do we find out if he truly escaped his prison?”
“I can answer that.” A voice from the front door startled us. The wards hadn’t gone off so it couldn’t be anybody meaning us ill will, but most of our friends were well-mannered enough to knock before entering. But the answer to that came when Raven Mother followed her words into the kitchen.
“I can tell you, yes I can, that Yvarr has escaped from his prison so tight. The two Fae Lords I spoke of? They have woken, and when they woke, their spell holding him was broken, and he comes now, to your house, to fight you.”
“Fucking hell, why not go after the Fae Lords who imprisoned him in the first place?” I wasn’t feeling particularly charitable, and I was getting tired of being the target of every creature with road rage. “And what the hell are the freaks doing, now that they decided to emerge from their self-imposed nap?”
“I have . . . taken them into protective custody, you might say. They are in my territory, I have a right to restrain them until we decide what to do with them. There is no need for others to know they’ve woken. But to Yvarr . . . destiny involves herself in this matter, Camille. You and the Moon Mother have much you have not discussed, and there are so many milestones that wait for you. But there is more—Yvarr sensed the unicorn horn. He comes to destroy you and take it.”
“But Eriskel will booby-trap it. He won’t be able to use it—that’s what these sorcerers don’t understand! The Black Unicorn gifts the horn. If it’s stolen, the spirit of the horn can prevent its use.” But even as I said the words, I knew that anybody looking to steal it wouldn’t believe me. They’d think I was trying to throw them off track. Which brought me back to Mistletoe’s warning. I needed to keep my eyes open because I had a gut feeling that I hadn’t seen the fallout from those rumors yet. Or, if I had, I hadn’t recognized the danger yet.
“Why does Yvarr hate the Black Unicorn so much? And you? Why is he after you?”
Raven Mother’s eyes grew darker and her lips curled into a luxurious, sensual smile. “It is true. Yvarr has a special hatred for the Black Unicorn. They fought, one time long ago. I have been hunting down information, I have. And I discovered that my love fought in the Great Divide on the side of the Fae Lords, and he helped to rip the worlds apart.”
“The Fae Lords in Darkynwyrd—did the Black Unicorn help them imprison Yvarr?” Things were becoming clearer now.
“Yes, that he did. Much to my dismay. I would have kept the worlds together but since I can travel between them, it matters not in the long run. But yes, he did, my love. He did . . . and Yvarr has held a grudge. And he holds a grudge against me because he believes that I helped the Black Beast. He smelled me on you, and he smelled the horn. So now he believes you are in league with us. The friend of my enemy is also my enemy.”
“So he’s coming here to avenge himself on us because he thinks we’re all cozy with you. And he thinks we hang out together. But where is he right now? How far away is he? We don’t dare let him enter Seattle.”
“He flies toward the Sovereign Nation. They will not be able to fight him on their own. You must hurry if you are to catch him. I will wing my way there and warn them. Bring the ancient one.” She nodded to Myrddin. “He has the magic needed to battle the great beast.”
And with that, she vanished out the back door and a huge black raven went flying off. I stared at the others. “You heard her. We have to get out to Talamh Lonrach Oll before Yvarr does. Because if he ends up here, he’ll destroy Seattle in one happy fireball.”
Hanna pulled out the bread and meat. “I’ll make sandwiches while you get ready.” She knew the drill. And so did we.
* * *
We headed out the door, food in hand, fully equipped. For this, we took everybody we could spare and left the guards to watch over the house. It was either stop Yvarr, or have no home to return to.
I brought Morgaine with us—we needed to get her back to Talamh Lonrach Oll anyway. I had no clue how Aeval and Titania would be able to help her, but there was nothing more we could do for her.
Iris had come up to the house to be with Hanna. The Duchess was still in town for another week. “I would help you, but I think I need to sit out this fight.” The house sprite gave me a tired smile.
“No, you stay here. If we don’t call by afternoon, take the children and get away from here. I’ve called Chase and told him what’s going down. He can’t leave, not if the city is in any sort of danger. So if things go south, take Astrid with you. He knows I’m telling you this.”
Nerissa cleared her throat. “I’ll make sure Iris, Hanna, and Maggie get to safety if it comes to that. I can’t take Menolly out of her lair, but if Yvarr breaks through and attacks the house, she should be okay in the basement, given the steel reinforcements to keep fire from burning through.” The look on her face told me how hard it was for her to volunteer to leave Menolly behind, to make sure the others were safe.
We’d fought demon lords, a dragon, and even a god, but we’d never yet tried to fight something quite like Yvarr. While he was from the dragon family, Smoky had warned us he was bigger, stronger, and far less connected to humanity than most of the Dragonkin. The wyrms were giants even among their kind.
“If it comes down to it and we don’t make it back, you know what to tell Menolly. We couldn’t wait for her to wake up and we love her, and did what we had to do. We have to go now.” I hated what I was saying, but we’d lost so many that I couldn’t bring myself to pretend everything was peachy-keen. The words barely came out of my throat, but I was able to add, “Tell her that Shamas is dead. I met him on the astral. He was fighting for King Vodox.”
Nerissa pulled me in for a hug. “I’ll tell her everything you need me to tell her, but it’s not going to come to that. You’re going to kick this wyrm’s ass to hell and gone. And then you’re going to come back here and eat dinner and go to bed and sleep for a week. After that, we’re having one f**king huge party for Yule. Do you hear me?” She gazed down at me, her limpid eyes catching the light. She really was gorgeous, and she loved my sister with all her heart.
“Yeah, I hear you. And we’ll start in earnest, teaching you how to fight. You can hold your own as a puma, but . . . it’s time we brought you into the family business, so to speak.” I laughed then. “We have to be able to turn you loose without worrying about you. Menolly would rather protect you. She’s like Smoky is with me—if she could, she’d set you up in an ivory tower and bring you presents every day. But Smoky’s learning—and Menolly has to learn—life’s not like that.”
I wasn’t sure why I said that, but it seemed appropriate, and Nerissa ducked her head, smiling.
“I’ve been telling her that for a while now. Thanks, sis. With you and Delilah on my side, she’ll have to listen.”
“Camille, get a move on!” Morio’s voice echoed from the foyer.
“I have to go. One more thing . . . if . . . if it goes wrong, find a way to get word to Trillian for me? Take the Whispering Mirror with you if you have to go. Menolly can use it. I’ll see you in a while. Wish us luck.” And with that, I gave Nerissa a quick kiss on the cheek and headed out.
The drive to Talamh Lonrach Oll took half an hour in a storm. While it was raining heavily, the temperature was just high enough so that it hadn’t iced over, and our cars ate up the miles on the freeway. Rush hour hadn’t set in yet, but it was growing dark. Here in western Washington, with the cloud cover ever-present except for sixty-odd days a year, it was always gloomy. Add in to it that we were still three weeks out from the longest night of the year and sunrise took her time, and sunset came early.
The freeway was relatively clear at 3 P.M. though. Another hour and it wouldn’t be, but now we hurried to the exit that would lead us onto the winding road into the Cascade foothills.
We couldn’t all fit in my Lexus, so Morio volunteered to drive his SUV. I called shotgun; in the second seat were Myrddin, Morgaine, and Tanne. Smoky was hunched in the back. Delilah, in her Jeep, ferried Bran, Shade, and Vanzir, who we’d managed to dig up from where he was holed up in the studio. Áine followed overhead—dragons could cloak up when they didn’t want to be seen, but she wasn’t all that proficient and now and then I caught a glimpse of her, shimmering over the car.
I wanted to ask if there’d been any news of Trillian, but decided to wait. If he’d been hurt, I didn’t want to know right now—not going into battle. And if there had been no news, I didn’t want to worry even more than I was.
“At some point, my wife, you need to get a bigger car.” Smoky’s head grazed the ceiling in back. He wasn’t that thrilled to be stuffed in the back of an SUV, and he was also constantly grumbling about the height of my car.
“Buy me one for Yule.” I glanced over my shoulder, flashing him a smile.
“What kind do you want?” He was dead serious.
I snorted. “Right now, I’m focusing on how the hell we’re going to fight Yvarr. We’ll talk cars after we’re done. So, what can you tell us about the wyrms? Do you know anything that might be of any use? And the others should know, too, so put in a call to them and tell them to put you on speaker.”
Smoky sighed and pulled out a smart phone. He’d objected when I asked him to get one, but finally gave in because he knew I wasn’t going to give up on it. And when I chose to nag someone, I was a master at it.
He punched Shade’s number—Delilah and I had taken a united stand on the matter—and quickly told him what we were doing. When everybody was set, Smoky let out a grumbling sigh and spoke loudly enough so that everybody in the SUV as well as Delilah’s Jeep could hear him.
“Wyrms. We are taught about them when we are children, of course, but that isn’t saying much. Even among Dragonkin, they’re almost considered legends. I do know they are all fire-breathers, in a big way. They aren’t divided the way Dragonkin evolved—while they may have different colorings, they all have much of the same abilities. They’re more fighters than magic-users, though it’s said they can charm with their voices.”
“If Yvarr is the gold standard, his charm comes through fear—he’s mesmerizing, but in a terrifying way. And he’s huge.” I shuddered, flashing back on his up close and personal face. He wasn’t lecherous in the way of Smoky’s father, but he was greedy for power and revenge.
“Yes, they are huge. Their scales are stronger than those of the Dragonkin. Their fire is hotter, and their tempers are worse than even those of the whites and the reds.” Smoky seemed to hesitate for a moment.
Shade’s voice came crackling over the phone. “We have to tell them, Smoky.”