In the muggy air of a cavern under the Old U.S. Mint, Sorcha’s long curls puffed with freedom as if held up by a devilish breeze.
“Let’s get started.” Ivori rubbed her palms together. Her eyes flashed orange as she mumbled peculiar lyrics in a foreign tongue. Smokeless fire erupted in a circle of rocks.
“What, exactly, are we summoning here?” Lock asked.
“Not what. Who,” Ivori answered, “All of us are searching for someone. Picture that person in your mind.”
Draven groaned and let blond wisps cover his face. “My Gwyenvere.”
Sorcha slipped back to a night in Nepal, the eve of a tragedy.
Lock flashed his brilliant violet eyes, but remained silent.
“I know it’s painful.” Ivori played an invisible piano with one hand while pouring the contents of a sachet in a perfect circle with the other. “No need to speak names aloud.”
“Is that—” Draven choked and held his nose. “Bone?”
“Teeth, actually.” Ivori emptied a vial of black syrup in the center of the circle. “From a shark who is still very much alive.”
“What a comfort.” Lock followed Ivori’s pointing finger to a metal box. “May I help?”
“Just with the latch.” She watched him spin the mechanism until the lid sprung open. A twisted, rusty arrow lay next to a perfectly polished dagger and a sapphire candle.
Sorcha rolled her eyes.
“Oh, it gets weirder even before I cut you…and myself.” Ivori deflected angry stares. “First, everyone needs to clear their minds and envision the moment when you were strongest.”
“My apologies—no.” Draven bolted up. “This sounds preposterous.”
“I want to hear her plan.” Sorcha yanked him back down. “We’ve had no luck doing this on our own.”
Ivori dipped the blue candle’s wick in the fire and set it on the altar. “If you can evoke your soul at its most powerful—the instant when you embodied the best of all your dreams—that force can summon anyone across all realms of the universe. I think.”
“You think?” Sorcha threw her hands in the air.
“So,” Lock said, “I just picture that occasion in my head?”
“Project the vision in front of you, like a personal widescreen. Once you’ve got it, raise your hand.” Ivori looked from face to face and waved the candle over the puddle of syrup, directing the liquid outward into the circle of bone. The mixture ignited flames that crawled until the ring was complete. Ivori looked up to see three raised hands.
“All ready.” Draven faked a smile.
“Perfect.” Ivori grabbed the dagger and raced around the fire pit. “This next part goes pretty quick. Don’t do anything until I tell you to, but keep concentrating.”
Draven and Lock each hissed when she sliced their palms. Sorcha didn’t flinch when Ivori cut both her hands at once.
“Now.” Ivori ran back behind the fire. “Men, squeeze a few drops into this circle.”
The moment Draven and Lock’s blood mingled, they were knocked back onto the benches.
Ivori sliced her own flesh over the flames and snapped her eyes to Sorcha. “Your turn.”
When Sorcha’s blood touched the ring, the ground began to quake.
“Men, be ready to join hands with her when this metal pierces wood.” Ivori raised the twisted arrow over her head and drove it toward the altar. “Now!”
The three slammed their hands together and the jolt started with the men. The blood of two ancient dynasties filled the air with black and gold sparks.
Sorcha looked to the weapon in Ivori’s hand and then into the girl’s inky black eyes. A low growl escaped her lips. Force leapt from her chest, rippled the air and plunged into the earth under their feet.
Each vampire’s perfect vision swirled overhead until their solid bodies flickered and finally distorted.
Draven’s shift solidified first. His modern suit became a classic, midnight tuxedo. His fingers gripped an open box. A ruby ring glittered in the velvet center.
Lock’s appearance dissolved next. Instead of the black t-shirt and jeans he arrived in, he now wore his full military uniform. Royal insignia lined his shoulders and medals covered his chest.
Sorcha dropped her gaze and changed last. Her eyes blazed with blue fire and her long hair became a chin-length, bob. Her porcelain skin melted away, replaced by the snarling face of a tiger.
Ivori flung her arms out and threw back her head to a cacophony of drunken notes. “By the power of a lone trumpeter’s call, the roar of a warrior’s charge, and the murmurs of saints and phantoms that bow to our sovereign—I summon all the lost souls home!”
Read Part 1..
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The painting in the photo is by artist, Dorothy Collier. You can find her work at http://www.dorothycollier.com .
This was my favorite find on a recent New Orleans adventure…now beautifully framed and hanging on my wall.