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Authors: Penelope Fletcher


BOOK: Summon
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Rae Wilder #4





© 2013 Penelope Fletcher

rights reserved by the Author




Artwork © Renu Sharma


characters and events in this novel are fictitious and resemblance to real
persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. No part of this novel may be
reproduced, stored or transmitted without the prior permission in writing from
the author.









I love you.







was begun.

Light flickered across my sweat-slicked flesh. Heat
from the pyre shrouded my stiff limbs, and the cloying smoke rushed thick and
ashy down my throat.

Heavy drumbeats shook the ground. Subtle vibrations
shimmied through the soles of my booted feet and up my calves. I convinced
myself the tremble weakening my knees was due to the drums rather than fear,
the erratic rhythm of my pulse excitement rather than panic.

The booming drumbeat deepened. The dark called the

Orange sparks swirled into the twilight. Conjured
gnarled shapes in the air. The haunting sigils iced the soul before scattering
into chaos by chilled winds.

Shadowed creatures ringed the fire. Each paid

Attention closed to the accusing glares targeting
my back, my jaw clenched.

I refuse
to give up.

My gaze roamed those gathered searching for
weakness. Any threat sensed to the ritual’s success would be ruthlessly ended.
I boldly met the gazes of the demons and glimpsed fear but no condemnation.
Good. Shame would not stop me.

will prevent me bringing her back. I’ll die trying.

Surviving prisoners from Cael’s Coven bargained for
their lives by offering magical strength as tithe to the resurrection. The
tainted energy of witchcraft hummed in air. It crackled as it flowed from their
forms in multi-coloured streaks.

As dangerous as it was to use them, wrathful and
deceitful in nature as they were, it meant a greater chance Lochlann, Ana, and
those I did care for would leave the ritual with residual power.

We had no idea what shape we’d be in after the
resurrection was complete. This was the reason Lochlann ordered Conall to
remove his presence from the Wyld Heart. He was strong in magics and fiercely
protective of Rae. One of us had to remain at full strength to protect the
others, and with Rae directly concerned, Conall accepted bowing out.

Movement at the edge of the trees caught my

I relaxed under the watchful emerald eyes, twinkling
like stars in the darkness.

Alec was Rae’s friend, and I trusted him. As
promised, his Pride protected the Wyld Heart. Guardians who were oath-sworn to
keep the sacred circle pure until it was over.

A flash of fiery hair next to the shifter revealed
Maeve disobeyed the warning to stay away. My sister clung to the Alpha shifter,
a complication that needed solving, and soon.

The raptor Clan nested high on the boughs of the
ClanTrees. Heads cocking they remained unruffled by my scrutiny. Their
overlarge eyes shifted in short jerks, intensely focused on the movement
surrounding me.

Weaving edgily through the gloomy woods, the wolf
Pack too refused to take part in the ritual.

These breeds of shifter wanted no part in what they
considered a perverse misuse of power. Instead, they agreed to watch over the
remnants of the fairy Tribe remaining at the Wyld, insulted when asked to swear
an oath. My brother Lochlann, the fairy High Lord had nothing but the word of
their Alphas that they would stay when he weakened.

Gita and Kalcifer were merely present as silent
witnesses. They stood outside the circle in human form to withhold the strength
of their kind from the spell.

I bore them no ill will.

Another pledged the animalistic power intrinsic in
the two natured.

Amelia paced the fire’s edge.

Yellow eyes sharp, her black-tipped tail flicked in
agitation. She stopped, and her tufted ears swivelled. An ochre paw rose from
the ground and froze.

A caterwaul rose above the din.

I scanned the circle’s periphery. Cael escaped
justice. He remained a deadly threat to all I treasured, and I worried this
communication between the shifters meant trouble.

Amelia’s paw dropped, and she relaxed. Wailing a
reply she flashed sharp ivory teeth. Her feline face tensed, wary, but she resumed
her measured pacing.

Baako plodded closer to the pyre. His hulking body
appeared a moving hillock in the darkness. Chuffing, the bear’s snout wrinkled,
and his heavy breaths stirred the dirt. His black eyes never left the fire.
Like many that withstood the ritual, he was drawn to Rae and stoutly refused to
leave until she returned.

I readily admit jealousy rose at first notice of
his attentions. I prepared to challenge him as I had the vampire, but Baako’s
fixed interest on Wasp made it clear his attraction to Rae was familial.

He’s not a
threat to me.

The power of the circle increased.

Casting a distracted glance across the pyre, I
stalked closer to the pit, and looked through it to where the magics swirled in
a vortex.

Sat serenely in the centre was a solitary figure.
The white witch cast her black spell.

Unseeing pupils were milky white. Her rosebud lips
moved ceaselessly, muttering an incantation that had claw-tipped chills raking
my spine.

Ana broke her monotonous chanting to gasp. She
rocked on the spot. Keened. Drew deep on her ancestral powers. Half witch and
half fairy, she cast the magics of both, her body the vessel that merged these
powers of old.

The grimoire – a book of witchcraft –
lay open at her knees. Its aged pages gleamed, lustrous and seductive. Ana’s
pallid hands rubbed them, fingers stilling as they ran over the inked
calligraphy. They cramped, curling until her nails were thorn-like points
digging into the flesh of her palms. Shuddering through the discomfort she
continued reciting the spell. Her chanting rose in pitch and tempo. Voice harsh
and desperate.

Choking on the words, she grabbed her throat in a
panic. Eyes popping wide, her head snapped back, and her body heaved. She froze
at an odd angle. Her reedy sob sliced through the clamour.

A remembered warning flashed in my mind as I rocked
onto my toes. Hands fisting at my sides, I forced my gaze away and blocked her
wail of pain. Ana told me this would happen.
I cannot touch her until it’s done.
Calling on the darker forces
hurt. It threatened to leave nothing behind, a test to frighten the weak.

Ana vowed to withstand the pain if I swore nothing
would stop the reincarnation being fulfilled.

As promised, I’d pay the price.

No matter how steep.

I wouldn’t be the weak link. Rae’s kin wouldn’t
suffer alone, not when a mere look of faith from me might gift Ana the strength
to carry on.

Braced for horror, I turned to the pyre. Blanched.
Other gods, the display is sickening.
stomach twisted in knots. Nurturing instincts reared in fury at Ana’s pain, and
I bit my tongue until blood wet my lips to keep from reaching for her.

Ana went limp, hitting the dirt on her knees. The
test was passed. Tears of triumph rolled down her flushed cheeks as she dragged
herself onto her feet.

Determination thinned her mouth as she chanted

Curls of magics twisted around her legs. It speared
her flesh in swells of inky smoke then seeped from her skin as wispy coils. The
magics sheathed her in darkness until her glowing silhouette was the sole indication
she hadn’t been consumed whole.

The smoke fanned through the circle, a blustery
explosion leaving her luminous in the middle.

Papa Obe strode into the glowing light cast by the
fire and stood at her back.

I hated his attendance, but Ana needed his power
and guidance.

After all, bringing something back from the dead
was what the Vodoun did best.

Obe smirked at my ire. He stretched a large hand
over Ana’s head.

Humans Rae matured with at the Sect Temple flanked

Roland, a burly male with brown skin and stark
hazel eyes focused on his undertaking. His hair was plaited to his skull with
filigreed beads decorating the ends. His brow lowered in concentration as he
chanted. This human deserved to be here. My appreciation of what he’d risked
for Rae rescuing her from the Temple and the wretched hands of the Clerics
torturing her lent him my protection for as long as he wanted it.

Rattled and sweaty, Lex a beautiful yet vapid human
darted fearful looks at the Houngan. Why did Rae love her? She’d grieved
fiercely when Devlin sacrificed the girl’s life for the Tribe. Slapped the hand
of death itself and brought the human back. I hadn’t discovered what traits the
girl possessed to inspire such devotion. Was my perspective too limited? Rae
had an unparalleled ability to love.
girl cannot be so insipid if she fears the High Priest of her kind.

The Vodoun closed their eyes. Stomped their feet
with the drums.

Obe shook his staff at the sky. He heckled and
demanded the forces guiding him to take heed.

Ana shuddered violently. Her eyes clouded to solid
white. Sightless pearls. “Payment.”

Obe’s eyes glowed like hot coals. A heartless smile
curved his thick lips. “Payment,” he cried.

The witches funnelling their power into Ana
convulsed. Their eyes wheeled to the Vodoun Priest, wide and staring.
“Payment.” They screeched in chorus, hands reaching, fingers curling. “Payment
in blood.”

Ana shrieked, an agitated sound that echoed and
silenced the rest.

Intricately carved from blackened steel an athame
of smoke appeared in her palm.

Ana thrust her hand into the fire. She wrenched the
blade down separating an invisible veil then jerked it up severing a cord.

She stared blankly as the flames peeled her flesh
and her skin blistered. She coolly turned her gaze to me.

Countenance grim, she nodded.

My turn.

Numbness spread throughout my body. I trembled.
Doubt crept with silent feet and turned me to stone. My strength became engaged
in keeping my legs from folding.

“Brother.” Lochlann’s body shook with the effort of
calling out. “Beware.”

Sweat beaded his brow as he sent his formidable
power into the magical current. Despite his disapproval of what I’d done,
Lochlann was there for me. He wouldn’t let me fail when there was a breath left
in his body. It was his nature to lead when others faltered.

Hovering at Lochlann’s side, Daphne’s expression
went from anxious to alarmed. The vampire’s eyes roved, nervous and unsure of
what kindled Lochlann’s portent of danger.

Finding nothing amiss, her gaze returned to my
brother, and she calmed.

The freckles covering her fair skin faded in the
low light. Her braids were tied into a messy knot at the back of her head, a
style Rae often wore.

The two shared much on the journey back from the
Northern City. She helped ease Rae when the tension between us in the aftermath
of Tomas’ death became too much. They bonded over their joint suspicion of
Gunarr, and the protection of the grimoire. Rae had stood up for Daphne at the
Meet, and the vampire appreciated it. She stayed to fulfil the oath to her dead
Sire, even though Rae’s death negated the pledge.

BOOK: Summon
12.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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