Read Treasures, Demons, and Other Black Magic Online

Authors: Meghan Ciana Doidge

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #Sword & Sorcery

Treasures, Demons, and Other Black Magic

BOOK: Treasures, Demons, and Other Black Magic
5.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Contents

Title Page

Introduction

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Promo page

Copyright

Treasures, Demons, and Other Black Magic

 
- Dowser #3 -
 

Meghan Ciana Doidge

Published by Old Man in the CrossWalk Productions

Vancouver, BC, Canada

www.oldmaninthecrosswalk.com

I hadn’t set foot in the human world for more than a few hours in over three and a half months. Sure, I was stronger and faster than I’d ever been before, and I had a shiny new sword, but I was seriously chocolate deprived. I don’t recommend quitting cold turkey. And the new sword was a problem — to my mind, anyway. It represented all the expectations of a powerful father and a new otherworldly life. A life that wasn’t the one I’d worked so hard to build. It also represented the responsibility I had to bring my foster sister Sienna to … what? Justice? I didn’t know if that was even possible. What I did know was that Sienna wouldn’t stop, and that I couldn’t just leave everything up to fate and destiny … or maybe I was. Maybe I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. If you believed in that sort of thing.

I just hoped that before the chaos and mayhem renewed, I’d manage to get my hands on some chocolate. It didn’t even have to be single-origin Madagascar. I was utterly prepared to lower my standards.

CHAPTER ONE

With one hand on the invisible knife at my hip and one hand twined through the wedding ring charms on my necklace, I stepped out from the golden magic of the portal onto the shores of Loch More. Yeah, Loch More, as in Scotland.

The ground underneath my feet thrummed with wild magic and untapped power. Supposedly, all the grid points around the globe — where natural magic reigned — teemed this way. Too many thousands of years ago for me to comprehend the guardian dragons set up a network of portals anchored at these points. I gathered the portals were rather helpful when it came to saving the world, which the guardians did constantly.
 

Thankfully such responsibility wasn’t my duty. No, my focus was much more personal.

I drew a little more of the shielding magic from my necklace, and the hair on the back of my neck settled. I unclenched my teeth. The land around me glowed — I could see for miles in all directions — but not with any specific color of magic. Rather, all the natural hues of the earth were intensified. I could actually see magic in the air I breathed.
 

I’d expected snow, seeing as it was the first week of November, but there wasn’t any. I wondered if that was like people who didn’t know Vancouver expecting it to snow there all the time, which it hardly ever did. Unlike the rest of Canada.

The sun was low in the sky. I’d misjudged the time, which reminded me I also wasn’t sure of the exact date, though I’d tried to keep a rough calendar based on my infrequent calls home. My sleep schedule was erratic, now dictated by exhaustion rather than the rotation of the earth.

Time moved oddly in the dragon nexus. At least three and a half months had passed while I’d trained, studied, and pretty much did anything to avoid the fate waiting for me in the Sea Lion Caves, but it felt like more and less all at the same time. I supposed that was what destiny felt like … or was that inevitability?

Memories of the terror my sister Sienna had created in the caves along the Oregon coast — which, ironically, were a tourist attraction for some people — had melded over the past months with the bloody vision that Chi Wen, the far seer, had shared with me. A vision that showed my loved ones slaughtered on an altar. A vision that had stopped me from following Desmond and Kett back through the portal and kept me training like a woman fueled by vengeance. A vision, mixed with a memory, that had me formulating a plan.

The portal snapped shut behind me, leaving me alone for the first time in a very long time. Maybe as alone as I’d ever been. That was an odd thought.

Anyway, to the point. The shores of Loch More looked like any other lake surrounded by rolling green hills in the late afternoon light of a sunny, crisp day. So pretty. A really, really vibrant green, and seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

Actually, this was the middle of nowhere. It was my second visit. I was seriously glad to see the empty pickup truck parked about a dozen feet away at the edge of the single-lane dirt road. I really hoped it wasn’t a standard shift. I might have forgotten to include that specification in my request. Yeah, look at me, Miss Plan-And-All-That.

I took a step toward the truck, my supple leather knee-high boots crunching the grass. It was obviously colder than I thought it would be. I could have put a jacket on over my leather getup, if only for show. Though to get my hands on a jacket, I’d have to seek out humans, and that was contrary to the objective of this brief excursion. I wasn’t interested in getting into a situation where Chi Wen’s horrific vision of the future had a chance to manifest. I was dodging destiny today … and caves … and loved ones for that matter.

So yeah, a jacket would have been a good idea. The dragons believed in training — and fighting, actually — in laced leathers. If I’d tried to change before leaving, I would have tipped my hand. Thankfully, I still had my trusty Matt & Nat satchel. My katana — a gift from my father — nestled between my shoulder blades where I wore it slung across my back. The two-handed, single-edged sword was easily accessible over my right shoulder. Its twenty-eight-inch blade was deadly sharp. The sword had been commissioned specifically for me — well, the alchemist part of me — and created as an empty vessel into which I could channel and store magic. The responsibility that came with such a gift weighed on me heavily, and I’d put my current plan into action only two days after Yazi had presented the sword to me.

Yazi was the warrior of the Guardians. Also, my father. My newly found father, who I’d never known and was still trying to get to know in between his guardian duties and my training schedule. He wanted me to train and train and train until I was strong enough to actually stop a train. Pulou the treasure keeper wanted me — rather obviously — to treasure hunt with him. And Suanmi, the fire breather, wanted me out of sight and out of mind. The six other dragons hadn’t really weighed in, but I’m sure they would — given a hundred more years or so. Time held little meaning for any of them.
 

Guardians were perpetually swamped saving the world from whatever threatened it with extinction. Some, I’d heard, frequently disappeared for years deeply entrenched in their duties. Others, like my father or Baxia the rain bringer — who dispelled tidal waves and hurricanes if she was capable — moved from territory to territory as called upon. Chi Wen, the eldest guardian, didn’t seem to comprehend time at all — whether it was a single day or week or a month. But, if it wasn’t for the nine of them, I don’t think humanity would have made it through … well, anytime.

Ignorance — and I speak from a deep understanding of the concept — was definitely bliss.

A chilly gust picked the blond curls up off the back of my neck, bringing with it the earthy, floral scent of witch magic. I paused, my hand once again on the invisible jade knife at my right hip. Actually, it was the sheath — a gift from Gran — that was spelled to make the knife invisible, not the blade itself. That blade was the length of my forearm, hand carved from jade I’d found along the Fraser River on a hike outside Lillooet. The knife, along with the necklace of wedding ring charms I never took off, were the first magical items I’d made, even though I had no idea that I was an alchemist at the time.

A young woman, her hair a fiery mass of wavy curls, became visible as she stepped out from a witches’ circle a few feet to the left of the front of the pickup truck. She was about my age, gazing at me with muted green eyes that stood out against her pale skin. She wasn’t at all beautiful — her nose too big and chin too small — and yet she exuded an earthy sensuality. Men would shoulder by me to get to her any day.

“Hello, witch,” I said. “Impressive cloaking spell.”

The redhead nodded. “It’s a family thing,” she said. “Rooted in the rocks of our ancestral land.” She gestured around her. “Amber Cameron, granddaughter of Mauve, Convocation secretary, at your service.” Her accent would quadruple her heartbreaker status.

Okay, then. The witch’s magic was dim compared to the power of the portal and the grid point, hence my not picking it up right away. She carried the earthy base that identified her as a witch. Against that, her own magic was sugared, vanilla tones but not sickly sweet … brown sugar toffee, maybe? Also, the witches Convocation had a secretary? Like, to take notes and distribute minutes?

“It’s a portal, then,” Amber stated rather than asked.

I didn’t answer. She was younger than I’d first taken her to be. Maybe closer to nineteen. She was wearing the most gorgeously comfy green Aran cardigan. It was long enough to cover her ass and well-worn jeans. I wondered if she’d be up for a trade, except she was about four inches shorter than me and had no hips to lament.

“I … Normally my brother would come.” She stumbled over the words. “He’s older and the duty is his. But he’s away at university.”
 

My silence was unnerving her. I felt bad about that and very unlike myself, but I wasn’t going to blather about dragon magic. Not that dragons were a secret or anything. They were relegated to myth status due to rarity, not mystery. I’d only met a dozen or so myself in the last three months, while living in the dragon nexus that was supposedly their home base.

“The request was for a drop off only, not an escort,” I said, trying to be nice but firm about it. I’d studied up on the protocol of such things before coming. Major portals — ones that lay over the grid points — often had a guardian who oversaw them. Only dragons — or half-dragons in my case — could open and pass through portals unaccompanied. Pulou the treasure keeper could create portals and temporary doors other than the ones that lay over the grid points, but enlisting his help would have alerted my father to the fact that I was leaving, if only temporarily. It was past time that I started cleaning up some messes.

“Yes. Yes,” Amber answered. “I know, but you left too much money.”

“That’s a poor excuse for breaking the rules.” Yeah, that’s just who I was these days — boring, dependable, and on task.

“You are … you can … you’re a witch. Jade Godfrey, granddaughter of Pearl, the Convocation chair.” I’d signed my name to the request. It felt deceptive not to. “A witch who walks through portals?”

“Sure,” I answered. “Let’s go with that. I really don’t have time to —”

The golden, fresh magic of the portal blew open behind me and I groaned inwardly. Damn, I’d taken too long.

I turned in time to see Drake tumble out of the glowing doorway and onto the grass about ten feet behind me. The thirteen-year-old was incapable of simply walking anywhere. He spent every hour of the day charging around. His dark hair fell across his almond-shaped eyes, and he brushed it away as he righted himself. He was grinning ear to ear at me.

“Found you!” the fledgling guardian declared. The portal snapped shut behind him. “Second guess, still pretty good. I was going to try Shanghai, where Yazi and I got the sword, but then I remembered that sorcerer you were looking for.”

Damn it.

“Drake,” I hissed. “Get your ass back through that …” I faltered. I hadn’t actually confirmed it was a portal to the witch.

“Nope.” The thirteen-year-old barreled the last ten steps to my side.

The red-haired witch meeped. Yes, meeped. Even if she couldn’t taste the magic rolling off Drake like I could — all golden honey-roasted salted almonds and steamed milk — he probably looked otherworldly to her.

Drake and I were dressed practically identically, in black laced-leather vests and pants. His were more broken in than mine, though, and his gold broadsword was more obvious across his back. He was as tall as my ears now, and had easily grown an inch a month since we’d first met — and fought a demon together — in the dragon nexus. I figured he’d be six feet in a matter of months. His shoulders and feet were already too wide for the rest of him. Like a puppy, actually. Give him a couple of years and he’d be as formidable as any of the guardians. I’d seen him try to eat an entire roast pig by himself. Yeah, dragons liked roasting things, mostly fowl. Not that I’d ever found the nexus kitchen or managed to get my hands on any chocolate, no matter how many times I tried. The nexus wasn’t a labyrinth or anything. Given that it housed nine of the most powerful beings on earth, it was actually deceptively small — unless you knew where you were going. Yeah, I couldn’t wrap my head around that either.

BOOK: Treasures, Demons, and Other Black Magic
5.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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