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Authors: Viola Grace

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WalkingHaunt

BOOK: WalkingHaunt
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Table of Contents

Title Page

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Walking Haunt

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Author’s Note

About the Author

Yohwen enjoys her life, but when the Citadel comes knocking she has to face change, danger and a man whose touch can set her on fire.

Yohwen has finally reached the pinnacle of her art. She is the Master Haunt and during the festival week, she wakes the dead for their friends and families for one night only.

The next day she is invited to help the Citadel on a world where the entire population died without a whimper. They were Ysheer, the same species as Yohwen. She can talk to them and let them talk to others in a way that no other being can manage. When her assistant asks to go, there is no choice. She has to go.

Scorcher Orkill was not expecting the lovely creature to agree, but when she did, his heart raced and his body heated in a way he was only used to when his talent was in overdrive.

She is here to do a job, and he is here to help, but once the work is over he has every intention of pursuing her. Unfortunately, something goes horribly wrong.

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Walking Haunt

Copyright © 2013 Viola Grace

ISBN: 978-1-77111-584-1

Cover art by Martine Jardin

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.

Published by eXtasy Books

Look for us online at:

www.eXtasybooks.com

Walking Haunt

Tales of the Citadel Book Twenty-Four

By

Viola Grace

Chapter One

Yohwen sat in her quarters and stared into the mirror as her assistant and best friend prepared her hair for the first day of the celebrations. “Uh, are you getting a little too much height there? I don’t want them to see me from space.”

“This is the current fashion, and you are walking the most prestigious path on Wedderal. Nothing but the best for you today, Yoh.” Niisa chuckled and teased her hair even more.

“How many Haunts were beaten out for this position?” She bit her lip and stared into her own amber eyes.

“Thirty-two applied for this spot, but you were the one who was chosen. You are the Master Haunt this year and that is something to be proud of. I never would have dreamed that you would have come this far.”

Yohwen smiled. “Me neither. Having this gift or curse is hard enough, but going through life without you would have been the truly difficult part.”

“Then, shut up and let me finish your makeup. It’s almost nightfall, and you need to get into position.” Niisa completed her hair and touched up her makeup with deft moves.

Every Haunt had an assistant to lead them to their path and to help them get home again. Niisa changed things up by being Yohwen’s agent and her hair and makeup artist.

Yoh was pretty sure that her pristine and stylish appearance was what had landed her this year’s designation as Master Haunt.

“Okay, you are as pretty as I can make you. Get up, and let’s have a look at you.” Niisa removed the white sheet that she had been using to protect Yoh’s clothing, and she flapped her hands for a good look.

Yohwen got to her feet, and the corseted jacket kept her back straight while the long, lacy skirt gave her a minimal silhouette. “Well?”

“You look good, Yoh. I would be proud to call you my sister if I liked my sister.” Niisa winked. She gestured for her to turn.

Yohwen pivoted on her toes and then settled back on her heels.

Niisa tugged on the back of the jacket to smooth the line. “There. Perfect. Now, let’s go before they come to get you. It would lack dignity.”

Yohwen wrinkled her nose, and they started on their way. “I have never been much for dignity.”

“I know. That is why I offered to be your assistant.” Niisa took up a low murmur as they passed other visitors to the first party of the holiday.

Two guards allowed her to enter the staging area, and Niisa followed, whispering, “There is the crowd. There are the dignitaries. Looks like a good gathering.”

Yohwen heard her dimly, her senses were tuning to the graves surrounding her and the minds that were coming from the stars to visit their resting places.

The gong shimmered in the silence, and the viewers on the podium three hundred yards to her left tensed in anticipation. They were aliens here for the holiday, and they were expecting a show. It was Yohwen’s job to bring the dead to life to celebrate the beginning of the festival, and after today, the other Haunts would be doing the same thing around the globe.

She stood on the first stone, and Niisa quickly removed Yohwen’s shoes before stepping aside. The path was laid out ahead of her, and it snaked through the family sites chosen by lottery.

The gong rang again, and the speaker called for silence and for the families of the dearly departed to prepare.

Yohwen kept her features calm, and she had to admit that the makeup helped. The heavy mask on her face kept her lips from curving in a smile as the light dimmed and the energy changed.

“Thank you, Master Haunt, for bringing us this day.” The announcer inclined her head toward Yohwen, and it was show time.

The final gong rang, and Yohwen started to walk. The first step on the smooth sand tingled through her and she made herself a conduit between the energy of the dead and their living relations. As she slowly paced, paused and paced again, she kept herself focused on letting the dead speak and move through her. The moment she drew even with the first burial site, the glowing figures solidified and were ceremonially embraced by their relatives. She felt a surge of relief and pride that she would not disgrace her temporary title.

The light sprang up around her, and she heard murmurs of surprise as she continued her slow and deliberate pace. Her mind joined the song that the dead brought from the stars. She gave herself up to them, pulling power from the ground beneath her to offer them visible form. Yoh heard chattering, excited sobs, and she kept moving on the sand path laid out just for her.

There was one moment, a few hours in, when an excited child stumbled into her and the light dimmed at the contact with the living. She turned her head, and the child stared up at her in shock before her dead grandmother came up to her and shepherded her back to the family with apologies to the Haunt.

She silently wished the young girl a peaceful transition into activity.

Bemused at the contact with a Haunt in her young stage, it took Yoh a bit of effort to get back into the pacing trance that continued for three more hours.

Niisa was waiting for her at the end with a stool, her shoes, and a soft brush to remove the sand. Yoh sat and let her assistant take care of her. She got to her feet and looked over the largest cemetery in the world. Lights of souls were still there, still active.

“Let them go, Yoh. You have done more than enough.”

“When you miss the ones you love, there is never time enough.” She smiled sadly, and as the dawn began to rise, she let the ghosts fade. The souls returned to the stars, and those left behind smiled with watery eyes.

The conclusion and dissipation of the souls was marked with another gong, and Yohwen was free to return to her quarters, change and get the hell out of the capital city.

On their way back to her staging room, she leaned on her friend. “That was tiring.”

“I can imagine. You lit up far more sites than expected.”

“How many?”

Niisa laughed softly. “I am thinking…all of them. As people started noticing, they called everyone nearby into the city so that they could all participate. You might be getting a bonus for this.”

“Does the bonus take the form of a nap?”

Her friend giggled. “No, I don’t think it does.”

“Then, I am not interested. Back to the room, change of clothing and out of this makeup. I don’t want anyone to recognize me by sight when we leave.”

“Fine. You start scrubbing, I will get the chisel.”

Despite her fatigue, her numb mind and her aching feet, Yohwen laughed. “What about the dress?”

“Bolt cutters.”

They both giggled their way back to the preparation room, and in fifteen minutes, two hooded women slipped away in the early dawn, heads bowed together in conversation.

* * * *

“What do you mean, she left the city?” Scorcher Orkill frowned at his partner.

Healer Debarren grinned, “I mean, she and her assistant snuck out at dawn, leaving the trappings of last night behind. She has her fee, so there was nothing holding her here.”

“Do you know where she is?”

“Of course I do. She has a private Haunt office in Teeger province. I am guessing after last night that she will need to rest.”

Orkill scowled, “She can rest on the ship. We need her, and she is the most powerful Haunt we have seen. I didn’t even know that this talent existed a week ago, and now, I find that there is a whole planet that hosts them.”

“They are one in a hundred thousand, Orkill. The fact that you got their government to agree to part with one doesn’t mean that she will come with us, especially if you annoy her by destroying her rest. Our patients are not in any danger.”

“I hate this political crap. Why did we have to wait for that little display last night?”

Debarren shook his head. “It is the beginning of their largest holiday. Last night, not only did our target wake her intended souls, she woke up the whole cemetery.”

“That wasn’t supposed to happen?”

“Um…no. She was supposed to wake the souls whose resting places were along that path. Anything else was extra, and she provided thousands with an unexpected joy. Tonight, in cemeteries across the planet, more Haunts will walk, and they will bring the local souls down to speak with their loved ones. It is a beautiful holiday.”

Orkill twisted his lips and nodded tersely. “For those who have souls that remain available, sure. For other species, it is just another day.”

“You are too cynical for me, Orkill. Get some rest, and we will call Yohwen Dahl in the afternoon. We will all benefit from a little rest.”

Debarren sighed, and Orkill knew he was being cranky. “Fine. A little rest, but then, we speak to her and convince her to come with us.”

“What about her assistant?”

“She is your problem.”

Orkill didn’t miss Debarren suddenly perking up, but he stomped off to the guest room he had been assigned to and flung himself on the bed. Sure, Debarren got the normal-looking one. Orkill got the woman who looked like a startled sculpture. Life wasn’t fair.

Chapter Two

Yoh rose from her bed, brushed her teeth, washed her face and got dressed for an evening at work. While many Haunts were busy with the festival of remembrance, her duties were done for the year.

Thanks to Niisa, all her clothes were tailored to give her a precise silhouette that radiated control. Her fitted trousers were tucked into knee-high boots, her silk shell of a top was concealed by the snug jacket in a moss green that made her hair look like a river of spilled blood. It helped her clients in some way to see her dressed to match the cemetery colours.

She frowned at the mirror and swiped at a tiny fleck of remaining eyeliner. The formal makeup hadn’t come off willingly. It hadn’t quite been bonded to her face, but it didn’t want to leave.

She brushed at her hair, getting the last of the backcombing out and turning her hair into her familiar crimson wave. Now that it wasn’t covered with the gold glitter and teased apart, it was far darker than it had appeared while she walked the cemetery last night.

Ready to face Niisa and whatever the evening would bring, she exited her private quarters and headed down the stairs to their offices. The building she had purchased used to be a bakery, and the ancient, comforting scent of bread and flour was still in each beam and wall.

BOOK: WalkingHaunt
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