“So,” Skyler said, slamming a book containing information on demons down on the desk in my room. “Did you even open this?” I sighed. “This is important shit to know. You know, like life-saving shit?” I shrugged. She tapped the book cover and glared at me. “You’re horrible, you know that? You won’t even read when it is vital to your health?”
“I despise reading.”
“Apparently,” she said, thunking the cover with each syllable. She picked up the book and shoved it at me. “Read it,” she growled. “You might even find it interesting. It has pictures, lots of them.” Sighing, I took the book, and then I let out a little squeak as my world fell out from under me. Clutching the book in one hand, I let out a grunt as my ass painfully hit the hard floor. To add to the mix of it all, the back of my head also met something hard, most likely a wall. I blinked to clear my vision, and a second later, someone’s living room came into focus. That someone turned out to be Tristan. He was sitting on the couch, leaned back and looking for all the world relaxed and not surprised by the fact that I appeared in his living room. Now that was scary within itself. I looked around, seeing no one else with him. This was either a good thing or a bad thing. Rubbing the back of my head and resisting the urge to rub my ass, I slowly moved into a proper sitting position. Tristan eyed me hungrily, and I could’ve sworn he inhaled slightly, taking in my scent. I might be a vampire, but I still was a witch. My scent wasn't just sweet, it was also vampiric. To someone like him, I was probably on his top three favorite vampires to feed on.
“Sometimes,” Tristan said tightly. “I wonder why I even bother with the things I do.” I just looked at him, confused and hoping he wasn’t going to go into kill-you mode. “Such as acquiring books.” Oh shit, I thought and glanced down at the book of demons in my hand. “Have you seen the Council’s library?”
I blinked. “We have access to it?”
He sat up straighter, and I stiffened. “Yes, you do.”
“Your sire has access to the library, so therefore, you do as well.” He got to his feet, and I quickly got to mine. “Come with me,” he said. Giving me no choice, everything went dark. When it lifted, I gaped and blinked stupidly at the massive amount of books that was all around us. “Some of these go all the way back to ancient times,” Tristan said from beside me. “Some of these were hand-written by vampires, shifters, demons, necromancers, and witches.” There were no windows in the library, but I didn’t need to look outside to know that it was daylight.
“Were you one of the vampires?” I asked, staring at shelves after shelves filled with books and more books. It was a nightmare if anything. Some of the shelves were so tall that they brushed the ceiling. Some of the books were bound shut with twines. Some of them were as thick as an encyclopedia, some were the size of a kid’s coloring book, but to me, they all looked torturous to my poor psyche.
“No,” he said. “I was too busy trying not to kill things.” He put his cold hand on my arm, and everything was a blur as he flashed us to the top floor. Up here, the books were behind lock and key. From the tingle that raced up and down my arms, the cases holding the books were probably warded. “These can only be taken out by me, Davina, Tavia, Dezmordai, or Jailyn.” I again glanced at the book of demons. “The one you hold in your hand was taken from the demon floor of the library.”
“What floor is that?”
“The sixth floor, two floors below where we're standing.”
I inwardly cringed. “How many floors are there?”
“Nine.” I shuddered, suddenly feeling claustrophobic. “Reading can be fun, if you make it so.” He tapped a finger on my hand holding the book. “I didn’t just hand this out for no reason.” He turned fully to me. “I heard that you want to study necromancy. Did I hear wrong?” I shrugged. He sighed, turning to one of the cases. Faster than I could blink, he touched a bleeding finger to a symbol of some kind. It flashed a brilliant blue, blinding me. Blinking the spots away, I frowned as he held a thick ass black book in his hands.
“What’s that?” I asked warily.
“This, my dear, is a book written by Jailyn.”
“Please tell me you’re talking about a different Jailyn.”
He chuckled and slowly opened the cover. He turned it so that I could see the author’s name. I stared at it, still hoping, because the first name was the same, but the last name wasn’t. “She didn’t use Jailyn Tronis.” I grimaced. “She used her birth-given name.” He tapped the page before slowly closing it. “Jailyn Mortis and Jailyn Tronis are one and the same.” He smirked. “If you want to study necromancy, child, you will have to endure many, many sessions of reading. This tome contains everything on the art of death magic.”
“Like what?” I whispered, wanting to know but not wanting him to answer.
He set the book back into its proper place, sealing it with another drop of his blood. “Everything from making a pact with a demon, to soul sucking, to heart snatching, to manipulating the shadows to your will, to raising the dead, and so much more.” I took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “You will be tested on what you know. It’s not read, remember, pass the test, and forget, sweetheart. This is death magic. One wrong word in a spell, one wrong rune in a series of runes, a little slip of the tongue when summoning can be deadly.”
“Violet,” I muttered. Tristan gave me a questioning look, and I shook my head.
“Do you know how old Violet is?” I shrugged. “She is almost two thousand years old, and she is still learning.”
“How long has she been a necromancer?”
“A little over five hundred years.” I winced. “Jailyn made a lot of mistakes when she started out, and she came from a line of necromancers who did not know that they’d possess other abilities. Her great, great grandfather feared the dark art so he blocked his magic and hid the bound parchment of awakening. She stumbled upon it on accident when she was fourteen, and if it wasn’t due to sheer luck that she summoned Sathia—an Ahzeeki demon and not say… a Taluga demon, she’d be dead.” I shuddered. “That’s all I will say on the matter. If you want to know more, sit down with Jailyn, and perhaps she’ll enlighten you with stories from her past.” I nodded and again looked at the book in my hand. “I suggest you read that.”
“I’ll try,” I mumbled.
“Do I have to make it a law that all fledglings must read and memorize the history of demons, vampires, and all the others?” I took a step back, shaking my head in horror. “Because I will, if you younglings keep this up. Your sires will not always be there when you need them.”
“Please don’t?” I choked out. He gave me a look that sent chills down my spine. “I’ll read it, I swear.”
“Will you? I brought you here so that you can have a look around.” I nodded. He bared his fangs at me, and I took another step back. “The book you hold in your hand doesn’t bite, but I do.” He sighed. “I’m going to have either Brynna or Vaelin test you in a few days, and if you don’t pass. I am going to use your brain as a flash drive,” he warned. “Understand?”
Nodding, I clutched the demon book to my chest. “I understand,” I said, and I did. If I didn’t pass the test, he was going to give me a massive migraine loaded with contents from the book.
“Did Skyler report me to you?”
“No,” he said in amusement. “She told her sire.”
I blinked. “Oh,” I muttered. “Damn.”
“She was complaining about the fact that you had this book sitting around for three weeks, and you have not touched it.”
“You were in my head?”
“I was in Skyler’s. Now, tell me something,” he said and put a hand on my shoulder. Everything once again went dark, and I found myself back in my apartment. “How is your baby sister? How are her studies coming along? For that matter, how is yours?”
I grimaced, setting the book down on the coffee table. “Jane is loving the fact that she could do magic. Davina won’t let me get into more fun stuff until I master my ice.”
“And how is that coming along?”
“She says I need a little more practice before I can move on to something like fire.”
He nodded. “Keep an eye on the rest of your siblings,” he warned. “Just because they show no sign of magic, it does not mean they don’t have the ability.”
I nodded. “Do you know which one of my siblings…?” I hesitated, glancing away from him.
“Has magic?” he finished softly. I nodded. “I do.”
I stiffened. “Who, and how do you know?”
“I’ve been watching out for your family for a while now.”
I blinked. “You’re still doing that?”
“Sweetheart,” he said dryly. “You come from a line of witches, what do you think? If I think someone is close to activating their magic, I report that someone to Davina. Same for her, if she suspects a new vampire is running around or witnesses a turning, she reports said vampire to the Vampiric Council or the hunters.”
“Oh,” I said slowly and nodded.
“And to answer your first question…” He paused, scowling.
“Who?” I asked again and shifted nervously.
He let out a heavy sigh. “Lily.”
“Do you know what magic she has?”
“No.” I grumbled, but nodded.
He stepped toward the door and paused, glancing back at me. “If you find Davina paying her a visit, don’t kill her.”
I snorted. “She’ll more likely kill me instead of the other way around.”
His eyes narrowed in warning. “Don’t underestimate your strengths, child. You can snap her neck before you knew what even happened.” My front door opened on its own, and giving me one last hard look, he vanished from my sight.KIRA
“Jordana?” I asked carefully. I was always nervous around her, especially when she got that faraway look in her eyes. I stepped through her front door and closed it softly behind me. Jordana had a painting brush in her hand, a water bowl on one side and a painting set on the other. “Jordana?” I repeated, moving slowly toward her, less she decided to throw that bowl of water at me. She didn’t look up from whatever she was painting, and I took a chance, going right up to her. I tapped her on the shoulder, and when she still remained silent, I glanced at the canvas. I let out a squeak at the nightmarish scene before me. Against a dark fiery background were bloody corpses along with body parts. If I wasn’t mistaken, there were also lit candles, lots of them. Shaking my head, I reached out and took the brush from her hand, and then let out a pained gasp as she sank her fangs into my forearm. I smacked the back of her head, but she only bit me harder and emitted a low growl. I let the brush fall onto the easel and tried to disengage her fangs from me with no use. She held on like a dog, and her growls turned into a snarl. Not good, I silently thought, contemplating on just ripping my arm from her and tearing the bite wound even more in the process. I heard the front door opening and closing, and a moment later, Liana appeared in the living room archway. Like usual, she was covered in blood. I sniffed the air and nodded when I didn’t smell demon on her. She probably just got back from her multiple daily rounds of rogue hunting spree.
“Need help?” she asked and walked over. “Jordana!” she said sharply. “Enough!” Jordana growled, shaking her head and… biting me harder. If she bit me any harder, Tristan was going to pop in and see what the hell was going on. Liana’s hand was a blur, popping Jordana on the head hard enough that she yelped and released me, moaning and choking. “Hurts, doesn’t it?” she asked, and I knew she wasn’t talking about the smack she just gave her child. Jordana nodded and bared her fangs. “Do you remember why it hurt when you bite Kira?” She nodded, jumping up from her chair and walking into the kitchen. I heard the opening of the refrigerator, and then the sound of a plastic water bottle being uncapped.
“Did my blood burn her?” I asked, frowning.
“Yes, it did.” From the kitchen, Jordana let out a heavy, relieved sigh. She reappeared in the living room and made her way back to her painting. “What are you drawing?” Liana asked, looking at the canvas. “This is a new one,” she said and glanced at Jordana who still hadn’t said a thing since I got here. Scowling, I went into the kitchen she just vacated and grabbed a paper towel. Turning on the sink, I drenched it in water and wiped off the dried blood from my arm. Tossing the bloody thing into the trash, I turned to find Jailyn studying me intently.
“What?” I asked, walking over to her. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Like what?” she asked, and I inwardly shivered, blinking rapidly. I was never going to get use to her strange hypnotic voice, and I wondered how the others got over it.
“Like I’ve done something wrong or about to.”
She smirked. “You’re known as a troublemaker. Can you blame me?”
“What?” I spluttered. “I am not…” I continue to splutter as she walked into the living room with me stomping along after her.
“Dana,” Jailyn said gently, pulling Jordana’s hand from the bowl of water that went from murky to a complete red. “Dana,” Jailyn repeated, putting a finger under her chin and tilting her head back slightly, until her unfocused eyes met the necromancer’s unblinking ones. “Come back to us, sweetheart.” Jordana only blinked slowly at her, as if she was in dreamland and hadn’t woken up yet. “Come back to us,” she sang, and like snapping a rubber band, Jordana’s eyes cleared and she scowled. “There now,” Jailyn said sweetly. “I have a question for you. Are you listening?”
“No,” Jordana mumbled.
Jailyn smirked. “Would you like to accompany Kira and me to Tronis Inc? You might find something… useful.”
A gleam of excitement entered Jordana’s eyes, and she nodded rapidly. “Porcupines?”
I blinked. “Huh?”
Jailyn clear her throat and frowned. “Let’s hope we don’t come across them this time around.”
“Shame,” she said with a heavy sigh. Chuckling, Jailyn reached out and put a hand on my shoulder.
“Are you joining us?” the necromancer asked, directing her question toward Liana. The hunter nodded before everything went dark.