Darien’s no longer possessed, but that doesn’t mean he’s safe. In a world of sorcerers and necromancers, he’s full of power and potential, but completely ignorant. Necromancer Silas, and Silas’s cat familiar, Grim, are teaching him basic skills, but danger won’t hold off, just because he’s not ready.
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Here’s a brief excerpt:
An hour later, Silas led the way out onto the darkened streets of the small town. Behind him, Darien— still too thin after his long ordeal with his own ghosts— shivered despite the warm coat Silas had bought him. Silas considered telling him to stay home after all and go to bed like a sensible person, but it would probably work as well as it had the last two times.
At their feet, Grim hissed and danced his paws on the ice. “Pick me up, young apprentice. You wanted to be useful.”
“Not as a pack mule for a cat,” Darien muttered, but he bent and scooped Grim up, letting the big cat drape himself like an oversized fur stole around Darien’s neck.
Probably warmer for Darien too. Silas gave Grim a subtle nod.
The mental hospital was a fifteen-minute walk across town from the boarding house. They could have driven, but Silas wanted to get a feel for the place. As they strode the quiet streets, he sent out a questing spell, hunting ghosts. His search slipped fingers of power under doors and through the cracks around windows, tasting the air for that power signature of the dead or the possessed. Far too often, the strands of his search web quivered with a find. Here, and here, and here.
“This town is lousy with ghosts,” he murmured to Grim. Then said louder to Darien, “Your shields are solid, right?”
A flicker of gold appeared around Darien and Grim yipped and leaped down. “Thanks boss, way to scare the kid.”
“I wasn’t scared,” Darien denied. “Just showing him they’re up. Sorry. I’ve pulled them in.” He bent to reach for Grim, who dodged.
“Never mind. I can walk from here.” Grim stalked ahead of them.
Darien whispered, “Did I hurt him?”
“I can hear you,” Grim called over his shoulder. “And no. I’m not that fragile. You just got bumpy.”
“Bumpy,” Silas repeated, because Darien still looked worried in the harsh glare of the streetlight. “I see more shield practice in your future, apprentice.”
Darien kicked at his ankle. “My shields are better than yours already.”
Silas snorted but didn’t deny it. Other than a real problem with pulling his shields under his skin, Darien had taken to the exercises like a duck to water. For which I’m eternally grateful.
He spotted the driveway to the hospital up ahead. “Here we are. He gave me the numbers for the lock.” The big iron gates had some kind of electric lock on them, but there was a human-sized gate in the brick wall with a padlock that opened to his touch. He let them though and relocked it.
Darien shivered. “They keep people locked in here?”
“For their own safety, I imagine.” Silas couldn’t deny the thought of being locked away behind the high wall and iron bars was not appealing. How often in the past were folks with talent imprisoned for being unnatural?
Darien said, “Didn’t they used to consider people like us crazy? I vaguely remember…” His voice trailed off.
“Yes. But these days they’re mostly amused by us, and the Guild tries to keep unbalanced sorcerers somewhere safer than this.” Safer for everyone. Silas led the way to the side door as instructed. “Here we are.” He rang the bell.
Grim faded back into the darkness under the shrubbery. “I’ll wander around. Check things out.”
Silas gave him a little wave behind his back as the door opened.
The man standing there was portly and imposing, with muttonchop whiskers that belonged to another era and a pristine white coat over a dark suit. He eyed Silas down his nose. “Are you the necromancer?” he said in the tone he might’ve used for Are you the rat catcher?
It was tempting to call a ball of power to dazzle him, or have Darien shove him with his shields. Just a little. But the price of remaining unmolested as practitioners was seeming minor and harmless, so Silas just nodded. “That’s me.” He didn’t give the man his name or his hand…
I hope you all enjoy the story. And Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers.
Book 3 – Bound by Memories – a holiday novella, will be out in December.