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       Magick (The Dragonfly Chronicles Book 2), p.1


Magick (The Dragonfly Chronicles Book 2)


  The woman watched as if he were a wolf ready to pounce. “You are a healer,” he said unable to completely keep the chill from his voice. Still she stayed mute.

  “Your name is Merewin.” The name felt good in his mouth. Much better than the word “healer.” “Merewin,” he said again.

  Still silence. His frustration grew as they stared at one another waiting, waiting for one of them to move. Did she think she could escape him? She was his. The possessive thought coursed through him. The fire flared, illuminating her head. He reached to touch the slip of hair that fell along her cheek. She jerked her head back before he could catch it, leaving his hand in the air. “What color is your hair?”

  His question startled her, but she continued to stare with no movement to her luscious lips.

  Behind her Gamal groaned and pushed himself into a sitting position. “What happened?”

  Hauk’s gaze moved to Gamal. How could he be sitting up and talking? He’d been near death.

  Fire ruptured through the slash in Hauk’s arm. He stared down incredulously at a small dagger sticking out of the wound. The woman leapt up, dropped the cloak, and ran to the back.

  Hauk’s roar filled the empty tent, and the fire in the pit flared up to the ceiling. He pulled the dagger out of the fresh wound.

  “Who was she?” Gamal asked standing. The two guards rushed in and stood stunned, looking around at the once overflowing tent.

  Hauk whipped the binding back around his freshly bleeding arm. “She’s the healer,” he said tying it off with his teeth. “And she’s getting away.” Hauk tucked the dagger in his belt and leapt.

  Praise for MAGICK

  “MAGICK is a well-written, well-paced story, I enjoyed the read.”

  ~Heather Osborn, Tor Publishing

  MAGICK

  The Dragonfly Chronicles,

  Book Two

  by

  Heather McCollum

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

  Text copyright © 2010 by Heather McCollum

  Originally published by Wild Rose Press

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

  Published by AmazonEncore, Seattle

  www.apub.com

  Amazon, the Amazon logo, and AmazonEncore are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc., or its affiliates.

  eISBN: 9781503916609

  Cover Designer: Tamra Westberry

  This title was previously published by Wild Rose Press; this version has been reproduced from Wild Rose Press archive files.

  Dedication

  MAGICK is dedicated to my mother, Irena,

  who also has the amazing ability to heal souls. Mom's gentle yet powerful warrior spirit,

  through everything life has thrown at her,

  inspires me and those around her.

  Thank you, Mom,

  for always believing in me and for teaching me

  to trust my instincts.

  For a woman's instincts are her magick.

  Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Epilogue

  Prologue

  On the Border of Alba and Strathclyde

  On the Western Sea of Scotland

  1005 A.D.

  “Will she live?” Merewin whispered to the chilled air as she watched her sister’s body melt and elongate into a thin, red thread, twisting like crimson honey until she couldn’t discern any of Serena’s lovely features. Merewin held her breath as the thread stretched across the dim room and up through a crack in the broken thatching.

  “Merewin, ye go next,” Merewin’s mother, Gilla, said, causing the girl to suck in a breath. Gilla knelt and placed a stone in Merewin’s palm, a sad smile on her lovely face. “I will hide ye, like each of yer sisters, in a different time and place. I will thread ye backwards two hundred years.”

  “Two hundred?” Merewin swallowed hard.

  “They will not find ye then.”

  A low hiss came from behind Gilla near the door, and Merewin’s younger sisters screamed. Gilla turned, cut fingers in the air, and several thin snakes writhed as she sliced their venomous bodies in half. “The demons who killed yer father can’t break through my wards that protect us in our stone circle, but they can send their beasts.”

  Wind gushed around the eaves like storm-driven waves. Did the demons already rule the sky? Flakes of debris filtered down through the frigid air.

  Merewin coughed.

  Gilla brushed fingers against Merewin’s cheek, and she relaxed into the familiar caress. “I, too, am frightened,” Gilla said in a low voice.

  Merewin was seven years old and scared beyond any nightmare that had ever tortured her. The world had been safe before and happy. Their father would laugh with them and spin his girls around in the wildflowers growing within their circle. All that had changed in a handful of days. Now she would be thrown somewhere away from family, somewhere two hundred years ago. Merewin swallowed past the scratchy ache in her throat. “Will…will Serena be whole when she,” her voice trembled, “lands?”

  Gilla nodded as she glanced to the rear wall. It shook under the assault of some large object, a boulder perhaps. “I’m using another of Drakkina’s tricks. My ancient master may not have known much about love and kindness, but Drakkina certainly knew magick. And she taught me the ways of threading through time.”

  A shriek of wind shook the west corner of the home.

  Merewin’s two young sisters huddled together.

  Gilla tied a small bit of fur around Merewin’s wrist. “Ye go with a friend, Merewin. One who, like ye, is fiercely protective and curious.”

  Gilla pulled her into a hug. The warmth of it enveloped Merewin, soothing with the sweet smell of honeysuckle and spice. “Ye are so strong and beautiful. And stubborn like yer father. Just like him, ye could never let an animal or friend go unaided. And so to ye, I give my power to heal.”

  Merewin’s eyes filled with tears. “I’d rather ye keep it and keep me,” she whispered, not wanting her little sisters to hear the fear in her voice.

  “Ye will die here, Merewin,” Gilla said with quiet determination as she pulled back and searched her young face.

  “Then so will ye.”

  Gilla’s gaze remained riveted, but she didn’t say anything.

  Merewin knew she was the bravest of all the sisters. Hadn’t her father always said so? She looked straight in her mamaí’s eyes. “We will fight them together. I won’t let them kill ye.”

  Gilla took a deep breath as tears pooled, restrained. “As long as ye live, I live.” Her mamaí’s voice rose in strength. “One day when ye’ve grown strong, ye can come back with yer sisters to kill this evil, but right now ye must go. Ye must take my powers to safety.”

  Merewin shook her head and opened her mouth, but Gilla spoke first. “I cannot battle them when I fear for ye.” Gilla’s gaze pleaded. “I must thread ye away as Drakkina taught me.” Merewin gave a slight nod, and Gilla smiled though a tear slipped.

  Gilla spread Merewin’s fingers ope
n so that they could see the jade stone in the center. Merewin saw the coils of thread ingrained in the dark mossy green. Gilla spoke over the stone, lips hovering just above the shiny surface.

  “I freely gift ye with my power to heal. On the currents of my blood, on the currents of my love, on the currents of my power given by the Earth Mother, send her now within my thread of healing.”

  Gilla took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and blew gently for several long moments. Merewin could almost see the power blowing out of her mother’s lips, like invisible smoke. The coils inside the stone glowed softly.

  Gilla smiled as she stood back from Merewin. “Tha gaol agam ort.”

  “I love ye too, mamaí,” Merewin said over the pounding of her heart.

  Gilla smiled. “Go now and live a long life.”

  Merewin grasped the stone while sisters hugged her numb body. The walls began to ripple as if they were merely a reflection in a pond. The heat in the stone coursed through her body until she felt as if she were melting into a warm pile of wax. Instead of pooling, her supple body twisted and stretched. Merewin gripped the jade so firmly that she couldn’t feel her hand anymore, only the solid jade at the center of what had been her palm.

  The green thread of energy shot across the room, up through the narrow chimney and out into the sky. Merewin watched their small cottage grow distant as she sliced through the gray swirls of insane anger.

  Up above the roiling terror the threaded shape twisted as the sun and moon arched along their paths across the sky. Faster they moved until the flashing of sun and moon melted into one orb of blinding light.

  Merewin tried to close her eyes, but didn’t know if she had eyes. A scream came, but she didn’t have lips to open.

  She watched helplessly as the flashing light streaked across. She held tight to the hot, hard stone, knowing that she didn’t have a hand to hold it. The flashing continued until there was only an illuminated smear. Merewin’s essence lay along the long green thread suspended under the blurred celestial lights. She thought about Mamaí, about her three sisters, about the ancient master, Drakkina. Who was she? Where was she now? Couldn’t she help them?

  After time that felt like hours, the flashing ceased, and Merewin saw the full moon watch her knife down through the air back to earth. The wind stung as the thread coils wound together, first into toes and feet, coiling up legs as she fell. Merewin knew she was falling, felt the breeze as it billowed under her robe and slid along her expanding form. Still she clung to the jade rock, funnelling faith into it. Hair reformed and whipped at her ears. She had a face again, and eyes, so she looked down. Mistake.

  “Aaaaaahhhh!” she screamed as the trees stood below like pikes, waiting to impale. Arms flailing, hair wildly dancing, she fell through the tall oaks. Merewin’s cry followed like a howl in the wind as bare branches washed across her face. A soft mound of fur skittered up her arm and wound around the back of her neck, but Merewin had no time to worry about it. With a thick whump, she landed, barely jarring her head. One empty hand touched the edge of a woven basket. The softness squeaked and tickled a path down to her hand. A little mink blinked his beady eyes up at her. A friend? Merewin glanced around.

  Torchlight flickered as she looked around the edge of a small circle of boulders. Bits of animal fur and herbs lay scattered in patterns around the clearing. Clay jars stood at even intervals near the stones. Merewin turned slowly to take in what looked like one of Mamaí’s more serious summoning ceremonies. As she twisted to see behind, Merewin’s gaze locked with a woman’s.

  The woman peered without fear or anger, just interest. As if Merewin was a new type of herb she might stick in one of the little clay pots. The woman’s hair looked dark in the waning light and lay in a long braid that fell in her lap where she sat cross-legged near the torch. Her clothes were neat with pretty embroidery around the collar. The dancing firelight revealed small wrinkles around almond shaped eyes making her look a little older than Mamaí. A dark mole sat on one cheek. She smiled then, just a little, and Merewin saw little crooked teeth peek out. One eyebrow rose higher than the other.

  “Well, Navlin,” the woman said, glancing up to the sky as if checking to see if anyone followed. “Ye did ask the Earth Mother for a lass.” Her words came clear, and although Merewin had never heard them before, she somehow understood them. The woman indicated the basket Merewin sat upon, and Merewin realized it was a woven baby’s cradle. “I suppose I should have specified that I wanted a wee lass.”

  Chapter 1

  15 Years Later—The Year 841 A.D.

  Port of Ribe, Denmark

  Meeting House of King Ragnar Lothbrok

  Drakkina peered out from behind the crystal blue eyes of the old pagan priest, or godi, whose body she temporarily inhabited. Eldgrim’s mind fought against the intrusion. Drakkina, a powerful Wiccan spirit, gripped his consciousness, urging it to slumber while she controlled his tongue and body. But the thoughts of his gods and demons warred against her, trying to expel.

  Shut up you old man. Drakkina surveyed the great hall of King Ragnar Lothbrok’s home. You’re distracting me. The tight pressure of two consciousnesses in one body was expected but still unpleasant.

  Drakkina had found another of Gilla’s misplaced daughters, Merewin, several years ago when she’d used the girl to help Gilla’s oldest daughter. More recently Drakkina had observed Merewin in Northumbria. There seemed no natural way for the girl to find her soul mate across the sea here in Denmark, which was why Drakkina must interfere.

  Drakkina focused the godi’s eyes, her eyes, on the arched stone entrance. Viking warriors stood around the perimeter of the central fire pit where venison turned on a spit. The smell of unwashed bodies and wood smoke made Drakkina wrinkle the old godi’s nose. He apparently thought nothing of it.

  “I hope Merewin’s mate smells better, else it will take more than my magick to bring them together,” she mumbled through the man’s tight lips.

  “What do you say, Wise One?” King Ragnar asked from his chair next to Drakkina. King Ragnar was a strong man, full Viking to the ends of his long blood-red mustache. Despite the rough exterior, Drakkina felt the deep sensitivity of the man’s heart, especially toward his wife and child.

  “Nothing of consequence, my liege,” Drakkina forced through the seer’s vocal cords. “Are you sure he comes?”

  King Ragnar grunted and swallowed a gulp of mead from his carved horn. “He comes, he’s loyal to me.” The king looked over. “And you’re certain, Eldgrim, that he’s the one who must find the healer?”

  “The gods have shown me his face. To save your son’s life, Hauk Geirson must bring the witch.”

  “Do the gods know how much Hauk hates healers?”

  Drakkina pursed Eldgrim’s leathery dry lips together. “The gods know the purpose more so than we mortals.”

  The oak door screeched on iron hinges, hitting the stone wall with a resounding bang. A swirl of wind dashed in around the muscled legs of a large man. Drakkina held her breath. Could this be the one?

  “There now, he comes,” Ragnar said raising his calloused hand toward the front of the great hall.

  “Hauk Geirson of Spring House to see King Ragnar Lothbrok,” one of the king’s men called from the door.

  The giant called Hauk strode across the room with all the presence of a mountain. The room nearly trembled with his spirit. Drakkina saw a full brilliant aura around him, such spirit she hadn’t seen before. The man looked every bit the Viking, except cleaner. Drakkina smiled at that. His wheat-colored hair was shot with blond and left to hang in gentle waves to his shoulders. Several war braids flashed within the waves. Bands of braided gold curled around his massive, bare biceps.

  The man exuded confidence in each step. His shoulders were broad, and the muscles in his arms showed the evidence of hours of war practice with the heavy battleaxe. Drakkina’s gaze followed the length of his body to his narrow hips hidden by the fine tunic. She smiled mischievously.
Gilla’s second born would fall right into this brawn warrior’s arms, no doubt. Drakkina’s gaze moved back to his face. Narrow eyes watched. He had one scar across his forehead and one on his strong neck near the jaw, both turning the warrior’s handsome features dangerous.

  Drakkina stared back at the blue eyes. Hauk raised one eyebrow in question, and Drakkina looked away. Had her approval been so obvious? Even behind the face of an old man?

  “Hauk, welcome to my fire pit,” King Ragnar boomed.

  Hauk bowed his head. “I come as requested by my king,” he paused and looked up, “and by my friend.” The two clasped forearms and the king gestured toward a serving woman to bring Hauk a horn of mead. The two talked casually for several moments while Drakkina concentrated on tamping down the godi’s will within. She had to make sure that the king convinced Hauk to find Merewin. Her mission to save the worlds depended on it.

  “How is Ivarr?” Hauk asked.

  With one last shove, Drakkina subdued Eldgrim. He’d have a headache when he woke, but shouldn’t remember the possession as more than a nightmare.

  Ragnar’s eyes dimmed and Drakkina felt his spirit clench. “That’s why I’ve called you to me, Hauk.” The king looked to Drakkina. “Wise Eldgrim has seen a vision from the gods. There is a woman that I need you to bring to me.”

  Hauk’s piercing gaze fastened on the godi’s, and Drakkina swallowed past the dryness in the seer’s mouth. By the Earth Mother, the giant was but a simple man. She was much more powerful, even without corporeal form. There was just something about him that made her feel like he could break into the godi and pull her out by the neck if he wanted to. She had to gather her wits.

  Drakkina cleared Eldgrim’s throat. “Aye, I’ve had a dream and also a vision. There is a young woman who can heal the king’s son, and you must be the one to bring her.”

  “A healer,” Hauk nearly spit out the title and turned his gaze to Ragnar. “You send me to bring you a healer?” Although the words held more respect when he spoke to the king, they still dripped venom.

 
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