A/N: Again thanks to everyone who reviewed the last chapter. I'm sorry for the long wait, but I really appreciate hearing what you all have to say.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Sweep or HoN series, that right belongs to the wonderful Cate Tiernan, P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast who created these wonderful characters.
My senses were coming back to me. I could hear pacing footsteps from faraway, but aside from that everything was silent. The darkness still had me though; binding my hands and legs to the chair I was sitting in. When I opened my eyes the first thing I saw was blackness. It took awhile for my magesight to kick in, but once it did I could see that I was in a small, bare room. The chair I was sitting in was the only piece of furniture in here and directly in front of me was a large steel door.
The darkness was cutting into my wrists and ankles. It was restricting my movement, but as long as I didn't move my arms and legs too much the pain was almost non-existent. But I couldn't break it because I couldn't feel my power. I mean, I still have my magick, but it was like there was some kind of barrier separating me from it.
Panic was starting to settle on me as I realized my situation. I tried to remember what happened before I woke up in this place, but my mind was fuzzy and every time I got close to an answer, the memory would fade away. By the time I gave up, my head was pounding and all I wanted was an aspirin.
The handle on the door started to jiggle as someone unlocked it. Whoever it was had cloaked their presence so I couldn't get a read on them. I sat up straighter in the chair as the door handle started to turn slowly, to look less scared and intimidated than I felt. The heavy door opened slowly and a dark figure stepped into the doorway.
He stepped more into the room and I could hear him murmuring a spell. Suddenly, a light illuminated from right above my head, expanding outwards and only bright enough for me to see his face. He grinned when he saw my astonished reaction and I tried not to look at those familiar eyes staring back at me.
"Hello, daughter," Ciaran's thick Scottish accent filled the air between us. "I'm terribly sorry about your quarters, but you arrived on such short notice that we didn't have time to arrange something better. My apologies."
"At a loss for words?" Ciaran asked when I stayed silent. "That's alright, I'll do the talking. I've been wanting to tell you since our last visit how proud I was of you. And how very disappointed I am in you. We could have been great together, you're my murin beatha dan's daughter. My daughter too. I could have helped you fulfill your potential."
"Don't talk about my mother," I warned him.
"Pity Maeve's not here to see how weak her daughter has gotten. Maybe if you had been raised in a witch society you have had a chance," Ciaran shook his head. "Well, you can't change the past, so no use in crying over it."
"How did you get your power back?" I blurted out.
Ciaran chuckled. "Let's just say, I found a new reason for living," he smiled crudely. "Power is something we both want." My thoughts immediately went to the woman I met right before I blacked out. But her image was blurred, the only thing I could see clearly about her was the billowing darkness around her.
"It was nice seeing you, daughter," Ciaran said and he moved until he was right in front of me. I flinched when he reached up and put his hand to my cheek. I looked up and met his eyes and was surprised to see a tinge of sadness and regret in them. Then Ciaran withdrew his hand and his eyes were back to the cold, ruthlessness I've always seen. "I'll be back, I must set up for the ritual, until then be the good little catholic girl your parents raised you to be."
"Wait, what ritual?" I started to ask, but Ciaran was already gone, leaving me in total blackness again.
I sighed and leaned my head back, wanting nothing more than to be home with my family and Hunter. Hunter. I could send a witch message to Hunter. I had no idea where I was, though, but Hunter was intuitive, he would figure it out. So, I closed my eyes and focused all my energy on connecting with Hunter.
Hunter, I need you, I sent out. Ciaran. Please come, Hunter. Hurry!
Stupid, stupid, Cal thought to himself as he trudged along the highway, leading out of Widow's Vale. He should have done something when the woman, Neferet he heard his mother call her, confronted Morgan at her house. But he was taken aback by the woman's appearance. Dark shadows had clung to her no matter how she moved and her emerald eyes gleamed pure evil.
Cal shook his head. He didn't want to think about it. He couldn't think about how he had failed Morgan again. He had only sprung into action when Neferet and an inhuman monster had carried an unconscious Morgan, following them as they got into a black car with tinted dark windows and headed toward the highway.
Following the car had been easy at first, the darkness emanating from Neferet had left a trail so clear any blood witch in a five-mile radius would sense it. But now it was fading the farther away they got. Cal growled in frustration when he remembered his gold BMW still at his mother's house. It had no doubt a watch sigil on it, courtesy of his mother, and he didn't want to risk it.
Frantic loud honking broke Cal out of his thoughts and he realized that he had wandered slightly into the street. There were cars swerving around him, blasting their horns, one even gestured rudely at him. Cal quickly stepped back onto the curb just as a tractor-trailer sped past. This was dangerous. If he didn't stay focused he was going to get killed or worse, lose the trail. The trail. Cal stopped short and realized he couldn't sense it anymore. He cast out his senses, hoping to pick it up again. But, instead, he found something else. There was someone in the woods to his right. They were too faraway for Cal to tell who they were, if they were witch or not. Ordinarily, Cal would have just dismissed it as a hunter in the woods. But his senses told him not to. That this person, friend or foe, could help him.
So, hiking his backpack higher on his shoulder, Cal veered off toward the woods. Even though he didn't have any connection to her anymore, not like Hunter, his half-brother, her soulmate. Cal reached out to her anyway, hoping she would hear him.
I'm coming, Morgan.
"Who would have thought it was going to be this easy?"
The female voice floated through the dark corridor toward the group of witches and vampyres who huddled by the door. They could hear someone in boots moving around followed by the rustle of wings.
"Selene, don't be rude, invite our guests inside." This male voice was closer, almost directly behind the group.
"Of course, where are my manners?" the female voice said back and a moment later her footsteps echoed down the the hall. She was holding a torch that allowed the group to see a little better. The woman had brown-black hair and her face was twisted up in a cruel smile. The witches instantly recognized her as Selene Belltower. "Hello, so nice of you to join us. I believe some of you have already met my friend, Kalona."
The vampyres turned around and saw Kalona standing there like a beautiful, deadly angel, his ebony wings ruffling behind him. "Let's move our little gathering to a different room, so that we can get to know each other better." Kalona began walking, urging the group forward. Selene took up the rear, murmuring spells on any stragglers.
Two double doors appeared up on the left, thrown open to show a wide, mostly empty room. It was lit by torches hung on the walls and there was one chair in the back center of the room. One lone window sat above the chair. More raven mockers lined the room. Two figures approached the doorway; a male vampyre with red marks like Stevie Rae and a female fledgeling with a red crescent moon on her forehead. They all piled into the room and more red fledgelings appeared, grabbing them and taking their bags, cell phones, and other possessions.
"Goddess, protect us,"Hunter murmured as he started saying protection spells and he glanced over at Sky, who was doing the same thing. He tried to catch his other covenates' attention, to get them to do it too. Alisa, Bree, and Robbie did as well.
"Guys, your elements, now!" Stevie Rae whispered fiercely to her friends. She focused on her element, earth, and saw Damien, Erin, and Shaunee doing the same. She had to concentrate hard, because it felt like she was working through a barrier.
Kalona was staring at them, eyes narrowed. He leaned toward Selene. "The circle is gaining power," he muttered,nodding his head toward Stevie Rae and her friends.
"Oh, no, no, no," Selene tisked. "That can't happen." She walked over to the group and stopped. She stared at them for a moment, taking them all in, and then she raised her hands.
"Clathna berrin, ne ith rah."
Hunter's eyes widened as he recognized the spell. He started to go to her. "No, stop!" But the male red vampyre grabbed him, forcing him back. Selene didn't blink.
"Clathna ter, ne feath ullna stath. Morach bis, mea cern, cern mea," Selene continued, sweeping her arms toward Stevie Rae and her friends. "Clathna berrin, ne ith rah!" Stevie Rae, Damien, Erin, and Shaunee fell to their hands and knees, helpless under Selene's will.
Kalona stepped in and around the fallen ones. Looking down to where his son, Rephaim, was attending to Stevie Rae, Kalona grabbed his son up and away from the girl. His amber eyes landed on Hunter.
"Don't bother with the spells; they won't work," Kalona informed him. Hunter returned his steady gaze with one of his own, his lips falling silent of the spells. The others stopped as well.
"Separate them," Selene ordered the red fledgelings. Three of them stepped forward, each taking one of the four, except Stevie Rae, under the binding spell and depositing them in each corner of the room. Then it was the witches' turn. Selene pulled Robbie away and pushed him down with Erin, along with the blue-marked vampyre, Darius. Sky and Aphrodite went to the back-right corner. Alisa to Shaunee and lastly, Hunter to Damien in the front-left corner of the room. Jack, Mary K, Bree, Stevie Rae, and Rephaim stayed where they were, no one ordering them anywhere.
Selene tapped her finger against her cheek, pretending to be deep in thought. "Mm, what to do with you five?" She made a slow, languid circle around them.
Stevie Rae was still on the floor, struggling to get out of the binding spell. Rephaim wanted to go to her, but Kalona stood in front of him, blocking his way. Bree stood stubbornly, not willing to show her fear. Mary K had her arms wrapped around herself and was trying to will herself to stop shaking. Jack put his hand on her arm discreetly, going for comfort. They looked at each other, and then back to Kalona and Selene.
"I'll take them," Kalona spoke up. He didn't wait for Selene, he moved a resistant Bree and an immobile Stevie Rae to one side of the chair in front of the window. Rephaim to the front of the chair, and Mary K and Jack to the other side of it. Kalona sat down comfortably and gazed at the five surrounding him, his own personal play things.
There was a tense short silence that no one dared to move or breath loudly. Then there was a collective gasp from the four incapacitated ones as Selene released them from her binding spell.
"Are you okay?" Hunter asked Damien as he helped him to sit up. "Binding spells are some serious spells, believe me."
"I'm fine," Damien replied. Having the ability to control his body taken away was disconcerting and he was glad to have it back, though he still felt a little weak. He glanced around the room, trying to take everything in.
Hunter suddenly jerked when he heard a familiar voice inside his head. Hunter, I need you. It was Morgan. Ciaran. Please come. Hurry! Damien was studying him, wondering what happened. Hunter averted Damien's studious gaze, trying to get his emotions in check.
"So, what? Now we just sit here and stare at each other until you decide to kill us." came Sky's voice from across the room.
"Oh, that decision has already been made," Selene said. "You all will die. It's only a matter of when."
Kalona laughed after a minute of silence. "But that's all in good time," he reassured, his hand sliding through Bree's hair.
"What do you want?" Hunter asked.
"Silence," Kalona stated. He gave a small nod of his head and a raven mocker suddenly plunged a metal pipe into Alisa's side. She fell to the floor with a cry of pain.
A/N: Ooh, a cliffie! Don't you love cliffhangers? Please review if you're interested and want to know what happens next.