Home > Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy #3)(8)

Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy #3)(8)
Author: K.F. Breene

Normally I knew my surroundings.

If I attempted this, I would be going into the underworld as probably the only thing resembling a human, full of latent magic (which could as easily turn me into a monster as save me), and with absolutely no clue as to where I was going. I might as well paint myself in neon and strut around with jazz hands. Hey, y’all, look at me!

This would be an extremely well-paying job, being that I’d get to keep my freedom, but some jobs were just too great. Too complex. I didn’t have the chops to complete it.

Realistically, though, what was the alternative? Let Darius hide me, like the mages had said? Try to learn my magic in time to combat my father and/or a host of extremely powerful demons?

I laughed sardonically, the sound jarring in the quiet car.

I’d been trying to master my fire magic most of my life, and I was still basically a novice. I couldn’t even access half of it. Using my powers together? Yeah, right.

Learning my magic, even with a teacher, would take years. Years! I probably didn’t even have months. The demons would come, regardless of whether my father knew about me or not, and Roger had already made it clear the shifters intended to amass in front of them. Dizzy and Callie would wade into the fray, trying to protect me, dragging a bunch of wide-eyed, blackmailed mages with them.

For what?

I was the heir. The only one in history who could survive the Dark Kingdom for eternity. The thing my father had been trying for since the beginning of time, or so rumor had it. I was a prize the demons would stop at nothing to obtain. They’d come in waves, first one sect, and then others. We might be able to fight off one wave, maybe a couple, but for something as valuable as me, they’d eventually overcome us. And they’d kill in large numbers to do it.

I’d be condemning the few friends I had, and a whole lot of innocent supernatural people with them.

To end up being taken anyway.

My laugh was louder this time. A few tears squeezed out.

“If I’m forced to meet my father, I will greet him by giving him a black eye. I absolutely will.” I yanked my keys out of the ignition, jerked at the handle, and kicked open my door. It moaned woefully.

Screw tears. That wasn’t my speed. Giving people hell, now that was my speed. If I had to go into the underworld, and things went sour, I’d give them Reagan Somerset’s famous how-de-doo!

But Dizzy was right: first things first. I needed to find out for sure if the rumors were even true.

I marched toward the closed warehouse door, newly attached. The other fixes weren’t so polished. Clunky, ill-fitting boards covered the holes in the walls. It looked like a drunk with a hammer had gone at it. It would work, though. For now, anyway.

The metal of the handle was cool on my palm as I cranked it and ripped it open. No, this wasn’t a battle, but it sure felt like it. That meant being prepared for anything.

In the middle of the spacious warehouse, the dual mages hunched over a chalk circle. Dizzy pointed at something, drawing Callie’s eyes.

A flicker of movement shifted my attention to the far wall. Darius waited, unmoving except for the swivel of his head. He stared at me, showing no expression.

Nearing the center, I let my gaze drift over one of the most elaborate summoning circles I’d ever seen. There were three rings in all, the smallest in the center of the design, the largest enclosing most of it. Figures and characters were drawn in the middle, between the rings, and outside, their placement seemingly haphazard. No blood traveled the chalk outline; the dual mages had not (thankfully) sacrificed anything for the necessary power.

“You’re planning to—”

“Ah!” Callie jumped and clutched at her satchel. Dizzy flinched, staring up at me with wide eyes.

“Jiminy Cricket, Reagan, you scared the life out of me.” Callie sagged, now clutching at her chest.

“She popped up like a poltergeist.” Dizzy looked back down at the circle. “Very quiet.”

“Like I was saying, you’re planning to call a lesser-powered demon, right?”

“We’re aiming for a higher level four.” Callie straightened up.

“With just two mages and no sacrifice?” I frowned. “Can you pull that off and keep it in the circle?”

“We’re not worried about keeping it in the circle.” Dizzy put a piece of chalk in his pocket and dusted off his pants. He needn’t have bothered, given the collection of stains and holes already there. “If it gets out, you can control it or kill it. That, or Darius can kill it. We have insurance not many mages in our position do.” Dizzy puffed up with pride.

Callie stared at Dizzy for a beat that clearly implied, You are missing the important issue here. “We’ll call it by offering the blood of the damned.”

I looked up at Darius. “I bet you didn’t realize they’d planned to sacrifice you, huh?”

“Not his, sweetie. Yours.” Callie moved around the circle, looking closely at each character.

I took a step back. “Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of this adventure?”

“We just need a little, Reagan,” Dizzy said in a soothing tone. “Just a scrape, a dozen or so drops around the circle, and you’ll go back to being a spectator. Your blood is the most powerful in the room for these purposes. It will call to the demons.”

Would anyone notice if I took off running?

“Okay. We’re ready. Now.” Callie speared me with her bulldog look. “We are pulling a demon from the heart of the underworld. A strong demon, at that. But don’t you worry—we have triple-checked everything, and are experienced with circles. We aren’t putting you in any more jeopardy than you’re already in.”

“What she means is that this demon won’t go back down and tell everyone about you,” Dizzy clarified. “We will send it back to check on the rumor, and if it can’t do that for some reason, we’ll kill it. We’ve worked that into the circle. It’s kind of like a…self-destruct feature.”

“I didn’t realize you could do that,” I said. “Why doesn’t everyone?”

“Well…” Dizzy’s hand moved back and forth in a so-so gesture. “It’s experimental. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned it in case it doesn’t work.”

“Get moving,” Darius said without moving forward. “Reagan is losing her nerve.”

“I’m fine,” I lied, narrowing my eyes at Darius. Because yes, all my bravado from a moment ago was seeping out of me. I needed another door-kicking pep talk. It was a little irritating that he noticed, but more so that he had told on me.

“Of course. Yes.” Dizzy walked quickly to a box against the wall that I hadn’t noticed. He withdrew a wicked-looking dagger and made his way back to me. “Now, we just need some blood…”

One painful slice of the hand later, the dual mages were pushing me around the circle while shaking said hand, dotting the concrete floor in crimson.

“You can head over to Darius, Reagan,” Dizzy said, taking herbs out of his satchel. “You aren’t needed anymore.”

Sweeter words had never been said. I held my throbbing hand as I complied.

“How are you doing?” Darius asked me quietly when I leaned against the wall next to him.

“Hanging in there. Any idea why Vlad is taking the back seat on this one?”

He watched the mages for a silent beat. “I can’t be sure. I would assume he wants you for himself, but for that to be correct, there must be another piece to his plan. Another way he’s working toward his ends, one that perhaps requires him to take a more active role. I haven’t been able to find out what that might be.”

“Any other ideas?”

He shook his head slowly. “Not that fit half as well.”

“Super,” I said sarcastically.

“I will be by your side every step of the way, Reagan.”

I blew out a breath as the dual mages lifted their hands above their heads and sprinkled a green plant down. They began chanting quietly.

“Thanks,” I said, because the sentiment was sweet, and I thoroughly believed he meant it, but if the rumors were true, either he would be volunteering to die for me in battle, or to watch me disappear, alone, into the underworld, since vampires could only get into the edges. One of those I wouldn’t allow to happen, and the other was not within my power to change.

Amazingly, for the first time, I didn’t want to work alone. I didn’t want to take this on by myself. Fat lot of good it did me.

“Just FYI, in case you need a barometer reading on the day’s suckery, it is high. Very high. There is a shitstorm warning in effect.” I leaned my head against the wall.

A crack drew my focus to the circle, where a shimmering blue blob now floated in the center. Purple light sparkled within it, followed by pink. Dizzy threw something at the ground, and a flash of light gave off another crack.

The blue orb took shape. Darius shifted beside me, uncomfortable.

“Not a big fan of calling demons?” I asked.

“I am not looking forward to the affirmation that the rumors are true. We will have some hard decisions to make.”

I bit my lip, because it wasn’t necessarily the decision that would be hard, but the follow-through.

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