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Black Magic Sanction


Black Magic Sanction: Page 15


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"Bet that didn't end up in your report," I said bitterly. "I saved the witch who tried to give me to a demon. Is that why you're doing this without a jury?"

The witches behind Brooke looked discomfited, but she simply glanced at the screen. "You are accused of calling a demon into a court of human law," she continued.

"To put a murdering vampire behind bars, yup. I did." No jury on earth would convict me for that. "What else you got?" My foot was shaking, and I pressed down on it to get it to stop. Brooke was starting to sweat, but it wasn't fear. It was excitement. She liked something.

"You are accused of giving a rare artifact to a Were to further your position in his pack instead of turning it over to us for proper reinterment," she said.

"You never told me you wanted it," I said, hand on my hip. Hey, if I was going down, I was going down bitching. "And I was David's alpha before I had the focus, so you can cut the crap about using it to better my position in a group that no witch cares about anyway." Worry for David rose up, and I felt my back pocket, ready to change my plan. "If you touch him..."

Brooke's eyes fixed on mine. "You are in no position to make threats, Morgan."

Not yet anyway. I exhaled, pretending to be subdued. Just relax a bit more, and maybe I will be. "Look," I said, feeling sticky, "the I.S. cleared me, and you shunned me. Case closed. You can't shove me in a hole to be forgotten." I hope.

The head earth witch with his salt-stymied amulet smiled, and the lonely sound of gulls crying came faintly as they settled on cliffs for the night. "Yes, we can," he said. "All of the listed crimes could be dismissed as the youthful exuberance of a young, talented witch. With the right conditioning, you might even be a candidate for my job when I step down. But with certain incidents coming to light, it becomes increasingly clear what you are."

Damn you, Trent. If I get out of here, I'm going to smack you so hard you wont be able to find your ass using both hands. "And that is?" I asked, knowing what he was going to say.

Facing me squarely, Brooke said, "You are demon spawn, Rachel Morgan. Survivor of the Rosewood syndrome, demon in all but birth."

Shit. Hearing her say it hit me hard, and I shouted, "I am not a threat to you!" I almost followed that with "and Trent can't control me," but I was scared. I wasn't ready to burn that safety net just yet, and I hated myself for it.

Brooke snapped her laptop shut with a sound of finality. "You are a threat, Morgan," she said loudly. "Your very existence is a threat to the entire witch society, and sometimes we are constrained to act on our society's behalf without them knowing. That's why you're here and why we are going to stick you in a little... tiny... hole."

Oh, ma-a-a-an, this is so full of crap! "You're afraid of me, isn't that it? Well, you should be if this is how you treat people!" I was shaking, but they weren't impressed, chagrined, or otherwise moved. Stymied, I crossed my arms over my middle and exhaled loudly, helpless.

"So all that is left is your sentencing," Brooke said, sounding happy about it.

Sentencing? Fear slid through me, and at my alarmed expression, Brooke smiled. They were railroading me into custody because a trial would bring it out into the open that witches were an offshoot of demons. Humans would massacre us in our sleep like they once had vampires.

This was so stupid. I was a good person. Shaking, my hand went back to my phone and pulled it out. I wasn't sure what to think of Nick right now. What was going to follow next was his idea. Did he stick around to help me? "Mind if I make my call now rather than later?" I asked, and the heavy man with the amulet paled. "You get a lot of bars out here, right?"

"Sweet Jesus, she has a phone!" he shouted.


Yes, I had a phone, something demons didn't. I wasn't a demon, and to treat me as such was going to be their undoing. Pulse racing and angry with all of them, I hit Ivy's number.

"Rachel?" Ivy immediately answered, and a knot of worry eased. Finally something was going my way. She was alive and sounded fine.

"Strengthen the circle!" the older man shouted, and they all moved, scrambling to get back to their spots. But it was too late. I had a real, irrefutable connection with someone past the bubble, and the damage had been done.

"Ivy, listen," I said, pressing my hand against the bubble to feel my skin warm but not burn. It was a very good sign. "Are you okay? Is Jenks?"

"Yes." Her voice came back, tiny and small. "He's pissed. Where are you?"

"I'm on the West Coast. Keep the line open, all right?"

As Ivy exclaimed her disbelief, I shoved the open phone in my back pocket. My two palms went to the bubble, and I pushed. I'd once taken a circle. I'd thought it had been an act of serendipitous timing, but now I wondered if it had been because I could hold the stuff of demons.

This circle is mine, I thought, filling my mind with the scintillating, broken energy, filling my chi and spindling the excess in my thoughts to dilute the entirety so the weak spots would show. Before me, I fixed on Brooke's eyes, smiling when the energy spilling into me scraped along my thoughts, the shattered West Coast line filling me as it burned through existing channels to my mind. The weak spot in the bubble glowed, and with a surge of hope, I concentrated, pulling more until I could see the lines of energy I was drawing off the bubble.

I squinted at my success, and Brooke's expression became worried. I widened the imperfection. The more I took, the bigger the instability got. It was working!

My thoughts burned, and I began to sweat. The five witches tried to shore up the barrier, but with a ping, the circle became mine. I gasped as the entire line suddenly spilled into me. A lesser witch would have fried her chi, but the jangling discordance flowed to my mind where I spindled it like mad until I managed to break from the ley line. God, how could they stand manipulating this day after day?

I fell forward, landing half out of the circle on my hands and knees. "Ow," I gasped, not from the bump, but from the force in my head. The circle had fallen, and I stared at Brooke, nothing between us but air.

"She's out!" the old man shouted, and I moved.

My boots slipped, and I scrambled on all fours to plow into the weakest member, the youngest, gawky male witch. He shouted in fear and fell back, his training forgotten. His head hit the tile and his eyes rolled back. I waited an instant to be sure he was breathing.

One down, I thought, then rolled and kept rolling. A yellow ball of force hit the wall, sending goo splattering. It was the oldest man, his head high and his jaw clenched. I yelped and dove for the cover of the middle-aged woman coming for me. Her eyes widened, and together we fell.

"Sweet mother of God!" someone screamed, and I thought I saw pixy dust.

Shaking the stars from my vision, I pushed the woman away and punched to knock her out. She blocked it - badly - and I grabbed her, swinging her around to take the next yellow ball from hell that the head guy had thrown. The goo hit her full on, and I gasped when the ugly yellow splotches grew on my coat. Panicking, I let go, scrambling out of my coat and dropping it as the woman who had taken most of the spell fell to her knees and began vomiting, yellow foam coming out of her mouth and ears. It might be a white spell, but it was still nasty.

"Oliver, stop throwing that shit!" Brooke shouted, and I looked up. The thought to call Al for help pinged through me and vanished. If I did, not only would I owe Al, but they'd be right in calling me a black witch. I was on my own. And not doing too badly.

Breathless, I ran at the middle-aged man holding a ley-line charm, grabbing his wrist and spinning around to stand facing his back and jam his own charm into his side. With a groan, he went down, taken by his own spell. I eased him to the floor, narrowly escaping being hit by that foaming-ball-of-vomit spell again.

"Oliver," Brooke shouted. "Knock it off! I want her conscious, not puking on my floor!"

Ignoring Brooke, Oliver pulled his arm back. My eyes widened, and I dove for the nearest circle. "Rhombus!" I shouted in relief as I skidded into it, and a gold-and-black sheet of ever-after flowed up. I didn't expect it to last long, seeing that I was using that awful, fractured ley line, but at least I had breathing space. I was safe in my bubble.

"You're like a cockroach, you know?" came a soft voice behind me.

Or not. Still sitting on the floor, I turned to see a pair of sensible black shoes in here with me. Swallowing, I followed the gray nylons up to find Brooke with her hand on a hip and a speculative look on her face. "I'm not a black witch...," I whispered.

She reached for me, but I couldn't get my foot up in time, and instead of the expected grasping hand, she shifted at the last moment and fell right on me, her elbow hitting my middle.

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