That day seemed like a lifetime ago. Magnus had said he would always be there for her, but now he was not. He’d left a week after their walk. When they were discussing the next scouting mission he’d offered to lead it. It’s been two years and he hasn’t returned.
Seraphina sat on the small porch of her house. Once the town had been returned to its former glory, she had several trees knocked down in the front of the house. They made a narrow dirt road from the street at the end of her property right up to the house. She acquired a carriage and a few horses as gifts from those who had traveled far to join her and the cause they had all deemed important.
In the two years that she had not heard from Magnus, she also hadn’t had any problems from the Council. She knew the day would come. The day they too, would have rebuilt their forces and come for her once again.
The moon started to rise in the sky, and the late August heat hadn’t let up with the absence of the moon. Seraphina held her skirt up to her knees as she swayed softly on the porch swing Seth built for her. The little fans Kristina had made always came in handy in the Indiana heat.
Indiana. Seraphina hadn’t even considered where it was they were when they put down roots and started to build. She found out within time, as others came.
She fanned her face and neck, and watched the moon rise higher and higher.
Seraphina jumped at the intrusion of her thoughts. Those who lived with her knew she didn’t wish to be disturbed while she watched for the moon to rise. Of course they all knew she was awaiting the return of her dear friend. Why she thought he would come to her in beast form, she did not know. Still she snapped at the intrusion.
“What. Is. It.” She asked callously.
“I’m sorry Seraphina. It’s Christian.” The voice said to her.
Sydney Necos was standing in front of her. She looked as though she’d run out of breath running through the house to reach her. Seraphina instantly lost all of her annoyance.
“What?” she said standing from her swing. “What is it, Sydney?”
On closer inspection Seraphina saw the girl had been crying. Christian and Sydney had bonded over the fear they felt for the change to beast. This was something they both would share. Eleanor Tanner also would change one day. However, she simply didn’t let it bother her as much.
“I think it’s happening, my lady.” Sydney sobbed, and Seraphina went to her putting her arms around her. In the heat the poor girl felt like a block of ice. Seraphina rubbed her shoulders and spoke softly, but slowly, so the girl could take in her words.
“I will take him to the cave. As I did with Magnus. He will be fine. The change hurts only if I am not there.” She assured the girl and heard the commotion from within the house.
Erik, Seth and Gordon were walking through from the back of the house by way of the kitchen. In the middle of them was Christian. Seraphina let the girl go and went to him.
“Brother, take my hands.” She spoke to him so only he could hear her. He looked at her and reached for her hand. “Seth, I am taking Christian to the caves. Please look after the house. Bessie, please stay with Sydney this night. She will need support.”
“Sure. I’ll stand guard as before, outside. If you need me. Just yell.” Seth went to her and kissed her cheek.
Bessie took hold of Sydney and walked her towards the stairs. Sydney went without question, but looked back at Christian until he and Seraphina were no longer in the house.
Once Seraphina was out of the house she felt the power of the earth through her bare feet as she walked. She used that strength to send Christian her power of healing, which soothed his pain.
“Thank you,” he managed weakly. His head was drooped down. Sweat poured from his body and pooled in his shirt. He was soaked to the bone.
He let Seraphina lead him to the caves. His gait was ridged and though he moved, he was unable to move quickly. Before they reached the end of the property line Seraphina and Christian both jerked their heads toward the village.
“Seth! Come here!” Seraphina stepped to the fence. Beyond its border was the trail that led down to the caves.
“Please don’t leave me.” Christian pleaded with her.
“Don’t worry. You will be fine. I promise.” She rubbed his shoulder with the arm she had wrapped protectively around his shoulder. “It won’t happen for a few more hours yet.”
She saw the silhouette of a man running to her from the house. The minute he was in range Seraphina knew it was Seth. He was soon followed by Cecil and Gordon.
“Seth, I need you to take Christian to the cave.” She said.
“What’s happening?” Gordon asked them as a loud scream from the direction of the village sounded through the darkening night.
“Seth!” She yelled at him when he diverted his attention to the village.
“Sorry, yes. I will take him.” Told her.
“No! It’s going to hurt. Please don’t leave me.” Christian pleaded.
Seth nodded at Seraphina. She hadn’t divulged his secret, since the day they fought the Council. She hadn’t thought it was her place for people to know. At this moment it was imperative Christian be led away from whatever was happening in the village. That too was a secret she would not share with anyone.
“It’s ok Christian. Seth was born with the same abilities I was. He can help.” She told him.
“He’s a death watcher?” Christian didn’t look shocked like Seth might have thought. He looked relieved.
Seth stepped to him and took Seraphina’s place at his side. “We prefer the term Healer. It’s the power we harness the most.” He said draping one arm around the back of his shoulders as the other held the arm closest to him for support. Christian received his answer when he felt no pain with the exchange. “But otherwise, yes. I am. You have nothing to fear.” Seth offered.
“I’m going to see what is going on out there. Gordon and Cecil you may come with me.” Seraphina kissed Seth’s lips, and held his gaze for just a moment before she fled in the opposite direction down the dirt road.
As she ran, the earth at her feet strengthened her more, and she could feel the wind swarm around her. Two of her elements she never needed to call, but were always there when she needed them to aid her.
Another loud crash came from the houses beyond her fence, and then more screaming. She could feel the racing of hearts as she went. Then she felt them. They were there. They had found her.
She stopped at the fence and gasped in terror. There were men women and children strewn all over. Their bodies left bloodied and marred. She felt the terror from her people and then she felt the nothingness of the beasts.
“There here. GO!” She yelled to the two who were with her.
As she entered the area they had come to call the village square she felt the anger rising within her. She felt as she had when she was looked at as a mere thirteen-year-old child. Just a death watcher. Now, she was the Immortal Priestess. She would not allow any of the creatures to take another life.
Soon those she needed were around her. Even Sydney put herself out there for the people. They would fight beside her if necessary, but she would not need them.
As her temper flared she felt the power surging to her hands. She had spent the last two years preparing for this. Developing her powers and understanding the ones she hadn’t even known she had. The familiar blue glow of her right hand started first, and then the left went red.
As the people tried to fight back she yelled to them to run, but they would not leave her to face them alone. As she walked through the carnage she instructed Bessie, Sydney and Gerard to grab those who were injured and strewn in the streets back behind the fence. She pushed on down past the water fountain and the half wall that signified outsiders were entering the center of her town. Her people.
A large bear came barreling down the alley behind the wall following a man who was holding his young child in his arms.
“Stop!” She held up her right hand. Palm facing the beast. The blue light glowed faintly around her hand. The bear, startled stopped in his tracks, allowing the man to duck inside of a house.
The beast stood up on its hind legs and let out a roar so loudly Seraphina thought she could feel the ground shake under foot. She let the blue flame grow and ball in her hand. She cupped it then and walked steadily forward at the animal who still stood, towering over her.
“You know me?” she said to the bear as she saw others start running up behind it. They slowed and stopped several feet behind it. “They do too.” This time her question wasn’t a question at all. She moved her hand slowly from left to right as she took slow steady deliberate steps forward.
“Will you challenge me?” The bear tilted his head left and right, and as if he were answering her, then he roared again. She was toying with the beast.
This time the spit and saliva that hung loose at the animal’s lips flew from his mouth and sprayed Seraphina. She wiped her face with her other hand and licked it clean in one slow seductive movement. The bear fell to the ground on all four. There were five that she could count behind it, and they had started to walk slowly towards her.
Seraphina charged on the animal once she was but three feet in front of it. Her blazing blue hand she used to brand the animal. He roared with the pain and swiped at her with a massive paw. Those behind her started to advance when she let the red flame fill her left palm and she loosed it at them. She extended her power to the group of five and put up an invisible barrier.
“You will have no more.” She said with her right hand still burning the skin of the large bear at his neck. When she removed her hand the fur of his coat had gone, leaving behind a large “S” down to the skin. “You will no longer come after my people. Now, you will fight for me.”
The bear winced and held its head down. “Now!” she commanded the animal.
The bear did as it was told. He leapt up and turned on his fellow preternaturals. Seraphina held up her hands. “Now!” She yelled to all of those who stood to fight with her. The bear charged a giant wolf and took off out of the village.
Seraphina let her hand fill with flame once again and shot it at a large panther that had locked its eyes on her. She saw each animal had gone up against two or more of those that had attacked with her. Magic and fists alike flew in the air.
Seraphina kept throwing fire balls mixed with red and blue at the animal that charged her. When it was too close to fire at, she swung around with her leg and landed her bare foot on the side of the panthers face. It moved enough for her to have time to use magic to push it away farther. She flung her hands to the sky and then down to her knees. As she came down the ground under foot began to rumble and move causing everyone, man and beast to fumble about on their feet.
The panther was several feet away from her and she tried to lock onto it with her mind. She couldn’t use her empathic abilities to fight these animals because there was nothing inside of them. They were created by the Council. Immortal beasts.
She saw the mouth of a large mountain lion close down on Gordon, and then the animal flung his body into one of the large brick houses.
Seraphina screamed as she felt the life leave his body. She felt the stabbing pain in his head and then the calm feeling as his life ended. As he lay there with his eyes open, yet unseeing, she roared. “NOOOOOO!” The rage built up inside her and she started her attack with fire balls once again at the panther. She leapt over it when it charged her and grabbed at the beast’s neck. She held on even as she saw the mountain lion grab onto Kristina.
“NO!” she pulled as hard as she could on the animal’s neck and when she had almost fully exhausted herself she heard the bone break with a snap. She flung from the dead animal and ran over to the mountain lion.
Kristina’s screams filled Seraphina’s senses. She could feel the animal’s teeth in her flesh. The beast was dragging her away by her thigh. Kristina’s screams were interrupted when her head hit a large rock as the lion dragged her over it.
Seraphina let the flames loose. They snaked from her hands down to the ground and over to the lion. All the while they never left her hands. Each one; blue and red, coiled around the animal. When it was sufficiently covered Seraphina began to tug on the reins of her power. The coils squeezed the animal. It let go of Kristina’s limp body and let out a massive protest. The blood started to flow from his ears and then she could hear it bubbling in the back of its throat as it screamed in pain.
The animal tried to fight, tried to protest, but it was no use. Seraphina’s rage was loose and all her enemies would die, painful horrible deaths. She pulled tighter and tighter until the treads of her power began to cut into the beast’s flesh.
A scream from her left snapped her from the lion and she saw another wolf toying with Cecil. Just as she would let go of the lion, the bear returned. His mussel was covered in blood and dripped to the ground as he pounced on the wolf. Bits of flesh hung from between his teeth. Seraphina let the bear offer his help to Cecil who had maneuvered onto the wolf’s back and was pulling its head back offering its neck up to the bears jaw.
The lion tugged within her grasp. She returned her pull of the power that trapped it. The coils of power began to grow bright as she pulled harder with her senses and her body, until it sliced through the massive animal. Leaving nothing but smoking bits of flesh as her feet.
She looked back to the bear and Cecil as she reigned in her whips. The wolf’s head flew downhill. Its body slumped hard to the ground under Cecil who rolled head over feet, to the ground. Seraphina pulled her power back to her palms. The bear walked to her feet and slumped to the ground.
She took in the sight before her. Dead animals strewn about mixed with the bodies of her people. She looked to the bear.
“Now, what to do with you?” she sneered at the animal. It looked at her, with what she thought were familiar eyes. Then they closed.
“Seraphina, come quick!” Gerard called from where Kristina’s limp body lay.
She dismissed the animal and ran to her friend. Her thigh was badly torn, with no hope of healing, but she tried as best she could. The wound stopped bleeding at her touch, but the hole the lion had ripped through her hadn’t healed.
“She’s too far injured. It’s not working.” She wiped the hair out of the girls face and went to the injury on the back of her head, which healed up right away. “It tore half her leg off. The most we can do is bandage it, or cut it free of her.” She swore to herself, wishing Kristina’s brother would return.
“Take her to the house. Put her in her bed. I need to check on Christian.” She stood and wiped the blood from her hands onto her dress as best she could.
“Yes, my lady. Hey, you! Come help us bring her to the main house.” Gerard called to one of the men who had started to help those in the village. Three men followed Gerard’s command and picked the girl up from the ground.
Seraphina turned to Gordon’s lifeless body and instructed others to bring him to her yard. Then instructed them to bring all the dead to her yard. “They are to be handled with respect. Lay them in the front. We will build a pyre. We will say our goodbyes before the sun rises.”
Without waiting for them to move about, she took off in the direction of the cave. As she passed the bear laying lifeless on the ground she faltered.
“Seraphina? What is it?” She heard Sydney behind her.
“I can feel this beast.”
“How is that possible?” Sydney bent over the bear, and it opened its eyes.
“I can feel his pain. He’s reaching out to me.” She bent down to the bear. “I know those eyes.”
“Seraphina? What are you doing?” Sydney backed up quickly at the sight of the blue flame from Seraphina’s right hand.
She looked down at her palm, “I don’t know.” She couldn’t get it to go out. She felt the warmth of the earth and felt the whoosh of the wind, and her hand settled on the bears head, palm down.
“You’re going to kill it?” Sydney cried.
“No, I don’t think so. I’m healing him.” She said.
“Him?” Sydney asked.
“Oh my!” Seraphina’s eyes turned back in her head. They were devoid of color. Bright white orbs stared at Sydney, but didn’t see her. Instead she saw a man laying on the ground. He was hurt.
“Seraphina, what’s happening.” Eleanor put a hand on her shoulder, but Seraphina felt nothing. Saw no one. “Sydney?” Eleanor looked to the younger girl for help, but received only shocked expression.
Seraphina’s entire body started to glow blue with the flame. As she held on to the bear, the bear blazed in the glow as well. Seraphina still only saw the body of a man. The bear had gone. As the blue flame engulfed her and the man she could feel her healing powers at work. The bear had been badly injured, both physically and mentally. She could feel the beast had been spelled out of its own consciousness.
When the flame subsided and her vision returned, she stood. She felt faint and was almost about to pass out if it weren’t for the site in front of her.
“A blanket now!” Seraphina screamed. She bent down to the body of a man lying on the ground where the bear had been. She placed her hand, magic withdrawn, on top of his brow. He was burning up. “Quickly, we need Seth.”
“What about Christian?”
“I’m sorry.” She looked to Sydney who was close to tears. “We need Seth! Magnus needs Seth now!”
Disclaimer: This sneak peak is unedited and parts of it may not make it into the published version.