Kendrick is a Shadow Demon, a being of darkness. As one of Crushing’s former henchmen, he is now held captive by Bartley, a Demi-God and one of the protectors of the realms.
Bartley is afraid that Kendrick may escape and go to Crushing’s aid once more. But there is more to Kendrick that frightens Bartley; like the growing attraction between them.
Bartley will have to deal with the demons of his past before he can give his heart to another. Kendrick will have to free his heart if he has any hope of saving the man he loves.
William Willowby remembered the words.
Crushing had told him that they were the most important part of the ritual, that the words were what held the true magic. Everything else was just smoke and mirrors, parlor tricks for unskilled magicians and charlatans.
Willowby was no charlatan.
Looking around the graveyard, he spotted the stone that was brighter, fresher, than all the others. Its white marble blinked in the darkness like a beacon of light.
Approaching the stone with something like reverence, Willowby kneeled in the darkness in front of the tombstone and rested his head on its coldness. He felt only a moment of fear for what he was about to do, a quickening of his nerves that raced through his body. He batted those fears away. To give in was to be weak. And he would not be weak.
Taking a sharp knife from his pocket, he let the moonlight glow upon it before slicing open his thumb. He hissed, drawing a breath in, and let a few drops of blood fall to the earth in front of the grave. He had begun now. He could not turn back.
In a deep baritone voice, he called up the words he knew by heart: “Rise above the ground, master.” The Latin rolled off his tongue like honey. It felt weird speaking the old language. He hadn’t spoken it in a very long time, but the spell required it.
The ground trembled and a low rumble reverberated underneath Willowby’s feet. He felt another spasm of fear and used that fear, held on to it to give him strength.
“Gain your spirit faster.”
The dirt above the grave jerked and shivered as it were trying to clear itself away, as if something underneath struggled to break free. A fissure broke in the earth with a sharp, hissing sound and a mist emerged. As Willowby watched, the mist began to form into a shape that looked like fingers reaching out of the ground.
” Live within me, until breath last. So that you may break your fast.”
The fingers of smoke became suddenly rigid. They snapped up from the ground and reached inside of Willowby’s mouth. Indeed, Willowby felt as if the smoke was climbing into him, reaching deep into his body to lose itself in his bloodstream.
He tried to draw in a breath but only succeeded in drawing in more smoke. Willowby knew it wasn’t smoke, however. It was a soul.
A voice in his head, a deep sardonic voice, yelled loudly: “Say it! Say the last line! Say it and be done!”
Willowby nodded, though there was no one to see him do so. He gasped, air flowing into his lungs, and said the last words of the ritual. “So mote it be.”
The ground stopped rumbling and the smoke dissipated, flowing gently into his mouth until there was nothing left. Willowby leaned against the tombstone again for support, feeling his breath return to him in ragged gasps.
“You have done well tonight,” the voice inside him said.
“I did just as you asked me to.”
The voice, the soul, inside of Willowby smiled. Willowby could feel it smile, and a gladness such as he had never known filled his body.
“Oh, Willowby…” The voice was filled with longing. “I have such plans for us…”