Bone Magic

Bone Magic by Yasmine Galenorn (book 7 of the New York Times Bestselling Otherworld Series)

Berkley (Mass Market); January 5, 2010
Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780425231982

We're the D'Artigo sisters: savvy--and sexy--operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency.  But being half-human, half-Fae short-circuits our talents at all the wrong times.  My sister Delilah is a two-faced Were who turns into a golden tabby when she's stressed.  And Menolly's a vampire who's still trying to get the hang of being undead.  As for me?  I'm Camille D'Artigo, a wicked-good witch who's learning death magic with my youkai-kitsune husband.  Until now, the Moon Mother's pretty much ignored me, but she's about to take me on the Hunt of my life...

Another equinox is here, and life's getting more dangerous for all of us.  The past is catching up to our friends, Iris and Chase.  Smoky--the dragon of my dreams--is forced to choose between his family and me.  To top it off, there's a new demon general in town and we can't locate her.  And when the Moon Mother and the Black Beast summon me to Otherworld. I think I'm just going to reunite with my long lost soulmate.  But once there, I'm forced to undergo a drastic ritual that will forever change my life, and the lives of those around me.

Published: 01/05/2010
Excerpt:

Chapter 1

"Run! Get the hell out of here!" Morio pushed me toward the iron gates.

I didn't ask why. I just took off for the opening, avoiding the metal as I darted past the wrought iron spikes. Nearing the steps leading out of the mausoleum, another shout from Morio stopped me and I whirled around. He'd dropped his bag containing his skull familiar and had pulled out a pair of curved daggers, one in each hand. A wedding present from me, but he wasn't taking any time to admire the carved antler handles.

No, it was show and tell time.

Two people with long, shuffling strides were headed his way. Or rather, two bodies.

"Can you cut off their heads?"

Morio snorted. "Oh sure. I can just zip on in and lop off their heads with these babies. Get real, woman. We've got our work cut out for us."

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"Hey, life would be easier that way," I called out, but he had a point. It wasn't that he couldn't fight. In fact, Morio was an incredible fighter. But we were facing one teensy-weensy problem. Our opponents weren't exactly alive. They were already dead. And dangerous.

One of them was just what he looked like-so much dead meat on the hoof. Normally, returning the zombie to the grave wouldn't be much of a problem-they were shambling brainless monsters. No brains meant for less of a challenge. But we'd made a potentially deadly mistake. His companion was all too aware of our intentions and was whispering something under his breath.

That we'd accidentally chosen a demon's corpse to experiment on didn't help matters. Neither did the fact that we'd summoned a spirit into the body, and that spirit knew how to use magic. Oh yeah, we'd fucked up royally.

As I raced back to his side, Morio leapt into the air, spinning with a kick that landed square on the chest of the first corpse, sending the creature reeling back. The zombie thudded against the wall and slid to the floor. It was still moving, though, and if we'd done our job right, would be back in action in a moment. And it looked like we deserved an A+ for attention to detail. The zombie was struggling to push itself up off the ground.

"Cripes. Now our magic works," I said, torn between being proud of our work and wishing we weren't so damned good. I ran through my repertoire of spells, trying to think of something to help. We had to reverse the summoning spell but in the meantime, what could freeze an angry spirit waltzing around in a demon's body?

Morio sliced through the air, catching one of the creature's arms. He managed to carve off a long strip of the flesh and I grimaced as the chunk o' demon fell to the floor. The zombie reeled as Morio punched him in the jaw. He knocked him back a few steps, but barely put a dent in the monster's speed.

Oh, this was so not how our experiment was supposed to go.

Quick, quick, what could I use? Fire? No, the damn thing was demon and there was a good chance the body was still immune to flame. But what about lightning? I grinned. Electricity just might just work.

I thrust my arms into the air and closed my eyes, summoning the Moon Mother, calling down the lightning. A storm was on the way, so the bolts didn't have far to travel.

The lightning instantly responded. I could hear it crackling from about five miles away as the clouds raced in, carrying it to me. As the energy began to swirl around my hands, I felt it thicken, shrouding me like a fog. The power soaked into my pores and entered my lungs with the rising mists.

The energy coiled like a snake at the base of my tailbone and began to ascend through my spine, prickling me like a thousand needles, the pain sharp and exquisitely sensual. A rush of desire rode on the back of the bolt-sex and magic were integrally combined for me. I sucked in a deep breath as the spell took over, then arched my back, arms open wide, and pointed my palms toward the demon's body.

Morio glanced at me and I heard him mutter Oh shit, his look one of stark terror. He jumped back, striking the demon with a final kick and then cartwheeled out of the way. As soon as he'd cleared the zombie, I spread my fingers and let the energy stream out of me. It reared up, taking the shape of a dragon, and dove for the demon, arcing with ten thousand amps.

The spirit we'd invoked shrieked and fled the body as the carcass fell to the ground. I dropped to my knees, my gut aching like a son of a bitch, but when Morio shouted, I glanced up just in time to see the bolt of lightning coil, then reverse directions as it raced straight toward me. I screamed and raised the horn of the Black Unicorn.

"Deflect!"

The Master of Winds residing within the horn rose up and as the bolt came crashing down, he thrust his sword in front of me. The lightning fastened onto the sword and followed the trail leading to the air Elemental's body, harmlessly passing through him as it grounded into the floor. I scrambled back from the blackened spot on the concrete not two feet away as Morio carved up the second zombie into small enough pieces that it couldn't bother us.

"Well," I said, leaning against the wall, all too aware that I'd barely skipped out on becoming toast. Again. "We can add this one to the list of thou shalt nots we've managed to accumulate. Whose bright idea was this, anyway?"

"So we made a mistake in choosing our host. It happens." He shrugged.

"It happens? How on earth did we manage to end up with a demon's body and not know it?" I stared at him for a moment and he gave me a sheepish grin. "Oh good gods, you knew. You knew we were invoking the spirit into a demon's body and blithely told me to go ahead with it. What the hell were you thinking? Are you insane?"

"I thought you'd figure it out," he said, laughing. He looked like he was enjoying this fiasco just a little too much. "We're still alive so I consider it a success. And if you hadn't chosen a mage's spirit to invoke, we wouldn't have had a problem. If you'd chosen just Joe Schmo's ghost, then he wouldn't have been able to use magic and we could have controlled him. Can you imagine what a demon zombie could do for us on the battlefield? Hard to kill, hard to take down. Goblins, trolls, even other demons would have their hands full fighting him."

I blinked. "So now it's my fault?" He laughed again and I sputtered. "You didn't tell me who to call from dial-a-ghost. I just randomly chose somebody. I didn't know he'd been a mage--"

"Camille, babe, it's okay." Morio leaned against me and brushed the side of my face with his hand. His skin felt oh, so smooth. "No harm, no foul. We're dealing with it, so it's all good. Now, get a move on, woman. We still have to banish the spirit back to the Netherworld." He pointed toward the wall of the mausoleum.

There, a ghostly white shape hovered almost close enough to touch-the spirit we'd summoned into the demon. But the phantom couldn't do anything now that we'd blasted it out of its host. The mage had practiced earth magic when he was alive, so he couldn't attack from beyond the grave unless given a body through which to work. And I'd just blasted his vacation home to smithereens, well beyond what Demons-R-Us could fix.

I dusted off my skirt, which was now beyond the place where anything but a lint roller and a lot of detergent could help.

"Fine. Where to?" I limped over to Morio, my knee aching. I'd bruised myself pretty good when I dove to avoid the blast.

"Are you hurting?" He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and fastened his lips on mine, giving me a long, luxurious kiss, playing lightly over my tongue with his own. Morio might be on the slender side, and he wasn't the tallest of my lovers, but oh Mama, he had one hell of a hot body.

"Not so much that you couldn't kiss it and make it better," I whispered, pressing against him as my fingers traveled to his nether regions. I brushed my hand against the front of his pants, inhaling deeply as I felt him harden behind the loose material.

"Stop that," he whispered with a grin. "We've got work to do."

"I need you," I whispered back. Magic and cheating death were two of my favorite aphrodisiacs. Combine the two and I was ready to rumble, tear off my clothes, break the bed horny.

"Patience. Patience," he said, nibbling my ear. "When we get home, Smoky and I'll give you what you crave, love."

I danced away from him. "Then let's get this wrapped up. The sooner we're done, the sooner the two of you can play a duet on me." I loved both of my husbands. And together, they could do a number on me that sent me into orbit. Sex had become a cornucopia of delights and once Trillian, my alpha lover, returned, I expected to be the happiest woman in both Otherworld and Earthside. As long as Trillian didn't blow up over finding out I'd married Smoky and Morio. He knew they were my lovers, but formalizing the relationships might be enough to send him over the edge. Not so much with Morio, but Smoky-big testosterone wars had been looming when Trillian was called away.

"It's a deal," Morio said.

Laughing, I followed him out of the mausoleum. Spirit-dude wasn't tagging along behind us for a change. In fact, he was hanging back, looking right and left as if he was trying to decide which way to vamoose.

"What about the ghost? He's kind of a must-have during the ritual."

Morio shrugged. "Don't worry. He'll be there. He can't refuse."

As he spoke, the spirit slipped around the corner into a narrow hallway that led further into the Wedgewood Cemetery mausoleum. We watched as he disappeared from view.

I shook my head. "Does he really think he can get away that easy? He has to know that the only reason he's here is because we summoned him. And because we summoned him, he's magically bound to stick near us until we're done with him. Or give him another body to roam around in."

"Maybe he's an optimist," Morio said. "Come on, let's get outside and send him back to where he belongs." He shivered as a blast of cold air hit us. "We can't be expecting a frost yet--it's not even the equinox."

"Autumn's already here," I said. "Trust me. And winter's going to be a doozy."

#

As we slipped out of the mausoleum, a wash of moonlight splashed across our path. The wind was rising but the wind chill made it feel colder than it was. The temperature barely kissed forty-five degrees and the scent of moisture hung heavy in the air. The storm was coming in fast, and before the hour was over we'd be facing a downpour as the early autumn rains hit Seattle.

I inhaled a long, slow breath to steady myself as the rich scent of loam and moss washed through me, buoying me with the magic rife within their essences. The Earth mother had been speaking all evening, the slow, steady pulse of her heart tripping a steady cadence beneath my feet.

We traipsed back to the altar we'd arranged on a stone bench behind a patch of rhododendrons. A few yards from the mausoleum, the rectangular dais rose about eighteen inches off the ground. On the left side of the bench Morio had placed a black pillar candle, and on the right-an ivory one. Their flames flickered in the steady breeze. In our absence, wax had puddled down the sides to form rings at their bases on the granite slab. Oh yeah, that was neat and tidy. Note to self: next time, bring candleholders.

Beside the black candle rested an obsidian dagger, its blade gleaming in the soft glow from the candle flame. The hilt was carved from a yew branch and a nimbus of violet light gently pulsated around the blade.

Next to the ivory candle stood a crystal chalice filled with dark wine. It looked like blood, but was actually a robust merlot.

"Well, well, well, the demon brat and the Faerie slut finally remember me and come waltzing in like queens in a drag show. I thought you'd never get your asses back here." A faint voice echoed from a branch on the rhododendron. "Where the fuck have you two nincompoops been?"

I grimaced. The skeleton was all of twelve inches tall. Perched on the branch, he was holding onto the leaf next to him. Grandmother Coyote had loaned him to Morio. The creature was actually a golem of sorts, created from bits of bone and then animated and given a sense of intelligence. Whether she'd made him, or found him, I didn't know. And I wasn't going to ask. Pry into the private affairs of the Hags of Fate? Not so much.

"Shut up, Rodney." Morio frowned. The miniature miscreant was a smartass. And foul-mouthed at that.

"You want my help or not, you bitches?" Faint bluish lights glimmered in his eye sockets and he sounded a little bit overexcited.

Morio thumped him lightly on the skull, almost knocking him off the bough. "Chill, little bone man. So, did anybody pass by while we were inside?" Morio glanced at me, and by the look on his face, I could see he wasn't all that thrilled about Rodney's help, either.

"Watch it!" Rodney steadied himself. "Nope. You're home free."

Morio grinned. "Good. Back in the box." He held out a carved wooden box that looked for all the world like a miniature coffin. The lid was open and the inside was lined with thick purple velvet padding.

"Fuck a duck." Rodney let out a long huff. "Do I have to?"

"Yes," Morio said.

Rodney slowly lifted his middle finger and flashed it at us, then lithely leapt into the box, laid down, and the light faded from his eyes. Morio flipped the lid shut and locked it.

"I don't like to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I have a feeling Rodney's going to end up on the junk heap before long." I poked the box with my finger. "You think Grandmother Coyote would be offended if we gave him back?"

Morio gave me a long, lazy smile. "You want to be the one to ask her?"

Backtrack and avoid the steely teeth at the end of the road. "No, no...just put him away for now. We'll figure out what to do about him later." I wondered if we could cast a mute spell on him. Washing his mouth out with soap wouldn't help. He didn't have a tongue or taste buds.

As Morio stashed the box in his bag, I stared up at the sky. The wind was rustling through the leaves, sending a handful whirling to the ground. They were changing color fast this year. Autumn was on the way, and it was coming in with a heavy heart. I sucked in another deep breath and felt the rush of graveyard dust fill my soul. Oh yes, the Harvestmen were on the move already.

Morio motioned for me to take my place at the altar. His dark eyes sparkled with flecks of topaz, even as my own violet eyes were flecked with silver. We'd been running magic thick and fast for days now, accelerating our practice, trying to hone our spells before we faced the new demon general that Shadow Wing had loosed upon Seattle. Once we found the lamia, we'd have our work cut out for us. She was lying low, hiding out, and none of our contacts could place her or the half-demon wizard we suspected had gated her in, but eventually she'd make her move and we had to be ready.

As I stared at my husband, I realized that he was looking older. Not old, but wiser, stronger, and more world-weary than when we'd first met. Hell, we'd all aged, if not in looks, in spirit.

Morio wore an indigo muslin shirt and a matching pair of loose pants. His outfit was belted with a silver sash, off of which hung a sheath protecting a serrated blade. His jet black hair was smooth and shiny, loose from its usual ponytail. My ritual garments complemented his own: an indigo low-cut gown that swept the floor. It was loose enough to move in, form-fitting enough not to hinder me. Belted on my right side hung my silver dagger. On my left--the unicorn's horn.

He paused, finger to the wind, then nodded.

"So we just repeat the Summoning spell, but in the opposite pattern, along with the Chant to Dispel?"

"Right. Go ahead. Since you did the actually summoning, you should be the one to banish the spirit."

I leaned over the center of the bench, across which was spread a smooth layer of salt and rosemary needles. Picking up the obsidian blade, I pinpointed the energy and traced the salt-drawn pentagram in reverse, then circled it widdershins to open the pentacle.

"Suminae banis, suminae banis, mortis mordente, suminae banis." I focused on banishing the spirit we'd summoned.

The energy swirled through my body, through the blade, into the salt and herbs. There was a sudden silence as the wind dropped and the air grew thick. Above the center of the altar, the ghostly form appeared and, with a slow shriek, vanished from sight, sucked into a spinning vortex. I sealed the spell with a violent slash, severing the energy that had opened the gate to the Netherworld. There was a swift pop and the portal disappeared.

"Nifty! It worked. Not quite as powerful as opening a Demon Gate, but hey, at least this time I didn't set loose a dozen wayward ghosts," I said as the clouds broke wide, loosing thunder and lighting and a flurry of hail. As the candle flames sizzled and went out, the rain began to pour, soaking us to the skin.

"Think the universe is trying to tell us something?" I watched as the rain washed away all evidence of the salt and rosemary.

Morio let out a long sigh and picked up the candles, emptying the rain that pooled in their center. "Come on, we've got two zombies to clean up after. And after that I just want to go home, take a hot bath, and then..." He paused, giving me a long look.

"And then you're going to jump my bones and make me a happy, happy woman," I finished for him.

He cocked his head to one side and winked. "Oh yeah," he said. "And make myself a happy, happy man."

COLLAPSE

Playlist

Audioslave: What You Are

Beck:
Que Onda Guero
Farewell Ride
Emergency Exit
Dark Star
Sweet Sunshine

Bravery, The: Believe

David Bowie: I'm Afraid of Americans

Dead Can Dance: The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove

Death Cab For Cutie: I Will Possess Your Heart

Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams

Everlast:
We're All Gonna Die
I Can't Move
Black Jesus

Finger Eleven: Paralyzer

Fleetwood Mac:
The Chain
Gold Dust Woman

Foo Fighters: All My Life

Gabrielle Roth & the Mirrors:
Rest Your Tears Here
Mother Night
The Calling
Raven
Seducing Hades

Gary Numan:
Walking With Shadows
Halo
White Boys & Heroes
Storm Trooper in Drag
War Songs
Sleep By Windows
She's Got Claws

Gorillaz:
Kids With Guns
Demon Days
Dare
Clint Eastwood
Tomorrow Comes the Day

Heart: Magic Man

Led Zeppelin:
When the Levee Breaks
The Battle of Evermore
Ramble On

Lenny Kravitz:
American Woman
Fly Away

Live: TBD

Men Without Hats: The Safety Dance

Loreena McKennitt:
The Mummers Dance
All Souls Night
Marco Polo
All Souls Night

NIN:
Ghosts 1: 8
Ghosts III: 19
Ghosts 1: 5

Nirvana:
Heart Shaped Box
Come As You Are

Orgy:
Blue Monday
Social Enemies

Pearl Jam: Even Flow

Pink Floyd: Speak to Me/Breathe

Police: Invisible Sun

Puddle of Mudd:
Famous
Psycho

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Higher Ground

Rob Zombie:
Living Dead Girl
Superbeast
American Witch

Seether: Remedy

Simple Minds: Don't You

Thomas Dolby: She Blinded Me With Science

Thompson Twins:
The Gap
Watching
Love on Your Side
In the Name of Love

Toadies: Possum Kingdom

Ween: Mutilated Lips

Yoko Kanno:
Run Rabbit Junk
Lithium Flower

Zero 7: In the Waiting Line

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