Dragon Wytch

Dragon Wytch by Yasmine Galenorn (book four of the New York Times Bestselling Otherworld Series)

Berkley (Mass Market); July 2008
Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780425222393

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 shapeshifts into a tabby cat whenever she's stressed. Menolly's a vampire who's still getting the hang of being undead. And me? I'm Camille, a wicked-good witch, trying to juggle faulty magic, gorgeous men, and the demonic war in which we're embroiled. Sometimes, it's hard to know just who we can trust...

"The Equinox is coming, and mayhem rules. A crown-prince unicorn offers us a legendary gift, but it vanishes. Goblins and trolls swarm the streets of Seattle. And now Smoky, the sexiest dragon alive, decides to stake his claim--on me. Overshadowing it all, the third spirit seal surfaces and Shadow Wing's after it. But I've discovered a secret that could change everything. A new power is rising--a dangerous force from the past--one that intends to restore balance to the worlds...whether we like it or not..."

Published:
Excerpt:

Chapter 1

There was pixie dust in the air.  I could feel it seeping in from under the door of the Indigo Crescent, my bookshop, as it wafted up to tickle the back of my throat.  There was no mistaking the stuff-it was different from just about every other manifestation of Fae magic there was.  Sparkling, the dust shimmered on the astral, hovering in that in-between place.  Not quite physical, not quite ethereal.  And yet pixie magic had more affect on humans and the human realm than it did on anybody else.

Curious.  The fact that I could sense it all the way back in my office meant it came from a pixie with strong magic.  Otherworld magic, if I wasn't off my mark.  I hadn't seen an Earthside pixie near my shop since I'd been here.  Or at least, I didn't think any were around.  The creatures usually gave me a wide berth, partly because I was half-Fae and partly because I was a witch.  Either way, they didn't trust me.

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A number of witches back in Otherworld made a habit of trapping pixies to harvest their dust.  The pixies weren't hurt, but they took a severe blow to the ego during the process, especially when some of their captors sold the dust for profits that would even make a leprechaun blink.  Of course, the pixies didn't get one penny from the transaction and sometimes they banded together to raid a shop with some success, but for the most part, they just tried to avoid us altogether.

Of course, I didn't trust them, either.  Pixies were born troublemakers, and they enjoyed every minute of it.  They weren't usually dangerous, not in the way your average pain-in-the-neck goblin was, but they were trouble all the same.

I finished counting the receipts and tucked the money from the cash register into a strong box, hiding it in the bottom drawer of my desk.  So much for another slow day.  The Indigo Crescent was having an off month.  Either nobody was reading, or I wasn't moving in enough new stock to draw in new customers.

I gathered my purse and keys.  My sister Delilah was already gone for the day.  She ran a casual PI business upstairs from my shop, but she'd been out on a case most of the day and hadn't bothered with more than a quick check-your-messages pit stop this morning.

Glancing around my office to make sure everything was in order, I slipped on a light capelet.  My tastes ran toward bustiers, camisoles, and chiffon skirts, not exactly weather appropriate wear, but I wasn't about to change my style because of a few storm clouds.

We were nearing the Vernal Equinox, and Seattle was still chilly and overcast.  Roiling gray clouds seeded with fat, heavy raindrops had moved in from the ocean, opening up to splatter the sidewalks and roads.

Granted, the trees around the city were vibrant with budding leaves, and the moss gave off a rich, loamy scent, but spring in western Washington was a far cry from spring back in Otherworld.  By now, the skies over OW would be stained with thin rivulets of gold from the setting sun, creating a watercolor wash as they blended into the indigo of the approaching twilight.  The warm blush of the waxing year would encourage the night-martins to sing every evening and the smell of Terebell's flowers would permeate the gardens around our house.

Sighing, and a little bit homesick-memories were all we had of our home in OW right now-I set the alarm system and locked the door.  Tired or not, I'd better find out where the pixie dust was coming from.  If a group of them had moved into the neighborhood, all the shops would be in for trouble.

As I turned toward the sidewalk, a whinny caught my attention, crowding out any idea of tracking down the wayward pixie.  I glanced up the street and froze.  What the hell?

A unicorn was heading my way.  He passed Baba Yaga's Deli that had moved in next to my bookstore and then stopped, close enough for me to feel his breath on my face.

With a nonchalant bob of the head, the unicorn said, "Good evening, Lady Camille."

I blinked, wondering if I'd been working a little too hard.  But no, he was still there.  His coat shimmered with that silky, luminous white that only adorns magical creatures.  Robin's egg blue eyes glinted with intelligence, and his horn sparkled a lustrous gold.  That's how I knew he was a male, other than the obvious anatomical signs, which were most definitely in attendance.  Female unicorns have silver horns.

The more I looked at him, the more he reminded me of something out of one of those ethereal perfume commercials-the ones where I was never sure just what they were advertising until they splashed the bottle on the screen and the announcer warbled something lame like, "Magic-experience the thrill."

I blinked again.

He was still there.  Clearing my throat, I was about to ask him what he was doing meandering through the streets of Seattle when a noise from up the street startled me.  As I turned, a goblin, a Sawberry Fae, and a bugbear emerged from a nearby alley and started our way.  They looked pissed.

I know, I know.  A goblin, a Fae, and a bugbear wander into a bar where they meet this gorgeous wench with her boobs hanging out...

My train of thought stopped in mid-joke when, in a matter of seconds, the situation deteriorated from a whimsical what-the-hell is going on to oh-no-they-can't-really-be-planning-to-do-that.

The goblin held up a blowgun and took aim at the unicorn.

"Hand over the pixie, Feddrah-Dahns, or you're dead!"  The bugbear's voice was guttural and he spoke in Calouk, the rough, common dialect familiar to most Otherworld citizens.  The words were garbled.  The threat was clear.

Cripes!  Without a second thought-unicorns were dangerous and beautiful, but goblins were just dangerous and stupid-I closed my eyes and whispered a quick chant to the wind.  My fingers tingled as a thick bolt of energy slammed through me, gathered from the gusts blowing steadily in an east-northeasterly direction.  As the rippling force raced down my arms, I focused on forming it into a ball in my hands, then sent it tumbling toward the goblin.

Please don't let my magic fail me now, I silently begged.  A lot of my magic went haywire because of my half-Fae, half-human blood.  Call it faulty wiring or even just plain old bad luck, but I was never quite sure when a spell would take, or if it would take right, or if it would slam out of me racing ninety miles an hour like an express train out of control.  I'd already ruined one hotel room this year playing around with lightning and rain.  I wasn't keen on the idea of possibly tearing up the pavement and having a city street crew cussing me out.

This go-round, the Moon Mother smiled on me and the spell held true.  The bolt hit the goblin square in the chest, knocking him off his feet before he could shoot his dart at the unicorn.  The spell didn't stop there, though.  After it KO'd the goblin, the magical gust of wind ricocheted off the side of my bookstore and bounced back, slamming into the bugbear, sending him rolling into the streets like a trash can on a windy day.

I stared at the chaos I'd managed to wreak in just a few seconds, caught between mild embarrassment and intense pride.  I was getting pretty good!  I usually didn't manage to pack that strong of a punch, especially with wind magic.  Maybe a little of Iris's skill was rubbing off on me.

"Youch!"  The tickle of a lash licked my arm, sending a white flame through my skin and jerking me out of my self-congratulatory mood.  "That hurt, damn it!"

I turned to see the Sawberry Fae was bearing down on me, whip in hand.  Scrambling a few steps to the side, I said, "No thanks, I'm not interested in your kinky little games."  Maybe I'd better focus on the here and now.  There'd be time for patting myself on the back later.

He licked his lips, drawing back the whip once more.  Eww.  I had the feeling this dude was enjoying himself just a little too much.  Apparently the unicorn had taken notice of the fight.  The gorgeous stallion galloped past me, horn lowered, and skewered the Fae in the shoulder, tossing him three feet into the air and five feet back.  The screaming man hit the sidewalk and lay there, bleeding like a stuck pig.

The carnage continued as a speeding car screeched around the corner and ran over the bugbear.  Splat.  Flat as a pancake.  The Porsche-at least it looked like a Porsche-sped off before I could get the license plate.

I shrugged.  I had my sincere doubts that the bugbear would have wished me any better luck, so I wasn't going to waste any tears on him.  I turned back to the mayhem on the sidewalk.

"Well..."  There wasn't much else to say.  It wasn't everyday a bunch of Otherworld creatures got themselves mowed down in front of my bookstore.

The unicorn trotted over to my side.  I glanced up into his face, mesmerized by the swirling vortex of colors in his eyes.  Pretty.  Very pretty.  And, unless I was off the mark, he looked a little bit pissed, too.

"You might want to call a constable," the horned horse said, sounding mildly concerned.  He nodded in the direction of the flattened bugbear.  "Somebody could slip on that mess and hurt themselves."

He had a point.  The sidewalk looked like a scene out of Pulp Fiction or Kung Fu Hustle.  I could hear Chase now.  He was going to just love getting my call.  He'd been swamped lately, trying to keep up the façade that we were still on the official up-and-up with the OIA-the Otherworld Intelligence Agency-and not running the whole show ourselves.  Cleaning up after a trio of Otherworld thugs was probably the last thing he wanted dumped on his plate.

I let out a long sigh.  "You're probably right.  Would you like to come in while I make the call?"  I motioned to the shop.

If unicorns could shrug, this one would have.  "All right.  You wouldn't happen to have anything to drink, would you?  I'm thirsty and there don't seem to be any public watering holes around."

"Sure, I can get you some water.  I'm Camille, by the way.  Camille D'Artigo.  I'm from Otherworld."  I unlocked the door and punched in the security code to turn off the alarm system that I'd just armed.

"That's rather obvious."  The unicorn words rippled with a droll tone and I realized we weren't speaking English.  We'd automatically switched over to Melosealfôr, a rare dialect of Crypto that all witches who were pledged to the Moon Mother learned during their training.  "I know who you are.  You stand out in the crowd, my lady.  How do you do?  I'm Feddrah-Dahns."

"Feddrah-Dahns, eh?  You're from the Windwillow Valley then."  Something about the name rang a bell but I couldn't quite place it.  I did know that every unicorn coming out of the Windwillow Valley assumed Dahns as their surname.  The area was teeming with Cryptos, and there were rumors that huge herds of the horned beasts roamed the plains, nomads who migrated across the vast valley during the summer months.

"You know your geography, Camille D'Artigo."

"Yes, well...What about the pixie?  Where did he go?  I noticed pixie dust a little while ago."

"I hope he'll be all right.  He retrieved something from the bugbear that belonged to me.  Technically, he was simply reclaiming stolen property, but the bugbear and his accomplices apparently didn't see it that way."  Feddrah-Dahns blinked those beautiful big eyes of his.

I grinned.  "Thieves rarely understand the concept of ownership, be they bugbear or human."  I opened the door as wide as I could.  As the unicorn cautiously stepped over the doorstop, he bobbed his head, a curious glint in his eye.  Life in Seattle might be gloomy and wet, but nobody could ever convince me it was boring.

COLLAPSE

Playlist

Dead Can Dance:
Yulunga (Spirit Dance)
Indus
I Can See Now
American Dreaming

Gabrielle Roth:
Rest Your Tears Here
Zone Unknown
Avenue A

Heather Alexander:
Black Unicorn
Cat & the Fiddle
Midsummer
March of Cambreadth
Shattered Glass

Jethro Tull:
Mayhem, Maybe
Overhang
Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow
A Stitch In Time
Motoreyes
Part of the Machine
Witch's Promise
Bungle in the Jungle
John Barleycorn
Mother Goose
Locomotive Breath
Acres Wild
Journeyman
Weathercock
Dun Ringill
Big Dipper

Led Zeppelin:
Ramble On
The Battle of Evermore
Stairway to Heaven
When the Levee Breaks
Immigrant Song
Kashmir

Loreena McKennitt:
The Mummer's Dance
Marco Polo
Mystic's Dream
All Souls Night

Police, The:
Every Breath You Take
Invisible Sun

Pussycat Dolls: Don't Cha

Rolling Stones:
Spider and the Fly
Play With Fire

Simple Minds: Don't You (Forget About Me)

Tempest:
Raggle Taggle Gypsy
The House Carpenter
Dark Lover
Mad Tom of Bedlam
Queen of Argyll
Black Jack Davy
Cat in the Corner
The Barrow Man

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