The world's last wizards protect the 19th century from their lost parents' nemesis.
|Chief Ten Bears sat his resurrected horse and watched his braves burn the town. Through the dead Comanche's eyes, Myrddin Moridunum watched, as well. Myrddin sat on the throne that had belonged to his enemy Merlinus Ambrosius and reveled in the approach of his final victory. Trevorus, the last of the Ambrosius bloodline, was even now working to stop him, but the poor boy did not know that he was about to spring the trap his sister had helped Myrddin to set. Liliana thought that she was sacrificing herself to gain access to Myrddin’s own Earthfont, but she underestimated his capacity to understand the Ambrosius psyche. He had counted on her idiotic selflessness, knowing full well that she would use her lover’s aura to create her Labyrinth link.
When they used it to reach his ‘font, Myrddin would be there waiting and ready. He would kill them before their eyes refocused. When he had the Labyrinth lockets, he could siphon power from the Earthfont in which the Ambrosius bitch had invested the power of her bloodline. He envied the Ambrosius talent for dowsing; she had been able to find the most potent lode of silver in these entire mountains, far greater than even the Gadsden claim near Leadville. When it was under his control, his power would grow exponentially, and he would at last be once again in a position from which to assume control of the hapless mortals’ world.
Merlinus was finally gone, along with his traitorous bride, Morgana, she who had betrayed Myrddin to the wizard and caused him to remain here instead of joining the others in exile. Now, he was opposed only by their children. Fools that they were, they had danced to his tune for years. Now, they were at the point of providing the last piece: the power of the Ambrosius line, added to his own.
He would be invincible.
Enough watching. It was time to end this game. He ordered Ten Bears to advance on the Frisky Piebald, which he would wipe from the earth. There was no need for anything to remain upon the surface. All that Myrddin needed was deep within the ground beneath. Ten Bears’ joy rushed through Myrddin. The wizard was glad that he had decided to endow the chief with a bit more autonomy and the memory of the white man’s treachery. It was worth the power expenditure. He was a much better tool because of it.
As the Comanche chief howled and spurred his revenant horse down the slope toward the burning town, Myrddin felt the stirrings of power far below. He rose from his throne and walked down the steps, stumbling on the uneven marble block in the bottom course. He cursed the inferior workmanship of the Ambrosius’ stonemasons and crossed the floor to his enemy’s coat of arms. He enjoyed the red slash his rug cut through it. That had been a symbol that had kept him motivated throughout his entire painful convalescence.
He reached up and slipped his hood back off of his head. His reflection in the polished marble floor stared up at him. The treacherous Morgana had once called his face beautiful: strong features, smooth skin, dark eyes and hair. Now, his visage was a mass of seared flesh and oozing sores that refused to heal; tufts of dry hair, bleached snow-white, clustered here and there on his ruined scalp; his eyes were orbs of blood red, set in dark, sunken pits; his lips were gnarled and misshapen and his rotting teeth showed through gaps between them. He had suffered, oh yes; but now he would reap the rewards for his pain.
With a horrible smile, he pulled up his hood and went down to welcome his guests.
Sally hadn’t felt so sick since she had been pregnant with Little Pete. Trevor Ambrosius stood directly before her across a very large space. In fact, there didn’t seem to be any walls at all: just blackness in all directions. The “floor” between them was an intricate pattern of glowing lines that she recognized as the pattern from her locket. Though she felt a solid surface beneath her feet, it was invisible, just more of the blackness all around. The two of them and the maze of white lines seemed to be afloat in nothing.
“We must begin to walk the Labyrinth at exactly the same moment, Sally,” Trevor shouted. “It will become more difficult with each step, but we must progress together and reach each of the seven nexus points at the same moment. Then at the center, we must step onto the crux and touch hands at the…”
“…exact same moment,” she supplied, fear making her a bit irritable. She needed to get started, or she might simply turn away and run. “I get the gist, Mr. Ambrosius. May we please just begin?”
“But I…“ Trevor stopped himself, as if, Sally thought, he had decided that what he was going to say wasn’t that important. Or maybe he was just afraid she’d snap his head off. He gave her his charming smile and said, “Of course. Ready…” He raised his right foot. Sally did the same. “Go.”
Together they placed their feet on the glowing line. A tickle of power ran through Sally, seeming to come from somewhere down low in her belly, and a thrill ran through her body.
Taking her cue from Trevor, she began to pace down the first curving line, toward the place where it doubled back. The tickle of power grew to a rush; Sally felt stronger than she had ever felt in her life. She felt as if she could defeat any enemy; she felt as if she could lift the mountain itself. She looked over at Trevor and realized that she felt him inside her. The thought sent another thrill radiating through her body from down below. A rush of embarrassment ran through her. She shouldn’t be having such thoughts!
They reached the switchback and placed their right feet upon the tight bend at exactly the same moment. Across the maze, Trevor smiled encouragement, and Sally felt a wave of pleasure. He said something, but Sally couldn’t hear it for the shame and the power rushing in her ears. They stepped forward again.
The rush of power grew to a torrent. It ran through every fiber of Sally’s body. She felt Trevor inside her again, but this time she saw herself naked, and he was beneath her; she rode him like a horse. Quivering with ecstasy, she felt the vibrations of sexual power in her bones, in her teeth, in the fluids inside her eyeballs. The very substance of reality seemed to shiver with it. She struggled to concentrate, to keep placing one foot before the other, on the line, in sync with Trevor.
The heat of lust built within her until it burned like fire. The odor of musk filled her nose and her lungs, thickening, spoiling, until the reek of rotten eggs threatened to smother her. It was disgusting, appalling, but still weirdly compelling, irresistible, attractive in the way some sordid bit of gossip was attractive. She was choking on filthy titillation, drowning in debauchery. Still, she put one foot before the other, and kept moving forward.
It was almost too much to bear, and she had only just begun: she hadn’t even reached the first nexus. How would she ever make it to the seventh? She just would, that was all. She had to. Lily depended on her. Trevor depended on her. Heath depended on her.
The thought of her husband spread a blanket of guilt over her. This feeling of pleasure that she was experiencing with this handsome stranger was so intense that it felt like she was being unfaithful to him. Though she was not strong enough to push away the lust, she pushed away that thought. Despite the effects of the labyrinth upon her, she was not here to dally with Trevor. She was here to save her home and family from some evil that she didn’t really understand. It was only her trust in Lily that convinced her to go through with this, but go through it she would. She could not, would not, step back from this commitment.
She concentrated on the face of her little boy; Pete’s blue eyes sprang into focus as clear as if he were in her arms right that minute. She kept going, and reached the first nexus right on time.
Six more to go.