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Faerie Wrath: The Changeling Chronicles Book 4 (Ebook)

Faerie Wrath: The Changeling Chronicles Book 4 (Ebook)

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Book 4 of 7: The Changeling Chronicles

 

When ghosts start appearing all over town, my witch friend Isabel and I are pulled in to help the necromancers exorcise the wayward spirits. With the dead refusing to stay dead, it's easier said than done.

And there's something worse hiding on the wrong side of the grave.

As an old adversary puts a dangerous plan in motion, I’m forced to learn more about the magic I stole from Faerie's darkest corner. But every step brings me closer to the veil, and if I’m not careful, I’ll be ripped away from the people I love and trapped in Death forever.

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On light feet, I stalked across the living room, armed with a jar of salt rather than my usual sword. It’d have looked more impressive if I’d actually been able to see the ghost. As it was, I looked idiotic. Just call me Ivy Lane, mercenary-turned-exorcist.

I had a sword that lit up with bright blue light to warn me when faeries were around. I had daggers in my pockets, with which I could kill someone in five seconds flat. And I was no slouch in hand-to-hand combat either.

None of those things were any use whatsoever when the enemy was dead.

Ghosts were usually a matter for necromancers, but with the number of undead on the prowl, they were running short. So the woman who owned this house had called Isabel and me. One necromancer apprentice accompanied us. Our job: stop the ghost wrecking the place and push it into the trapping circle the apprentice set up. I’d had more experience with death than most people in the room, but being buddies with a necromancer Guardian was no help whatsoever against the living.

“It destroyed my house!” screeched the middle-aged woman cowering behind the sofa. “Destroyed it. I want compensation!”

I winced, pretty sure she’d fractured my eardrums. I didn’t blame the ghost for staying hidden out of sight.

“We’ll find it,” I said. Isabel and I had put a circle of salt around the house and blocked the way into the hall. The kitchen and living room were joined by a single door and because nobody knew which room the spirit was actually hiding in, we hadn’t been able to seal it off.

“Ivy,” Isabel called across the room. “The trap’s ready.”

“Good.” I moved towards her, testing every step carefully. Poltergeists were notorious pranksters, and this one had already tripped up the necromancer apprentice, Colby, causing him to face-plant into his own summoning circle.

Not dangerous. Just annoying. Didn’t mean I wanted to be alone in the house with one. I’d feel sorry for Mrs Bennet if she hadn’t spent the last half-hour shouting abuse at our unlucky necromancer assistant.

“Some exorcist you are,” she growled. “Useless, the lot of you.”

I glared at her, then concentrated on my path. I felt vaguely ridiculous holding a jar of salt between me and the place I thought the poltergeist must be hiding. Trapping one of the fey-kind was easier by comparison. No bait would work on the dead. Instead, I had to drive it out by force. Mrs Bennet had screamed bloody murder when I’d tried to douse the furniture in salt, so I’d been forced to wait until the spirit had moved to the room’s far corner instead. At least, the necromancer apprentice said so. Since he was the one with the spirit sight, we’d have to take his word for it.

Salt couldn’t actively harm ghosts the way it did undead, but if a spirit managed to solidify, salt made it dissolve into ectoplasm. Not that this spirit would be strong enough, thankfully, but the ghost still avoided the areas of the room we’d covered in salt.

Isabel stood against the other wall. I moved in at a diagonal angle, and threw a handful of salt at the floor. Then another. Slowly, we’d drive the spirit out of the corner and into the necromancer’s circle waiting behind Isabel. She’d tossed an illusion spell over it so it looked like the way into the hall was clear. 

We made the weirdest band of exorcists ever. Isabel, with her array of witch charms and protective symbols drawn in chalk against her dark skin, looked more the part of exorcist-in-training than the necromancer did. As for me, the sword at my waist made me look more like the freelance mercenary I used to be than a pseudo ghost hunter. And Colby, the skinny, pale necromancer kid, kept tripping over the end of a coat made for someone half a foot taller than him.

“I’m sorry,” he stuttered to Mrs Bennet. “Like I said, we were delayed.”

“Destroyed!” she screeched, pointing at the pile of stuffing that had once been three cushions. The poltergeist had torn up half the furniture before we’d got here.

Another scattering of salt. The poltergeist was cornered. Two more moves and the job would be over.

Isabel and I normally dealt with faerie-related problems, not spirits, but work had dried up over the Christmas period and was still low. We’d lost half our clientele thanks to Larsen, my former employer, lowering his rates the same day Isabel and I had set up our business. Apparently, he’d forgotten my warning. I rarely bothered to think about my ex-boss these days. I had enough people to handle. The mage council, for one. The necromancers. The half-faeries and their ever-disgruntled Chief. Frank, the necromancer ghost Guardian who expected weekly updates from me to make sure I hadn’t accidentally messed with the veil again. And the faeries, of course, who went above and beyond to ruin my day. Still, after this, I could check one problem off the list.

I grinned at the spot where the poltergeist was hiding. “Gotcha.” Now the only place the invisible menace could go was into the trap. Isabel nodded to me. I stepped forward.

Crash.

I spun around in time to see the china cabinet on the room’s other side wobble. An expensive-looking plate clattered to the ground.

“What?” I stared. “The trap’s supposed to negate kinetic energy—”

“It’s not in the trap!” the necromancer apprentice yelped, throwing his arms over his head. A plate soared at him and Mrs Bennet, shattering against the back wall.

Mrs Bennet screeched like a fire engine. Tearing her straggling grey hair from its roots, she advanced on Isabel and me. “You incompetent children. Give that trap here.”

“I can’t move the trap—” Isabel started. Too late. Mrs Bennet had walked into it.

The illusion dropped, and transparent bars instantly surrounded the old woman. At the same time, another plate flew across the room and hit the back wall in a shower of broken china.

“Shit,” I said.

Mrs Bennet screamed again. Three plates flew to the ceiling and smashed. My eyes followed the movement, trying to pinpoint where they came from, but the one person in the room with spirit sight had thrown himself behind the sofa to avoid being struck by a flying plate.

“Colby!” I yelled at him. “Tell us where the spirit is!”

Dammit. Of all the times having a necromancer’s ability to see spirits would come in handy. Isabel, as a witch, couldn’t see the runaway poltergeist, either. She moved to disable the trap around the screaming old woman instead, while I ducked flying missiles and threw salt where I thought the spirit might be.

“Stop wrecking my furniture and get me out of here!” screamed Mrs Bennet.

I very nearly said it was an improvement, having her behind bars where she wouldn’t get under our feet, but managed to hold my tongue at the last second.

“You,” I said to the necromancer. “Get another trap set up.”

“I—”

“Give it me, then.” I marched over to him. An armchair swung around and knocked me off my feet. I managed to land in a roll, coming upright with the taste of salt on my tongue. Great. My hair was covered in it.

Isabel made it over to the trap, while I grabbed Colby by the scruff of his neck. “Give me the trapping materials. I need candles.”

Another crash. Bits of china showered over our heads. Isabel ducked, too, while Mrs Bennet tore at the transparent restraints, stomping her feet against the trap’s edge.

“It tricked me.” Colby rubbed his arm where a larger piece of china had struck him. “I swear I saw the spirit over there in the corner.”

“There isn’t more than one, is there?” I didn’t have a lot of experience with the spirit sight, but I’d figured it was reliable enough. Maybe not.

“I don’t know. I saw something in the spirit realm. Movement.”

“Great.” I looked around. Isabel snapped open the trap and Mrs Bennet ran out in time to trip over the armchair. Three mugs left the cabinet and started juggling themselves.

“That’s a giveaway if I ever saw one,” I muttered. “Colby, give me the spare salt.” I took the container and tossed it to Isabel. If Mrs Bennet got out of the way, we might have a chance of salvaging this situation.

Colby and I edged along the back wall, ducking underneath the huge framed pictures hung there. Isabel, meanwhile, threw half the container of salt against the wall by the cabinet. The spirit would have to move in the other direction—towards the trap.

Unfortunately, Mrs Bennet remained hunched on the armchair and didn’t seem inclined to get out of the way. An inhuman laugh echoed around the room. Mrs Bennet screamed, as did Colby. He broke free from me and ran for the door into the kitchen.

“Don’t—”

Too late. A frying pan flew across the room and hit him on the head. Colby dropped to the floor.

“Crap.” I moved over to him. He looked dazed, not unconscious. I let go of Colby and threw half my own container of salt at the entryway to the kitchen. Now we had the spirit in one room. We’d cut off its escape.

Another laugh, an angrier one. A mug shattered overhead, followed by a second. A creaking noise made me spin around in alarm. “Crap. Guys, the picture frame!”

Isabel leaped over the sofa, and I dragged Colby’s limp body after her. Not a moment too soon. The giant wooden-framed landscape on the back wall wobbled, then fell, crashing to the floor in a shower of glass. But it didn’t stop. The huge wooden frame lifted from the ground, aiming at Mrs Bennet.

I didn’t stop to think. I pulled the sword from its sheath at my side, pointed it at the painting, and shot a stream of blue-tinted energy at it. The painting, instead of hitting Mrs Bennet, flew into the kitchen and landed harmlessly in the doorway.

“Witch magic,” I said to her in explanation. She wouldn’t know any better. I was the only person in the room who could see and use faerie magic. My blade gleamed, blue on both sides. Its pleased hum in my hands reminded me it’d been a while since I’d used it on a job. Weird, though. It usually glowed around faeries, not ghosts. I re-sheathed the sword, letting a shell-shocked Mrs Bennet go.

Colby lay against the wall, his eyes unfocused. Isabel checked his pulse then stood, while I turned on the spot, looking for signs.

“Vandals!” screamed Mrs Bennet. “All of you, get out.”

“That won’t help!” I climbed over the sofa. “Colby, can you see anything?”

Even my unusual ability to hop over the veil didn’t give me the spirit sight, and I doubted old Frank would be pleased if I crossed the veil to see. After the number of close calls over the last few months, I’d been playing it safe, only visiting the necromancer in the safety of their guild’s summoning chamber. But in situations like this, a messenger on the other side was exactly what I needed.

The blue glow from my sheathed sword grew brighter. Okay… that’s really weird. The sword had never reacted to ghosts before.

Wait. I ran to Colby. “Where’s that spirit sensor of yours?”

He groaned. I sighed inwardly and dug into the pocket of his ridiculously overlong coat. A remote control-shaped device covered in dials bleeped and flashed blue. Spirit sensor. Apparently they were ten percent accurate, but a damn sight more reliable than my own ability to see invisible things. So I waved the sensor around. It continued to beep.

“Very helpful,” I muttered to it. “This way.” I followed the louder beeps until I stood facing the cabinet. Because no china flew at my head, I figured the spirit had moved. But it might be anywhere.

Colby half-sat up. “It’s over there!” he said hoarsely.

Everyone turned to face the wall next to the trap. The armchair slid across the floor with Mrs Bennet still lying on it. While she screamed, Isabel threw half a container of salt at the wall.

“It’s in the trap!” yelped Colby, then slid to the floor, groaning a little.

“Isabel!”

Once again, transparent bars appeared. A flickering shape materialised inside the trap, greyish and indistinct.

“Nice one,” I said to Isabel.

I brushed salt from my jeans, and tossed the spirit sensor back to Colby. Job done, and with minimal damage. Well. Aside from the china, that is.

Crash. 

I jumped. “Is… there anyone upstairs?” I asked Mrs Bennet.

She sobbed, clinging to the armchair with both hands. “No! What is happening in my house?”

“Very good question.” The trap had caught something. A transparent something. I turned to Colby to find him drooling against the wall. “If there’s a second ghost… we need another trap.”

More crashing sounded overhead. I shot Isabel an alarmed look and sprinted into the hall. My sword’s glow grew brighter, illuminating the path through the shadows encasing the stairway.

The sword only reacted to one thing: faerie magic.

No freaking way.

I took the stairs three at a time and ran into the upstairs landing. More crashes sounded from the bedroom. Whatever was in there plainly didn’t care about drawing attention. But which spirit had we caught? The one throwing china, or the one lurking in the corner?

Like it matters. Both shouldn’t be here.

I waved the salt container, keeping a safe distance from the door. “Get out.”

Drawers flew left and right, spilling their contents on the carpet. A chair flew at me, and I ducked. It struck the inside of the door frame, its wooden legs breaking off. Another laugh followed, sending chills down my back. But I wouldn’t be intimidated by a ghost.

“Very scary,” I told it, sprinkling a line of salt along the doorway to stop it from getting out into the landing. Hell. The window was wide open. I’d need to go into the room to make sure it stayed in there.

“Someone bring more salt up here!” I called downstairs, then ran into the bedroom, ducking another flying desk chair. I didn’t have enough salt to cover the whole room, but I’d start with the window.

I leaped onto the bed. Unsurprisingly, it slid along the thickly carpeted floor, but I’d already jumped off, rolling to a crouch. Most of the salt left my shaker in the process, covering the area in front of the window.

The door slammed.

“Er. Isabel?”

Laughter sounded. Something tugged at my hair, yanking me back onto the bed.

“Hey!” I yelled. What the hell? This spirit had some nerve. Most couldn’t muster enough energy to grab onto a living person, either. All they could do was throw shit around.

I tugged my hair free, scattering salt wildly into the air. Crap. I was all out. Instinctively, I grabbed my sword instead. Though what use it’d be against a ghost…

“Ivy Lane,” hissed a whispering voice.

I froze, hand on the hilt. “What? You can speak?”

Impossible. Spirits usually weren’t able to communicate. Hence the need for Ouija boards and other questionable tactics. Mrs Bennet had only noticed her unwelcome visitor when it started destroying her upholstery.

“Ivy Lane.”

“Yes?” I stared around, but of course… no spirit sight. My sword glowed brighter than ever. Had someone screwed with the veil again? When the veil was thin, the usual rules smashed to pieces. Spirits were able to physically touch, and kill, and possess…

A flickering shape appeared on the ceiling, upside-down and grinning. Four feet tall, its most dominant feature was its wide mouth full of sharpened teeth. A hobgoblin.

Half a hobgoblin, rather. This was no ordinary ghost. It was a half-faerie.

Unlike regular faeries, half-bloods passed over the veil when they died. Pure faeries could die, in very rare circumstances, but wouldn’t leave a ghost behind in the way half-bloods might. Actual ghosts were pretty rare, because the necromancer Guardians quickly sent any wayward spirits over the veil. A good job, considering how incompetent the living necromancers were.

“I knew it,” I lied. “What do you want with me?”

“Entertainment.” The hobgoblin gave me another upside-down grin. “I’ve heard all about you, Ivy Lane.”

“Yeah, well. You shouldn’t even be able to speak.”

“Or do this?”

The bed rose into the air, sending me sliding onto the floor. At the same time, a sharp point burst through the carpet. I rolled over to avoid being stabbed. Another knife materialised, point-first. Crap. Crap.

I jumped and ducked as the knives zoomed into the air, aiming for my head. My blade hummed as I unconsciously drew on its power to enhance my speed far beyond my normal human instincts.

Holy shit. Most spirits definitely couldn’t make physical objects move around like this. What the hell crazy power trip was this ghost on?

“Am I entertaining you?” I yelled over my shoulder, jumping onto the dresser. It creaked and tipped, spilling half its contents onto the floor.

Outside, someone thumped on the door. “Don’t come in!” I shouted. “Unless you have a really good trap.”

Which, of course, nobody did.

I withdrew my sword in a shower of blue light. The spirit, being half-blood, could see just how fearsome the blade looked with my faerie magic on full display. I moved it to face outwards and sent a pulse of energy at the knives.

They dissolved, like I’d willed them out of existence. Fragments of metal littered the floor. I grinned. I could live without faerie magic most of the time, but I had to admit it was pretty damned awesome when it didn’t nearly get me killed.

I held the sword high, letting the bright blue light envelop the room. “This is your last warning.”

I’d used my magic to knock ghosts around when the veil had been low and death energy had been flying around everywhere. I didn’t have a clue whether it’d work now. The half-hobgoblin bared its teeth at me. 

“That magic you wield is not meant for humans.”

“Tough shit. Get down from there. I can destroy anything you throw at me.”

The hobgoblin hissed. The bed threw itself at the wall, the door flew open, and Isabel ran into the room. She held up the spirit sensor. “Where is it?”

“On the ceiling, but—”

She hit the sensor. A jet of pure white shot out, and the hobgoblin let go of the ceiling light, screaming. The ghost writhed, turning solid, then exploded in a shower of green slime.

“Oops,” said Isabel. “I didn’t know that’d happen.”

I turned to her slowly. Pushing slime-soaked hair from my eyes, I asked, “What was that?”

“Er. Necromancer emergency backup weapon. I think it has concentrated salt in it. So that’s what happens when you use it on a ghost. I did wonder.” She gave me a shaky smile. “Now that’s an idea for a new tripwire spell.”

“Ghostbusters, eat your heart out.” I shook slime off my sleeve. Or ectoplasm, I guess. “How the hell are we meant to explain this to the mage council?”

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