“My name is Kaeleen Donovan. I’m a Theosian-a minor goddess. They call me Fury.”
By day, I run the Crossroads Cleaning Company, and I also read fortunes and cast hexes at Dream Wardens, a magical consulting shop. But by night, I’m oath-bound to Hecate, Goddess of the Crossroads. Hecate charged me from birth with the task of hunting down Abominations who come in off the World Tree and sending them back to Pandoriam.
On a routine cleaning job in Portside—a boat full of ghosts need their joyride cut short—Tam and I run afoul of the Devani. The ruthless soldiers of Elysium capture him and send him out to the Tremble, a place of wild, chaotic madness. Jason and I devise a plan to sneak in and help Tam escape. But Lyon and the Order of the Black Mist reappear, and I’m on their hit list. Lyon opens a door to the realm of Tartarus and the walking dead are pouring into the city. Now, we must wade through both the Devani the dead to save Tam. And we must close the portal on the World Tree before Lyon manages to wake the Elder Gods of Chaos.
My name is Kaeleen Donovan. They call me Fury. I walk in flame and ash, on a field of bones. Some nights I think I’ll burn to a crisp under Hecate’s moonlight. Other nights… are easier.
“Are you sure you’re up for this?” I held up my sword. Xan was perpetually sharp so I never needed to hone her edge, but she needed a good polish every now and then. The ornate blade vibrated in my hand. She was growing stronger-every time I used her, the energy sang. Hecate wouldn’t tell me what the sword’s full potential was, but I knew that I hadn’t tapped into her full nature yet.
Tam was lounging on the sofa, one foot propped up on the seat, the other hanging over the edge. He was leaning back, reading on his tablet. Without looking up from his book, he said, “Yes, I want to go. Quit worrying.”
“All right, but remember, I asked.” I went back to the blade, though I wasn’t about to stop worrying. Tam could hold his own, that I knew. After all, he was one of the Bonny Fae. And not just one of them-he was the Prince of UnderBarrow. But I’d still feel responsible if he got hurt. He might be my lover, but he was also my friend and we were headed into a potentially dangerous situation.
Jason let out a snort from behind the counter. “You’re both nuts. Why on earth do you want to go prowling around a boat filled with ghosts?” He was mixing up a batch of Dove’s Love-a powder designed to calm volatile situations. We sold far too much of it. The sales were good. The fact that it was needed so often? Not so much.
“Because it’s a job? Because Hecate found it for me? Because I need the money?” Finally satisfied that Xan was clean and sparkly, I slid her into the sheath and set the blade to the side.
“We should head out. The ghosts are more active when the sun sets.” I glanced out of the store window. We were well into October now, and the skies grew dark by four.
Tam abruptly closed his tablet and stood, stretching as he yawned. “Let’s get a move on, then. Jason, do you need me anymore today?” He was tall and lanky, with long black hair that curled to his waist, and his eyes were silver, ringed with black. Not only striking to look at, he had a natural magnetism and charm that exuded from every pore in his body.
And he has good hands, I thought. Very good hands. And lips. And…
“Not right now, no,” Jason said, putting an end to my reverie. He, too, was tall and ruggedly good-looking, with wheat colored hair and vivid green eyes. Where Tam wore his hair loose and flowing, Jason gathered his own back into a braid. His nose had an unusual hook to it, like most hawk-shifters.
Jason owned the magic shop, and I set up my own little business in one corner-the Crossroads Cleaning Company. I took on exorcisms and psychic cleansings, and offered tarot readings and I threw the bones for those who wanted oracular advice. Hecate had strengthened my gifts in those areas, and while business waxed and waned, I usually made a decent living. But it had been awhile since I’d had a job like this one, and I was trying to remember what I needed as I gathered together my tools.
I opened my bag and made sure that my ritual tools were in there-Hecate had given me a sacred crystal skull that allowed me to focus my energy toward the dead, and I had several different powders and sprays-REST YE WELL powder that Jason made, EXORCISM oil to evict spirits from their possessed victims, holy water from Hecate’s sacred fountain, graveyard dust and Crossroads dust, a dagger that was for magic only-with a bronze hilt and a crystal blade, a clapper-bell to drive the dead away…and a few other assorted goodies.
“I think I’m ready,” I said, looking around to make certain I hadn’t forgotten anything else.
“Before you go, how are you coming on the new database?” Jason pushed aside a ledger, frowning. Our old inventory database had crashed. It hadn’t been built to handle the volume of business Dream Wardens was fielding.
Tam shrugged. He was the shop’s computer tech, which seemed oddly out of place given his Fae nature. But he loved gadgets and all things concerned with computers.
“Let’s just say, the new software coming out of Mage-Tek blows the old programs we were using out of the water. It’s going to take awhile to transfer all the information, but once we do, finding and tracking inventory and spell components will be so much easier. The program is vox-enabled, which will help, although that means we all need to password code it by voice as well as by thumbprint.” Tam slipped on his leather duster. He was wearing a pair of black jeans that hugged his butt in the most delightful way, and a V-neck shirt that showed off his waistline.
“How long do you estimate until you finish the conversion?” Jason dusted his hands after pouring the last of the powder on the scales. He measured it out the old-fashioned way, using an archaic weights-and-measure balance. Jason loved antiques. He tapped the mixture into a plastic bag, slapped a label on it, then tossed it into a basket with the rest of the pouches. “Done.”
“I figure another week and we should be good to go. That is, if nothing else interferes. Ready, love?” Tam turned to me.
I still blushed when he called me that, especially in front of Jason, but I was slowly getting used to it.
“Yeah, I don’t think I’ve forgotten anything.” I was dressed for work-black leather jacket, warm blue turtleneck, black leather shorts, ankle boots that I could easily run in. I slid Xan, in her scabbard, over my shoulder and made sure my dagger was firmly in place, strapped to my left thigh. Pulling on gloves, I headed to the door. “We’ll call you if we’re going to be late.”
Jason had invited us to his place for dinner. He closed up the shop one evening per month and we ate dinner at his place. I suspected it was more important to him now than ever, given the recent death of his fiancée, which had hit him harder than he wanted to let on. But we never said anything-he wasn’t ready to talk about how it had affected him.
“Thanks. I’m making spaghetti, so be there. And take it easy,” he called out as we slipped into the dark Seattle night. “Don’t let the ghosties bite you in the butt.”
I’m Kaeleen Donovan but they call me Fury. I’m a Theosian-a minor goddess. Yoked to Hecate from birth, my primary job is to seek out and destroy Abominations that come in off the World Tree. Secondary comes psychic readings and cleansings, and whatever else Hecate might have up her sleeve for me.
My mother was brutally murdered when I was thirteen and Jason took me in. He looked about my age-thirty-but he was actually well over two hundred. Most of the shifters and Fae are exceptionally long-lived. I will be too, given my nature, but I’m still young and still new to the world compared to them.
My mother and father were human, but on the way home from work one night, my mother wandered through the Sandspit and got hit by a cloud of rogue magic. She was pregnant with me at the time. Boom, in that one moment, my DNA changed and that’s what turned me into a Theosian. When I was born, the hospital sent my parents to the Seers, and they ordained that I be handed over to Hecate for training. I’ve been under her leash since that time, bound to her by more than oaths. We are blood bound, and if I do anything to dishonor her she could have me destroyed. But I genuinely like her and I think she feels the same toward me. We work well together, most of the time.
Hecate is a goddess of the Crossroads, of the dead and of magic. And so I work out on the Crossroads where life and death intersect, and where dimensions and worlds melt. I deal out death to Aboms who come charging through the World Tree, bent on chaos and destruction, and I work with magic-flame and fire, for the most part.
Not long ago, my friends and I ended up in a tussle with a member of an order of magicians-the Order of the Black Mist-who are bent on freeing the Elder Gods of Chaos and unleashing them on the planet. We managed to thwart their plans, but Lyon and his cronies are still out there, and I have a bad feeling we’re not done with them yet.
It’s not easy, being a minor goddess. Belonging to the Elder Gods is even harder. But every day I learn a little more about myself. All too often, those lessons come at the tip of my sword, when I’m facing down the evil determined to make our world its home.
As we exited the building, we passed Hans, who was on his way in. The brawn of our shop, he kept the riff-raff and bogeys out of the store. A Theosian like me, he was yoked to Thor and looked the part. Muscled and bald, he was bad-assed to the bone, and his girlfriend Greta was a Valkyrie in training. He was wearing a knit cap and earmuffs against the chill.
“Colder out here than Gaia’s tit,” he said, blowing on his hands as we stopped to say hello. His breath froze into puffs in front of his face and he stomped his feet on the sidewalk. It was cold enough to snow. We’d had one good snow the month before, but it had melted off. Now, though, we were into mid-October, and winter was targeting us for a good pummeling. “Where are you going? Done for the day?”
“We’re headed over to Portside. We’ll see you at Jason’s in a few hours. At least, I hope it won’t take more than a few hours.”
“What did she stick you with today?” Hans’s had a skewed view of Hecate. She frightened him, though given he hung with the Norse, it seemed odd to me that her energy should shake him so much. Once he had told me she reminded him of Hel-the Norse goddess of the dead. And Hel scared everybody.
“A haunted fishing boat. Tam’s coming to keep me company.”
“And to keep the sea dogs from panting all over you. And before you say it-I know you can hold your own. But you’re going up against ghosts. You don’t need to be distracted by idiots.” Tam edged toward me, and snaked his arm around my waist. He was more possessive than I had thought he would be, but not in a creepy way.
“Um hmm,” I said, shoving my hands into the pockets of my shorts. My legs were freezing, but I couldn’t wear pants, not and leave access to my whip. The flaming brand wove down the outside of my right thigh and leg, brilliant ink glowing in the night. But one touch, and it would come off in my hand-a fiery whip ready for full use until I was done with it. One of Hecate’s gifts to me. She had inked it onto me herself, the night she gave me the name Fury. And that had been a furious night, indeed.
“It’s the truth.” Tam kissed my nose.
“Are you sure you don’t just want to keep an eye on who’s ogling my butt?” I asked, smirking.
Hans let out a snort. “That sounds more like it.”
Tam grumbled, but then he laughed. “Well, maybe I don’t like the thought of them ogling you. But that’s my prerogative, isn’t it?”
“It is at that, I suppose. Anyway, let’s get a move on. It’s freaking cold tonight.” I turned to Hans. “See you at Jason’s.”
“Will do. Greta’s coming. She has the night off.” And with that, he gave us a quick wave and slipped through the door, looking eager to get inside. I didn’t blame him, with the icy blast of wind that was rushing through the Market.
I zipped up my jacket as we headed toward the Monotrain station. Dream Wardens was only a few blocks away from it, thank gods. From there, it would be a quick ride to Portside, which was located down by Edlewood Inlet, off of the Pacific Sound. Down was accurate, too, given the incredibly steep slopes of the streets that had been formed by all the fault lines and quaking that went on in the West Pacific Zone. But the district was pleasant enough, and I was grateful I hadn’t been called into Uptown or North Shore. Portside might be mostly made up of Weres and Shifters, but I didn’t feel out of place there like I did in the human-centric districts of the city.
The cold might be clamping down on the city, but it hadn’t stalled the swarm of activity in the streets. The Market was running at full-tilt, filled with vendors hawking their goods. The food stands wafted out fragrant aromas as we passed. This was prime time-shift change at the Metal Works, and a number of people who lived in Darktown would stop and pick up a quick, easy meal on their way home after a long twelve-hour shift.
My mouth water, but I steadfastly ignored the stalls. It wasn’t a good idea to load up on food before clearing out ghosts-the food could cloud the energy needed. But the smells of bread and meat and roasting vegetables mingled with the fragrant oils and the char of smoke and the scent of so many people wandering the Market at once. I had learned to tune out the noise over the years, but the smells weren’t so easy to ignore.
Darktown was a gritty place-ruins from the World Shift still dotted the district, although last month’s earthquake had taken down some of the ones that had survived Gaia’s wrath. The sky-eyes patrolled but they never dove too close-too many chances of someone trying to grab one or smash it down. The Devani didn’t enter here either, though the Conglomerate had set them loose with a lot more freedom the past few weeks. We were hearing reports from Croix, especially, where they were roaming the streets, looking for any infractions.
The soldiers were brought in off the World Tree, ruthless and brilliant in their golden breastplates. I had never seen one close up, and I never wanted to. They weren’t human-far from it, although they looked like all-too beautiful golden haired men and women with perfectly structured muscles. The Devani were efficient and true to their masters at all costs. If they had emotions, they were deeply buried, and they were the opposite of Abominations in their order. But even the Devani steered clear of Darktown, and they never went out on the Tremble.
A bogey wandered by. I could tell he was from the Junk Yard-bogies had a feel to them. Dangerous and rough, like feral dogs, they were likely to cut you as soon as look at you. He gave us the once over, but I turned slightly and pointed to my whip on my leg. He quickly glanced the other way. I was known in Darktown, and a lone bogey wouldn’t bother me unless he was sky-high on methodyne or Opish.
“You wear your authority well,” Tam whispered with a laugh. “I think that’s what makes them so afraid of you, once they realize who you are.”
“I think it’s more than that,” I said. “I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. I protect Seattle from Abominations. Most come in through the World Tree. They’re hungry when they come off the tree, and they’re looking for food. So the most likely victims? People down here in Darktown and the Junk Yard. I stop the Aboms from feasting on the bogeys just as much as I stop them from hurting everybody else. I think the bogeys give me a grudging sort of respect for that. I know the Nancies and the play-girls do.”
Tam suddenly pushed me toward the brick building we were near. “Sky-eye. Freeze.”
We waited as the drone hovered overhead. In a crowded area, it didn’t matter so much, but I did my best to hide from the sky-eyes when there weren’t many others around. I lived off-grid, and the Conglomerate wouldn’t like that one bit. Theosians were supposed to be chipped. They wanted to keep an eye on us, and too often we ended up vanishing if they decided our powers were too useful or too dangerous. If it was both, they struck the jackpot.
Tam had removed my chip and altered it when I was thirteen-a painful but necessary act. I registered as having one, but Tam had hacked in and falsified the information. It wouldn’t take too much to figure that out, though.
The sky-eye scanned the sidewalk-we could see the light emitting from it, sweeping over the concrete-then it picked up speed and zoomed off, away toward the center of Darktown. I let out a sharp breath.
“It’s gone. It won’t be back for several hours. Let’s go-there’s the platform.” I pointed across the street and up a block to where the Monotrain platform waited. The trains ran through the city, one-hundred feet above the ground, zooming from station to station. There were some stops that they missed on a regular basis, and they wouldn’t go into the Junk Yard, but overall the mass-transit system worked well.
We took the elevator to the waiting platform. Usually, I opted for the stairs. Too easy to get caught in an elevator with someone, and a lot of times, the cars were old and creaky and would stall out on their way up, but somehow Tam’s presence gave me a little boost of self-confidence. Truth was, what I did was lonely, hard, dangerous work. Sometimes it was nice to have somebody else there with me, taking chances and risk along by my side.
The next car was due in five minutes, and we made quick work of the time by huddling together on one of the covered benches before boarding the train. And then, we were headed to Portside, to meet with a boatload of ghosts and spooks.