Gathering Darkness [MoonRunner II]
Click on image to enlarge.
by Jane Toombs
Category: Romance/Science Fiction
Description: GATHERING DARKNESS continues the story of Sergei Volek and his struggle to keep himself and his growing family safe from not only those around him but also from the Shapeshifters' deadly enemies, the Stalkers. And how can he control the strange powers of the babies being born within the family, aberrant talents that threaten the entire Volek clan?
eBook Publisher: New Concepts Publishing, 1999 1999
eBookwise Release Date: December 2011
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [417 KB]
Reading time: 263-369 min.
* * * *
After making certain the door to her tower room was still barred, Liisi lifted her sable pouch from a wooden chest. She crossed to the round blue silk rug positioned in the exact center of the room and sat cross-legged on it.
The old tapestry behind her stirred as Liisi readied
the stones for casting, a movement she felt rather than saw. The scene on the tapestry was an old Finnish folk tale, one of those chanted by rune singers--the maiden Aino fleeing from the shaman Vainamoinen, about to cast herself in the lake to avoid becoming his bride.
Aino didn't drown, she became a magic fish and thus escaped. No one died in the old songs, they merely changed. In the past, Liisi had sometimes regretted not having Aino's ability to avoid her fate. From the first moment she'd seen him in that fearful summer of 1850, she'd known Sergei Volek was dangerous. She'd also known they were so irrevocably linked that only death could break the bond. In these thirty years since they'd met, they'd been apart more often than together but the link still held.
Caressing the soft sable fur, she sighed, remembering those early days when Liisi Waisenen had come very close to dying instead of becoming Liisi Volek. Since then Sergei had brushed against death too many times here in the United States and in Russia.
Yet they'd both survived. She'd built her castle in this beautiful California valley and Sergei had made it into a fortress to shelter them and those of their blood.
Volek blood was tainted by darkness--but a darkness
that could be controlled, as she'd proven.
Sergei had sworn that, for the safety of the clan, no outsiders would ever live in Volek house. Why would he violate his own vow within a week of making it? Never mind that Guy Kellogg was an old and valued friend. As soon as she'd met the three Kelloggs--husband, wife and daughter-- Liisi had felt in her bones that along with the Kelloggs Sergei admitted danger and death.
She hoped the stones would show her the way to rid Volek house of them once and for all.
Removing the quail-egg sized stones from the pouch, Liisi slid the ruby ring onto her left forefinger, then breathed on the other eight stones: Granite, for eliminating errant energy; crystal to focus the summoned energy; agate to stabilize; amethyst to promote foreseeing; coral for wisdom; obsidian for strength of purpose; turquoise to protect; and malachite for strength of will.
She dropped all but the ring into her lap, closed her eyes and chanted each stone's origin. As she finished the last words, the stones flew from her skirt onto the blue carpet. Opening her eyes, she bent over to determine how they'd fallen. Despite the dimness of the round room, illuminated only by the pale light from four high and narrow slits of windows, the ominous pattern was clear.
Malachite lay atop both turquoise and granite. "A strong will overcomes protection," she murmured. Whose will? One of the Kelloggs, she feared. Also the ability of the granite to keep out unwanted energy was blocked--a warning that her own noita spells might be bypassed by another. Amethyst, coral and agate circled crystal, as though in protection but as she passed the ruby over the stones, crystal and amethyst grew opaque, unreadable. Definite outside interference. She was being prevented from seeing ahead.
Liisi stroked the ruby absently. It must be the presence of the Kelloggs. Guy had tracked down Sergei in desperation, claiming that finding him was his last hope for his wife Annette. Though she had little hope of solving Mrs. Kellogg's problem, Liisi knew she must try. Otherwise Sergei would insist on his friend remaining at Volek House.