Mia stood at her bedroom window looking out at the dark night. Her packed bag sat in the closet, waiting to be unpacked. The box of hair dye sat on the dresser along with the color contacts, unused and unneeded. There was nowhere to run to now. Her grandmother had dug too deep in the Guild for there to be any chance for escape. The Guild was everywhere. They had a division in every city in the country. There was no where she could go that they were not stationed. She may escape for a little while, but all it would take would be one little slip up, one mess like the other night and she would get caught. It wasn’t of matter of if anymore, it was a matter of when.
Tomorrow was her day off, which would at least give her some time to think before she would have to return to work and at least pretend things were normal. Sarah had promised to think of something before she left earlier. Ronan practically had to throw her over his shoulder to haul her out.
Ronan thought she was crazy. No matter what she said or did, she couldn’t convince him that the man he knew as Michael Stanton was really her cousin Macro Dragos. Mia could understand his refusal to believe. After all, he had known this man for the last fifteen years. They had trained together, they had worked together.
For Ronan, this would be the ultimate betrayal. But Ronan didn’t know Marco like Mia did. This is what he had been trained to do. Hell, this is what they had all been trained to do. As secluded as they were raised, they had still been taught enough about the outside world to move easily through it. After all, Mia herself had been able to disappear easily in to a society she had been raised away from.
Her grandmother had taught them everything they needed to know. Mia may not have been send to the Guild, but eventually, after she had finished training, she was sure her grandmother had plans for her. It was the way she worked.
Turning away from the window, Mia moved to the bed. She sat on the edge as she looked around the tiny room that had become her first home. The room was bare now. She had removed all her personal items and packed them away. The things that weren’t her, she had packed up and placed in a box in the living room for Sarah to find after she had left. After all, most of it was hers.
Even though she had decided to stay, she felt no need to unpack the box of items Sarah had lent her. She would probably leave them in the box and give them to her friend the next time she stopped over. She didn’t want to have anything on her that would lead anyone back to Sarah.
She was sure people knew that she and Sarah were friends. But as long as they didn’t realize just how close they were, there was still a chance for Mia to protect her. After all, Marco would never believe Mia was capable of having friends. None of them were. They were raised to be solitary creatures. Sure they were family, but they were also rivals. Her grandmother liked it that way. As long as none of them got close enough, none of them could even think of getting together to overthrow her grandmother. Even Mia and her twin sister were more like strangers than family.
It was sad how they let her grandmother control their lives. They hadn’t known any better, but they had never once thought that there was another option. They had let themselves be molded into her grandmother’s chess pieces, each one a pawn in a big game Mia could only guess at.
But she wasn’t playing anymore. She had escaped from her grandmother, but for how much longer. They must know she is in the area. It wouldn’t be long before Marco received reinforcements. If she was going to live through this, she needed to think.
In a straight fight, Mia didn’t stand a chance. Not only had she not used her blood magic in over twenty years, she also didn’t plan on using it in the future. No matter what Sarah said, used her blood magic left her feeling uncontrollable. When she used her blood magic, she was not the one in control, Amelia was.
Letting her old self loose was definitely not an option, not unless they wanted to body count to add up. Amelia was a killer, it was all she had been taught to do. She didn’t think before she acted. She took what she wanted and she let nothing stand in her way. She had been her grandmother’s perfect tool. No, using blood magic was not an option.
But what other choices did she have? The only friend she had was Sarah. And as strong as her sight was, Sarah was not a fighter. She could only do so much. Although Sarah swore her father could help her, Mia didn’t want to involve Mr. Rosen. He may not be the kindly older gentlemen she thought he was, but he still wasn’t as young as he had once been. They people they were going against were ageless killers who had spent more years than Mr. Rosen had been alive perfecting their skills. Mia couldn’t be responsible for either of their deaths. She just couldn’t.
So what did she do now? Who could she turn to? Ronan had made it perfectly clear he would never help her. Nikolas wasn’t even an option. She had sacrificed everything to get him out of her grandmother’s clutches, she could hardly ask him to go back willing. Besides, if her grandmother ever got her hands on Nick, Mia could only image the horrors she had planned for him.
A shiver ran down her spine at the mere thought. No, she would not go to Nick. After what he had suffered, she could never ask him to risk his life for her. She knew he still bore the scars like she did. Asking him would be unforgivable.
As Mia ticked off the few people she did know, disregarding each and every one of them, her future began to look more grim. Was there even any point of running? What would happen if she just gave up? If she turned herself over to her grandmother? Wouldn’t death be a favorable option at this point?
No, she mustn’t think that way. She had survived this long, she wasn’t about to give up just yet. There had to be another option, she just wasn’t seeing it. Mia was just getting up when she felt it, an electric thrum in the air. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end as a shiver ran down her spine.
Blood magic, someone was using blood magic in the city. Other magic users wouldn’t sense it, only blood magic users would feel the current of magic. Which meant one thing, this was meant for her. Whatever they were doing, whatever spell they were using, it was meant for her to sense.
The air around her began to sizzle as her magic began to react. Like called to like, and right now the magic in her was bursting to get out, to respond to the call only blood magic users could hear.
“No,” she growled through gritted teeth, reining her magic in. If she released her hold on her magic for even a second, it would be like sending out a homing beacon. They would know exactly where she was. They may not realize who it was, but they would know where she was and that was just as dangerous.
She had trained for years to control her magic, she wasn’t about to lose control know. But as the blood magic grew, the current getting stronger and stronger it became harder for her to control. Whatever they were doing, it was big. This would take a large sacrifice, maybe even more than one.
Mia knew she wouldn’t last much longer. The magic was too strong. Grabbing her hoodie off the side of the bed, she pulled it on and hurried out of her apartment. If she lost control of her magic and it broke through her control it would not be here. She wouldn’t let them find her here.
Grabbing her keys and her bag off the back of the door, she threw her shoulder bag and hurried out the door. This time she had her blade strapped to her forearm and another long dagger in her bag. If they found her, she was sure as hell going to put up a fight before she let them take her.
Running down the stairs she burst out in to cool night, the metal door slammed shut behind her. Shoving her hands in to her pocket she headed away from the building, moving towards the college campus and the dorms. At least there, her presence would be easy to hide.
It was only ten o’clock on a Saturday night. The streets were crowded with college students looking to find some form of release after a week of studies. Mia easily blended in to the crowd. But just in case, she pulled her hood over her head, hiding her blond curls.
The night was chillier than she had expected and her hoodie was not enough protection from the cold. She would need to find someplace warm is she planned to stay out for a while. She was just passing a crowded night club when her feet suddenly stopped.
With a frown she tried to take another step forward, but her feet wouldn’t cooperate. If this was a spell, she wasn’t sensing it. Blood magic wasn’t subtle. So whatever this was, it wasn’t blood magic. But there was something here.
Figuring it wasn’t worth the effort, Mia turned around and decided to head back in the direction she had come in and look for another route around. Mia took a step forward and stopped. Her feet refused to move another step.
She couldn’t go forward and she couldn’t go back the way she had come. What the hell was going on? People had begun to stare at her but she didn’t pay any attention to them. She had bigger things to worry about, like what the hell kind of magic was this. She had never sensed anything like this. Never in her hundred and fifty years had she come across anything like this before.
With a scowl she tried to take a step towards the street, away from the night club but ran into the same wall. Her feet refused to move more than a step. She was getting really upset. This was beyond frustrating. She didn’t know how to fight something she couldn’t sense.
With a curse on her lips she turned back towards the entrance of the night club. A bright red neon devil hold a pitch fork grinned at her. A flashing sign proclaim that this place was the Devil’s Pot. To anyone else, it might just be some catchy name for a themed night club, but the words meant something else to Mia.
She looked up at the grinning devil with a deep frown. The Devil’s Pot was a term used by blood magic users to describe the amassed magic gathered from multiple sacrifices, usually done for large and complex spells. Before the magic was cast, the gathered magic was molded into a sphere called the pot. Eventually the term Devil’s Pot came about and that had been the term they used ever since.
But who in this city would know enough about blood magic to use the term, especially for a night club. It was sure to draw attention, especially the wrong kind of attention.
In the six months that she had lived here, she had never once felt even a trace of blood magic. She knew she didn’t get out a lot. But she didn’t need to move around the city to sense blood magic. Even the smallest spell could be felt by all within the city limits. It was why she argued with Sarah that she couldn’t even do small spells. Using even the small amount of blood magic would be sensed by all blood magic users. The risk was just too great.
So if this wasn’t blood magic, what the hell was it? And why had it trapped her? Was it a spell set for all magic user? Or was this a trap set specifically for her?
Well, there was only one way for her to get answers. Slipping her right hand into her bag she turned towards the night club entrance. She wasn’t surprised that the one direction she could walk towards, was straight into the night club.
Music was blasting through the large wooden doors the served as the night club entrance. It seemed to be some kind of trance music, there were no lyrics but a heavy beat the vibrated the ground under her feet.
A large beefy bald man stood at the doorway behind a wooden podium. He wore a tight black shirt with a red devil and the club name on it. His large muscled arms were crossed over his chest as he stood between the entrance and the line of patrons waiting to get in.
Mia didn’t bother with the line but headed straight to the entrance. The large man’s looked her over from head to toe before a greasy smile appeared on his lips. He nodded as his eyes came back up to her face. Taking a step back, he pushed open one of the heavy wooden doors and gestured her in.
There was some grumbling form the people in line, but one dark look from the doorman shut them up.
“Welcome to the Devil’s Pot, where all your nightmares become reality,” The man snickered she walked passed him.
Mia was hardly surprised to find the inside of the club looked like any other night club, dark, smoky and crowded. There were little stages set up around the room with shiny chrome poles set right in the middle of the stages. Girls dressed in skimpy red outfits with plastic horns on their heads and red tails attached to their bottoms, shimmied and swung around the poles in tune to the music. Men crowded around the women, with drinks in hand and leers on their faces.
There was a bar along the left hand side of the room. Red vinyl and chrome bar stools crowded up against the wooden bar. Men and women behind the bar put on shows for the patrons, tossing bottles in to the air and setting drinks of fire.
Flashy, she thought simply as she looked around the room. Someone had wanted her here, now it was time to find out who that person was.
Walking through the throng of people, Mia headed towards the metal stairs that led up towards the balcony. It looked less crowded up there and would give her a better vantage point.
She pushed her way through the dancers, not even bothering to apologize since no one seemed to even notice her. Bodies were so tightly pack up against one another, she was surprised there was still air left in the room.
When she finally reached the stairs she took a deep breath. The air was stale and smelled of beer and cigarettes, but at least she could breathe. Heading up the metal stairs she darted around couples groping each other as they stuck their tongues down each other’s throats. She would bet her entire savings that these people hadn’t even known each other before they walked through those doors. And here they were, practically screwing each other for everyone to see.
She was hardly a prude, but really. She had more self-esteem then to give herself up to some stranger in a night club she just met in front of a room filled with people. Managing to make it up the flight of stairs without being completely scandalized, she pushed her way to the railing. She received a glare from a couple of drunk college students, but was quickly forgotten as they turned back to each other.
“Wonderful, isn’t it?” A voice said from beside her. Mia turned to see a handsome man leaning on the railing staring at her. His long black hair fell into his bright blue eyes as he flashed her a bright white smile of perfectly straight teeth. He wasn’t a very large man, probably only a few inches taller than her. He wore a tight black t-shirt that showed off the perfection of his muscled arms and chest. Seeing her eyes skimming over his body, his flexed his arms just for her benefit.
She rolled her eyes at him, which only made his smile grow. She turned away from the man and turned her attention back to scanning the mass of people downstairs. She was sure they were breaking some kind of fire code. There were just way too many people in here to be safe. If there was a fire, she was sure more people would be injured from being trampled rather than from burns of smoke inhalation.
“So what will your pleasure be tonight?” The man asked as he moved closer to her, his arms brushing against her own. A little sizzle ran up her arm from where they touched. Mia gritted her teeth against the spark that little touch set off in her. Blood Magic. The man just smiled at her as he leaned even closer, so that he mouth was right beside her ear, “A little drinking, a little dancing, some murder and mayhem?”
Mia’s hand tightened around the handle of the dagger in her bag. Her eyes darted around them to see if anyone was paying attention to them before she turned back to the man.
“I take it you’re the one that set that little trap out there for me,” Mia said coolly as she stared back at him.
“Of course,” He said with a proud smile, “After all, how else was I supposed to get you to stop in for a visit. But I must say, it took you a while to fall in to it. I was just about to give up on you.”
“So, you got me. Now what do you want?”
“It’s not what I want from you,” He said with a grin, as he leaned in closer so that their faces were only inches apart, “It’s what I can offer you, Amelia Dragos, heir to the Dragos Clan.”
If she were to kill him now, would anybody notice? More importantly, did he have friends watching them. If she killed him, how far could she get before one of his friends came after her. She could handle a few of them, but if there were more, then she would have to rely on her magic and that was something she swore never to do. With a room this crowded with people, there was a good chance she would end up killing more than a few innocent bystanders. That wasn’t what she wanted. She didn’t want to take any more lives. So, that left her with no choice.
“Tell me what you have to say in thirty seconds or I’m gone,” She said as she moved away from him so that their bodies were no longer touching. Her teeth were aching from clenching her jaw so tightly. His touch was more subtle then the current of blood magic she had felt earlier in her apartment, but it was have the same effect. If she didn’t get away from him soon, she wasn’t sure what she would do.
A knowing grin curved on his lips as he looked at her, his blue eyes glowing brightly in the dark room.
“What if I were to tell you I know more about you than you know about yourself?”
“That you would be wasting your time. That’s ten seconds down, don’t waste your remaining twenty,” Mia said coolly.
“I know everything about you Amelia Thalia Dragos. I helped create you,” the man said.
“Sorry, I already have a father, I don’t need another,” Mia said brushing off his comment. This only caused the man to chuckle.
“Oh, I’m not your father. Creator would be far more appropriate. You are by far one of my best creations. Those other four, “he said shaking his head, “they don’t even come close to the perfection that you are.”
If she hadn’t thought he was creepy before, she was downright certain of it now. Who the hell did this man think he was? She was not someone’s pet project. She was a human being. She had been created in the normal way, between a man and a woman. Whatever this man was talking about, she believe any of it. She had stayed long enough, she wasn’t going to waste anymore of her time.
“Time’s up. I have no interest in anything you’ve said,” Mia said as she turned away from him.
“Oh, but you should. I can help you Amelia. I can help you escape Theodora once and for all. I can help you protect that little boy you saved all those years ago. I can teach you how to control your magic,” He told her.
“Why would I listen to anything you say? I don’t even know who the hell you are?” Mia said, stopping for a moment, unable to completely dismiss his words. If there was a chance for freedom, should she completely ignore it?
“If you wanted my name, all you had to do was ask,” He grinned at her. She glared at him and turned away, preparing to leave. She wasn’t going to play his game. No matter how badly she wanted the information. If wouldn’t be straight with her, she couldn’t trust a word that came out of his mouth. She took a step towards the staircase when he caught her arm. “Wait!”
Mia looked at the hand that held her arm, before turning angry eyes on the all too handsome face that watch her.
“My name is William, William Gregor.”
“William Gregor is dead,” Mia replied. If this man really thought he was the greatest blood mage ever born, he really was crazy. William Gregor died hundreds of years ago, long before Mia was even born. He was known for skill and creativity. He practically invented blood magic. Some said he even created the art of blood-letting. This man was definitely not him.
“Presumed dead,” he corrected her, “My body was never found.”
“That’s because all that was left was ashes. Everyone knows that William Gregor perished in the Battle of Stone River,” Mia said. The story went, when William had reached the height of his power the Guild Council realized what a danger he was that they combined their forces and tracked William and his followers down in Stone River. It was a massacre. It was twenty blood magic users against hundreds of Guild trained warriors. William’s settlement was set on fire and burned to the ground. Anyone who tried to escape came face to face with the entire Dragon Legion, the best of the best of the Guild fire magic users. They were consumed in seconds in the Dragon Legion’s blue fire.
Mia had always wondered why the Guild had never come after her grandmother like they had gone after William Gregor. Now she knew, her grandmother had her people placed in the guild to prevent such an incident from happening. Mia began to wonder just how long ago her grandmother had infiltrated the Guild. Was it possible that her grandmother was behind the attack on William? After all the man had been a rival. What better way to get rid of him then to have an army of magic users do it for you? Mia wouldn’t be surprised at all if her grandmother had a hand in William’s demise. Her grandmother was ruthless enough to do it.
“What will it take for me to convince you I am who I say I am?”
“Nothing, there is nothing you can say to convince me. Now if you will let me go, I have more important things to do,” She said as she shook off his grip.
“Fine, don’t believe me. But there is one thing you can believe, I can help you finally escape Theodora,” He said, “There is much about blood magic that she never taught you, much she was afraid to teach you. After all, you grew in to so much more than we had hoped. She was afraid you would eclipse her when you came in to your true power. She wanted to ensure you would never defeat her, so she kept you ignorant.”
Mia couldn’t believe they were having this conversation in public. But as she looked around, she noticed no one was paying the least bit of attention to them. They hardly even noticed their presence.
“Another little trick I could teach you,” William said as he noticed her wandering gaze, “A simple trick, a bubble of privacy that cannot be breached once activated.”
“But how? I didn’t even sense the spell being released?” Mia said with a frown as she turned back to William.
“That is the secret,” William said with a grin that was ready to burst on his face, “Blood magic can be contained. If you know how, you can use any spell without being sensed.”
“How?” Mia asked with a frown, not sure if she believed him, but after everything she had been through in the last five minutes, there was no other way she could explain it.
“No, no,” he said shaking his finger at her, “I don’t give away my trade secrets for free.”
“Well, if you’re after money, you’re out of luck because I don’t have any,” Mia said shaking her head. She should have known better. In the world of blood magic, nothing comes freely. There is always a price that must be paid, a sacrifice to be given.
“I have no need for money. Look around you, do I look like I’m a pauper. I own this club and many like it all over the world. I hardly need your pittance,” He said as he waved his arm around them. Mia said nothing but raised a brow, pittance, really?
“I don’t want your money. I want something far more valuable,” he said as he leaned closer to her, his eyes staring straight in to her own. If he asked for her soul, she was so out of here. Blood magic was one thing, soul magic, not even she would go there. She may not believe in heaven or hell, but she did believe in the existence of the soul.
The soul was the one part of you that would always remain. Even as your body came and went, your soul would remain the same. Even when you died, your soul would still exist. Your soul was the one indestructible part of you that would carry on the person you had been. Even if you were born again one day, your soul would still remain the same. It was what she believed in and why, no matter how desperate she got, she would never bargain away her soul.
So if this man wanted her soul, she was so out of here. She would rather give herself up to her grandmother than give away her soul.
“What do you want?” Mia demanded to know.
Mia’s mouth dropped opened.
“I will teach you everything I know, and in return, you will swear allegiance to me,” William said as if it were the simplest thing in the world. But what he asked of her was nearly as bad as asking for her soul. By pledging her allegiance to him, it basically meant giving him her free will. She would have to do whatever he asked. If someone came after him, she would have to fight at his side. She would basically be his slave. She would be trading in her grandmother for this crazy man.
Shaking her head, she began to open her mouth to speak when he stopped her with a single finger over her lips.
“You don’t need to answer me now. I want you to think it over. I will not ask much of you. I have no real need to. All I want from you, is to stand by my side when the time comes. If the Guild discovers my continued existence, or if your grandmother decides to come after me again, I would like to know that you will stand at my side and fight with me.”
Mia tried to speak but he stopped her again, “I will not accept any answer given now. I want you to come home and think it over. Come back here in a week and give me your answer then.”
“My answer won’t change,” Mia told him when he finally removed his finger.
“It may,” He said with an enigmatic smile, “You don’t know what could happen in a week. After all, with your cousin in town hunting you down, how long do you hope to go unnoticed? Surely he will notice something sooner or later. Come back in a week and we will talk then.”
With that said, he gave her one last smile and disappeared right before her eyes. For a long moment she could only stand there and stare at the place he had once been. Had he been an illusion from the beginning? Had he even truly been there?
With a shake of the head Mia turned around and headed out of the club. She had enough of this place. It didn’t matter what he said or what he offered, there was no way she was coming back here. She would not give her allegiance to him. She had not escape Theodora’s control, only to willing give away her new freedom to another master, especially a crazy one.
No, she would not be coming back no matter what happened. Even if Marco realized it was her, she would rather use her blood magic than become that mad man’s slave. And he was mad. There was no way in hell that he was William Gregor. William Gregor was dead. Nothing he could say would convince otherwise.
Rushing out of the club she headed home. Right now she had more incentive to control her magic than she had earlier tonight. She would find a way to keep her freedom and she would not rely on anyone else to help her. She would find her own way. She would be no one’s slave, never again.
Next: Chapter Seven