Jeb came to on the wooden floor of his office. His muscles cramped and his body burned with pain. He retched. The energy rose again and he fought to suppress it, but it was strong. He’d had a hold on it for decades, but recently it was harder and harder to keep it bound.
His body spasmed as he fought the internal battle to keep his auxiliary energy, Svadisthana, locked down. It was too dangerous for him to use. He’d learned that the hard way.
He tried to pull on Anahata, his dominant energy, to bind it. The energy wouldn’t stay contained. His pulse raced as some energy escaped and found a nearby source of liquid, the water glass on his desk - which exploded. Shards of glass shot across the room and a few embedded themselves in the arm he’d thrown up to protect his face.
As senior Maven for the Cairo-based Anahata Major Guild, the study was warded against all energies getting in, and his students’ Anahata energies getting out. But the wards were less effective against other energies. His mistake.
Another pulse of energy wracked his body, and he had to grit his teeth against a shout of pain. What was going on? Why was it so much harder for him to keep his Svadisthana energies bound? He lost the thought as more energy leaked. As fast as he drew on his dominant energy from the ether, the auxiliary burned it away, a war between two opposing sides within his flesh. Anahata, the healing energy of air and of love. An energy Jeb was at peace with - unlike his Svadisthana energy.
Which disgusted him.
The energy of water, of practical creativity - and of sex. Once, he’d used all aspects of that energy assuredly. And then, he’d used it to murder innocents.
He’d vowed never again.
Had bound the energy, with help.
And had considered that part of him, that despised energy, gone.
It had taken a will of iron, a will that he drew upon now. He used his Anahata to create a glowing shield around his body to contain any further energy leaks. Then he went inside himself. He spun Anahata energy into a second shield tight to his skin. When it covered him, and he had the two shields in place in addition to his regular shields, he relaxed a fraction.
All hell broke loose.
Svadisthana exploded from inside him, and raced around the room. He felt as though he’d been punched in the abdomen, the area where Svadisthana Chakra was located, and he curled up in a ball to lessen the pain.
The energy sought to ground itself. With no other humans in the room, it couldn’t find a sexual outlet, so it found the drops of water from the glass, as well as the beads of blood that had been created by the glass breaking Jeb’s skin, and it worked with those.
A fine mist of blood and water began to form around Jeb, while the energy continued to shoot around the room. The walls and floor had a spray of blood misted over them. But worse, the energy was calling to the weather outside. Egypt was a dry land - one reason why Jeb was happy to stay in the Guild’s headquarters here - but there was water, with the Nile so close. When Jeb raised his head, groaning, to look out of the window, he could see a cloud forming outside, tiny drops running down the glass.
Jeb lay on the floor, his body convulsing as energies that had been kept inside him for decades escaped. He managed - just - to keep some shields up, but he wasn’t sure how long he could maintain it. If he stopped balancing the destructive Svadisthana with Anahata, the scales could tip, and the energy he’d tried so hard to keep hidden would be loosed. Done in an uncontrolled manner, it could pose a danger to all the Guild buildings - and everyone inside them.
There was a knock at the door. A soft voice came through the wood. “Jebediah-san? May I enter?”
Source. It was Aiko, the Head of the Guild. This was a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, Aiko was exactly the person to help him. On the other hand, if she came through that door without knowing what she was walking into, his escaping energy could slam right into her, which could have some nasty consequences. He could enthral her sexually, or hurt her physically with his energy wild and uncontrolled in the room.
The moisture at the window ran down in rivulets, blurring the view of the sky. A couple of books were dislodged from the shelf, and thudded onto the floor.
The door opened cautiously, and Jeb made a heroic effort to draw on Anahata in order to strengthen his Svadisthana shields. Cold sweat bled through his shirt onto the wooden floor, only to be immediately swept up in the mist around him.
He opened his mouth to warn her, but only a croak came out, his throat parched.
“Jeb?” Aiko peeked around the door, caught sight of the room, and stepped inside smartly. She shut the door behind her, and studied Jeb.
Closing the door on the rest of the Guild was a wise move, though from Jeb’s perspective she was now on the wrong side of it. He felt her draw on Anahata to protect herself from the sexual energy he was exuding, and he rasped a sigh of relief.
He curled into himself, trying to focus, trying to find his voice to ask for her aid, but more energy escaped, and called to the water outside. The window shattered, and glass flew. A piece sliced across Aiko’s arm and she cried out, her hand flying to the wound, blood sliding down the arm to stain the white top she wore. Her shields wavered and Jeb’s stomach tensed.
He needed her help, and he needed it urgently. But what if she became lost to his water energies, and two of the most powerful members of the Guild lost control?
There was going to be a hell of a lot more damage than a broken window.
Nixie stretched, cat-like, and purred in satisfaction. Life on her Thai island was good. She rolled onto her back. “Mmmm. Thank you.”
The tousled-haired youth beside her was still breathing hard, and nodded weakly, his body sprawled inelegantly beside hers.
They’d been seeing each other for a week or so, and Nixie was thrilled that they’d finally slept together. She tried to keep a little discipline, and rarely had sex with anyone on a first date. She loved the build-up, the intensity, the butterflies in her stomach as she anticipated what their physical connection would be like. To make it last she had a personal target of waiting at least a week.
Okay, sometimes six days.
She shrugged internally. It wasn’t her fault that she liked sex. A lot. She glanced back at the lean, long-limbed twenty-something she’d just very much enjoyed a couple of hours with. He stared up at the ceiling, eyes wide. She’d made sure he’d had a good time too. Sex was something she was passionate about in all the ways, and she was skilled in bringing pleasure to her partners. White, with dark hair curling around his ears, he wasn’t that much younger than her - she was in her early thirties in human years - but in life experience, given she was a part magical being who was likely to live for hundreds of years, they were worlds apart.
Nixie’s energies were Svadisthana and Vishudha. The first was where her love of sex stemmed from, in addition to a love of swimming and her creative talents. But Nixie was a romantic at heart, despite the fact that she had no Anahata in her energies. She blamed her parents. Marius and Fai had been together centuries - true soul mates.
Nixie wanted that. She wanted someone as strong and as fearless as her father, a bear-like man, who made his tiny but fierce wife Fai look delicate by standing near her. They were strong individually, but even stronger as a couple.
Nixie had bathed in their love all her life, sharing that love with her cousin Blaize who had moved to Thailand and joined their family as a child when her parents died. Blaize was a best friend and sister in one.
Nixie propped herself up on an elbow, and ran a finger down the man’s flank. She liked the play of his muscles. They would look good sculpted in a pale stone, perhaps. She tipped her head, idly considering his body.
Nixie had never thought that Blaize would find her soul mate before she did. Blaize had reluctantly gone to be trained in her auxiliary energy by a Maven called Cuinn, and then fallen in love with him. Nixie scowled briefly, then shook it off. She was pleased for Blaize, she was. She just…wanted to find her own soul mate sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, she told herself, she was auditioning men for the part. After all, you needed to spend time with someone to really decide whether they were right for you.
The guy lying next to her was human. It was possible for energetics to fall in love and marry humans, but it was rare as the human had to pass your Guild’s approval to share their world’s secrets.
She looked at Ben, the man in bed beside her, and sighed to herself. He probably wouldn’t pass muster. And Nixie didn’t think she could live her life with a secret that huge from her partner. She wasn’t big on secrets. They were too much like hard work. Much like sculpture. She saved those for only the most interesting models.
Ben would make a fine subject for a life drawing, however.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“Nothing. Unless…?” She looked suggestively down at their tangle of naked bodies.
He grinned back. “Sure. Give me a minute or two. And in the meantime, why don’t we talk?”
Nixie’s forehead creased. “Talk?”
That’s not what they were here for. She ran a hand down his back, kneading the muscles there, reminding them both of their physical connection.
He lifted a shoulder. “You know, talk. I don’t feel like I know that much about you. What’s going on with you?”
Nixie recoiled a fraction. She couldn’t help herself. She wasn’t big on sharing. She was a realist, and knew men were usually attracted to her for her looks. She was fine with that. Her deep relationships were with her friends and family, not her various lovers. They came to her for fun, and sex, and she made sure all parties had both. He caught her expression, and hurt flashed across his face. He spoke quickly. “Or not. It’s fine.”
“It’s not that, I just…I don’t know what to say.” She couldn’t exactly tell him that her plans for the future were currently suspended, as she’d been included in a prophecy which potentially foretold the end of her race’s world.
That was the problem with humans. Things got complicated quickly.
“What do you do for a living?” he said.
“Business graphics,” she said. She had set responses for questions like this, designed to be as boring as possible, to stop this type of conversation developing into something too personal. Not that many pursued conversations with her. They were usually too swept up in the physical pleasure she could provide, a mutual connection that was more than enough.
“Okay. What do you like to do when you’re not working?” he said.
She was impressed - and surprised - at his tenacity. But what could she say? That she practised what he would see as magic in her spare time, using the energy from water. Huh, water. That would do it. “I like swimming.”
“I guess you do live on an island. Makes sense.” He was a traveller to Koh Somdun, the island where she lived off the west coast of Thailand, there for a few months to enjoy life in paradise on his way round the world. Another reason it wouldn’t last.
He was looking at her expectantly. Apparently he needed more.
“I sometimes do archery. And I like art. Drawing, painting, that kind of thing.” She had a sudden feeling of panic. Talking of which - she was supposed to be driving her parents’ car down to the dock to collect Blaize and Tierra. Her parents were away travelling and calling on friends in Europe, and Nixie was looking after their house.
Blaize was here so Nixie could use her artistic skills to help with some of the details of the prophecy, and Blaize could have a break. Plus it was well past time for Nixie to catch up on Blaize’s love life.
She felt a brief flicker of unease about the prophecy and she quickly stuffed the feeling down inside herself. She was involved, but not really involved, in the same way the others were. She knew Blaize wanted to discuss that with her too, but Nixie saw herself as support, a friend, for those who were the main actors.
Talking of which, she rolled over to the bedside table where her phone was lying and picked it up. Shit. She was cutting it pretty fine. Nixie tended to operate on ‘Thai time’ - after all, she was half Thai - but Blaize most certainly did not. Blaize would not be happy if Nixie left her standing on the dock in the sun for half an hour.
“Now what?” There was a touch of irritation in Ben’s voice.
“I forgot I have to pick up my friend from the dockside, and I need to go home and get the car.” She’d ridden her scooter to Ben’s house. She should have brought the car, but she hadn’t thought of it. Nixie was more of a big picture girl than someone focused on the details.
“Right,” he said. She couldn’t figure out what his tone meant, but she didn’t have time to explore it. She bounced out of the bed and scrambled into her clothes. She should probably shower, but there wasn’t time.
Ben lay on the bed watching her. She couldn’t interpret the expression on his face either. Never mind. She tended to keep things flexible. Casual. He was fun in bed, and she’d like to see him again, she was sure of that. Ben had had a great time, she’d seen to it. He didn’t need to know her deepest self to enjoy sex with her again. And who knows, maybe things would develop.
After all, she knew her soul mate was out there somewhere, and she was willing to do a lot of experimentation to find him.