The Indigo Spell

Page 2

A moonlight ritual, a barren desert, virgin sacrifice . . . what had I just foolishly walked into? The way Ms. Terwilliger pushed me into magic always annoyed me, but I never thought she posed a threat. Now I berated myself for being so naive.

She tossed a duffel bag over one shoulder and headed off into a desolate stretch of land, dotted with rocks and scraggly vegetation. Even with the brilliant celestial display there wasn't much light out here, yet she walked purposefully, as though she knew exactly where she was going. I dutifully followed, wincing as I crossed the rocky ground. My fuzzy slippers had never been intended for this sort of terrain.

"Here," she said when we reached a small clearing. She carefully set down the duffel bag and knelt to rifle through it. "This'll do."

The desert that was so mercilessly hot in the day became cold at night, but I was still sweating. Probably my own anxiety had more to do with that than the temperature or heavy pajamas. I retied my robe more tightly making a perfect knot. I found that kind of detail and routine soothing.

Ms. Terwilliger produced a large oval mirror with a scalloped silver frame. She set it down in the middle of the clearing, glanced up at the sky, and then shifted the mirror over a little. "Come here, Miss Melbourne." She pointed to a spot opposite her, on the other side of the mirror. "Sit there and make yourself comfortable."

At Amberwood, I went by the name of Sydney Melrose, rather than my true one, Sydney Sage. Ms. Terwilliger had gotten my made-up name wrong on the first day of class, and it, unfortunately, stuck. I followed her directions, not that I could really get all that comfortable out here. I was pretty sure I could hear some large animal scuffling out in the brush and added "coyotes" to my mental list of dangers I faced out here, right below "magic use" and "lack of coffee."

"Now then. Let's get started." Ms. Terwilliger peered at me with eyes that were dark and frightening in the desert night. "Are you wearing anything metal? You need to take it off."

"No, I - oh. Wait."

I reached around my neck and unfastened a delicate gold chain that held a small cross. I'd had the necklace for years but had recently given it to someone else, for comfort. He'd given it back to me recently, by way of our mutual friend Jill Mastrano Dragomir. Even now, I could picture the angry look on her face as she'd stormed up to me at school and thrust the cross into my hand without a word.

I stared at the cross now as it gleamed in the moonlight. A queasy feeling welled up in the pit of my stomach as I thought about Adrian, the guy I'd given it to. I'd done so before he professed his love for me, something that had caught me totally off guard a few weeks ago. But maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised. The more I looked back - and I did so all the time - the more I began to recall telltale signs that should have tipped me off to his feelings. I'd just been too blind to notice at the time.

Of course, it wouldn't have mattered if I'd seen it coming or not. Adrian was totally unsuitable for me, and it had nothing to do with his many vices or potential descent into insanity. Adrian was a vampire. True, he was a Moroi - one of the good, living vampires - but it made no difference. Humans and vampires couldn't be together. This was one point the Moroi and Alchemists stood firmly together on. It was still amazing to me that Adrian had voiced those feelings to me. It was amazing that he could even have them or that he'd had the nerve to kiss me, even if it was a kiss that had left me dizzy and breathless.

I'd had to reject him, of course. My training would allow nothing less. Our situation here in Palm Springs forced the two of us to constantly be together in social situations, and it had been rough since his declaration. For me, it wasn't just the awkwardness of our new relationship. I . . . well, I missed him. Before this debacle, he and I had been friends and spent a lot of time together. I'd gotten used to his smirky smile and the quick banter that always flowed between us. Until those things were gone, I hadn't realized how much I relied on them. How much I needed them. I felt empty inside . . . which was ridiculous, of course. Why should I care so much about one vampire?

Sometimes it made me angry. Why had he ruined such a good thing between us? Why had he made me miss him so much? And what had he expected me to do? He had to have known it was impossible for us to be together. I couldn't have feelings for him. I couldn't. If we'd lived among the Keepers - a group of uncivilized vampires, humans, and dhampirs - maybe he and I could have . . . no. Even if I had feelings for him - and I firmly told myself I didn't - it was wrong for us to even consider such a relationship.

Now Adrian spoke to me as little as possible. And always, always, he watched me with a haunted look in his green eyes, one that made my heart ache and -

"Ah! What is that?"

I squirmed as Ms. Terwilliger dumped a bowl full of dried leaves and flowers over my head. I'd been so fixated on the cross and my memories that I hadn't seen her coming.

"Rosemary," she said matter-of-factly "Hyssop. Anise. Don't do that." I'd reached up to pull some of the leaves out of my hair. "You need that for the spell."

"Right," I said, getting back to business. I set the cross carefully on the ground, trying to clear my mind of green, green eyes. "The spell that only I can do. Why is that again?"

"Because it has to be done by a virgin," she explained. I tried not to grimace. Her words implied that she was not a virgin, and even if that made sense for a forty-year-old woman, it still wasn't a thought I wanted to spend a lot of time on. "That, and the person we're looking for has shielded herself from me. But you? You she won't expect."

I looked down at the shining mirror and understood. "This is a scrying spell. Why aren't we doing the one I did before?"

Not that I was eager to repeat that spell. I'd used it to find someone, and it had involved me staring into a bowl of water for hours. Still, now that I knew how to do it, I knew I could perform it again. Besides, I didn't like the idea of walking into a spell I knew nothing about. Words and herbs were one thing, but what else might she ask of me? Endanger my soul? Give up my blood?

"That spell only works for someone you know," she explained. "This one will help you find someone you've never met before."

I frowned. As much as I didn't like magic, I did like problem solving - and the puzzles magic often presented intrigued me. "How will I know who to look for, then?"

Ms. Terwilliger handed me a photograph. My eyes had adjusted to the darkness, and I looked into the face of a pretty young woman. There was a striking resemblance between her and my teacher, though it wasn't initially obvious. Rather than Ms. Terwilliger's dull brown hair, this woman's was dark, nearly black. She was also much more glamorous, dressed in a black satin evening gown that was a far cry from Ms. Terwilliger's usual hippie attire. Despite those ostensible differences, the two women shared the same high cheekbones and aquiline eyes.

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