First Page: Death Wish
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I rolled my shoulders and assessed the wraith in front of me. The thing howled like an enraged gust of wind. It was trapped within the circle of containment I’d just cast. There was only two ways it could go now. Back from wherever it came from or through my Rifter.
The Rifter’s blade was a fine curved one, similar to that of a Japanese Tachi, except that it was made of tempered glass, shorter and über light. If I were to whack a human being with it they’d probably sucker-punch me after snapping it like a twig. But on a wraith? It was lethal. If I so much as touched the essence of the wraith with its blade, it would turn into a pile of ash-gray powder. Literally.
The wraith was floating too high up, six feet off the ground. Mind you, at five-feet-six, even if I jumped, I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of attaining its glowing essence, which was around where its top would be if it were tangible. From afar, the wraith looked like a ball of shiny with a spider’s web thrown on it. Up close and personal, the wraith’s body – if I could call it that – had a quietly smoldering quality to it, undulating like a cape made of fine silvery smoke from burning incense. Deadly smoke.
Some unlucky people confused them with benign spirits and as a result their souls now belonged to the dark prince of the Down & Under, good old Luc himself. A wraith literally sucked the soul out of you, given half a chance.
I blew at my bangs. Okay, let’s do this. Focus. That was the first step, Wes had taught me – that’s my godfather, but more on him later, after I made non-sniffable cocaine out of my spirit friend here. I took a deep breath, shut my eyes and started counting. One. Two. Three. And so on. I could feel the wraith drifting downward, closer to me. I paid it no mind. Now, imagine. Thin tendrils of airy white smoke escaped from my finger tips in my mind’s eye. I waited for the smoke to condense into the thicker texture of morning mist in a forest. I was ready. My eyes snapped open. Finally, channel.
My fingers sent a blast of cold air toward the wraith. The eerie air surrounded the thing and drew it closer to me, like a mini-tornado would. That’s what I loved about Aero. Closer. My other hand held the Rifter’s cloth-bound wooden grip, neither too tight nor too loose. Still closer. The coarse black cloth was good for clammy palms, I’d been told – not that my hands were clammy. Okay, maybe just a tiny bit. Now. I went at the wraith with all I had, running the Rifter’s blade through it.
I missed, barely grazing its intangible mid-section. Dammit. Timing was everything in spellcasting. As the Aero effect faded, the wraith went up and howled, as if the blade had singed it. It had. Then the wraith came back at me with a vengeance. I dodged past it and pivoted to face it. My gaze glued on it, I retreated, adopting a defensive stance.
I closed my eyes for a few, held out my fingers and sent another blast of cold air – this one more powerful. The air began to take shape, slowly etching into a distinct form. A falcon.