The Night Witch
Be careful what you wish for.
Tarot-reading Justice of the Arcana Council Sara Wilde has an avalanche of oppressed psychics crying out for her aid. How can she help them all? Despite the support of the formidable Magician, she’s only one woman.
Worse, the Council’s biggest rival, the Shadow Court, taunts her at every turn, defying her efforts to discover the power behind their elite operation.
Frustrated by the Council’s unwillingness to act, Sara is tempted to take matters into her own hands. Especially when she uncovers ancient, mysterious references to a vigilante-style enforcer, the night witch, who does what Justice can’t…or won’t.
Then a new, mysterious ally emerges, a reclusive sheikh with tales of captured genies and impossible wishes who offers Sara his assistance—for a price. A price that may prove to be more than Sara ever expected to pay…
Shadows dance and demons howl when The Night Witch comes to call.
Read an Excerpt
Virgins never seemed to catch a break.
I leaned over the edge of the stone wall, peering down at the gyrating crowd that filled the amphitheater below. While music thundered from two-story-high speakers, some unintelligible mash-up of house rock and New Age hokum, the dancing revelers flashed enough glitz to be seen from space. Above and around them, a multimillion-dollar light show cut through the star-filled night sky.
Here in the ruins of Pompeii, Italy, a city overwhelmed by the eruption of its most famous volcano, Mount Vesuvius, the amphitheater had been restored to serve as the perfect party palace for some of the richest and most entitled magicians, sorcerers, occultists, and wanna-be wizards in the world. And if you were going to have all that mysterium together at once, it wouldn’t be a party without a few virgins.
Beside me, the High Priestess of the Arcana Council stood with her characteristic regal hauteur, for once dressed totally on point in her deep-red toga and Cleopatra Barbie jewels. To me, Eshe always looked like she belonged on stage in Vegas, not occupying one of the soaring shadow residences of the Council far above the city, but even she wrinkled her nose as she studied the line of white-clad young women being marched up to the stage at one end of the party pit. Except the reason for her disdain wasn’t what I expected.
“There would’ve been two dozen virgins in my day.” She sniffed. “I don’t know who is running this operation, but it’s decidedly bare bones.”
“What, not enough blood and circuses for you?”
She shot me a withering glance. “It’s bread and circuses.”
“Give it time.” I tracked the progress of the young women. “Why so many of them? What’s their purpose tonight?”
“Traditionally, the members of the priestess’s court are selected to serve as vessels for divine magic based on their Connected ability and their virginal status. I seriously doubt most of these attendants qualify on either count. Simon has provided facial recognition for all but three. Most of the identified participants are daughters of famous politicians, government notables, and a few random celebrities chosen mostly, I suspect, for notoriety. The research he’s completed indicates that their current locations are actually known, at least in general. They are all the guests of Stratosfaire.”
I grimaced at her mention of the official title of this get-together. I hadn’t been willing to believe it when word first came to us of the potential danger this exclusive celebrity music fest posed, beyond that of good taste. But Stratosfaire was billed as the first-ever techno-psychic music festival for the highly evolved. It wasn’t exactly clear whether that evolution implied mental or supernatural abilities, or simply the flexibility of one’s bank account, but it didn’t seem to matter. To the rich and the bored, a new festival to show off their importance was the nectar of the finest flower. Celebrities had clamored for the exclusive invitations, paparazzi had swarmed the outskirts of Pompeii until a military presence had been required to shut them down, and the entire event was being live-streamed for the hefty price tag of fifty thousand dollars.
That’s right. Fifty thousand dollars to see a video feed of a party you weren’t cool enough to attend.
I couldn’t imagine anyone shelling out that kind of cash, until Simon, the Fool of the Arcana Council and our head tech geek, had shown me the numbers. The conference had sold out within minutes. Everything was, to all appearances, top-drawer—from the light show that lit up the amphitheater with a retina-searing glare, to the temporary scaffolding that created eco-friendly seating areas above the original ruins. Even the catering that had brought the finest booze and food to the revelers all damned day and into the night, was top of the line.
All that was well and good, but we weren’t here to give the show a Yelp rating. Several days earlier, back in Las Vegas, distressing calls for help had started to come through my office at Justice Hall. I hadn’t even been aware of the upcoming festival when the first complaint had landed quite literally on my desk.
As Justice of the Arcana Council, I was sort of the cosmic cop of the Connected world. Not even a police officer, really, more like a one-woman United Nations peacekeeping force. If someone with psychic ability was harming another Connected, the call went up, and I came in to see what was what. Sorcerers, witches, occultists, and magicians generally tended to stay on the side of angels in their inter-Connected dealings, at least in full daylight. But when the makers of magic turned on each other, I got involved. Or that was the theory, anyway. In truth, there were so many calls for Justice that my office had cold cases dating back to the Bronze Age.
I scowled down at the gyrating crowd. “You got any line yet on who’s behind all this?”
“For approximately the fifty-seventh time in the last three hours, no.” Eshe breathed out a gust of haughty disdain. She must have lungfuls of the stuff. “I’m not a trained seal.”
“You’d be a hell of a lot better company if you were. It’s gotta be the Shadow Court, though. Has to be. Nobody else would be this tacky.”