Out of a young woman’s ambition comes a love triangle that could destroy more than her heart.
Firia is smart, ambitious, and a natural in magic. She’s also a human, and thought to be a weaker spellcaster than the elves.
She needs an edge to be accepted into the prestigious Magic Academy. She summons a demon, Varuj; he’s a terrifyingly gorgeous spirit who helps her win the entrance competition. But at what price?
As the commanding demon does everything he can to penetrate every aspect of her life, Firia still finds herself drawn to her study partner, Mae’lin. He’s completely different from the powerful Varuj, but love between a human and an elf is forbidden.
As her magical powers grow, she must choose between the demon she owes her life to and the elf who makes her feel whole.
This new adult romance is from adult fantasy romance authors J.E. & M. Keep.
Her father worked nights, but that suited her just fine. After all, he took her with him to hang out in the dark corridors of the Arcane Academy. It was a place so few humans had ever gone, and at night she didn’t have to deal with so many of the sour stares of the high elves.
Instead she could simply wander, admiring the history and architecture of the great buildings.
But she always went back to one in particular. The Grand Library. It contained more knowledge than she could ever hope or dream of, and the young woman felt truly alive there. She’d spent her childhood poring over heavy tomes of spells and secrets.
Yet her ambitions were growing with every day.
No longer was she content to simply read the night away, practicing harmless spells that served so little purpose. The moment she had found the dusty, hidden black book she knew it was calling to her. Begging for her to learn its contents.
For months she’d studied it in detail, the yearning to know something of true value, beyond the mundanities of her self-taught tricks, driving her to a near-religious fervor. Finally, the evening had come that she would cast her first ritual from it. No one she knew of had been able to handle such a spell, and it was just what she needed to get into the Academy. To make the elvish sorcerers sit up and take notice of a desperate human.
Her black hair was pulled back in twin pigtails, her bangs swept out of her expressive blue eyes. Her peachy skin felt flush with excitement as she settled in.
She’d blocked the door of the library’s study room, and had everything prepared to see her through to the end of the casting. Yet as the first word of power passed her lips, she wondered if she could ever be prepared for the high she received.
It was something she’d never truly experienced to the same intensity. “Fush-nea klixak hlinta,” she continued, and with each word her body trembled.
This wasn’t the stuff of parlor tricks that she’d toyed with before: simple twists of light and sound to amuse and confound viewers. Each word tapped into some dark plane of existence and the raw magical energies there coursed through her veins and made her skin buzz with electricity.
The closer she got to conclusion, the more reality seemed to warp before her. It was as if the walls changed shape, angles took on impossible dimensions that were not of her world.
Gradually, it was as if a lightning storm were brewing at the heart of the room. Crackles of energy stabbing out from black wisps of nothingness that grew to consume the air there. It was terrifying to watch, and a sense of foreboding followed in its wake, but the high… the high of that power coursing through her with each new word was so sweet. Too sweet to give up.
She wouldn’t. She was so close. She could feel how close she was, and her excitement made her stumble on that final word. “Punummra,” she shouted, praying to be heard over the crackle of power at the heart of the word.
Her skin was flush and her light, white shirt clung to her slender body. The black skirt felt sticky around her thighs and calves, and she shifted to try to get the fabric off her.
The tempest before her writhed and swelled with a fury that belied the earlier display. Black tendrils seemed to lunge out at reality itself in random directions! It wasn’t long, though, before they began to take on some form, and as if from through a gateway to hell itself, she witnessed the ruddy-black visage of a man that was not a man, both step through to her side and tear it open.
He was wrathful. He was monstrous! He was beautiful, even in his fury.
Sleek muscle, he was bare. Not a stitch of clothing, only the wisps of blackness that still clung to his form gracing his body as he clenched his fists and let loose a cry that beat at her ears. Hooves struck the floorboards, and his mighty, obsidian horns nearly scraped the ceiling.
“Kral’kron krizzixt varuj!” he exclaimed in his demonic tongue, almond-shaped eyes that burned like cinders darting about the room before he realized there was nobody to turn his rage on… nobody but her.
His bare chest heaved, his nostrils flared. Tall and mighty, he was broad at the shoulders and dwarfed her in every manner.
She’d never felt so small and insignificant, physically.
Yet at the same time, she felt larger than life, powerful beyond belief, and a smile spread across her lips. Fear still coiled in her stomach and she took a step backwards, away from the hellish thing she’d summoned.
That she had summoned. By herself. Without any aid of elves and their haughty attitudes. He was hers, bound to her alone.
Her body tingled with such perfect disbelief.
The look upon the demon’s face said he believed otherwise. Though some strange amusement tickled his fancy.
From out of his chest his words rumbled forth, dark and ominous, so full of masculine menace. “It was you who summoned me?” he asked, part disbelief in his voice, part amusement. Though she could see the strands of darkness flicker out and fade, they swept away from his body, leaving him more apparent to her. Her eyes able to see his reddish form, the dark hairs of his chest that formed a V-shape on down to a trail across his stony abs, that ended in a tuft above his loins. By the gods! Those monstrous loins of his were enough to snap her in half!
It struck her dumb for a moment and her voice came out as little more than a squeaked “yes.” It was an odd sensation, of feeling utterly powerful and utterly insignificant, all at once. Yet she controlled him, so shouldn’t she feel unstoppable?
The small, young woman forced her eyes away from his massive package and looked instead to his face. “You are here because of me.”
The mighty demon before her snorted with derision and then unfurled his fists. She saw then the long, hooked nails that looked perilously sharp. “Because of you,” he repeated, touching one hand to his chest, letting the dagger-tips of his claws scrape over his own dark flesh, raking across abs as he eyed her with curiosity.
“Why?” he demanded more than asked, brushing back some of his long, black hair with the other hand. The glossy pitch strands flowing about his neck and shoulders, framing his face.
“Because I could!” she replied, trying to sound strong and brave but feeling anything but. She should have felt that same high she’d experienced casting the spell, but instead, fear was beginning to turn her blood cold.
He was too large. Too unwieldy of a weapon. How could she hope to have the mental fortitude to hold him back? Greater mages than her had tried and failed.
Her eyes narrowed at her negative thoughts and she forced herself to stand straight. No. She summoned him and she would control him.
The towering beast before her smirked and a low rumble of a chuckle emitted from his chest as he rubbed his hand up and down across it and his hard belly. “Is that it then? You tore me from my realm, my home, simply because you could?” He stepped closer to her, his hoof hitting the ground noisily and as if time meant nothing to him, he was suddenly several steps closer to her, looming barely two inches from her body.
She couldn’t help but inhale the scent of cinders, sweat, curiously alien aromas and masculinity with him up in her face like that. He pricked beneath her chin with one of his hooked nails, pointing her face up at him slowly. “Nobody summons one of my kind without a reason. Maybe you don’t know it yet,” he mused aloud.
How was it possible that she felt like her pulse was racing and her heart stopped, all at once? His touch, his nail was so sharp and unpleasant, yet his scent was nearly intoxicating in a strange way. “I have to prove myself. You’re my proof.”
Something flickered in those fiery eyes of his. Mischief? Perhaps, she couldn’t tell, for he looked full of wickedness no matter what he did.
He bent down, which was quite a journey. He towered up to nearly seven feet! And was built wider and stronger than any man or elf she’d seen with her own two eyes.
She saw him up close, the pointed patch of hair on his chin. The hard lines of his jaw. The handsome yet frightening features that made him so alluring and scary all at once.
It was so bizarre an experience, especially once he shut his eyes and sniffed at her. Actually sniffed at her! Letting his eyes shut as his nose grazed her hair, tasting her own natural human scent off the air. “You’re young,” he said, continuing his investigation. “Too young for such an accomplishment to be believable.”
That was what she’d always been told. That humans did not have the lifespan to learn magic – true, powerful magic – yet she’d done it, hadn’t she? She’d proved those snooty elves of the Academy wrong, right?
“Without proof it wouldn’t be believable! But you’re here. I summoned you on my own, and there’s nothing they can say to take that away from me.” She couldn’t believe it. Even he was doubting her abilities, and she’d brought him here!
His thick lips spread wide across his face in a wickedly handsome mockery of a smile. The pungent aroma of his masculinity so strong still as he tilted her head one way, then the other. He inspected her delicate female form, and though his manhood twitched and swelled before her, he was slow. Methodical.
“You aspire to be a sorceress then,” he said, taking the prick of his finger from beneath her chin and stroking his hot thumb across her cheek, as if he were a lover or a doting parent. “And you summoned me to prove you are better and more worthy of that title than your years attest.” He nodded slowly. “Daring. Or foolish.”
“They don’t let humans in here,” she hissed bitterly. “So I either carry on in my family’s footsteps or I do something daring and foolish. And in the end, I get more powerful than any of them are worthy of.”
“None of them could have summoned and bound me,” he responded with wry amusement on his face, his private joke not shared with her. “Only one other ever succeeded in doing as such, and he was great and powerful by the standards of mortals.” He let his gaze slip down over her full body, and she couldn’t help but notice the frightening creature’s massive girth was stiff and jutted out directly towards her. “You’ve dared big, little conjurer. Dared big and won, perhaps.”
Her body stiffened and she tried to take a step back, but instead she bumped into a bookshelf, keeping her pinned between it and… it. That wasn’t something any text had prepared her for, and even in her fury and power-drunk sensation, that throbbing phallus was distracting her from her victory.
“Don’t they have robes where you’re from?”
He looked down at his own lewdly displayed manhood. “They do. But you summoned me through the void,” he said simply. “I would assume a clever young sorceress like you would know that one doesn’t travel through the void with clothing. Or anything else for that matter.”
He grinned unevenly at her. “Does it bother you, little human?” He took hold of that massive length, gripped it in his hand and began to stroke it—actually stroke it!—right in front of her. He stared down at her petite form, mouth hanging open, fangs on display as he tongued his lower lip.
“You’re disgusting,” she breathed. Fear had been replaced by annoyance and anger at his taunting, and she pushed herself away from him. “You’re mine now, and I command you cover that foul thing up!”
His mouth widened in his amusement, and though he didn’t stop the slow, firm motions of his hand along that thick, bulging cock, he asked, “With what? I have no clothes, sorceress.” He arched his spine back, but kept his fiery eyes glued to her as he pleasured himself so disgustingly. “You must provide me with such things. You’re aware of that, surely.”
He gave another inhale of the air in her direction, tasting her scent with his tongue even, as that monstrously sized appendage swelled in his grasp visibly.
Wasn’t he supposed to be under her thrall? Why did he taunt her so?
“Stop touching yourself and I’ll provide you with something, then!” There had to be something nearby.
He obeyed, but only gradually. “Yes sorceress,” he said in his gravelly voice, amusement rich on it as he finally took his hand from his shaft. “I’ll be waiting here.”
She turned her back on him angrily, clearing the entrance and heading deeper into the building.
It didn’t take her long to find a wardrobe with a spare robe in it, though it was more her size than his. Still, it would be enough to cover up… that. She knew that demons could be disgusting, but she had no idea it would be like that.
When she returned, however, she didn’t see the massive creature. Which was odd, as he towered even above the bookshelves in the room. Was he hiding? It didn’t seem in his nature to do so; he’d been so haughty and cocky.
For a moment, terror took her as she feared he had abandoned her somehow, against the power of the spell.
New fright took hold, however, when the figure of another man—this one significantly shorter than her conjured menace—stepped out from behind the bookshelf, covered in shadows. One of the library mages had caught her!
Why were they even out at night? She stood still, her hands going behind her back and her head falling demurely to her chest. The young woman seemed every bit a chastised child, and she waited for his punishing words to rain down upon her.
He approached her quietly from the shadows, no scolding following as she expected and was used to from the elven masters. He stood there in the dark side of the room beside her, until his hand came up beneath her chin. It was bare, and dark. Few of the elves had so dark of skin.
With a careful touch there he tilted her head up, and her blue-eyed gaze moved across his ruddy-brown flesh—bare, just like the creature she had conjured, but man-sized, not monster-sized—to meet his face.
Her heart skipped a beat. For unlike the terror created by the thing she had brought forth, he was simply gorgeous. His long silky black hair reflecting a bit of the candle and moonlight, his face smiling as he leaned in and… and kissed her lips. So mysteriously, he held her chin in a moment of confusion and tenderly kissed her.
She was locked, smitten and unable to even flinch, until he broke the touch and gave her a charming look. “Thank you for the robe,” he said, that voice so reminiscent of earlier, though with much of the hellish edge gone.
She barely knew what to make of it and felt her head grow light. She’d never spoken to someone so attractive, and she knew full well why. She felt tongue-tied and scared and embarrassed all at once.
For all her years she’d avoided boys her own age. She got too tongue-tied around them, tripping over her words when she felt they were too attractive to be interested in her. And he definitely was.
At least like this.
How was it possible for him to look like this anyway?
She felt a tremor run through her and she begged herself to speak, to demand answers from him, but nothing would come out.
With smooth, deft movements, he took the robe from her arms and pulled it around behind him. He was in no rush, and she had time to glimpse at his form. He was still taller than her, but no longer inhumanly so. His chest was smooth now, no longer coated with the dark hairs. And though his manhood was on display—and still erect—it was no longer something so horrific. Especially since he covered it up and it vanished from sight, only to linger in memory.
“The summoning process takes a lot from me,” he said, tying the robe shut. Though even as he spoke she could see the cloth shifting, the fabric changing shape, becoming something more exotic. Foreign. It hung open at his chest, showing some of his shoulders, the cuffs billowed out around his wrists and on down she could see it slit open up towards his groin, stopping before displaying anything lewd. And his feet… he had feet now too, she noticed. No longer cloven-hoofed.
She was rendered speechless. Where she had grown so confident and commanding to the demon, she was struck mute in front of the attractive man that had “replaced” him. Her lips hung open and she forced them shut, inhaling deeply.
What had he said? She knew he’d spoken, but she hadn’t heard a word of it.
The dashing man pulled his hair from beneath the collar of the robe, and let it fall back down to settle around his neck and shoulders, which were so much more slender now comparatively, that he looked to be about her age. It also drew attention to the fact that he still bore horns, but much smaller, and now swept back instead of spiralling high. They blended with his hair rather well.
“Would you tell me your name, madam sorceress?” he asked with every pretense of cordiality upon his charming voice. He sounded—and looked—like a foreign prince. A foreign prince in a lavish bath robe, perhaps, but nonetheless.
For a moment it seemed she’d forgotten her name. It was on the tip of her tongue but she was too flabbergasted to fully recall it.
Her tongue worked over her lips until finally it came to her.
“Firia,” she whispered.
“Firia,” he repeated in that curiously accented voice. He leaned forward and took one of her hands, lifting it as if it were made of delicate porcelain, then bent forward and kissed the back of her knuckles. “It is a pleasure to have been summoned by so beauteous a conjurer, Firia.” He smiled to her, his ruby eyes glinting as they met her gaze. “I am Varuj,” and the name rolled off his tongue so appetizingly, as if—she imagined—it would taste delicious to merely say. “At your service.”
She actually thought she might faint. She willed herself to remember that he was still the vile demon that was pleasuring himself moments ago, just to make her uncomfortable, but it was so hard to think. He was too handsome for words, and she shifted from foot to foot as his skin touched hers.
“How did you change? You shouldn’t be able to.”
“It is no worry,” he said again as if merely a foreigner with an enchanting accent and a curious grasp on her language, rather than a demon from some dimension of damnation. “I know many things. Many tricks. Many spells,” he said with a smile, rubbing his thumb over the back of her hand. “Things that even the wizards of your world do not.”
“Teach me them.”
Her blue eyes widened in shock, astounded that she’d been able to speak, and with such a commanding tone. Her need for that power, those magics he knew had even outweighed her nervousness of being around him.
And that somehow made her more nervous.
His smile lit up his handsome face, and he kissed the back of her hand again. “I can do that,” he said at last. “In less time than the teachers of your world could instruct you, too.” And that was what mattered most, wasn’t it? For as she was reminded so often, a human’s life was not long enough to learn such power. And she’d already lost so much of it on the outside, looking in.
Her head nodded, and suddenly she was hit with the more pressing concerns. Where will he stay? Perhaps she hadn’t as much confidence in her skills as she believed, for she certainly hadn’t thought so far ahead. Yet he’d made it easier and harder on her all at once.
Her father would never let him stay with them.
She’d envisioned it so differently, her stomping into the Dean’s office and demanding fair treatment.
Now she wanted something more.
The beautiful man before her continued to smile and rub her hand. “There is something you must understand first and foremost, madam Firia,” he said in his deep, smooth voice. “You cannot expose my existence to anyone. Not the teachers you wished to impress, not loved ones. No one.”
“How am I going to explain you? How will I get ahead?” Her voice was so small and meek compared to the accomplished and commanding woman who had summoned him.
“You can’t explain me,” he said simply, not losing that charm or smile. “Not yet, Firia.” He brought his free hand up to her face, cupped her cheek gently. “You can hide me, if you let me show you how. And when you are able to sneak away, I will teach you. Better than any tutor of your world ever could.”
It was creeping her out just how much she wanted that. How much she longed for that.
She hadn’t realized just how lonely and isolated she had let herself become. Her shyness around men her own age had led to her hiding in libraries, and she’d never even seen one so good-looking as him.
It’s an illusion, she reminded herself, but that only made her remember the sight of him stroking that horrifying organ and her breath hitched.
He leaned in close, so that their foreheads nearly touched. “I will be your secret,” he said quietly. “Yours and yours alone.” His palm cupped her cheek and his fingers moved through her hair delicately. “And after time training together in our secret moments,” gods, he made that sound so tantalizing, despite knowing his true form, “you shall be an unmatched sorceress. Not even those who have trained and practiced for centuries will rival you, Firia.”
The word toppled from her tongue, and she scolded herself. Because she bound him to her. Because he belongs to her.
Yet someone so gorgeous could never belong to her, could never be so tender with her as he was trying to play at.
He was a beautiful monster, and it was making her feelings become conflicted. She swallowed and looked at him with those expressive, blue eyes. “You are my thrall.” She answered her own question.
His beautiful, almond-shaped eyes hardened just a little, then softened in sadness. “That is a cruel thing to say,” he said in a hurt voice.
In the blink of an eye, things changed.
He was the same, but he had faded out of reality in his position and now stood at the opposite side of the room, before the window, the moonlight framing his figure.
“The truth is never cruel,” she managed to sputter out, even in her shock. “It just is.”
He sat back on the windowsill and curled his legs up with him, wrapping his arms about them. The moon glimmered off his dark hair, and shimmered upon his smooth skin, all the way down to where his robe began at the edge of his shoulders. “Even a bound one does not need to obey all,” he said simply, that tinge of hurt still in his voice. “You could tell a bound one to perform an action like… attack a foe. But you could not command him to betray his secrets. No conjurer is that powerful a master.”
She knew, logically, what he was. A cunning manipulator, a demon from a hellish place. Yet that wasn’t how he seemed, and it was so hard to argue with what she saw. He looked so hurt, and she was the one who had done it.
She took a step forward, folding her arms defensively beneath her petite bust, but she didn’t know what to say. She was at a loss for words.
Varuj looked aside, the silhouette of his handsome face outlined by silvery moonlight. “I would not share my secrets with a master. Only a companion,” he said almost pouty, in defiance of her attempt to cow him.
“I know what you are,” she said softly, but she tightened her arms to stop her hands from trembling. It was taking so much out of her just to not run to him, apologizing.
“You’re trying to manipulate me into caring for you.”
He sighed. “All I ask is that you treat me as equal,” he said so simply. “Is grinding me beneath your boot heel all you can think of? So much so that it blinds you to opportunity?” He rested his head upon his knees. All she could see of him was his glossy black hair rested atop his arms and knees. “Fine,” he said with some resignation. “I will teach you something… but just one thing. And if, after that, you do not care to treat me as something other than a slave… no more.”
Her throat was so dry and she took another step towards him, taken in by his good looks and sullen exterior. “How can I trust you when you are acting like this?”
Slowly, he lifted his head and rested his chin upon his arms to gaze back at her. The fire had ebbed from his ruby eyes somewhat. “Like what? I sacrificed my mighty form so that I might be more pleasing and less disconcerting to you. It was no easy feat. Nor a small sacrifice. I am weaker like this,” he explained calmly. “Though it is the only way I could hope to converse with you.”
“You can’t change back when you feel like it?” That actually surprised her, and though she was smart enough to know he was trying to manipulate her, it didn’t occur to her that he would outright lie. Though she’d always been someone craving power and knowledge, she was always open and honest with others as much as she could be.
Except when it threatened her quest for things greater than herself.
“It is not so simple,” he said with a sigh of exasperation. He stood, though, and approached her with slow, languid motions. “Shall I teach you then? Do we have a deal or no? If you only care to expose me to your elvish wizards then spare me the trouble and banish me now. They will only punish you for stealing a tome of dark secrets, and do terrible things to me before expunging me from this plane of existence. Such an outcome would be tedious and painful for us both.”
“They wouldn’t,” she gasped, but somehow she knew it was more likely than them praising her for her cunning. For her success. Her eyes began to fill with tears and she knew she was in far over her head.
Her lower lip trembled as she begged herself not to cry in front of the gorgeous demon, but she couldn’t help as the first tear escaped and ran down her peachy cheek.
“I would prefer to stay in your world,” he said, and he reached out, touching her arms with his hands, “with you.” He was so tender, so careful as he leaned in and spoke to her softly. “I said I will teach you a spell. A secret. And all I ask in return is that you keep me hidden.”
“Why would you possibly prefer it here? You said I took you away from your home.” It was hard to speak while holding in the sobs, but she managed and swallowed the lump in her throat.
He slowly slid his hands along her arms towards her back, gradually embracing her. “My realm is cruel and harsh,” he said softly. “Great suffering abounds. But here?” he said, leaning in so that his cheek hovered near to hers. “There is softness and opportunity for things unheard of in my plane of existence.”
What was he doing to her?
She gasped, and for a moment wondered if he had her under a spell of some kind. She felt her body soften to his and she wanted nothing more than his embrace. His affection.
She didn’t want him to go either, and she knew it wasn’t magic. It was loneliness. Longing.
It wasn’t passionate, but he held her tenderly, his arms squeezing her only lightly as their cheeks touched. “Open your heart to me,” he murmured into her ear. “Do not hide behind your defenses.” The light tickle of his smooth voice on her ear was so tantalizing. “I will slip inside you,” he said, his voice as rich as caramel, as soft as satin. “And you will hide me within your heart from the gaze of those who would seek to do us harm.”
She didn’t know what it meant, but it sounded so sexual.
Strangely, however, it felt… welcomed. She wanted him to long for her. For so many years she’d thought of herself as someone unlovable, but he was being so affectionate. He felt so warm.
It was her isolation, her neediness that made her nod against his cheek, her soft skin brushing against his.
His lips touched just beneath her ear only tentatively, “Thank you,” he said, and his warm body pressed to hers as he squeezed her form. It was such a careful, loving embrace, and it shifted and felt so bizarre. So different.
Was this what it was like to feel for someone? To have them touch at you physically and emotionally?
Though as he held her, the intensity of it grew. Without him moving, she could feel something strange, as if he was bleeding over into her very body. Tendrils of his existence—his soul?—trying to find its way inside of her. Not her body so much as her own soul: that hidden, inner beacon of light.
Where hers was pure and wholesome, however, she could feel his was dark and… different. It wasn’t like hers. But it wanted in. It wanted to mingle with her essence. That much was pure and true. She felt it.
A tear streamed down her face and her hands clenched.
This couldn’t be right. He was going to do something wrong, he was going to betray her.
Yet it didn’t feel wrong. Not really. There was some piece of him that felt so… so like her. So similar to her own soul.
She wanted to scream but she bit it back, tugging her lower lip into her mouth.
The walls within her came down, and with a bizarre awareness, she realized he was no longer there. Not physically.
He no longer held her in his arms, for he no longer existed in a physical sense before her at all. Though at the same time, she felt his presence more than ever, for he lingered within her.
Like when she cast that summoning, the tingle of power tickled her skin, and warmed her blood. Though it grew gentle with time as he settled into her being.
His voice travelled to her from within her own being, not needing words anymore. You are not alone, he said.
She swiped at her eyes as if trying to be strong and hide her tears at his words. He was speaking to the deepest and most hidden part of her and she felt so… exposed. It was horrible and wonderful all at once.
Yet she missed his physical presence, and that confused and disgusted her. She shouldn’t feel so attracted to him, to a demon that had such a terrifying presence.
Still, she missed the feeling of his hands around her.
Instead she got the feeling of warmth that enveloped her very soul. An unnatural heat that filled her in ways she thought impossible. Like moments of her father’s love unrestrained, but more intimate.
When the time comes, you will let me out and I will teach you, he said, his voice – which was not a voice at all, but a thought in her mind – so rich and soothing.
There was no need, but she nodded as she looked towards the window. It felt like so much time had passed, but the sun was only beginning to rise, and it cast long shadows on the campus. She had a secret, so large and all encompassing, but she went to clean up the remains of the spell casting.
It was strange how routine it was, and how new it felt, all at once. It was almost as if she were doing it with an old friend, someone who cared deeply about her.