It turned out the New York coven wasn’t exactly in New York which made sense. Nature wielding witches weren’t going to find much magic in the city. But I had thought there was a City presence. This was one human magic we didn’t police much. And there was little reason for the Venatori to interfere with human issues. People thought witches were myths and that whatever magic they thought they were doing was all science or bullshit, one way or the other we didn’t need to get involved.
Ant had taken us through the shadows with Ryan and Alec with us. I wasn’t sure why Alec was there, but I didn’t ask. He was keening interested in all things occult from what I saw. And maybe his old age would help understand it. He was hardly as cryptic as Cari was.
We emerged from the shadows in a narrow alley way with cobblestone streets. Ant spoke softly, “The people here are of old blood, they live apart from their neighbors, but there is trade amongst them all. Mind your tongues, it can be difficult not to insult them.”
Alec laughed, “I suppose all of us should remain quiet then Anthony and let you speak as you know these people.”
Ant turned and gave Alec a fangy grin before he turned back around, “You’ll all do fine. Just mind what you say. Thera have me names but I’ve never met them.
“Thera is?” I asked.
“She is the great many times over granddaughter of the woman who bound my mother and father together.” Ant said.
“Who are we meeting?” Alex asked, he winked at me as I was about to ask the same thing.
“Rosanna Milano of Circulus Elyssii. She is the high priestess of the north east coven.”
“How many covens are there?” I asked.
“There is only one true coven, but there are five New World locations each calling themselves a coven, but they answer to the greater council.”
“How many in total?” I asked curiously.
Ant looked back at me and shrugged. “When mother came to the new world she brought only the one coven, and they branched out over the centuries. We don’t deal with most of them these days, usually Thera in Ward. Alex, your family should know of her.”
“I don’t know anyone by the name of Thera.” Alex said.
Ant nodded, “It is not her given name, or one that you’d know. But Kishinira and Karma would know her – she is their high priestess.”
“I’ve never met her.” Alex said. “But how do you know Kish and Kay?”
“I don’t know them personally, but I know of them, their connection to you, and Nox. It’s part of my job to know.” Ant said coldly.
Clearly these two needed to find common ground again. I couldn’t have them biting each other’s heads off.
Ant took us to a shake door in the middle of this conglomerate of shabby buildings and knocked. A man who looked the part – wirey hair and loose skin everywhere – answered the door. “Which of you is Sétanta?”
“I am.” I said stepping forward, “But I’m not leaving my friends behind.”
The thin man slide his lips back in what I assumed was a smile but it looked creepy. “Of course not.” He said, “Come with me. Do not use your magic in the domicile.”
I wondered why as I walked through and felt the faint tingle of magic against my skin. Alex followed but he was soon on his knees at the entrance clutching at his head. The man shook his head, “I said don’t use your magic.”
I crouched down beside Alex and Ant and Ryan were standing guard, their hands at their sides ready to draw weapons. Alec was still standing outside and I knew he was trying to penetrate the shield but it was no use. “Don’t try Alec, they are preventing magic use.” I looked back down at Alex and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “I can manage my shields.”
Alex shook his head. “I’ll be fine. I can keep it in control and if not I can draw the lines to contain it.”
Alex growled, “You will not.”
“If I have to. But I don’t I will. Pull your shields back I can’t see you like this baby.” I begged, “Please?” I added.
Alex growled again but only because he could never refuse me when I asked so nicely. Which made him upset and he liked it all the same. It was a confusing mix of emotions. The pain in Alex’s eyes lessened as did his ever constant presence. We had only our natural connection. And the physical one, because once we stood Alex had his hand in mine and he squeezed. We’d do this together for whatever it was worth.
Everyone’s magic was as contained as it was going to be. I did not shield. I didn’t care really. It wasn’t hurting me to be free and a telepath wasn’t likely to read my if Alex couldn’t read me. So I walked with Alex at my side, Ant and Ryan with Alec in the rear. The master vampire was barely even let into the house. Made me wonder why.
The sickly man lead us to a large room filled with dark hangings. Not like curtains, but meant to scare the tourists type dark. Tapestries of dark rituals, horns and dried animal parts hanging around the walls. I’d seen enough to know this was all show, nothing in this room felt magical. A large table sat with a crystal ball in the middle over a long purple sash in the middle. Tarot cards piled in a stack and laid out mid read. There was an older woman with salt and peppered hair sitting at the table flipping another card. “Mr. Sétanta, come sit. The others should remain quiet.”
I sat down across from her and the ball began to glow and her hand faultered as she lifted the next card mid flip. “Odd.” She said looking at the crystal ball, “It never reacts to your kind.”
I laughed, “My kind? what do you think I am?”
“The Prince of Darkness,” she looked to Alex with a knowing smile, “says you are Venatori. The ball says otherwise.”
I smiled, “I’m not sure I’d trust a crystal ball that is merely for show.”
The woman laughed. “Perhaps. Ask me a question.”
I looked back to Alex and he shrugged, Alec was watching the mysticism closely and when I looked at Ant and Ryan they both gave me a slight nod telling me to do as I was asked.
That was hard… just one question.