I savagely ripped the curtains in my ceremonial room with my ceremonial knife. If Kat was in this room with me, I would rip the woman in tiny pieces. How could anyone know that this psychic, the word was distasteful, would have real power?
When you had money, real money, old money, you should be able to buy any information you needed or wanted. My family had had a stranglehold on the city for decades. The police and judges let the family know when they found people or children with power. The hospital administrators let us know when a person of power died so that the family could harvest their bodies. How did this little no-nothing steal the most powerful wizard I had ever tested?
My only hope was that she hadn't figured out yet how powerful John could be. If she knew that teen's power, it would be all over. I felt just a twinge of fear. My father would be angry.
I ripped the seats in my ceremonial room with vigor. The knife went up and down in my hand. There was a red rage in my heart. How did she subvert a golem and gain an ally in a hellhound?
The only reason I had checked out this no-power psychic was because of the grandmother. In the records the grandmother had power that could be harvested. According to the family records, this family had only a small amount of personal power. Kat's mother who had been subverted by their organization had been a little witch with large ambition. Because of her abilities and how easily she was corrupted, they had assumed that the entire family could be handled. I smiled a little. Maybe the mistake was all my father's fault.
My personal failure ripped through me. I wanted to scream and to stab. I wanted blood. How could they assume? Asses. Asses. The lot of them.
I stopped a moment to listen to my administrative assistant continue reading the report on Kat and her family. She refused to look at me or the knife in my hand. I had been known to kill and torture assistants in my ceremonies when they brought be bad news. But my father had been displeased at the last kill. He had spent a lot of money and time and power. If I killed this one, a fully trained witch, I would lose all access to the organization and would be used as a breeder. My father never made threats, just promises. I would not let the stupid woman see the shiver.
It was why I was ripping the furnishings and not ripping into the assistant witch. My father was a ruthless man.
In the report, the "Church of the Magi" had assumed that the family did not have inherited power. I knew that Kat had inherited something on the death of her grandmother. The power had fresh and strong like freshly mowed grass. The power had called to me although I couldn't harvest it. It had denied me. If I had known it would the power was inherited, I would have been stealthier in my approach.
My people now knew that the direct approach was the wrong approach. Someone put that line in the report to keep their ass out of hock.
It was my idea to go head on with Kat. After that psychic reading, I knew that all I had to do was take over. Even the wards around the property had seemed weak and ineffectual. I wanted to bang my head against the wall. Stupid. Stupid.
It all seemed desperate and stupid somehow. But I needed that power.
I took a deep breath. If I wanted to be the new heir, to take over the organization from my father, I needed enough power to outshine my brothers. They were as ruthless as my father. Okay, my younger brothers didn't have that ruthlessness that my older brother had gained by working with father.
The only reason I was in the competition for the organization was because my father wanted to keep my brother in line a little longer. My brother was not above killing his own father if he could gain the power.
If I could gain that power, then I could kill my brother and enslave my father. It would be worth all the threats and hurts I had to suffer from them. I dropped the knife, picked up the chair, and smashed it into the wall.
In the "Church of the Magii" women were either witches or breeders. Very few women made it to the wizard category without stealing power.
I carried pouches of body parts of less powerful witches around my body at all times. There was no reason to waste a body when I killed it. Even though they knew how to preserve a corpse without the smell, there was a metaphysical smell to someone who gained power from someone else's corpse. I reeked of it.
I also knew that if I couldn't enhance my power in a natural way that soon I would go insane. It was the price to pay for stealing power. Her father had had to kill his father because of that reason. Of course, the reason for killing his father could be a lie. It was hard to believe her father because if his lips were moving, he was lying.
The red must have bled into my blue eyes because the assistant witch backed up slowly to the door and reached back for the knob. I picked up my ceremonial knife, threw it underhanded, and missed the assistant as she slipped out the door. The knife stuck in the door.
I started chuckling, and then laughed big woofs. Red drops slid from my eyes down to my cheeks. I kept laughing until the red pressure in my mind eased. When I finished laughing, my brother, Seth, walk into the room. Coward.
I watched him prance to the chair in the middle of the room. He knew this was my working room. What was he doing here?
He watched me silently with his legs crossed. If I didn't know better, I would have have thought that he was a weak man. It was a façade he used to keep the unwary at bay. He was as deft with a knife as I am. This was something I could never forget because when I killed him, I needed to be fast and devious, but mostly deadly.
"What are you doing in my room, Seth," I was not happy to see him noting the ripped curtains, spilled blood, and the ceremonial knife still stuck in the door.
"Father wants you, Daisy" he said, a smile touched his lips. His dark eyes were cold as he looked me up and down.
"When have you ever been his errand boy?" I tried to keep my voice steady. Any tremble, any quiver and this man would kill me. If I had the ability to shift into a wolf, I would have reached for his throat with my teeth.
It would have been a bad move. I had seen him subdue a were-wolf when Seth had reached manhood. The were-wolf may have been used in a ceremony to weaken it, but it had been rabid and when Seth stepped within the snapping jaws, stabbed the knife into its heart, and didn't receive a scratch, I had been impressed and a little scared.
"Are you leaving now," I asked him in the same tones I would use on a servant.
Seth eyes twinkled. "Father wants me to come with you."
That little bastard would love to learn the secrets of this room. I had carved the walls with secret symbols that didn't light when magic walked into the room. I had a normal pentacle carved on the floor. My potions were neatly aligned on some bookshelves. I had bins that held different dried plants. I did all the organizing, picking, and planting with my own hands. I didn't want my father's spies to know what I could do.
Before my talent in magic showed, father had let me study plant magic. It was a common talent among women and even the breeders had their plants that helped make childbirth less painful. I had learned a few tricks from the mid-wives to use the plants to enhance my powers.
Most mid-wives used the enhancing plants only during childbirth so that they could help the mothers through any problem. I was the first one in this lifetime to use the plants continuously with flesh magic.
I kept the secret because I was sure my father, maybe even the midwives, would find a way to stop me from using this magic. I knew that there were strictures against continuous use, probably because the men wanted to be in charge.
I could feel the heat creep back into my chest. I wanted to hit Seth. I knew he could feel the change in the atmosphere better than I could. He just sat and watched. I turned away from him and took deep breaths. Then I pulled out some salt and a mop so that I could clean up the blood on the floor.
It was my blood, even so any blood that was not being used could taint my work space. Plus I didn’t want Seth to get a sample of my blood. It made me shiver to think what he could do with one drop of blood.
When I was finished, my brother stretched and stood up. He walked to the door, a small smile on his face. He might be smart, quick, and strong, but I was more devious. I knew that he would be cataloging my room and contents. If he ever let me into his work room, I would do the same. It was one of the best ways to discover what he was going to do next.
"Learn something brother," I taunted. He shut the door firmly. I had to open the door and walk through. I stopped at the mirror in the hallway outside my work space and checked my appearance. There was some dirt on the edge of her robe.
Seth waited for me at the end of the hallway. When I started to walk towards him, he showed me his back walked down the hallway ahead of me. It was another way he showed is contempt of me. If he really respected me, he would either let me go first or walk with me.
I hated walking down this hallway. My heels clicked on the tile floor. The walls were adorned with Picasso and other surreal works of art. I would rather have Monet, but my father liked the darker paintings. What father liked, father got.
In his building in the compound, he hired artists who spent their nights in the insane asylum a few miles from the compound. The paintings in his building contained themes of suffering and pain. The reds and blacks slashed into the walls made her shudder. I hated the feel of the walls and the building. Father soaked up the pain and used it as power for his rituals.
I had no idea what Seth used for power. I had been too young to understand his power when he came into it. Seth was over ten years older than I was. As my father had told me many times, he had wanted another son from this magical woman who had caught his eye. When she had produced a girl, his lust had cooled.
I supposed that our mother had become part of his experiments. He didn't last long with any woman. I had been in his life longer than his wives and longer than his mother. I knew that if he grew tired of me, even though I was his flesh and blood, he would find a better use for me. I wouldn't like it.
I followed my brother out the door and through the compound. There were women in the small laundry room to my right. They washed the linens every day and made sure that the clothes were cleaned. I knew that there were witches who zapped the stains to that her father's favorite white robes would remain prefect. Only magic could keep it those robes in that good of shape. I had spent months in that laundry on spot duty.
I sneered at my brother's back. He started to prance even more. Geez. I bet he had perfected that "eyes back of the head" spell, he had bragged about at dinner yesterday. I smoothed my face. I didn't want to give him more ideas. Sibling rivalry was enough.
There were guards at the gate and guards walking casually through the gardens. Father had gardeners for the vegetable gardens and the flower gardens. His paranoia of food that had not come from the compound was known. I suppose he had reason to be wary of eating out.
I did get a hamburger once in a while. Father had more enemies. More than he knew perhaps.
It was a fifteen minute walk to get to father's building. The building was guarded by guards, technology, and magic. We walked through a ward. I could feel it stick to my skin as it checked me. I felt a pinch.
"Ouch," I said.
"Don't be a wimp," said Seth. I saw a drop of blood drip from his forefinger and then it was gone.
This was the first time that I knew of a ward that tasted blood. It would be hard to get to my father when he was in his building. This ward had not been up last night when we had come here for dinner.
The ward let us through. We stood in front of a big door. I put in my code and then Seth put in his. This was not changed. We walked through. A guard did a thorough search of my clothing and body. He spread my legs and felt down each one. He slid up my torso and felt under each breast. At the end he checked the nape of my hair and my head.
He was careful not to touch the blood pouches that were tied to my belt.
I saw that Seth was subjected to the same search only the guard was carefully checking my brother's crotch. Did the guards think that we would fuck our father to death?
"Happy," I asked.
The guard grinned. It was nasty and I wanted to knife him in the heart. I took a deep breath across my tongue. Maybe not a good idea. This guard tasted like a warlock.
"Very happy," he said. When I killed my father, I would kill this guard slowly.
He didn't pale when my eyes went red. For a moment I was intrigued. I turned away and walked through the door into another hallway. This one bland with white walls and tile. Another test. Hell. He was going to test us again. That little prick Seth knew it.
He was still against the wall with that guard handling his crotch. Seth looked straight at me and waved. Like hell. I tried to walk back through the door, but I couldn't. I stood in that white room as the clouds rolled up my toes, legs, thighs, torso, and finally my head.
I waited for the clouds to subside. My consciousness died. The next thing I remembered, I was through the room and standing in another hallway. This time the hallway was filled with the paintings of the damned. I should have known. Seth was standing by me. I must have looked disheveled because he handed me a brush. I silently brushed my hair. What could I say to the prick? He was no brother to me. I had already known that one for years. I would have thrown him to father as quickly as he had just done it to me.
My suspicions grew. Seth was getting ready to take the crown of the Magii. Why would he want to stay away from father's little room? Hopefully the clouds hadn't ripped too many of my plans. I would have to play it by year. If he did get it all, there was a chance father would just be amused.
I would spend a few months in the torture room, watching new and innovative ways to take magic away from believers. At the very worse, he would put me in one of the stocks and have me whipped. I had survived two years of whipping when I was sixteen and refused to be impregnated by father's current favorite.
The worst he would do would kill me and take my magic. It had been something I had feared for so long that the pain was like a toothache in the back of my mind. It only hurt if I pushed on it.