“So... I have to travel to the Dimension, trudge up to the top of that bloody mountain and then do some trials. Seems easy enough...”
“No, Zeke. It won’t be. My scar? That’s where I got it. You’ll be competing against other warlocks, who are trained in magic and with a single word can break your arm. Besides, you need someone who’s properly trained with you.”
“That seems like a lot of effort to go to just to get an animal.”
“Familiar,” Cassius corrected him sharply. “And without it you’ll slowly get more and more ill. The nightmares will get worse, to the point where you do not want to even close your eyes because you know what will haunt you when you do. You will not be able to use any of your abilities, and even your vampire spit will not be able to heal you of anything. It will kill you.” His tone was harsh and his face almost angry. Zeke instinctively cowered back on the sofa.
He didn’t say anything for a while, trying to determine whether his uncle was actually cross with him or not. “You can go with me, can’t you?” he asked eventually in a quiet tone.
Cassius sighed. “I can’t go to the Dimension this year.”
“Only certain members of the Order can be there at specific times. This year I’m not allowed; it’s in case anybody tries to kill them all. It means that – if that happens – there are others left, who are more difficult to find.”
“There’s only one I know who would be willing.”
“You’re not going to like it.”
“I don’t care, please tell me.”
Cassius studied him for a minute or so, his gold eyes shining like glitter in the dim light of the candles that he’d lit earlier.
“You don’t mean... the guy that trained me to fight for twelve years or so... right?”
“The very same, Zeke.”
When Beth woke up, she stretched, smiling at the softness of the mattress underneath her. The last time she’d slept in a mattress this good was with her fiancé. Her smile turned sad as she remembered him. She just lay there as she thought about him, and what he must be going through.
Her phone began to ring a couple of minutes later. She quickly glanced over at the clock on the bedside table. 10:48, it read. God, it was late in the morning, considering how much she’d slept in the car, and then in the hotel.
She reached for her phone beside the pillow but frowned when she couldn’t find it. She sat up and looked underneath the pillow and then on the floor when she couldn’t find it. She saw it just under the bed and grabbed it, answering it just before it would stop ringing.
“Hello?” she said into it.
“Hey, Beth, glad to know you’re alive,” Jay said on the other end of the phone. “I’m guessing you’re with Zeke and Caelan.”
“Hey, how are you? Yeah, I am,” she said, smiling; she hadn’t actually seen Jay in what felt like forever.
“Good, thanks. Anyway, I was ringing to let you know that I think we have a lead on Robert. I’m going to check it out, want to come with?”