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Eternal Fire: Myths, Magic and Gods (The Guardians Series Book 5) by S Lawrence (1)

Chapter 1

LOKI

My power often takes over, shifting me into what it thinks is needed. Mine is an old and primal power with a mind of its own. Like Odin’s, it came from those that lived long before our people on our home planet, a gift to those first members of the clans. Our family is descended from that first family that made up our clan. The first warrior, the first conqueror of the others. War and the power that comes from reigning calls to us. For thousands of years, I have fought against that siren’s song. But recently, the call is stronger than ever before. I fight for control and fight the change.

I sit in the back in the shadows and let the music wash over me. I ignore the drunken tourists like I have since I arrived months ago. Months, I’ve hidden here in plain sight, lost in the throng of people that move in and out of this vibrant city, letting my magic change my form at will. I sometimes stroll the streets as a dog, other times, a homeless woman pushing a cart. I’ve sat and played drums on a bucket looking like a child; I’ve moved through the bars on Bourbon Street as a young handsome man. Tonight it leaves me in my own form.

I’ve often walked to Jackson Square, skirting around the edge looking for her. It pisses me off. The glass in my hand shatters under the pressure of my grip. The glass biting into me pulls me from my anger. I’m not sure which I’m more angry about -- the hold she has on me or the fact that I haven’t seen her.

I feel a gentle caress of power over my skin and I raise my eyes looking slowly around before locking onto her. She sits at the bar, a drink in her hand and a look of ecstasy on her face. It’s tilted up, eyes closed, a tiny smile curving her lips as she listens to the music. I can’t look away. Finally. Something settles before my heart starts to pound.

Long minutes later, her head slowly lowers and her eyes open to slits as she looks around. She has felt my eyes on her. A hint of my power moves through the room, and she looks for the danger. Smart girl. Her drink lowers to the bar as she turns on the stool, eyes still scanning the crowd. Still she doesn’t see me. I use my power and pull the surrounding shadows to me. Her body stiffens, and she throws the drink back, her slim neck moving as she swallows. The bartender comes to stand in front of her. They talk for a moment, and I can see they are friends. A subtle shake of her head and she throws some money down and climbs down from the stool. She moves quickly through the crowd, stopping beside the huge man at the door. His hand lands on her all too familiarly, and a growl rumbles from my chest. I’m on my feet in an instant moving toward her, but she slips out the door. By the time I hit the sidewalk outside, she’s gone. My power washes over me, and the next moment, I’m a giant Irish Wolfhound loping down the street, tourists scattering as I move past. Locals just stop and stare; a few cross themselves, but others smile with knowledge. Whispers of “werewolf” and “magic” reach my sensitive ears. Gods, I love this city.

I track her down the dark streets to a building near Bourbon street. I sit under the streetlamp and stare up at the window until a light comes on. I watch as she moves through her home, fighting the urge to howl. The shutters are thrown open, and then she is there, the light from inside hiding her face, but I see her eyes lock onto me. I wait to see what she will do.

“You just try to come in here and you’re gonna get quite the shock, Mister man.” Her voice is low but strong. She is daring me. “My Grand-mere taught me plenty protection spells, and I happen to have a few friends that warded this place to the roof. You ain’t getting in. So whoever sent you, you better run right on back to them.” She points at me. “I’ve done been through the roots of the Tree of Life. You don’t scare me.” She turns her back and walks brazenly away, leaving the window open. My power flares to life, and I’m flapping my wings to rise in the air toward that very window.

As I dive toward the opening, I hit an invisible barrier and fall to the ground. My wings catch me just before I hit. She is standing there laughing. “I told you, didn’t I? Now go on and git. Tell Odin I still don’t know where he is.”

I peer up at her, pondering her words. Still. Has he come for her before? Is it because of her abilities or my interest? I shift again and flap much bigger wings until I hover in front of her, watching as her eyes widen, as I settle myself on the post of her tiny balcony. Concrete-looking wings fold in on my body, my new form one of a gargoyle, a small gargoyle dragon to protect her. She backs away, keeping her eyes on me.

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