FORTY FOUR

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RAVENNA FOUND HERSELF in Caelan's study again

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RAVENNA FOUND HERSELF in Caelan's study again. The spellbook in hand, she curled up on the window seat, resting within a small mountain of decorative pillows. She couldn't help but feel safer in his study. The study wasn't as empty as the rest of the house felt. It was the aged books that surrounded her, mixed with the faintest trace of Caelan's scent. It calmed her down.

Her fingers traced along the edges of the spellbook, searching for its metal clasp. It had disappeared. Carefully, she opened the book and started to flip through its pages.

The spellbook was completely unlocked again.

At the base of her throat, the talisman began to warm against her skin. She shifted around so that the book rested within her lap, one hand on its edge to keep it in place. Her free hand curled around the talisman, finding even more comfort within its warmth.

She examined each page of the spellbook. At first, she skimmed through the spells that were easily readable, in search of something that would help with observational skills. She'd read the spell-book through once or twice before, but had yet to spend much time actually dissecting each spell. There was so many hidden secrets within the wording, so many underlying spells. It was easy to become carried away within a spell's apparent simplicity. Once she was able to pick out a few spells that might help, she went through each one in detail. There didn't seem to be an exact spell for observation, but there was a spell that increased aspects of a person's perception, along with some elements of their agility. It wasn't perfect, but it definitely seemed as though it would help her.

It didn't seem that difficult either.

She scanned over the spell again, and then looked around Caelan's study. She'd need a yellow candle, some lavender, a piece of paper, and a stick of charcoal. Carefully setting the book aside, she stood and started toward Caelan's desk. It wasn't hard to find a blank piece of parchment. She tore a small part from it and moved on toward the shelves in search of a candle, or some lavender. When she didn't find either, she ventured into the kitchen. Mixed in with the spices and herbs, she found a small jar of lavender. Grabbing it, she rummaged around for a candle. The only one that she could really find was a stubby white candle that sat atop the kitchen table. Adding it to her collection, she continued on with her search for the other ingredients for the spell, only to turn up empty handed.

Annoyed, she returned to the window seat and skimmed over the spell again. Perhaps there was something that she could use in place of the ingredients listed. She already had to use a white candle in place of a yellow candle. All she was missing was a stick of charcoal.

It also didn't seem that important to the spell, either. A quill and ink could be used to write out the actual spell on the paper. All it was really needed for was to draw a symbol over her third eye and to draw out the casting circle. She flipped through the pages of the book, looking for other spells that involved the third eye. Most of them involved the use of charcoal. Some used blood.

Ravenna pursed her lips. Maybe she could use her ice.

She moved to the center of the study. The spellbook in one hand, she stared intently at the floor and extended her free hand, index pointed at the floorboards. She focused, hard, and the talisman began to glow beneath her shirt. Ice shot out from her fingertip. Slowly, carefully, she drew out a circle. Once it was drawn, she lowered to her knees and touched her fingertips to the area between her brows. She concentrated. Ice began to build atop her skin, creating a very jaggedly shaped eyeball.

"There," she said once the eye was finished. "It's pretty much the same thing."

The moment she finished her sentence, the ice peeled away from her skin and shattered against the ground. With a scowl, she tried again, carefully building on a thin layer of ice. It fell again, unable to stick to her skin.

Taking a deep breath, Ravenna tried to remain calm. She did it again. Another eye formed. This time, the ice slowly spread out, creating intricate designs across her forehead, and wrapped around her head like a crown.

This time, when she lowered her hand, it stayed put.

She quickly scribbled the spell out on the parchment with a quill she'd taken from Caelan's desk. Once that was finished, she lit the candle and closed her eyes.

The spell required full concentration. She had to visualize a bright yellow light and meditate for a few moments. It was simple.

She remained still, listening to her breathing, visualizing the color yellow. She couldn't help but think of flowers, of the sun, and of bees. Pops of color exploded across her mind's eye. The longer she sat, the more her mind began to fall silent, and the more she was able to focus on the essence of the color. Even the talisman's burn began to fade against her skin, its distraction muted.

Eyes squeezed shut, she began to say the spell.

"O bright and brilliant yellow I have a request for thee,

Enter my mind, I seek your power. Improve my mind, I seek your wisdom.

Open my eye to that of the world.

I see all that is, I understand all that isn't.

As I will it so mote it be."

She repeated the spell three times and then opened her eyes. The talisman glowed brightly against her chest. It almost blinded her at first. She squinted through its light, peering at the small slip of paper. She reached out and grabbed a pinch of lavender, sprinkling it over the written spell. Then she folded the paper and held it over the flame.

It quickly caught.

As the flame licked at the parchment, the talisman's flickered out.

There was a moment when all was dark, aside for the gentle candlelight. As the flame ate away at the spell, the candle's flame grew, larger, brighter. It pirouetted like smoke, dancing within the air above Ravenna's head. She watched it, mesmerized.

The smoke-like flame twisted into tiny tendrils, arching upward like a wave, and then shot downward at Ravenna's face. She squeezed her eyes shut, her expression pinched in discomfort at the sudden onslaught of heat. The space between her eyebrows began to burn, hotter and hotter. The pain was nothing like the talisman's heat.

She poked an eye open and then blinked, shocked. She could see, through the reflection of the dirt-ingrained window, the flames being absorbed into her crown of ice. A mixture of glowing bright blues and oranges danced within her peripheral vision.

Once the spell was complete, the candle flickered out and all was dark.

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