Kenneth cast levitation, concealment, and repulsion spells on Milton’s body so he could move it without drawing any attention. Summer showed Lee the computers that stored Lyndale Market’s security footage. That left Cal and me free for the rest of the night. I wanted to go after Milton’s assistant right away, but Cal looked tired. I didn’t think I’d need his help to get the information out of William, but I wanted him around when I released Peter’s spirit. Tracking down William would hold. Peter had waited long enough for his freedom.
I examined the stone trapping Peter. The magic containing him emitted the same negative energy as the knife it broke off of. Feeling the witch magic it ensnared made it more tolerable than the blade, though. Cleansing the demon’s energy from the body took a lot of power, but not a complicated spell. The adrenaline from dealing with Milton still amped me up. I braced myself and cast a basic dispelling. I connected with the demon. Something changed from our last encounter. The link grew stronger since the funeral home. It didn’t bother tempting me this time. Pure malice poured through the bridge between us.
I held my mental shields and pushed more power into the dispelling. The cage holding Peter’s spirit crumbled with surprising ease, but the demon held tight to our connection. It didn’t try tempting me because it didn’t need a way into our world. It had already possessed someone new. I wanted to break the connection. Before I could, information flooded me. It tracked my essence to my apartment as soon as it took over its new body and waited for me there. Flashes of what it wanted to do to me came in chaotic bursts. I cut off my magic, hopefully before the demon got a lock on my location.
As I refocused on my surroundings, glowing cracks broke across the stone’s surface. The facade shattered, releasing the magic it contained. The stone hadn’t held a simple ghost straddling our world and the next. Peter’s life forces poured out. The knife distilled his life and future into a concentrated force; years of magic and energy compressed into too small a vessel. It rushed out and into the closest magical vessel, my body. I felt unstoppable. Peter’s spirit separated from the energy and manifested in front of us.
“Hey, Cas,” Peter said. “Hi, Cal.”
“Peter,” I said, too overwhelmed to think of something more or better.
“Do you remember what happened?” Cal asked. That snapped me back into the moment. I didn’t know how long Peter would stick around, and we needed answers.
“Everything until they stabbed me,” he said. “Things got hazy from there.”
“They? Noah wasn’t working alone?” I asked.
“It was a group. I thought they were just a bunch of wealthy men with more money than sense. They didn’t want me to contact anyone specific. They said they just wanted to see a seance,” he told us.
“How did they contact you?” I asked.
“My specternet site,” he said. He’d shown it to me before. People contacting him there knew what they wanted and didn’t waste his time. “You should be able to see the conversation if you log on with my tablet.”
“I will. I’m going to make them pay,” I promised.
“Cas, be careful,” he said.
“I will,” I said. I didn’t feel like I needed to be. With his magic flowing through me, it seemed like I could do anything. “I’m sorry this happened.”
“Me too. But thank you for trying to make it right,” he said. He faded before I could say anything else.
“He’s moved on,” Cal said.
“You should go home,” I said. “Noah’s set the demon loose again, and it’s probably on its way here by now.”
“Its got a grudge against me. I’m gonna lure it somewhere safer for a faceoff.”
“Are you crazy? Do you even know how to banish a demon?” he asked.
“I don’t have to banish it. I just have to hold its focus until the body it’s using burns out,” I told him.
“That’s still not a good plan,” he argued.
“Maybe not, but I’d rather he come after me than follow his whims and hurt other people.”
“You to go home so that I don’t have to worry about it using you against me,” I interrupted. “Someone needs to be around to tell the story of my epic idiocy. Now go.”
“Cormac, go with him,” Cal requested. Cormac materialized by my side and gave a mock salute.
Cal left Cormac and me to our own devices. I didn’t know what I’d do if the demon didn’t burn out quickly enough, but I had a plan for where to lead it. I used short-range teleportation to move to the furthest point I could see in my desired direction. It wasn’t an efficient way to travel usually, but it would leave a potent trail of magic for the demon to follow. While Cormac had no trouble keeping up, this made it impossible to maintain a conversation. I didn’t mind the silence. I didn’t want him to pick up where Cal left off by trying to talk me out of this.
When we arrived at the dead zone in the forest, Cormac groaned. I shared the sentiment. I couldn’t imagine any sane being wouldn’t. With the park closed, we’d already be fairly isolated. This late, I didn’t know if they’d even have security guards patrolling the park. If they did, I hoped the dead zone’s negative energy would repel anyone who might be around.
I analyzed the area now that I knew the knife responsible for the dead zones came from demon magic. They lacked the intention that the other residual power held. The demon had no more sway over the dead zones than anyone else. That didn’t calm me down, though. It didn’t have an advantage here, but it might not find the spot as unnerving as someone of our world. This insight didn’t help, and I started pacing.
Time dragged on. I checked my phone’s clock repeatedly each minute. Eventually, I grew impatient and checked on the demon’s progress. I closed my eyes and traced the magical path I’d left behind backward in my mind. Whenever it crossed with a different source of magic, sparks of insight greeted me. It only took three sparks to find the demon. Just as I hoped, it found my trail and followed me single-mindedly. We didn’t forge a new connection, but I picked up on its excitement. The hunt invigorated the creature, and our world held no stronger temptation.
“Casper,” Cormac said, breaking my concentration. I opened my eyes.
“Something’s coming,” he said.
“You don’t have to stay,” I told him. If he could sense the demon’s approach, its magic could hurt him. “It only has eyes for me. I doubt it will notice you, but I have no idea what it’s capable of. Being dead might not protect you if it sees you.”
“No, I don’t want you to be alone,” he said. I appreciated the sentiment, but I’d hoped he would go. I didn’t know how he could help. I didn’t even know what I’d do.
He didn’t have time to change his mind. A man stepped out from behind a tree thirty feet away. I couldn’t see his face, but I didn’t need to. The demon’s power rose off him in red steam. I doubted a mundane person would see that energy, but I knew they’d feel it. My emotional side screamed for me to run, though rationally, I knew it would catch me. It took every bit of willpower in me to hold my ground. I’d made my choice. Win or lose; I’d keep the demon from hurting anyone else as long as I could.