Everyone was quiet.

"Let's do it," Amelia said firmly. "Now that we know what they are, there's no reason to keep them trapped. Let's set them free."

Aiden looked around the table. Everyone nodded.

Anne spoke up. "Is there any danger to you?"

Gods bless her! She always thought of him first.

He shook his head. "I'll follow the trail using my magic, my body remains here. It's safe."

"Should we alert the council to what we're doing?" Elizabeth asked.

Aiden shook his head. "My father and the rest of the council are obligated to pass on everything they learn to the Committee. In this instance, we're better off asking for forgiveness than for permission."

"Agreed," Gavriel said.

Kendrick looked over to where Ryuu stood behind Meryn. "I'll need your help, old friend."

Ryuu bowed. "Of course, whatever you need."

"I'll need to use you as an anchor."

"It would be an honor."

Aiden stood. "Let's get started."

*****

Kendrick was upstairs gathering the necklaces when Anne placed her hand on his arm.

"You weren't lying were you? There's no way that you'll get hurt?"

Kendrick stared down and saw real fear in her eyes. He cupped her face with his hands and kissed her gently. "I was telling the truth. When you were in danger at the clinic, how did you reach out to me?"

Anne frowned in thought. "I recalled that warm feeling I got when I touched your magic during our claiming. Once I touched it, I was able to follow it back to the house. Oh! Is that what you'll do?"

Kendrick nodded. He kissed her again before he picked up the necklaces. "Ready?" He extended his hand. She took it and they walked downstairs to where everyone was waiting in the front family room.

"So what exactly is gonna happen?" Meryn asked.

Kendrick waited until Anne was seated before he started his explanation for the group. "Do you remember the conversation we had about how higher magic works? That a witch must form a contract with a higher being or offer something of themselves up in exchange?"

Everyone nodded.

He held up the necklaces. "When I break these beads, the piece that the witch offered up will be freed and temporarily connected to the witch. I will follow that connection back to the caster. With any luck, they won't be too far away, and I'll be able to identify them. Worst case scenario, I'll have to do a sketch of the person I see, but at least it's a start."

Aiden stood next to Ryuu. "It's more than we have now."

Kendrick winked at Anne, who rolled her eyes. Smiling, he walked over to Ryuu. "I'll need you to attach your magic to me so that I can find my way back. There's no telling how far or how fast I'll fly when these beads are broken."

Ryuu reached out and encircled Kendrick's right wrist with his hand. Where they touched, blue light flared. "I am ready, heika."

Kendrick took a deep breath, and using his magic, he crushed the beads in his hand. Green light flared and he concentrated on finding that sliver of magic. He saw two strands, one thicker than the other. He grabbed onto their faint pink glow and raced after the receding light. He flew past trees and through the woods. He was surprised to see that he was heading right for Lycaonia. As he whizzed past businesses and houses, he had a sinking feeling he knew where he was heading. He looked up as the pink strands snapped in front of him. He could go no further; the building where both strands disappeared into was warded.

He turned and tugged on the blue light that secured him to his body. Ryuu began to reel him back. Buildings and streets raced by, and trees were nothing but a blur. Suddenly, he was back in his body.

Gasping, he opened his eyes and stepped back from Ryuu. "Gods!"

Aiden appeared beside him and helped him to a chair. "What did you see?"

Kendrick took a deep breath. "I wasn't able to see their faces; there are two of them."

In the background, Kendrick heard a cell phone ringing.

"Two of them? What does that mean?" Colton asked.

"It means that there was more than one witch creating necklaces," Kendrick answered.

Anne took his hand. "Why couldn't you see their faces?"

Kendrick looked up at Aiden. "Because the building is warded. I ended up at Council Manor."

The room was silent except for the faint ringing sound.

"For the gods' sake, Aiden, answer your damn phone! You never answer your phone!" Meryn exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air.

Aiden growled and pulled his phone out of his pocket. "What!" His face instantly cleared. "Father, I'm sorry, I... What! When?" Aiden swallowed and collapsed into his chair. "Father, I'll have to call you back." He ended his call and stared at the floor.

"Aiden?" Gavriel called.

Aiden looked up. "Elder Adalwin is dead. They were in the middle of a meeting when he began to scream and age right before them. Father said he looks like a dried up mummy. The other committee members are in an uproar. They believe that he was murdered using black magic and they want units out there ASAP to start an investigation, and of course to protect them."

Kendrick nodded. "That would make sense. If he was one of the witches who had cast the spell, then when the beads are broken, the years of his life he offered up would be collected." Kendrick looked over at the broken beads. "He must have created a majority of the ones we broke."

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