Home > The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3)

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3)
Author: Richelle Mead

Chapter One

THIS WASN'T THE FIRST TIME I'd been pulled out of bed for a crucial mission. It was, however, the first time I'd been subjected to such a personal line of questioning.

"Are you a virgin?"

"Huh?" I rubbed my sleepy eyes, just in case this was all some sort of bizarre dream that would disappear. An urgent phone call had dragged me out of bed five minutes ago, and I was having a little trouble adjusting.

My history teacher, Ms. Terwilliger, leaned closer and repeated the question in a stage whisper: "I said, are you a virgin?"

"Um, yes. . ."

I was fully awake now and glanced uneasily around my dorm's lobby, making sure no one was around to witness this crazy exchange. I didn't have to worry. Aside from a bored-looking desk attendant on the far side of the room, the lobby was empty, probably because no sane person would be up at this time of night. When Ms. Terwilliger's call had woken me, she'd demanded I meet her here for a "life-or-death" matter. Getting interrogated about my personal life wasn't quite what I'd expected.

She stepped back and sighed in relief. "Yes, of course. Of course you're a virgin."

I narrowed my eyes, unsure if I should be offended or not. "Of course? What's that supposed to mean? What's going on?"

She immediately snapped back to attention and pushed her wire-rimmed glasses up the bridge of her nose. They were always slipping down. "No time to explain. We have to go." She grabbed hold of my arm, but I resisted and stayed where I was.

"Ma'am, it's three in the morning!" And then, just so she'd understand the severity of the situation: "On a school night."

"Never mind that." She turned in the direction of the desk attendant and called across the room, "I'm taking Sydney Melrose with me. Mrs. Weathers can argue with me about the curfew tomorrow."

The attendant looked startled, but she was just some college student who'd been hired to sit there overnight. She was no match for the formidable Ms. Terwilliger, with her tall, gangly stature and birdlike face. The real authority keeping girls in my dorm was the security guard outside, but he simply nodded in a friendly way when Ms. Terwilliger dragged me past. It made me wonder just how many girls she'd abducted in the middle of the night.

"I'm in my pajamas," I told her. It was the last protest I could offer as we reached her car, which was parked in a fire lane. She drove a red Volkswagen Beetle with flowers painted on the sides. Somehow, this didn't surprise me in the least.

"You'll be fine," she said, fishing car keys out of her massive velvet purse.

Around us, the desert night was cool and silent. Tall palm trees created dark, spiderlike shapes against the sky. Beyond them, a full moon and smattering of stars glittered. I wrapped my arms around myself, touching the soft fabric of my microfleece robe. Underneath it, I had on full-length striped pajamas paired with fluffy beige slippers. The ensemble worked well in my cozy dorm room but wasn't exactly practical for a Palm Springs night. But then, going out in pajamas wasn't really practical in any place.

She unlocked the car, and I stepped gingerly inside, having to dodge empty paper coffee cups and old issues of Utne Reader. My neat sensibilities cringed at that kind of mess, but it was the least of my worries right now.

"Ms. Terwilliger," I said, once we were driving through the suburban streets. "What's going on?" Now that we were out of the dorm, I hoped she'd start talking sense. I hadn't forgotten her "life-or-death" comment and was beginning to grow nervous.

Her eyes were on the road ahead of us, and lines of worry marked her angular face. "I need you to cast a spell."

I froze as I tried to process her words. Not long ago, this proclamation would've sent me into protests and fits of revulsion. Not that I was comfortable with it now. Magic still freaked me out. Ms. Terwilliger taught at my private high school, Amberwood Prep, by day and was a witch at night. She said I, too, possessed a natural affinity for magic and had managed to teach me some spells, despite my best efforts to resist. I actually had a few good reasons for wanting to avoid anything arcane. Aside from inborn beliefs about magic being wrong, I simply didn't want to get caught up in any more supernatural affairs than I had to. I already spent my days as part of a secret society that kept vampires secret from the human world. That and my schoolwork were enough to keep anyone busy.

Nonetheless, her magical training had gotten me out of some dangerous situations recently, and I was no longer so quick to dismiss it. So, her suggesting I perform magic wasn't the weirdest thing going on here.

"Why would you need me for that?" I asked. There were few cars out, but occasionally, passing headlights would cast a ghostly light over us. "You're a million times more powerful. I can't cast a fraction of the things you can."

"Power is one thing," she admitted. "But there are other limitations and factors at work here. I can't cast this particular spell."

I crossed my arms and slouched back in the seat. If I kept focusing on the practical aspects, I could ignore how worried I was growing. "And it couldn't have waited until morning?"

"No," she said gravely. "It could not."

Something about the tone of her voice sent chills down my spine, and I fell silent as we continued our drive. We were headed outside of the city and suburbs, into the wilds of the true desert. The farther we drove from civilization, the darker it became. Once we were off the freeway, there were no streetlights or houses in sight. Spiky desert shrubs created dark shapes along the side of the road that put me in mind of crouching animals, ready to pounce. There's no one out here, I thought. And no one back at Amberwood knows you're here either.

I shifted uneasily as I recalled her virgin question. Was I going to be a sacrifice in some unholy ritual? I wished that I'd thought to bring my cell phone - not that I could have told my organization, the Alchemists, that I was spending so much time with a magic user. And not just any magic user - one who was teaching me to become one too. Better to risk being sacrificed than face the Alchemists' wrath.

Twenty minutes later, Ms. Terwilliger finally pulled to a stop along the side of a dusty one-lane road that seemed to be a direct route to nowhere. She got out of the car and motioned for me to do the same. It was colder here than it had been back at Amberwood. Looking up into the night sky, I caught my breath. Free of the city lights, the stars were now out in full force. I could see the Milky Way and a dozen constellations usually hidden to the na**d eye.

"Stargaze later," she said curtly. "We need to hurry, before the moon progresses much further."

A moonlight ritual, a barren desert, virgin sacrifice . . . what had I just foolishly walked into? The way Ms. Terwilliger pushed me into magic always annoyed me, but I never thought she posed a threat. Now I berated myself for being so naive.

She tossed a duffel bag over one shoulder and headed off into a desolate stretch of land, dotted with rocks and scraggly vegetation. Even with the brilliant celestial display there wasn't much light out here, yet she walked purposefully, as though she knew exactly where she was going. I dutifully followed, wincing as I crossed the rocky ground. My fuzzy slippers had never been intended for this sort of terrain.

"Here," she said when we reached a small clearing. She carefully set down the duffel bag and knelt to rifle through it. "This'll do."

The desert that was so mercilessly hot in the day became cold at night, but I was still sweating. Probably my own anxiety had more to do with that than the temperature or heavy pajamas. I retied my robe more tightly making a perfect knot. I found that kind of detail and routine soothing.

Ms. Terwilliger produced a large oval mirror with a scalloped silver frame. She set it down in the middle of the clearing, glanced up at the sky, and then shifted the mirror over a little. "Come here, Miss Melbourne." She pointed to a spot opposite her, on the other side of the mirror. "Sit there and make yourself comfortable."

At Amberwood, I went by the name of Sydney Melrose, rather than my true one, Sydney Sage. Ms. Terwilliger had gotten my made-up name wrong on the first day of class, and it, unfortunately, stuck. I followed her directions, not that I could really get all that comfortable out here. I was pretty sure I could hear some large animal scuffling out in the brush and added "coyotes" to my mental list of dangers I faced out here, right below "magic use" and "lack of coffee."

"Now then. Let's get started." Ms. Terwilliger peered at me with eyes that were dark and frightening in the desert night. "Are you wearing anything metal? You need to take it off."

"No, I - oh. Wait."

I reached around my neck and unfastened a delicate gold chain that held a small cross. I'd had the necklace for years but had recently given it to someone else, for comfort. He'd given it back to me recently, by way of our mutual friend Jill Mastrano Dragomir. Even now, I could picture the angry look on her face as she'd stormed up to me at school and thrust the cross into my hand without a word.

I stared at the cross now as it gleamed in the moonlight. A queasy feeling welled up in the pit of my stomach as I thought about Adrian, the guy I'd given it to. I'd done so before he professed his love for me, something that had caught me totally off guard a few weeks ago. But maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised. The more I looked back - and I did so all the time - the more I began to recall telltale signs that should have tipped me off to his feelings. I'd just been too blind to notice at the time.

Of course, it wouldn't have mattered if I'd seen it coming or not. Adrian was totally unsuitable for me, and it had nothing to do with his many vices or potential descent into insanity. Adrian was a vampire. True, he was a Moroi - one of the good, living vampires - but it made no difference. Humans and vampires couldn't be together. This was one point the Moroi and Alchemists stood firmly together on. It was still amazing to me that Adrian had voiced those feelings to me. It was amazing that he could even have them or that he'd had the nerve to kiss me, even if it was a kiss that had left me dizzy and breathless.

I'd had to reject him, of course. My training would allow nothing less. Our situation here in Palm Springs forced the two of us to constantly be together in social situations, and it had been rough since his declaration. For me, it wasn't just the awkwardness of our new relationship. I . . . well, I missed him. Before this debacle, he and I had been friends and spent a lot of time together. I'd gotten used to his smirky smile and the quick banter that always flowed between us. Until those things were gone, I hadn't realized how much I relied on them. How much I needed them. I felt empty inside . . . which was ridiculous, of course. Why should I care so much about one vampire?

Sometimes it made me angry. Why had he ruined such a good thing between us? Why had he made me miss him so much? And what had he expected me to do? He had to have known it was impossible for us to be together. I couldn't have feelings for him. I couldn't. If we'd lived among the Keepers - a group of uncivilized vampires, humans, and dhampirs - maybe he and I could have . . . no. Even if I had feelings for him - and I firmly told myself I didn't - it was wrong for us to even consider such a relationship.

Now Adrian spoke to me as little as possible. And always, always, he watched me with a haunted look in his green eyes, one that made my heart ache and -

"Ah! What is that?"

I squirmed as Ms. Terwilliger dumped a bowl full of dried leaves and flowers over my head. I'd been so fixated on the cross and my memories that I hadn't seen her coming.

"Rosemary," she said matter-of-factly "Hyssop. Anise. Don't do that." I'd reached up to pull some of the leaves out of my hair. "You need that for the spell."

"Right," I said, getting back to business. I set the cross carefully on the ground, trying to clear my mind of green, green eyes. "The spell that only I can do. Why is that again?"

"Because it has to be done by a virgin," she explained. I tried not to grimace. Her words implied that she was not a virgin, and even if that made sense for a forty-year-old woman, it still wasn't a thought I wanted to spend a lot of time on. "That, and the person we're looking for has shielded herself from me. But you? You she won't expect."

I looked down at the shining mirror and understood. "This is a scrying spell. Why aren't we doing the one I did before?"

Not that I was eager to repeat that spell. I'd used it to find someone, and it had involved me staring into a bowl of water for hours. Still, now that I knew how to do it, I knew I could perform it again. Besides, I didn't like the idea of walking into a spell I knew nothing about. Words and herbs were one thing, but what else might she ask of me? Endanger my soul? Give up my blood?

"That spell only works for someone you know," she explained. "This one will help you find someone you've never met before."

I frowned. As much as I didn't like magic, I did like problem solving - and the puzzles magic often presented intrigued me. "How will I know who to look for, then?"

Ms. Terwilliger handed me a photograph. My eyes had adjusted to the darkness, and I looked into the face of a pretty young woman. There was a striking resemblance between her and my teacher, though it wasn't initially obvious. Rather than Ms. Terwilliger's dull brown hair, this woman's was dark, nearly black. She was also much more glamorous, dressed in a black satin evening gown that was a far cry from Ms. Terwilliger's usual hippie attire. Despite those ostensible differences, the two women shared the same high cheekbones and aquiline eyes.

I glanced back up. "She's related to you."

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