Home > Bayou Reckoning

Bayou Reckoning
Author: Apryl Baker


Saidie Walker

 

New Orleans, LA

 

Death is final.

Unless you’re me.

Saidie Walker, Necromancer at large. I can bring the dead back, shape them from the very ground itself. And when they arise from the cold comfort of their graves, I restore the echoes of their memories as well.

That’s what brought me here to New Orleans, that and a psychopathic vampire who’s kidnapping and torturing women. Now Kristoff’s gone and taken Emma Crane. All of that is on me. I should have dealt with Kristoff long before now, but between his craziness and the bad memories here, I stayed away. Now the blood of all those dead women is stained into my soul forever.

There’s a soft breeze today, and I take full advantage of it as I stand at the balcony railing outside my room overlooking the gardens. Ezekiel Crane has beautiful gardens. Not nearly as beautiful as Madame’s, though. I first met Kristoff in the gardens of Madame’s plantation home nestled in the middle of the bayou. I knew he was off then, but I didn’t realize just how insane he actually was until later.

Strong arms enfold me, and I lean back into him, relishing how safe Aleric makes me feel.

“Wha’s wrong, Draga?” His lips trail kisses along the outline of my ear, forcing a shiver through me.

“It’s a hell of a mess.” I turn and wrap my arms around him, resting my head on his chest. “I should have dealt with this a long time ago.”

“Non, jeune fille. Dis is no’ your fault.” His arms tighten. “Doan be doin’ dat to yourself. Kristoff is…he’s insane. You cain’t take his sins on as your own.”

But I do. No point in telling Aleric that, though. He won’t understand and just argue the point.

I tilt my face up, the rays of the sun bathing it. “It’s so warm here.”

“Oui.” He’s staring off at nothing, his green eyes lost in memories. “I have missed dis place. I didn’t t’ink I would.”

“It was your home for a long time. You might have been here against your will, but it became your home. I was born and raised in Georgia. As much as I love West Virginia, I still miss Georgia. It’s natural to miss your home.”

He nods. “I have even missed my bro’ders. Dey were my family when I had no one else. Madame, she forced us to do awful t’ings, but Lucien, he tried to keep me safe.”

“He was your sire?”

“Oui. It is a bond dat cain’t be broken. I feel him even when he’s not here.”

“If he were to call you, would you have to go?”

“I would, bon fille. I could no more deny dat pull den I can de pull you have over me.”

I wrinkle my nose in disgust. “I don’t have any pull over you. I’m the human servant, remember? If anything, you can make me do what you want.”

“I would never.”

“I know.”

We stand there in silence for a few minutes, just enjoying the sun. Aleric has a talisman that allows him to walk in the daylight, thanks to Alex’s mom, Alesha. The woman is probably the most powerful witch I know. Alex is technically more powerful than her mother, but she doesn’t know all the spells Alesha does, nor does she have the same experience under her belt.

Alesha’s magic is controlled, and Alex’s is wild and uncontainable at times. I’ve seen what she can do without even thinking about it, so I understand why the magical community is scared of her. Once she learns a bit more, she’s going to be something to see.

Mary comes out of the house from below and wanders into the gardens, looking lost and worried. She’s somber.

But then that’s the current mood of the house. Everyone is on edge, and it feels more like there’s been a death in the family than a kidnapping. But I suppose, with Kristoff being the culprit, it might very well turn out to be a funeral rather than a homecoming.

“If it were my little brother he had, I don’t know what I’d do.”

Aleric brushes a kiss across my forehead. “Doan t’ink of it, Draga.”

“Even if we do find her before he kills her, will she come back the same?”

Aleric’s lips thin. “I doan know.”

But he does know. He spent most of his life with Kristoff. He knows better than anyone what the vampire is capable of. He still refuses to talk about what he suffered in that hellish place, but he has nightmares sometimes. Not that he sleeps a lot. Vampires don’t technically need sleep, but since Aleric’s heart now beats, his body needs to rest every so often.

I’m going to bet Emma will not be the same person when she comes back. I remember the zombie Kristoff was torturing while I was at Madame’s. The Necromancer had put the zombie’s soul inside her body so she felt every second of the pain and horror Kristoff put her through. The look in her eyes still haunts me. I wish I could have done something to save her too, but there was no time. Aleric and I fled for our lives and barely escaped.

“De best way to get to her is to get past de crawlers,” Aleric says, pulling me from my thoughts.

Crawlers are zombies Madame mutated with her own twisted, dark magic. She wasn’t just a Necromancer, but a witch as well. They ooze a black sticky substance that causes intense pain when it touches your skin. It’s the kind of pain that imprints into your flesh for the rest of your life. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, including Madame. That’s how painful it was.

“They’re spelled, and until that’s removed, we’re stuck. I tried to wake them, and they stayed right where they were. If we can’t figure out how to get them out of the water so Alesha can find a work-around of the spell, then I’m not sure how to get to Emma.”

“Like you said, Draga, it’s a hell of a mess.”

God’s truth, that.

“Saidie?”

“Out here,” I call to Alex.

My best friend and I are as different as daylight is to darkness. Alexandria Reed is one of those girls who has no idea how beautiful she is with all that dark hair and eyes so deep a blue they sometimes look black. She’s the sweetest person I’ve ever met. Shy to a fault and self-conscious because she still thinks she might be crazy.

Her grandfather played a head trip on her, putting her into a coma and making her think she was back at the mental institute she pretty much grew up in, thanks to a spell her mother cast on her that backfired. She never knew what was real and what wasn’t, and because of that old bastard, she’s still in the same position. At least she has us now. We won’t let her get lost again.

“Bree just left. One of Mr. Crane’s drivers took her to the airport.”

Damn, I’d hoped she’d of changed her mind. Sabrina Winters, or Bree to us, is the daughter of one of the three main Families of Power within the witch community. Next to Alesha, she’s the most knowledgeable witch we had. She was supposed to help with de-spelling the crawlers.

“How’s Jason holding up?”

“My brother is hurt, but I think he’s more angry than anything else. He expected Bree to do the right thing and help people who needed it.”

“Maybe it’s for the best.”

“How do you mean?” Alex leans against the railing, her back to the gardens.

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