Trial by Fire (Covencraft Book 1)

BOOK: Trial by Fire (Covencraft Book 1)
11.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Trial by Fire







Margarita Gakis


This book is available in print at


Digital Edition, License Notes


This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this ebook with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and events portrayed in this book are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any character resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Trial by Fire

Book 1 of Covencraft


Copyright © 2013 by Margarita Gakis


Published by Fable Press


Cover by Steven Novak




To my family and friends, here and hereafter, I write by myself but I never write alone.




Chapter 1


As it turned out, becoming suddenly pyrokinetic wasn’t as awesome as Jade would have thought.

In fact, it was pretty inconvenient.

She grabbed the fire extinguisher off the wall and liberally sprayed the ugly Formica countertop. She wasn’t fast enough and the building’s automatic sensors were already triggered, setting off a floor-wide alarm. Her coworkers crammed into the kitchen behind her - curious and already gossiping about the fire. They started pressing into the room like cattle, crowding into her personal space.

With an unspoken groan, she inched forward, preferring to be closer to the smoky, charred remains of the countertop rather than be jostled and bumped by gawkers. Questions, speculations, and a few hushed murmurs were directed at her. Jade just shrugged and said she came in and found the counter on fire.

What was she supposed to say?
I was thinking it was a hideous countertop and I’m pretty sure I set it on fire with my mind. Oops.

It was her fourth fire this week.

Jade hadn’t even been angry this time. She’d just been bored, distracted. Maybe a bit impatient with the coffee machine. She just glanced down at the counter top and thought,
that needs to burn - it’s so ugly.

And then it was on fire.

“Bet we have to shut down today due to smoke inhalation.”

She tipped her head slightly backward, over her shoulder, toward the voice. Francis was part of Technical Services and sat two cubicles over from her. She pictured him stretching his meager height up on his tiptoes so he could whisper in her ear.

“You gonna round up of the rest of the brainiacs and go for laser tag?” she asked back, keeping her voice low. She didn’t know why she bothered as the rest of their floor was too busy chatting to each other to listen to them.

“If I can round them up on such short notice. It’s Tuesday. Half-price. Wanna come?”

She flicked her grey eyes back toward him and shrugged. “Maybe next time.”

He popped back down onto his feet and gave her a dorky smirk. “One day you’re going to say yes, Jade.”

“You get that from the eightball on your desk?” Jade replied with a half-smile of her own.

“Statistical probability. I’ve run the numbers. You can’t say no forever.”

She laughed. “I’d like to see those numbers.”

Building Security and Maintenance arrived and herded everyone out of the kitchen, sending Jade and Francis meandering back to their cubicles. Instead of sitting down, she prairie-dogged on the divider hanging over the half wall that separated her cube from Francis. They chatted about inconsequential stuff - the latest episode of the sci-fi show they both watched, how the coffee shop downstairs had switched coffee and neither one of them liked it now, the new software upgrade that had so many glitches it was a miracle they could get any work done. She was more than aware that the rest of the office found their friendship bizarre. The hunched over mousy tech was pretty much her opposite in every way. He was plump, she was lean. He had messy hair, hers was always secured in a sleek ponytail. His brown eyes darted around when he talked, and her steady gaze made people stutter when they didn’t mean to. He was meek and she was about as subtle as a hungry bear in a campsite full of barbecue.

But she liked him. Francis was safe.

And he ended up being right; the day was shot. Not three minutes later, HR announced they were shutting the floor down until they could get Risk Management in to survey the damage and Building Maintenance to estimate the repairs.

Ah, bureaucracy. But if it got her out of work at noon, she’d take it.

Maybe I should set the kitchenette ablaze more often?

Which was very likely to happen if she didn’t figure out what the hell was going on. The first couple of times, she explained it away. Flash flame of an already lit candle catching the plant she never watered – that could happen. Ten-year-old stereo shooting sparks and lighting the curtain on fire – old electronics can be faulty. Late for work, flicking on the bathroom lights to have all six bulbs burst in a hail of glass and sparks - freaky, but the light bulbs had been put in at the same time and, while it was unlikely they would all shatter at once, it wasn’t impossible.

Then there was the kitchen fire in her apartment. She sighed.

Jade hadn’t cooked since. Not that she was much of a cook in the first place. She had been trying to steam vegetables - vegetables she didn’t even
- and the pot caught fire. She burned her hand, knocking the pot off the stove, shouting a string of curses that would make a pirate blush. Almost in response to her creative and impressive vulgarity, the dishes in the sink lit up.

They hadn’t been near the stove.

The popping ceramic startled her and she’d shouted in surprise.

Her table then exploded into flames.

She’d just stood there, surrounded on three sides by fire wondering what the hell just happened.

The fire alarm went off as she’d stripped the kitchen curtains down, burning her palms as she stomped the flames out on the linoleum floor. She turned the water on and stuck both hands under it, trying to get the fiercely painful burning sensation to stop. The heel of her right palm was forming a blister, white and full of liquid. She wondered if she could manage to reach the first aid kit under the sink while keeping her hands in the cold water. The blister seemed to swell impossibly for a split second and then started to shrink, sucking itself back into the soft skin of her palm. She yanked her hands out from the water and ran her fingertips over the skin. Nothing. Perfectly unmarked, as before.

She met the fire department at the door and managed some lie about cooking and getting everything into the sink without hurting herself. She suffered through a rehearsed, well-used lecture on kitchen safety and some reminders about keeping an extinguisher close by. The fireman even plied a stern expression and disapproving voice.

That was two days ago and she still stopped every now and then to stare at her hand, trailing fingers over the soft, smooth skin.

It had been strictly takeout for dinner since.

With her floor shut down for the day, she stopped off at the nearby cafeteria and picked up enough food for lunch and dinner and headed home. She sat down in front of her computer and waggled her fingers a bit in nervous procrastination. Then she started doing what she should have done a few days ago.

She Googled.

Of course, she tried a few variations - pyrokinesis, pyrokinetic, suddenly setting things on fire… She skipped past anything that seemingly had to do with arson and serial criminals. The fires weren’t intentional. They just sort of… happened.

The hits from her search scrolled down the screen, most of them dealing with witchcraft and covens or generic stuff that every school kid knew from their “Supernatural Awareness” class. She clicked on a few links, wondering if anything had changed since she’d taken the mandatory class in grade four.

Scrunching her nose, she realized it was still the standard stuff she remembered - broad details about supernaturals, witches included, and how they interacted with society with some brief details about unique abilities, pyrokenesis included.

But since witches were born only into a coven and she hadn’t been, that info didn’t really help her. There didn’t seem to be anything about a regular person suddenly having the ability to set things on fire. She wasn’t sure if she was disappointed or relieved.

She ended up completely sidetracked by an article on spontaneous human combustion as the hours melted away. After a few more halfhearted search terms, she clicked on some links but nothing jumped out at her from the screen.

She wondered if it was maybe all in her mind. A string of incredibly unlikely coincidences, but coincidences nonetheless. The light bulbs could have all blown at the same time. Her stove and pot could have caught fire, her dishes could have burst into flames all due to faulty manufacturing. The countertop at work could have wiring underneath it that she didn’t know about.

Maybe it was all just random. Extraordinarily coincidental - nothing more. Maybe she was crazy to think that she could set things on fire with her mind.

It wouldn’t be the first time she’d had some kind of nervous breakdown.

But she didn’t like to think about that.

She opened up a few more browser tabs and busied herself with her usual evening activities - surfing the web, reading blogs and journals, streaming some shows online. The longer she sat there, the more she convinced herself that there couldn’t possibly be anything supernatural or bizarre going on. She just needed to get more sleep or learn to relax or something.

People couldn’t just become pyrokinetic. The universe didn’t work that way.




Paris wouldn’t have said he was sitting in his office waiting for Hannah to call even if that was exactly what he was doing.

He looked at the clock for the sixth time in ten minutes. The Council should have been adjourned by now; Hannah should be phoning in with her update, letting him know, letting the Coven know how they were to proceed.

He disliked having to wait on the word of the Council, especially when it came to Coven business, but unless he wanted all of the Fae, and likely most of the Vampires and Werewolves displeased and feeling hostile toward his Coven, he’d have to wait for their permission to act.

In many ways it was a formality. There was an unlisted, unknown witch somewhere practicing magic. Although it was rudimentary magic, it was unsanctioned and had to be dealt with. It was galling that someone had gone to the Council and informed the authority without coming to a coven - any coven - first.

Paris understood how politics worked but it didn’t mean he had to like it. It had clearly been one of the other groups - the demi-Fae, the Shifters, another coven, or possibly even one of the Unaligned – that raised the alarm that there was unsanctioned magic about. Despite the fact that it was obviously happening in Paris’ territory, the unknown informant hadn’t come to him or another member of his Coven. Instead, he, she or it had gone directly to the Council and now Paris had to wait for permission to do what he’d been planning to do in the first place: find the unauthorized witch and figure out what was going on.

BOOK: Trial by Fire (Covencraft Book 1)
11.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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