The Banshee's Desire - By Victoria Richards

Chapter 1

A cold wind howled outside Antrim Castle as if the Devil himself rode it.

The shrieking wail ripped through the enchantments safeguarding the old Irish ruins from mortal eyes, fanning the flames of an argument between the thirteen wizards gathered deep in the recesses of the dungeon. The sound was a reminder of what they were divided on, of the woman who they considered an anomaly, an abomination against the purity of their supernatural bloodlines.

Half banshees were not supposed to exist.

And yet one had been created right under their noses.

How could a woman like Jacqueline Huston wield so much power? It wasn’t right and certainly wasn’t a part of the laws of nature. And the fact that she could reap souls and still retain her human form--unacceptable.

And what would happen if she turned her attention to one of them?

Worried didn't begin to describe the Brotherhood of Merlyn's feelings on the subject.

"She's unnatural," one of the wizards proclaimed to his brethren in a loud voice. "She cheated Death and now there will be a price to pay. For all of us! We've seen it before!"

"Settle down, Foster."

The wizard who issued the command stood to meet Foster's gaze. As leader of the council, he'd listened without comment to the mutterings and accusations hurled about, only an occasional nod or a twitch of his nose to show his feelings on the matter.

"You are making wild accusations that we have yet to explore," the wizard said, his tone challenging. His old eyes stared into Foster's until it was clear who was dominant.

Foster sat.

The elder wizard smiled at this show of respect, but there was no mirth in it.

"We'll agree the woman is unnatural and something should be done about her. However, if experience has taught us anything, it's that we must tread carefully." The wizard looked around the room until his gaze settled on another council member. "Spark, what say you to all the noise this woman is causing? After all, she has had a direct effect on your family."

Everyone turned their attention to Spark, the tall thin wizard with coal black hair at the end of the table. Of the thirteen wizards gathered, Sparks sixty five years of life made him one of the younger ones there. He stared at the table top, his dark eyes reflective. A long moment passed before he spoke.

"She should be destroyed."

Around the table came murmurs of agreement.

"Destroyed?" A hint of doubt peppered the old wizard's deep voice, causing the others to fall silent. "Though your son was acting under his own directive, Spark, his idea was not a bad one. Capturing the half banshee and bringing her to the Brotherhood would help make us more powerful. We have enemies who still wish us harm even after all these centuries have passed."

"Then have Toby Williams bring her to us!" Spark answered angrily, still not meeting the old wizard's eye. "If you can reach him, that is. I hear he is smitten with her. And wasn't he the one we asked to watch her so that we could be alerted if she displayed any of her powers in the first place? Odd how we haven't heard a word from him, and yet, we know she has been reaping souls."

Spark looked at the old wizard, his gaze cold and severe.

"Or are you going to protect Toby and his spawn? The spawn which killed my son, Derek, by the way. You've always had a soft spot for Josiah Williams’ kid. That's why his family's council seat continues to sit empty rather than be filled by someone who is worthy of being a part of our group."

A little ripple of discord ran through the room which the old wizard silenced by holding up one hand.

"Spark, your son was killed because he made a miscalculation."

"A miscalculation?" Spark stood, anger flashing. "How do you figure that?"

"Derek Spark and Josiah Williams were supposed to have killed that child when it was a baby. The offspring of rival wizard families taints the purity of the bloodline and has the potential to create a completely new sort of…creature. Obviously, Derek had the opportunity to take care of matters on his own when Josiah failed in the task. But he didn't. He decided to play the odds. And looked what happened to him. Smote by the hand of his own nephew--your grandchild, Spark--because he didn't follow orders. Yes, he miscalculated badly," the old wizard said. "It's a shame really. Derek had potential. It could have been nurtured if you