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Prudence, Chapter 38

The incantation was fairly simple. Kayla insisted that she couldn't participate, of course, but while Kristen wasn't entirely comfortable with the idea, she still agreed to hold things for him and take part in the bits that required two people. They went around the house with sea salt and incense, going from door to door, window to window, drawing mental lines of protection all around, and calling upon the elements and the Archangels to watch and guard.

Like before, there was no indication that it was working until they'd finished. But unlike before, there was a very definite, immediate, visible result of their efforts. As soon as they said the final word and sealed the warding spell, Kristen stopped glowing, and the house started. A faint glow was everywhere, with brighter patches around every possible entrance or exit. Kristen gasped, then swayed dizzily. "Oh!"

She reached out blindly, and Mark grabbed her. She smiled at him. "I'm all right. That was just a bit sudden."

He returned the smile, then looked over at Kayla. "Well. That seems to have taken her spare energy. So I think we know what we need to do here." He gave her a leering grin. "It's a dirty job..."

Kayla giggled. "Oh, I agree. However, um... the house really is glowing. Like, physically. I can see it. That could draw unwanted attention. Kris, honey, can you pull some of the energy back out?" she asked, then added, "I think I know what happened."

Kristen considered briefly, then nodded. "Um. I'll try." She closed her eyes, concentrating, and the glow on the house dimmed quite a bit, until it looked no brighter than a newly painted white house on a full moon, but when she opened her eyes again, Kristen looked significantly worse, not better. "Ohhhh.... Fuck, I feel awful." She clutched at Mark, who stared down at her worriedly.

"Okay, what happened here, Kayla?" he asked, holding tight to Kristen.

Kayla looked just as worried. "Ah... you know the bit of the spell where you put some of your own energy into maintaining the wards? Well, she must have put all of it. But as to what happened just now, I don't have a clue! That should have helped!" She stepped closer and took Kristen's hand. Kristen closed her eyes, her face gaunt and twisted with nausea.

Mark pressed her to him. "Okay. Maybe you can't handle taking the energy back like that. Try... um... try transferring it to me or Kayla."

She shook her head. "It's gone, Mark. It just... sucked bits out of me and left. Ohhhh, my head!"

"What do you mean?" he asked. "It didn't stay with you when you pulled it back in?"

"It didn't come back in," Kristen said. "I pulled, and it left, but I don't know where it went. It just exploded or something. I got a... um, a 'taste', I guess, before it kinda seemed to bounce. Ugh." She retched, covering her mouth with her hand.

Mark looked at Kayla helplessly. "Any ideas?"

"Bathroom," Kayla said urgently. "She's turning green."

He picked Kristen up and carried her into the bathroom, Kayla following. "I meant about what happened," he said, as Kristen leaned over the sink and splashed cold water on her face.

"Food poisoning?" Kayla suggested. "The energy was changed to warding energy, and she can apparently only absorb sexual energy. When she tried to take it back, it poisoned her. I think. I'm just guessing, you know."

"That makes sense," he said. "I guess she'd need some way to change it back if she wanted to absorb it."

Kristen leaned weakly against the counter. She looked like shit. Pale, gaunt, and still vaguely greenish. Not glowing at all. In fact, she was rather sallow and dried out. "I am never, ever doing that again," she said firmly.

"Look on the bright side, sweetie... I'd say the house is well warded," Kayla offered comfortingly.

Mark stroked Kristen's hair. "I think you need to not put everything into it, love. You'd have been fine if you'd just put some in." He paused thoughtfully. "Or maybe if we'd been having sex while we did it. Isn't there some magic that's based on sex, Kayla?"

Kayla nodded with a slight blush. "Um. Tantra, yeah."

"That might be the right sort of magic for you, Kristen," Mark said. "You'd be generating the energy to replace what you were expending."

She blinked. "There's magic that's done with sex?! Wow. You'd think everybody would do it."

Mark laughed, but Kayla snorted. "It has to be good sex," she pointed out.

"Well, then," Mark said, smiling, "We should have no trouble doing it with Kristen, eh? I think maybe this weekend we'll have to drive to Dallas and buy some books."

Kayla blushed and looked away. "Yeah, you two ought to do just fine with Tantra."

"Us two?" he asked.

"It takes a partner, Mark. Most of it, anyway. I haven't really studied it. So she can't do it alone," Kayla said.

"Oh," he said, but he wasn't sure if he wasn't understanding her, or if she wasn't understanding him. "But does it only work with two people?"

"I have no idea," she said. "I've never met anyone who did it."

"Hmm," he said, still looking at her thoughtfully. "I think I'll need to study it some more."

Kayla gave him a tight smile. "Yep. But right now, we need to take Kris to bed before she passes out. Tedious compared to arguing about hypothetical magical systems, I know, but hey, it's our duty."

He smirked, but part of him wondered if she hadn't just been very cleverly trying to redirect his attention. "Yeah. I guess we should take this magical, beautiful girl to bed and make passionate love to her," he agreed.

Kristen sighed, reaching out a hand to each of them. "I think you both talk too much."

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