Nothing did.

I looked back at Adrian, hoping he noticed something I hadn't. He shrugged. "Maybe you did it wrong."

"It worked," I insisted. "I felt the magic."

"Maybe you just can't see it. At the expense of getting myself in trouble here, you should know how amazing you look when you do that stuff. All graceful and - " His eyes went wide. "Um, Sydney? That rock is smoking."

I glanced back at the circle. "That's just the resin that's - "

I stopped. He was right. Smoke was coming out of the quartz. I watched, fascinated, and then slowly, the quartz began to melt. Rather than dissipate into a puddle, though, the liquid began to re-form into a different shape, one that soon hardened into something new and unexpected: a crystalline dragon.

It was small, able to fit in a palm, and glittered just like the dark brown quartz had. The dragon looked more like the serpentine kind usually associated with Chinese culture rather than the winged types of European myth. Every detail was meticulously carved, from the tendrils of its mane to the scales on its hide. It was stunning.

Also, it was moving.

I screamed and backed up, running into Adrian. He put an arm around me and held me as protectively as he could, though it was clear he was just as freaked out. The dragon opened its crystal eyelids and peered at the two of us with tiny golden eyes. It elicited a small croak and then began walking toward us, its small claws scraping against the rocks.

"What the hell is that?" Adrian demanded.

"Do you really think I know?"

"You made it! Do something."

I started to ask what had happened to him looking out for me, but he had a point. I was the one who'd summoned this thing. No matter where we moved or backed up to, the dragon continued to follow and make a small, high-pitched screeching noise that sounded like nails on a chalkboard. I groped for my cell phone and tried to dial Ms. Terwilliger, but there was no reception out here. Darting over to the blanket, I grabbed the spell book and then hurried back to Adrian's side. I flipped to the index, looking up callistana. There I found two entries: Callistana - Summoning and Callistana - Banishing. You would've thought the two would be near each other in the book, but they were pages apart. I flipped to the latter and found the instructions brief and to the point: Once your callistana has been fed and rested, you may summon and banish it at will for a year and a day. A short incantation followed.

I looked up at Adrian. "It says we have to feed it."

"Will that make it shut up?" he asked. His arm was around me again.

"I honestly don't know."

"Maybe we can outrun it."

All my instincts about hiding the supernatural world kicked in. "We can't just leave it for some hiker to find! We have to get it some food." Not that I had any clue what to feed it. Hopefully humans and vampires weren't on the menu.

A look of determination crossed Adrian's features. In a great show of bravery he lunged for the picnic basket and actually managed to scoop the dragon up in it. He slammed down the lid, and the mewling faded but didn't stop.

"Wow," I said. "Manly and brave."

Adrian regarded the basket with dismay. "I just hope that thing doesn't breathe fire. At least it's contained. Now what do we do?"

"Now we feed it." I made a decision. "We take it to Pies and Stuff."

I didn't know if dragons ate pie, but that was the closest food source we had. Besides, I was pretty sure I'd be able to get a cell phone signal there. So, Adrian drove us back to the little diner while I gingerly held the noisy basket. He went inside, and I stayed in the car and tried to call Ms. Terwilliger. I was sent to voice mail and didn't even bother with formalities. Was she never near her phone anymore?

"Call me now," I said through gritted teeth. The dragon's screeching was really starting to get to me.

Adrian returned in about ten minutes carrying two bags. I stared in amazement as he got in the car. "Did you buy out the store?"

"I didn't know what kind it wanted," he protested. Between the two bags, we had half a dozen slices of different kinds of pies. Each one's container was neatly labeled.

"I really don't know either," I said.

Adrian sifted through the bags and pulled out a slice of coconut cream. "If I were a dragon, this is what I'd go for."

I didn't argue, mainly because that statement had no logical argument. He took the lid off the pie and then looked at me expectantly. With a gulp, I opened the basket's lid and prayed the dragon wouldn't climb out and claw my face off. Adrian quickly set the pie down in the basket. Nervously, we both leaned forward to watch.

At first, the dragon looked as though it really would climb out after us. Then it noticed the pie. The little crystal creature sniffed at the slice, circled it a few times, and then began gnawing at the pie in teeny-tiny bites. Best of all, the screeching stopped. We watched in wonder as the dragon made its way through a third of the coconut cream pie. Then, without warning, it rolled over onto its back and began to snore. Adrian and I sat there, frozen, and then finally dared to look at each other.

"I guess you were right about the flavor," I said.

"Do you think you can banish it now?" he asked. "Is it fed and rested enough?"

I retrieved the spell book to double-check the incantation. "Time to find out."

I recited the words. Smoke fluttered from the dragon's body. He began to shimmer, and within moments, we were looking at an inert piece of smoky quartz. In another valiant display, Adrian picked it up but held it as far away as possible as he studied it. The ringing of my phone startled both of us, and he dropped the crystal back into the basket. I looked at the phone's screen and saw Ms. Terwilliger's name.

"You made me summon a dragon!" I exclaimed.

"I most certainly did not," she responded. "Callistanas are a type of demon."

I froze. "A demon."

"Well," she amended. "A very minor and generally benign kind." I didn't reply for a while. "Sydney? Are you still there?"

"You had me summon a demon," I replied, voice stiff. "You know how I feel about evil and the supernatural. You've spent all this time trying to convince me that the magic we do is all for some greater good in the battle against evil, and yet you made me summon a creature of hell."

"Creature of hell?" She snorted. "Hardly. You know nothing about demons. I told you it's benign, didn't I? Callistanas can be very useful. They'll warn you if dark magic is nearby and will even try to defend you if you're attacked - not that they can do much damage."

Tags: Richelle Mead Bloodlines Fantasy
Articles you may like