Soul Ink

Soul Ink by J. C. Nelson

Book: Soul Ink by J. C. Nelson Read Free Book Online
Authors: J. C. Nelson
metal cools. That’ll take an hour at least, and if you rush it, it’ll crack.”
    Grimm tapped on his mirror for our attention, and waited. “Ladies, we have less than two hours to reach the midnight chapel. I must insist we leave now.”
    “I’m coming,” said Liam. “I’m sick of Marissa having all the fun.”
    “Very well,” said Grimm, “you may at least accompany Marissa to the chapel door.”
    Liam, escorting me to a church? It felt a bit sudden, but I could get used to the thought given time. We took a cab to Williamsburg and stopped in front of an abandoned sugar factory.
    “Ladies, you want to enter the basement, then the subbasement. You’ll find the chapel entrance at the back.” Grimm motioned from the side windows. “Mr. Stone, you may find the chapel will not admit you, because you are not considered a witness, and I doubt Haniel has you on his guest list.”
    “Seriously?” Liam pounded the factory door in frustration, accidentally knocking it out of the door frame. “Why don’t I ever get the fun parts?”
    “Because you are considered half of an endangered species,” said Grimm. “Marissa and Arianna cannot be harmed by the archangel while they bear witness, but even reaching the chapel door can involve facing horrors most men quail before.”
    “How’d they name this place?” Ari asked as we walked through abandoned factory lines.
    It took Grimm several minutes to find a place that could hold him. A green glass bottle outside the basement stairs caught his reflection well enough for him to answer. “Built in utter blackness, the sunlight can never shine. In this chapel, it is always midnight. Once, monks held services here to deprive darkness its home.”
    These sorts of stories didn’t end well, in my experience. “And?”
    “The usual. A bellboy betrayed them in return for a chance to see the sun again. He smashed the bell and threw open the chapel doors.” Grimm faded from the bottle as we entered the subbasement, but not before he added, “The carnage left their order much like the brothers. Ruined.”
    Subbasements, for the record, exist to house machinery which services other machinery. The rot of ages lay on the machinery, where roots had grown through the walls and hung in tangles from the ceiling. In the darkness, whispers of movements proved to be albino rats the length of my arm. With blind eyes, they fled even my penlight.
    “Be,” said Ari. A foxfire burst into existence, lighting the basement in pale green light.
    A familiar tug on my spirit said I was in for trouble. My blessings had apparently slept in, but the presence of free magic was like dangling a steak in front of a pair of bulldogs. “Blessing? Curse? Easy, now.”
    Speaking their names fed them in a different way, but I suspected it was the difference between dog food and steak. They might accept the names, but what they really wanted to do was tear Ari’s creation into screaming scraps of pure magic.
    At the back of the subbasement, behind a pile of burlap bags, lay a rusted door. At least, I told myself, it was rust, and not dried blood. With one kick, Liam broke the top hinge, with the second, he flattened the door completely.
    Darkness leaked beyond it, fouling the light, hissing, searing where my penlight swiped it like a blade. And to my surprise, Liam stepped through the door without problem. From beyond, he called, his voice muffled. “M, sweetheart, this is not good.”
    Taking a deep breath, I stepped through and walked down a tunnel of rock that pressed me lower and lower with each step. With the last step, I emerged into a cavern the size of a football stadium. And at last I understood Liam’s statement.
    Liam set down the bell gingerly, taking care to not let it ring, and took my hand. “How do you plan to deal with that?”
    It wasn’t the chapel. It was a chapel in name only, with dark spires that stabbed the inky ceiling, and walls washed in bloodred torches. Like the designer of

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