Stars blinked, and Vincent scowled at the firmament. They mocked him—tiny
gems as out of his reach as the treasure he sought. With a snarl, he scanned the area
around the empty town square, whirled to face Simpson drive, and then jabbed his hand
toward the deserted street of the city’s east side.
The summoning command echoed through the night and then ebbed into the quiet
atmosphere with no result.
A frog croaked from Center Creek somewhere within the park to his right. The
urban green rustled and deep shadows waved as the breeze whispered along the tall
border hedges. A cat padded from an alley between the north side commerce onto the
sidewalk and then looked his way. The dim streetlight reflected in its eyes, two silver
discs that taunted alongside the night sky.
With a growl, he punched his frustration into the air. Blue neon flashed from his
fist. The bolt highlighted the crimson brick storefronts and plowed into the street with a
resounding blast. Asphalt bulleted the commerce, shattering glass behind the barred
windows, and pelted the granite griffin perched on top of the corner archway of the
entrance to Shilo Park.
The cat darted back the way it came.
Vincent snarled. Turning toward the city center, he clenched his jaw and glared
around the empty court. How many times have I tried to summon the Mother Earth beads
from here already? Every faithful follower of the gods had come to witness the absence
of Gryffin. When they left, the park was in shambles. It took three weeks to pick up all
the rubble and return the vegetation to its rightful state. He glanced over his shoulder at
the stone gargoyle. The god of conformance couldn’t have made a more striking
statement with that disappearance act—and the beads couldn’t have been lost at a worst
time. Anyone could have stashed them away, thrilled to find such a keep.
Vincent ground his teeth together so hard his temples ached. Humidity thickened
the early summer night and carried the sulfuric odor from the west side industries. It
coated his senses with added irritation. Where was the floral scent of Shilo Park? He
needed the sweet comfort it held.
Releasing his breath, he whispered a vow he didn’t intend to sustain. “Elaina, you
will never touch another magical charm as long as you live.”
He glanced at his watch and sighed an anxious breath. I need to get home.
How long before his brothers questioned his excursions? How long could he keep
the disappearance of the relic a secret?
Furling his cape, he dispersed his elements into a fine mist. He allowed his dark
essence to meander as he flew the length of the boulevard, recalling the crowded scene.
Pilgrimage buggies, tents, covered wagons; they were only a portion of the massive
gathering of faithful that had finally cleared the area.
Irritation rippled his essence. With a growl, he conceded failure and headed over
the southern apricot orchards to Shilo Manor.