The next few days passed in a paranoia filled haze for Athena. The night of the meeting of the full Circle came. Athena was the first in the park, in the grove they used. No one disturbed the ancient ring of stones that protected the spot. Mundanes didn’t come in here and no one in the Circle would touch them.
Half an hour everyone was gathered. “So what do we do now?” Vanessa said.
“We call it,” Athena said. “Form a ring and take hands. Keep your backs to the center. I want everyone watching for it.”
“How are we going to do it?” Taylor asked.
“Create a power circle,” Justin said. “Like we were getting ready for some major casting. I don’t think it would resist a chance to catch all of us, to take the city as its own.”
“Okay, let’s do this,” Athena said. Everyone took their positions. From the weakest to the strongest, power flowed around and through them. A faint light, noticeable only to the sensitive and those creatures not of the mortal world, rose above them and vanished into the night sky.
Athena felt it before she saw it. A tall humanoid figure wrapped in a long black cloak, face concealed by a hood. “ It is odd to see you all gather here, easy prey for me,” it said.
“Hardly easy prey,” Athena said. “Now.”
The light coalesced, forming a very physical barrier around the fifteen people standing there. Justin and Athena directed the power as the others fed into it. “If you think you can take us, please try,” Justin said.
The being laughed. “You are quite amusing,” it said. “I have not been this entertained in a thousand years.” The hood fell back and revealed a blank space where a face should have been.
“A Soul Creeper,” Athena said.
“A well educated witch,” the Soul Creeper said. “I am impressed. There are few who have even heard of me, let alone knew what I looked like.
The circle wavered. “Keep it together,” Justin snapped. “It won’t make its way through us.”
“Destiny, Blake, quit holding back,” Athena said. Strength flooded through those standing there and the fluctuations stopped.
“Such power,” the Soul Creeper said. “I will enjoy devouring your souls and spitting your lifeless bodies out at my feet.”
Athena, we can’t beat this thing. She heard Justin’s voice in her mind. Not unless we do something drastic.
I know. Athena bowed her head. Her voice was sad.
They’ve grown in power on their own, Athena. We no longer need to guide them. Justin’s voice was as sad as hers.
Athena’s head snapped up. “We will not let you take this city.”
“You don’t have the power to stop me,” the Soul Creeper said.
“Yes we do,” Justin said. He and Athena let go of the rest of the Circle. They kept their hands joined. Light brighter than that produced by the combined power of those in the clearing flowed around them.