Home > Sweetwater and the Witch (Ghost Hunters #15)

Sweetwater and the Witch (Ghost Hunters #15)
Author: Jayne Castle




  Titles by Jayne Ann Krentz

  Title Page



  A Note from Jayne

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Chapter Twenty-Seven

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Chapter Twenty-Nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Chapter Thirty-One

  Chapter Thirty-Two

  Chapter Thirty-Three

  Chapter Thirty-Four

  Chapter Thirty-Five

  Chapter Thirty-Six

  Chapter Thirty-Seven

  Chapter Thirty-Eight

  Chapter Thirty-Nine

  Chapter Forty

  Chapter Forty-One

  Chapter Forty-Two

  Chapter Forty-Three

  Chapter Forty-Four

  Chapter Forty-Five

  Chapter Forty-Six

  Chapter Forty-Seven

  Chapter Forty-Eight

  Chapter Forty-Nine

  Chapter Fifty

  Chapter Fifty-One

  Chapter Fifty-Two

  Chapter Fifty-Three

  Another Note from Jayne

  About the Author



For Harriet. Here’s to popcorn and fireworks, the keys to a happy life.




   Welcome to my Jayne Castle world—Harmony. You’re invited to join me on another adventure in Illusion Town. This is Las Vegas on Harmony but way more weird. The sign on the highway says it all: The thrills are real.

   For those of you who are new to Harmony, here’s a quick summary of the history of this new world:

   Late in the twenty-first century, a vast energy Curtain opened in the vicinity of Earth, making interstellar travel practical for the first time. In typical human fashion, thousands of eager colonists packed up their stuff and lost no time heading out to create new homes and new societies on the unexplored planets that were suddenly within reach. Harmony was one of those worlds.

   The colonists who settled Harmony brought with them all the comforts of home: sophisticated technology, centuries of art and literature, and the latest fashions. Trade through the Curtain flourished and made it possible to stay in touch with families back on Earth. It also allowed the colonists to keep their computers and high-tech gadgets working. Things went swell for a while.

   And then one day, without warning, the Curtain closed, disappearing as mysteriously as it had opened. Cut off from Earth, no longer able to obtain the equipment and supplies needed to keep their high-tech lifestyle going, the colonists were abruptly thrown back to a far more rustic existence. Forget the latest Earth fashions; just staying alive suddenly became a major problem.

   But on Harmony, folks did one of the things humans do well—they adapted and survived. It wasn’t easy, but two hundred years after the closing of the Curtain, the descendants of the First Generation colonists have managed to fight their way back from the brink to a level of civilization roughly equivalent to that of the first half of the twenty-first century on Earth.

   The four original colonies have evolved into four large city-states loosely united under the umbrella of a federal government. With no enemy nations to worry about, there is no standing army. But every civilization requires some form of policing. On Harmony those tasks are handled by three different agencies. Aboveground, the various police departments and the Federal Bureau of Psi Investigation (FBPI) take the lead. But in the ancient ruins belowground, law enforcement and general security are handled by the powerful Ghost Hunters Guilds.

   Vast stretches of Harmony have yet to be explored, both aboveground and down in the mysterious and dangerous maze of green quartz tunnels in the Underworld.

   Interestingly, an increasingly wide variety of psychic powers are showing up in the descendants of the colonists. It seems that something in the environment is bringing out the latent paranormal abilities in humans.

   Of course, there are some people who don’t need any help from the environment to unleash their psychic talents. Turns out a whole bunch of the members of the Arcane Society were among the First Generation settlers. So were a few of the Society’s old enemies. (I know. Who could have seen that coming, right?)

   Harmony holds mysteries and secrets and dangers, but, as usual, the real trouble is caused by humans.



Chapter One


   “The witch will burn.”

   Ravenna Chastain could hear the chanting in the adjacent chamber. It was growing louder and more intense. The members of the witch hunter cult were working themselves up into a frenzy.

   “The witch will burn. The witch will burn. The witch will burn.”

   Until a few minutes ago she had kept panic at bay by telling herself that help was on the way. All she had to do was stall for time. She had done her best, but the trial that had condemned her had lasted less than twenty minutes and had consisted primarily of a lengthy reading of the charges against her. “You have been accused of practicing witchcraft. You have presented no evidence to the contrary. You must be cleansed.” At the end the Master had pronounced the verdict, which had never been in doubt: guilty.

   She and the dust bunny were on their own.

   The cult’s head enforcer appeared in the arched doorway. He gripped a flamer in one hand. Such weapons were among the few that functioned in the heavy paranormal energy that circulated in the ancient ruins of the Underworld.

   “Time to meet the cold fire, Witch.” He selected a key from the metal chatelaine at his waist. “The Master and the Acolyte are waiting. The Guardians have gathered to witness the destruction of your powers.”

   Ravenna watched him through the bars of the cage. He wore a black, hooded robe and a black mask. His eyes glittered with a sick excitement. He called himself the First Guardian, but she knew his real name was Charles Granger.

   “Tell me, Chucky, are you having fun with this crazy witch-hunting cult?” she asked.

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