Souls by Joanna Russ Joanna Russ has been in the forefront of modern American science fiction since the late s, when. The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Shadow Souls The Watchers at the Well: Echoes of the Well of Souls; Shadow of the Well of Souls; Gods of the Well of Souls. DOWNLOAD PDF. L. J. Smith The Vampire Diaries The Return: Shadow Souls Vol. 2. For my wonderful agent, Elizabeth Harding Contents 1“Dear Diary,” Elena .

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Right now, he made Elena acutely aware that she was wearing a long white nightgown that she had brought with the idea that she could change her clothes underneath it if necessary while they were camping. The problem was that she usually did this just at dawn, and today writing in her diary had distracted her.

Lace around a pretty neck to a vampire—as Damon had told her—was like a waving red cloak in front of a raging bull. Elena crossed her arms over her chest. She also tried to make sure that her aura was pulled in decorously. He cocked his head to the side coaxingly. Elena refused to be coaxed.

Elena had always been good at repartee of this kind. The problem was that Damon was better. Elena felt an inward shiver. Damon had promised not to Influence her—to use his telepathic powers to cloud or manipulate her mind. But sometimes it felt as if he got awfully close to the line.

But Damon never gave up, no matter how many times she rejected him. Behind Elena was a thump and squelch that undoubtedly meant Matt had finally gotten off the roof of the Jag.

He jumped into the fray immediately. And—and —and do you know what he did? How he woke me up this morning? She talked over her shoulder to Matt because there was a faint morning breeze that tended to mold her nightgown to her body. I mean, yes! No and yes! It could have broken the moonroof—or me!

Damon spoke up. What were you actually doing at the time when I put some distance between us? His normally tranquil blue eyes were blazing. A stick like the kind you find along the roadside? That kind of stick? It had definitely been carved from hardwood: oak from the look of it. This was definitely a low point in the cold war between the two boys.

Elena, truly at a loss, took it from him, turning it over. It seemed to be a pencil stub, but it was discolored dark reddish-brown. And they were on our trail. She did have feelings for the car. It was big and brilliantly red and flashy and buoyant —and it expressed how she and Stefan had been feeling on the day that he bought it for her, celebrating the start of their new life together.

Right now! When Damon took it, Elena wiped her hands on her nightgown, feeling vaguely light-headed. She shivered, thinking of the vampires on their trail.

Smith Lisa. The Vampire Diaries 06. The Return: Shadow Souls

And the cool morning air was clearing her head a bit, although it also made her shake. Damon glanced down at her and to her surprise, looking completely serious, began to make motions as if to take his jacket off.

Elena had to turn her face away because she was in danger of laughing. It was like flying: a challenge.

And you know I like challenges. Elena felt as light as if she were dandelion fluff, but also a little light-headed, almost tipsy. She was much warmer now, because—she realized—Damon had enfolded her in his aura, which was warm.

The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Shadow Souls

Not just in temperature, either, but warm with a heady, almost drunken appreciation, as he took her in, her eyes and her face and her hair floating weightlessly in a cloud of gold around her shoulders.

And just as blushing was an involuntary physical response to his warmth and appreciation, Elena felt an involuntary emotional response—of thankfulness for what he had done, of gratitude for his appreciation, and of unintentional appreciation of Damon himself.

She could only be glad that Damon had been clever enough and, yes, ruthless enough to take care of them before they got to her. And she would have to be blind and just plain stupid not to appreciate the fact that Damon was gorgeous. After having died twice, this fact did not affect her as it would most other girls, but it was still a fact, whether Damon was pensive or giving one of those rare genuine smiles that he seemed to have only for Elena.

The problem with this was that Damon was a vampire and could therefore read her mind, especially with Elena being so close, their auras intermingling. Elena did, but they were blurring, dissolving. Elena had lost the power to analyze.

She was simply basking in the warm glow of being cherished, being held and loved and cared for with an intensity that shook her to the bone. And when Elena gave of herself, she gave completely. Almost without conscious effort, she arched her head back to expose her throat and closed her eyes. Damon gently positioned her head differently, supported it with one hand, and kissed her. Elena found that she was instinctively groping for the mind of the one who was kissing her so sweetly.

It was as if she had gained a beautiful new sense. When two auras mingled as deeply as this, two souls were laid bare to each other. Semi-consciously, Elena let her aura expand, and met a mind almost at once. To her surprise, it recoiled from her. She managed to snag it before it could retreat behind a great hard stone, like a boulder.

The only things left outside the boulder—which reminded her of a picture of a meteorite she had seen, with a pocked, charred surface—were rudimentary brain functions, and a little boy, chained to the rock by both wrists and both ankles. Elena was shocked. Whatever she was seeing, she knew it was a metaphor only, and that she should not judge too quickly what the metaphor meant. Instinctively, though, she knew that she was seeing something important.

And now, her inherent love and concern drove her to try to communicate. He was clothed in ragged black. He nodded silently. His huge dark eyes seemed to swallow up his face. The child nodded again. This is all just symbols, Elena reminded herself. But are you? She knew that her own mind would use such symbols to present itself to another person. He lived cramped inside that hideous thing, and he wanted it that way. All that was left outside was some ancient memory from his childhood, a boy who had been banished from the rest of his soul.

Maybe even revealing that much was painful, Elena thought. She wanted him to feel the sweetness and comfort that she was feeling. If it had been a landscape she would have put a halo around the full white moon, or rainbows amongst the clouds.

But instead it presented itself as a starving child chained to a ball that no one could breach, and she wanted to comfort and soothe the child. She cradled the little boy, rubbing his arms and legs hard and nestling him against her spirit body. At first he felt tense and wary in her arms. But after a little time, when nothing terrible happened as a result of their contact, he relaxed and she felt his small body go warm and drowsy and heavy in her arms.

She herself felt a crushingly sweet protectiveness about the little creature.

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In just a few minutes, the child in her arms was asleep, and Elena thought that there was the faintest ghost of a smile on his lips. She cuddled his little body, rocking him gently, smiling herself. Someone who was—was not forgotten, never forgotten—but who made her throat ache with sadness. Oh, God, she had forgotten him—she had actually, for a few minutes allowed herself to be drawn into something that meant forgetting him.

The anguish of all those lonely late-night hours, sitting and pouring out her grief and fear to her diary—and then the peace and comfort that Damon had offered had actually made her forget Stefan—to forget what he might be suffering at this very moment. She looked at Damon accusingly. Why not? But I did not Influence you, and I did not bite you.

I merely kissed you. He gives out dreams, fancies, pleasure that stays in the minds of his…donors. Elena and Damon came to a twirling, elegant stop, right beside the Jaguar. Matt immediately ran to Elena and snatched her away, examining her as if she had been in an accident, with particular attention to her neck. Once again Elena was uncomfortably aware of being dressed in a lacy white nightgown in the presence of two boys.

He might not still be in love with her as he once had been, but Elena knew he cared deeply about her and always would. She knew he would never forget the time they had been together. More, he believed in her. So right now, when she promised that she was all right, he believed that.

You said it yourself—there are vampires trailing us! Neither of them even noticed her. Elena cleared her throat more loudly, and Matt finally remembered her existence. Damon shook his dark head. But by what gate?

And when? If we can lose them the only thing we need to worry about is Stefan and the prison guards. But Elena was tingling all over with excitement, with anxiety. Us or you? Damon gave him a long, blank look. With me, it should be uncomfortable but a matter of routine. Damon looked serious. He liked fighting. But first I am going to get in it and get changed into real clothes and maybe even catch a few minutes of sleep.

Matt will want to find a brook or something where he can clean up. I am trying to hold my aura down, really. Somehow, although it was his deepest grievance against Damon, he often managed to forget that Damon was a vampire. You did it to me. It was Shinichi.

You know that. Time stretched and Elena began to fear that he was beyond her reach. But then at last he lifted his head so that she could look into his eyes.

Matt exploded again. At first Damon just raised an eyebrow at her, but then he shrugged elegantly and obeyed, his form blurring as he took the shape of a crow and rapidly became a dot in the rising sun.

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You look like you need it. Bonnie started to lean into the pressure, but made herself stop. It was humiliating to be shaking so obviously on a Virginia morning in late July. It was humiliating to be treated like a child, too. But Meredith, who was only six months older, looked more adult than usual today.

Her dark hair was pulled back, so that her eyes looked very large and her olive-skinned face with its high cheekbones was shown to its best advantage.

She could practically be my babysitter, Bonnie thought dejectedly. Meredith had high heels on, too, instead of her usual flats. Bonnie felt smaller and younger than ever in comparison. She ran a hand through her strawberry-blond curls, trying to fluff them up a precious half inch higher.

Bonnie looked sideways at it and then back at Meredith. If anything tries to grab my ankle this time, it gets this. Bonnie almost smiled. But quit changing the subject. I can do this alone. She squeezed. It was me she invited over. First we try to help her, for her sake and ours.

Then we try to make her get help. It looked…skewed…in some way, as if she were seeing it through a distorting mirror. Besides that, it had a bad aura: black slashed across an ugly shade of gray-green. Bonnie had never seen a house with so much energy before. And it was cold, this energy, like the breath out of a meat locker. Bonnie felt as if it would suck out her own life-force and turn it into ice, if it got the chance. She let Meredith ring the doorbell.

It had a slight echo to it, and when Mrs. Forbes answered, her voice seemed to echo slightly, as well. The inside of the house still had that funhouse mirror look to it, Bonnie thought, but even stranger was the feel.

If she shut her eyes she would imagine herself in a much larger place, where the floor slanted sharply down. Forbes said. Her appearance shocked Bonnie. The faded, shrunken woman was leading the way. She had almost no aura at all, Bonnie realized, and was stricken to the heart. No matter what. But it was difficult to think at all in this house, much less to think of anything good. Bonnie knew the staircase was going up; she could see each step above her.

But all her other senses told her she was going down.

It was a horrifying feeling that made her dizzy: this sharp slant downward as she watched her feet climb. There was also a smell, strange and pungent, of rotten eggs. It was a reeking, rotten odor that you tasted in the air. But just before it disappeared, Bonnie thought she saw movement in the heap of food on the fine bone china.

The smell of rotten eggs—no, of sulfur, Bonnie realized, was very strong. But how did such a horrible smell get into Mrs.

Bonnie turned to Meredith to ask, but Meredith was already shaking her head. Bonnie knew that expression. The room was dark. No one was in or on the bed. And shut that door fast! A flood of relief swept over Bonnie. She stepped into the dimness before her. What do I want? Really want right now? And the answer came to her immediately. I want to see Stefan. I want to feel his arms around me. I want to just look at his face—at his green eyes with that special look that he only ever shows to me.

And I want…Elena felt herself flush as a warmth went through her body, I want Stefan to kiss me. Elena isn't allowed to see Damon during her recovery out of fear that she will end up a vampire. Elena protests that there is nothing untoward going on with Damon, but accidentally switches Damon and Stefan's names.

Matt visits the Saitou house. Obaasan tells Matt that taking out a kitsune's tail will enrage it, but also make it weaker. She also tells him a legend about a beautiful kitsune from whom the Saitou family is said to be descended. Obaasan blesses some bullets, writes some amulets for Matt, and on his way out of the house, her daughter, Orime, gives him Post-it note amulets, to be stuck on demons if necessary.

Elena begins to plot Stefan's jailbreak. Lakshmi informs her that if she has the key to his cell, she can just go let him out. She wonders why Elena has never gone to visit Stefan, an idea that had not occurred to Elena.

Damon immediately makes an appointment to visit Stefan. Matt, Tyrone Alpert, and Mrs. Flowers go to the thicket on the edge of the Old Wood to discover what's become of Sheriff Mossberg. Roping themselves together and covering their arms with enchanted Post-it notes, they get down on the ground and reach blindly into the Old Wood, trying to grab whatever they can without getting pulled in themselves.

Tyrone is almost pulled in. A large tree branch falls on Matt's arm, but he is protected by the Post-its. Tyrone retrieves a human femur with teeth marks on it.

Matt faints. Damon and Sage discuss the meaning of "Shi no Shi", the name of the prison. Damon thinks it means the "Death of Death," but Sage says it can mean "the new death," "the true death," or "The Gods of Death.

Meggar, wearing new outfits made of sacking, and they take a carriage to the prison, where Elena notices a dimensional door in the lobby. On the way to Stefan's cell, Elena fears he is dead and almost faints. She is horrified by Stefan's condition when she reaches his dungeon cell, and throws herself against its razor sharp bars. Stefan doesn't recognize them, but he smells Elena's blood.

Damon is overwhelmed and runs away, pursued by guards. Meggar injects Stefan with something that may help him survive for a few days. Meggar is unable to draw Elena's blood, which she wants to squirt through the bars, feeding Stefan via syringe.

A white kitsune in the cell across from Stefan's pantomimes using the same method with Black Magic wine instead, which Elena does. Sage and the guards return, and Elena is dragged away from Stefan.

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Elena must be supported as they leave the prison. Meggar says that the injection, Black Magic wine, and willpower should be enough to keep Stefan alive until they can get the fox key and rescue him. In the carriage, Damon asks if Stefan is dead and is shocked to learn all that Elena did for Stefan inside the prison, feeling he has failed his brother. Before Blouddeuwedd's party, Lucen and Lady Ulma give the girls an overwhelming amount of jewelry, which doubles as currency in case they need to download their way out of the Dark Dimension.

The girls thank Lady Ulma, who thanks Elena again for having saved her and Lucen. They say goodbye to the household.

On the way to the party, Meredith and Bonnie discuss Elena's feelings for the Salvatore brothers. They are unsure of exactly who or what Elena wants. Elena and Damon, riding in a separate litter, overhear this conversation and are shaken.

Damon says that there is a detail in the story of the brothers killing each other over a girl which everyone has missed. They arrive at the party before Damon can reveal this detail. Elena and company believe the second half of the fox key is hidden in Blouddeuwedd's main ballroom, the Great Ballroom, which is outdoors and larger than a football field.

The ground has been rolled smooth so that no one will trip while dancing. Lady Bloddeuwedd enters the party, a beautiful girl made of flowers who has been cursed to spend every night from midnight to dawn as an owl. Damon and Elena run into a vampire who witnessed Elena's Discipline—he is the reason they were invited to the party. Damon agrees to perform their "hypnotist's act" after the crowd finds his "amulet"--the other half of the fox key.

The guests begin digging up the grounds.

Shadow Souls

Damon carries Elena up a set of clear crystal stairs inside Blouddeuwedd's clear glass house to look for the fox key. They are confronted by Blouddewedd, who informs them that they are in her private library, and refuses to answer their questions. She doesn't like humans or vampires. Damon is offended and asks if she has seen Shinichi or Misao. She calls the kitsune thieves and says she encountered them running out of her house the night the Great Ballroom was rolled over.

Elena thinks they dropped the fox key into the Great Ballroom floor. Blouddeuwedd then states that she is going to kill Damon and Elena. Sage's dog, Saber, gets the kitsune's scent from the fox key and begins searching for their trail. Saber indicates that the kitsune were in the hydrangeas under the library window.

Sage takes a carriage and follows the trail leading away from the hydrangeas, in case the kitsune can be caught and the key half recovered.

Damon and Elena prepare to put on their "hypnotist's act. She then begs Bonnie and Meredith to share the pain of the whipping to further lessen it. During the whipping, Elena overhears spectators whispering about forbidden starball orbs kept in Blouddeuwedd's library.

She realizes that the key isn't in the ballroom, but in the starball room, and charges into the house after the whipping is over.

Blouddeuwedd is in her library, now in owl form. Elena thinks the fox key is in the owl's nest in the center of the room. Blouddeuwedd threatens to kill Elena. Elena attempts to explain what she's doing, but Blouddeuwedd continues to threaten her. Sage's falcon Talon arrives just as the owl begins to attack. Talon distract Blouddeuwedd by dropping and shattering orbs while Elena searches for the key. Elena finds a metal object in the nest.

The giant owl pursues her down the stairs. She falls at the bottom, causing the owl to crash into the glass where she was standing moments before. Saber leads Sage and some party guests along the carriage route taken by the kitsune.

They come to a crossroads, where Saber loses the scent, due to a local perfumery blinding his nose. Sage picks a random direction, and Saber picks up the scent again. Saber leads the party up to a run down building, and Sage breaks down the door. I used to love your books with the unsociable, unfathomable Stefan and the totally badass sexy Damon, but all that has happened now is that St If it weren't for the fact that this book was much much better than 'Nightfall', then I would've given it only one star.

I used to love your books with the unsociable, unfathomable Stefan and the totally badass sexy Damon, but all that has happened now is that Stefan is some love-sick puppy dog where the only coherent sentences he can manage to put together is "Elena, I love you" and "Lovely little love. Where is Damon's hatred for Stefan due to the fact that because of him, he never had Katherine to himself?

Or is Katherine completly forgotten now? I don't know, but all the characters personalities have been totally changed and not in a good way.

Bonnie, for instance, if she faints one more time, I am going to scream! Sure, she's always been the cute little one of the group, but she can still manage to stand on her own two feet for more than five minutes I'm sure.She knew it was breaking, because she could feel it inside shattering like glass, with each needle-like shard skewering flesh inside her chest.

She also tried to make sure that her aura was pulled in decorously. And my friends always have a Plan B and C to help me. The chair that used to sit in front of it was gone. You can teach me. So powerful that they used malach, which are really plants but look like insects that can be no bigger than a pinhead or big enough to swallow your arm.

Meanwhile, Damon concentrated on keeping his voice, face, and aura all dispassionate. The smell of rotten eggs—no, of sulfur, Bonnie realized, was very strong.

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