Rachel Caine: Ill Wind

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Rachel Caine Ill Wind
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    Ill Wind
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The Wardens Association has been around pretty much forever. Some Wardens control fire, others control earth, water, or wind— and the most powerful can control more than one element. Without Wardens, Mother Nature would wipe humanity off the face of the earth…. Joanne Baldwin is a Weather Warden. Usually, all it takes is a wave of her hand to tame the most violent weather. But now Joanne is trying to outrun another kind of storm: accusations of corruption and murder. So she's resorting to the very human tactic of running for her life…. Her only hope is Lewis, the most powerful Warden. Unfortunately, he's also on the run from the World Council. It seems he's stolen not one but three bottles of Djinn—making him the most wanted man on earth. And without Lewis, Joanne's chances of surviving are as good as a snowball in—well, a place she may be headed. So she and her classic Mustang are racing hard to find him because there's some bad weather closing in fast….

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Ill Wind

The Weather Warden series, book 1

Rachel Caine

To those who inspire:

My husband, Cat (always), and to my dear friends

Pat Elrod, Kelley Walters, Glenn Rogers, Pat Anthony, and—of course—"the" Joanne Madge

To those who believe:

Everybody in ORAC (you know who you are!) and my friends at LSGSC

To those who made it happen:

Lucienne Diver and Laura Anne Gilman

To my musical inspiration:

Joe Bonamassa

And finally, to the one who taught me to love the storm as much as the calm:

Timothy Bartz Rest softly, my dear. This one's for you.

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive;

but it is the lightning that does the work.

— Mark Twain

Excerpt from Owning Your First Djinn published by the Wardens Association Press, 2002

Owning Your First Djinn

By granting you the possession of one of the Association's Djinn, the Wardens Association has recognized that you are among the finest in your area of specialty, whether you control Weather, Fire, or Earth. You should accept this great honor and grave responsibility with humility and courage.

Djinn are a valued, precious resource. Abuses of Djinn or their powers will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of our Association's laws, up to and including execution.


• Use your Djinn to augment your powers, and rely upon your Djinn for advice in your area of specialty.

• Guard your Djinn's home (commonly a bottle) with great care. Although your Djinn will (of necessity) be loyal only to you until your death, or until the Association removes the Djinn from your care, misplacing a Djinn is a very serious matter with associated penalties. All Djinn must be housed in breakable containers (see arcane rules, below) but precautions should always be taken against accidents.


• Manifest your Djinn in public unless first asking it to remain invisible or to take human form.

• Abuse your Djinn by asking it to perform unsavory or immoral actions.

• Break your Djinn's container UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

Arcane Rules

• Once Djinn have been assigned a master, they can take orders only from that master, unless the master temporarily assigns control to another Warden for business purposes.

• Djinn cannot break their own containers. They are allowed, however, to trick others into destroying these containers, thus freeing them from their services. YOU MUST BEWARE OF THIS AT ALL TIMES. A freed Djinn is a very serious danger to all of us.

• Never ask a Djinn for the Three Things Forbidden: eternal life, unlimited power, or raising the dead.


You may begin to develop a certain fondness for your Djinn over time. This is normal and healthy. But never forget that your Djinn is a magical creature of nearly unlimited power and lifespan, and is not human. The motivations of Djinn are not always understandable. Never trust them completely.

Technical Support

If you have questions about the day-to-day administration of your Djinn after the initial training period, please contact our 24-hour hot line for assistance. Specialists are on hand at all times for your protection.


Cloudy and cool, with an 80 percent possibility of moderate to severe thunderstorms by mid-afternoon.

Well, thank God this is about to be over, I thought as I drove—well, blew—past the sign that marked the Westchester, Connecticut, city limits. Traffic sucked, not surprisingly; rush hour was still in full swing, and I had to moderate my impatience and ride the brake while I watched for my exit. Calm down. Things will be back to normal in just a few more minutes.

Okay, so I was a little too optimistic. Also unrealistic, since me and normal have never really been on speaking terms. But, in my defense, I needed all the optimism I could muster right then. I'd been running on adrenaline and bad coffee for more than thirty hours straight. I'd been awake for so long that my eyes felt like they'd been rolled in beach sand and Tabasco sauce. I needed rest. Clean clothes. A shower. Not necessarily in that order.

First, I had to find the guy who was going to save my life.

I found the exit, navigated streets and annoying stoplights until I found the residential neighborhood I was looking for. I checked the scrap of paper in my lap, studied curbside house numbers, and finally pulled the car to a stop in front of a nice Colonial-style home, the kind of place a Realtor would describe as a "nice starter." It had flame-red tulips planted in mannered rows under the windows, and the lawn looked well behaved, too. Weird. Of all the places I'd have expected to find Lewis Levander Orwell, the most powerful man in the world… well, this wasn't it. I mean, suburbia? Hello!

I tapped chipped fingernails on the steering wheel, weighed risks and benefits, and finally popped open the door and stepped out of the car.

The euphoria I'd felt when I was pulling into town vanished as soon as my feet hit solid ground, crushed under a load of exhaustion. Too much stress, too little sleep, too much fear. Speaking of fear… I felt wind on the back of my neck, and I turned to look east. A storm loomed like purple mountains' majesty, big cumulonimbus clouds piled on top of each other like a fifty-car interstate pileup. I could feel it noticing me, in the way storms had. No question about it, I needed to be out of Westchester before that thing decided to pounce. I'd been watching storms crawl along the coast, paralleling me all the way from Florida. The nasty part was that it might actually be the same storm, stalking me.

They did that sometimes. It was never good.

Nothing I could do about it right now. I had bigger issues. Up the concrete walk, up three steps lined with geraniums in terra-cotta pots, to a spacious white front door. I knocked and waited, rocking back and forth on three-inch heels that felt like something from the spring collection of the Spanish Inquisition. Bad planning on my part, but then I'd been expecting a pleasant little business meeting, not a two-day panicked flight cross-country. I looked down at myself and winced; the blue French-cuffed polyester shirt was okay, but the tan skirt was a disaster of car-accordioned linen. Ah well. It would have been nice for Lewis to swoon with desire on seeing me, but I'd definitely settle for him pulling my bacon out of the fire.

Silence. I cupped my hands around my eyes and tried to peer through glass not designed for peering. No movement inside that I could see. With a sinking feeling of disaster, I realized I'd never considered the possibility that my knight in shining armor could be away from the castle.

I knocked on his door once more, squinted through the glass again, and tried the bell. I heard muffled tones echoing through the house, but nothing stirred. The house looked normal.

Normal and very, very empty.

Out where I was, Westchester was enjoying spring sunshine. People walked, kids whooped around on bikes, dogs ran with their tongues hanging out. Inside the house, there was winter silence. I checked the mail slot. Empty. Either he'd been home earlier, or he'd stopped his mail altogether. No papers on the lawn, either.

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