Burning Lamp

By: Amanda Quick

For my brother, Jim Castle,

a man of great talent, with love





THE DREAMLIGHT TRILOGY

Dear Reader:



The Arcane Society was founded on secrets. Few of those secrets are more dangerous than those kept by the descendants of the alchemist Nicholas Winters, fierce rival of Sylvester Jones.

The legend of the Burning Lamp goes back to the earliest days of the Society. Nicholas Winters and Sylvester Jones started out as friends and eventually became deadly adversaries. Each sought the same goal: a way to enhance psychic talents. Sylvester chose the path of chemistry and plunged into illicit experiments with strange herbs and plants. Ultimately he concocted the flawed formula that bedevils the Society to this day.

Nicholas took the engineering approach and forged the Burning Lamp, a device with unknown powers. Radiation from the lamp produced a twist in his DNA, creating a psychic genetic “curse” destined to be passed down through the males of his bloodline.

The Winters Curse strikes very rarely, but when it does, the Arcane Society has good reason for grave concern. It is said that the Winters man who inherits Nicholas’s genetically altered talent is destined to become a Cerberus—Arcane slang for an insane psychic who possesses multiple lethal abilities. Jones & Jones and the Governing Council are convinced that such human monsters must be hunted down and terminated as swiftly as possible.

There is only one hope for the men of the Burning Lamp. Each must find the artifact and a woman who can work the dreamlight energy that the device produces in order to reverse the dangerous psychic changes brought on by the curse.

In the Dreamlight Trilogy (Book One: Fired Up, Book Two: Burning Lamp, and Book Three: Midnight Crystal, coming in September 2010) you will meet the three men—past, present and future—of the Burning Lamp. These are the dangerous, passionate descendants of Nicholas Winters. Each will discover some of the deadly secrets of the lamp. Each will encounter the woman with the power to change his destiny.

And ultimately, far in the future, on a world called Harmony, one of them will unravel the lamp’s final mystery, the secret of the Midnight Crystal. The destinies of both the Jones and the Winters families hang in the balance.

I hope you will enjoy the trilogy.



Sincerely,

Jayne





FROM THE JOURNAL OF NICHOLAS WINTERS, APRIL 14, 1694 . . .

I shall not long survive but I will have my revenge, if not in this generation, then in some future time and place. For I am certain now that the three talents are locked into the blood and will descend down through my line.

Each talent comes at a great price. It is ever thus with power.

The first talent fills the mind with a rising tide of restlessness that cannot be assuaged by endless hours in the laboratory or soothed with strong drink or the milk of the poppy.

The second talent is accompanied by dark dreams and terrible visions.

The third talent is the most powerful and the most dangerous. If the key is not turned properly in the lock, this last psychical ability will prove lethal, bringing on first insanity and then death.

Grave risk attends the onset of the third and final power. Those of my line who would survive must find the Burning Lamp and a woman who can work dreamlight energy. Only she can turn the key in the lock that opens the door to the last talent. Only such a female can halt or reverse the transformation once it has begun.

But beware: Women of power can prove treacherous. I know this now, to my great cost.

It is done. My last and greatest creation, the Midnight Crystal, is finished. I have set it into the lamp together with the other crystals. It is a most astonishing stone. I have sealed great forces within it but even I, who forged it, cannot begin to guess at all of its properties, nor do I know how its light can be unleashed. That discovery must be left to one of the heirs of my blood.

But of this much I am certain: The one who controls the light of the Midnight Crystal will be the agent of my revenge. For I have infused the stone with a psychical command stronger than any act of magic or sorcery. The radiation of the crystal will compel the man who wields its power to destroy the descendants of Sylvester Jones.

Vengeance will be mine.





PROLOGUE

London, late in the reign of Queen Victoria . . .





It took Adelaide Pyne almost forty-eight hours to realize that the Rosestead Academy was not an exclusive school for orphaned young ladies. It was a brothel. By then it was too late; she had been sold to the frightening man known only as Mr. Smith.