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The world materialises around me, revealing an unfamiliar sight.

Hazel pulls her hand out of Sire, shuddering. The experience of being transported somewhere isn't easy to get used to.

She shakes off any uncomfortable feelings before gasping, turning in a tight circle as she drinks in the site of where the ceremony takes place.

"Wow, I've only ever dreamed of this place," she marvels, pressing her palms to her cheeks.

This place is far from our Pack, only accessible by magic. For as far as the eye can see, there is only cracked desert plains, reaching out toward the horizon. The only thing disturbing the hauntingly empty space is a lush oasis that doesn't stretch very far at all.

Rubbing a frown from my brow, I look back over my shoulder. Desert. When I look forward, there's the oasis that looks like a crack in reality.

"How is this even possible?" I question, looking at where the ground has been dug up and a marble pool of some sort lies.

"Magic," Hazel answers, stepping onto the mossy grass, smiling widely. "Witches take these ceremonies very seriously.

Sire rolls his eyes. "It's an overgrown mess. Witches clearly don't understand self-management."

Hazel scowls at him, and he narrows his eyes. I smother my laugh, even if this ceremony is going to be anything but amusing.

Sire is right, though. The water in the pool is a murky green, and the once pale dais is stained green. It's the fault of the densely situated trees that form a cropped halo around the place, their leaves dropping about despite the lack of wind.

"You never thought you would come here or do this ceremony?" I ask my friend, who approaches the edge of the pool, holding the straps of her backpack.

"No, never," she admits. "Every book I read tells of this place being somewhere different."

"I'm shocked it hasn't been destroyed." Sire shoves his hands into his pockets, looking around at the desert behind us, at the lack of civilisation for miles.

Hazel nods. "Me too."

I brush my hands against my thighs, anxious to get this over with. The bond won't snap into place until everything has been completed, yet this is still a terrifying experience.

"So, do you have the instructions on how to do it?"

Hazel points to the dais. "Step up there, and face each other."

We step across the mossy ground and to the cracked steps. I pick my way up them carefully, Sire joining me before we face each other as instructed.

"This place looks like it's about to fall apart," Sire mutter, looking down warily.

"Shh..." I scold.

Hazel stands in front of the dais, digging a large book from her backpack. She took all of yesterday to prepare what she needed. It's a few concoctions and some pages in a book she has had in her familiar for years, but never paid much attention to.

"Now, you must repeat every word I say exactly," she explains, pulling out two separate containers along with the book. "Any deviations and it won't work."

I nod. "Okay."

Hazel raises her gaze, narrowing her eyes. "Sire?"

"Yeah yeah, I got it."

"Now, as per the instructions I put this together." She picks up one of the containers, pulling the lid off. "Don't ask what's in it, or you won't want to go through with it."

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