Home > Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3)(14)

Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3)(14)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

“Just north of Istanbul—it wasn’t called that then, of course—there was a small village called Azad, and it was populated almost entirely by witch clans,” she began. “This was shortly after the Inquisition began to spread across Europe, and many witches fled east to Azad, just as many Jews fled to Istanbul.

“In Azad, witchcraft was practiced . . . well, openly is too strong a word, but Istanbul was in a period of decline, and no one was much bothered by the actions of a small village, not when western Europe was in such turmoil. And so Azad became a sanctuary for magic.” She took another sip of one of the drinks. Her eyes were distant. “I was in Istanbul at the time, on business”—Maven cast a furtive glance at Lex, then continued—“but I kept hearing stories about a city of magic, and decided to investigate. When I arrived in the village, it didn’t take me long to learn that there were three nulls living there.”

“Three?” I asked, shocked. Most of the time nulls are divided by thousands of miles. It’s been theorized that this is an evolutionary imperative. “What was the population?”

She shrugged. “Five, six hundred people. And yet, three of them were nulls. One was a woman in her fifties, another a man in his early twenties, and the third was a teenage girl, maybe seventeen. Before you ask, they were not related. In fact, they were from three different clans.” Another glance at Lex. “Three different witch clans.”

My mouth dropped open. “They were all from witch families?”

Maven nodded. “That was when I began to suspect that all nulls are descended from magical lines. The most powerful lines.”

It was too much. I scooted back my chair and got up to pace, trying to absorb the implications.

Lex, meanwhile, was looking at Maven. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked softly.

Maven blinked. “Honestly . . . I thought you knew. Because of your niece.”

Lex was a powerful witch, which meant her twin sister had inherited witchblood as well. “But John,” she began, and then faltered. “He doesn’t have magic.”

I paused in my pacing, turning to look at Lex. “His mother does.”

All three of them looked up at me. “What?” Lex said, as incredulous as I’d ever seen her. “Blossom has magic?”

“Yeah. She activated it as a teenager and then stopped using it, probably shortly after it kicked in. I can still feel it, though.”

“And men often miss out on the active gene,” Maven said mildly.

Now Lex looked as stunned as I felt, which . . . okay, if I’m being honest, made me feel a little better. At least I wasn’t the only one who’d barely known my own family.

Wait. My own family.

“You’re saying my parents were witches?” I said to Maven. “That’s . . . that’s ludicrous. They were the most normal humans I’ve ever met.”

I thought back to the last few times I’d been with them. I’d never felt anything strange, anything I would later recognize as witches in my radius. It wasn’t possible.

Maven spread her hands. “They might not have been active. They might not have even known. But if you’re a null, your parents both came from extremely strong magical bloodlines. Unless you were adopted.”

I was fairly certain I wasn’t adopted. I looked just like my mother, and I’d seen pictures of her pregnant with me. Jack and I both had our father’s green eyes.

Which meant they’d had witchblood. I dropped back into my chair, feeling suddenly faint.

“You should eat something, Scar,” Molly murmured. After looking to Maven for permission, she slid one of the scones over to me. I picked at it absently.

My parents had had witchblood. Both of them. What were the odds? Actually, wait. The odds were miniscule—that was the whole point. For thousands of years, witchblood had become more and more diluted as witches married humans. How often would two descendants from extremely powerful witch bloodlines find each other?

Almost never. Which explained why nulls were so rare. “Can you please continue your story?” I said to Maven.

Looking sympathetic, she said, “In Azad, the two younger nulls eventually fell in love.”

“And then she got pregnant,” I said.

“Yes. They had a little girl, which was a shock—even back then, anyone who knew about nulls knew they were barren.” Maven broke off a piece of scone, chewing blissfully. “Mmm. Anyway, I came to town when the girl was about three. I met the family briefly, and then I had to report to the Vampire Council to decide if we needed to do something about the child, or about Azad in general. Too many people knew about witch magic for the council’s liking.”

“And?” Molly asked.

Maven’s expression clouded over. “Ultimately, it never came to that. A small army of radical Christian humans learned about Azad, and they burned the village to the ground. Some escaped, but not the two nulls or their child.”

We all fell silent then, but after a moment, I had to ask. “The baby,” I said quietly. “What was she? Was she human?”

Maven’s eyes were sad. “She was a witch. The most powerful witch I have ever met.”

Chapter 12

They wanted to learn something from him, that much was obvious, but Jesse couldn’t tell if the Luparii witches had something specific in mind, or if it was a fishing expedition. Time for an experiment. Jesse squeezed his eyes shut. Sabine, he thought as hard as he could. I’m ready to tell you everything.

There was no reaction. Which didn’t prove anything, of course, but it made Jesse suspect that perhaps she couldn’t read his immediate thoughts. Jesse had no idea how much of this spell was Sabine and how much was his own . . . what, projections? Creative input? Was he putting the items in the boxes, or were they already there, waiting to be discovered? Was it really like a raid, where the Luparii could look through his memories like a file cabinet, or was she just trying to trick him into thinking about whatever he wouldn’t want them to know?

When the Luparii had first come to Los Angeles, years ago, it had been because the city was being terrorized by a magical aberration: a nova wolf, driven to kill and turn as many people as possible. Werewolves were one thing, but a nova wolf was a rare occurrence. Someone in Will’s pack had used his connections to alert the Luparii, trying to make a deal to get Will out of the way.

A Luparii scout had come, but not to make a deal. In fact, she’d ended up double-crossing the werewolf who’d made the offer, using Shadow to kill him. After that, she’d gone hunting.

Before the Luparii scout could find the nova wolf, however, Jesse and Scarlett had stolen Shadow and arranged for the Luparii scout to be sent to prison for the nova wolf’s kills. Shadow had then helped them kill the nova wolf, Henry Remus. Afterward, Dashiell had brokered a deal with the European Luparii witches to stay the hell out of LA. It had been a very neat solution, all things considered. At the time, even Scarlett had thought the deal seemed a little too pat, but they’d had more crises to deal with, and none of them had expected the Luparii witches to return.

So why had they come back? And why the focus on Scarlett’s whereabouts?

Jesse could think of a few possibilities, but he wasn’t going to get answers unless he got out of here.

Or was he? What had Killian said about this spell? “You can afford the distraction.” That implied that the twisted slumber required a little bit of her active concentration . . . which would mean that the Sabine who’d appeared in the evidence room wasn’t just part of a dream. She was part of the real Sabine’s active consciousness. Maybe Jesse could learn something from her.

It was a hell of a leap of logic, but it gave Jesse something to hold on to. And something to do. Time for part two of the experiment. Making sure his mind was clear, Jesse called, “I know you’re with the Luparii.”

Suddenly, Sabine was there, leaning against the nearest shelf with a bored look on her face. “Congratulations on being slightly less of an idiot than we thought.”

“You used some kind of illusion spell back at the cottage,” Jesse went on. “That’s your whole thing, right? You twist things into darkness.”

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