Home > Knights Magica (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #5)(10)

Knights Magica (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #5)(10)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

“They think they can control the Knights,” he finally said.

“That’s the way I see it.”

“The Fae couldn’t withstand the Romans. They think they can defeat armies with modern weaponry?”

“I think they’re taking a different tack. Sneakier. Let the Church control the masses while the Knights control the Church, and the Fae will control the Knights.”

Laurent shook his head. “Theocracies haven’t done any better than the Fae at subjugating humanity. I lived through the religious wars four hundred years ago in Europe. I wouldn’t bet on the Universal Church winning this time, either.”

He shifted his attention to Michaela. “I’ll discuss this development with Eileen. Let the Otherworld Council know that we will continue to support their efforts against the Knights, and keep me informed.”

Sensing that our meeting was over, I poured myself a small snifter of the cognac and took a sip. As I suspected, it was of a quality I would never be able to afford.

We gathered our bodyguards and took the elevator down to our cars. On the way, I said, “That was a lot of nothing for our time. I could have told him all that over the phone.”

“Gabriel isn’t comfortable with technology,” she said. “He prefers to be able to see someone’s face, smell them, when he talks to them.”

I could understand that. There weren’t too many telephones around when he was alive in the fourteenth century.

The next ley line disruption happened early in the morning when it was still dark outside. Even though I never took off my pendant with the Knights’ ruby, the upheaval in the lines still woke me and Oriel up.

The lines churned for three days. During that time, the Knights mounted several campaigns in Europe and major cities in North America. In Westport, they tried another attack on Necropolis and several shifter enclaves but once again were beaten back.

When I went into work the day after the lines settled down, Sam called me into his office.

“We had a meeting of the Overworld Council last night,” he said. “We’ve decided to send a delegation to Washington, D.C. A number of other organizations across the country will also have members there, and we’re going to try and lobby Congress and the government to rein in the Knights.”

That was interesting, but I wasn’t sure what that had to do with me.

“Frankie, Michaela, Karl Langermann, and Reverend White will be representing Westport, and we’d like you to go along. The council will pay all your expenses, of course, plus a per diem amount so you don’t have to worry about missing work.”

“I’m not really the diplomatic type,” I said.

Sam barked out a laugh. “No, you’re not. We want to send you, Josh, and a couple of other mages as bodyguards. From what you’ve told me, you’re familiar with D.C., aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I’ve spent some time there. I know how to get around.”

“Good. Frankie is booking all the arrangements, so touch base with her.”

I tried to remember when I had agreed to go, but Sam ushered me out of his office before I had a chance to object.

Oriel came in later for dinner, and I told him about being shanghaied.

He shrugged. “Want me to meet you there?”

“They didn’t ask me if I wanted to take anyone.”

“No big deal. I’ll travel through the mounds and arrange for a car. I haven’t been there in a while, and the azaleas will be in bloom.”

“I thought the mounds were closed off.”

“They are, but Tiana can bring me through. The elders aren’t constrained like I am.”

I called Frankie the following day and found out that the rest of our group would consist of Jolene, Trevor, Kevin Fuller from the Academy, and Ian McGregor. Frankie told me to pack for two weeks.

I wondered how we were going to get our swords to Washington, since they were too long to put in normal luggage, but Oriel solved that problem.

“I’ll take them through the mounds,” he said. “I’ll drop you off at the airport, and meet you in D.C. You can put your daggers in your carry-ons, and I’ll spell them so the airport security can’t detect them.”

Chapter 8

When I was with the Hunters’ Guild, I rarely flew commercial airlines due to the problem of getting my weapons through airport security. I normally either flew on a private plane, took trains, or rented a car.

We drove to Portland and flew from there to Washington. Oriel didn’t go to Portland with us. Michaela and McGregor brought their swords to him at my place, and he took them along with mine out to Killarney Village. When we arrived in Washington, D.C., he was waiting for us at the airport. Fae magic was so incredible.

Frankie had rented three cars for our group, but Oriel showed up with a souped-up European SUV, smaller than those used by the Knights but with a race car engine, leather seats, surround sound stereo, and GPS display built into the dash.

“How much did this cost to rent?” I asked as I buckled myself in.

“Belongs to a friend,” he said. “He’s retreated into the mounds, but I have use of his car and his mansion.”

I laughed. “Not exactly what one thinks of with a Fae. I thought you folks were shy woodland creatures.”

He shrugged. “We aren’t all a thousand years old. It will give us a safe house if we need one. No way the Knights or anyone else is going to breach the wards he has set.” He handed me a pendant on a chain. “This will allow you to enter the place.”

Slipping it over my head, I said, “I’m here to guard Frankie, Michaela, and Reverend White. I need to stay at the hotel with them.”

“I know, but if you need a place to go in an emergency, we have Gullveig’s place.”

Frankie wasn’t shy about spending money and booked us into the Willard InterContinental, almost next to the White House and a brisk twenty-minute walk to the Capitol.

Master Benedict hadn’t traveled often, but I usually accompanied him the last three years I served him. He always stayed at the Willard when he went to Washington, so I was familiar with it. My mouth watered thinking about the hotel’s fabulous French restaurant. Sam had told me to have a good time when he gave me a credit card, and Café du Parc’s cassoulet sounded like a good time to me.

I had also traveled as a companion to at least a dozen Illuminati elders at one time or another, and the elders always traveled in style. I wasn’t considered a bodyguard, since the elders were all former Hunters and strong mages. They were also at least two hundred years old and perfectly capable of defending themselves against a battalion. But I was expected to cover their backs. I mostly served as arm candy and a bed warmer, and only participated in one mage battle in almost fifty trips.

I was a world away from my small apartment and the Irish comfort foods served at Rosie’s, but I was a lot happier in Westport.

Oriel didn’t pay any attention to traffic laws, using illusion and other magics to blow past cops, driving the wrong way at times, and occasionally freezing other cars so he could run red lights safely. We arrived at the hotel forty minutes before Frankie and the rest of our group. As usual when riding with Oriel, I had to breathe deeply and unclench my hand from the armrest before I could gather myself to get out of the car.

“Do you have a corner room on the southwest side?” I asked the clerk when I checked in.

“Yes, we do,” he answered. “That will be a thousand-dollar-a-night upgrade.”

“Oh, well. It doesn’t hurt to ask, does it?”

His sneer told me that he didn’t see the humor in the situation. He gave me a room on the south side, third floor, facing a building across the street. No view at all.

“Excuse me, is that where the rest of the Francis Jones party will be located?”

He looked down his nose at me, but checked. “No, they are on the west side, seventh floor.

“Then I’m sure that is where my reservation is as well.” He simply stared at me, stony faced. “Well, then,” I said, “I guess I’ll wait for Ms. Jones to arrive and have her speak to the manager.” I couldn’t very well guard someone who was several floors away on another side of the building.

The clerk consulted his computer, then pushed a key card across the desk toward me. “Seventh floor, west side.”

“Thank you.” I gave him a smile. I would be at the mercy of him and his coworkers for the next two weeks. No sense in making enemies.

When I got to my room, I found that it overlooked the courtyard, not the National Mall. I still didn’t have a view. I put away my clothes, unpacked my sword, and we went back downstairs to wait for the others.

“The conference is scheduled for the day after tomorrow,” Frankie said during dinner that evening. “Tomorrow, we have three meetings scheduled with various groups, including one in the evening with seven senators and representatives who are all either witches or mages. Ian, your assignment is to shadow Reverend White. Josh, you’re assigned to Michaela. Karl and Kevin are a team. Trevor, you will be with me, and Jolene is here as my assistant.”

I pasted a hopeful smile on my face. “And I just get to go sightseeing?”

“Hardly,” Langermann said. “We’re going to use you as a floater, and for special assignments. For the most part, you’ll accompany the rest of us. But if we need something else done, we’ll use you.”

“Such as burgling churches?”

Frankie rolled her eyes.

“Yes,” Langermann said. “Or following someone, or doing some kind of research.”

McGregor winked at me.

After dinner, Michaela pulled me aside. “Tell me about Josh. I’ve met him a few times, and he’s dated one of my sisters, but I don’t know much about him.”

“Ah, Josh. Brash, crude, quick-tempered, and sometimes he drinks too much. He’s a pyromancer, and an absolute badass in a fight. Other than possibly Ian McGregor, there’s no one I would rather have covering my back. He has helped me take down two Hunters. I think Frankie assigned him to you because you can’t shield.”

   
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