Home > Knights Magica (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #5)(14)

Knights Magica (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #5)(14)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

Our path took us through a large pasture with a stately plantation house standing at one end. We crossed a horse fence and skirted a cluster of stables. A helicopter passed high overhead, heading in the direction of the flashing lights.

The helicopter was almost out of sight beyond the trees ahead of us when it was struck by lightning from the ground. Then a fireball the size of the copter enveloped it. The aircraft exploded, and flaming debris fell from the sky.

Our guide took a sharp right turn onto a game trail through the trees and brush, and we paralleled the lights for a while. After walking for twenty minutes, we reached the fence around the resort’s property. The back of the hotel faced us about a hundred yards away, with the swimming pool between us and the building. The stables were to our left. I couldn’t see the parking lot on the right, but I could see flames and assumed the vehicles parked there were a lost cause. There was movement on the hotel’s roof.

The Fae woman spoke for the first time, her voice a musical joy on my ears. “The defenders form circles on the roof and send magic against the Knights. About every half hour, a new group emerges from below and forms a new circle, and the mages they relieve go back below. So far, the wards are holding and the Knights haven’t been able to approach the building.

I nodded. “They probably have circles of witches inside reinforcing the wards while those on the roof are mages.”

“So we surmised. Our people have been attacking the Knights from behind, but we’ve mostly been just a distraction.”

McGregor spoke up. “We thought that if we could find the circles casting the interference spells, we might be able to break them.”

“A good plan,” she said. “Come.”

She led us along the fence for another fifty yards, then turned back into the woods. We reached a small clearing, and peering out from the trees, we saw a circle of black-clad people holding hands. Outside their circle, another dozen Knights stood guard, facing outward with drawn swords.

“The guards around the circle are mages,” the woman said. “We can’t cast shields as you can, so it’s too dangerous for us to get close. If you can break that outer ring of mages so we can reach the witches in the circle, then that would accomplish what you hope.”

I turned to face her, making sure I had her attention. “I’m half witch, and I could stand in that circle. Don’t assume none of those witches can shield.”

She let that sink in, nodded, and looked up at her companions. “Good advice.”

McGregor reached out, grabbed the shoulder of my jacket, and roughly pulled me to him. Holding me by his side, he studied the group in the clearing for a couple of minutes.

“Okay,” he said in my ear, “this is how we’re going to tackle this. You take the first man on the left, and I’ll take the one on the right. Then you pivot left, and I’ll take the guy behind you. Understand?” One man faced us almost directly, and we would first attack the men on his flanks.

“Yes, sir.” He was far older and more experienced than I was, and I automatically fell into following his lead.

“We’ll use the shadows to get close,” he continued. “When you’re ready, hit your target with an energy blast and then spring. No heroics. Fight smart. If you get in a bad situation, pour all your energy into your shield and get the hell out. Got it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Don’t get cocky. Fight them the same way you would if they were Hunters.”

“Yes, sir.”

McGregor nodded, and we drew our swords. Oriel pulled out his two spelled long knives, and the three Fae drew the swords they were carrying. I noted that all three were Knights’ spelled swords with star rubies set in the pommels. Oriel and the other three cast glamours and disappeared.

“Oh, no,” I said reaching out and grabbing Oriel before he completely faded, “you aren’t coming with us. Invisibility and speed won’t protect you. Wait until we clear the guards.”

“And if we can’t clear the guards, then get away from here,” McGregor said. “We’ll be running. No sense in fighting a lost cause.”

“We’ll wait until we think it’s safe for us to move in,” the Fae woman said, her voice eerily coming from the air a few feet away from me.

I circled to our left to where a tree cast a long shadow into the clearing. Normally, a personal shield is transparent, but when I was young and didn’t have complete control over my magic, my shield tended to blur. A slight adjustment recreated that blur, which would help to make my form less distinct in the darkness.

Laying down, with my sword held in reverse in my left hand, I slowly crawled on my belly toward my target. Every time the Knight looked in my direction, I froze.

I managed to get within ten feet of him without being spotted. I had to assume that McGregor was in position, as I couldn’t see him. He had assigned me to give the attack signal, so I formed a ley missile and hurled it at the Knight in front of me.

As I did so, I leaped to my feet and charged. The missile hit his shield and rocked him. Before he recovered, I poured energy into my arm to increase my strength as I swung my sword and took his leg off at the knee. His scream alerted everyone in the clearing but also momentarily froze them in place.

I pivoted to my left, and three steps brought me in range of my next target. My backhand strike took his head off before he could raise his sword to block me, and I moved on to the next man. I didn’t look back. No one attacked me from behind, so I knew McGregor had done his job.

The next Knight was ready for me and blocked my strike. He was a lot bigger than I was and had reach on me. I blocked his counter strike, but it caused me to take a step back. I hit him with a ley missile and saw his shield flare. When he hesitated, I fired another ley missile at him and another one at the witches in the circle. Three of the witches vaporized.

That caused enough distraction that I was able to duck under my opponent’s sword and skewer him under the breastbone.

Two of the guards charged toward me, and a witch to my right drew her sword and took a step in my direction. Whirling away, I put some distance between us and got to a point where I could see all three of them at once.

The witch stiffened, arched her back, and fell. One of the invisible Fae had stabbed her from behind.

I hit both of the other Knights with ley missiles, and their shields flared. Moving to my right, I maneuvered into a position where one of the Knights blocked the other one from coming at me. I feinted at the closest man, hit him with another ley missile, then closed on him. Our shields touched, and I absorbed the energy from his shield into mine, then kicked him in the knee. He staggered and dropped his guard. My strike opened his belly.

The second Knight’s sword hit my shield but didn’t penetrate. I tried to duck away from him, then stumbled on the uneven ground and fell awkwardly, landing on my right arm and my sword.

I looked up to see the Knight standing over me, his sword raised above his head. I struggled to roll and free my arm while pouring more energy into my shield.

A ball of rose-colored energy hit the Knight, lighting up his shield. He stood there like a statue, his sword raised, and I saw panic on his face. The tiny Fae woman materialized between us, and she thrust her Knight’s sword into his belly. The reddish glow faded, and he crumpled to the ground.

I scrambled to my feet, looking for other threats, but McGregor and Moira were the only people I saw still standing. All of the Knights lay on the ground, and the clearing was covered in blood. Then the rest of the Fae and Oriel became visible.

Chapter 11

The Fae wasted little time before looting the Knights’ bodies of communication devices and the rubies on their swords. McGregor was a little more thorough, taking identification and money. He also stripped a man close to his own size, then took the uniform of a slender woman, and gathered up two of the Knights’ swords.

Walking over to me, he held out the woman’s clothes and one of the swords.

“Put these in your pack. They may come in handy,” he said.

I rolled up the dead woman’s clothing and stuffed it in the small backpack I carried. I lashed her sword and scabbard to my scabbard. It was a little awkward to carry them, but I took a couple of swings with my sword and determined that the new arrangement didn’t interfere with my ability to fight.

“Where do we find the next circle?” I asked.

Oriel turned his face upward, like a dog sniffing the breeze.

“We may not have to,” the Fae woman said. “Try your cell phone.”

I pulled out my phone and called Frankie. She picked up on the second ring. “Where are you?”

“Right outside the resort’s fence,” I replied. “I can see the rear of the hotel from here. Try to contact someone inside.”

“Just a minute.”

I heard voices in the background, and then a couple of minutes later, Frankie said, “Yes, we can call in and they can call out. You need to get the hell out of there.”

“Okay. Any reason why?”

“The military is going to start launching airstrikes on the area around the hotel in about fifteen minutes. You either need to leave, or go inside.”

“Fat chance of that,” I said. “The Knights have been trying to get inside for hours. Frankie, the Knights shot down at least one helicopter that I saw.”

“They won’t be shooting down jets firing missiles from several miles away.”

“Right. Are you guys all right?”

Frankie snorted. “For now. The Knights are making a major push tonight—here, in New York, and a couple of other places. The military is pushing back hard. We fought off one attack tonight—us and some of the other paranormals staying in our hotel. I think we surprised the Knights. They seemed to expect that the ley line mess would disable us. The important thing is for you to get out of there. You don’t have much time.”

I hung up and turned to Oriel and McGregor, who were standing close waiting for me to finish. The look on Oriel’s face told me that he had heard Frankie’s side of the conversation.

   
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