Home > Knights Magica (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #5)(2)

Knights Magica (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #5)(2)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

He chuckled. “Anything, my love. Do you wish me to pull down the moon and set it in a bracelet for you?”

“Next week, perhaps. But first, I need to know Marshal Olivetti’s schedule—his movements.”

Oriel lifted an eyebrow. “Getting to him would be almost impossible without an army. He travels everywhere with a convoy.”

“I’m not planning on using conventional means,” I said. “I have a couple of ideas, one of which would require your skills as a smith and those Illuminati spells. But I also have an idea that doesn’t require any weapons at all, just the right setting for a unique ambush.”

He got up from his chair and joined me on the balcony, a predatory grin on his face. “Tell me more.”

We drove out to Killarney Village that afternoon and had an early dinner in a cozy little café run by a couple of witches. Their Fae lovers had retreated into the mound, but the café stayed open.

“What else are we supposed to do?” one of the owners asked me. “Move into the city and open a new café for the Knights?”

“We thought about it,” the other witch said with a wink. “How many of them could we poison before they caught on?”

The cuisine was what they called ‘Asian-Fae fusion,’ and it was great. Oriel ordered for me—curried acorns with honeycomb tempura and rowanberry custard for dessert.

After dinner, we went over to his place and he fired up his forge. As we waited for it to heat, he told me that a non-magical forge would take days to reach the necessary temperature to melt the alloys he used, but his magical forge took only a couple of hours.

“In the old days, a human blacksmith never let his forge go cold,” Oriel said. “A hot forge was handed down through generations.”

While we waited, he gathered the metals he would use and set up the molds for the rough casts. The forge wasn’t the only magical thing about his work. I watched him carve a dozen molds in less than an hour and knew a human blacksmith would have taken a day to carve each one.

When his metal was melted and ready to pour into the molds, I drew the runes and chanted the incantations gleaned from the secret History of the Illuminati book. Four hours after we started work, we drove back to Westport with forty-eight possible new weapons to use against the Knights Magica.

Oriel spent the next week following Marshal Olivetti around while one of his Fae buddies stalked Seneschal Bonato. I drove out to the country club every evening and worked out. Some of that was work with the sword, but most was spent in the club’s gym, building muscles that had atrophied during my confinement.

I also worked with my new bright idea, practicing with the crossbow that Gilles Prudhomme, the club’s sword master, had loaned me.

The bolts Oriel cast were uncannily accurate, and when Gilles weighed them, they were within a gram of each other, even though they were cast in twelve different molds.

I was shooting them at a target one hundred yards away when Michaela said from behind me, “Why not have the smith cast spelled bullets?”

She startled me, sending my heart into my throat. I still wasn’t used to the silence of supernaturals sneaking up on me.

“I’m concerned with the interaction between magic and the pyrochemical effects of gunpowder,” I replied, as I turned toward her. “Besides, it takes a lot of time to make each projectile, and crossbow bolts are reusable.”

She nodded. “You’re looking well, if a little thin and pale.” It was the first time we had seen each other since the day we were taken.

“I might say the same about you, except you just look a little more like a supermodel rather than a movie star.”

Michaela licked her lips. “Yeah. Every man’s dream. A tall, skinny chick with big boobs. God, Erin, I’ve never felt so fragile in my life.”

“Sam said you’d been tortured. Olivetti?”

She nodded. “He was the worst. Bonato likes to hit women, but Olivetti is a sadistic monster.”

“I’m going to take the bastard out. Soon.”

“Can I watch?”

“I’ll try to arrange it.”

“So, these crossbow bolts are like your sword? They’ll pass through a personal shield?” she asked, picking up one of the bolts I had laid out on a small table in front of me.

“So I hope. The same spells went into their making, but until I try one on a shielded mage, I won’t know if they work.”

“I’ll happily volunteer a few Knights,” she said.

“The difficulty is in setting up a controlled experiment,” I said. “Simply ambushing some of them won’t really answer all my questions.”

Michaela laughed. “A magic user preaching the scientific method. That has to take the cake.”

“Au contraire, mon ami. Witches are the most careful experimenters in the world. Most human scientists aren’t playing with forces that will leave smoking craters where they’re standing. We isolate young mages when they first come into their power because they tend to blow things up, light things on fire, or short things out. I knew an aeromancer who started a force-three tornado inside a building.”

She shook her head. “I hadn’t really thought about it. With new vampires, we have to manage their blood lust, but that’s pretty straightforward. It just takes a couple of years.”

“Yeah, no big deal unless you’re one of the humans who gets drained. Back to the crossbow bolts,” I said. “If they work, we can arm people who aren’t trained to use a sword against the Knights.”

“Yeah, that would be useful. Speaking of which, tell your boyfriend that I’ll pay him whatever he asks for one of his swords. I’m not letting those motherfuckers touch me again.”

I nodded. “I’ll tell him. A friend of mine carries a crossbow pistol with wooden bolts for vamps. If these work, you might look into that.”

After a week of tailing Olivetti, Oriel sat down with me and a map of Westport. The best thing about having a Fae do the shadowing is, if I asked any questions, Oriel simply projected an illusion of the scene from memory.

“Like I told you, he goes everywhere with a security force,” Oriel said. “Five of those large SUVs—two ahead and two behind the one he’s riding in. All of the Knights are shielded. They’ve been ambushed too many times. Most of them don’t go out in public anymore unless they’re shielded.”

“And the Knights in his entourage are older, more experienced,” I said. “Not like the fools they first assigned here.”

“Yes. These are more skilled, harder to hunt.”

Among my objectives was to kill Olivetti without leaving any witnesses, or any forensic evidence that might point to me or Michaela. That meant magic, and also meant I had to get close to him. On the other hand, I wanted it plainly evident that his death was attributable to either magic or the wrath of God.

“I want you to take me to these three places,” I said, pointing to the map. “I need to see if they will work for what I have in mind.”

Oriel shook his head and pointed to a spot on the map. “This is the only place that might make a good ambush spot.” It wasn’t one of the places I had identified.

“Okay, we’ll take a look at that one, too,” I said. “Can we go now? I want to check things out before we worry about how I’m going to kill Olivetti.”

The first place he took me was on the drive up to the monastery. About halfway between the Knights’ headquarters and the main road, the driveway made a hairpin curve. The large SUVs had to slow to around fifteen miles per hour at that point. We parked downhill and climbed up to a place where we could see the hairpin from above.

Two months before, I would have practically sprinted up that hill, but the climb that day told me how much I had lost and how much I still had to go in rebuilding my strength. It took me forty minutes, with frequent rests, and I was sweating and my legs were shaking by the time we reached our vantage point.

“See what I mean?” Oriel asked after he decided I wasn’t going to pass out. “You can see the cars from here, but the angle for a shot is lousy. All you can see are the tops of the cars. Maybe a pyromancer could get him with a fireball.”

From my perspective, the problem was distance. I was too high above the road, and there weren’t any large rocks. My magic’s range was far more limited than that of most mages.

The other places weren’t any better. Either I couldn’t get close enough to use my magic, or there were too many potential witnesses, or there was a possibility of innocent bystanders being caught in the attempt.

That left my last choice.

“The parking lot of Saint Tobias?”

Both Michaela and Oriel had the same reaction. After the attack we staged as a distraction to hide my burglary, the Church had erected a wall around the parking lot of the largest Universalist church in the city. Once Olivetti and his escort entered the lot, they were out of sight of any witnesses except the Knights.

Disguising Michaela and me didn’t require much except some clothes from Goodwill, and Oriel glamoured himself in a priest’s robes. We entered the church through the front door and exited through a side door to the parking lot. Punctual as he always was, Olivetti and his entourage pulled into the lot five minutes later.

One of the Knights hopped out of the car Olivetti was riding in and opened the door for his marshal. Olivetti climbed out and walked toward the door where I was waiting. I went forward to meet him.

“Marshal Olivetti, what a pleasant surprise,” I said. “I was hoping that we would get the chance to renew our acquaintance.”

He stopped, staring at me with apparent loathing in his expression. His attention and that of his men focused exclusively on me, and no one except his driver, who was still in the car, seemed to notice that his SUV lifted twenty-five feet in the air and drifted toward me. It was a cloudy day, and so it didn’t even cast a shadow when it passed above Olivetti.

I stopped holding it up with ley line energy, and it dropped. The noise when it hit the pavement was a lot louder than I expected.

   
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