Home > Knights Magica (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #5)(3)

Knights Magica (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #5)(3)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

A personal shield protected a mage from bullets, knives, magical fireballs, and a number of other attacks. Standing in front of a moving train was something my trainers discouraged. A personal shield was never a good defense against having six thousand pounds of steel drop on a person.

I picked up another of the SUVs and dropped it in the same spot, then a third. By that time, the Knights in the remaining two vehicles had abandoned them, but I added them to the pile anyway. It sounded like a chain-reaction crash on the freeway. No one made any moves to stop me when I turned and walked back inside the church.

Michaela and Oriel followed me out the front door. We shed our disguises around the corner, then went to a café a little ways down the street and had breakfast while watching the ensuing excitement.

“I didn’t realize you could pick up something that large,” Michaela said.

I shrugged. “Weight really doesn’t have anything to do with it. The magic is doing the lifting. It’s basically dependent on how much magical energy I can pull. But I can’t wield magic more than about thirty or forty feet away from me, whether lifting a car or a pea. What I really wanted to do was drop a big rock on him, but he never goes anyplace where that might be possible.”

“Could you lift a building?” Oriel asked.

“Possibly, if it didn’t have a foundation. I mean, a trailer house wouldn’t be a problem. But how do I differentiate a concrete foundation from the earth it’s buried in? I can’t lift the world.”

He nodded toward the church. “Could you destroy that church?”

“If no one stopped me. I could batter the walls with ley line magic until they cracked, or I could hurl large objects at it. Once there’s a breach, I could knock it down, but it would take some time. Easier to use dynamite. But my training included an understanding of architecture toward doing just that. A living siege engine.”

“What about a circle?” Michaela asked. “Isn’t there something about thirteen witches combining their power?”

“Oh, yeah. Witches or mages. You can do a circle with any number, but thirteen is considered the optimal number. Everyone pulls power and directs it through the circle to the leader, who channels the power into whatever the group is trying to do. The power that can be channeled that way is more than additive. A circle of thirteen strong mages is how they created Stonehenge.”

“And if such a circle tried to knock down the church?” Oriel prompted.

“Piece of cake. We could probably destroy it in a few minutes. There are always weak spots, and those would collapse first.”

The look Michaela and Oriel exchanged told me that I had given them an idea.

Chapter 3

Even though Rosie O’Grady’s Bar and Grill was warded against the corruption that occasionally hit the ley lines, the mages inside could still feel it when the lines blew up.

Shortly after returning to work, I was tending bar when the ley lines went crazy. Five minutes later, half-a-dozen Knights in uniform swaggered through the door. They carried their swords and had pistols holstered at their hips.

“Oh, shit,” was my first reaction. “Hey, you can’t come in here armed,” I called out while pulling ley line magic and casting my personal shield.

Their leader walked up to the bar, and the other five fanned out in front of the entrance.

“I am Boris Jovanovic,” he said, “chevalier of the Knights Magica.”

“I don’t care if you’re the Prelate himself. You need to leave your weapons outside. House rules, besides the fact that carrying weapons into a bar is against the law.”

“We answer to a higher authority. I wish to speak with Samuel O’Grady.”

Higher authority my ass. I bit my tongue and reached under the counter for the magic-infused baseball bat that served as the bar’s bouncer.

“Sam’s not here. You’ll need to come back tomorrow during the daytime. Unarmed.”

He sneered at me. “We’ll just look around.”

“No, you won’t. You’ll leave and come back only after you’ve divested yourselves of your weapons.”

Jovanovic put his hand on his sword and started to draw it. He cleared a foot of blade from its scabbard when I swung the bat and broke his arm. That surprised me. I couldn’t believe he was arrogant enough that he hadn’t bothered to shield himself.

I leaped over the bar and grabbed him by the throat. Lifting him into the air, with his feet dragging on the floor, I marched toward his men. Three of them stared at the two of us with shocked expressions. The other two reacted by reaching for their swords.

I slammed Jovanovic into one of the sword wielders while swinging the bat at the other one. I hit the sword, knocking it out of his hand, and it clattered to the floor. Liam, my partner behind the bar, fired a burst of ley line energy that sent the Knight flying into a wall.

“Jenny, call the cops!” I shouted. A dozen of my customers enthusiastically assisted in restraining the Knights until the police arrived.

Strange things happened. To us in the shadow world, they didn’t seem strange at all. The strange thing to us was that we were seeing events involving magic and supernaturals reported on the TV news and the internet.

The Knights Magica began a public relations campaign about the benefits of magic. They pitched how witches and magicians could help the world, from mundane, everyday tasks to improvements in healthcare. I noticed that they didn’t mention how magic could help torture survivors heal.

The Archbishop of Venice, the seat of the Knights Magica, was quickly elected as the new Prelate, and he officially declared the Knights Magica as the Order of the Church Militant and Protectors of the Holy City. The Knights launched assaults on the headquarters of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Turkey, Greece, and Russia. The Russian offensive failed, although the fighting in Moscow was fierce with many casualties on both sides. Traveling on Holy City passports, Knights flooded the United States, Canada, and Latin America, launching massive recruitment efforts.

Westport, due to the publicity it had received and the ley lines, became the regional headquarters of the Knights in the Pacific Northwest.

The subject of control and regulation came up very early. Registrations. New laws—many passed in a panicked hurry and without much thought—circumscribed what magic users could and couldn’t do. A bureau of charms, hexes, and potions was set up in the Food and Drug Administration.

I probably shouldn’t have been surprised at how many magic users applied for jobs in the new bureaucracies.

How governments and societies from state to state and country to country dealt with the new reality varied widely. In some places, magic was outlawed—essentially, nothing changed. The shadow world stayed in the shadows. In a few places, acceptance was fairly easy and didn’t cause much of a ripple. In other places, widespread persecution, imprisonment, murder, and civil war erupted. Most of Europe and North America opted for regulation.

I was sitting in Rosie’s back room one afternoon watching TV and eating dinner with my witch-cop friends Cindy Mackle and Jolene Carpenter before starting our respective evening shifts.

A group calling themselves the Mission of the New Apostolic House of God was virulently anti-magic and their membership had been growing all across the nation. The members called themselves Apostles. The newscaster read a story about a woman with a fortune-telling business who a group of Apostles dragged out of her house in Tennessee and hanged from the tree in her front yard while her house burned.

“It ain’t no sin,” a man with a red face and a baseball cap spluttered into a microphone. “The Bible says ya can’t allow no witches to cause suffering.” Several policemen stood passively in the background.

“She was probably innocent,” Jolene Carpenter said. “A real witch would have been able to protect herself, or at least escape.”

“Or inflict some damage before she went down,” Cindy Mackle said. “Accusations of witchcraft are often levied against women with property that someone else wants. Very common in India. But this case sounds like pure hate.”

Later, the human world discovered how a real witch reacted to rough treatment. Alice Harper was accused by the Apostles in her city of selling drugs and corrupting the youth. The FBI and the local police attempted to serve a search warrant on her. When the dust settled, all that was left of her home was a smoking crater. Seven law enforcement officers were dead, and four more were in the hospital. Harper escaped.

The day after the most recent Knight assault on Rosie’s, I went into work a little early and told Sam about the fracas. He had already heard of it, of course, but he wanted my version of what went down.

When I was finished, he stared off into space for a minute, then said, “Speaking of fighting, did you hear about the fracas at the Wolf’s Den last night?”

I shook my head.

“A bunch of Apostles showed up there last night, paid the cover charge, and once inside, started a brawl. One of the fools got himself killed, and two shifters are in jail. Want to go out there with me?”

We jumped into Sam’s SUV and drove out to the Wolf’s Den. Although I knew about this shifter strip bar, I had never been in it.

“The owner called me about casting a filtering ward on the bar,” Sam said as we pulled out of the parking lot. “If you want, you can help me cast the wards.” Sam had been tutoring me on casting mage spells—a part of my education that the Illuminati neglected.

We were met by the Dan Thompson, the club’s owner. “Hi, Sam. Thanks for coming out.” Then he caught sight of me, and his face broke into a grin. “Oh, Sam, is she a present for me? You shouldn’t have. You lookin for a job, darlin?”

I felt my face warm. “I already have a job. I bartend at Rosie’s.” I wondered how interested he’d be if he saw my scars. Or maybe a werewolf would find those exciting. At that thought, my face grew even warmer.

“Well, if Sam don’t treat you right, come on out and talk to me.” He said with a wink. Turning to Sam, he said, “We’ve always allowed humans because their money’s good. But we can’t have another riot like we had last night. Jordan Blair warned us that if we couldn’t keep order, he’d have no choice but to shut us down.”

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