Home > Knights Magica (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #5)(4)

Knights Magica (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #5)(4)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

“Can’t your bouncers just screen out the norms?” I asked. If they were worried about Apostles, none of them were paranormals or supernaturals.

Thompson shook his head. “We can screen for everyone who isn’t a shifter, but I can’t tell the difference between a witch or a dhampir and a norm. You all smell the same to me. We’re going to take a bad hit to my profits by screening out the norms, but it would be a bigger hit if we allow only shifters.”

I couldn’t imagine why a non-shifter would want to see a werewolf take her clothes off, but I did know that some dhampir had worked at the club.

“What about your human dancers?” Sam asked.

“We were hoping you could just spell the main entrance,” Thompson said.

Sam glanced at me and shrugged. “Sure, we can try that.”

“You’re aware that shifters tend to have the hardest time pushing through the ward at Rosie’s, aren’t you?” I asked.

“Yeah, but better than having another incident like what we had last night,” Thompson said.

The ward on Rosie’s had originally been cast by an Elf, according to Sam, and he simply renewed it every year on Beltane. The Wolf’s Den was even closer to the nexus where two major ley lines intersected than Rosie’s was, and as I drew the first rune, I could feel the power flow into it. Four runes—top, bottom, and both sides of the entrance—and then draw power into them. That was the easy part. Sam then took several vials and painted the runes again using the liquid from each of the vials.

“These contain the DNA from each of the races we allow through the ward,” he explained. “Witch, mage, shifter, vampire, Fae.”

When he finished, I pulled more ley line magic into the runes and watched the doorway glow for about five minutes, then the glow faded.

“Let me know if you have any problems with it,” Sam said.

“The Knights will still be able to get in,” I said.

“Yeah, I may end up asking you to come out and fix that,” Thompson said. “But for right now, I’ve had more trouble from those damned Apostles than I’ve had with the Knights. We’ve had a few Knights in, but they’ve behaved themselves so far.”

As we walked back to his SUV, another large, black SUV pulled into the parking lot.

“Speak of the devil,” I muttered to Sam.

Five Knights got out and walked up to the front door. The driver got out and stood by the vehicle, staring at Sam and me.

“We’re closed today,” Thompson told the men when they approached him. “Come back tomorrow night.”

“We’ve come to tell you that it’s better if you don’t open at all,” one of the Knights said.

“That would make it hard for me to make a living,” Thompson replied.

“Go back to the forests,” the Knight said. “We don’t need any demon spawn in the city.”

“That’s a rather intolerant attitude,” I said to Sam.

“Aye. I begin to see what you told me about them.” He took a deep breath. “Should we interrupt now or wait until the fireworks start?”

“Let’s give them a chance to back off.” I reached into the car and grabbed my sword. Sam raised an eyebrow at me holding something he couldn’t see, but didn’t say anything.

Several shifters emerged from the building and spread out behind Thompson.

“Well, everyone has their opinion,” Thompson said. “I’ll take yours under advisement. Now, this is private property, and I suggest that you leave.”

One of the Knights kindled a fireball. Before he could throw it, a sudden gust of wind hit him, buffeting him off balance and blowing the fireball across the parking lot away from the building.

“I think that is enough,” Sam said. “You heard the man. Get back in your car and leave.”

The Knights turned in our direction, and the guy next to the SUV let loose a bolt of lightning. It hit Sam’s shield but didn’t penetrate. I responded by firing a ley missile at the SUV, and the front half of it disappeared. That got everyone’s attention.

“Jesus, Joseph, and Mary,” Sam breathed.

“I suggest you start walking,” I called, “while you still can.”

Everyone gaped at me. The Knight closest to Sam and me drew his sword and started toward us. I didn’t know if the Knights’ swords could penetrate my personal shield, but I didn’t want to find out the hard way. I drew my own sword, and the Knight slowed down as it became visible.

“Do you really want to dance, Sir Knight?”

He leaped toward me, his sword cutting through the air toward my head. I blocked his stroke, and steel-on-steel sang. I whirled away from him, then reversed, ducked, and swung low. My blade bit into his calf as he was slow to block. He cried out and stumbled backward.

Three of the other Knights drew their swords and started toward me. Before they came close enough to engage, I heard sirens, and two unmarked police cars roared into the parking lot. One screeched to a stop next to Sam’s SUV, and the other pulled up in front of the building.

Lieutenant Dan Bailey and Detective Sergeant Cindy Mackle jumped out of the car near me, and Josh Carpenter and a woman I didn’t know got out of the other car.

“Police!” Dan shouted. “Everyone, stand down.”

The electrokinetic who had been standing next to the Knights’ now-disabled SUV shot another lightning bolt in our direction. It splashed off Bailey’s shield, and I saw a flash of anger cross his face. He sketched a rune using both hands and said a Word. The Knight froze in place. Then Bailey turned back toward the rest of the Knights and cast another spell.

The five points of a pentagram signified Spirit, Earth, Fire, Air, and Water. The rarest magical affinity was Spirit. A spirit mage was also sometimes called a spell weaver, someone who could use ley line energy to cast spells, similar to what a witch did. But a spirit mage could do it on the fly, without the apparatus, preparation, incantations, and other rigamarole. They simply sketched a rune, said a Word, and twisted ley energy according to their will. I could do some of that, as could Sam, but Bailey was a true spirit mage. I had seen him use that spell before, when he projected a shield around another mage to immobilize them.

“I said, stand down, and I meant it,” Bailey said. “Mr. Thompson? What’s going on here?”

“We’re closed for the day,” Thompson answered. “They got upset and thought burning my place down was an appropriate response.”

A few minutes later, a large police van showed up, and all the Knights were disarmed and herded into it.

“They’ll make bail before I get back to the station,” Bailey said, “and the Archbishop will probably be on the phone yelling at Frankie, but it still feels good to arrest some of the bastards. I am so sick of them strutting around and acting as though they’re above the law.”

“Having a lot of problems with the Knights?” Sam asked.

“Lots. I’m not sure which group I detest more, them or the Apostles.” He shook his head. “Sam, I know you’re Universalist, like I am, but fanatics who think God is on their side no matter what kind of crimes they commit piss me off.”

Chapter 4

“Another three hundred Knights came in to town in the past week,” Karl Langermann said to open a meeting of the Otherworld Council at the Academy. Langermann was the headmaster of Westport’s Columbia Academy. Tall and thin, with gray streaking his shoulder-length black hair, he was one of Sam’s oldest and closest friends.

Sam cleared his throat. “The disruptions in the ley lines are coming more frequently, and the Knights are becoming more aggressive. So far, we’ve mostly taken a defensive stance, but as much as I abhor violence, they aren’t giving us much choice. I think we need to consider another approach.”

“And if we do?” Maya Evans, an earth mage who taught at the Academy, asked. “What if they bring in another thousand Knights like they did in Dallas and Atlanta? Look at the mess in London.”

“They aren’t going to back down,” Reverend White said. “They’ve been working toward this for hundreds of years, and now that they’re making their play, it’s all or nothing. Most of the other churches, other religions, are willing to stand against them, but without magic users we’re at a disadvantage. The Knights have hijacked the Universal Church.”

“Where are they getting all these troops?” one of the council members asked.

“They’re recruiting magic users from all over the world,” Sam said, “but a lot of their new recruits are untrained, and a lot of them are very weak in their magic.”

“The resistance is spreading, not just in Westport but all around the world. We need the human governments to unite with us,” Michaela said. “I know that we’ve always avoided governments, but if humans don’t use their power to resist, they’re all going to end up enslaved.”

“She’s right,” Langermann said. “Human governments are mobilizing their armed forces. The governor of Oregon called out the National Guard yesterday, and they are deploying one thousand troops to Westport to assist the local police.”

I shook my head. “I feel sorry for them, just as I do for the police. They are armed with conventional weapons, and they just aren’t able to stand up to the Knights.”

“And what I’m saying is that we need to work with them,” Michaela said.

The talk went on for hours. In the end, a small group was chosen to go to Washington and try to talk to the federal government. Messages went out to other resistance groups around the country in hopes of coordinating our efforts.

The meeting broke up, and as I was leaving, Langermann approached me and asked, “Can you help us train a couple of ley line mages who are just coming into their powers?”

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. “How powerful are they?”

“One of them blew up a building last week. Pulled in power until he couldn’t hold it anymore and couldn’t let it go properly.”

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