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

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

“I can help with that,” I said. “I need to go to work this evening, but I’ll come out here and work with him tomorrow. We need to fix that quickly before he kills himself.”

And everyone in his immediate vicinity.

I showed up at the Academy the following day, and Langermann introduced me to Jay Sellers and Sally Donaldson, the young ley line mages he wanted me to train. Jay was fourteen years old, taller than I was, with pimples and hair that wouldn’t stay combed. He was a mess. His expression alternated between sullen pouting and outright terror. Having been in his position, I understood.

Sally was also fourteen, a pretty blonde girl with freckles, bright blue eyes, and braces on her teeth. She was just starting to blossom, as they say, and I could tell she was going to be a heartbreaker. Sally wasn’t afraid of magic at all, or at least that was what she wanted the world to think.

“Get your coats,” I said to both of my trainees. “We’re going to take a long walk.”

I didn’t know what the two kids had been told about me, but they both got their coats without comment or question. We passed out of the back gate of the Academy and took a path that led up into the foothills. The three of us walked for about forty minutes until we topped a ridge and could look back over the city and see the ocean.

I sat down on a big rock and asked, “Can you feel the ley line off to our right? The one that follows that little creek?”

Both of them nodded.

“I want you to tap into that line, and slowly pull the magic into you. Stop after one minute. That’s what we’re going to work with—one minute’s worth of magic. Jay, you go first.”

Jay opened himself up and let the power rush into him. After a minute, I reached out and grabbed his wrist, bleeding power away from him and cutting him off from the line.

“Do you feel how I did that?”

He stared at me, his eyes wide, and nodded.

I showed him how to release the power slowly, then we did it all again three times. By the last time, he was able to sever his connection to the line without my help, and a slow smile spread across his face.

Turning to Sally, I said, “Your turn.”

As I had suspected, she was so calm because she refused to truly open herself to the magic. When she tapped the ley line, she pulled only a trickle of power. I used my magic to pick up a rock about the size of my head, then I threw it at her. In a panic, she opened herself and used the power she pulled to blast the rock into gravel. That didn’t relieve her panic, however. I could tell that the power she pulled scared her.

By the time we walked back to the school after three hours of practice, both kids were able to pull magic from a ley line, cut it off at will, and dissipate the magic they held without blowing anything up. That was in a calm setting with no distractions and me there to cover for any mistakes. It was a beginning, and I promised Langermann I would come out Wednesday mornings to work with them. I could go from the Academy to the sword club for my weekly session there. My schedule was starting to get very full.

The following Wednesday, after my session with the kids, I found Maya Evans waiting for me in the Academy lobby as I was getting ready to leave.

“I’ve been talking with Michaela,” she said. “I guess you and she discussed the concept of mage circles.”

I nodded. “Yes, a little bit.”

“She had an idea, and I think it has some merit. What do you think a full circle of ley line and earth mages might be able to do to that monastery?”

I thought about the walled fortress sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean where the Knights had kept me captive. When the monks built the place in the late nineteenth century, the west was still wild, and they evidently felt that God needed some help in defending the place.

“I guess it depends on whether the Knights sit passively while we attack them,” I said.

Maya smirked. “I was looking over the plans Franklin found at the University, and did a bit of scouting. A decent-sized earthquake might sheer that promontory right off the cliff. I ran the idea past Ian McGregor, and he agrees with me.”

I had a sudden vision of the Knights sitting on the monastery walls with cold beer and popcorn watching us throw magic at them. “And the Knights are on board with this plan? I can’t see them sitting by passively while you conjure up an earthquake.”

She chuckled. “A second circle, or maybe two, made up of mages with offensive magic should give us the time to do what we need. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Knights don’t ever use circles. When they attack, they do it as a group of individuals. They don’t join and enhance their power.”

I thought about it, and that was certainly true for their operations in Westport. That had also held true in their attack on Illuminati headquarters in Munich.

“The attacks that blew up buildings in London and Rome strike me as circle work,” I said. “I know the attack in London happened during a ley line disruption, but blowing up a large building without affecting anything around it wasn’t the work of a single mage.”

Maya pursed her lips. “Yes, I would tend to agree with that. But they haven’t used such tactics here. I think it’s worth the chance.”

And so, I ended up standing on a ridge above the Knights’ monastery at two o’clock in the morning. A narrow curtain wall surrounded the main compound like a medieval fortress, except it didn’t have a walkway on top. The buildings inside the wall sat amidst lush gardens and lawns. It was a truly idyllic setting for its original purpose—contemplation and prayer.

There were a couple of half-completed structures inside the walls that were meant to eventually accommodate the influx of Knights, along with five more buildings under construction outside the wall. Vegetable gardens ringed the compound, and vineyards covered terraced hillsides.

Few lights could be seen other than large spotlights mounted on the compound wall to illuminate the grounds surrounding it. It appeared that almost everyone inside was asleep. The monastery was warded, of course, but we didn’t plan to attack the walls.

We had spent three weeks planning the attack and had included all of the paranormal and supernatural resistance groups in the city. Vampires and werewolves surrounded the area to provide security for the magic users standing with me on the ridge.

Liam, my autistic bartender buddy, and two other ley line mages I vaguely knew gathered with me and nine earth mages, holding our hands in a circle. Eleven of us faced inward while Maya Evans and Ian McGregor faced outward toward the Knights’ compound. Maya was the circle’s focus mage, with McGregor next to her ready to assume the focus should she falter.

To our left and slightly below us was a circle of thirteen pyromancers. To our right on the pinnacle of the ridge was a circle of thirteen aeromancers. Those two circles were charged with protecting us from any magical counterattacks the Knights might mount. The Knights had guards posted, but the magic of individual guards couldn’t compete with the combined magic of a fully-formed circle.

I had worked in circles during my training but hadn’t stood in a full circle in six years. I wasn’t sure if Liam ever had. Most people were intimidated by his strength and lack of communication skills. Ley line mages were rarely used as focal points due to the limited range of our magic. Our job was to pull energy from the ley lines and feed it to the earth mages.

I felt a surge of power as Maya closed the circle, and I began pulling magical energy from the ley lines. I stood opposite of Maya in the circle in the position of monitor—to oversee and control the energy running through the other mages.

The power built. I quickly identified the weakest member—an earth mage two positions to Maya’s left. When I felt him fill with all the magic he could hold, I shouted, “Now!”

Maya was good, and she must have felt the circle fill at the same time I did because she immediately began directing the magic into the earth in front of us.

Nothing happened for several minutes, then I heard a faint rumble, like a train in the distance. The sound gradually got louder, and I felt the ground begin to vibrate beneath my feet.

Soon, the world began to shake. Maya pulled more power, and I gave it to her. Our weakest link held.

The wall around the compound developed cracks, and bricks fell. Cracks appeared in the ground, then sections of the wall collapsed. The sound built into a roar, and the roof of one of the buildings inside the compound caved in. Two of the partially completed structures outside the wall came apart, one of them falling into a large crevasse that opened under it.

Liam turned his head, and I could tell he shouted something, but I couldn’t hear him. The look on his face was one of exaltation. I had never seen him display emotion so openly, and I grinned back at him.

People poured out of the buildings below, and the scene quickly took on the look of a disturbed anthill. More buildings collapsed, and one wall of the main monastery sheared off, the bricks sliding away from the structure like water in a stream.

A fireball arced up toward us from below, but a gust of wind blew it away long before it reached us. The response from our circle of pyromancers was a fireball the size of a house. It fell on the monastery, and everything flammable inside the compound caught on fire. The scene turned into a medieval depiction of hell.

The roar increased, pounding against my head. I felt like my eyes were going to shake out of their sockets. I clamped my jaw because my teeth were rattling against each other.

The cracks in the ground widened, and then, with a roar such as I had never heard, the promontory on which the monastery was built began to tilt and slide away. An avalanche carried the entire complex away and into the ocean.

We all stood in stunned silence for at least half an hour until the dust settled and we could hear the crash of the waves against the cliffs again. The vamps and shifters melted away into the darkness, and those of us on the ridgetop began making our way through the forest, down into a ravine, up the other side, then down to the road a mile away where we had left our cars.

No one talked. I think the enormity of what we had just done overwhelmed us. I knew we had killed hundreds of people and injured even more. Many of the mages who joined us had probably never killed anyone before.

   
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