Home > Knights Magica (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #5)(9)

Knights Magica (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #5)(9)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

“As you can see, what was done to her was barbaric,” Frankie said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to live under the rule of such people.”

“What kind of magic do you have?” the FBI man asked me.

“My father is a mage, and my mother is a witch,” I answered.

They all nodded as though they understood what I said.

“And why do you suppose they thought you might have information about the Illuminati?” the FBI guy pressed.

I shrugged again. I had thought about what kind of questions they might ask. “Some people say the Hunters’ Guild is part of the Illuminati. There were Hunters here in Westport last fall, and I scavenged a weapon from one of them. Maybe one of the Knights recognized it.”

“What sort of weapon?” the general asked.

“A knife.”

“And how is that knife special?” he asked.

“It’s spelled. It will penetrate a mage’s personal shield.”

“I would like to see it.”

“I don’t have it here. There are metal detectors in this building, you know?”

They continued to question Michaela and me for another half an hour. Some of the questions were good, some inane. Friedman’s questions seemed to be aimed at downplaying our stories. Eventually, they all left after agreeing to meet with Frankie and Blair later that afternoon.

“Well, you certainly put your foot in it,” Frankie said to Michaela.

“How so?”

“You know Friedman works for Senator Carswell, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee?”

“Yes?”

“Carswell is a member of Wheeler’s party, and Carswell just endorsed him for President yesterday.”

“Crap.”

“Frankie,” I said. “Friedman is Fae.”

They all stared at me.

“Are you sure?” Michaela asked, alarm showing on her face.

“Yeah.”

“Dear gods, protect us,” Frankie breathed.

“But why would the Fae ally themselves with the Knights?” Blair asked.

Michaela was not only old and beautiful but also smart. She had been a pupil of Lord Guy Carleton, Westport’s late Master of the City and Governor of Canada in the late 1700s.

“Cannon fodder,” she said.

I nodded. “The Church wants to impose a theocracy,” I said, “and the Church is now controlled by the Knights. So, in essence, you’d have a magiocracy. And some of the Fae think they can control the Knights. Don’t forget that the Fae once ruled almost all of Europe, and some of them are still pissed off at the Romans for ending their rule. They see the Knights’ play as something they can take advantage of.”

I told them about the Fae Oriel had found at the ambush and what Tiana had told me about Fae politics.

“And if Wheeler wins the Presidency…” Blair prompted.

“With the backing of the Church,” I said, “and Friedman and his Fae buddies in position to control Wheeler, then they’ve taken a major step toward a comeback. Right now, we think the Knights hold the Heart of Magic, but if a group of renegade Fae get their hands on it, then they’ll have the most powerful magical weapon in the world. The Knights are amateurs. The Fae will know how to use it.”

I didn’t pay a lot of attention to national politics, but Michaela was a political junkie.

“Do you really think Wheeler has a chance?” I asked her as we rode the elevator down to the parking garage.

She nodded. “He’s already won several primaries and, at this point, is the frontrunner for his party’s nomination. The current incumbent is weak and faces a challenge within his own party from a rabidly anti-magic demagogue. If you, as a mage, were faced with a choice between a candidate backed by the Universal Church and the Knights, or one who wants to exterminate supernaturals and send all paranormals to concentration camps, who would you vote for?”

“I’ve never voted for anyone. The Illuminati didn’t pay any attention to that sort of thing. They sought to control those politicians that they could and assassinate those that they couldn’t.”

“Nice and straightforward.”

I chuckled. “Not in the least. I know that most people tend to dismiss conspiracy theories, but I grew up in one. Something I do understand are fanatics. They don’t think the way normal people do.”

She choked, then started laughing. “You think we’re normal?”

“Yeah, I do. We have a lot more in common with humans who raise families and go to work every day than people who want to conquer the world.”

“I guess we do.”

Chapter 7

The only TV at Rosie’s was in the back room, and I couldn’t see it from behind the bar. Considering some of the crap that people watched on it, I didn’t miss not having one at home. But after my discussion with Michaela, I started paying more attention to the news, and especially to the political situation.

Being that it was an election year and the Presidential primaries were in full swing, there was plenty to catch up on. It was depressing, but I found myself checking the news on my computer every day. Like watching a train wreck, I just couldn’t stop looking.

National polls showed Wheeler as the front runner to win. On the other side, the current President was running neck-and-neck with his challenger. In an effort to save his ass, he released a plan for tightening registration and regulation of magic. It wasn’t quite as draconian as his opponent’s views, but it would make things a lot more uncomfortable for people like me.

The evening after our meeting with the government officials, the group of Knights in civilian clothes showed up at Rosie’s again. All of them had U.S. accents, and all struck me as being fairly young. New recruits.

After they finished their dinner, one of them came up to the bar and ordered a round of drinks for the table. I knew that Jenny was taking care of them and wondered why he hadn’t given their order to her, but I went ahead and poured their beers and shots.

“Thanks,” he said when I set the glasses on a tray. He paid, then dug in his pocket and came up with a handful of change that he handed to me for a tip. “Please tell Sam to call Will tomorrow at fifteen hundred.” Then he carried the tray back to their table.

Buried in the pile of change was one of the Knights’ rubies. When I took my break, I left the ruby and a note on Sam’s desk.

I arrived at work early the following day and went back to Sam’s office.

“You got the note I left you?”

“Yes, thanks. Just about to call him.”

I raised an eyebrow in question, and he chuckled. “One of our spies.”

Something I had suspected, but it was nice to get confirmation. It might save the guy’s life if we ran into each other in the wrong circumstances. Sam didn’t tell me about their conversation, or anything else about Will, so I was curious, even if it wasn’t any of my business.

Oriel and I drove out to Michaela’s on Monday evening, then she, four of her dhampir sisters, and a dozen shifter bodyguards took me to meet with Gabriel Laurent. Since our abduction, Michaela went nowhere without an escort, something Oriel felt the need to repeatedly point out to me. Considering that he was as much a target as I was, I thought he was being a little overprotective.

Construction on Laurent’s new mansion had progressed only as far as tearing down the old Carleton mansion, so he was still hanging out in Harry Gallagher’s penthouse apartment downtown. Michaela still had the codes to the parking garage in the basement of the building, so we parked all the cars there, and then a few of us crowded into the private elevator that opened into the penthouse foyer.

As usual, we were met by Constance Gardner, my least favorite dhampir. We left our entourage in a parlor off the foyer, and Constance guided Michaela and me to another sitting room where Laurent awaited us. One whole wall was glass with a view of the mountains to the north of the city. It was the same view as I had from my balcony, but ten stories higher and far more spectacular.

“Monsieur,” I said with a slight dip of my head. I sat in an overstuffed chair on one side of a low coffee table, and Michaela took the seat next to me. Laurent offered us refreshment from the tea service and a crystal decanter of cognac. I accepted a cup of tea, while Michaela took a champagne glass of blood from the small carafe. Laurent poured his own drink. I wondered if the blood came from Constance or from one of the human blood slaves I had seen lounging around on our way to meet their master.

“Something is killing my people,” Laurent began in French, “and the condition of the bodies would lead one to suspect they were mauled by wild animals.”

I shrugged. “They really shouldn’t go hunting shifters.”

He shook his head. “No shifter could have done what we’ve found, and the few survivors have reported they were attacked by monsters.”

“You do know that mythical creatures are not so mythical, don’t you?” I said. “I have personally encountered a dragon and heard tales of demons from some of my previous associates.”

He pursed his mouth as though he’d tasted something bitter. “Perhaps, although I doubt a dragon would be hunting the alleys of Westport. They tend to prefer cattle and sheep, as far as I know.”

“True. I’ve heard that vampires aren’t particularly tasty. Perhaps your people made the mistake of attacking Fae.”

“I thought the Fae had retreated into their mounds and sealed them off. But that information is several months old. That’s why I asked you here. Has that situation changed?”

I took a deep breath. “The Knights’ rubies work to protect the Fae from the corruption of the ley lines, just as they protect mages. Some of the Fae are still in the world.”

“Such as your boyfriend.”

“Yes, but he assures me that he and his friends aren’t hunting vampires. But we have recently found that some Fae are working with the Knights.”

Laurent stared at me for a couple of minutes, his face expressionless. I sipped my tea.

   
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