Home > Well of Magic (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #4)

Well of Magic (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #4)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

Chapter 1

Earthquakes were a part of life in the Pacific Northwest, along with occasional volcanic eruptions, and the locals took the tremblers in stride. It was, however, something I still wasn’t used to even after six months in Westport, and the quake that hit at midnight on a Saturday was far stronger and more unsettling than anything I had experienced before.

The room spun, magic engulfed me. In some ways, the ley lines felt like they did when the City of the Illuminati imploded.

I grabbed onto the bar to steady myself, and my friend Lizzy fell right off her bar stool. A large number of the other patrons in Rosie O’Grady’s Bar and Grill were also shaken up badly.

But some people didn’t seem to feel a thing. Jolene Carpenter—a witch and investigator with the DA’s office—stared down at Lizzy with an expression of total confusion.

“What the hell?” Jolene asked, hopping off her stool and bending down to check on Lizzy.

The rolling, pitching, and shaking went on for what seemed a long time. Something crashed in the kitchen. The clock over the front door counted off four minutes before things settled back to normal.

When everything stopped moving around and the weird feeling of nausea and vertigo subsided, I cautiously made my way around the bar. Not a glass or a bottle had moved. The furniture was all in the same place it had been five minutes before.

If I felt unsteady, it was nothing compared to how Lizzy was affected. She lay twitching on the floor, her face showing something between terror and stunned incomprehension. She appeared to be having a seizure.

“Are you all right?” I asked, kneeling down beside her.

Jolene and I helped Lizzy to her feet, then half-carried her to a chair next to a nearby table.

Looking around, I saw that while a lot of people seemed gobsmacked, others, like Jolene, simply showed puzzled expressions, and four witches holding an animated discussion at a table off in a corner didn’t appear to have noticed that anything had happened.

A couple of minutes after the quake stopped, my friend Shawna Kincaid walked through the front door. Normally, I could identify the type of paranormal or supernatural coming through the ward, but the nausea and lightheadedness I had when Shawna appeared was far different than anything I’d ever felt before. The sense of a vampire tended to be a little irritating, but nothing like what I experienced at that moment.

She looked around, and her brow creased as she took in the scene.

“What’s going on?” she asked as she approached me.

“The earthquake,” I managed to say.

“What earthquake?” Shawna and Jolene said in unison.

“You didn’t feel that?” a guy sitting at the next table asked.

“I didn’t feel anything,” Jolene responded.

Jenny, one of the waitresses working with me, came over. “I didn’t either, but Steve did. He dropped a pot of stew, so wipe that off the menu for tonight.”

Lizzy threw up.

It took us a while to sort things out, but soon it became apparent that the only people affected by the phenomenon were mages. Witches, vampires, werewolves, and the two dhampir in the pub felt nothing. Lizzy was half-Fae, and she was affected most of all.

I reached out to the ley line that ran under the building. Instead of an orderly flow of power, my mind encountered total chaos, and nausea hit me so strongly that it knocked me off my feet. Then I threw up. I was one of the few people in the bar not drinking any alcohol, so that wasn’t the problem.

Gradually, the feelings faded and the ley line returned to normal.

Someone in the back room turned the TV to the twenty-four-hour news channel. Reports of strange happenings were coming in from all over the world, but especially from North America. Earthquakes were reported in places that normally didn’t have earthquakes. There were tornados in places that normally didn’t have tornados. A mini-tsunami had occurred in the Gulf of California. Fires and floods were also widely recorded.

Shawna, one of two vampires on the police force, was listening to her phone, and when she hung up, she said, “A couple of fires broke out here in Westport at the time you reported your earthquake. In both cases, the cause was traced to pyromancers who said their magic got away from them.”

“Got away from them?” Jolene asked. “Kids?”

“Nope. Mature mages. One was just trying to light a candle and burned down his house. Lieutenant Bailey also said he felt the same earthquake you guys did.”

When Jill, the bartender who relieved me at two o’clock, came in, I asked her about the situation at the university and if she’d seen anything unusual on her way to work.

“Unusual?” she asked in response to my question. “No, nothing out of the ordinary. I was taking a shower around midnight. I didn’t hear about anything on the radio.”

“Nothing about an earthquake?” I asked. She gave me a weird look and shook her head.

The taxi services cleaned up that evening. None of the mages in Rosie’s wanted to drive home. Jolene volunteered to drive Lizzy and me.

Lizzy still wasn’t doing well, but she had recovered to an extent. She lived with her parents out in Killarney Village—a Fae suburb of Westport that was the most bizarre place I had ever visited.

The Village sat just west of the nexus where two major ley lines intersected, and the fairy mound was located east of the nexus. Since Lizzy’s father was a human witch, he couldn’t go into the fairy mound, and like most mixed families, they lived in the Village along with a few Fae.

Although the Village had roads for cars, traffic there had always been very sparse and easy to deal with. But what we encountered when we arrived was a complete mess. We passed or had to detour around at least seven automobile wrecks. Several trees that we saw—and in Killarney Village, trees were gigantic—had burned. We also saw a huge hole in the ground that Lizzy said wasn’t there when she left that morning.

Jolene pulled up in front of a huge oak tree and turned off the engine. A door opened in the tree, and Bob, Lizzy’s father, came out to greet us.

“Are you all right?” he asked Lizzy as he gathered her up and carried her into the house. We followed him inside and waited in the foyer while Bob carried his daughter out of our sight. He came back a couple of minutes later.

“Something disrupted the ley lines,” he told us. “Roisin is ill, as are all the Fae. I’ve heard that inside the mound is total chaos. I was worried about Lizzy, and I’m glad she’s home safely.”

“I’ve never heard of anything like that,” I said.

“Neither have I,” he said. “How are you doing?”

“Not great.”

Jolene drove me home from there, and by the time we reached my apartment, I was starting to feel better. The dizziness had passed, and I felt almost normal climbing the stairs.

Chapter 2

A couple of days after the weird disruption of the ley lines, Lizzy plopped her butt on a bar stool in front of me, and I started making her a sloe gin fizz.

“Do you have three thousand dollars?” she asked.

I spilled the club soda I was pouring.

“Uh, why? Do you need a loan?” I didn’t know her family’s financial situation, but I also couldn’t figure out why else she would ask the question. Did Fae have financial situations?

She laughed. “Not hardly. I’m Fae, remember? We poop gold and leave our chamber pots at the end of rainbows for humans to empty.”

“Why would I need three thousand dollars?” I would have that much in the bank after I got paid at the end of the week, but rent was due. There was a lot more money in savings from a couple of jobs I did for Assistant DA Frankie Jones, but I never touched that money. I had reached Westport almost completely broke, and if I had to run again, I wanted to have more resources at my disposal.

“A friend of mine restores old cars as a hobby,” she said, taking a sip of her drink. “He has a Volkswagen Beetle that he just finished, and he wants three grand for it.”

“How old?” I asked suspiciously, thinking about the rattletrap bugs I remembered from before my time with the Illuminati. Some of those cars were literally held together with baling wire and duct tape.

“About twenty years, I think. But he said that he’d fixed all the design and engineering flaws of the original car, so it’s actually better than new.”

“And I’m supposed to take the word of a used-car salesman?”

She laughed. “He’s half-Fae, half-witch like me. He can’t lie.”

“Maybe not, but there are a couple of thousand years’ worth of warnings about doing business with the Fae.”

Lizzy wrinkled her nose. “Yeah, but you don’t have to worry about that. If he sold you a lemon, my mom would turn him into a toad. She likes you.”

“Your mom would turn him into a toad? You wouldn’t?”

With a chuckle, she said, “I’m not that powerful, yet. If I could do it, there would be a lot more toads hopping around the university. A car is going to come in very handy when you start at the university in the fall.”

She was right. I had pre-registered for classes, and one required class was at eight o’clock in the morning. It took about an hour and a half on buses and the train to get from my place to the university, and the same amount of time back to home or Rosie’s. By car, it was at least thirty minutes, and usually longer during rush hour.

The following day, Lizzy came by a little after noon and drove me out to Killarney Village. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I met Lizzy’s friend. Both Lizzy and her mother Roisin looked very human, although Roisin would never be mistaken for human without her casting a glamour. And hair dye wouldn’t stick to Lizzy’s pink hair. Some of the other people I had seen in the Village were far stranger.

When I met Oriel, he didn’t even make an effort to disguise his features. He was a little taller than my height, with short horns jutting out from his forehead, rather reminiscent of a pronghorn antelope. His large, pointed ears and amber cat-slit-pupiled eyes—which were three times the size of a human’s—contributed to his alien air. His long hair—a combination of white, silver, and ice-blue—waved about his head in a non-existent breeze. I had the feeling that the tattooed designs on his neck and shoulders weren’t tattoos, and the fur growing on the backs of his forearms and hands was definitely natural. As with all the Fae, he had no trace of a beard. His face was as smooth as mine. He might be able to walk around Killarney Village in his natural form, but a glamour would absolutely be necessary if he ventured into Westport.

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