Release of Magic, The Leira Chronicles Book 2
By Martha Carr and Michael Anderle
“Where I’m from, we put the preservation of life ahead of all things. Especially the lives of our children.”
“That was a low blow, Correk,” Leira said through clenched teeth. The anger started to rise inside her again, taking over her thoughts. This time she could feel her eyes glow, and the world around her became crisper, clearer. It became easier for her to see how all the events connected and what to do next. She started to calm down but instead of resetting back to her normal state she felt something new inside of her. A new power, a presence.
She held her hands out in front of her and watched as symbols appeared on the backs, glowing as they got more prominent. She could feel the power surging through her body.
“What the fuck?” Hagan stumbled and then spun around to see if anyone else had noticed, turning back to shield Leira from the nearby crowd. Fortunately, most of them were too busy looking toward the crime scene.
The coroner was finally removing the body, and a long black plastic bag on a gurney was rolling out of the store.
“How did you do that?” Hagan clamped his hands down on the top of his head, still clutching his notebook, mussing what little hair he had left. “Are you really Leira?” He seemed to finally take note of Correk. “Who are you? What are you? Fuck! Is this like Body Snatchers?”
“Hagan, Hagan.” Leira reached out and grabbed his arm. He tried to pull away, a look of alarm on his face. She hated seeing that in his eyes. “Enough with the B movie logic, Felix. It’s still me.”
“You want to explain what just happened?” asked her partner.
Leira took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly, shaking out her hands.
“That doesn’t really do anything,” said Correk. “Your hands didn’t just go to sleep.”
Hagan leaned in close to Correk and hissed, “Are you some kind of alien?”
“Really not my favorite description,” said Correk, wiping a little spit off of his face. “I prefer visitor or traveler, or in Leira’s case, cousin.”
“Enough!” said Leira. She shook her head again. “Hagan and I have worked dozens of cases like this one, successfully I might add. I may be getting better at this but I really have no idea what I’m doing. If we waste time on this and I’m wrong that could spell disaster.”
“Waste time on what? What could you do?” Hagan looked back and forth at Correk and Leira. “I am still your partner, am I not?” His face was reddening with anger.
“Seems you made a similar speech to me,” Correk observed. “Something about trust and not keeping secrets?”
“You can be a real asshole at times,” she retorted.
“She only says that when you’re right,” Hagan said. “Spill it. Are we all becoming visitors?” His sarcasm was mixed with a healthy dose of worry. “Am I changing?” he asked, patting down the front of his shirt, checking his pockets. An old green peanut M&M came rolling out.
“It’s not like losing your keys, Hagan. And you’re not going to start morphing into something.”
“Unless you want to,” Correk added.
“Not the time to tease the ignorant Earthling.” Leira gave him a menacing look. She looked at her partner and said, “There’s a lot I want to tell you, but not now. It’s too much, and we have to focus on this little girl. Some douchebag of the first order has taken a little girl. That comes first.”
“Well, what was he saying about using magic? We’re running out of time. If it was a professional they’re on the move. They won’t stay in the area long.”
“Why can’t it be you, Correk?” asked Leira. “You have hundreds of years of experience.”
“Ack, damn heartburn!” Hagan pounded on the middle of his chest. “I’ve got to stop eating so much junk food!”
Correk looked up at Hagan’s bloated face. “Cheetos caused that?”
“Not the time,” said Leira. “But yes, you should slow your roll on the faux food. It’s got some slow-burning consequences. Now tell me, why not you?”
“The short version is that I’m running out of power. If the girl isn’t still nearby I might not be able to pull it off.”
“And the longer answer?”
Correk let out a sigh. “I had hoped to wait to tell you this. But I suspect you are far more powerful than I am. Even with Earth’s limited power I believe you’ll be able to find her. You are more amazing than you realize, Leira Berens. The half of you that’s from my world is from a very, very rare strain. An ancient and powerful one I might add. I was just hoping you could learn that gradually.”
“Oh geez.” Hagan was bent over, his hands on his knees, taking deep breaths.
“Felix, you either get it together or I call your wife.”
“That’s cold, Berens. She’d only tell me to remember my deep breathing exercises from meditation time. That’s right, people! I’ve been learning how to meditate. Never realized I’d be using it to be cool at a showdown of alien versus predator.”
“Thanks a lot,” said Leira. “Yes, that was fucking clever. You still have it, Hagan. Now, tuck in your balls and let’s do this.”
“Fine, I will hold my shit together. I’d love to see what you’d tell her, anyway.”
Leira turned back and stared at Correk’s face for a moment, but she already knew what she was going to have to do. Time was running out.
“What about a fireball? Those seemed to work for you.”
“That’s more of a tracking device for what’s happening in the present moment. Not useful for seeing the past. You can do this.”
Correk took a step toward her and held out his hands. “I may not be able to generate enough energy to do this myself, but we can connect our energy and I can at least guide you through it. Go on, put your hands in mine.”
Leira hesitated. “What if others see us? We whammy them later?”
“That’s up to you. For now, we find the girl.”
“I’ll stand behind you two,” said Hagan, mopping his face. “For once my size is going to be an asset.”
Leira put her hands into Correk’s and immediately felt the energy surging back and forth between them. Instinctively she pulled back but he held her hands tightly.
“Focus,” he said.
“Every event, every emotion, every act leaves behind a trail of energy. Focus on the stronger ones that are closest to you right now. Do you feel them?”
Leira felt the warmth start behind her eyes and saw the same happening to Correk. She felt the calm come over her and the world around her became sharper and clearer.
“Use your feelings to reach out and see the trails of energy others have left behind.”
Suddenly, glittering trails in different colors began to emerge everywhere, some more faded than others. A few pulsed with energy. Leira took a deep breath and felt Correk nudge her, guiding her toward those streams of light.
The first one was erratic and as Leira connected to it she could feel her mind jumping around from thought to thought. It got harder to make sense of anything.
“A schizophrenic,” she said, looking up at Correk. “Someone who’s homeless. He headed back toward the woods.”
“Very good. I agree. Try again,” he said. His face was tense and she could tell he was using the last of his energy to help her. “It’s not about me,” he said sharply. “Focus! You can do this.” He was practically shouting.
“Can you quiet it down a little?” Hagan took another look around, but everyone was still busy up near the store.
Leira focused on Correk’s face, and stopped fighting the surging of energy. Suddenly, she had a 360° view of the world around her, but it wasn’t in the present moment. It was different chunks of time from the past twenty-four hours. She felt an urge to go searching through the streams of light again, but felt Correk’s instruction to let her feelings guide her through the maze.
“Trust the process,” he said.
“Oh great, we’ve gone late-night infomercial,” said Hagan.
Leira let herself relax and felt the energy increase. The symbols under her skin glowed, creeping up her neck and on to her face.
“Mother of God!” Hagan’s mouth dropped open and he stared at Leira’s face. “Just when you think you’ve seen everything. I thought little Yumfuck was mind blowing.”
“The more meaningful the event, whether it’s a tragedy or celebration the stronger the trail it leaves behind. These trails have the ability to influence how you feel if you’re not careful.” Correk’s voice was low and soothing. “Look for the steady stream of energy that still glitters and sense the darkness around it. Both from the time of night when the crime occurred and the murder.”
Leira let her energy brush against the different trails, absorbing the feeling of being homeless or a petty thief or a drug addict, quickly discarding each of them and moving on. She found one that was a tangled knot, hidden by all the other streams. Leira cautiously approached it, touching it with her energy as if it were a flaming hot stove. The moment her stream of golden and bronze energy brushed against the midnight blue tangle, sparks sprayed out, surprising her. She instinctively drew back as if she was actually burned.
“Found it!” Leira felt a moment of exhilaration even as a darkness crept over her like a poison. She could see the brilliant blue glittering stream of Correk’s energy reach out and shove the darkness away and felt what it was costing him. His energy was ebbing. She wanted to stop and ask him if there was some kind of permanent cost to him, but she felt his energy grip her by the arms and she refocused.
A child’s life was in the balance, and they were too far in to back out now anyway.
“You are a powerful being. Rise above this.” It was Correk’s voice inside of her head. “You influence the darkness. The darkness does not control you. We do this by trusting in our own feelings.”
Leira felt a peace she had never known before. It felt like a sharp, cool breeze swirling around her. She reached for the tangled knot of energy again. This time, she felt confident and in control. The same feeling she got every time she was about to leap forward and take down a felon running away from her. Her energy reached out and touched the darkness.
When she did, thoughts crept into her mind that she knew didn’t belong to her.
“The dead man,” she gasped. “It was revenge. The owner’s sister slept with the wrong man. Wait, there’s more.” The tangled knot gave off sparks again, but this time Leira was prepared and held the energy. “The dead man stopped paying his protection money. He didn’t know anything about the affair. They were making an example by killing him. Taking the child was a last-minute decision. The child was sleeping,” she said.
“You can see that?”
Leira ignored Hagan and kept focused on Correk’s face. No images appeared in front of her but still, she knew what the killer was thinking and where he was headed. “They’re going to move her out of town.”
“Can you tell where she is?” Hagan was squinting at Leira as if that would help him see what was inside her head.
“She’s being held inside of a small, rundown house on the northeast side of Georgetown, about thirty-five miles from here. There isn’t much time.”
Leira slowly pulled her hands away from Correk’s. She was trembling and felt like she might throw up.
“Swallow hard,” Correk said. “The feeling passes. It’s the drain of energy, like you just ran a marathon.”
“I know where she is,” said Leira. “I can’t give you the address but I can drive you straight there.”
Hagan ran his big, meaty palms across the top of his head. A nervous habit when he was trying to figure something out. “Do we take a caravan?” he asked.
“No, there’s no way to explain how we got the tip.”
“Let’s roll,” said Hagan. “I’ll follow you.”
They pulled away from the crime scene, not explaining to anyone. Leira waited until they were a mile away before turning on the lights and siren. Hagan followed her lead. She pushed the gas pedal all the way to the floor, screaming north up I35.
When they got to the exit for the stretch that curved around Georgetown’s older section, Leira cut the lights and siren. Hagan quickly did the same thing. She turned on to a narrow gravel road that wound through an old stand of pecan trees tangled with undergrowth. A quarter mile down the road, Leira slowed the car to a crawl. Even though she had never seen this road before, it all seemed familiar.
“How is that possible?” she whispered.
“It’s the more distasteful part of brushing up against other people’s energy. A part of their, I suppose you’d say personality mixed with their memories, lingers with you. I’m afraid I’m not going to be much help with magic. I’m running too low.” He flexed his hands open and shut. “However, I do have an effective right cross.”
“For once I wish we had the troll with us.” Leira stopped the Mustang and jumped out.
FROM MARTHA >>> Snippet #3 from RELEASE OF MAGIC coming out AUGUST 14th! Raining all night long – weird for August in the hill country of Texas. Going for a run anyway. Hope you all have a peaceful Monday. Enjoy the snippet – one more week!
Next up will be SOUL STONE MAGE by Sarah Noffke on SEPT 6TH and FAIRHAVEN CHRONICLES by S.M. Boyce on SEPT 8TH – so much magical fun headed your way! I hear the KACY CHRONICLES by A.L. Knorr may be headed your way starting SEPT 4TH! PROTECTION OF MAGIC will be out 8/30 from The Leira Chronicles.
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