Release of Magic, The Leira Chronicles Book 2
By Martha Carr and Michael Anderle
“Did I mention that trolls have been used in battles before? You don’t bring a troll to something like this unless you’re prepared to bring a mop to clean up the mess.”
Leira gave him a startled look. “That would have been useful information to know a little sooner.” She thought about Thomas swinging around from the end of a tree branch.
“That may have been an oversight on my part.”
“You think? Never mind.” She shook her head to try and clear her thoughts. The mixture of other people’s thoughts was still swimming through her own, making her a little nauseous. “Focus,” she told herself.
Hagan parked right behind the Mustang and got out, taking a long look in every direction. “There may be sentries posted in places we don’t expect. From your description, as spooky weird as that was, they sounded like professionals. The kind of professionals I don’t think we see often. At least not what I’m used to.”
“The sense I got was your standard issue psychopath with a little money and firepower. A lethal combination,” Leira said. She drew her gun from the shoulder holster and started walking up the gravel road, scanning from left to right. “You stay back by the car, Correk. Not the time for iffy magic. Sometimes a nice solid piece of flying lead is what’s called for.”
“I’d argue but I don’t have my bow and arrow with me. But if I did…”
“I know, I know. You’d be formidable.” Leira held up her hand to stop them from saying anything else and held her finger to her lips for a moment, signaling to Hagan to follow right behind her.
Even though the house wasn’t visible yet, she knew it was there. She even had a sense of how many guards there were. As they got closer to the house, the feeling of dread she had felt before began to nag at her. The killer is still in the house.
Leira turned back to Hagan and whispered, “There’s only one guard with him.”
Hagan had his gun drawn and looked calmer than before. He was getting used to the idea of yet another magical creature in his midst, even if this time it was Leira. A sheen of sweat was visible on the top of his head.
“How would you know that? Don’t answer. My brain already feels like it’s melting. Help, I’ve fallen into a Marvel comic and I can’t get out.” He held up his hands like he was under arrest.
“Humor is good,” Leira said. “Come on, let’s do this.”
She got to a stand of tall cacti and was about to turn the corner when a wall of energy hit her in the chest, knocking the wind out of her. She doubled over for a moment, catching her breath.
“What now?” Hagan stopped, looking concerned. He tried to peer around the tallest cactus but all he could see was a broken down single-story wooden house with a rotting front porch. He looked back at Leira. “You getting more magic brain waves?”
“Feels more like a cosmic warning.”
She stood up, ready to push through it, using the memory of the connection with Correk to find a way to swim upstream against the steady pulses of the dark energy. It hit her hard again, right in the center of her chest, and threatened to push her back. But this time she was ready. Instead of fighting it, she allowed the energy to pass through her.
“Stay right behind me.”
“Normally, I’d be insulted but under the present conditions, sure, why not?” Hagan replied. “Who knew I’d be the novice at my age.”
Leira could feel her energy draining but she pressed on.
“Wish I’d eaten more carbs this morning. Thank God I’m a runner.”
“I have no idea what anything you’re saying has to do with what’s happening right now, but I’m always on board. At least for the carbs. If it helps, I took care of that for both of us,” Hagan said, giving a quick pat to his belly.
Leira sensed the change in the energy field and felt a rip opening. The heavy, dark energy was parting in front of her, creating a path.
“Correk, no,” she said in a hushed voice. Correk is clearing the way. What will this cost him?
“What is it?” Hagan looked around quickly, but he couldn’t see any movement from the house. “We need to cover this ground quickly,” he said. The dry lawn was crunching under their feet. Every noise sounded amplified to them, and he was acutely aware of the number of windows staring back at them from the house.
Leira used two fingers to point toward the left side of the house. Hagan gave her a nod and bent low, moving as fast as he could toward the east side of the house.
Leira scaled the right side of the porch and easily swung over the rotten railing. She heard the familiar whine of a bullet whizzing past her head. She hit the floor of the porch, cracking two of the old boards, and rolled against the house, just beneath the windows. She crawled past the window and stood up with her back against the house. She leaned forward and craned her neck, trying to catch a glimpse through the window. It was going to be impossible to take a shot without knowing where the little girl was located.
The current of energy she had followed to the house came rushing through her like a gust of strong wind, sweeping into the house. From inside the house, she heard a choked gurgle, followed by gasping.
Leira hesitated, but only for a moment. The killer knew they were there, which meant the girl was in even more immediate danger. There was no time to waste. She took a look through the front window, ready to fire, using her newly found ability to get a faster, clearer assessment of the room in front of her. On the floor in the front room two large men who were clawing at themselves, gasping for air, turning shades of blue and purple.
The back door of the house splintered as Hagan kicked his way in with one good solid kick. Hagan entered the front room, gun drawn. He quickly spotted the two men and glanced up at Leira. He put his knee in the middle of the larger man’s back and pulled his cuffs out. Leira entered through the front door, rushing in and covering him while he secured the second man.
Neither man resisted and within seconds, both of them had passed out from lack of oxygen. Hagan patted each of them down quickly, removing three small guns, an assortment of knives, and a pair of brass knuckles.
“Regular murderous boy scouts. They came prepared,” he observed.
Leira could sense they were running dangerously short of air. Magic still had them by the throat. “Correk, stop! They’re down,” she yelled.
“I thought you told him to stay by the car!” Hagan looked toward the door but didn’t see anyone. He shook his head. “Magic monkey business. Can’t say I’m not grateful for it. Stopped these mooks from shooting at us. This is why I eat so much,” he said.
The larger man began to stir. Hagen pulled him to his feet.
“That’s the killer,” Leira told him. “Keep your eye on this one,” she added, pointing toward the other man who was still unconscious.
Leira held her gun in front of her as she went to search the other two rooms in the house. She could sense that there was no more danger but she wasn’t willing to take a risk on brand-new magic. In the bedroom, someone had pushed an old, wide wooden dresser in front of the closet door. Leira shoved it aside, scraping the floor. She opened the closet door slowly, gun drawn, ready for anything.
The missing girl was pressed up against a corner of the closet. She looked dirty and frightened, but unharmed. Leira quickly holstered her gun.
“It’s okay, it’s okay. Lucy Kate, right? Okay. Hello Lucy Kate,” she said in a soft voice, her hands held up in front of her. She crouched down and reached for the girl. Lucy Kate drew back, terrified. An idea came to Leira and she summoned the energy, the magic, and gently reached out toward the girl.
“This may be a really stupid idea.”
Her eyes shimmered briefly and Leira could sense a ripple of energy flowing from her toward the girl. Leira inched forward saying, “You’re safe now,” over and over again, until she had the girl safely held in her arms.
It took some help from Correk to get the two large men, still dazed from the lack of air and Correk’s magic, in separate unmarked cars. Leira deposited the girl in the front seat of the Mustang. The girl drew her knees up under her chin and wrapped her arms around her legs.
“How do we explain all of this?” asked Hagan. There were large sweat stains under his arms. “I’m not even sure what happened. That’ll make it tough to fill out all of that paperwork. Besides, we have to explain why we went off by ourselves and didn’t tell anyone what we were doing. What excuse do we have for being out here and tripping over this in another jurisdiction?” he asked sarcastically, making air quotes with his hands. “You have a magic spell for that?”
“Yes, we call that lying,” said Correk. “Works pretty much the same way here as it does on Oriceran.”
Leira noticed Correk was leaning against the car and his skin was even paler than usual. “You’re going to need some food, and this time something that resembles actual food. No arguments.”
“Our story…” said Hagan. “Somebody start this mythic tale for me.”
“How about…” Correk started.
“How about we got a tip and were so close to the area we drove on up to take a look. An anonymous informant told us they were about to pull out. No time to call it in. A six-year-old girl was at risk and there was no time to call. These two goons can talk their fool heads off about something invisible strangling them and we’ll do our best shrug. Everyone got it?” Leira asked. She raised her eyebrows, her mouth in a straight, determined line.
“Simple. I like it,” said Hagan. “Gonna’ be a shitload of paperwork.”
“Always is,” she replied.
“Even a few discussions about jurisdictions and cooperation.”
“Yep,” Leira agreed as she got in the car. Hagan was still mumbling as he walked back toward his older Oldsmobile and started up the engine.
Leira started up the Mustang and did a sharp U-turn, spitting gravel, eliciting a moan from the back seat. The little girl looked up at Leira, worried.
“It’s okay,” Leira said softly. “He can’t get to us from back there.”
The little girl wrapped her hands around Leira’s arm and leaned closer. Leira looked over at Correk. “This is almost too much for me,” she said. “We can tell a lie to the Captain and given the outcome, they’ll buy it without a lot of fuss. But what about these Silver Griffins? Won’t they be along next to tell us to cut it out?”
“Great,” Leira said, turning on the lights as they pulled out onto the paved road.
“Sometimes you have to take a risk and break the rules,” Correk said, looking out toward the road.
“You don’t strike me as a rule breaker. And, in case you can’t feel this one, I’m not either, usually. Feels too much like lying. Another thing I’m not a big fan of.” She looked in the rearview mirror and saw Hagan closely following her as they cruised out onto the highway, pressing eight-five miles an hour. It wouldn’t be long before they were back in Austin. “So, what do we tell them? The Griffins?”
“They already know what we’ve done. They’ll tell us what to think, and soon.”
Leira looked down at Lucy Kate. She felt an unexpected twinge she wasn’t used to after a case. “This whole feeling thing is a rough roller coaster ride,” she said softly.
“It suits you. Cousin.”
“Yeah, I caught that earlier.” She glanced at him. “We’ll be circling back to that, don’t you worry.”
“You did the right thing, no matter who finds out.”
“Yeah, well, so did you,” she said.
FROM MARTHA >>> Snippet #4 from RELEASE OF MAGIC coming out AUGUST 14th! Strange days in Texas – plenty of rain in August! Must be signs of an illegal portal being used… 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. (There’s also Flint Maxwell working on a new series about THE WORLD IN BETWEEN and if you’re already a fan, you know what that’s all about… That should be amazing!)
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