Rule of Magic, The Leira Chronicles Book 4
By Martha Carr & Michael Anderle
Leira walked into the guest house after a long run, sweat running down the center of her back and took a deep breath to see what was cooking. She was hoping for Nana’s spaghetti sauce or Leira’s old favorite from childhood, spicy red lentil soup. No smell!
She heard the sound of drawers opening and closing in the other room and looked down at Yumfuck sitting in the potted fern. He shrugged and held up his little paws.
“Oh honey, you’re home!” Her mother came bustling out of the bedroom, her face flushed and shiny.
“What are you two up to in there? Are you rearranging the furniture? That room is pretty small. Not too many ways you can fit a bed and a dresser.”
“Ha! That’s a good one. No dear, we’re packing! We found a place!” Eireka smiled broadly, brushing a loose strand of hair out of place.
“But… that fast? Is it in a safe neighborhood? Did you check to make sure it’s not in a flood plane? Not Onion Creek, right? Are you renting a townhouse?”
Her grandmother cut her off, waving her hands. “You’d think the child thought she raised us! Your mother survived a psych ward. I survived the world in between. We’ve got this. We know how to pick out a two bedroom apartment.”
“It’s for the best.” Eireka grabbed Leira at the elbows, kissing her on her forehead. “We’re renting for now, maybe forever. Less to do and will leave us more time to do other things.”
“She means date.” Mara let out a snort. “Maybe I’ll figure out how to swipe right myself. You can come visit anytime.” Mara packed the few clothes she had in a new suitcase from Costco and zipped it shut. “Good thing all of our stuff was in storage. Have I said thank you to you for not ditching everything? Not sure I would have held on to so much for four years.” Mara wandered back into the bedroom to see if she forgot anything.
Eireka looked at Leira and wrapped her arms around her, kissing her ear. “You’re more sentimental than you let on. It’s okay. It’s a good thing. Kept you from getting too angry all these years and boy, will it help your magic.” She whispered it in her daughter’s ear and stood back. “You never lost hope. That’s why you kept it all. You are more courageous than your grandmother and me put together. No, it’s true, don’t make a face. It takes so much courage to believe in something for that long, and I know you. Not hope, you believed. Hope is just the hole where belief needs to go. You kept all of Nana’s dishes and my jewelery, except for this ring.” She picked up Leira’s hand and looked at the sapphire. “You didn’t use any of it because you were determined that we’d be back to use it some day. You have courage in pounds.”
“I’m happy for you, Mom. This is the right thing to do. Too many people crammed into one small space, and you’ve waited long enough to have your own room.” Leira shrugged. “I guess I didn’t think it would happen so fast. I was kind of used to hearing you sing to yourself in the morning.” Her eyes shined as she lifted the bottom of her shirt to wipe across her face. She forgot all about the new scar on her belly.
Eireka winced when she saw it but quickly recovered, smiling at Leira. So full of heart. If I could take that away from you…
“You’re supposed to miss me before I’m even gone. What a wonderful thing. You don’t miss what you don’t treasure.” She stood back from Leira and nodded hard. “Well, good. Now I can go and still be sure you’ll come by and visit.” Eireka clapped her hands, her face lighting up. “ We can do Sunday dinners! As long as you’re not called into some supernatural case! Even then, we’ll save you a plate. We’ll save one for Hagan on those nights too!”
“What a good idea!” Mara came back out of the bedroom holding a glass dolphin. “Remember this thing? Bought it for you in Galveston at that aquarium. Forgot all about it. You had it in a box. Mind if I take it?”
“Ooooooh,” trilled the troll. “Beautiful.” The troll shook his head. “Leira keeps what she loves in boxes.”
Leira’s mouth dropped open and she stared at the troll.
Mara put her hands on her hips, still holding the dolphin. “Well, I wondered when you’d finally let everyone in on the secret. Trolls can talk when they want to. Little shit is full of wisdom. Just doesn’t usually have much to say.”
Yumfuck looked up at Leira and shrugged again as Mara put down the dolphin. “Take what you love out of boxes and spread it around. Life is too weird and too short for that kind of behavior.”
Eireka laughed and picked up her mother’s suitcase. “I’ll bet if we give you just a few more bits of advice that will help you get over missing us at least for now.”
Leira was still staring at the troll, waiting for him to say something else. He stared back at Leira and blew her a raspberry. “Is that your wisdom showing itself.” The troll let out a trill and sat back, pulling out an old piece of macaroni from underneath the wash cloth next to him. “Oooooh.” He licked it and bit down with his sharp teeth, crunching away.
The door to the guest house opened and Correk came in carrying a brown paper bag folded over at the top with a grease stain along the edge of the bottom. He stopped at the opening and looked at everyone standing around in the living room, the suitcases ready to go.
“Moving.” Yumfuck winked at him.
“He’s talking.” Correk raised his eyebrows and put a hand under the warm bag.
“Didn’t you know?” Leira put her hands on her hips looking back and forth between Correk and Yumfuck.
“Only as folklore. Unlike you, most people on Oriceran manage to avoid bonding with them. Yumfuck has been an entirely new adventure for me.”
“Nana, how did you know? You didn’t seemed surprised at all.” She narrowed her eyes.
“We should be going,” said Mara, arching an eyebrow. “Save some stories for when you visit. Besides the moving truck with all our things from storage will be at the apartment soon.”
“I’m not going to forget.”
“I have no doubt of that.” Mara kissed Leira on her cheek and smiled at her. “Yumfuck,” she said, nodding at the troll.
“Motherfucker,” chirped Yumfuck, solemnly nodding back. Mara let out a whoop of laughter and walked out the door. Eireka smiled and followed her, hugging Leira one last time. “I suppose this is the new family goodbye.” She nodded to the troll. “Motherfucker,” she said, smiling before shutting the door behind her. Mara’s laughter could be heard all the way across the patio.
Correk stared at the door and then shook his head.
“You didn’t think that all that swearing started with me, did you?” Leira shrugged and put out her hands. “Nana has a potty mouth. She said I told someone in a grocery store to fuck off when I was only two.”
“Like hearing a beloved bedtime story.”
“You played me,” said Leira looking at the troll.
“Followed the leader,” said the troll, letting out a soft trill. He pulled a pair of underwear up under his chin and curled up into a ball, shutting his eyes.
“Could it be that a five-inch hairy troll is the cagiest one in the room?”
“Size doesn’t count when it comes to outmaneuvering someone.” Correk went into the kitchen and put the bag on the table. “I got enough tacos at the truck for everyone.”
“Good, I’m starving! I’ll get the plates.” Leira took two plates out of the cabinet and turned around to find the troll lifting a taco over his head, jumping from the table to the chair and down to the floor. “Hey, no one invited you.”
The troll blew her a raspberry and smiled as he disappeared into the living room.
“It’s like he has a plan and we’re all in it.”
“Then it involves junk food, cable TV and underwear. I can live with that.” Correk sat down heavily in a chair and pulled a plate closer to him while reaching for a taco.
“How long have you known that the symbols on my arm read like a ticker tape?” Leira sat down across the table from Correk. The small guest house already seemed a little empty even though it was filled to overflowing for just a few days.
Correk took a big bite of a taco and chewed slowly, thinking over his answer. He finally swallowed and said, “Since I was three years old and was taught how to read them.” He took another bite waiting for the next question.
“Were you ever planning to tell me?”
“Of course. I knew it would come up but you weren’t ready to know all the information spilling out of the symbols.”
“Do your arms say so much?”
“No, not nearly as much.” He bit into another taco, glad to have something to talk about and take his mind off Rhazdon. That snake that followed me to the store. He shook his head, willing it away and let out a sigh. “Good taco.”
“What’s the difference between the symbols on your body and on mine?”
He put down the taco and brushed his hands. “I can see that you’re not going to eat a thing till we get this over and done. My symbols are more immediate. They tell me about danger directly to me. Normal and average for a Light Elf. Your symbols on the other hand…” He hesitated.
Leira cocked her head to the side and gave him a dead fish look. First one who talks loses.
“Sometimes I forget what a good detective you are and how patiently you’ll wait for an answer. The truth is I can’t always read your symbols fast enough. They roll out onto your skin and change just as fast telling about dangers near and far. It’s like your very core, your energy is connected to something bigger. I’ve never seen or heard about anything like it. It was amazing from the start and I knew it was far more powerful than I could imagine. That only emphasized for me how important it was for you to learn to harness some of it at least before trying to figure out a puzzle that reached around an entire world. There. That’s all I know.”
“You have ideas about how much energy I can harness. I can tell.”
“I only have theories. But I do know that you’ve only used a small portion of your magical abilities.”
“I want a mentor.”
“Splendid. Good luck with that.” Correk picked his taco back up and took a bite. “I know what you’re thinking,” he said, still chewing. “It’s not a bad idea. If there’s anyone who knows about the reach of your magic it would be Turner Underwood. Frankly, it’s not a surprise he showed up when he did.”
“I suspected as much.”
“Do you know why they call him the Fixer? He doesn’t fix problems as much as he reconstitutes people. Magical people. Helps them master their magic to the point where they’re maximizing their potential. Seems to be able to feel how much more someone can do. I imagine the moment you came within range of him he was intrigued.”
“This would have been useful to know before I faced off with the black mist.”
“No, it wouldn’t have or he would have told you what you needed to know. He’s not a cruel or foolish old Elf. If he didn’t, he has his reasons.”
“But, how do I find him?”
“Put the word out in the magical community. Tell Toni and Larry and the others. He’ll find you. There is a very good chance he’s been waiting for your call.”
“I’m doing it.” Leira slid three of the tacos over to her plate.
“Amazing how much you can eat.”
“This is the appetizer.”
Correk let out a laugh. Some of the tension left his shoulders. “Turner Underwood will be good for you. Call Toni and tell her tonight.” He smiled and looked in the bag to see what was left. “You know you want to.”
Leira put down the taco and wiped her hands on a napkin. She studied Correk for a moment. “Would it be safer for everyone if I took care of this sooner rather than later?”
Correk looked down at the table. “There are things that I can’t share with you out of loyalty to others and because I don’t know enough but yes, it would be better if we all did whatever we could to get ready.” He looked up at Leira and looked directly into her eyes. “Trust me, just this once.
“There’s a lot more to this story. It’s okay. You’ve trusted me more than once and I’m going to try something different and trust you even though you’re keeping information from me. You’ll tell me when you’re ready.”
“I only have my suspicions…”
“And if they’re right?”
“Then you should learn as much about what you can do from Turner Underwood as soon as you can. For all our sake before the symbols on your skin spell out something none of us can handle.” Rhazdon may be alive. Correk let out a shudder and rested his head in his hands.
Leira put her hand on his arm gently sending him energy as she picked up her cell phone and dialed. “Hello Toni, it’s Leira. I’m doing fine. I’m looking for Turner Underwood…”
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