Theft of Magic, The Leira Chronicles Book Six
By Martha Carr & Michael Anderle
Turner Underwood looked up from the ancient Oriceran manuscript on his desk, moving the large magnifying glass to the side and turning off the small light on the side of it. The letters on the page quickly faded, leaving the page blank. He lifted his chin and listened for a moment, a smile coming over his face even as the concern never left him.
“The next phase has begun. This is good. I can work with this. The seer’s prophecy is rolling right along.” Turner cupped one hand over the other in front of his chest and whispered into his hands, slowly pulling them apart as a blue ball of light grew to the size of an orange. “Big enough to do the job.” He waved his arm over the ball of light as it vanished with a pop and found its target, hovering just under the bumper of the green Mustang parked outside the warehouse.
The troll pushed up the lid of the pink box, swallowing the remains of a jelly doughnut as he jumped off Hagan’s desk. He scrambled across the warehouse and up Leira’s leg as she reached down and held out her hand, placing the troll on her shoulder. “I’m a celebrity,” he chirped, letting out a cackle.
“Your lack of concern is doing nothing for me.” Correk drew his mouth into a thin line and watched the video loop, his hands on his hips and his elbows out at his side even as the troll shrugged and sat down on Leira’s shoulder.
Jackson let out a short laugh as he sized up Correk, taking a step back behind him. “Okay, big fella, I can take a hint.” He ran a hand through his thick hair, creating more tall peaks along the top of his head.
Correk took a whiff of the air, wrinkling his nose as he looked down at Jackson’s boots and up at the different stains along his tunic. He looked straight at Jackson and slowly crossed his arms across his chest. Leira shook her head and went back to looking at the video. “Some kind of male Elf posing. Suddenly, I’m back in a squad room again.” She pointed at the screen. “Look, this isn’t a problem. Not yet.” She puckered her lips. “Not unless the Silver Griffins decide to make it a problem. Only a handful of people know what PDF or PDA really stand for.”
“You think the Silver Griffins will care enough to do something about this?” Eireka spoke up from the far side of the long table, still holding her boyfriend, Don’s hand tightly. Leira looked over at her mother and saw the tremor pass through her shoulders. I can finally return this favor. Comfort her. Leira’s bright green eyes glowed as she sent out a thin stream of magic, curling around her mother’s shoulders to hold her in an embrace that hummed with energy.
“Not if we can get to the General to explain things before they have to come looking for us. Hagan did everyone walk out of their under their own power?” Leira ran her hand through her hair in the same way as Jackson had just done, giving Correk a start.
“In a manner of speaking.”
Leira gave him a long look, waiting for more, knowing there wasn’t more coming. She’d done enough cases with him by now to know what he was about to say.
“Never complain, never explain. Not to anyone but Rose, of course.”
Leira mouthed the words along with Hagan. “That’s a classic, Hagan. Haven’t heard you use that one in a long time.”
He took another large bite of pizza as the troll jumped up and down on Leira’s shoulder, leaping into the air toward the pizza box as Leira caught him and put him back on her shoulder.
A tiny “Motherfucker!” filled the room.
“Haven’t stepped in shit this deep in a long time.” Hagan wiped grease off his face with a small white paper napkin. “This one will take an extra long shovel. Any chance magic could handle this?”
“As far as I know, never was never will be doesn’t cover the globe or we could solve a few things before pizza.”
“That has to be getting cold.” Mara waved toward the long table set with dishes and silverware and the pile of pizzas at one end.
“Mom is right. Nothing’s going to get explained to anyone’s satisfaction in the next hour.” The words came out slowly as Eireka looked pointedly at her mother. “We should eat first.”
“You want to sit down at a table and eat like nothing just happened? That’s a lot to swallow, even for me.” Hagan watched carefully, reading the room. “Everybody staying calm? No itchy fingers?”
Mara threw up her hands, her long, thick dark hair moving along her shoulders as she grabbed a handful of Jackson’s tunic, dragging him along with her. She went to the near side of the table and pulled out a metal folding chair. “Sit. You’re about to try one of this world’s finest inventions.”
“That’s it?” Jackson lowered himself into the chair, a smile spreading across his face, deepening his dimples. He pulled out a long, thin leather strip, smoothing back his hair and tying it in the back. The women watched closely as he flexed his arms, tying a knot as Correk rolled his eyes.
Hagan took the seat next to Correk and leaned in to mutter, “Apparently they haven’t gotten past the mullet on Oriceran.”
“Is this some kind of Earth custom. One last good meal together before the body slamming?” Jackson looked up at Eireka and Don, giving a nod of his head. “You’re looking good. This your mate?”
Correk let out a grunt and took the seat opposite him as Jackson leaned forward in his chair, stretching his arm across the table. “Don’t believe we ever got around to introductions. I’m Jackson, an Elf of sorts.”
Leira glanced back at the screen as Eireka waved her arm, archiving the video. “It’s too late to stop the video. It’s sitting on too many phones at the very least. Give it a day or two and everyone will move on.”
“Elf of sorts?” Correk slowly put out his hand and shook Jackson’s hand tightly, feeling a strong and familiar hum. It reminded him of the energy that ran through Leira but with less power. Still…
“I think that’s why Mara dragged me through a portal… To explain. Or at least start to explain. Strange thing to work at keeping a secret for well over a hundred years and now I have an audience to spill it.”
“Quit dragging it out, Jackson. Just tell them.” Mara made herself look at Leira but she was intently watching Jackson. I hope I did the right thing.
Jackson blew out a deep breath, puffing out his cheeks. “Fine.” He spread his hands flat on the table.
The troll leapt down to the table and scrambled in front of Jackson, smiling. “You’re a Jaspar Elf. Rare!”
Jackson opened his mouth to say something and shut it again. He grimaced as he said, “What the little furry guy said.”
“Not a surprise. Turner Underwood already broke that news. You came all that way just to say that?” Leira could feel the frustration growing. So many questions.
“Turner… The Fixer.” Jackson’s smile grew tighter. “You must be in the middle of a few things for Turner to be making an appearance. Not the only reason I came.”
“And not the only reason I went to fetch him.”
“Without saying anything to me.” Eireka’s eyes glistened as she leaned back in her chair. “A heads up would have gone a long way.”
Mara looked pained as she looked at her daughter. “There was no time to explain everything. You don’t understand what’s going on here. I could tell you, which would have taken days, trust me. Or I could save Leira.”
Yumfuck took advantage of the distraction and crawled toward the tower of boxes, easily scaling them till he was at the top. He tugged on a large slice topped with pepperoni, pulling it out out of the box with as little noise as possible. He glanced over the top of the box and saw Hagan looking in his direction. The troll gave him a smile and a wink and ducked back down, giving one last hard tug as the slide came out in one easy slide acting like a hot, greasy tobogan. The troll jumped on board, holding on to the crust as the pizza hit the table, flopping over, rolling the troll inside. Yumfuck chewed his way through the top and quickly stood up, wearing the pizza around his waist, his hair slicked back with grease.
“Never seen him look happier,” muttered Hagan. He reached over and got another piece and offered the box to Correk. “Go ahead. Good pizza has helped more than one bad party get going.” Hagan stood up and started passing the rest of the boxes in both directions. “We’re all family here… of sorts. Let’s start with that and a little pizza.”
Leira took a seat between Correk and Hagan and pulled out a slice with mushrooms on it, passing the box. She chewed her lip, ignoring the slice as she took a look around the table. “There’s a lot of people at this table that I love and some I almost lost this past year. Two of you I had to fight like hell to get back.” The words came out choked as Leira took a deep breath and let it go, slowly. She looked over at Correk, squeezing his hand for a moment. “I’ve had enough of losing family, even if it’s to anger. Nana, you’re going to explain all of this in great detail. I’m guessing you fucked something up royally. For now, tell me how I’m in danger of dying and we’ll deal with the rest later.”
Mara looked back over at Eireka again but Eireka looked away. She wasn’t ready to let it go as easily.
“Okay, fair enough. Frankly, this is actually a better reception than I thought we might get. It’s true, Leira is not a Light Elf. She’s part Jaspar Elf, a large part, which explains the power she possesses.”
“And takes a few rules to get the energy to work with you. Otherwise, it can get away from you pretty quick and cause some damage to the user as well as the surrounding countryside.” Jackson pulled out a slice of pizza and bit, slurping up the melted cheese. “Damn, that is good,” he said, as he took another large bite.
“There’s a twist, though. It’s why I was in such a hurry to get Jackson. Leira is also part human on my side of the family. Not all magical beings come from Oriceran.” Mara let the boxes stop in front of her as she folded her hands over her plate. “There’s an old legend about human beings that some have one different chromosome that acts like a sentinel waiting for the right mixture of DNA to turn it on like a switch.”
“Wait! I’ve heard this story before. Toni told me about it one night at the Jackalope. But it’s supposed to be a myth.” Leira rubbed the top of Yumfuck’s head, wiping off as much grease as she could from his green fur.
He kept on chewing as his head bobbed around and Leira moved on to wiping his ears. “Yummmmm…”
“How did you manage to get it under your arms?”
“I’ll show you,” he chirped. The troll lowered his head and started biting at the piece in front of him, doing a slow crawl through the pizza. Leira plucked him out of the middle before he could get to the end, wrapping him in a paper towel and setting him back on the table. A large grease stain steadily spread across the brown paper.
“That one’s on me. I did ask you.”