Theft of Magic, The Leira Chronicles Book Six
By Martha Carr & Michael Anderle
“It’s not a myth,” said Mara. “But most people never know they have it. It lies dormant till it’s mixed in the right genetic soup. Even then, it might give someone what feels like heightened intuition or really good luck. Nobody connects the dots.”
“Mixing Jaspar Elf with my human side connected all the dots…” Leira looked up at Mara as the realization grew across her face.
“You knew… you knew all along, didn’t you?” Eireka rose up out of her seat. She jabbed her finger in the air in the direction of her mother, her eyes wide with amazement. “You did this!” She looked over at Jackson and back at her mother. “Wait… wait…” Her arms were stretched out in front of her, her fingers spread wide as if she was protecting herself against some unseen onslaught. “Jackson, did you stand me up? All those years ago, did you… did you get my message?”
Jackson looked at Mara for a moment as he answered. “I’m going to give a qualified no. Truth be told, I liked to drink a lot more back then. There’s a chance I got it and it just didn’t register.”
Mara looked relieved as Jackson leaned closer to her and whispered, “You owe me.”
“Can we get back to the present day? How is Leira in danger? Turner Underwood was already teaching Leira how to handle the energy,” said Correk.
“Not handle, I’ll bet. More like avoid. Am I right?” Jackson leaned over the table to grab one of the boxes in front of Mara, pulling out another slice. “I’m sorry I didn’t take to portals a long time ago,” he said, as he took a large bite.
The troll rolled himself into a fur ball and careened down the center, bouncing off a bottle or two like a pinball until he landed in front of the pizza boxes and crawled inside one. A loud trill echoed off the walls of the box as it jiggled.
Hagan stood up and reached across Correk for one of the pizza boxes. “Don’t mind me. Didn’t want to disturb your indignation.” He sat back down opening the box and found the troll sitting in the middle, smiling up at him. “You licked all of the slices, didn’t you?” The troll let out a cackle as Hagan sat back. Correk arched an eyebrow at him and passed another box to him.
“Very kind of you,” said Hagan. “This is one of the more interesting family dinners I’ve ever been to. Go back to what you were doing, continue.”
Jackson abruptly stood up as Correk leaned forward, his muscles tensing. “Easy big fellow. I’m just stretching. I was never a danger to anyone here. No one comment on that,” said Jackson, holding up his hand. “Alright, avoidance of the energy is only going to get you so far. Leira, right? Strange having to ask my own grown daughter if I got her name right. Look, the energy you feel is vast. Thought to be endless. Let’s just say no one has ever found the limits of magic and lived to come back and tell the rest of us. You can keep tamping it down but something is going to happen that will catch you off guard and the energy will soar through you like a hurricane across the Sea of Rodania. When that happens, you may not be able to avoid anything.”
Correk stood up, stretching to his full height, his long silver hair hanging down to his shoulders. “But learning the rules would help her.”
Jackson eyed Correk with his chin tilted and looked over at Leira, the crooked grin returning to his face. “Save her. The rules would save her.”
“What are they?”
“Not that simple. Magic is never that simple. This is more of a show and do kind of lesson.”
Hagan scratched his chin and pointed at Jackson, taking in his entire appearance. “You mean to tell me, you’ve been living by these rules this whole time?”
“This look has taken me years to achieve and yes, I have but I still only have some of the energy that Leira must possess.”
Eireka rose out of her seat and placed the tips of her fingers on the table as she spoke slowly. Don rose to stand next to her, his arm around her shoulders. “This extra chromasome in our family line. You knew about it.” She looked pointedly at Mara. “And you knew about it?”
Jackson shrugged. “Mara, she’s got me on this one. Yes, Eireka I knew all along but your mother asked me to keep it to myself. A lot of Oricerans feared Jaspar Elves. I was told at an early age to keep that one under wraps and I heard the stories.” He shook his head in disgust. “Might not have been true and probably weren’t. I mean, how could anyone capture a Jaspar elf long enough to…” He squeezed his eyes shut. “Thing is, magical beings feared that little quirk about humans just as much and a human being is a lot easier to capture on this world or the next. One thing I didn’t know about of course, is that the two lines had come together.”
Don slid his arm around Eireka’s waist and pulled her closer. “This is clearly a long story. Longer than one weird family dinner.”
“You’re right.” Eireka rested her head momentarily on Don’s shoulder, briefly smiling at Leira as pain crossed her face. “We can’t add any more to the story and Leira, it looks like you need to talk to your boss. We’re going to leave.”
“Not now, mother. Not here.” Eireka’s voice was strained but she did her best to smile at her mother. Family sticks together, especially when it’s the last thing I want to do. She took a long look at her daughter, instinctively sending out a thin stream of energy to wrap around her only child, checking on her. Leira felt the warm embrace and let it roll around her shoulders and run down her spine. It was as much to comfort her mother as it was something familiar and sane.
Leira looked at the two women as Correk leaned closer. “What are they doing? Are they reading minds all of a sudden?”
Leira rested her elbows on the table, leaning her chin on her hands. “Kind of. We have one family ethos that seems to be coming up a lot these days.”
Correk interrupted her. “If it’s the last good thing we do…”
Leira looked up surprised. “You remembered from our fight at the Driskill. This is going to be a hard one to work through but they will.”
“You all will, but you’re not angry?”
“Royally pissed off. Wish there was somebody I could run down and put in handcuffs right about now. It’s why I’m going to wait a beat or two to ask a lot more questions of anyone I’m blood related to. Less likely I’ll do something I’ll have to think about at night.”
“So, that’s your father. Explains a lot.”
“Careful Elf. I have a lightning bolt with your name on it.”
“Not in any Elf’s arsenal. You know, Berens, even when things get very freaky you’re still a very lucky woman with a family like that.”
Leira turned and looked at Correk with a crooked smile. “Freaky is in your vocabulary now? It’s the troll’s influence, isn’t it? Careful or those rounded ears won’t need a glamour anymore.” She looked back at her mother and grandmother. “This one may take some time to unravel. My father is alive and an Elf. A Jaspar Elf.” She startled and looked up at Correk. “We’re not cousins…”
Hagan looked back and forth at everyone around the table and leaned back in his chair. “I am definitely going to have to read Rose in. This is better than one of her soaps on TV but with magic.” He pounded his chest with the flat of his hand as he let out a wet belch. “Oof, ate that last piece too fast. This dinner theater may do me in one of these days.”
Leira looked over at Hagan and took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly, puffing out her cheeks. “Mom’s right. Hell, Hagan’s even right on this one. This is bad theater. No way anything else is getting settled here today. Not like this. I say we call it and let everybody take a breath. Jackson comes with me.” Leira scooped up the troll in a pile of paper towels and held him out in front of her as she headed toward the door.
Hagan looked at Correk surprised. “You’re not going to insist on going along?”
“Leira’s armed and she has very powerful magic. She’ll be fine.” And there’s somewhere else I need to be right now.
“Wasn’t Leira I was worried about.”
Mara got up to go as Jackson tried to stop her. “You’re not even going to protest or ask me if I mind?”
“There’s no point in arguing with my granddaughter when she gets that look in her eye. Besides, this is why I brought you across the divide. Might as well get on with it and then you can get back to your shed and your dog.”