Home > Magic Forged (Hall of Blood and Mercy #1)(14)

Magic Forged (Hall of Blood and Mercy #1)(14)
Author: K.M. Shea

“The Paragon?” I squeaked. The Paragon was the top fae representative in America. He didn’t rule over the fae—they had splintered when the last of the elves died and had created their own fiefdoms in the different regions. But the Paragon was supposed to be the strongest fae alive, and all the fae Courts spoke through him. “You can’t involve the Paragon in something like this!”

“I can. He owes me,” Killian said. “And given the delicate nature of politics, there aren’t many fae I would believe to tell the truth. Luckily, the Paragon is an idiot.” He sauntered toward the door, oozing arrogance thick enough to make me choke.

I stared—shell-shocked—at his back. For a moment, I was tempted to laugh. All my life everyone had taken my lack of magic for granted. And now Killian Drake—master vampire and tyrant of the Midwest—was raising a fuss about it.

This gave me a shred of hope. When he found out I was indeed a dud, he’d drop me, and I could safely disappear into the mass of servants. That was…if he didn’t kill me for delaying him.

Killian snapped his fingers. “Medeis, come.”

Knowing I’d only have to bear it until my abilities were affirmed, I swallowed my irritation and slowly crossed the room. My muscles still shook from the exertion of “playing” with the monster, and the creamy taste of the healing draught was turning sour—though that might have been my situation instead of the potion.

Killian swept away without another word, disappearing down the hallway faster than I could walk.

I tried to jog, but my ribs must not have been fully healed yet, because pain stabbed through my side. I clutched my ribs as I tried to figure out which way he’d gone.

“This way, Hazel.”

I nearly jumped out of my skin when I realized another vampire stood right behind me. It was the beautiful female who had attended the meeting with him at the Curia Cloisters. She was still in her pantsuit, and her pitch-black hair was pulled back in a no-nonsense ponytail, but her smile was surprisingly warm. “The car is waiting for you.” She walked at a much slower pace so I could keep up—which was a good thing because she led me through a portion of the mansion I hadn’t ever seen, even in my tour of the place on the day of my arrival.

We came to what looked like the front entrance—everything was cast in white and black marble with enough windows to make a greenhouse, and an elaborate double stairway that wound up to the second floor with an elevator crouched just behind it. (A very necessary thing given the size of the place.)

A maid standing at the entrance gawked at me as she automatically pulled a door open for my vampire guide.

I gave the maid a helpless look, but hurried after the female vampire, almost skidding down the stone staircase just outside the door.

A black SUV was parked at the bottom of the teardrop shaped bit of driveway that pulled up next to Drake Hall.

A vampire standing at the front of the SUV opened the back car door for me.

Killian was on the far side of the bench, talking on a silver smartphone as he jabbed his finger at a screen on a similarly colored tablet. “I don’t care if the fae are wistful for a winter festival. It’s a power grab, and they just want to put their magic on display to lull the humans over to their side.”

The vampire wanted me to sit back there? With HIM?! I gaped at the chauffeur vampire and shook my head. “Can’t I sit up front?” I whispered.

The chauffeur blinked. “Why?”

“Denied!” Killian snarled into his phone.

I flinched, but Killian didn’t seem to notice our conversation, he was so focused on chewing out whatever poor soul was on the other end of the phone.

“If you suggest such a stupid bargain again, I’ll have a finger broken every time you mention it. Understood?” Killian continued.

“I don’t wish to disturb the Eminence—he’s working.” I chewed on my lip and did my best to look bashful and concerned.

The vampire chauffeur shrugged. “Sure.” He closed the door and opened the front passenger door.

Relieved, I scrambled in and closed the door behind me.

“I’ll follow with Julianne,” the female vampire said to the driver, her voice muffled sounding from inside the car.

The driver nodded and unhooked a friggin’ sword from his belt as he circled round the car to his side. “Yes, Celestina,” he said.

She smiled at him, then trotted down the driveway to a small, four door car that was—surprise!—black.

The driver slid into his seat, leaning his sword against the dashboard so it was easily accessible, and then fussed with a wireless earpiece in his right ear. “Dragon, taking flight.”

I glanced out the window, half expecting a sendoff, and was not disappointed. I saw several other vampires—all visible even in the dark night due to the pristine whites of their dress shirts—step out of the front decorative greenery and bow.

The driver started the car, and we rolled down the driveway, passing by the stupid dragon statues on our way out.

I sank deep into my car seat, feeling numb and tired. I couldn’t wait for this all to be over.

When we pulled up to the local public library, I rubbed my eyes as I struggled to understand what was going on. “The Paragon is at the library?” I muttered.

Vampire hearing is a thing, so of course Killian heard me, but what was surprising was he also chose to answer me. “He’s hiding.” He abruptly ended his phone call. “The Paragon hides wherever he thinks others are least likely to find him. In this case, it does not take a genius to recognize that no fae noble—with their boundless vanity—would ever venture here.”

That was pretty rich considering the snobbery of vampires, but I kept my mouth shut and scrambled out of the SUV before the vampire driver could help me.

Our local library is super cute. It’s constructed out of brick, and on the front lawn there are a few statues from famous kids’ books.

I smiled at the nostalgia of the building, but was almost hit when Killian flung his car door open.

He smoothly exited the car so he could stare down his irritatingly straight nose and gaze at the library as if it were some place beneath him.

(See? Such a snob!)

The nice female vampire, Celestina, exited her car and bowed slightly when she joined Killian on the chipped sidewalk. “I received word that the Paragon is in the back reading room, near the fireplace.”

Killian sauntered into the library, Celestina walking just behind his left shoulder.

I nervously shifted my weight from one foot to the next and glanced out over the well-lit parking lot. This was the first time I was off Drake land since the night Mason attacked me.

Would he try to grab me, now? But it was getting late, how would he even find out I was here?

“Medeis.” Killian’s voice was lined with irritation.

I suppose Mason is now a secondary worry to surviving Killian Drake. I scuttled after them, slipping through a slowly shutting door and crossing the front lobby.

Killian strode through the library with what seemed like a sauntering, careless gait—though let me tell you he covered a lot of ground because I had to jog to keep up.

“The library will close in fifteen minutes,” a mechanical voice announced over the library loudspeaker—not like my vampire escorts at all cared.

We whizzed past the reference librarian’s desk, and as soon as we hit the sea of bookshelves that held all nonfiction and adult fiction books, the quiet noises of the library—the beeps of books getting checked out, the crinkle of pages being turned—were muffled and fell off into near silence.

Killian made his way through the stacks with the ease of familiarity—though I suppose he could probably more easily read the labels and use sounds for context clues. But he didn’t stop even when we reached the far back wall. Instead he turned and followed the wall until we reached a corner which opened up into a hexagon shaped room.

The focal point of the room was the enormous gas fireplace and stone mantel. Newspaper racks pressed against the walls and were stacked with periodicals and the latest magazine issues. Plush, green couches were arranged in front of the fireplace, and someone was splayed out over the nearest one with a folded-up newspaper spread over their head like a tent. The newspaper barrier did very little to block out the deep and throaty snores curling up from the covered face.

Killian stalked across the room, stopping at the snorer. He leaned over the couch, resting his forearms on the top of it, and plucked the newspaper off his victim. “Paragon,” he said.

“What? What?” a simultaneously smooth and grizzled sounding voice peevishly repeated. The snorer sat up, revealing a head of long, silky white hair, and a well-groomed white mustache with whiskers so long they drooped past his chin. Slightly pointed ears and thick glasses with wire frames that almost covered up bushy eyebrows accented the Paragon’s wizened-old-man look, as did the wrinkles that lined his face.

The old man peered around the room, grimacing when he looked up at Killian. “Oh,” he said. “It’s you.” He sat up and toddled to his feet, brushing his clothes—a dark robe covered with bronze star embroidery and slitted at the elbows to reveal a light blue undershirt—with an unnecessary amount of care. “What do you want now?”

“Paragon, you wound my delicate feelings,” Killian smirked. “Perhaps I came to call upon an old acquaintance?”

The Paragon flipped his glasses up and gave Killian a look that could kill. “Save your pretty words for someone who might be susceptible to them. It’s too late to try and butter me up, I know you’re a weasel.” He swatted at his own mustache with annoyance, then squinted at Killian. “You didn’t tell any of the fae Kings or Queens that I’m here, did you?”

“I have not,” Killian said. “Yet.”

The Paragon groaned like a teenager, his shoulders slumping uncharacteristically for a fae of his advanced age. “Then I have to repeat myself: what do you want now?”

Killian folded his arms across his chest. “I need to consult you on a small matter that requires privacy.”

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