Home > Magic Forged (Hall of Blood and Mercy #1)(16)

Magic Forged (Hall of Blood and Mercy #1)(16)
Author: K.M. Shea

I stood in the circle, still wearing my black pants from my job and the white t-shirt I had woken up in. I curled my toes in my running shoes, smiling at the quiet hum of magic that seeped beneath my feet.

“Check her thoroughly,” Killian instructed from his chair. He reached inside his suit and adjusted something in a pocket. “I’m sure whatever it is it’s well hidden, or she would have been outed by now.”

The Paragon snorted. “What! Did you do the impossible and develop magic powers and a deep understanding of them in the past five minutes? Get bent!”

As I stood in the circle—relaxed and confident in my lack of powers—I watched the Paragon’s spry movements. There was something about him…His words were more modern than I’d heard from some werewolves, and his movements weren’t just quick, they were liquid—effortless. Was he really as old as he appeared? Fae were capable of deception. He could use magic to cover his true appearance.

“Right, then. We’ll begin,” the Paragon said. “This shouldn’t hurt.”

Suddenly I was a lot more alert. “Shouldn’t?”

“Well, I’ve never done anything like this before, so I can’t be certain. Hah-hah!” He sheepishly scratched his cheek.

Alarmed, I shifted and considered edging out of the circle.

In an instant Killian was standing behind the Paragon, his red eyes narrowed on me. He held up a finger and slightly shook his head, his orders clear. I was to stay.

I swallowed as glowing stars from the ceiling started to drop, putting me in a personal star shower. Whenever a star hit me it spattered me with liquid light, which glowed gold and bronze for a few moments before seeping through my clothes and into my skin.

It was warm, but not unpleasant, and I tilted my head back to look up at the ceiling, getting star dust on my eyelashes.

“Hmm. I’m not seeing any reaction yet,” the Paragon said.

“Then look harder,” Killian growled.

“That’s not how it works,” the Paragon began. “You see—”

“Skip the lesson, and find her seal!”

“Fine, fine—no need to be fussy! Just wait—oh!”

Chapter Eight


Lines of light formed, shooting from the little spatters the shining stars had made on my skin. They crossed up my body and congregated at my eyes, giving the world a golden haze.

I felt my wizard mark surface—hot and sudden—but there was extra warmth on my face as well. That extra warmth alarmed me more than the giant unicorn horn or the foreign magic floating around me.

A wizard mark is kind of like a magic-sensitive tattoo that only shows up when we tap into magic. It’s usually a pattern of swirls, shapes, or spikes, but more important than the design is the size—which indicates the level of power a wizard has. It’s why my single loop was considered shameful.

But you’re born with your personal ability to hold and channel magic—there’s no improving it. There’s no changing your wizard mark, so what was wrong with my face?

“Yep, she’s sealed alright,” the Paragon confirmed as he struggled to lean the giant horn against the wall. “In fact, I think I recognize that magic!”

The circle of light faded, then died out as the Paragon strode over to his desk and started rummaging through its drawers.

With the magic gone, the lines of light on my body disappeared, as did the spots the little stars had left, and the warmth of my wizard mark.

I barely noticed—I was staring at the busy Paragon. Surely I had heard him wrong? There was no way I had sealed magic! Numbly, I shook my hair out and brushed off my clothes just in case there was any remaining magic, and stepped out of the circle.

Celestina gave me a brief smile as she came to stand by me. I was actually glad for her nearness. She was tall, and there was something comforting about her big presence after…this.

Killian, it seemed, preferred to hound our host. He planted his hands on the Paragon’s desk as the older man paged through a ledger. “What did you find?”

“Ah-hah, yes, here it is!” The Paragon plopped his ledger on his desk and tapped an entry. “It seems my predecessor sealed you himself, Adept Medeis.”

“What?” My shock made me clumsy. I almost tripped over my own feet as I crossed the workshop so I could stare at the paper.

Most of the notes were written in the curving script of the language of Fae, but even I could recognize the entry which was dated with the human calendar, and marked with my parents’ signatures.

“My parents asked him to?” I yelped.

“Seems like it.” The Paragon set his glasses aside and peered down at the ledger. “Says here they brought you in when you were still a toddler. According to the report, they asked my predecessor to lock up all except the tiniest bit of your magic abilities.”

“I have to sit down,” I muttered. There was an incessant buzzing noise in my ears, and the room seemed to move around me.

I had more magic? But my parents had arranged for me to have it sealed? I glanced back at the ledger, certain it was a trick. But in addition to their familiar signatures, I saw my father had scrawled a sketch of the House coat of arms next to their signatures, marking it as an official agreement between the Paragon and House Medeis.

Something in my gut rolled, and I felt sick. My legs shook, but I locked my knees and stiffly shuffled until I could plop down in the nearest chair.

“I’m sorry to say it doesn’t give a reason why.” The Paragon thoughtfully tapped his ledger.

“I don’t care why they did it,” Killian snarled. “What’s important is the seal. Can you remove it, or must it be broken?”

“Um,” the Paragon said.

“Um?” Killian repeated in an icy voice.

I was barely aware of their argument. I bent over, my head hanging between my knees as I just tried to breathe.

“It doesn’t give any conditions for breaking the seal, or any instructions,” the Paragon said.

“Your predecessor was so sloppy he didn’t make any notes?”

“We Paragons take pride in our work!” The Paragon preened, then almost jabbed himself in the eye when he tried to push his glasses, which were still on the desk, up his nose. “We don’t often take private clients, but when we do all is done to their specifications. In this case Rand and Rose of House Medeis signed a silence clause. Only they and my predecessor know the details of the seal, and they are all unfortunately dead.”

“If you cannot break it, then remove it,” Killian ordered.

“If a lesser fae had made the seal I could, but I’d not risk it on my predecessor’s work. He was a wily, shifty old man,” the Paragon said, sounding not very Paragon-like. “It’s unlikely to work, and far more likely that she’d die—which would do you no good.”

Killian growled, and I finally managed to sit up.

I was still shocked—this changed everything in my life for the good, but I was dimly starting to realize what it meant.

My parents had lied to me about my magic for years. They saw me get bullied and picked on for my lack of magic, and they never told me the truth. Even now, when I was an adult!

But I also realized that my present situation—with Killian Drake and his “interest” in me—was pretty treacherous, and I needed to be aware of what he was saying—or about to do to me.

“How, then, can she remove it?” Killian asked.

The Paragon retrieved his ledger and snapped it shut. “Based on my predecessor’s limited notations, it seems that the seal has a condition on it—a requirement she must meet or perform. If she meets that condition, her magic will be freed.”

Killian raised one dark eyebrow. “You don’t know what the exact condition is?”

“The ledger doesn’t say, no.”

“Exactly what good are you?”

“That was hurtful!”

“You seem to be under a delusion that I care.”

The Paragon sniffed and stuck his nose in the air. “I’ll see that I remember this whenever you ask me for a favor.”

“You have yet to actually be helpful,” Killian said. “All you did is confirm Medeis has more magic. You can’t break her seal, and you won’t take the Night Court in hand and get them under control—”

“I am the top fae representative, not the fae emperor!”

“There hasn’t been an emperor in at least 50 years,” Killian impatiently said. “You’re as close as it gets.”

The Paragon looked like he wanted to rip Killian a new one—he seemed a bit taller and wider in the shoulders than when we first met him, so he probably was wearing a disguise—and as much as I would like to see that, the seal did concern me.

“Could you make a guess?” I asked.

The fae swiveled around to face me and blinked. “Pardon?”

I forced myself to stand and took in a deep breath. I had to handle this—I didn’t have my House at the moment, and it was possible the Drake Family would make things worse. I needed to be calm—even though my head still buzzed. “The seal.” I said. “Could you make a guess what its breaking condition is?”

“Oh. Well. Stereotypically, if a seal is placed on a person who is not a criminal, the breaking condition is that their life is in danger, or that they are being attacked. There’s a chance…” He trailed off when he saw my face.

I shook my head. “I’ve been attacked twice in the last week.”

The Paragon glared accusingly at Killian. “Are you doing a crappy job of taking care of your servants?”

Killian folded his arms across his chest with the grace of a panther. “I did say she sought me out.”

“And they say we fae are evasive,” the Paragon grumbled before facing me. “True love’s kiss is a popular seal in fae culture, but given your age I’d guess it wasn’t yours. Taking into account the secrecy, it’s fairly likely the condition was set by your parents, in which case your guess would be better than mine. I assume you know them well, which makes you more likely to guess what sort of condition they would set.”

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