Home > Magic Forged (Hall of Blood and Mercy #1)(17)

Magic Forged (Hall of Blood and Mercy #1)(17)
Author: K.M. Shea

An hour ago I might have agreed, but I didn’t know anymore. Did I really know my parents? I mean, how could they hide something like this from me? What other secrets did they have that I never knew about?

“Can you tell how much power she has behind the seal?” Killian asked.

The Paragon retrieved his glasses and rubbed them off on his robe. “Want to be sure it’s worth the investment, eh?”

“Yes,” was Killian’s flat reply.

The Paragon glanced at me, but I just shrugged again.

At this moment I’d rather have Killian’s brutal honesty in his motives than my parents’ kind lies.

“Er, well, I can’t be too certain,” the Paragon began. “But it seemed quite right.”

Killian stared at him until he squirmed. “And what does ‘quite right’ mean?”

The Paragon fanned himself with his ledger. “It means she’ll be a capable wizard, should she ever get the seal removed.”

After a few more minutes of talking—which didn’t reveal anything more useful or illuminating—the Paragon kicked us out of his pocket realm and dumped us back in the library parking lot. The two Drake Family cars were the only ones in the parking lot given that the library had closed during our hour-long expedition.

By the time we made it back to Drake Hall—this time I rode with the much more pleasant Celestina and the female driver—I was yawning and ready for bed.

Or really, I didn’t want to think or feel anymore after the mixed surprise the Paragon had dumped on me, so sleep sounded amazing. I slipped out of Celestina’s car when we pulled up to the front door and waved to her as I hopped on the sidewalk and started to follow it around to the back side of the house, where the servant rooms were.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Ice threaded through my blood, and I turned around, almost ramming my nose into Killian’s chest. “To my room?” I said.

“I didn’t dismiss you.” A frown pulled at the corners of his lips—a very dangerous sign for my wellbeing.

“Um,” I said with a shocking amount of charisma. “I didn’t know you had to dismiss me?” I ended in a squeak, which I hated. Killian Drake was terrifying, yeah, but I didn’t want my mannerisms telling him just how scary I found him.

Killian snapped as if calling a dog to heel. “Come.” He walked off, casually climbing the stairs and disappearing through the front door of Drake Hall.

Celestina, moving so quickly and quietly I didn’t register her presence until she stood next to me, nodded at the door. “You better go after him.”

“Did I do something wrong?” I asked.

Celestina smiled, her fanged teeth a stark white against the brown of her skin. “Not at all.”

I wasn’t quite sure I believed her, but I didn’t see any way out of it. So, I trotted off after the master vamp.

I entered just as he finished giving instructions to the attentive female vampire who had driven Celestina and me home.

“Size small,” Killian said. He glanced back at me, then frowned. “No—make it an extra small.”

Before I had a chance to contemplate what important exchange I had just missed, Killian swept down the hallway, and the female vampire trotted off in the opposite direction.

I jogged to keep up with Killian, whose wretchedly long legs allowed him a casual walk for my huffing jog. “Your job description is changing,” he announced.

“Yeah?” I gloomily asked.

“You are no longer a member of my staff, but of my security,” Killian said.

I let out a loud “HAH!” that actually sounded like a goose honk before I slapped my hands over my mouth. I guiltily looked up at Killian, hoping I hadn’t stirred his wrath, but he ignored the sound and kept walking.

“Excuse me…sir.” The fitted waist of my dress pants was starting to inch down, making my jog more than a little awkward. “But…House Medeis doesn’t train for security.”

“I am well aware of House Medeis’s pacifistic tendencies and its stupidly optimistic attitude toward fighting,” Killian said. “But you signed a contract to my Family, and no one else will take you. You either join my security, or face the House Medeis member who threw you out.”

What a jerk! I knew he only cared about vampire interests, but the total disinterest in his voice as he discussed my life really hit it home for me. “I was not objecting to the change in position,” I said between gritted teeth. “But I wanted to make sure you knew that there’s nothing I can do for you that would be at all useful, between my background and the…seal.”

I briefly shut my eyes—if only I could easily stamp out the reminder of my parents’ lies.

“Obviously, you are useless at the moment,” Killian said. “But I’ve always wanted an attack dog, and I’d rather train it myself than deal with any bad behaviors you picked up previously. It seems to me it will be possible to scare that seal out of you one way or another.” His eyes resembled barely glowing coals when he glanced down at me. “Knowing that, the best course is to invest in your training. We will begin tonight.”

“Training?”

Given that vampires couldn’t use magic, it seemed unlikely a trainer was going to pop out of the woodwork and teach me meditation methods or something.

“Weightlifting, target practice, distance running, and some form of martial arts at the very least.” Killian started down a set of austere marble stairs, and I hopped after him, my mouth gaping as I searched for a response. Any response!

What I oh-so-charmingly found was, “Target practice?”

Killian looked over my head as we descended the last step. “I’m assuming your pacifist upbringing did not include instruction in sidearms.”

“You mean a gun?” My voice went high pitched.

Killian rolled his eyes. “As I figured.”

I trailed behind him, dazed, but not for the reason he thought. I wasn’t shocked about the idea of training with a gun, but rather that a vampire was suggesting it.

Vampires are the old people of the supernaturals. They wear old fashioned clothes and are constantly moaning about the past “good ol’ days”. Vampires are terrible at adapting to our rapidly changing world. Heck, I don’t think the majority of them even know what the internet is!

That a vampire—the most tradition-worshipping race of supernaturals—was suggesting a gun as a weapon rocked my world.

“Here we are.” Killian yanked open a solid metal door to what I realized was a weightlifting room.

It was bright due to a bunch of fancy wall sconces that looked like they belonged in a five-star hotel. One of the long walls was comprised entirely of sparkling clean mirrors, the far end was beautifully stained timber, and the other long wall was floor to ceiling TV screens which pieced together to make a beautiful waterfall in the middle of a forest.

The ground was covered with cushy black mats that looked clean enough to eat off, but most of the floor space was covered with fancy weight machines, dumbbells, medicine balls, barbells, and the like.

I gaped at the room. Between the extravagant lighting and sparkling equipment, I was pretty sure most professional sports teams didn’t have such nice facilities, which was super weird.

Vampires didn’t do fitness training. In general, they tended to believe they were inherently superior—mentally and physically.

But judging by the presence of the six vampires who were sweating over their workouts, Killian Drake was not content with his vampires’ natural abilities.

Killian tilted his head back. “Rupert.”

The vampire who had been doing hanging crunches from a bar dropped to his feet. He trotted across the room, and I recognized his sharp features and red hair as belonging to the less than welcoming vampire I’d met in the kitchens my first day in Drake Hall.

When he saw me, he frowned, but dutifully bowed to Killian. “Your Eminence.”

Killian twisted slightly at the torso, glancing over his shoulder as the tall female vampire, Celestina, slipped into the room behind us. “Celestina, Rupert, I have a side project I want you to work on.”

Rupert perked. “Yes, Your Eminence?”

Killian flicked his eyes in my direction. “This.”

I—or this as he called me—pressed my lips together to keep from protesting. (I had the vague feeling that the more Killian knew how little I cared for this plan of his, the keener he would be to enact it.)

Thankfully, I was not alone in my dislike. Rupert gaped at Killian as if he’d grown another head.

“You mean the human,” Celestina supplied. “Hazel Medeis.”

“Yes,” Killian confirmed. “I plan to train her to be an attack dog, but first she needs to be toughened up so she’s not quite so…” He glanced down at me. “Puny.”

I mashed my lips together so hard it was turning into a demented smile. I dearly wanted to snarl about being puny and managing to hold off the monster the fae had unleashed on his land, but that was probably a death sentence.

But my tendency to stick up for myself hadn’t been beaten out of me by my fellow wizards, so it was too much for it to go entirely quiet, even when faced with the likes of Killian Drake. A sarcastic “woof” slipped out of my mouth before I even realized what I was saying.

Killian raised an eyebrow, Rupert—of course—frowned deeper, but Celestina grinned.

Before I could suffer any repercussions, Celestina saved me by holding out a gym bag. “I brought what you requested, Your Eminence.”

Killian took it from her, unzipped it, and riffled through its contents.

Celestina then turned her attention to me. “I am Celestina Drake—First Knight of the Drake Family. I will do my best to strengthen and train you.”

The First Knight—the title given to the second strongest vampire in a Family, which pretty much meant she was the second-in-command—and her focused attention was a little unnerving.

   
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