Black Heart Page 60

“Let us destroy these creatures and then worry about where they came from,” Nathaniel said.

“Yeah,” I said, staring at the mass of eggs. “My first instinct would be to set them on fire. But how do we do that without burning the whole building down?”

“Where’s your sword?” J.B. asked.

“With my clothes,” I said.

“Madeline,” Nathaniel said. “When you killed Azazel, did you not reverse his death spell and send it into his own blood?”

“Yes,” I said. “But how will that apply here?”

“If you create a similar spell, you could send it through the first egg,” Nathaniel said. “If the spell were sufficiently powerful, it would follow the cord that binds all of the creatures together and kill all of them.”

“I don’t know,” Beezle said. “This seems kind of subtle for Maddy.”

“I can do subtle,” I said.

I’d halted the momentum of Azazel’s spell and thrown it back to him. I’d done something similar when I’d cast Amarantha from J.B.’s body. But in both cases I was basically acting as a slingshot, hurling the magic back at the person who had created it.

But then again, I had figured out how to take out the colony of Cimice by using their blood. This process wouldn’t be that different. I’d just be finding a different way into the spell.

I’d used my powers to defend myself. I’d killed when I thought there was no other choice. I knew that the Cimice were like a time bomb ticking away down here in this basement, and that people would be unable to defend themselves from these creatures.

This was really the same argument that I’d made to justify the killing of the Cimice on that alien world. And I had done it. To prevent human deaths, to protect the innocent.

So I would do it again. Because it was the right thing to do, or the closest thing to right, and everyone present seemed to agree that it was the best course of action. But it seemed like it was getting too easy for me to justify making the decision to take life away.

“I can assist you,” Nathaniel said. “I will combine my power with yours to ensure there is enough force to eliminate all of the creatures.”

That gave me pause. Every time Nathaniel and I combined our powers, we ended up half-naked on the floor. Of course, we were both already half-naked, and this was hardly a sexy spell. We were going to kill together. It wasn’t supposed to be an arousing act.

“Okay,” I said. “How do we do this? I don’t even know where to begin.”

“What do you normally do when you create a spell?” Nathaniel asked.

“I don’t create spells,” I admitted. “I just throw as much power as I can at whatever is in front of me at the time.”

“I told you it was too subtle for her,” Beezle said.

“It is not. She has performed a task like this before,” Nathaniel said. “Which gives her an advantage over me. Using magic is similar to using a muscle. Once you have used a certain kind of power, it will be easier for you to use it again a second time.”

“So I just need to remember what it felt like to push the death spell into Azazel, and it will all come back to me, like riding a bike?” I asked.

“Precisely,” Nathaniel said. “There is nothing complex in creating magic. You simply need will and focus. Consider your task, and then determine how best to execute it. When you are ready, I will assist you by giving you some of my power.”

“Okay,” I said, taking a deep breath. I was nervous, and they were all staring at me, which made it worse. “Can you not stare at me with the weight of your expectations?”

J.B. and Nathaniel both smiled and obediently looked toward the ceiling, but Beezle gave me a pointed stare.

“What?” I asked.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“I can kill them now or I can kill them later, after they’ve done some damage. I’d prefer to do it now, before anyone gets hurt.”

“Yeah, but this is dark magic,” Beezle said. “This isn’t like anything you’ve done before.”

“Are you sure about that?” I asked. “Because when I wiped away all the vampires in one fell swoop, you seemed convinced that was pretty dark.”

“And it was,” Beezle acknowledged. “But should you be making it a habit?”

“What else am I supposed to do?” I said. “No one else knows about this. No one else can take care of the problem. It has to be me. It always has to be me. So let me be, Beezle.”

My gargoyle opened his mouth again, but I shook my head.

“No,” I said. “I’m going to do this. I have to do this. So be quiet.”

I closed my eyes. I’d never made a complex spell from scratch, but I had done quite a bit of shooting-from-the-hip magic in the past. In every case I had done exactly as Nathaniel had said—I’d considered my task and executed it.

First I needed to weigh the amount of power required. This wasn’t like bringing down a mountain, or even like destroying all the vampires. In both cases I’d summoned the depths of my magical energy and let it explode outward. I didn’t want anything to explode right now. I wanted to concentrate the magic in a steady stream.

I needed to kill every single one of the Cimice eggs. But I didn’t have the stomach to make the creatures blow up inside the membranes or anything like that. So I wanted something that would just quietly stop their hearts beating.

Prev Next