Black Heart Page 65

There were too many factions with their own agendas. My agenda was just to make sure that I survived and kept my baby safe. Oh, and to make sure no “normals” got caught in the cross fire.

J.B. and Nathaniel had gotten a little ahead of me while I was ruminating. Beezle had fallen asleep on my shoulder and was snoring softly.

J.B. paused in midair, looking down. “I can’t remember exactly where it is. But it’s in this area.”

He pointed toward a two- or three-block radius.

I shook my head. “We can’t go around knocking on doors. Can’t you remember anything about the place?”

“I didn’t want to be there at all, because it was an official function. So I wasn’t paying close attention. And all the buildings kind of look the same,” J.B. said.

I had to agree with him. All the structures looked like brick boxes cut out of a mold, especially from up here.

“I can scan the buildings for signs of the fae, as I did when I checked your residence,” Nathaniel said.

“Seems almost as inefficient as knocking on doors,” Beezle said.

“What if,” I said slowly, thinking it through as I spoke, “instead of scanning for signs of the fae, you scan for dead space?”

Nathaniel looked at me, recognition dawning as he figured it out. “I understand.”

J.B. glanced between us. “You think that because they hid his magical signature, he just won’t appear?”

“It makes sense,” Beezle said. “Unless Titania was with them—which is unlikely—the kidnappers would be using a bottled, quick-and-dirty spell. Titania wouldn’t be able to put a lot of complexity into that kind of spell.”

“Like when Nathaniel protected Bendith by hiding his magical essence with his own,” I said.

“Exactly,” Beezle said. “That’s complex magic. Titania wouldn’t be able to throw that kind of spell on a charm and hand it off to one of her flunkies. She could, however, put a more limited version of that spell on or in an object that a soldier could use to cast it.”

“Like a cloak,” I said. “Just enough to cover him up, make it harder for us to track him.”

“Yes,” Beezle said. “So, for a change, Maddy actually has a good and sensible idea. Look for dead space. All of you can do it, and we’ll be able to get this over and done with quickly.”

“Do you have a pressing appointment?” I asked.

“Yes, with a pumpernickel bagel, cream cheese and lox,” Beezle said.

We all stared at him.

“What? It’s breakfast time,” he said.

“Spread out a little,” I told the other two, ignoring Beezle. “Then we can each take a section. You can help, too, Beezle. You can look through the layers of reality for signs of a magic spell.”

Beezle flew off my shoulder, grumbling something about overworking an old gargoyle.

“I’m sure that old gargoyles shouldn’t be eating exciting things like cinnamon rolls and sausage pizza,” I called after him. “If you’re that infirm, I should probably limit you to porridge and prunes.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Beezle said.

I raised an eyebrow at him. “Help, and stop complaining.”

“You might actually be sincere about this,” Beezle said. He flew a little distance away, glancing back over his shoulder like he wasn’t sure whether to take me seriously or not.

J.B. and Nathaniel had already flown a short distance away, spacing themselves out so they could cover the whole area. I concentrated hard, sending my power out as I did when I was searching for the portal on the alien world.

To my surprise, I found what I was looking for almost immediately. Directly below me was a nondescript brick building with a few grills on the roof, indicating that it was a residence. And on the top floor, I could sense the presence of exactly the dead space for which I was searching.

“Hey,” I called to the other three. They all looked up at me, and I pointed at the spot I had found.

“Are we still under the veil?” I asked Nathaniel. His magic was so light and nonintrusive, it was hard to tell.

He nodded. “Although it may not protect us from the fae. They are likely to see through it.”

“It’s not the fae I’m worried about,” I said. “It’s early, and people will be getting up for work. I don’t want anyone to see us landing on their neighbor’s roof.”

J.B. nodded. “And we have to make sure that the people in the building are unharmed.”

“So that means no tearing around, smashing and burning,” Beezle said pointedly to me. “I’d like to see you manage that.”

I decided it was best not to rise to the bait.

Nathaniel concentrated hard on the place I had indicated. “There is no need to worry. There are only two in the room besides Bendith, and no one else is present in the building.”

“Really?” I asked. “Isn’t that weird?”

“Perhaps they made sure that the humans were sent away before Bendith was kidnapped. It is an easy thing for the fae or the fallen to do. Human minds are very malleable. You simply set a spell so that any person who crosses the threshold suddenly decides to take a vacation, or stay late at work, or spend several hours shopping.”

I frowned. “I’ve never known a fae to care that much about the safety of humans.”

“Hey,” J.B. said in an insulted tone.

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