Mercenary Magic Page 36

“Yes. Harrison went into the building a few hours ago and hasn’t come out since.”

“Did you mention that he’s probably linked to a group of mages who can use glyphs to teleport across the city?”

“Yes, and they’re keeping an eye on him and the others inside. Olivia showed up half an hour ago. Something big is brewing.”

“Then let’s get there before it explodes.”

A few minutes later, Kai’s car slid into a parking spot just outside of Acceleration Magic. The curved shell building that held the recreation area was drab, ugly, and uninspired—a complete contrast to the beautiful curves and colors of the nearby Palace of Fine Arts.

The fairies called the architectural landmark the Mystic Palace. On dark, clear nights you could sometimes watch them gathering to sing under the hollow palace dome, or see nymphs splashing in the pond. It was best to watch from a distance, however, because the fairies didn’t take kindly to invaders of their rituals. The nymphs, on the other hand, delighted in the sight of visitors. They pouted out their lips, perked up their peaches, and shot sultry looks at any man within flirting distance. The men they lured in woke up the next morning with no memory of the previous night—and sometimes the past few days. But still the men kept coming, drawn in by the nymphs’ seductive magic.

“My team’s on the roof,” Kai said, stopping in front of the building. His eyes panned up the smooth wall.

“I take it there’s no ladder.”

“No.” He headed for a tree growing beside the building. It reached higher than the roof, but the branches were spaced too far apart to comfortably climb it. “We go up here.”

The branches apparently weren’t too far apart for a big, bad dragon—though she wasn’t convinced those skinny twigs could even hold his weight. Maybe he meant to fly up.

“Do you want a boost?” he asked, his brows lifted in wicked amusement.

That’d be the day. “I’m fine.”

She backed up to the grassy patch past the parking spaces. Then, taking a deep breath, she made a dash for the building, running up the wall to launch herself into the tree. Her foot slipped against one end of the branch, her hands locked onto the other, and the rest of her in between just tried to steady itself before she dropped to the ground like a stone. A few undignified squirms and wiggles later, she was making her way up the tree.

As she slid up onto the roof, she peeked down over the edge. Kai hopped onto the tree and scrambled up it like he did that sort of thing every day. Maybe he did. Who knew what sort of weird things he had in his dungeon—uh, basement.

In the middle of the roof, surrounding a skylight, three men dressed in full bodysuits turned their hard, assessing eyes on her. Their hands slid toward their knives.

“Stand down,” Kai told them as he pushed himself up onto the roof.

His arms bulged under the weight. Not that Sera was ogling. Not at all. He winked at her on his way over to join his team of unsuitably dressed commandos. They must have been sweating up a storm under all that black.

“Sera, this is Callum, Tony, and Dal.”

They each gave her a crisp nod.

“There are five mages inside,” one of the men reported. “Three are piling up wood in the corner. And the two Sage siblings are arguing over something.”

“What kind of wood?” Sera asked, crawling forward to peer through the skylight. The glass was too milky to see a thing. She looked at him in surprise.

“Tony’s a seer,” Kai told her.

She looked at Tony. “What’s your range?”

“About thirty feet,” he replied. “And the wood’s oak.”

“That’s used for protection magic,” said Sera. “What are those mages doing in there?”

“I don’t know. But one of them just brought in the Priming Bangles,” he said, looking at Kai.

“Ok, we’re moving in.”

Like perfect soldiers, they moved quickly into position. Sera wasn’t a perfect soldier, and she didn’t have a position—at least not any that he’d given her.

“What do you want me to do?” she asked Kai.

“We’re all going to jump down.”

“Without ropes?”

“I’ll create a wind funnel to soften our landing. I’ll use a second one to hold the mages in place,” he said. “We’ll recover the Priming Bangles and capture Harrison’s rogue band of mages.”

Kai hit the skylight with a blast that sucked it right out of its screws. As the sheet of glass tumbled off the roof, the wind funnel poured through the opening.

“Sounds simple enough,” she said cautiously.

Except that nothing was ever that simple.


War with the Wind

IT TOOK A special sort of subtlety and a hell of a lot of power to tame a tornado. Kai had both in spades. As the tornado he’d cast began to spin into existence, he reached out and molded it into a slide. Sera, Kai, and the commandos rode the wind down to the ground, where a whirling funnel had the five mages pinned against the walls: Harrison and Olivia Sage, an elemental, a summoner, and a shifter. The elemental’s magic smelled like fire, the summoner’s like the sea, and the shifter’s like a woodland. Harrison and Olivia smelled like old magic and self-entitlement mixed with blood and decay. Ew. They all smelled like a whole lot of crazy.

The fiery elemental tried to summon a ball of fire into her hand, but the wind puffed it out like a birthday candle. She tried again, and a wind tentacle curled out to slam her wrist against the bare concrete wall behind her. Glass crunched, likely from her expensive watch.

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