Jacob's Trial [Forbidden Legacy 2] (Siren Publishing Ménage Amour) (9 page)

BOOK: Jacob's Trial [Forbidden Legacy 2] (Siren Publishing Ménage Amour)
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“Save your politicking for the Council, Wizard Book. You have as little patience for their demands, infighting, and negotiation as I do. You have no intentions of presenting the woman to the Council. In fact, your first thought was most likely how you could avoid such action without having the stigma of a blood feud attached to your name. Your second option, less desirable, was to make her vanish off their radar. You won’t be able to do that unless you fake her death as she is too prominent a figure. That leaves you with the third option…”

“I’m listening.”

Beyond their magical signatures, Jacob didn’t recognize the Wizards attending Marcus. They didn’t feel as old as he did, but magic was deceptive and Wizards the masters of deceit. If they chose to cage him, they were positioned perfectly at each of the quarters with Vanagan Marcus occupying true north.

Calmly.
He projected the thought toward the Glashtyn, the being’s violence barely contained. It despised being cornered and nosed the air as though scenting for weakness. The longer he kept Vanagan talking, the more opportunity to probe for weakness.

Power surged toward him, black marks scorching the pavement. A thunderous ripple split the cement wide at the base of Jacob’s feet as his shields flexed under the assault.

“I didn’t come all this way to play games, Wizard Book. You carry the stench of the Fae in your pores. You’re not surrendering her to the Council. You have no interest in surrendering her to us. But you have no choice.”

“How’s that? Considering she’s not here for you to take.” He rolled his left hand through the loose hematite, emptying the smooth stones from their leather pouch. The rocks warmed at his touch, the spell buried within them activating.

Vanagan gave no overt signal, but power slashed against Jacob’s back. Whips of energy sliced through his shields to cut into the muscles along his spine. Barbs of current dug into his bones, electrifying his blood and sizzling along his nerves. Jaw clenching, black spots danced in Jacob’s vision.

The power arced, squeezing through his vertebrae and lancing upward to drive daggers of agony into his brain, but he diverted it. His gaze never left Vanagan’s aviator shades, rigid control keeping him upright even as his spine begged to bend, and then the power bled down his arm in a warm river to splash against the hematite in his pocket.

The rocks began to burn, sucking off the excess like a water pump diverting the flow of power. Domoir’s enraged bellow vibrated the air, and the black steed reared, his black hooves slicing sparks in the air, shredding a net of power flung toward him.

Unlike the Wizards, the Glashtyn was born to Underhill, his abilities tied to the land that lay just beyond their world. Between one breath and the next, Domoir shimmered, moving between the worlds until he arrived at the Wizard and trampled him.

Palming the hematite, Jacob went low into a crouch and flung the superheated silver-black pebbles at the Wizard behind him. Charged by the Wizard’s own magic, they burrowed through his shields, shredding them like buckshot through an abdomen. The man collapsed, screaming.

Continuing his spin, he flung the rest of the stones at Vanagan, their magic exploding between them. Jerking his head left, a ball of pure electricity slammed into the Wizard bracketing that quarter.

The man went down, power seizing over him like an overcharged net. He twisted and writhed, the power slamming through him to blacken and decimate the cement below. Behind the Wizard, the familiar form of Jude stood like a blazing paladin of old, power wreathing his upraised fists and striking out like lightning generated from a Tesla coil.

Jacob spared the Wizard a half smile and locked gazes with Vanagan as the fog of stormy, stolen magic between them dissipated. Behind the ancient Wizard, Paul stood with Miller and DuPois on either side. Dalton was close but out of sight. The Wizard’s greatest strength lay in his ability to cast over great distances with absolute precision.

A sniper’s gift.

Jacob lifted an arm, halting the trio. The three of them were powerful, but their gifts were more focused in areas of the senses, tracking, unraveling deceit, and poisons. They were precise surgeons and Vanagan a sledgehammer.

“Congratulations, Wizard Book.” Vanagan’s feral grin dispelled any idea that Jacob and his men had the upper hand. “Loyalty such as this should be commended, no matter how foolish.”

The salt-and-pepper-crowned Wizard didn’t so much move as fade away with a snap of his fingers. The air collapsing into the illusion that held his image in place as though burned to the retinas.

“Down!” Jacob bellowed the word, the trailing sound muffled by four detonations as the cars the Wizards drove blew upward on clouds of orange fire. Flaming debris rained burning metal, blistering ash, and scalding oil. Jacob focused his will, thickening the shields around him as the conflagration swept the area.

The force followed the initial burst, buffeting his shields and flinging him backward. The Glashtyn surged around him, the blast diverting around him like a raging river around a great boulder. The air turned brilliant orange, crimson, and yellow with mage greens and blues filling the turbulent pockets.

As quickly as it manifested, the eruption imploded, turbulence sucking at his limbs as it retreated into the remains of wreckage and ash. Unsurprisingly, Vanagan and his Wizards were gone. Domoir pawed the ground, his neck arching as he bowed his head. The air continued to shimmer, magic rising from his slick back as though moisture turned to steam in the heat.

The skin on Jacob’s face was too tight. The muscles in his body protested the brutal crush of power against the hard concrete. “Sound off.” He muttered the order but fed a tendril of power into the words, letting them echo through the desolate bones of the abandoned L.A. warehouses.

“Clear.” Jude waved his hand, coiling the inky, black smoke higher, where the breezes pushing through downtown’s skyscraper canyon could carry it away.

“Clear.” Paul limped from beyond the wreckage, Miller and DuPois trailing in his wake.

“Holy hell to clear, I’ve still got all my body parts.” Dalton exited through the shell of disintegrated chain link. “What the hell was that?”

“The reason no one messes with the Brotherhood of the Rose Cross.” Miller dusted off the sooty ash, the debris shivering away from the magic dusting off his fingers. Unlike the others working with Jacob, Miller’s age was indeterminate. When he spoke of the past, which wasn’t often, he referred to eras mostly forgotten by the rest of the world.

“What did you do to vex them, Jacob?” He also refused to call Jacob “boss” or apply the title of Wizard Book. Most of the time, Jacob enjoyed it. Except for instances like now, where the Wizard’s adopted paternal tone indicated fault.

“I said no.” His right ear burned to the touch and he tested it with his palm, drawing it back to inspect the blood. He’d only shielded the firestorm of debris, not the concussive boom that muted sound.

“You know, that chick is hot. But she isn’t worth all this,” Dalton announced, casually ignoring Domoir’s baleful snort.

“Leave it alone,” Paul’s empty tone whispered through the ash snowing down.

“Look, I’m just saying…” Dalton spread his hands. “She’s got a great body, but crap goes boom where she’s concerned.”

“The Brotherhood’s demands are not her fault.” DuPois interrupted as he prowled through the flaming wreckage. “The outing of the Fae will bring out every faction. The fragile balance is shattered. Everyone will want a piece of this new power.”

“And it’s up to us to stop them, right, boss?” The fires of idealism burned in Jude’s earnest expression.

“No.” Jacob embraced the firmness of the order. “It is up to us to survive the cataclysm. I will not turn her over to any of them.”

“Good.” Paul nodded. “The walls of the guard’s route were cleaned with a solution of wormwood and briar thorn.”

“Leaving him open to suggestion.” Anyone could have done that. All they needed was to substitute the ingredients for the janitor’s cleaning supplies. “How many other guards were affected?”

“Four.” Miller joined Paul in the direct change of subject. “They are weak, but it will pass. They were all told to take sick leave and recover. They were too easily persuaded.”

“Phil’s a dead man.” Jude folded his arms. “He could barely drive. I nudged him to the hospital. He’s in their intensive-care unit. They’ll be calling the CDC. What are we going to do about Michael?”

“Nothing.” Jacob met Jude’s surprised gaze with a level look. “You are all relieved of this. I want you to return to Washington. Check in with the DHS, and disperse to new assignments for the time being.”

“Jacob, at the risk of offending your ridiculous notion of honor, we’re not leaving. If the Brotherhood has marked her, they will bring the weight of their forces for you.” Miller folded his arms, the breeze shuttling the drifting ash around him, creating mini tornados on the cement between the men. “What did the inquisitor general want?”

Of course, Jude had announced it to all of them. Rubbing a hand on Domoir’s shoulder, Jacob murmured the words to release his defense. The Glashtyn bowed his head again and began the shift to SUV.

“Michael is in his custody.”

“Son of a bitch,” Dalton muttered. “That smacks of trouble.”

“The Council will be called to hold a conclave,” Jacob continued, aware of the pained scowls creasing his men’s faces. “I have three days to present her for examination at Michael’s trial.”

Paul nodded. “Miller, you can get close to Vanagan.”

“I can.” The older Wizard nodded. “I’ll figure out what they want.”

“DuPois. Clean the penitentiary of magical influence, make sure those other guards live, and then keep an eye on Phil. When he dies, whoever did this will face charges from the Council for interference.”

DuPois said nothing, but he and Miller both stepped back and winked out of existence. Teleporting was a skill that both men shared with ease.

“Paul.” Jacob’s voice lowered. “What are you doing?”

“Saving you from yourself.” The Wizard fixed Dalton with a look. “Find a way to track Michael. I don’t really care how you do it.”

“What about me?” Jude demanded.

“You will stay with us.” Paul nodded.

“I can be useful,” Jude protested but fell silent at a curt look from the bland Wizard.

“You don’t have to do this, Paul.” The loyalty of his men was not a fact that he had ever questioned, nor would he, but Jacob’s oath was not theirs. Cassie was his to protect.

“When you’re done with the idiotic human platitudes, remember that without us, you’re stuck with an Elf for backup, and then tell me we don’t have to do this.”

There was that.

Dalton saluted and strolled away, presumably to a car somewhere. Jude climbed into the back of the Glashtyn, his sulk evident in the way he slammed the door.

“This is my oath and my choice, Paul,” Jacob reminded him. “I chose to save her. I chose to let her make that announcement.”

His expression barely rippling, Paul shrugged. “You’re boring me now. Let’s go before those sirens actually get here.”

Holstering his gun, Jacob nodded slowly. “Protecting
her
is the priority.”

“Like I said.” Paul opened the passenger door. “You’re boring me now.”

The Glashtyn’s engine rumbled, but Jacob detected the amused snicker and sighed. The other problem with Wizards was they were all stubborn, contentious creatures.

“Takes one to know one, boss.” Jude’s grin reminded him that the younger Wizard’s moods were as fleeting as quicksilver. “Besides, you’d be all constipated face without us…”

Jacob closed the door and laughed as their magic blended with his. The Glashtyn rolled away, fading from sight even as a pair of black-and-whites arrived amidst the swirl of white ash and blackened pavement.

Chapter Eight

 

The drive to the Sierra Nevada passed uneventfully. Five minutes into the drive, Jude passed out to snore in the backseat.

“Backlash,” Paul murmured when Jacob cast a glance in the direction of the younger man. “He still hasn’t learned the value of restraint.”

Restraint, of course, was an understatement. Jude tended to throw his entire being into his spell work. He’d never make much of a combat Wizard. Jacob intended to keep him in low-key areas, away from the need to use his magic.

“We should probably stash him until this is over.” Paul stretched his legs, bracing one arm on the door. He’d never commented about the Glashtyn. Never asked how Jacob and Domoir forged their partnership. Never inquired why Jacob dallied with the Fae being. But he’d never been especially comfortable in the beast either.

“We can try. But he’s more likely to
run
away from wherever we put him to try and help. Kid’s got an idealistic streak. It’s one of the things I like about him.” He’d already considered and discarded a dozen different ideas about what to do with Jude. Cassie was at the epicenter of some serious shit storm churning in the Wizarding world. Until he spoke to Helcyon, he had to surmise her ties to the Danae put her in the blast seat of that particular hellish hurricane as well.

“Jacob, you’ve never fought a factional war. You have always been on the frontlines with the humans. You shunt aside the politics if you bother to acknowledge them at all. You won’t have that luxury in the coming conflict.”

BOOK: Jacob's Trial [Forbidden Legacy 2] (Siren Publishing Ménage Amour)
13.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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