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Authors: Jaclyn Dolamore

Magic Under Stone

BOOK: Magic Under Stone
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To my sister Kate.

I don’t miss my childhood that much ... but I do miss ours.



Title Page



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7


Chapter 8

Chapter 9


Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16


Chapter 17


Chapter 18

Chapter 19


Chapter 20



Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23


Chapter 24




Chapter 25


Chapter 26


Chapter 27


Chapter 28

Also by Jaclyn Dolamore



Ifra became aware of his body like a prisoner waking to find himself in chains. One moment he was liquid smoke, hot with magic, and the next, his feet were touching the floor. He felt the weight of fabric on his body, the golden cuffs at his wrists, the cool air on his skin. This was the fifth time, his fifth master, and he still wasn’t used to it.

His arms were dappled with green-tinged shadow, and his first vision was of forest—trees growing tall as towers around him, their leaves whispering—but the sound was wrong. Too closed, like the indoors.

The man standing before him drew a slight breath and turned to a younger man beside him. “A jinn. It really is a jinn. I do believe you’ve proven yourself enough for two lifetimes, my son.”

“It’s my honor, Father.” The younger man stared with clear pride at the golden lamp in his father’s hands.

Ifra remembered his training and swept into a graceful bow. A
new language came to him with magical ease. “Master. You have released me from my bondage, and for that, I shall grant you three wishes within my formidable powers.”

The older man was beautiful, with his high cheekbones and full, almost androgynous lips. His dark red hair was chin length and worn loose beneath a simple crown of gold that matched his gold waistcoat and the gold embroidery on his green velvet coat. The younger man resembled him strongly, only his hair had more blond in it, his clothes were simple and travel worn, and his expression held a hint of desperation.

Ifra saw now that he was, in fact, in a vast room with trees growing within its walls, curving in a circle around a stone throne. The flagstones beneath his feet were scattered with fallen leaves.

“I see the beauty of the Hall of Oak and Ash impresses even a jinn,” the man said. “But perhaps you are used to the desert.”

“Jinn roam far and wide. I grew up in the hills,” Ifra said, already breaking one of his tutor’s rules:
Make your master believe you had no other life before him
. Breaking a rule on his second sentence, that was probably a record.

“Well, there is much I do not know,” the man said, with a slight shrug. He smiled affably. “My name is Luka. I am the king of fairies, known as King of the Longest Day, but you may call me Luka. And this is my son Belin.”

A king
. Kings didn’t usually brave the treacherous ruins to find a jinn, but it seemed his son had done it for him. What would a king wish for, when he already had riches and power? Most people looked for a jinn to give them a king’s life.

“Do jinn eat?” Luka asked. “You may know our wine is the finest in the world.” He clapped a hand on Ifra’s arm, turning him to
meet a young woman who emerged from the hawthorn bushes growing along the walls, as if she had simply materialized, with a cup in each hand.

“Master Luka, there is no need for all this,” Ifra said, trying to sound stern, but his hand moved to the cup. His tutor had warned him that accepting favors was likely to reveal vulnerability, and free people were not to be trusted, but Ifra already missed food and drink and kindness.

Luka shook his head. “Please. A token of my gratitude for your powers.”

Ifra sipped the wine, tasting blackberries.

“Now,” Luka said. “Tell me. What are the rules? What is within your power? I know jinn like to trick people.”

We don’t trick people, we just exercise our right to interpret sloppy wishes
, Ifra thought, but he said exactly what he’d been taught to say. “Many things are within my power. I can twist the threads of fortune to your favor. I can sense people’s hearts and steer their thoughts. I’m difficult to kill, my senses are keen. I can be a healer or a destroyer. What I can’t do is bend the laws of nature or change things that are beyond one man’s grasp, no matter how powerful that man may be.”

“Is it true,” Belin said, “that we could forfeit our three wishes in exchange for your lifelong loyal servitude? That is, my father’s wishes?”

Ifra’s gut twisted.
Of course, you knew this would happen at some point. How many jinn are ever set free? That’s why there are so few of us
. “It’s true,” he said. He couldn’t lie about the wishes. “But I can no longer grant magic for you that I couldn’t grant for myself. I’ll lose most of my ability to manipulate events.”

“But is it true what they say about jinn?” Belin continued. “That you’re nearly invincible? That you are never ill? You’re stronger than most men? And loyal to your master?”

“Yes,” Ifra said softly.

“Kings always need loyal men.” Luka’s expression was not unkind.

Please let him be kind, if this is to be my fate

“Especially in a time like this. I have the humans to deal with, the lost heir, even my own people threatening rebellion. If they only knew all I’ve done to protect them these many years ...” The king shook his head. “I’ll be good to you, you can be assured of that. Fairies don’t keep slaves, and it’s not in me to treat any man poorly.”

Maybe—maybe it was best this way. At least if he remained in one place for the rest of his life, he might have friends; maybe he would even gain his freedom when the king died. His mother, after all, had conceived him while in servitude, and when her master died, she would be free.

“Father?” Belin turned to the older man. “You should bind him not just to you, but to the throne. That way when you’re gone, he won’t disappear.”

“Yes, but what if ... it’s usurped?”

“That won’t happen.” Belin glanced at the stone throne. “Bind him to the Graweldin family, then.”

“But Erris’s mother was a Graweldin. I’m not sure it would prevent ... There are dozens of Graweldins. It’s too vague. No, I think you’re right, I think we must bind him to the one who sits on the throne.”

Belin nodded.

With every word out of their mouths, Ifra’s fate sounded more
real. Bound to the fairy throne? He might serve any number of kings, then, before he died, and who knew what they would ask him to do.

“Wait,” Ifra said, his voice almost shaking. “What about a bargain? I’ll serve you faithfully, if—if you don’t wish. I’ll serve you just as I would if I was bound to you.”

Belin frowned. “Sounds like jinn tricks to me.”

“All my men say they are loyal,” Luka said. “Sometimes they lie. I need someone I can trust.”

“It wouldn’t be like that,” Ifra said. “I’m still your servant. Only, you would have your three wishes, waiting in reserve, should you need them, along with my loyalty too.”

“I still think it sounds like a trick,” Belin said. “Father, if you die, we’ll lose the jinn. What’s the point of allowing him freedom if he’s going to behave as if he’s our servant in the first place, except that he can plot your demise?”

Luka, however, was regarding Ifra with eyes that looked somehow too old for his face. “I understand,” he said. “I do believe you just want some sense that you’re your own man. I can’t blame you for that. And you’re right—you still wouldn’t really be free, but it would be a gesture of trust on my part. Can I trust you? Or are the myths about your people true?”

“Are the myths about your people true?” Ifra said, barely breathing. “I
mean it.”

“I believe you,” Luka said. He put a hand on his son’s shoulder before he could protest. “I’d rather earn loyalty than force it, but with times being as they are, know that I won’t tolerate tricks.”

“I won’t disappoint you, Master Luka.”

Luka made a faint nod, and Ifra felt the tension drain from him—at least for now.

Luka turned to his son. “You’ve done very well.”

Belin looked slightly impatient, but he lowered his head deferentially. “Thank you, Father.”

“Now, jinn, if you’ll follow me, I’m eager to find out what you’re capable of.” Luka moved toward heavy wooden doors carved with trees and animals. A waiting guard dressed in black and scarlet opened them to reveal a garden.

Just outside waited two other young men who bore a strong resemblance to Belin. One had a young woman hanging on his arm. The other man was grinning, but Ifra detected aggression in his eyes.

“What, no greeting for your brothers, Belin?” the grinning man said.

“I came straight to Father,” Belin said, glaring.

“Who’s this?” Belin’s brother was staring at the golden cuffs at Ifra’s wrists. The smile was gone now.

“Whoever he is, he’s beautiful,” said the woman, looking at Ifra with open interest.

Belin paused, then replied, “He belongs to Father now, and he is Father’s to introduce.”

Ifra fought back a sick feeling in his gut, hearing himself referred to as a possession. Somehow, granting three wishes and then departing never felt like this. Or had it? His memory of his first few masters was already fading.

“It’s quite obvious, I think,” Luka said, stepping forward. “Belin has brought me a jinn. Jinn, these are my other sons, Tamin and Ilsin, and Ilsin’s wife, Elsana.”

BOOK: Magic Under Stone
13.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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