Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Share

Grand Adept Icarus Kane and Cora Mae Jenkins have married and gone off on their honeymoon. London is rife with continued uprisings against magic, but the Queen is confident that peace can be attained. It's time for Archimedes Merriweather and Lucia Conti to settle into their new courtship and enjoy some quiet together.
An unexpected call for help from the rural Kensington has Archie, Lucia, Corrigan and Bastion dispatched to the estate of SummerRidge to investigate concerns of a dark mage on the prowl. More is going on at SummerRidge than anyone ever anticipated, and the fate of all the magic in the world might rest on the shoulders of Archie and his loyal companions.
A demon dripping mud and wet, black sludge approached him first, but he swung the torch toward it and pressed the button on his Bo that sent an electric charge running over it. It crackled and hissed in the cold air. As the demon lunged at him he swiped at it with the Bo, the electric charge cutting through the sopping flesh and making the demon scream.
Corrigan knew he was quite possibly insane, but he felt a thrill run through him as the throng of demons approached. The way was clear for Atraxas, and soon they’d cut off the unending flow of demons from the pit. He raised the Bo and let out a yell he’d learned from his days with the Rakshasha in India. He crouched and took up his protective stance as they swarmed him. A slice right, a duck and uppercut to the right. He kept his center of gravity low and his balance in check as he avoided their razor sharp claws and teeth and struck out at any weak underbelly he could see.
He hissed in pain as a jet of hot acidic spittle rained down on his right arm and dripped over his fingers, charring his skin as it went. He pushed off the demon with his Bo and shook off the acid, wiping his hand on his pants as it burned. The smell was horrible, but it was buried under the rot and stench of the demons pressing in around him.
Suddenly the ground shook as a massive explosion rocked the field. He stumbled and whooped again, pushing the demons back with his light. He cursed as it flickered, and he knew that he wasn’t going to have much longer to get free of the horde.
The pain was piercing on his burned shoulder when a huge pair of talons gripped him tight and lifted him from the midst of the demons.
“Pardon the intrusion, but you’re needed back at the house,” Machiavelli said from above him, and Corrigan grinned.
“I’ll forgive the interruption this once.” He looked at the ground below them, where a huge blackened crater was all that remained of the hell gate. “Any sign of Atraxas?”
“I’m well!” the man called from Machiavelli’s neck. He leaned over and his teeth gleamed white in the soot covering his face. His hair was a mess, but his grin was full of glee.
“I’m glad.” Corrigan sighed in relief and relaxed in Machiavelli’s careful hold. “To the house, then. I’m in need of a moment’s rest.”
“Only a moment?” the big bird teased.
“Yes, I fear there’s more work to be done,” Corrigan said as they flew over the hundreds of demons still surrounding the house. “But there’ll be no more demons tonight.”
“Aye. Not tonight,” Machiavelli said as he landed carefully on the roof, putting Corrigan down as Atraxas slid off his back.
“You need a healer!” Atraxas looked over Corrigan’s puckered and melted flesh and his face went pale.
“I know one or two,” Corrigan said with a shake of his head. His entire right hand was drawn and clawed where the acid had melted his skin and distorted his bones. “Bastion and Lucia will fix me up right.”
“There’s new of that,” Machiavelli said, shrinking to the size of a normal size. “The reason I was dispatched to bring you back.”
“Is something wrong?”
“I am afraid Ms. Conti has disappeared, and so has Mrs. Wicket.”
“What?” Corrigan held out his uninjured arm and Machiavelli hopped onto his shoulder.
“Ms. Conti went to take tea to Mrs. Wicket, and the both of them are now gone. The Grand Adept is beside himself.”
“I daresay he is!” Corrigan pulled open the door to the top floor and Atraxas followed him down the stairs. “Is there any evidence of where they may have gone, or who could have taken them?”
“Someone very skilled and very strong. They left no trail.” Machiavelli danced on Corrigan’s shoulder. “This speaks of a highly skilled practitioner.”
They clattered down the stairs and into the dining room where Archimedes was pacing, his hair on end. He shook off Bastion’s hand and cursed, sending a delicate tea pot flying off the table with the sweep of his mechanical arm.
“Ho there” Corrigan said, dropping tiredly into a chair at the end of the table as the pot crashed against the wall. “What is all this about, then?”
Bastion hurried to his side and knelt beside his injured arm, his magic already crawling over Corrigan’s arm. Corrigan sighed as it covered the stinging flesh like a balm.
“Lucia has been taken. Kidnapped! Right from under my nose.” Archie cursed again, but there were no more teapots for him to take out his anger on, so he settled for glaring at Corrigan instead.
Machiavelli hopped onto the table. “I’ve contacted the Grand Master and Grand Adept Kane. Both will conference us when the sun rises.”
“We can’t wait for them.”
Archie’s eyes were full of so much fear and Corrigan had never seen the man so distraught. Even when he’d been kidnapped and tortured by Victor Kane’s thugs he’d come out with a smile and determination to see them done in. Perhaps, Corrigan thought grimly, he was imagining those same tortures heaped upon Lucia. A frightening thought, indeed.
“We cannot,” Corrigan agreed. “Tell me what happened.”
“Elizabeth had some kind of spell.” Archie blushed red. “She tried to kiss me, and when I put her off she became overly emotional. Bastion gave her a sleeping draught and put her to bed.”
“That doesn’t sound like Elizabeth at all,” Atraxas said with a frown.
“Grayson agreed,” Archie said. “He watched over her as Lucia and I set up the electrified fencing as you had instructed.”
“It worked, I see.”
“It did.” Archie crossed his arms. “We returned to the house and Grayson decided he needed a lie down after using his magic earlier. Lucia volunteered to take a tray of tea and biscuits up to Elizabeth. I stayed here with Bastion.”
“When did you realize Elizabeth and Lucia were missing?”
“I had requested Lucia to try a tandem healing on the gypsy children. I went to Elizabeth’s room to find her and they were both gone.” Bastion frowned and concentrated harder on Corrigan’s arm. “What kind of demon did this?”
“Something ugly and with very bad breath,” Corrigan joked. He lost his smile and looked at Archie. “Any signs of where they went or how?”
“None. The aether says simply ‘they are nowhere’. You know how vague it can be. I tried a location spell, but it was blank.”
“I tried one too,” Machiavelli said, “and I got the same result. Some kind of magic is blocking us from finding them.”
“Sometimes it may be as simple as using science.” Corrigan stood and groaned. His flesh was healed after Bastion’s ministrations, but his hand was still stiff. “Let me gather some things. Meet me in Elizabeth’s room.”
“I must continue to work with Stella to heal the children. Find me if you need me,” Bastion said, and he left with a nod of solidarity to Archie.
“I need to tidy up and check on my brother,” Atraxas said. “Then I will keep watch on the fence and the gypsies.”
“Thank you.” Corrigan shook the man’s grimy hand. “I would have you at my side any day, Mr. Trimble.”
“Be careful,” the man warned with a gleam in his eye, “I may take you up on that”.
If you enjoyed this snippet from Enchanter's Embrace, pick up your copy of book I, The Alchemist's Kiss, at Amazon now!


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