Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(26) by Ilona Andrews
“Then she turned to Martha and told her that if she ever was in need of a man who respected women enough to think they were human beings, she had several available in her clan.”
That sounded like Aunt B.
“Mahon turned purple and didn’t say another word through the whole Council meeting.” Curran grinned. “Never brought it up again. I left him in charge once for about a month, because I had to travel out of our territory, and came back to a full revolt. It wasn’t what he did—he actually governed well while I was gone—it was what he said at the Pack Council. He said he was trying to give the other alphas guidance and he was mystified why everyone wanted to tear his throat out. It would be the same with Eduardo. His initial reaction would be to rage and probably goad Eduardo into attacking him, because he loves George and he wants to be a good father, and in his mind the best thing to do, the proper thing to do, is to steer her away from what he sees as a terrible match. He’s probably convinced that if George only saw things from his point of view, she would agree with him.”
“I’m pretty sure he thinks that about everybody.” I’d been on the receiving end of Mahon’s wisdom. It made me fantasize about violence.
Curran sighed. “Mahon adores his daughters. If George went to her dad right now and cried and said that she was miserable without Eduardo and she felt awful, Mahon would drop everything and run to look for Eduardo.”
I blinked. “Seriously?”
Curran nodded. “But she won’t do it and I agree with her. From her point of view, why should she have to manipulate her father? She isn’t asking him for a puppy. She’s telling him that this is the man she loves, and she expects him to deal with it like a loving parent should. She’s his daughter and she’s just like him. They’ve butted heads for as long as I’ve known them. She always loves him, but sometimes she also hates him. This is one of those times.”
It must’ve been an interesting family to grow up in. “Do you manipulate him?”
“I know what Mahon’s version of the Beast Lord should say and do. When I want him to do something, I frame it in that light. With Mahon sometimes it’s enough to growl and declare that he will do this because I’m the Beast Lord. He expects occasional dictatorship, because in his head that’s what a capable Beast Lord would do. If I tried the same tactic with Jim, he’d tell me he’d come back later after I had my head examined.”
“Mahon’s Beast Lord is a hard man who makes hard decisions, huh?”
“Mm-hm. And who doesn’t have time for foolishness.” Curran looked up. “A car.”
A moment later I heard it too, the dull roar of water engines. It sputtered and died. Julie’s blond head poked through the hole. “Hello.”
“Hi,” I said.
Julie’s head disappeared, replaced by her foot in the loop of a rope. The rope moved down, lowering Julie to the floor of the cavern. She wore her work clothes: old jeans, a black turtleneck, and boots. A tactical tomahawk rested in a loop on her belt. Thirteen inches long, the Kestrel tomahawk weighed eighteen ounces. Its wide bearded blade tapered down to a wicked spike that curved downward, sharpened to a narrow point. It was meant as a tool that occasionally could be thrown at rotten logs for fun. Julie had decided to make it her weapon of choice. None of my explanations about the versatility and lightness of swords made any dent in her.
I sighed. I had plenty of perfectly good swords, balanced and made specifically for her. When she first started carrying the axe, I tried to push her toward the sword and she resisted until I finally asked her why she dragged it with her everywhere. She said, “Because I can make a hole in anything.” I decided that was good enough for me.
If the dead could judge the living, Voron, my adoptive father, was probably spinning in his grave over the axe. He’d dedicated his life to teaching me how to use a sword. He viewed it as the perfect weapon. But then Voron was long dead and I had exorcised his ghost out of my memory. He still spoke to me once in a while, but his voice no longer ruled my life.
Julie winced. “Is that Eduardo’s car?”
I nodded. Derek slid down the rope.
“Okay.” She turned to the half-crushed Tahoe. “Ugly yellowish orange . . . Ghouls. A lot of them.”
She circled the car, moving slowly, and looked up, her gaze fixed on a point about six feet above the car. Her eyes widened. She smiled slightly, as if she were looking at something beautiful.
“It’s like a flame,” she murmured. “Beautiful flame. Not orange or yellow. More like copper.”
“Copper?” What the hell registered copper?
“A goldish, silverish kind of copper,” she said. “There was an explosion of it right there.” She pointed above the Tahoe. “Like rose gold. Very pretty. I’ve never seen this before.”
Blue meant human, silver meant divine, weak yellow meant animal . . . I had never run across goldish-silverish copper before. What the hell was I supposed to do with that? It didn’t even sound right. The creature registered a rose gold color . . . I’d get laughed at.
Julie tilted her head. “It’s not that variable.”
“What do you mean?” Curran asked.
“Magic isn’t usually one color,” she said.
“The m-scanners print it as one color because they’re not really that precise,” I said.
“Real magic shifts and changes shades,” Julie said. “Ghoul magic looks yellow-orange but it’s more like streaks of olive and orange mixing together with some really light brown. Even the vampires have traces of red and blue in their purple.” She glanced up. “Whatever that is, it’s very uniform. There are very light flecks of gold and silver in it, but most of it is one color.”
A uniform magic signature meant whatever made it emitted very concentrated specific magic. “Any blue?”
Julie shook her head.
Blue stood for human magic. Any sort of human derivative, like a ghoul’s or a shapeshifter’s, showed blue in their magic signature. They could never completely get rid of the traces of their humanity. Whatever this was didn’t start out as a human.
I rubbed my face. It didn’t give me any new insights. “Whereabout is this copper?”
Julie frowned. “About four feet above the car.”
I stepped onto the Tahoe’s hood and climbed onto its roof.
“What are you doing?” Curran asked.
“I don’t know. I’m just trying to get a sense of things.” I stood up.
“Okay, you’re in it,” Julie said.
I didn’t feel anything. I stared up at the sky, waiting for a clue to fall out of the heavens and land on my head. At this point, I’d welcome the hit.
From here I could see the whole cave, the two tunnels, the whole area from which we had come, the dirt floor against which the Tahoe had impacted, the loose soil churned by the ghouls as they scrambled across it. A glint caught my eye to the right. Something shiny reflected the light among the dirt. An identical spark glowed to the left, exactly the same distance. Hmm. I turned slowly. More sparks, buried under the dirt.
I slid off the Tahoe. From here the glint was invisible. I pulled some gauze out of my pocket, knelt in the spot I thought I saw it, and brushed at the dirt. The loose soil slid aside, revealing a narrow ribbon of translucent shiny sand. It looked brittle, but held together as if some great heat had touched the sand and half fused it into glass.
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