Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(73) by Ilona Andrews
“It occurred to me that one day I will be a father,” he said. “And I have no idea how the hell I’m going to do that.”
“You’re already a father. Sort of.”
“Julie was already a good kid when you found her. Most of the hard work was done. I am talking about raising a little human from the first breath. I don’t even know what the hell I would do with a baby.”
“I think you will make an excellent father. I’d worry more about what kind of mother I would make.”
We would screw up our children. It was inevitable. Julie had taught me that you never get the child you want or expect. You get the child you get and you try your best to make sure they turn out to be a decent human being. That was all that mattered.
An image of pregnant Andrea sitting on our lawn and eating the remnants of a bull flashed across my mind. “If I get pregnant and we kill something magic, don’t let me eat it.”
“If Aunt B were alive, there’s no way Andrea could get away with it.”
But Aunt B was dead. She would never see Raphael and Andrea’s baby. Hugh d’Ambray’s Iron Dogs had killed her, but Hugh was a tool and my father used him like a battering ram when he wanted to break down a door. Roland bore the ultimate responsibility for it.
“I found out what it means to claim the land,” I said.
I did. “It wasn’t a hallucination, Curran. I improved when I shouldn’t have.”
He made a noise, half a growl, half a frustrated grunt. “That means he wields magic even during tech. He won’t hesitate to shield himself.”
“Yes. Attacking him during technology while he is in his territory means risking the lives of everyone in it. He will drain them dry to keep himself alive. He will deeply regret it and be conflicted about it later, but he will do it. His will to live trumps everything else.”
“We’ll get him,” Curran said.
“I know.” I just had no idea how. How do you kill someone with that much power?
“We’re going to be smart about this. We’re going to watch him, test him, and when we know we can win, we’ll crush him.”
And that was why he was a scary bastard. “Curran . . .”
He kissed my hair. “Yes?”
“I can’t get Sienna’s vision out of my head. I’ve been trying not to think about it, but it keeps popping up.”
“It’s a possible future,” he said. “Not the definite future.”
“I know. I just wish I knew what it meant. I usually see him on a grassy hill in my dreams, too. Only when I see it, there is always a tower being built.” My father was an active participant in those dreams. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw what he wanted me to see.
“Before Jim and Robert left, I asked them when the construction on the tower had started,” Curran said.
“The day we killed the wind scorpion.”
“What are you getting at?”
“There was nothing there until the scorpion died. That evening he put the first block down and he wasn’t at all subtle about it. Why build a tower now, in plain view? He has no power base here. He isn’t ready to defend the tower, unless he camps out in it.”
Curran had a valid point. Roland spent most of his time in his little budding empire in the Midwest. His version of the new world order was rather fragile; he had to be there to keep an eye on it. Why would he drop everything and come over to build a tower here? He had to know I would lose it when I found out.
Ah. That explained it.
“It’s a diversion.”
Curran nodded. “For some reason, he’s worried about the djinn. Every time we made progress, he escalated the construction until you could no longer ignore it. He is fucking with your head.”
“But why? I thought the djinn might have been some sort of screwed-up test he shoved our way, but if it’s a test, why not just let us deal with it?”
“Your magic doesn’t work on the djinn directly. Does his?”
“I don’t know. The natural resistance would still be there, because my magic is Roland’s magic and I bounced hard off the ifrit’s host. But Roland has a lot more juice than I do and he’s been at it for thousands of years longer. He might be able to overpower the ifrit, but it’s possible it would cost him a lot of magic. We’re not talking about just any djinn. He’s an ifrit, which is supposedly second only to the marids in the raw magical power department. According to the myths, the ifrits have a society much like we do. They exist in clans, and they have their own aristocracy based on power. I think our guy was high up in the food chain, because he was wearing gold and emeralds. I also got a glimpse into his mind. It’s a mess. He’s completely bonkers, but the amount of power he has is staggering. You should’ve felt it—it was like a damn volcano.”
Curran leaned back. “So if it’s not a test and the ifrit can present a challenge to Roland’s power, why not help us deal with it? He wins if we take the ifrit down.”
“I have no idea.”
“The intel from Robert shows that the timeline matches up perfectly—every time we took a step closer to the djinn, Roland made his construction even more obvious. It’s like he doesn’t want us to interact with the djinn at all. He doesn’t want us to kill it.”
“I’m not even sure we can, Curran. The ifrit’s power is growing. The first two times he summoned something, he seemed to be only fulfilling wishes, so he could then take over the host. This time he summoned a giant bull and then dropped a meteor and a snake on us. We don’t even know if he’s taken control of a new host yet. This is just him venting his hurt feelings because of the giant. I can’t let him keep doing this. He is a threat to more than Eduardo or us. He is a threat to anything in his vicinity.”
Curran grimaced. “Did you hear what he said?”
“About betrayer spawn? Yeah, what the hell was that all about?”
“I don’t know, exactly,” Curran said. “But Dali did some checking. Eduardo’s Pack admission paperwork is on file. In the Place of Birth section, he listed Atlanta, Georgia. She had people make some calls to Oklahoma. The werebison herd isn’t talking to the Pack officially. They’re circling their wagons around Eduardo’s parents.”
“Nobody knows. But unofficially Dali’s people were able to find out that Eduardo’s mother became a member of the herd six years after Eduardo was born. His father is a werebison and is high up in the herd’s chain of command, and he doesn’t want any of this.”
“If Eduardo’s parents somehow betrayed the ifrit, it’s possible he’s punishing Eduardo. Wouldn’t they want to help?”
“Dali got a feeling that Eduardo’s mother hadn’t even been told. Whoever her people spoke to said they saw her at a birthday party yesterday and she was laughing and having fun. By all accounts she really loves her son. If she knew he was missing, she would likely be here.”
“Did they pull the marriage license?”
“Eduardo was seven when they married.”
That could mean absolutely nothing. Plenty of people waited to get married. Or it could mean that the man married to Eduardo’s mother was his stepfather.
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