MAGIC AT THE GATE
Book 5 – Allie Beckstrom
The Veiled hit Shame’s Shield so hard my ears popped, but Terric didn’t even twitch. Veiled skittered, clawed, too many eyes in those eyes, too many voices in those throats, too many dead people in those dead people. They screamed out at us, and attached to the Shield like eels, wide, sharp-toothed mouths scraping, throats drinking down the magic.
I cast Impact around the katana’s blade. My left hand suddenly went cold as hell and black flame tracked down the hilt to the blade, where it mingled with Impact. Sword burning with magic and flames, I swung the blade through the Shield.
A dozen Veiled exploded at the touch of the blade. Watercolor flames flashed to pastel smoke. I cast Impact again, swung again, took out a dozen more. There were too many Veiled taking their place. My left arm was going numb. I couldn’t keep this up.
Shame grabbed my sleeve and tugged me toward the car.
“Out of here. All of us,” he panted. His other hand was still fingers to the earth, his words clipped as if he were working hard to do three things at once.
“Call Hayden.” Shame let go of my shirt.
I dug out my phone, dialed Hayden.
“Allie,” his familiar deep voice said.
“We’re at the graveyard. By the crypt. A gate opened over the well. Terric is working to Close it.”
“Shame’s Shielding us from the Veiled.”
“They’re pouring out of the gate. Hundreds.”
“Tell them to cap it. Cap the well.”
“He said to cap the well,” I said to Shame.
“Getting there. Tell him to check in with the other teams.”
“I heard him,” Hayden said. Good ears. I knew he’d make a good Hound. “Shut it down before any more Veiled get loose in the city,” he said. “Don’t worry how messy it is, we’ll clean up. I’ll check in as soon as I get someone to send out to you. Don’t let them do anything stupid.”
He hung up before I could point out that I was pretty sure everything we were doing right now was stupid.
“Ready?” Shame asked.
“Can’t read your mind,” I reminded him.
“Don’t have to. We’re going to break for the car. You, me. Then Terric.”
Terric was still manipulating magic, sweat glistening over his pale, pale skin, his silver hair brushing his shoulders like spun silk in the moonlight. He was breathing hard. Shaking. He chanted a low litany of the same few words in a string, over and over. A language I did not know, knotted and twisted, tugging magic to do his bidding.
Shame cast another spell. “Take the keys.” Both his hands were holding spells, holding the Shield, holding the Veiled off of us. His head was down, bangs covering his eyes. He was breathing hard in the same rhythm as Terric.
“Pocket,” he said.
I sheathed the sword and rushed around in front of him. I patted his back pockets, then slid my hand into his front pocket.
He tipped his head up, his eyes slits of pain through the dark swing of bangs. “Lower. Slower.”
I scowled. Really? He was joking around about sex at a time like this? If that Shield fell, we were going to get eaten alive. Well, at least I was. The Veiled liked to tear me apart.
I pushed my fingers a little deeper in his pocket, caught the keys and a lot of thigh.
“Oh, baby,” he cooed.
“I don’t want to hear it,” I said.
He gave me a flash of teeth, then whispered, picking up the chant Terric was intoning.
These two worked together blind better than any magic users I’d seen work together with years of training.
“Ready for the car?” Shame inhaled, exhaled, then, “On three. You’re closer to the driver’s side. Get in, but don’t start the engine yet. Terric?”
“Three,” Terric repeated. “On three.”
Shame swallowed, lifted his hands to either side, shoulder high, head still tucked down. “And one, and two, and three.” He drew his hands together, clapping.
The Shield shattered, blowing outward in a concussion of sound and force. Veiled shattered with it, not every Veiled, not those who were possessed and possessing. But a whole hell of a lot of undead magic users screamed and exploded into pastel smoke around us.
Hayden wanted messy. That was messy. I was pretty sure it was visible for miles.
We sprinted for the car.
The Veiled howled. Their chilling, curdled screech made me want to run, run, run. And run I did. To the car, around the car, keys in hand.
The Veiled are nightmarishly fast. Faster than any living thing.
Except me when my life was on the line.
I opened the door, got inside.
Terric was half a breath behind me, and threw himself into the front seat, digging for the glove box.
Shame was still out there, arms spread wide, face up to the dark sky. He was smiling.
“They’re on the car,” I said a little too loudly.
“Wards in the paint. They’ll hold for a minute.”
“There aren’t any wards on the car,” I said.
“I know.” He fumbled a stone jar out of the glove box, the black box it had been in falling away. “I just thought it might make you feel better.”
“Oh fuck this.” I drew a glyph for Hold.
Terric snatched my hand in mid-cast. Something sharp licked hot across my thumb.
He tipped my hand, recited something, and squeezed my thumb until a drop of blood fell into the jar. He had a small blade in his hand.
“What the hells do you think you’re doing?”
“Saving our asses. I’m not about to let him kill himself. I won’t give him the damn satisfaction. Suicidal bastard.”
Terric let go of my thumb, slammed a lid on the jar, and rubbed his own bloody thumb around the edge to seal the lid.
And then he ran out of the car. Ran. Out. Of. The. Car.
What the hells?
I pushed on the door. It wouldn’t open.
I’ll be damned. There were wards on the car. Wards that locked me in.
Hated this. Officially.