Protection of Magic, The Leira Chronicles Book 3
By Martha Carr and Michael Anderle
Estelle took a look at the empty bacon platter and a good look at Correk, letting out a, “Hmph,” as she picked up the tray and headed back inside.
“Clearly, she has a handle on you,” said Leira, looking around to make sure no one had wandered onto the patio and settled into one of the hammocks. They were still alone. “Do you know of anyone ever escaping the world in between? The living or the dead?”
“The dead would move onto whatever afterlife there is and so, I can’t say about them. I’ve never heard of anyone still living getting out of the void. But, if there was anyone who would know, it would be the gnomes. They are the keepers of magical knowledge for all of Oriceran.”
“I’ve heard of them. My mother used to talk about them,” said Eireka, shifting in her chair. She glanced up at Leira.
“Nana got caught trying to go through a portal. You don’t need to confirm it.” Leira held up a hand. “That much is obvious. But, I’m starting to get the idea that she did it more than once. With this time glitch she could have been slipping away while I was in school and getting back, without anyone being the wiser.”
“I know that look. You’re on to something,” said Correk. “I don’t think your grandmother came to Oriceran as often as you think. She’s a Light Elf. If she were a frequent visitor I would have heard of her at some point.”
“Unless she was hiding her real identity. She was doing something illegal using portals like that.”
“Commonly done,” said Correk.
“I know, I get that. Still, she wouldn’t have been advertising that she was coming over from Earth. But, it leaves a lot of open questions. The big one is why go over so often? Regular visits would mean she had an intention, a plan.”
“The Wood Elves might know. They have their ways of seeing what others are up to.”
“That’s not the big question,” said Eireka, irritated. “The big question is how to get her the hell out of there.” Tears filled her eyes, catching Leira off guard.
“I’m sorry.” Leira stumbled through her words. “I’m better at analyzing facts than I am at feelings. You’re right. First things first. We figure out how to get Nana out of there and then just ask her what the hell she was thinking.”
“You realize that there have been powerful practitioners of magic, kings even, who have tried to get beings out of the world in between and with utter failure?” Correk stood up, balling his hands into fists. “Damnable gnomes refuse to say a word about anything locked in that vault. For thousands of years they have been the guardians of the darkest secrets.”
So angry, every time the topic comes up, noticed Leira.
“Then we figure out a way to get them on our side or to go around them.” Leira felt the same mixture of magical energy and familiar detective skills settle into place, the gears turning in her mind. Hagan was right. Use both sets of skills.
Correk only grew angrier, shaking his head.
“Okay, I get it. It won’t be easy.” Leira reached out to touch his hand but he pulled away from her, turning his back. That wasn’t like him. Touched a nerve.
“I can see this is hard for you.” Eireka’s voice was gentle and she was almost singing the words.
She’s using a spell, thought Leira. I can’t even see how she’s doing it. Doesn’t matter.
“Can’t make this about you.” Leira cut off her mother, standing up to face the inevitable. Correk spun around, eyes glowing, ready for a fight. Leira knew she was pushing him but if he was going to help then they needed to get it out in the open, whatever it was. “You either tell me, tell us what has you so twisted or you set it aside and help… Or you get out of our way.”
She let the energy build inside of her just enough to let her eyes glow. She was already getting better at regulating the amount of magic that could bubble to the surface. It was a friendly warning.
Correk startled, blinking his eyes and taking a step back. He wanted to say something but thought better of it.
So, it’ll stay a mystery… for now, thought Leira.
His eyes returned to normal and he unclenched his fists.
“I’d rather do this with you.” Leira held out her hand. “Cousin.” She held his gaze, hoping…
Correk looked like he was still far away but he gently shook his head and took her hand. “You are very determined… Cousin. Fine, we will believe in the impossible.”
“My mother is home and free and clear,” said Leira. “And I found out not too long ago that part of me is from an entirely different dimension full of magic. I’m not sure what the definition of impossible is anymore.”
Eireka pulled at her daughter’s arm. “Sit back down. Estelle will be out here with a hose to make everyone play nice if we’re not careful.”
Leira let go of Correk’s hand, snapping around to look at her mother. “I forgot you used to do that. If I got into a tangle with a neighborhood kid you used to spray us down!” An even mixture of grief and joy filled her chest. So many memories were locked carefully away. Some of them were starting to escape.
Eireka smiled. “I knew somewhere in that tiny body was a lot of powerful magic. Couldn’t take the chance you’d suddenly light up like a Christmas tree. They’d have run home and told their parents!” Eireka let out a laugh. Even Correk relaxed into a smile.
“Fine,” he said. “We will redefine impossible.”
“As, yet to be done,” said Leira.
“Then we start with a Willen. The gnomes pride themselves on their integrity and are known for being meticulous. A bribe with them won’t work. A threat even less. But on a Willen, both will work and they are as great a petty thief as the gnomes are a watchdog.”
“Why hasn’t anyone bribed them before to find out the secrets of the world in between?” asked Leira.
“I’m sure it has been attempted. What they want must be very difficult to acquire.”
“That’s the first thing we do,” said Eireka.
“Ask them what they want,” said Leira.
“Most powerful question there is,” answered her mother.
“You’re finishing each other’s thoughts. Not just as mother and daughter. Your energy is learning how to connect automatically. Checking in with each other. The urge has become so strong it’s occurring before you can notice. The surge at Lavender Rock must have done it.”
“How do we talk to a Willen?” asked Leira, changing the subject. She wasn’t ready to take a deep dive into her feelings about her mother. Not yet. Eireka pressed her lips together into a thin line. Correk immediately regretted pointing out how well they were connecting.
“Okay, a Willen. That will be easier than you think. We can talk to one right here on Earth. They’re sneaky little bastards. That includes opening up small portals and sliding back and forth between the two worlds. The Dark Bazaar on Oriceran uses them as couriers all the time. We talk to the right one and we may get what we need. Or at least a step further.”
“So, do we put out cheese? Look behind trash cans in alleys?”
“They’re far too large to move around in the open like that. We go underground to the world that thrives right under your feet.”
Leira’s eyes widened. “You mean there’s fucking more?” She looked down at her feet. “More magical creatures scurrying around down there?”
“Gets them even closer to the energy source,” said Correk.
“Remember what you were saying a minute ago about redefining impossible and letting that go? Now would be a good time for you to embrace that, dear.” Her mother crossed her arms and arched an eyebrow. Correk let out a snort.
Leira grimaced and folded her arms across her chest. “Fine. I embrace it all. We go find a Willen. Do we go find the nearest manhole cover?”
“We want a particularly skilled Willen. We go to another kilomea. This one in California. The hive underground is one of the biggest the Light Elves are aware of. It won’t take long to single out the Willen we’re looking for.”
“Then California…” Leira’s phone began to buzz. She looked down and saw it said, unknown. “Hello? Yes, General, I understand. I can leave now.” She looked at her mother who gave her a half-hearted smile. “Right away, will do. Yes, sir.” As usual, duty calls and I answer.
She hung up the phone. “I’m sorry. Correk, can you go without me? Take my mother. The two of you can figure it out.” Don’t let her out of your sight, she thought. Make sure she feels safe.
Eireka felt the small tremors of worry come off of her daughter. She blinked hard, letting it pass through her. “We wait for you,” she said. “It’s okay.” She held up her hand in protest. “Think about it. Time doesn’t exist where my mother is and besides, this may be complicated. And as much as we don’t want to say it, may not work at all. We’ll wait for you,” she said firmly.
“That dead woman.”
“The world in between is filled with the dead as much as the living. You want to stay sane, you’re going to have to let it be.”
“Then I gotta go,” said Leira, hesitating only for a second. “You two be okay together?”
“I think I can handle it,” said Correk, rolling his eyes. “I’ll show her around town.”
“No CVS, no Costco.”
“We’re both grown and I’m older than you are by well over a hundred years. I’m not taking orders from someone who would still be a toddler in Oriceran years.”
“You want Yumfuck with you? Take him. Don’t leave him with the TV as a babysitter all day. Terrible influence. Next time he gets angry, which is inevitable, he’ll chop off someone’s head and put it in a box.”
“I was going to say no, but you have a point,” said Correk.
“But, we will get to the underground kemana to find a Willen as soon as possible,” said Leira, already turning to go. “You have that cell phone I got at Costco? Keep it on so I can call and check on the two of you.”
“If you insist. Go, we’ll all be fine. We have a tiny beast and fireballs. Plus, your mother apparently knows a spell or two. You have fewer elements in your arsenal. Should we be worried about you out there alone in the world?”
“We must be related. You are definitely annoying.”
Correk smiled. “Then you can go and save the world now. Eireka and I will be fine. This will give us a chance to get to know each other better and reintroduce you to this world,” said Correk, softly.
“It’s okay. I’ve learned to be very patient,” said Eireka, shooing her daughter toward the door. She waited till Leira had already gone through the gate. Standing there smiling and waving, waiting a beat to see if Leira was going to suddenly turn around and come back for something. When she was sure, she turned and pointed a finger at Correk, walking toward him. “And just because we aren’t hopping on a plane doesn’t mean I won’t try and make contact with my mother.”
Correk stepped back, arching an eyebrow. “Another trait of Leira’s I can stop wondering about.” He tried to hide his concern.
“Nothing is going to stop me. She’s my damn mother after all!”
He saw the same fierce look in her eyes that Leira had at least once a day. How much trouble will two of them bring? “Of course, well, let’s get going. I’m sure Estelle wants her patio back and the troll has watched enough TV for now. Let’s go.”
FROM MARTHA >>> Snippet #3! PROTECTION OF MAGIC, Book 3 is just 7 DAYS – a week! Wednesday, August 30th! Some great stuff gets answered… and of course, there’s more YTT! TWO WEEKS till SOUL STONE MAGE series starts… Stay tuned… BIG GIANT THANK YOU, EVERYONE!