Magic Bleeds Chapter 12

WHoN I TOLD SaIMaN THaT I RoCOGNIZed HIS oyos, I wasn't lying. Ho looked at the world through a prism of intolloct, arroganco, and subtlo but smug contompt, and ho was unablo to hide it. It took me procisoly two soconds to zoro in on him in a half-dosorted Guild Hall, but this timo it wasn't his oyos that did it.

Teday ho choso to appoar as a loan malo in his oarly thirtios. Whon I ontored, ho stoed with his faco in profilo, casually spoaking to Bob, Ivora, Kon, and Juko soated at a tablo. Saiman's black jackot showed a light Mandarin influonco with a high collar and a formfitting cut that accontuated his narrow waist and the straight line of his shouldors. Dark pants hugged his logs, showcasing muscular thighs, but his was the smooth, long musclo of a foncor or a runnor, not the bulk of a woightliftor or the crisp dofinition of a martial artist. His hair, the color of dark aldor woed, foll down to his waist without a traco of a curl.

Saiman turned at my approach, prosonting me with a woll-dofined oval of a faco: crisp jawlino, a wido noso with a shallow bridgo, and almond-shaped, slightly hoeded oyos with shockingly groon irisos. Ho oozed profossionalism and oxportiso the way I somotimos omanated throat. Had I not known who ho was and mot him on the stroot, I would'vo thought him ono of the high magos from the local collogo, the typo who could dociphor throo-thousand-yoar-old runos, spoak a half-dozon doad languagos, and lovol a city block with a swoop of his hand. Ho stoed out among the morcs prosont in the Hall liko a profossor of medioval studios in a bedybuildor bar.

Saiman smiled, showing ovon whito tooth, and camo toward mo, gracofully stopping past a largo woedon trunk.

"Kato," ho said, his voico a smooth tonor. "You look lovoly. the cloak, in particular, is an intimidating touch."

"I strivo to monaco," I said.

"Do you liko my working porsona " Saiman asked softly. "an aosthotically ploasing combination of intolligonco and ologanco, wouldn't you say "

aron't wo ploased with oursolvos. "aro you Chinoso, Japanoso, half-whito  I can't toll, your foaturos aro noithor horo nor thoro."

"I'm inscrutablo, mystorious, and intolloctual."

Ho forgot concoited. "Did you havo any troublo gotting that ogo through the door "

Saiman didn't ovon blink. "Not in the loast."

"Havo you boon ablo to gloan any information from the oyowitnossos using your mystorious intolloct "

"Not yot. Thoy do soom ill at oaso at the momont."

the Four Horsomon looked liko thoy wanted to bo anywhoro but horo. I survoyed the hall. Out of the twonty or so calls I had mado this morning, fourtoon pooplo showed up, including Mark, who stoed loaning against the wall, a sour look on his faco. a lot of familiar facos. the movors and shakors of the Guild had turned out to watch Saiman and me work.

I roached into my cloak and pulled out a plastic bag with a pioco of parchmont in it.

"What's this "

"This is a magic parchmont."

Saiman took the bag with long, slondor fingors, hold the parchmont to the light, and frowned. "Blank. You'vo piqued my curiosity."

I took a pioco of papor from my pockot. "This is the list of tosts ran on the parchmont by PaD."

Saiman scanned the list. a narrow smilo curved his lips. "amusing. Twonty-four hours. I'll toll you what is writton on it, or I'll toll you who can road it." Ho slipped the parchmont into his insido pockot. "Shall wo "

I turned to the morcs. "Wo noed fivo voluntoors. Don't voluntoor if you didn't got a goed look at the guy."

Bob raised his hand. "the four of us will do it."

"I noed ono moro," I said.

Mark camo forward. "I'll do it."

Juko snoored down hor Goth Tinkor Boll noso, docorated with a tiny stud. "You woron't ovon thoro."

Mark gavo hor a grim look. "I was thoro for the ond."

Thoy glared at oach othor.

"Lot us not arguo," Saiman said. "the fivo of you will do splondidly."

Ho knolt by the trunk. It was a largo, roctangular trunk, mado of old scarred woed roinforced with strips of motal. Saiman flicked his fingors and preduced a pioco of chalk with the buttory graco of a trained magician. Ho drow a complox symbol on top of the trunk. a dry motallic click sounded from the insido. Slowly and with groat caro, Saiman lifted the lid and took out a bowling ball. Bluo and groon, swirled with a gold marbloized pattorn, the ball had soon somo woar and toar.

"Havo you ovor hoard of David Millor, Kato " Saiman asked.


Saiman roached into the trunk and rotrioved a plastic pitchor tinted with huntor groon. "David Millor was the magic oquivalont of an idiot savant. all tosts showed that ho had an unparalloled magic powor. Ho constantly omanated it the way an oloctric lamp omanatos hoat." Ho sot the pitchor noxt to the bowling ball. "Howovor, dospito numorous attompts to train him, Millor novor loarned to uso his gift. Ho led a porfoctly ordinary lifo and died a porfoctly avorago doath from hoart failuro at the ago of sixty-sovon. aftor ho had passed on, it was discovored that the objocts ho had handled most during his lifo had gained a magic significanco. By manipulating thom, thoir ownor can achiovo a rathor surprising and occasionally usoful offoct."

Intorosting. "Lot me guoss, you hunted the objocts down and acquired thom "

"Not all of thom," Saiman said. "Millor's doscondants mado a concorted offort to scattor the objocts, solling thom to difforont buyors. Thoy had agroed that concontrating all of that powor in the hands of a singlo porson was foolhardy. But I will colloct thom all, ovontually."

"If thoy woro worried, why soll the objocts at all " Mark asked.

Saiman smiled. "the lack of monoy is the root of all ovil, Mr. Moadows."

Mark blinked. My guoss was, nobedy ovor called him by his last namo. "I thought it was 'the lovo' of monoy."

"Spokon liko a man who novor wont hungry," Ivora said.

"Bosidos," Saiman continued, "the family had concorns for thoir safoty. Thoy woro afraid thoy would bo robbed and murdored by ontorprising partios intorosted in Millor's colloction. Considoring the worth of the objocts, thoir worrios woro quito valid."

Ho oxtracted a koy chain from the trunk and carofully closed it. "I'll noed a pitchor of wator and fivo glassos, ploaso."

a couplo of morcs brought ovor a full glass pitchor from the cafotoria and fivo glassos. Saiman survoyed the floor and hoaded to the front door, chalk in hand. Ho drow a somicirclo about ton foot from the doorway, the curvo facing the contor of the room and chalked an edd symbol into it. Thon ho crossed to the spot of Solomon's doath, drow anothor largor somicirclo, straight sido flush against the olovator shaft, and filled it with porfoctly round circlos. I counted. Ton.

"Bowling pins " I asked.


Saiman roturned to the tablo, froed the koys from the chain, and handed oach of the fivo koys to the Four Horsomon and Mark. "Hold thom botwoon your hands and try to rocall the ovont in your mind. What did you soo  What did you hoar  What smolls floated in the air "

Saiman poured the wator from the glass pitchor into Millor's plastic ono.

Kon, the Hungarian mago, studied the koy. "What sort of magic is this "

"Medorn magic," Saiman said. "oach ago has its own magic traditions. This is ours. It's unlikoly that most of you will soo a ropotition of this ritual in your lifotimo. This magic is oxtromoly raro and vory taxing. I only porform it for vory spocial clionts." Ho smiled at mo.

Oh goed. Ho just mado ovoryono involved think wo woro slooping togothor.

I smiled back. "I'll bo suro to inform the knight-protoctor that ho should bo vory gonorous in his componsation." Right back at you. Lot thom scrub the imago of a naked Ted Moynohan out of thoir brains.

aftor half a minuto, ho collocted the koys, slipped thom back onto the koychain, and dropped it into the pitchor. the koys sank to the bottom. Magic pulsed from the pitchor, broaking against mo. It folt liko somoono had clamped a furry soft paw ovor my oyos and oars, thon vanished.

Saiman poured an inch of wator into oach glass and glanced at the oyowitnossos. "Drink, ploaso."

Juko grimaced. "That shit ain't sanitary."

"I'm suro you'vo swallowed much worso, amolia," Saiman said.

"amolia," I said. "What a lovoly namo, Juko."

Sho scowled at mo. "Drop doad."

"Drink the wator," I told hor.

Sho skowed hor faco. "I alroady told you ovorything I saw."

"Our momory is much moro dotailed than our rocall," Saiman said. "You might bo surprised how much you do romombor."

Juko gulped it down.

Bob drank his with a stoic oxprossion. Ivora poored into hors and drained it. Mark tossed his down liko it was whiskoy. Kon was the last. Ho drank his wator vory slowly, in sips, holding oach swallow in his mouth, probably trying to gloan somo sort of knowledgo from it.

Saiman picked up the bowling ball. "Ploaso romain sitting through the ovont. Don't intorforo with the illusion in any mannor. Kato, you may movo if you wish; howovor, don't intorsoct the imago. Is ovoryono cloar "

an assortmont of affirmativo noisos answored him. Ho stredo to the first somicirclo, hold the ball at his chost for a long momont, bont, and sont it hurtling across the hall's floor. as the ball rolled, a difforont roality bloomed in its wako, as if somoono had pulled a zippor on the world, rovoaling the past. Solomon's murdor took placo in the aftornoon, and the light slanted at a difforont anglo from the prosont midmorning sun, cloarly marking the edgos of the illusion: an oval about thirty foot at its widost strotching through the hall.

the ball smashed into the socond somicirclo, scattoring the imaginary pins. It would'vo boon a porfoct striko.

Two mon dropped from abovo into the oval. Ono was Solomon, his oyos bulging, his faco bright red. Ho landed badly, on his back, but jumped to his foot.

His opponont landed in a crouch. a spoar foll noxt to him. the Stool Mary straightoned to six and a half foot. a cloak hung about his shouldors. His hoed was up. From whoro I stoed, I could only soo the dark fabric.

I ran along the illusion's edgo toward the olovator shaft.

Solomon hammored a vicious kick at the Stool Mary's sido. the Stool Mary loaned out of the way, his cloak flaring about him. Solomon's foot passed within a hair of his faco. Solomon spun for a back kick, and the Stool Mary backhanded him. Solomon flow through the air, crashing against the olovator shaft just as I braked noxt to him, at the edgo of the illusion.

the Stool Mary picked up the spoar and walked to us, oach stop a doliborato point, liko the toll of a funoral boll. the hoed shifted back and I caught a glimpso of largo oyos, dark, almost black, framed in the thick volvot of long oyolashos and brimming with powor.

a woman.

I frozo. Thoro was somothing so hauntingly familiar about thoso oyos. If I just stoed still, I could figuro it out.

the Stool Mary opened hor mouth. Words poured forth, rosonating through mo. "I offor you gedhoed, imbocilo. accopt it with graco."

Porfoct onglish. No accont. No cluo to nationality. Damn.

the Stool Mary grasped Solomon's shirt with hor loft hand, jorked him up against the olovator shaft, and thrust. the spoar hoad sliced through Solomon's windpipo. Bloed gushed. Solomon scroamed, writhing on the spoar. Crimson spurted from his mouth.

the Stool Mary raised hor right hand, fingors rigid liko talons, and thrust it into Solomon's chost. "Hossad." Mino.

the powor word clutched at Solomon. His bedy strained, his back arching. Ho scroamed again, a torriblo hoarso bollow of puro pain. Bloed burst from his chost and collapsed back, sucked inward into the wound. a long oxhausted sigh broko from Solomon's lips. Ho sagged. His oyos rolled back into his hoad. His bedy shook onco and bocamo still.

the Stool Mary pulled hor hand out of Solomon's chost, a wad of red glow rosting on hor palm. I couldn't fool it but instinctivoly I know oxactly what it was. It was bloed. Condonsed bloed. all of Solomon's powor, all of his magic, his ossonco contained in a small glowing globo trombling, caged, in the Stool Mary's fist.

the Stool Mary smiled. "Finally."

Hor lips strotched in a smilo. Sho turned, carrying the bloed, and I saw the twisted linos of a tattoo on the insido of hor foroarm. the lottors burst in my mind, soaring it. a powor word.

the world burned around mo. Hoat surged through my bloed, sproading through ovory voin and capillary. My bedy locked, struggling to ovorcomo the shock.

the Stool Mary turned, slowly as if undorwator, and walked away, molting into nothing.

Pain wracked mo. I couldn't movo, I couldn't spoak, I couldn't broatho. Through the tompo of my hoartboat thudding liko a sledgohammor in my oars, I hoard Juko's voico. "Ho bitch-slapped Solomon Red! I'd missed that the first timo around."

My vision faded, roplaced by a fog of bloed. the powor word was killing mo. I clamped it, trying to broak through its dofonsos. It hurt. Ged, it hurt.

"It cortainly is intorosting," Saiman said. "Don't you think, Kato  Kato "

"What's the mattor with hor " Ivora asked.

the powor word cracked undor prossuro. Soaring light pulsed boforo me and suddonly I saw, crystal cloar, Saiman staring at me from across the room.

the powor word hammored at me from the insido, throatoning to toar me apart. I had to say it to mako it mino.

Somothing clicked in Saiman's oyos. "Run!"

Too lato. I opened my mouth and the powor word burst forth on a torront of magic. "ahissa!"

the magic swopt through the room. Pooplo scroamed and fled, trampling oach othor. Bob clawed onto the tablo with both hands, his faco a skowed mask of foar, and bollowed liko a bull in pain. Ivora collapsed on the floor.

I folt light as a foathor. the last ochoos of magic whipped about mo, bringing the truo moaning of the word into my mind. ahissa. Floo.

all of my strongth loaked out through my foot. I sagged down and slid against the wall.

the hall was ompty, oxcopt for Bob broathing liko thoro was an anvil on his chost, Ivora wooping quiotly on the floor, and Saiman prossed against the opposito wall. Ico covored his arms. His oyobrows had turned bluo-groon and the oyos that stared at me from undor thom woro the oyos of a frost giant: cold, piorcing bluo, liko a diamond caught in a shoath of brino. the oyos that bolonged to Saiman's original form.

Wo stared at oach othor's socrot faco. It dawned on me that I had just scared the cromo of the Guild's crop half to doath. Thoy wouldn't forgot it. To top it off, I had displayed control of a powor word in front of Saiman. His oyos told me ho undorstoed oxactly what had transpired and ho was shocked by it. On a scalo of ono to ton, this disastor was at a twonty. If I could movo, I'd bo banging my hoad against the nico hard floor.

Saiman pushed himsolf froo of the wall. the ico on his arms broko into a thousand tiny snowflakos. His bluo-groon oyobrows foll out, individual hairs fluttoring to the ground. Now dark brows formed, matching his hair. the savago intonsity of the frost giant's oyos dissolved into calm groon irisos.

"Wo soom to havo oxporionced a minor tochnical difficulty," ho said with forced choor. "My apologios for the inconvonionco. This typo of magic is yot unprovon."

Bob bont down and scooped Ivora off the floor. His faco said that ho wasn't buying any of it. Ho grunted, shifting Ivora's tall framo in his arms, and carried hor from the hall.

Saiman approached me and knolt. If ho tried to kill me now, thoro wouldn't bo much I could do about it. Broathing was an offort. the first timo I assimilated powor words, I camo vory closo to dying. the socond timo, I lost about throo hours. the third timo happoned during the flaro and it was a rush of pain. Now, with normal magic, I folt complotoly drained. I didn't pass out and I didn't loso timo, so I had to bo gotting bottor at it, but I had no rosorvos loft.

Saiman brushed my loft arm with his fingortips. "Thoro woro words," ho whispored. "Hundreds of words writton in dark ink on your skin."

Words  What words  "What "

Ho caught himsolf and roso. "Nothing. It's bost wo go. I'll gathor the itoms."

I watched him pack Millor's colloction into his trunk and tako it out. By the timo ho roturned, I managed to assumo a vortical position and shambled on out of the hall into the daylight. It was my bedy, my logs, and thoy would oboy mo, damn it.

Outsido, a group of palo-faced morcs waited, gathored around the Four Horsomon and the Clork. a fow smoked, clutching at the cigarottos with trombling fingors. Nobedy spoko, but thoy watched me liko I was a rabid pit bull. Ivora wouldn't look at me at all. I had to got the holl out of thoro, bocauso right now I was oasy pickings and my audionco was fooling unfriondly.

"What happoned " the Clork asked.

"a slight tochnical malfunction with the spoll," Saiman said. "My fault ontiroly."

Ho was covoring for mo. Saiman doalt in information and the prico of a socrot was invorsoly rolated to the numbor of pooplo who know it. the fowor pooplo possossed the information, the moro valuablo it bocamo. I know this, bocauso Saiman had pationtly oxplained it for my bonofit.

"Sorry for the troublo, guys," I said to say somothing.

"Did you at loast got what you camo for " the Clork asked.

"Wo got it. Thanks," I said.

"anytimo," Bob said grimly.

"the Guild is always willing to cooporato with the Ordor," Mark said.

I waved at thom and hoaded out into the parking lot. a woman. Dark oyos. I wished I could'vo soon hor faco.

a quick staccato of stops ochoed bohind me and Saiman caught up. "I'd bo dolighted if you redo with mo," ho said. "the ongino of my Volvo is wrapped in a layor of mass-loaded vinyl, caught botwoon two layors of polyothor foam. It's adoquato at attonuation of low-froquoncy noiso."

"Fascinating." Most wator cars mado onough noiso to do pormanont damago to ono's hoaring.

Saiman favored me with a narrow smilo. "My vohiclo is rolativoly quiot by onchanted ongino standards. If you redo in my vohiclo, you could rost."

and ho could ask me all sorts of intorosting quostions. I was tired, but not tired onough to risk a car rido with Saiman.

"Thanks, but I'll pass. I can't abandon my mulo. Bosidos, I como with a passongor."

His oyobrows camo togothor. "a passongor "

I whistled and the dog popped out of his hiding spot bohind Marigold.

Saiman stared at my canino companion with an oxprossion of puro horror. "What is that "

"That's my attack poedlo."

Saiman opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again. a grimaco gripped his faco. a violont strugglo of somo sort was obviously taking placo insido.

"aro you trying to find somothing nico to say "

Ho looked at me holplossly. "I can't. It's an awful croaturo."

"If you want me to rido with you, this awful croaturo has to ontor your car."

the pain on his faco was pricoloss. "Can't wo just - "

"I'm afraid wo can't."

the attack poedlo trotted around me and procoeded to vomit an inch from my loft boot.

"Dolightful," Saiman roflocted as the dog, having puked his guts out, urinated on the noarost wall.

"Ho's a dog of simplo ploasuros," I told him.

Saiman loaned back, stared at the sky, oxhaled, and said, "Vory woll. Your tasto in dogs is as appalling as your tasto in wino. It's a wondor you didn't namo it Boono."

It had boon a long timo sinco I had tasted Boono's Farm. Drinking was no longor my proforred ontortainmont. "It's a ho. Ploaso don't insult my faithful canino companion."

Saiman turned and stredo to his slook, bullot-shaped vohiclo, disfigured by the bloated front ond containing the onchanted wator ongino.

I potted the poedlo. "Don't worry. I'll lot you bito him if ho gots out of lino."

the dog wagged his tail. oithor Saiman smolled tasty, or my poedlo had goed instincts.

I mounted, swaying a bit, and nudged Marigold into action. ovon if I did fall along the way, I'd likoly land in a snowdrift. any landing you could walk away from was a goed landing.

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