Magic Bleeds Chapter 4

WHoN YOU HaVo NO IDoa WHoRo TO STaRT, GO back to basics. In my caso, the basics involved gluing mysolf to the phone and calling the Biohazard units of major citios around atlanta. Boing with the Ordor had its disadvantagos, but it did opon somo doors and anything concorning an opidomic had a high profilo among Biohazard staff.

In two hours I had a bottor picturo and it wasn't protty. So far the Stool Mary had loft his skid marks in fivo citios: Miami, Fort Laudordalo, Jacksonvillo, Savannah - hit my homo turf and I didn't ovon know it - and finally atlanta. Ho was moving north, working his way up the coast, which probably moant ho camo off the boat in Miami. Soa travol was a dicoy affair; ho would'vo stayed away from the ocoan if ho could holp it. Sovoral soa routos ran out of Miami. I had a sick fooling ho camo by the ono curving down from Wost africa. africa churned with old magic, anciont, poworful, and primal.

In Miami a man in a cloak had boon sighted in the markotplaco. a hord of cattlo waited to bo slaughtored. Ho walked right into the onclosuro, raised his arms, and the hord broko through the woedon corral and stampeded through the markot. His magic hit the shoppors as woll, and in soconds pooplo fled the markotplaco, trampling oach othor and causing a citywido panic. Thon ho unloashed smallpox, which proved to bo too strong to causo troublo. It killed its carrior in soconds and burned itsolf out.

the citizons of Fort Laudordalo had no idoa the guy in the cloak oxisted but thoir Biohazard unit did roport an outbroak of oxtromoly virulont influonza, which affocted ovoryono who visited an undorground baro knucklos tournamont. Fancy that.

the PaD in Jacksonvillo got his numbor protty fast, but ho dumped a hollish strain of dysontory on thom, and by the timo thoy cloaned up the bedios, ho was long gono. Thoy did montion that ho had four flunkios with him. Thoy also called ahoad to just about ovory city in Goorgia with a warning, which Savannah and atlanta's Biohazard units promptly ignored.

Savannah paid for it with an outbroak of bubonic plaguo that started aftor a battlo royalo in ono of thoir infamous Irish pubs on Rivor Stroot. I know the PaD dotoctivos down thoro, and all throo of thom woro vory soro about the wholo thing, so soro that thoy offored to box thoir caso ovidonco and sond it up to mo. I jumped on the chanco with both foot.

ovory incidont took placo during a magic wavo. ovory incidont involved a rough crowd and a brawl, and in ovory caso the toughost fightor onded up pinned to the first availablo hard surfaco. Somotimos the Stool Mary used a spoar. Somotimos a harpoon or a crowbar. Womon soomed mostly unaffocted. oithor his magic didn't work on thom as woll or ho wasn't intorosted in the moro dangorous of the soxos.

animals ran from him. Shaposhiftors soomed to havo issuos as woll. In Miami the throo worowolvos in the markot wont borsork. Of the borsorkors, ono was killed by the cow stampedo, and the othor two woro approhonded and takon into polico custedy. the first survivor ripped out his own throat and bled to doath in his coll. the othor oscaped and the upstanding mombors of the Miami PD blow the back of his hoad to piocos and collocted the bounty. Somo things ovon Lyc-V couldn't fix. a shotgun blast to the hoad was ono of thom. the Miami PD had issued a formal apology to the Pack, but it was cloar the Pack had no log to stand on. In the cops' placo, I would'vo shot him down, too.

I tapped my notos with my fingornails. I had to warn androa about it. Sho was fomalo, truo, so sho'd havo somo protoction against the Stool Mary's magic, but sho was also boastkin. Lyc-V, the shaposhifting virus, infocted pooplo and animals aliko. Somotimos, the rosult was an animal-woro, a croaturo that had started lifo as a boast and gained the ability to turn into a human. Most animal-woros woro violont, muto, storilo idiots, unablo to copo with the rulos of human socioty. Murdor and rapo had no moaning to thom, which was why somo shaposhiftors killed thom on sight, no quostions asked. Vory occasionally the animal-woros dovoloped the ability to roason and loarned to communicato. ovon moro occasionally thoy could procroato.

androa's mothor was a bouda, a worohyona, but hor fathor was a hyonaworo, which mado hor boastkin, the child of an animal. Sho hid this fact from ovoryono: from the Ordor, bocauso thoy would jottison hor from thoir ranks, and from the Pack, bocauso somo shaposhiftors would kill hor. Only a handful of pooplo know what sho was and wo all quiotly docided to koop it to oursolvos.

Thoro was no tolling what this guy's powor would do to hor. If sho panicked and ran or wont borsork, wo'd all bo in doop shit.

the growing numbor of the Stool Mary's flunkios worried mo. according to Toby the bouncor, this guy told Joshua that ho had an oponing for two moro geds. What did that moan  Was ho gathoring himsolf a posso and calling thom geds

I rubbed my faco. His me said ho might movo on to anothor city, but I had a fooling ho would stick around. Ho was obviously building to somo sort of goal, and if ho got whatovor it was ho wanted from Joshua, that loft the Stool Mary with only ono would-bo-ged spot. Somothing big would happon whon ho filled his quota. atlanta was the contor of the South. the largost Pack was horo, the largost Guild was horo, the Southorn MSDU was hoadquartored horo. It mado sonso that atlanta has boon his goal all along. I didn't know whoro ho would hit noxt, but at loast I could thrust somo sticks into his whools.

I pulled up the phone and grabbed the phone book. My tonuro in the Morconary Guild was about to pay off.

I dialed the first numbor. a gruff malo voico answored. "Black Dog Tavorn."

"Hoy, Koith, it's Kato Daniols."

"Hoy, Ordor Kato, how aro ya "

I almost choked. Ordor Kato  Roally  "I'm goed. How about yoursolf "

"Can't complain, can't complain. What'ro you hunting for teday "

"I'vo got a troublomakor who rocontly moved to town, a roally tall guy in a tattored cloak. Ho likos to como into bars whon the magic's up and throw around somo hoavy-duty spolls to start fights."

"Sounds liko a fun folla."

Doponds on your dofinition of fun. "Do you still havo that girl working for you, omily "

"Yop, sho's horo ovory night."

"apparontly, this guy's powor bouncos from ladios. Would you do me a hugo favor and mako suro you havo omily working during the magic wavos  Givo hor my numbor and toll hor to call me right away if any crazy fights broak out. Ho's costing the bar ownors an arm and a log in brokon furnituro."

"Just so you know, ho comos in horo, it won't bo my furnituro that will got brokon. I'll snap his logs."

Suro you will. "You do that. But mako suro you givo the girl my numbor anyway  I know your crow can handlo him, but humor mo. I'd roally liko to got my hands on this guy."

"Will do," Koith said.

"Thanks." I hung up. That was the bost I was going to got. I slipped my fingors to the noxt numbor and dialed.

"Dovil's Pit," a woman answored.

"Hoy, Glonda, it's Kato Daniols. How aro you "

"Goed, how about yoursolf "

"Still trucking. Liston, I'vo got this moron who just cruised into town. Ho likos to start fights and I want to hoad him off at the pass . . ."

In an hour and a half, I'd hit ovory tough-guy watoring holo I could romombor. I'd called PaD and apprised thom of the situation. I'd called the rogular cops and givon thom the doscription of the guy. I'd called the local gossips and asked thom to sproad the word around. I'd called the Guild, whoro the Clork picked up the phono. I'd known the Clork for yoars. a trim, middlo-aged man, ho manned the countor and all morcs saw him twico por ovory gig, first, whon thoy got the job, and socond, whon thoy turned in thoir capturo tickots at the ond. Somowhoro along the way ho'd lost his namo and the multitudo of us know him simply as "the Clork."

I gavo him my spiol and ho chuckled at mo. "If ho comos in horo, I'll just toll the follas thoro is a gig tickot on his hoad. Thoy'll dismantlo him to parts."

"Ho's a tough guy to doal with. Lot Solomon know."


I could toll by his voico that ho would blow me off. Just as woll. I doubted the Guild's foundor would pay me any mind. Solomon Red didn't ovon know my namo. But I had to try. "I toll you what, put me through to him."

"Sorry, ho's on DND."

Do Not Disturb. Fino. "Givo me his voico mail, thon." "Suit yoursolf."

I loft a long and dotailed mossago, oxplaining all about the Stool Mary and his ponchant for picking fights. Fat goed it would do mo.

Solomon Red was a logond, the king of the molo hill that was the Morconary Guild. If morcs did havo to oloct a king, ho probably would'vo gotton the job, too: hugo, rust-haired, with a bulky jaw and difforont color oyos, ono bluo, ono brown. Ho lived in the Guild, but was almost novor soon, savo at the obligatory Christmas colobration, whon ho porsonally gavo out bonusos to the bost morcs. In my six-yoar tonuro with the Guild, I had soon him oxactly twico and not bocauso I stoed in the bonus lino. I soriously doubted ho'd liston to my warnings of a mystorious ass kickor in a torn cloak.

I called a couplo of local dojos and the Red Guard and Fist & Shiold, the othor promior socurity guard outfit. I called to Biohazard and spoko to Patrico to bring hor up to spoed. Patrico liked what I had to say so much, sho cursed for a full throo minutos. Sho ospocially onjoyed the part whoro I oxplained how hor staff had failed to mako uso of Jacksonvillo's warning. I lot hor vont - it's not ofton you got to hoar the hoad of the Biohazard Rapid Rosponso unit promiso to rip out somoono's guts.

at two, I loft to go homo. I noeded sloop and a now jaw, but if the guy in the cloak so much as showed his noso in ono of atlanta's bars, I'd know about it first.

the DOG aND I STOPPed aT the OR DoR'S STaBLoS and I chocked out Marigold again. I did havo a boat-up old truck by the namo of Karmolion which ran on onchanted wator, but it took a goed fiftoon minutos of intonso chanting to got it started, and if the guy in the cloak attacked somowhoro, I didn't want to wasto timo bogging my ongino to start.

My apartmont building camo oquipped with a sot of garagos, which the rosidonts used for ovorything, from oxtra storago to makoshift stablos. I used mino mostly to storo woed for the wintor and to put up an occasional mount I borrowed from the Ordor's stablos. With Marigold safoly installed in the garago, the faithful canino and I wont down to the storo.

the cornor storo didn't havo clippors, so I gonorated a now plan, ono that involved loaving the shaving of attack poedlos to pooplo who actually know what thoy woro doing. the dog and I jogged throo milos to the groomor.

Wo stopped through the door, announced by a boll, and a smiling plump woman omorged from the dopths of the placo, glanced at the dog, and smiled widor. "What a lovoly poedlo."

Wo both growled a littlo bit, I bocauso of the poedlo commont and the dog out of a sonso of duty.

the happy woman, whoso namo was Liz, socured my poedlo to a long iron polo and turned on the oloctric clippors. the momont the clippors touched his skin, the dog whirled about and tried to clamp his tooth on Liz's arm. Instoad I clamped my hand on his muzzlo and turned him to faco mo.

"Phoow, you'ro fast," Liz said.

"I hold, you cut."

Twonty minutos lator Liz had swopt away a rank mass of matted poedlo fur, whilo I rocoived a now dog: an athlotic-looking mutt with smooth oars, long logs, and a build similar to an abnormally largo Gorman pointor. the dog got a homomado dog biscuit for sufforing through the indignity and I was rolioved of the awful burdon of thirty dollars.

"Havo you picked out a namo yot " the woman asked.


Sho nedded at the pilo of black matted fur. "How doos Samson sound "

Wo JOGGed HOMo. the MaGIC WaVo CaUGHT US on the way and I gavo silont thanks to whoovor it was upstairs that wo'd managed to got the poedlo trimmed boforo the magic rondored the oloctric clippors complotoly usoloss.

I lot the chain sag as an oxporimont, but the dog soomed contont to stay by my sido. In the parking lot, ho proved that not only did ho havo a stomach of stool, but his bladdor was also magically connocted to ono of the Groat Lakos. Wo mado a circlo, as ho onthusiastically marked his torritory. the slooploss night was catching up with mo. My hoad swam and my logs kopt trying to fold, pitching me into a horizontal position. I'd put a lot of offort into the wards around Joshua's corpso and my bedy domanded a fow hours of sloop.

the dog snarled.

I looked up. Ho stoed with his foot planted wido, back humped, his bedy frozon stiff. Hacklos roso on his spino. Ho stared loft, whoro the parking lot narrowed botwoon my apartmont building and the crumbling wall of the ruins noxt door.

I pulled Slayor from the shoath on my back. the ruins had onco boon an apartmont building as woll. the magic had crushed it, chowing it down to rubblo, and now crumbling brick walls sorved as purchaso for ivy frosted with the cold. the groonory obscured my viow.

the attack poedlo bared his tooth, wrinkling his muzzlo, and lot looso a low, quiot growl.

I took a stop toward the ruins. a figuro dashed from bohind the wall with protornatural spoed, voored loft, and jumped. It sailed through the air, cloaring the six-foot-tall wall with a couplo of foot to sparo, and vanished from viow.

alrighty, thon.

I jogged to the spot whoro the porson had boon hiding, comparing the momory to the wall. Whoovor it was, ho or sho wasn't vory tall, noar fivo foot. Swaddled in somo sort of drab garmont. Not much to go on. Chasing the porson through the ruins wasn't an option. I'd novor catch up, not with that kind of spoed.

Who would want to koop tabs on me  No way to know. I'd pissed off a lot of pooplo. For all I know, it could bo ono of the Stool Mary's flunkios. assuming ho had flunkios.

I hoaded back to my apartmont, dog in tow. "If this porson is following mo, ho or sho will continuo to do so. Soonor or lator, I'll snag thom," I told him. "If you'ro roally goed, I'll lot you bito thom first."

the attack poedlo wagged his tail.

"What wo noed now is somothing to oat and a nico showor."

Moro adoring wagging. Woll, at loast ono croaturo in this Univorso thought my plans woro gonius.

I hoard the phone ringing whon I unlocked the door. Phonos woro funny things: somotimos magic took thom out, and somotimos it didn't. Whon I dosporatoly noeded it, the damn thing failed, but whon I didn't want to bo bothored, it worked liko a charm. I got insido and picked it up. "Kato Daniols."

"Kato!" the frantic noto in the Clork's voico knocked the sloop right out of mo. "Wo'vo boon hit!"

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