nymphaea1 (nymphaea1) wrote,
nymphaea1
nymphaea1

AIRPS Fic: Chimera Part 12

Title: Chimera Part 12
Author: nymphaea1
Rating for this section: PG-13
Pairing: Adam/Kris, others
Warnings: Violence - this section is dark enough that in the interest of thoroughness I think I should warn it could possibly be problematic for some people

Summary:
In 1683 the first boat carrying fey landed in Virginia. Receiving ill welcome from the young American colonies, most of the passengers and the ones who followed after chose to go west, eventually establishing the new kingdom of Western Faerie in the Pacific Northwest. Distrust of Faerie persisted in the east and traveled outwards as the United States
and its ally, the Kingdom of Texas, spread west into the lands bordering those claimed by the fey.

Two years ago Kris Allen, lost to himself after a bitter three-year war, answered a newspaper ad and headed west to the chaotic borderland known as South California. He'd hoped, in a land with no loyalties, he could find respite from his own divided nature. What he found was something else.

Previous Sections



Kris sat on the couch working through a new song that had been playing around in the back of his head for a few days. It had been a while since he’d done a lot of writing, but Adam made an easy audience. He seemed to appreciate Kris’s musical instincts but he was also critical enough that Kris didn’t have to worry about being flattered.

He cast a sideways glance at Adam, wondering once again if it might not be time to tell him what he’d found with Allison. He could well imagine what Adam’s reaction to his taking Allison down to The Sithen would be—but Allison and Kris were running into nothing but dead ends in their investigation of the Shadows and it might be time to admit defeat. Adam was royalty—if he didn’t have more information on the Shadows himself his family at least did.

Adam flopped down on the couch and put a cold pack on his forehead.

“Is the song that bad or is something bothering you?” Kris asked.

Adam lifted the cold pack and glared at him. “Your illustrious leader sent over a list of approved stories for the play we’re trying to put on. I fought with him for hours after dinner.”

“Do I even want to ask?”

Adam shoved a piece of paper into his hand. Kris scanned it once but nothing leapt out as too terrible. Though maybe the Bible stories weren’t a great choice. “It doesn’t look that bad to me. I mean, it’s mostly just fairy tales. He probably thought you’d like that.”

“Sleeping Beauty? Rapunzel?” Adam looked at him like he’d grown a second head. “It’s a children’s play. My kids would have nightmares for weeks.”

Kris almost asked what was wrong with Rapunzel before he decided he didn’t want his childhood totally ruined. “I’m sure he didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Maybe,” Adam sniffed. He scrunched up his face. “Although, I don’t really like to judge. If Danny’s into that sort of thing, I know some very nice girls who-“

“Danny doesn’t want any girls,” Kris said, thinking it best to cut off that thought before its inevitably terrifying conclusion.

Adam tilted his head. “Boys then? I wouldn’t have thought so, but then it would make sense of some of those times I caught him looking at me.”

Kris put the guitar down. “What do you mean Danny’s been looking at you?”

Adam looked at him like he didn’t know whether to laugh or pet his head. “Slow down there, killer. I think I know how to deal with confused straight boys by now.”

Confused straight boys, right. Except Kris didn’t feel confused. At least not about wanting him. Frustrated, yeah. He’d thought that afternoon in the garden they’d maybe been having a moment of some sort. But now after Inir and Anoop’s rumors about Baraz, Kris thought the last thing Adam needed was someone else trying to climb into bed with him. Kris didn’t even know if Adam could say no to him—not with that spell binding them together. And the thought of that—God, he’d cut off his hand before he touched Adam like that.

“Hey, are you all right?” Adam said.

Kris shook his head, trying to clear away that line of thought. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

Adam slid closer and put his hand on Kris’s shoulder—which didn’t actually help. “Seriously—you’re looking a bit grey.”

Kris thought it over—it probably was as good a time as any. “There’s something I need to talk to you about and I don’t know if you’ll like it.”

“You know you can ask me anything.”

Well, it was now or never. “Are you engaged to Baraz?”

Adam’s concerned expression crumpled up and he bent over, laughing. “God, I thought it was something serious.”

“I was being serious.”

Adam sat up and wiped the corners of his eyes with the heel of his hand. “Where did you hear that—the Inquirer? If you wanted to know about my love life there are better sources.”

Kris felt himself blushing. “I wasn’t reading tabloids about you. Someone just said he’s been negotiating for it or something.”

Adam snorted. “If Baraz asked my mother for me she’d hand me over in a hot minute. He doesn’t need to negotiate.”

That couldn’t be right. “She would just do that?”

Adam shrugged one shoulder. “Princes are a dime a dozen. Baraz is—well he’s pretty much one of a kind.”

“Doesn’t that bother you?” It bothered him. A lot. The idea of someone just buying Adam like he was just an expensive accessory.

“I know it probably seems strange to you,” Adam said. “But it really just goes with the territory. And I get to say no. She would never force me, if it was someone I really hated.”

“It still doesn’t seem right.”

“I don’t know,” Adam said. “It could be nice, you know—to be married? To have someone to take care of, someone you could try to make a life with.”

He had that stupid hopeful look on his face, like he could just make things turn out all right if he believed hard enough that they would. Kris didn’t know if he wanted to hug him or give him a good slap.

“I guess I’m just glad I’m not a prince,” he said.

Adam smiled, eyes crinkling up at the corners. “There are a few perks.”

A hard insistent pounding on the door jolted the both of them.

“You expecting someone?” Kris asked.

Adam shook his head.

“Go in the bedroom,” Kris said.

“What? No. I am not just leaving you out here alone.”

“It’s probably just someone from the house, but if it isn’t I’m going to have an easier time defending myself if I don’t have to worry about you.” Kris got up and scouted the room for defensive positions. He still wasn’t used to this new layout. “Now, go in the bedroom.”

Adam looked unhappy but did as he was told.

Kris grabbed a knife from the kitchen and slid over to the door.

The knocking came again, twice as hard. Kris opened the door, leaving the chain on.

Danny stood in the unflattering light of the porch lamp.

“What took you so long?” Danny said.

Kris exhaled in relief. Maybe he was being naïve, but he didn’t think there was magic in existence that could so exactly copy Danny’s peevishness.

“You can come out,” he called to Adam, closing the door long enough to take off the chain.

Danny pushed his way in, blinking a little at the knife in Kris’s hand.

“Don’t you think that’s a little excessive?”

Kris jerked his head at Adam. “Yeah, it’s not like we have a reason to worry about mysterious banging on our door in the middle of the night or anything. Haven’t you heard of a phone?”

Danny glanced at Adam, a little guilty. “Right, sorry. I need your help and it wasn’t anything I wanted to talk about on the phone.”

Kris turned to Adam. “You’d better stay here.”

But Danny shook his head. “No, I think he better come too.”

Danny led the way across the lawn. “A woman showed up at the outside gates about a half-hour ago. You know we usually never open the gates this late, but she looked like she was in so much trouble Ron let her in.”

“What’s wrong with her?” Kris asked.

“I think you’ll have to see for yourself.”

The woman lay on a cot in the new wing, apparently unconscious. Her thin chest rose and fell in quick shallow pants and sweat beaded her forehead. Kris turned to Danny to ask why she wasn’t in the hospital when he thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye.

“Watch,” Danny said.

Kris thought at first he was imagining it, but there it was again, a spidery line of silver light that etched its way across her cheek before disappearing beneath her hair. Another appeared on her forearm, extending a few inches before fading out again.

“Is this wing empty?” Adam said.

“You know what that is?” Danny asked.

Adam pulled them to the side. “All I know is she’s leaking pure magic. Enough so that I’m betting even you can see it.”

Danny took a sharp indrawn breath. “It’s dangerous?”

“A human body isn’t capable of holding that kind of power. Not for long.” Adam turned to Kris. “Do you know any spells for containing magical explosions? It’d do for now.”

“Yeah, a few.

“Danny,” Adam said, “there’s no reason for you to be here. If there’s anyone else in this wing you should take them and go.”

“The wing’s empty. We put her here because we haven’t finished the renovations,” Danny said. “And you’re wrong. I can make sure she knows she’s not alone. That’s more than enough reason for me to be here.”

Danny crossed his arms, radiating that peculiar brand of earnest mulishness that so often came in handy dealing with their more troublesome residents.

“I won’t argue with you,” Adam said, “but if you start to see her shedding more magic than she is now, you need to get out of here—both of you.”

Kris grabbed his arm. “Where will you be?”

“I can’t handle this myself. I need to go to the Embassy.”

Kris tightened his grip. “It could be dangerous. They could have sent her here to draw you out.”

Adam shook his head. “If people were after me tonight, they’d just have come in when Ron opened the gate. I’ll be safe enough. I’m not entirely helpless, you know.” He gave the woman on the bed one last look and then strode back out into the hallway.

Kris prepared himself to create the boundary protections that would keep any release of magic within the confines of the bed. Danny took a seat beside the woman and took her hand, not even flinching when another line of magic ran close to where his hand lay on hers.

Containment spells were just the reverse of the boundary spells he cast every week; they forced the energy in rather than out. Casting them should be as easy as breathing—and this one was, up until the last moment when he closed the final inches of the boundary line and felt the radiating power from the bed push hard against the spell. Kris traced a circle in the floor, encouraging the tendrils of magic spreading away from the woman to curl together in a wall that reinforced the protections he’d cast.

“Adam’s right,” he said. “If she starts letting off more magic I might not be able to contain it.”

“Do you know what could be causing this?” Danny asked.

“I haven’t even seen anything like this. Someone shoved a lot of power into this woman—it can’t do anything but kill her, but if that’s what they were trying to do there are easier ways.”

Neither of them said it, but the woman wasn’t someone who looked like a likely target for sophisticated assassination techniques. The deep purple lines of Dust addiction ran all over her skin and though her clothes were clean they were old and worn.

They heard the pound of urgent footsteps in the hall, but it was only Adam, Megan in tow.

Megan undid the clasp on the cloak that hid her wings. Danny let out a soft gasp but didn’t say anything as Megan approached the bed. She sat beside the suffering woman and placed her hands on her temples.

The woman’s shivering slowed and she opened her eyes.

“What’s your name?” Megan asked, smiling gently.

But the woman shook her head.

“I have come to help you, sister,” Megan said. “I need for you to tell me what brought you here.”

The woman turned her head away, tears leaking from her eyes. “They said if we drank it, it would make us fey.”

“Who’s they? What did they give you?” Danny said.

“It was so bright—the water. They said it would make us shine.” She reached up to touch Megan’s hair. “You all shine so brightly.”

“Can you tell us who gave you the water?” Megan asked.

The woman shook her head wildly. “They said they would find us. They killed Eric when he tried to run away.”

“Shhh,” Megan said, smoothing the damp hair from the woman’s forehead. “You are with us now.”

Megan looked up at the other three. “I cannot save her. We are beyond that, now.”

“Meaning what?” Danny asked, voice hard.

Megan left one hand on the woman’s forehead and reached with the other into the bag at her hip. She withdrew a vial full of a dull metallic liquid.

“This is Djoshiruk venom. It neutralizes magic.”

“What are you waiting for?” Kris said. “If we can neutralize the magic, can’t we save her?”

“It is fatal to humans,” Megan said. “It will prevent her from being a further danger to others, but it will not save her.”

“No,” Danny said. “I cannot allow that.”

“I am not asking you,” Megan said. “I am asking her.”

She turned to the woman on the bed. “This will dull what you are feeling, but I cannot promise you anything more.”

“It will stop me from hurting anyone?”

Megan nodded.

“But it won’t stop it—the pain, I mean.”

Megan paused, but finally shook her head. “But I will stay with you.”

“I can help her,” Adam said, voice tight.

Megan’s head jerked up, eyes huge. “Highness, no. The Lord Baraz would—“

“Baraz is not here,” Adam said. “And even if he were, he is not your prince. I can help her and I will.”

“It’s too much,” Megan said. “You can’t, I can’t allow you.”

“You know what they were trying to do.”

“That doesn’t make it your fault. Ailill, please.”

Kris looked back and forth between them. “What are they trying to do? What is going on here?”

Adam looked over at him. “I thought it was obvious. They fed her àillidh uisge.”

Danny and Kris both looked at Megan but she just nodded. “There are other things that could have done this, but that is the most obvious method.”

Kris grabbed Adam’s arm and pulled him to the other side of the room, Danny following.

“What does that have to do with you?

Adam shook his head. “There is no time for that.”

“Make time.”

“I will tell you after. That woman can’t afford it now.”

“What can you do for her that the other one of you can’t?” Danny asked.

“That’s my special power, isn’t it?” Adam raised a hand. “The one everyone’s so damn ready to kill for. I can’t stop what’s happening to her, but I can make sure she can rise above it.”

He looked back over to the bed. “Not everyone can take pleasure from pain, but I don’t think that will be a problem for her.”

“If it’s that simple, what is Megan so afraid of?” Kris asked.

“I won’t be in any danger,” Adam said. The twist to the corner of his mouth as he said it didn’t do anything for Kris’s growing alarm. “It will take a fair amount of energy. I won’t be much use to anyone for a few days.”

“And?” There had to be an and.

Adam glared at him but at last gave in. “I will have to go some ways with her to help her get beyond what she is feeling. The magic is always somewhat . . . shared.”

Kris remembered what Allison told him about Adam’s magic—that you get what you bring to it. It hadn’t occurred to him that Adam was also dragged into whatever that turned out to be.

“No,” he said. “Megan’s right. You can’t.”

“I am not going to stand here and watch someone else suffer because of me.”

“This isn’t . . . she’s not Inir.”

“No,” Adam said. “This is worse.”

“I think we both know I can stop you.” It had always lain there between them—that unspoken tension from the power the binding spell gave Kris.

Adam’s eyes narrowed. “And I think we both know that you won’t.”

He waited a bare second and then went back to the bed. He was right. Kris didn’t stop him.

The woman looked up at Adam, desperate hunger in her eyes. Adam sat on the bed beside her and just took her hand in both of his. She closed her eyes and curled towards him, ecstasy chasing the pain on her face.

“You can give it to me now,” she said.

Megan took a shining silver needle and attached it to the end of the vial. She paused just a moment but then injected the liquid with what looked like practiced efficiency into the woman’s arm.

“Is there anyone we should bring?” Kris asked, having a little trouble with the idea that he’d just stood here watching someone be poisoned.

“No, not anymore,” she said. She opened her eyes and clutched at both Adam and Megan. “You’ll stay? You said you’d stay.”

“Of course,” Megan said.

“Tell me something—anything. Something from Faerie.”

“I can do better than that,” Megan said. “I can show you.” She put her hand back on the woman’s temple and the woman’s eyes fluttered closed again. Kris hoped whatever she was seeing was beautiful at least.

“Come on,” Danny said, taking his arm and pulling him into the hall.

“Where are we going?” Kris could not imagine what could be more important than this.

“She’s a person, not a zoo animal,” Danny said. “At least we can give her some privacy—some kind of dignity at least.”

What was happening in there had nothing to do with dignity, but Kris didn’t argue.

“We should probably check the perimeter anyway,” he said. They both knew there was no real reason to, but it at least let them pretend there was something useful to be done.

“You know the Triad has practically all the àillidh uisge in LA, don’t you?” Kris said when they were halfway around the second wall. They hadn’t found anything out of the ordinary and Kris was certain the rest of the story would be the same.

“Yeah,” Danny said. “And I know just how we paid for that new wing.”

They’d bought off Seacrest with the stuff Mike had found, not what Kris had brought back from Mikshva, but that didn’t really seem to make a difference now.

They walked the perimeter twice, both times Kris just fixing the little flaws in the boundaries that even Ron or Max could have handled. At last there was nothing to do but go back to the hallway and wait. It wasn’t long—an hour, maybe two.

The door opened and Megan came out. Dark shadows bruised the delicate skin beneath her eyes.

“It is done,” she said. “I will have to send someone for the body. The venom will still be dangerous.”

“Where will you take her?” Kris asked.

“To Faerie,” Megan said. “I think she would prefer that.”

“Thank you—for your help, I mean,” Danny said. “Do you want anything? I can get coffee—or there’s water. I’m sorry, that’s probably stupid. You probably want to go back to your people.”

“It’s not stupid.” She put her hand on his arm. “And tea would be welcome.”

Kris watched as they walked down the hallway to the main body of the house before pushing inside the door. Adam sat in the chair by the bed staring dully forward. He looked as emptied as Megan had been.

The woman didn’t look at peace. She looked terrified. Kris lifted the sheet and pulled it up to cover her face.

“Megan said they’d send someone for her,” Kris said.

“Her name was Noelle,” Adam said. “She wanted us to remember that.”

“Okay. Noelle.”

Adam stood and let Kris loop one of his arms over Kris’s shoulders when he stumbled. Kris led them back to his house. In the grey light just before dawn the yard was almost eerily still.

Adam rallied when they got back to the house but it was only long enough to grab a bottle of whiskey from the bar and take a long pull from it.

“Adam.”

What?

“Just—give me some of that will you?”

Adam handed over the bottle and Kris took his own swallow.

“I told you I’d tell you,” Adam said. “Just—sit on the couch, okay? I’ll be out in a minute.”

Kris didn’t entirely trust Adam’s ability to walk three feet unaided but he did as he was told. Adam went into the bedroom and came out bearing one of the vials he’d purchased from Mikshva.

“Don’t you think that’s caused enough trouble?”

“I don’t have the energy to make sure we’re not being watched, so this is our only option.”

Kris didn’t say anything as Adam uncapped the vial—not even when he cut open his own finger and added a generous portion of his own blood to the mix. The liquid’s glow shifted from silvery white to golden and Adam poured it in a smooth line around the couch, the both of them inside the circle.

“I should have told you a long time ago,” Adam said. “This just isn’t something humans outside of Faerie are ever allowed to know. It’s the kind of secret I thought you were better off not knowing.”

“So tell me now. What could that woman’s—Noelle’s--death have to do with you?”

“They did it because they couldn’t get me. They were trying to make a substitute.”

“Substitute for what? Could you just drop the cryptic shit for once?”

Adam took a deep breath. “My mother as you know is Queen Eilín. My father is a human named Eber Lambert.”

“That’s . . . that’s not possible. Everyone knows humans and fey can’t have children.”

But Adam shook his head. “Human women don’t have the magic to carry a fey child to term. We’ve always let you think that’s the end of the story. It’s not.”

Kris took a few deep breaths—it just couldn’t be. Except--he'd always thought Adam didn't look quite Sidhe. He'd always been too human, both in appearance and personality. “We’d have heard about it. You can’t keep a secret like that.”

“It’s rare, even for us,” Adam said. “Maybe every other generation—and even then we don’t all come into our magic. Most of us don’t, really.”

“But—the Sidhe hate humans.”

“That’s never really prevented attraction between humans and Sidhe,” Adam said. “And that’s especially true at Midsummer when we celebrate all the bright and ephemeral pleasures mortals represent.

“My father went to our greatest city for the Midsummer festival when he was young. It’s something of a tradition amongst humans in Western Faerie. He didn’t know who my mother was—she just seemed strange and beautiful. He took part in the games to try to win her attention. From what he says he failed at all of them, but she liked that he was brave enough to try it and that he could laugh at himself, after. And so she chose him of all of those present for her companion for the night.”

“You’re saying you came from that night.”

Adam nodded. “My father went back to his town first and met a woman named Leila. They’d just become engaged when my mother showed up with me. Eber and Leila were the ones who raised me, really. They’re the ones I think of as my parents.”

Kris looked down, trying to absorb this. “Your mother just left you there?”

“She was trying to protect me, I think,” Adam said. “I wasn’t always a beautiful swan, you know.”

The bitterness in his voice was a perfect match for the way he’d been the night Inir died. Kris slid closer and put his hand on Adam’s.

“We’re born human—or mostly. If we come into our Sidhe heritage it’s usually in puberty, but I could barely cast spells humans can call up easily, even then.” Adam twisted his hand and let Kris slide their fingers together. “They used it against her, I think. I wasn’t even a pretty child—and it just got worse when I was older.”

It made sense of some things—the way Adam talked about himself now and again, the way his humor sometimes twisted inward.

“She tried to pretend otherwise,” Adam said. “But I think it embarrassed her. It was worse because she was Queen. They expected she’d give them another Liandra.”

“Liandra?”

“She’s the one Inir talked about—the one who founded our empire. She carried a cutting West from the great Tree of Life that supports the old fey kingdom in Europe. The stories say her mortal blood fed it for three days but that her Sidhe magic let it grow greater than before. When she came down from the Tree a great river of magic sprang from its roots—it’s what they used to create Western Faerie. You call it the Current.

“That’s what they expect from us—not something awkward and human. She still lives up there. Although she’s fading quickly these days she was always there for comparison.”

Kris rubbed the back of Adam’s linked hand with his thumb. “I’m sorry.”

Adam tried on a smile that was more brave than real. “It wasn’t so terrible. My parents didn’t care if I ever became anything more than just their kid, you know? And the Sidhe—they weren’t all bad. Riagán always acted like it didn’t matter to him either. And my mother—she tried to be kind, I think. She just didn’t know what to do with me.”

“Something changed.”

Adam nodded. “When it seemed clear to all of them that I was never going to be more than human they let me come down to LA. It was . . . like a revelation. No one knew who I was. No one cared who I was. I got a really awful job and grew out of the stupid teenager phase. It felt like I finally had a life.”

“I think I can understand that,” Kris said. Adam wasn’t the only one who’d come to LA in search of anonymity.

“I joined this band. It was probably terrible, but I loved it. Singing was the one thing I was always good at—the one thing they all approved of. I did it as often as I could—in whatever run down venue would have me. I started to feel like I was really connecting with the audience—like I was really transporting them somewhere else. And then it started being that way every night.”

“That was your magic?” Kris asked.

“Yeah, I think so,” Adam said. “Baraz saw me give a show one night. I didn’t even know he was there. But then after he was bowing at me and calling me Highness and I didn’t even know what to do. I told him he had to be wrong, but I let him take me back to my mother’s city. And then all of a sudden I was Ailill and a prince, like everything before didn’t even matter.”

Kris couldn’t even imagine that. “That must have been confusing.”

“I didn’t handle it very well,” Adam said. “I’m not royalty—not the kind they think of, especially. And it was worse, because my magic turned out to be so rare, even for someone like me. They let me come back down here and live in the Embassy eventually. Baraz said having a rock and roll prince would help us with our image in the human lands.”

Considering the media’s mad passion for all things Ailill Baraz probably had been right there. But Kris couldn’t help but remember Adam’s story about finding the Sanctuary—how necessary that stolen bit of privacy had been. “And now you think someone’s trying to—what, create another one of you by feeding humans magic?”

“It’s the only thing that makes sense,” Adam said. “Except it won’t work, so they’re just killing people. Because of me.”

“No, it’s not,” Kris said, turning on the couch so he could face Adam more directly. Adam just looked at him, his whole face an open bruise.

“It is not because of you,” Kris said, anger almost like an out of body experience. “You think it would be better—if they’d finished that spell?”

He thought for a terrible moment that Adam might say it would be.

“No,” Adam said at last. “No, of course not, but it doesn’t change the fact that people have died for this. It was bad enough when it was just Fearghas and Sean and Ysabeau—even Inir. Noelle didn’t even know me.”

“I know it’s hard,” Kris said, curling a hand around the back of Adam’s neck. “And it doesn’t help that you’re exhausted. But you didn’t do this.”

“I know that—I do,” Adam said. “But it doesn’t help.”

“Yeah, I get that.”

Adam let Kris shift them until they were both lying on the couch, Adam lying half on top. He didn’t sleep although he quieted after a while and Kris had to be happy with that. It was exactly where Kris had been fantasizing about getting Adam for weeks now, but even the solid weight of Adam’s body on top of him couldn’t mean anything, not then.

It was apparent Kris was going to have to start trusting someone. He just hoped he wasn’t making the wrong choices here.

~*~*~*~*~

Baraz was coolly civil though plainly enraged when they reported Noelle’s fate—and more particularly Adam and Megan’s involvement in it—later that day.

He sent the pair of them off with the strongest of the Sidhe healers. Kris was dispatched to his office for a long wait. Allison waited for him there, small and looking younger than he’d seen her.

“Is Adam okay?” she asked.

“Physically? I think he’ll be okay, yeah.” She didn’t ask about the rest.

Baraz strode in about a half-hour later—all pretence of civility gone. “The pair of you will tell me what you have been up to. Now.”

“We’ve been investigating,” Kris said. “We went there—to The Sithen. The night you went to Lady Abdul’s party.”

“Does Ailill know of this?”

“No,” Allison said. “We lied to him.”

“And what did you discover in this ‘investigation’?”

They both paused and Baraz leaned forward. “Need I remind you that this is not a game? Ailill’s protests to the contrary, he could have killed himself with that piece of foolishness last night.”

Allison cast a look at Kris. “We found traces of a Shadow—there, where they grabbed Adam.”

“No,” Baraz said. “Impossible.”

“I know what I sensed,” Allison said. “Send one of the other fire spirits. They’ll tell you the same thing.”

“Do not think I won’t,” Baraz said, but Kris could tell he believed them.

He sat back in his chair. “This changes things dramatically.”

“Do you know who could do that—bring the Shadows out of Faerie?” Kris asked.

“I think that question may be getting ahead of ourselves,” Baraz said. “Why assume it was someone who brought the Shadows and not the Shadows themselves? They have long resented how the border keeps them chained.”

Allison sat up straight. “But they’ve never left Faerie before. And they’re made of magic—more than any of us.”

“And we live nearly directly in the path of the strongest source of magic outside of our own kingdoms,” Baraz said.

“You think they can travel along the Current?” Kris asked.

“Not all the way from the border,” Baraz said. “And not during the day—but if they found some way to gate into the one of the stronger tides of magic, I believe they could live outside of Faerie for some limited time, yes.”

Kris had seen maps of the magic currents in LA. “But the Current doesn’t run through LA—and none of the tributaries even come close to the theater district.”

“You are assuming that the course of those tributaries can never be altered,” Baraz said. “Controlling the wilder magic is a rare talent among us—I would have said there is only one who has that skill and I still would say this kind of treachery is beyond her.”

“Then who?” Kris said.

“That I cannot tell you,” Baraz said. “And what is more, I cannot begin to guess.”



Section 13
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