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*This is the new free novel I’m posting here a chapter at a time. This is pre-first-draft, as it comes out. It is a sequel to Witchfinder which will soon be taken down (once edited) and put for sale on Amazon (It’s half done. My wretched health this year delayed everything. I hope to finish MY edits and cut and add this weekend — I almost made it last weekend — at which point it will take another two weeks at the editor). Meanwhile, if you donate $6 or more, I’ll get you a copy of Rogue Magic, once finished and edited, in your favored ebook format when it’s done. Of course, if you’re already subscribing to the blog at a level at which you get whichever books come out that year, you don’t need to worry. *
NOTICE: For those unsure about copyright law and because there was a particularly weird case, just because I’m making the pre-first draft of my novel available to blog readers, it doesn’t mean that this isn’t copyrighted to me. Rogue Magic as all the contents of this blog is © Sarah A. Hoyt 2013. Do not copy, alter, distribute or resell without permission. Exceptions made for ATTRIBUTED quotes as critique or linking to this blog. Credit for the cover image is © Ateliersommerland | Dreamstime.com
I could see the magic in the Earl’s pocket and I could see it was unstable. I didn’t know what it was meant to do when it exploded, but it hardly mattered. In a room crammed with high magic users, what that bomb would do was kill us all, or at least make us unable to use magic for the rest of our natural lives. But since the physical effects of its explosion would pull the building down on our heads, it would kill us either way.
I jumped, a spell half-formed in my mind, and communicating itself to my fingers, something that could not possibly be done by these people, but which my power lent itself to. I was almost sure, anyway, that this was a spell of my people’s.
Putting my hand over it told me otherwise. It wasn’t a spell of my people’s.
I knew it, confusedly, at the back of my head, even as I tried to removed it through the honorable Jonathan’s coat fabric, failed, and plunged my hand into the pocket, grabbed the thing again. I kept the damper spell on it as I ran towards the door, past the guards.
All this time I’d been trying to get out, and past those guards, and now here I was. I didn’t think that my captors had even thought to follow me.
Out in the cool air, in the plaza outside, sweat stinging my eyes, I thought only where to throw it. There were houses in every direction in London, and I didn’t want to pull the building down over some sleeping family. And then there were magic users all over too.
I threw it the only way I could think of, towards the fountain with the lion in the middle of the plaza. It was actually a monument to Richard the Lionheart and showed him in both his human and his lion form.
The bomb, which now revealed itself to be a small square of black glass hardly bigger than my palm, fell just short of the fountain. Okay, the chance of its being defused if it fell in water were low, but at least there had been a chance. Now there was none. It fell outside the stone parapet.
And since I’d removed the dampening effect from it, it blew. It blew with incredible force, and explosion of light and sound, and I stood there, and would, I guess, have been stoned to death by fragments of statue.
It seemed like I stood there an hour, and the bits of statue were coming at me at an almost imperceptible pace, except that the Honorable Jonathan bore me to ground and covered me with his body, as he shouted, loudly, “To the ground men, are you daft?”
I knew it was the Earl from the shout. I’d know that voice anywhere, as I’d heard it that horrible night, among the invasion of demons.
He lay atop of me. He was warm and heavy and smelled strongly of gin. He was taking his weight on his elbows. He whispered in my ear, “Miss Ginevra Elfborne. So good to meet you again.”
I wanted to plant a knee where it would hurt him. Which was stupid, since I seemed to think fondly of him. Actually, maybe it wasn’t stupid at all. I despised myself for thinking fondly of him. There had been so many men, and so many saner ones.
But his light, teasing tone made me want to hurt him. I thought he didn’t care at all. And then he whispered, “I’ve been looking for you all over, and I thought I’d go distracted.”
And I stopped feeling like I’d like to hurt him and sighed. “I had—“ I started. Pebbles and stones and bits of statue were pelting on him. I could hear them fall on him and around us. A tinkle of glass announced the breaking of a window on this building somewhere. “I had things to do. I had…”
“Yes,” he said. “I think you did.” The rain of fragments was slowing down. “Now, I think it’s safe. Get ready to run.”
Suddenly he was off me, and grabbing my hand, and pulling me up in a fluid movement, and then he was running, fast, away from the office of the witchfinder, and towards an alley. And then down that alley, like a man who knows his way, and down another alley, and up another, and then up a flight of rickety stairs that smelled like urine and vomit, and into a salon.
I had barely had time to register that the salon was dingy, decorated in the fashion of twenty years ago, and that the woman – at least I think it was a woman. At least it was wearing a dress – in the middle of it was enormous and frog-like, before Jonathan gasped out. “Higgins. We need a room. Fast.”
The… almost surely woman, nodded. “I guess you do, Jon. First room on the right is free.”
The first room on the right was a bedroom, which didn’t shock me, of course, but it was clean and looked comfortable, which did. There was a high bed, with curtains, and a large sofa, and a small table with glasses and a bottle, and it all smelled clean.
Jonathan saw me looking at the bed and said, “Never mind that. I brought you here because it’s a highly illegal brothel for magical creatures. Never mind. If you hear strange sounds, ignore them. What I mean is, it’s shielded against magic. Now, it is my impression you were a prisoner of Seraphim’s, and also that you were the one who set the hooks of the rogue magic into my world.
“I would very much like to hear your explanation of why.”