Home > Natural Dual-Mage (Magical Mayhem #3)(14)

Natural Dual-Mage (Magical Mayhem #3)(14)
Author: K.F. Breene

“Please stop,” I begged. “I’m losing control.”

“Do it.”

Darius’s words on the breeze. Barely loud enough for me to hear, but plenty loud for me to feel.

Because I could feel words now, apparently.

Rex leaned forward just a little, and the power shoving me thickened. He was pushing his advantage, I could feel it. Bullying me with his brawn and, perhaps unknowingly, also bullying me with his magic. He didn’t think I had the might to take him.

“Rush him,” Reagan said softly.

Without warning, all four vampire guards from around the room charged forward, right toward Rex. Roger surged up, his magic erupting. The shifter sentries launched into action.

Reagan’s magic pumped out and then through me, wonderfully complex. A solid wall of air cut the rest of the shifters, including Roger, off from Rex. The Alpha roared, something unbalanced and vile about the sound. He braced and ripped his arms forward into a flex, his jacket finally giving way. It ripped at the seams and across his back.

I reached through Rex’s magic with a kung fu fist, battering away all the wires and spindly parts and strange things that I didn’t understand, until I found the root. The spark. The thing that made magical creatures change. It had been in that goblin, it was in Rex…and it was also in the vampires. Pulsing way down deep, far below the surface of their magic.

Rex’s spark flared…and I twisted it, snuffing it out, just like I’d done with that goblin. Magic ballooned in the room, but his animal didn’t emerge.

The vampires reached him, and I felt their sparks erupt before their claws and fangs extended.

Roger slammed into the wall he couldn’t see, his magic whirling around him, ready to change.

“Don’t hurt him,” I yelled at the vampires, now hustling Rex out of the room. He howled like a beast, and his magic choked me, but he didn’t change. Couldn’t. I’d blown out his spark. “Do not hurt him! It’s no longer a fair fight.”

Clothes tore as the other shifters in the room, save Roger, erupted into clouds of fur. A snarling weretiger and werewolf fell down on all fours, but the wall of air held them. They had nowhere to go.

All the magic swirling in the room sucked me up in a tornado, dragging me under.

“Easy, Penny,” Emery said, his hand on my arm.

Roger stilled as Rex disappeared and the vampires followed him out. The North American Alpha clearly realized he was trapped, and instead of raging or losing control, he switched gears. His calculating gaze surveyed the empty air in front of him. In turn, he studied those left in the room, his eyes lingering on me the longest. I had no doubt his animal form was incredibly dangerous, or he wouldn’t keep his position, but he was ten times as cunning as a man. He wasn’t a person you’d ever trust to be confined to a cage.

We needed him on our side.

“What just happened?” he asked.

“Why, we proved a point, did we not?” Vlad put out his hand, inviting Roger back to his seat. “Do not be alarmed. Rex will not be hurt. He will be thrown outside, that is all. He will then be free to go about his day.”

“What just happened?” Roger asked again, the warm edge of anger riding his words.

“We proved that Penny and Emery are every bit as powerful as we said,” Reagan said, also breathing quickly. She sat down slowly, and without knowing why, I was thankful she included Emery in what had just happened. “And they made sure Rex will not shift again. I’ve heard stories, and now I’ve seen him in action. There’s no way he was equipped to be an Alpha. You should’ve stepped in, but since you didn’t, the naturals did it for you. You’re welcome.”

Roger’s jaw clenched.

“We have a lot of power at our disposal,” Darius said, his eyes on me. “We will not lose. We can’t. But we need the shifters.”

He was reading my mind. Or else I was muttering out loud again. Anything was possible at that point. The haze still covered me like a thick fog and my body felt strung out. Magic pinged through me, but I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was shutting down—I could feel it.

“I will commit to this venture,” Vlad said, his words coming slowly. “We can discuss the resources we will need, and we will also discuss my level of involvement in the restructuring of the Guild, but I will mark this as—”

“No.” I pointed at him, battling through the haze to make this very important point. “No. You will help us take down the Guild, and you will have input in its resurrection. But that is where your influence will end. Abruptly end. That goes for all of us.” I swung my finger at each of us in turn, ending with Emery and me. “The Guild will be rebuilt as a democracy, with rules. With morals. Mages will decide its fate, not other creatures.”

Silence descended again, and the remaining vampires in the room clenched their jaws.

“Are you a woman who sticks to her guns, Penny Bristol?” Roger asked, and I realized he hadn’t said too much for the whole meeting. He’d been listening.

“I don’t usually have any guns. I’ve always gotten pushed around.” I wiped my clammy forehead and leaned against Emery’s arm. “But in this, yes. I will not bend. And if the rest of the people in this room won’t agree, then I’ll tear down the Guild some other way. I will not go through all this trouble just to end up in the same situation again later, with only the players changed. And if you let a vampire in to run anything, you can bet they’ll end up owning you in one way or another.”

Vlad put his elegant hand to his chest. “That’s hurtful.”

Laughter bubbled up through me, because I doubted even a stake through the heart would hurt that vampire. He wasn’t like Darius—he had no emotion to speak of. It made him unpredictable and ten times more dangerous. I had one thing going for me. Judging by his sparkling eyes and dazzling smile, he was teasing. We were on the same page.

“I’m in,” Roger said flatly, but I could see the tightness in his eyes. The tension in his shoulders. What had just happened with Rex had deeply shaken him. That didn’t prevent him from thinking rationally, though. “We’ll need to talk more specifics, but as long as Penny has a major hand in rebuilding, I’ll join this endeavor. But let it be known…” He leaned forward and his intensity kicked up a notch. “This does not mean I trust vampires any more than I ever have. When this is over, things go back to the way they were. Is that clear?”

“I already miss our newfound connection.” Vlad’s tone was light, still teasing, but it felt like a blade resting on billowing silk. They were also on the same page.

“This alliance, however temporary, will be one for the record books.” Reagan shook her head. Her magic pumped into the room. “Then it’ll get thrown out, because no one will believe it.”

“The enemy of my enemy, as they say.” I gripped the table ledge as another wave of vertigo hit me. I tried to wave the magic off, but my hand felt like lead. My heart rushed through my ears and my stomach churned. Blackness rushed in, clouding my vision.


“This will need to be solidly planned,” Roger said with reservations. “Rex had a point. We’re up against incredible odds.” His jaw clenched as he said the other Alpha’s name, and Emery could tell he wanted to ask more about what had happened to Rex. In truth, Emery wondered the same thing, but delving into the Rex situation might mean upsetting the fragile alliance they’d just formed.

“Ugh.” Penny put the heel of her hand against her head.

“You okay?” Emery leaned forward to try and glimpse her face. This was another situation he badly wanted to get more information about. She’d been periodically acting strangely throughout the whole meeting. With tension running high, some outbursts were expected, but even so…

“I don’t feel the best…” She pitched forward suddenly, her head thunking on the table.

He shot up and leaned over her, resting his hand on her back. Heat blazed into his palm; her body was on fire. Her forehead felt the same.

“What’s wrong?” Reagan said, standing. Her chair sailed back and hit the wall.

Roger stood too, pushing the chairs away so he could lean in and see Penny’s face. He felt her forehead. “That’d be a bad fever by shifter standards…”

Shifters ran hotter than normal or magical humans. Penny was burning up.

Without another word, Emery scooped her up into his arms and swung her away from the table. Reagan was by his side a moment later, looking anxious.

She put two fingers to Penny’s neck. “Is she breathing?”

Emery felt the shallow rise and fall of her chest as he hurried for the double doors. “Yes.”

Penny was probably fine. It was probably just a fever, inflamed by the intensity of the meeting. She’d likely just fainted.

But as he headed for the door, a warning blared at the back of his head. Penny hadn’t been acting normal, even for her. She’d had a scare yesterday. She could suddenly null Reagan’s powerful and complex magic. She’d done something to Rex to prevent him from changing, a feat Emery had never imagined possible before yesterday.

Only fools believe in coincidences.

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