Home > Magic Redeemed (Hall of Blood and Mercy #2)

Magic Redeemed (Hall of Blood and Mercy #2)
Author: K.M. Shea

Chapter One

Hazel

“Therefore, it’s been decided that it’s time you face an opponent in a real fight. As such, Gavino will not be holding back.”

I had been fussing over my chisa katana—which is basically a smaller version of the Japanese katana—so I clearly had misheard Celestina’s plans for the day’s training session. “I’m sorry—say what now?”

Celestina tapped a finger on her clipboard. “You’re skilled enough with your new level of magic that you can now fight toe-to-toe with one of us.”

I slowly blinked. “By us you mean a Drake Family vampire?”

“Yes.”

“A vampire from the Drake Family,” I said again. “The deadliest vampire Family in the Midwest. And you think I—who only unlocked my full magic potential two months ago—can survive fighting one of you?”

The white of Celestina’s smile magnified the tawny bronze color of her skin. “Precisely.”

“Are you crazy?” I demanded. “There’s no way I can keep up!”

“Gavino is the lowest ranked member in the Family who is currently in Drake Hall,” Celestina said. “If you use your magic correctly you should win.”

“Win?” My voice went up several octaves.

Gavino—who had the shoulder span of a defensive lineman and the height of a troll, making him heavily muscled for a vampire, which are usually more on the lean side—bowed slightly to me. “May we fight nobly.”

“Aren’t you offended by this?” I asked.

I had sought sanctuary among the Drake Family long enough to know most of the vampires by name, if not personally. I knew Gavino pretty well because he usually stepped in as my trainer for the day if Celestina—the Drake Family’s First Knight—or Josh—the Second Knight—were too busy.

Gavino tilted his head as he considered my question. “Why would I be offended? There is nothing but valor in a proper fight.”

“I’m a wizard,” I said. “The idea that I could beat you is a joke.”

Wizards are considered the bottom feeders of supernaturals. Sure, we can do magic, but we can’t match the speed of a vampire, or the brute strength of a werewolf. The only kind of being we could reasonably defeat was the fae—and that’s because as wizards our ability to use magic cancels out a lot of the spells and enchantments fae use on their opponents.

However, through the rather…unusual teaching methods of the Drake Family, I’d come to see that wizards could be more powerful. The trick was training. For the most part, we wizards were content to summon balls of fire and flick them at our opponents. But the Drake Family had me wrapping electricity around my katana—which packed a heck of a punch and was a lot harder to evade than a single firebolt.

I could see how we wizards could fight far better than we were taught—with enough training we could probably beat off a werewolf and maybe defend ourselves from a lesser vamp. (I had actually killed a crazy vampire named Solene who was on a murdering spree when I unlocked my magic two months ago.) But.

But!

Fighting a Drake vampire—the most powerful vampire Family in the Midwest, who trained harder than werewolves and were versed in everything from martial arts to sidearms? I didn’t stand a deer’s chance in a werewolf den.

“You won’t win with that kind of attitude,” Celestina announced.

Gavino sagely nodded. “The mental battle is equally as important as the physical fight.”

“How about we wait another week or ten?” I suggested.

Celestina pursed her lips—not a good sign.

“Um—Killian! Does Killian know about your plan?”

“His Eminence suggested the plan,” Celestina said.

“Why would he do that? I don’t recall pissing him off recently.” I gripped the hilt of my katana with worry.

“He is not angry with you; rather, he believes in you,” Gavino said with great conviction.

“He believes it would be funny to watch you crush me, is more like it,” I muttered.

“Hazel,” Celestina said. “You are fretting over nothing. You’ve had practice matches with us before.”

“Yeah—but as you said they were practice. If Gavino is serious I’m going to die.”

“Don’t be silly.” Celestina tossed the tail of her hair—wound in a French braid—over her shoulder. “You’ll have to stop him before it comes to that.”

I could tell my complaints weren’t going to get me anywhere, which meant one of two things.

1) Despite Celestina’s assertions, Gavino was going to take it easy on me, or

2) I’d have to do my best and get pounded in the process, which would hopefully make Celestina—or more importantly Killian—realize I wasn’t as good as they thought and adjust my training accordingly.

Either way, I was in for a rough time. But I wasn’t going to take it sitting down—oh no, I’d scratch and claw my way through this if I had to.

Because no matter how questionable the Drake Family training methods were, they got results. And I needed to keep getting better, because eventually I’d return to House Medeis and be in for the fight of my life.

I followed Celestina over to the mat-covered area the vampires used for their matches, unsheathing my chisa katana and setting the scabbard on a bench before I joined Gavino at the center.

I took a deep breath and adjusted into a proper stance, then tapped my powers. Wizards used magic by pulling it from the air and filtering it through their blood. It made my mouth taste tangy—like that zing-y feeling pineapple leaves on your tongue.

My body temperature rose as my magic flowed around me, and I felt the tell-tale warmth of my wizard mark surfacing on my skin.

A wizard mark was kind of like a magic-sensitive tattoo that only showed up when we tapped into magic. It was usually a pattern of swirls, shapes, or spikes, but more important than the design was the size. When my magic was sealed, I had one swirl under my left eye.

Now, with my magic unbound, my mark extended up into my hairline and brushed past my jawline and down my neck.

Gavino cracked his knuckles while he waited, watching me with something that looked like approval.

Celestina settled her hands on the fitted waistline of her black suit. “Ready? Then begin!”

I dove sidewise as I flung a fistful of blue fire at Gavino.

He, of course, already wasn’t there.

Vampires are fast. They don’t have great defenses, but they move so quickly it doesn’t matter because they’re on you before you can get a good hit in.

Rather than stop, I darted in an unpredictable pattern as I wrapped my sword in magic. I whirled around, and Gavino leaned back slightly to avoid the magic-charged blade, then leaned in to grab me.

I couldn’t recover and bring my sword up fast enough. But as his fingers bunched around my shoulder I kicked at his side with my right foot, which was encased with blue fire.

Gavino grunted, and the smell of burnt fabric tickled my nose.

Unfortunately, he didn’t let me go. But my kick had bought me the precious seconds I needed to reverse my katana so the edge of the blade faced him. I flicked it up in a diagonal slash.

Gavino leaped backwards to avoid the blade that hissed and spat blue colored electricity.

“Neatly done,” he praised.

I didn’t reply—I was too busy trying to survive—but I tried to press my advantage and used my sword to swing a bolt of lightning at him.

Gavino ducked it, then closed in on me within the blink of an eye. He had one hand wrapped around the hilt of my katana—completely covering my much smaller hands—and grasped my shoulder with the other.

I tried to heat my hands with some magic shaped into blue flames, but before I could get a good roaring fire, Gavino plucked my katana from my hands and flung it away.

In one smooth movement he scooped me up, holding me upside down with my arms pinned to my waist by his arms as he held me securely against his super ripped chest.

See? What’d I tell you—totally going easy on me!

But there was no way Celestina was going to call the match here, which meant I was about to experience some pain.

My mind raced as I thrashed, trying to wriggle my way out of Gavino’s grasp.

Filtering magic into fire didn’t seem to bother him too much—it obviously hurt when I’d kicked it into him, but he was way more wary of my katana. But was that because of the cutting edge on it, or the magic electricity I swaddled my blade in?

Only one way to find out!

I breathed out, pushing magic out of every pore in my body and transforming it into electricity that crackled and popped. I didn’t know how much power I needed to get Gavino to let me go, so I used quite a bit. Enough that I couldn’t hear anything besides the crackling fizz of the stuff.

Gavino let me go—great! Unfortunately, I couldn’t disentangle my arms, so I mostly fell on my head—that was bad.

I groaned, pain blossoming in my head as I rolled slightly, looking up just in time to see Gavino—still crackling with electricity—go limp and fall directly on top of me.

Getting dropped on my head was no joke, but having the bulkiest Drake vampire land on me?

Yeah, that hurt way more.

I lost all the air in my lungs, but trapped under his massive hulk I couldn’t wheeze for more, either. I tried to move—to claw my way out from underneath him, but Gavino weighed too much, and my body wouldn’t listen to any commands.

My ears rang, and my vision grew fuzzy and dark.

When I came to, Killian Drake was crouched at my side. His red eyes—which were closer to black with flecks of red most of the time—were narrowed, but once he confirmed I was conscious again he straightened his shoulders.

“I believe you are the first person to have knocked yourself out by dropping a vampire on your head. Well done,” he said in his irritatingly rich voice.

I groaned, and my fingers twitched as I tried to move my arms. “I didn’t think one zap would hurt him that much.”

   
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