Home > Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10)

Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10)
Author: Ilona Andrews

PROLOGUE

THE PAIN SPREAD from my hips into my whole body, pulling my bones apart. I gritted my teeth. It twisted me until I thought I would break and then let go. I slumped back into the water.

Andrea dabbed my face with a cool rag. “Almost there.”

Curran squeezed my hand. I squeezed back.

Above us the ceiling of the cavern reflected the shiny water patterns. Pretty . . .

“Stay with us,” Doolittle told me.

I could just close my eyes for a minute. Just for one minute. I was so tired.

“Does it always take this long?” my aunt snapped.

“Sometimes,” Evdokia said, her hand on my stomach.

“It never took that long for me.”

“Each woman is different,” Andrea told her.

A contraction gripped me. It felt like my bones split open. It passed and I slumped back down.

“It’s been sixteen hours,” my aunt snarled. “She’s exhausted and hurting. Do something. Give her some of those pills your civilization likes so much.”

“She can’t have any pills,” Evdokia said, her voice calm. “It’s too late. The baby is coming.”

“Give her the pills or I’ll kill you, witch.”

“If you give her anything, it will hurt the baby,” Andrea said.

The baby. I snapped out of the fog and back to reality. We were in the witch forest, inside the cavern with the magic spring. I could feel the Covens working outside. They had sheathed the cavern in a blanket of impenetrable magic. As long as it held, my father wouldn’t find us. At least that was the idea. Around me the water of the magic spring splashed. I lay in the smooth hollow of the stone, my head raised, my feet facing the pool of water. Evdokia stood between my legs, up to her hips in the water. Doolittle waited on my right. There were too many people here.

Another spasm gripped me. The pain tore at me.

“Push,” Doolittle said. “Push. Just like that, good . . . Good.”

“You’ve got this,” Curran told me. “Come on, baby.”

I gripped his hand and pushed. A blinding pulse of agony shot through me and then suddenly it was easier.

“One more,” Doolittle said.

“Push,” Evdokia urged. “You can do it.”

“Push. One more.”

There was no more to be had, but somehow I found some, pushed again, and suddenly my body felt so light. The pain spread through me, hot and almost comforting. I blinked.

“Congratulations!” Evdokia raised something out of the water and I saw my son. He was red and wrinkled, with a shock of dark hair, and he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He took a deep breath and screamed.

Curran grinned at me. “You did it, baby.”

My aunt glided into the water, a translucent shadow. Evdokia cut the cord and held my son up to her, and Erra took him, holding him up by the pure magic coursing through her ghostly arms. A pulse of power shot through her and into the baby. For a second, my son glowed.

“The blood bred true.” Pride vibrated in Erra’s voice. “Behold the Prince of Shinar and know he is perfect!”

Magic burst above us. I felt it even through the barrier, aimed at the witches’ shield like a needle. My father was coming.

My aunt broke apart into a cloud of pure glowing magic. The cloud swirled around my son. He floated in the cocoon of Erra’s magic, shielded by her essence.

The needle of my father’s magic smashed into the witches’ barrier. For a torturous fraction of a second it held, but the needle burrowed, pushing harder and harder. A moment and he would be through.

He would not get our son.

Power tore out of me in a focused torrent of pain. I sank every ounce of my strength into it. My power met the invading magic. The water of the pool rose in long strands and hung suspended in the air above the dry lake bed.

Words of power slid from my lips. “Not today. Not ever.”

We struggled, the magic vibrating between us, the currents of power coursing and twisting as if alive.

The needle pushed, the weight of Roland’s full power behind it.

I screamed and there was no pain in my voice, only rage. Magic flooded into me, the land giving me the reserve I needed, and I sent it against the intruding power.

The needle shattered.

The water collapsed back into the cavern’s lake.

I slumped back. My father had failed.

I was done. I was so done.

Curran jumped into the water. Erra released our son, and Curran caught him. My aunt re-formed. Something passed between her and Curran, an odd look, but I was too tired to care.

Curran laid our baby on my chest. I hugged him to me. He was so tiny. So tiny. A life Curran and I had made together.

Curran wrapped his hands around me, lifting both of us to him.

“Name the child,” Erra said.

“Conlan Dilmun Lennart,” I said. The first name belonged to Curran’s father. The second came from Erra. It was the name of an ancient kingdom, and she said it would protect him.

Conlan Dilmun Lennart squirmed on my chest and cried. There was no better sound in the world.

CHAPTER

1

Thirteen months later

A THUD JERKED me awake. I was up and moving, my sword in my hand, before my brain processed that I was now standing.

I paused, Sarrat raised.

A thin sliver of watery, predawn light broke through the gap between the curtains. The magic was up. On my left, in the little nursery Curran had sectioned off from our bedroom, Conlan stood in his crib, wide-awake.

The room was empty except for me and my son.

Thud-thud-thud.

Someone pounded on my front door. The clock on the wall told me it was ten till seven. We kept shapeshifters’ hours, late to bed, late to rise. Everyone I knew was aware of that.

“Uh-oh!” Conlan said.

Uh-oh is right. “Wait for me,” I whispered. “Mommy has to take care of something.”

I ran out of the bedroom, moving fast and quiet, and shut the door behind me.

Thud-thud-thud.

Hold your horses, I’m coming. And then you’ll have some explaining to do.

It took me two seconds to clear the long staircase leading from the third floor to the reinforced front door. I grabbed the lever, slid it sideways, and lowered the metal flap covering the small window. Teddy Jo’s brown eyes stared back at me.

“What the hell are you doing here? Do you know what time it is?”

“Open the door, Kate,” Teddy Jo breathed. “It’s an emergency.”

It was always an emergency. My whole life was one long chain of emergencies. I unbarred the door and pulled it open. He charged in past me. His hair stuck out from his head, windblown. His face was bloodless and his eyes wild. He’d flown here at top speed.

A sinking feeling tugged at my stomach. Teddy Jo was Thanatos, the Greek angel of death. Freaking him out took a lot of doing. I thought it had been too quiet lately.

I shut the door and locked it.

“I need help,” he said.

“Is anybody in danger right now?”

“They’re dead. They’re all dead.”

Whatever was happening had already happened.

“I need you to come and see this.”

“Can you explain what it is?”

“No.” He grabbed my hand. “I need you to come right now.”

I looked at his hand on mine. He let go.

I walked into the kitchen, took a pitcher of iced tea out of the fridge, and poured him a tall glass. “Drink this and try to calm down. I’m going to get dressed and find a babysitter for Conlan, and then we’ll go.”

He took the glass. The tea trembled.

I ran upstairs, opened the door, and nearly collided with my son. Conlan grinned at me. He had my dark hair and Curran’s gray eyes. He also had Curran’s sense of humor, which was driving me crazy. Conlan started walking early, at ten months, which was typical of shapeshifter children, and now he was running at full speed. His favorite games included running away from me, hiding under various pieces of furniture, and knocking stuff off of horizontal surfaces. Bonus points if the object broke.

“Mommy has to go work.” I pulled off the long T-shirt I used as a nightgown and grabbed a sports bra.

“Baddaadada!”

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