Shadow’s Blade – Snippet 20

I went inside, found the keys, and walked to the pickup. The driver’s side door groaned a bit when I opened it, and the interior had that old-burnt-vinyl smell that’s unique to cars and trucks that sit out for too long in the desert sun. It probably could have used an oil change, and the paint had faded over the years. Still, the truck had less than sixty thousand miles on it, and when I turned the key, it started right up. It might not have been vintage, or even “classic,” according to the definitions used by car dealers, but if my dad had wanted to sell it, he could have gotten a good price. I almost laughed at the thought; that was never going to happen.

I shut it off and walked back to where he sat. He glared off toward the mountains, muttering to himself. He was cogent, but I’d ticked him off a little bit by asking for the truck.

“I’ll be careful with it,” I said. “I take good care of my own car, I’ll do the same for yours.”

“You’d better. That thing’s vintage.”

“Doesn’t vintage mean it’s from the Twenties?”

He cast a nasty look my way. “You know what I mean.”

“I told you I’d be careful with it. I’ll even bring it back with a full tank.”



He nodded, his expression thawing. “Now, what’s this magic you want me to do?”

I sat once more. “Well, that’s a little more difficult. I’ve used spells to, in effect, mute conversations I didn’t want her to hear. I want to use a similar spell to make it so that she can’t find me. I’ve never cast a spell like this before, and I’m not exactly sure how it would work. But I have a feeling that if I cast it on myself, she’ll still be able to track me. She knows my magic. That’s not enough for her to overcome the spells I’ve used to keep her from eavesdropping, but it might allow her to follow me. If you cast the spell, though . . .” I left the thought unfinished.

“Interesting. Have you asked Namid about this?”

“Namid isn’t allowed to interfere.”

“I know that. But he’s allowed to teach, and we need to be taught a spell.”

Put that way, it made a lot of sense.

“Namid,” my dad said, calling out the name. “We need your help.”

An instant later, the runemyste materialized before us, sunlight sparkling on his smooth waters.

“You summoned me, Leander Fearsson. This is something you have not done in many years.”

“I know. I’m sorry. But Justis and I need to do a bit of magic, and we’re not sure how to cast the spell, or even if it’s possible.”

Namid glanced at me, but then addressed my dad again. “And what is this spell?”

“Tell him,” my father said.

“I want to make it impossible for Saorla to find me. Is there a camouflage spell that would work against someone with her powers? Something that would allow me to come and go as I please, without her following me?”

The myste’s waters roughened. “She follows you?”

She follows me, she sends her weremancers after me, she even sent a note tied to the leg of a were. I considered telling him all of this, but in the next instant thought better of it. He would confront her, and that in turn would make her even more angry with me than she was. I was handling her little harassments. I didn’t need to tell on her, like some kid in school tattling on the locker room bully. On the flip side, I sensed that she truly feared Namid. If she had been following me today — and I suppose it was possible — his arrival would have been enough to frighten her off.

“She seems to be keeping track of where I go,” I said, hoping I could leave it at that.

“How long has she been doing this?”

“Long enough. It’s not a big deal. But I don’t want her following me today. I’m trying to find a weremyste, and I think Saorla is after her, too. I don’t want to lead the dark sorcerers to her.”

“She should not be harrying you,” the myste said, as much to himself as to me. “I have made this clear to her.”

“Namid, it’s all right. Just tell me whether or not there’s a spell that’ll do what I want it to.”

“Yes, of course there is,” he said, his voice rumbling like flood waters behind a dam. “Have I not told you before that runecrafting is a living art? If the spell has not yet been used, then you must create it yourself, but there is always a way.”

“But I’d have to cast it,” my father said. “Isn’t that right? If Justis does it, and she knows his magic, she might still know where he is, no matter how we cast the spell.”

“You may well be right,” Namid said, sounding impressed.

Dad jerked a thumb in my direction. “He thought of that, not me.”

“Well done, Ohanko.” His glowing eyes narrowed. “If you can dampen your magic in some way, you might make yourself invisible to those of us who can sense such things.”

“Right. That’s what I was thinking. But I don’t know the spell.”

“Do you?” Namid asked my father.

Dad shook his head, but his gaze flicked toward me, and I had the feeling that he was protecting my feelings.

“Of course you do,” I said. “It’s all right. Tell him.”

“I don’t know that I can explain it,” he said, an admission of sorts. He frowned, eyeing me the way he might an old broken down car he wasn’t quite sure how to fix. After a few seconds, I felt magic stir the air around me. The skin on my arms pebbled.

Namid’s eyes widened. “Good, Lokni. Very good. That is a powerful glamour. I do not sense him anymore, and yet there he stands.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

Dad shrugged. “I thought of a blanket, one of those silvery thermal ones that the astronauts took to space. And I imagined it covering you so that your magic couldn’t be seen or felt.” He shrugged again, a small grin playing at the corners of his mouth. “I guess I can still cast new spells when I have to.”

I smiled. “I guess.”

“I will leave you now,” Namid said. His bright gaze lingered on me for a few seconds. “Saorla has done more than follow you. I sense this. You would prefer not to discuss the matter now, and I will respect your wishes. But this is a conversation you and I will have eventually.”

I had the distinct impression that he wasn’t asking for my acquiescence so much as expecting it. I nodded and watched him fade.

“Sounds like you have a trip to the wood shed in store.”

“Yeah,” I said, still staring at the spot where Namid had been. “But I can’t worry about that now.” I faced my dad. “There’s one more thing I need you to do. I’m going to cast the spell I’ve used to muffle my conversations. Between that spell, and my car sitting by your trailer, I should be able to convince Saorla that I’m here with you. But the ruse will work better if you’re inside the trailer rather than outside.”

A frown flitted across his lined face. I felt much worse asking this of him than I had asking for the truck. Sitting outside and watching for birds was one of the few pleasures he still had in his life. Making him give that up, even for one day, seemed unfair.

He was a trooper, though. After that initial reaction, he fixed a smile on his face. “Sure, why not?” he said. “It’s been a while since I used that fancy disc player you got me for Christmas. I think I’ll watch a movie or two.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

The smile faded. “If it helps you with Saorla, it’s worth it. At some point you’ll tell me more about this woman you’re trying to help, right?”

“I’ll be happy to. I’d tell you more now, but the truth is I know very little about her, beyond the fact that she’s got two kids with her. Eight and five.”

The expression in his eyes hardened in a way I remembered from my childhood. “Then you should get going.”

“Yes, sir.” I stood, kissed the top of his head, and reached for my lawn chair, intending to fold it up and put it away.

“Leave it,” Dad said, standing as well. “I’ll leave mine out, too. It’ll make it seem that there are two of us inside the trailer.”

“Good thinking. You don’t seem muddled anymore.”

He grinned. “You and Namid have that effect on me. Now, go.” He didn’t wait for me to answer, but stepped into the trailer, and closed the door behind him.

I cast the muffling spell, hoping it would be enough to fool Saorla of Brewood. Then I climbed into my father’s pickup, turned over the old engine, and started back toward the interstate.