Hunted by Magic (The Baine Chronicles #3)(2)


by Jasmine Walt

No matter what, I couldn’t lose Iannis too.

“Civil disturbance in Shiftertown square,” a tinny voice announced. “Please report immediately.”

“Shit.” Lakin tugged the chain around his neck, pulling out the medallion that was normally hidden beneath his coat. The golden disc, stamped with a fang and edged with tiny runes, was the mark of his authority as the Shiftertown Inspector. “I have to go.” He leaned in and briefly brushed his lips against my forehead. “Don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone, okay?”

Shocked by the unexpected touch of his lips against my skin, I said nothing as he swept from the room. Silence descended upon the infirmary for a few moments, until I realized that everyone else was staring at me.

“What?” I snapped, turning to Comenius, whose eyebrows were arched higher than everybody else’s.

“Nothing.” Comenius’s eyebrows lowered a fraction. “Just wondering if there’s anything new in your life you’d care to share with us.”

“No.” Scowling, I crossed my arms over my chest. “There’s nothing new going on in my life aside from the fact that my master is missing and I’m stuck in this stupid bed.” Lakin had made his interest in me clear in the last week or so, but I’d already told him to back off. After the way he’d balked when I’d tried to disguise him with my magic, I’d realized that the two of us could never be a thing. My magic would always get in the way of any relationship I had with a shifter – I could no more deny it as a part of me than I could deny the panther that was a part of my soul.

“You’re wrong.”

“Huh?” Comenius scowled at me. “Wrong about what?”

“Wrong that it’s not my fault.” Tears stung at my eyes, and I blinked them back as I met Comenius’s cornflower-blue eyes. “Not long after I defused the bomb on the Firegate Bridge, Rylan called me. He warned me not to accompany the Chief Mage on his trip to the Convention if I valued my life, and that if I warned him the Resistance would punish me accordingly. Of course I’d planned to tell Iannis anyway, but there was just so much going on that every time I tried, something more important came along and sidetracked me. I think I did try to tell him right before he left, but I was so out of it that I couldn’t get the words out right.”

“So this is the work of the Resistance, then.” Annia’s expression turned thunderous. “Just wait until Noria gets back here so I can tell her that. If she still hasn’t changed her mind, I’ll make sure Mom puts her under house arrest. There’s no way she’s joining up with them, not after this.”

“I do not know your sister well, but from what I’ve seen, a curfew is hardly going to stop her,” Elania observed dryly. “She is too strong of spirit, that one.”

The scent of freshly-cooked meat caught my attention, and I lifted my head, hoping that was Noria coming back with the food. Footsteps sounded outside the hall, but only a servant entered the room, bearing a platter piled high with brisket, new potatoes, and green beans. My growling stomach sank as I realized that though Noria had indeed sent word that I needed food, she hadn’t bothered to stick around.

“By Magorah.” I raked my hands through my hair. “We’re losing her.”

“I’ll go talk to her.” Annia jumped to her feet. “Don’t worry about it, Naya – she’s my responsibility, not yours. You just eat and focus on getting well.”

“Thanks.” I gave Annia a wan smile, then accepted the platter from the server and dug in. “I’m getting out of bed as soon as I’m done with this food,” I warned Comenius in between mouthfuls. “There’s no way I’m letting Director Chen shove me out of this rescue mission.”

Comenius opened his mouth, but Elania spoke smoothly over him. “Perhaps we can help you along in your recovery. Surely the Mages Guild has supplies that Comenius and I can use to mix you a strengthening tonic?”

I swallowed a mouthful of brisket to hide my surprise. I hadn’t expected Elania to be so helpful. “They do, but I’m not certain they’re going to be willing to hand them over.”

“Oh, I can be very persuasive.” Elania blinked as she got to her feet, and my eyes were drawn to the long, black dress that emphasized her curvaceous form. Comenius’s were too, which was probably why he didn’t protest when she curled her fingers around his upper arm and pulled him up with her. “Come, darling, and let’s leave Sunaya to eat in peace. We may as well make ourselves useful instead of just sitting here.”

“Alright.” Comenius shot me a worried look as Elania pulled him from the room. “You’ll be here when we get back, right?”

“Yes,” I agreed, and settled back, albeit reluctantly, to wait. Com’s herbal teas were always effective, and Elania was very popular for her potions. Much as I didn’t want to sit in bed, I knew whatever they whipped up for me would be worth the wait.

2

The tonic tasted pretty terrible, but it was worth the wait. My shifter metabolism digested it quickly, so within two minutes of choking it down a rush of energy hit me, driving the weakness from my limbs and filling my body with the same urgent fire that burned within my soul.

“Thanks guys,” I told Comenius and Elania as I hurriedly shoved my legs into my leather pants. They’d been left on a chair near my bed along with the shirt I’d worn to the Royale, and though they still stank of fear and sweat and blood, they were a lot better than going before the Council wearing an infirmary gown. “I can take it from here.”

“Nice try,” Comenius said dryly, “but just because you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed doesn’t mean we’re not going with you.”

“Visiting hours are over,” a guard announced brusquely, striding into the room. “All citizens who are not here on urgent Palace business need to vacate the premises immediately.” He jerked his thumb toward the door.

“We’re here to visit Sunaya Baine,” Comenius said stiffly, not moving a single muscle. “She’s the Chief Mage’s apprentice, so I’d say that’s Palace business.”

“Perhaps, but not urgent Palace business.” The guard’s hand moved to the sword hanging at his hip. “Like I said, visiting hours are over.”