Home > Hunted by Magic (The Baine Chronicles #3)(12)

Hunted by Magic (The Baine Chronicles #3)(12)
Author: Jasmine Walt

An uneasy silence descended on the room, and we all looked at each other, not knowing what to say. What if some other catastrophe hit Solantha while I was gone? Of course, Comenius and Elania were more than capable of handling themselves, but what about Noria? And so many of the other citizens who were just normal people trying to live their lives?

“By the way,” Annia said, breaking the silence, “I tried to pack everything you need in there, but if you have to go back to your apartment for anything, I’d be very careful. I had to do some serious sneaking to get into your place.”

“Let me guess,” I sighed, sitting down on the sofa so I could open up the pack and riffle through it. Inside were several days of clothes and toiletries, a set of knives, and a pack of jerky, amongst other things. Annia knew me too well. “My apartment is being watched?”

“You got it.” Annia plopped down in the chair I’d vacated and popped another cookie into her mouth. “Half of the Enforcers Guild is camped outside your place, and the other half is running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off. The Courier is blaming the Mages Guild for the Chief Mage’s disappearance, and the public is fighting back so hard against all these heavy-handed arrests that several Enforcers have been badly wounded or killed. Many Enforcers are refusing to cooperate with the Mages Guild’s orders, and I can’t blame them. Everyone’s gone bat-shit crazy.”

“Fuck,” I muttered, dragging my nails across my scalp. “We have to get the Chief Mage back before the city devolves into a war zone.”

“I’m all for that,” Annia said around a mouthful of cookie. She swallowed before adding, “Especially now that I can’t do anything more with the Shifter Royale case. Plus, I’ll get to cash in on that reward they’re offering. So what’s the plan?”

“We don’t have much of a plan,” I admitted with a sigh. “Elania cast a spell to pinpoint the Chief Mage’s location a little better, and we’ve determined he’s somewhere in the southern half of Mexia. But that’s about it.”

“That’s a good thousand miles away,” Fenris said, his brow furrowing. “It would take several days to get there even on steambikes. The coal and water charms powering them would likely buckle under the constant stress, and that’s not even factoring in the rough terrain we’d have to traverse as we pass through uncivilized territory.”

“Yeah, and there’s also the fact that my bike is still in Durain somewhere.” I blew out a breath in frustration. I really wanted it back, but the priority was to find Iannis right now, and searching for my steambike wouldn’t help. “I can travel pretty fast in panther form too, but not fast enough over such long distances.”

“What we need is an airship,” Fenris said. “And a pilot to man one.”

“I can do the piloting,” Annia offered, “so if you’ve got the funds to procure a ship we should be good to go.”

I arched a brow. “Since when are you able to pilot an airship?”

Annia grinned. “I dated a freighter captain during my college days, and I spent a lot of time with him aboard his ship between breaks.”

“Spending a few months aboard the ship doesn’t necessarily qualify one as a pilot,” Fenris pointed out, sounding skeptical. “Are you sure you can manage this?”

“Hey, give me some credit!” Annia sounded a bit miffed. “I didn’t just spend time watching him pilot the ship – I made him teach me, and I was pretty close to getting my pilot’s license when we broke up. I wouldn’t offer to pilot the ship if I thought I was going to get us killed.”

Unfortunately, it turned out that Annia’s offer was useless, because despite calling around at all the likely places, we simply couldn’t find any kind of airship. The few ones available to rent had already been snatched up by wealthy families looking to get out of Solantha before the shit hit the fan, and we didn’t know anyone we could ask to borrow a ship from.

“Well this sucks,” I said as I slammed the phone down on the receiver again. “How the fuck are we supposed to get to the Chief Mage if we can’t get an airship?”

“I’m not sure,” Fenris admitted, looking just as put out. “Right now we might have better chances of finding a dragon to take us than an actual airship.”

“Since dragons don’t exist, I find that really depressing.”

“Actually,” Annia said, holding up a finger in thought. “I might have an idea of where we might be able to get an airship. Or at least something like it.”

“Oh yeah?” Hope blossomed in my chest. “Where?”

Annia winked. “Only our favorite little redhead, of course.”


“I am not letting you guys borrow my balloon,” Noria insisted, arms crossed over her chest as she scowled at us. Elnos stood behind her, dressed in a pair of patched robes streaked with grime – the two of them had been wrestling with some kind of large, mechanical device before we’d walked into the workshop space they rented at the Academy.

“Why the hell not?” I demanded, gesturing at said balloon. It took up the entire left half of the workshop space, and resembled a giant wicker basket with a strange blanket hanging off it that was bolted to some metallic contraption, presumably something from which to burn coal. “It doesn’t look like you’re using it, and we need it.”

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