Home > Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)(10)

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)(10)
Author: Ilona Andrews

“On the wall, the pair to the right,” I said quietly.

Both Derek and Julie kept looking straight ahead, but I knew they saw them.

“That’s human skin on the left side of his coat.”

If things went sour, those two would prove to be a problem.

Forty feet above us, the door of the tower opened and my father stepped out onto the stone landing. Magic clung to him like a tattered cloak. He was reeling it in as fast as he could, but I still felt it. We’d interrupted something.

“Blossom!”

“Father.” There. I said it and didn’t choke on it.

“So good to see you.”

He started down the stairs. My father looked like every orphan’s dream. He’d let himself age, for my benefit, into a man who could reasonably have a twenty-eight-year-old daughter. His hair was salt-and-pepper, and he’d let some wrinkles gather at the corners of his eyes and mouth, enough to suggest experience, but he moved like a young man in his athletic prime. His body, clad in jeans and a gray tunic with rolled-up sleeves, could’ve belonged to a merc who would’ve fit right into Curran’s team.

His face was that of a prophet. Kindness and wisdom shone from his eyes. They promised knowledge and power, and right now they glowed with fatherly joy. Any child looking at him would know instinctively that he would be a great father; that he would be nurturing, patient, attentive, stern when the occasion required (but only because he wanted the best for his children), and above all, proud of your every achievement. If I had met him at fifteen, when Voron died and my world shattered, I wouldn’t have been able to resist, despite all of Voron’s conditioning and training to kill Roland. I had been so alone then and desperate for any hint of human warmth.

Julie was an orphan. She had me and Curran, but we were her second family.

I stared at that fatherly facade and wished I could pry her away from him. If wishes had power, mine would’ve brought down this castle in an avalanche of stone and dust.

“Have you eaten? I can have lunch served. I found the most amazing red curry recipe.”

Yes, come, have some magically delicious curry in the house of a legendary wizard hell-bent on grinding the world under his boot. What could go wrong? “No, thank you. I’m not hungry.”

“Come, walk with me. I want to show you something.”

I glanced at Derek and shook my head slightly. Stay put.

He nodded.

I motioned to Julie. She thrust her flag into the stand and followed me, keeping about four feet of distance. I was about to rub my father’s nose in the mess he’d made. He would show his ugly side. I’d seen it before once or twice and it wasn’t something one forgot. It was high time Julie saw it, too.

My father and I strolled across the yard, up the stairs, and onto the wall. A complex network of ditches crossed the ground on the left side and stretched out to hug the castle in a rough crescent. Hills of sand and smooth pebbles in a dozen colors and sizes rose on the sides. I tried to picture the lines of the trenches in my head as they would look from above, but they didn’t look like anything. If this was the layout of a spell, it would be hellishly complicated.

What kind of spell would require sand and stone? Was he building a stone golem? That would be a really big golem. Judging by the amount of materials, it would have to be a colossus. But why use pebbles; why not carve him out of rock?

Maybe it was a summoning. What was he summoning, that he would need a space the size of twenty football fields . . .

“I’ve decided to build a water garden.”

Oh.

“I told you of the water gardens in my childhood palace. I want my grandchildren to make their own treasured memories.”

The recollection hit me like a sudden punch in the gut: my father on a grassy hill, taking away my son as I screamed. I had seen the vision in the mind of a djinn. Djinn weren’t the most trustworthy creatures, but the witches had confirmed it. If . . . no, when. When Curran and I had a son, my father would try to take him. I held on to that thought and forced it down before it had a chance to surface on my face.

“We are diverting the river. The weather is mild enough and with a bit of magical prompting, I will turn this place into a small paradise. What do you think?”

Open your mouth and say something. Say something. “Sounds like it will be beautiful.”

“It will.”

“Do you think Grandmother would like to see it?” Stab, stab, stab.

“Your grandmother is best left undisturbed.”

“She is suffering. Alone, imprisoned in a stone box.”

He sighed. “Some things cannot be helped.”

“Aren’t you afraid that someone will free her?” Someone like me.

“If someone were to try to enter Mishmar, I would know and I would come looking for them. They would never leave.”

Thanks for the warning, Dad.

“She isn’t alive, Blossom. She is a wild force, a tempest without ego. One can only speculate what damage she would cause if unleashed.”

Aha. Of course, you buried her away from everything she loves because she is too dangerous.

We resumed our strolling along the walls, slowly circling the tower.

“How go the preparations for the wedding?”

“Very well. How goes the world domination?”

“It has its moments.”

We strolled down the wall. That was probably enough small talk. If I let him run the conversation, I’d never get Saiman back.

   
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