Con & conjure, p.5
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       Con & Conjure, p.5

         Part #5 of Raine Benares series by Lisa Shearin
 
Page 5

 

  They did as ordered. As I straightened my doublet, I noted with satisfaction that she memorized their faces for later, too.

  So there.

  “Raine,” Imala called with a pointed glance back at the fancy goblin courtiers on the yacht. “Would you be so kind as to tell me who fired this dart?”

  Imala knew I was a seeker, and that finding or simply identifying someone based on their connection to an object was one of my best tricks. Phaelan and I walked over to her and not one goblin dared to stop us. I carefully accepted the cloth-wrapped dart from her.

  I glanced at the healer. “When he removes that bolt, I might be able to tell you who notched it. ”

  The head of the goblin secret service gave me a dazzling smile complete with dimple. “You’ll have the eternal gratitude of the goblin people. ”

  I knew of at least two goblin people who wouldn’t be grateful—the ones whose faces I’d be describing to Imala.

  As Tam stood up, one of the goblin guards picked up his robe from the dock and respectfully draped it around Tam’s shoulders. The robe fell past the heels of his boots, and even sopping wet, Tam looked like a prince himself. Though Tam would have been the kind of prince who could wake a sleeping princess at fifty paces. Just because we weren’t involved didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate what was there in all of its tall, silvery-skinned, black-eyed wicked sexiness.

  Imala nodded to her pair of dripping-wet agents who moved to prevent anyone from leaving the prince’s yacht.

  “They were only doing their jobs, Raine,” Tam said, his voice low. “Something blows up and a Benares is close by. ” He glanced at Phaelan. “Make that two. ”

  Phaelan snorted. “They do their jobs too damned well. Raine was trying to stop that boat, not push it. ”

  “And I had it until Chigaru’s mages horned in on my spell,” I said. “There wouldn’t have been an explosion if they’d let me finish. ”

  “Let you finish him off!” the healer snarled.

  “Chatar!” Tam snapped. “She is not at fault. That will be all. ”

  The goblin thought about saying something, and decided to do as ordered. I knew he wouldn’t forget me, and for my own health, I memorized his face, too.

  Tam’s hand was on my elbow, steering me away from the prince, his trigger-happy guards, and spell-happy mage. Phaelan gave the healer an I’m-not-through-with-you-yet look and followed us.

  “You can understand his animosity, Raine,” Tam said. “Those pilots were elves. ”

  “Those pilots were Khrynsani,” I shot back. “Two of their assassins with glamours. ”

  Tam scowled. “What?”

  “You didn’t see them when they dropped their glamours?”

  “No. They were too close to the yacht. ”

  Oh, freaking marvelous. Even the goblins thought they were being attacked by elves. No wonder Chigaru’s healer wanted to take my head off. The Khrynsani hadn’t succeeded in blowing Chigaru up, and the assassin hadn’t shot a fatal hole through him, but the damage had been more than done. Within the hour, every goblin on the island would believe that a pair of elven suicide bombers had tried to assassinate their prince. Regardless of which Mal’Salin brother they were loyal to, more than a few goblins would see it as their duty to start sending elves to slabs at the city morgue.

  With an enraged shout and some decidedly un-regal swearing, Chigaru expressed his displeasure at that healer/ mage removing the bolt. For what I could see, the healer had cut away the prince’s leather doublet, revealing body armor underneath. Well, at least the prince wasn’t completely stupid and had taken some precautions. The bolt hadn’t penetrated far. I turned and looked at the shoreline.

  There were a lot of civilians who didn’t need to be here, and entirely too few city watchmen and Guardians. With the exception of his own people, Chigaru had sailed into Mid’s harbor with no protection whatsoever.

  “Why didn’t you tell anyone he was arriving early?”

  Tam lowered his voice even further. “I didn’t know,” he said barely moving his lips. Impressive. He clearly didn’t want anyone to know that little piece of information. Tam shot an exasperated look in the prince’s direction. “I didn’t know until Imala told me, and she didn’t know until half an hour ago. ”

  Phaelan laughed, a short bark. “The crazy bastard’s trying to commit suicide. ”

  I looked at the prince and almost smiled. “Someone’s going to get a lecture. ”

  “And then some,” Tam promised. “I know what he was trying to do—and I’ll be having a long talk with His Highness about never doing that again. ”

  “Playing assassin bait?”

  Tam nodded once. He wasn’t looking at the shoreline; he was looking at the windows of the buildings within crossbow-sniper distance of the yacht. There were entirely too many of them, and the shooter was long gone, probably already planning his next attempt.

  There couldn’t be one.

  If Chigaru died, the hopes of preventing the goblins from inciting a war died with him.

  The goblin king wanted that war and he wanted the Saghred’s power to ensure he’d win it. More than a few elven government power brokers wanted the rock for the same reason. Prince Chigaru might not have sense enough not to display himself like a two-legged pincushion, but he drew the line at using the Saghred. He knew the danger and he’d rejected the rock.

  That was why it was in my best interests to keep him alive by telling Imala Kalis exactly who wanted him dead.

  A guard approached Tam, carrying something wrapped in a piece of cloth. “The bolt, Your Grace. ”

  Tam took and unwrapped it. Black steel with a red band around the shaft below the fletching. Armor piercing. Our assassin wasn’t taking any chances. Chigaru starting to fall into the harbor a split second before that bolt was fired was the only reason he was alive right now. Tam closely studied the bolt, but was careful not to touch it, then he handed it to me.

  “Did the healer touch it with his bare hands?” I asked.

  “Probably. ”

  I looked at the healer, and found him glaring at me again. That one was determined to be a problem. That was fine; I could be a problem, too. I met his glare and raised him a solemn promise. It wasn’t good to pick fights with people who thought you were in cahoots with a pair of suicide bombers, but he’d started it. Childish, I know. But I wasn’t going to be intimidated, and Chigaru’s goblins needed to know that from the start. Though it wasn’t the best way to convince them that I was on their side.

  I looked away from the healer. I was taking the professional high road. I could always memorize his psychic scent from the bolt for later.

  I turned my full attention to the bolt in my hands. As a seeker by trade, I’d done a lot of work for the city watch in Mermeia, where I’d lived until three months ago. More than once I’d been called to a crime scene only to find that the object I most needed to use had been handled by nearly every watcher on-site, contaminating it and rendering it useless for seeking. It was their emotional imprint I’d get, not the perpetrator’s. So the only person I’d find was the stupid watcher who’d last picked it up.

  I should get three presences from the bolt: the healer, the prince, and the assassin. If any more than that had touched it in the last few hours, that could be a problem, but there was only one way to find out.

  Tam glanced around. “You need someplace quiet. ”

  “At least where everyone isn’t looking at me like I’m the assassin. ”

  Phaelan pointed at somewhere behind me. “How about over there?”

  I turned and looked. The office for the harbormaster’s men responsible for this dock. That’d work. I made for it, and found my way blocked by a big, burly, and belligerent dock worker.

  “Sorry, ma’am. That’s for harbor personnel only. ”

  I didn’t think he looked sorry in the least, but he was abo
ut to be.

  As soon as I opened my mouth to say something I probably shouldn’t, a familiar presence and voice came from right behind me.

  “She’s on official Guardian business. Step aside. ”

  Mychael.

  Suddenly all the chaos got less chaotic—at least people got a heck of a lot more polite.

  A tall elven warrior wearing full battle armor tended to have that effect.

  Mychael Eiliesor was the paladin and commander of the Conclave Guardians, the most elite magical fighting force in the seven kingdoms, protector of the Conclave of Sorcerers, and the top lawman on the Isle of Mid—which essentially meant if it happened on this island, it was his business.

  A few weeks ago, we’d become each other’s business.

  Not many people knew about that, and considering who and what I was, and who Mychael was, that information needed to stay as private as our activities.

  “We need to talk,” Mychael said. No expression, no hint of what might be going on behind those tropical sea blue eyes, just four words that rarely meant anything good.

  I’d just played tug-of-war with five goblin mages and a boat full of explosives. It’d been the first of three assassination attempts on a visiting goblin royal before he even set foot on dry land.

  Oh yeah, Mychael definitely wanted to chat.

  He looked at the bolt I had in my hands. “Can you find who fired that?”

  “If I can get somewhere quiet enough to hear myself think, I should. ”

  Mychael glanced back at the prince and his wall of goblin muscle. “His healer seems to have things well in hand. ”

  “He’s working fast so he can come after me. ”

  “Pardon?”

  “Nothing. ”

  Mychael nodded toward the harbormaster’s office. That had to be the best suggestion of the whole day. There had to be at least one chair in there, and after all the magic I’d just slung around, I needed to sit down. We went in and Mychael closed the door. The only furniture was a table, a couple of chairs, and a cot in one corner. The cot was tempting but the sheets looked like if they’d ever been washed, it’d been in the harbor. With a groan of pleasure, I sank into the nearest chair and treated myself to closing my eyes.
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