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304 pages, Mass Market Paperback
First published May 3, 2011
The bars along the wall of my shop had melted silently apart behind them and morphed into jaws of sharp iron teeth. The giant black maw reached out for them and snapped closed, scissoring through the fairies' flesh as if it were cottage cheese, and then they were inhaled like Jell-O, with time only for a startled, aborted scream. Their weapons clattered to the ground, all glamour gone, and then the iron mouth melted back into its wonted shape as a series of bars, after gracing me with a brief, satisfied grin.
I got a message from the iron elemental before it faded away, in the short bursts of emotions and imagery that they use for language: //Druid calls/ Fairies await / Delicious / Gratitude//
There was no time to negotiate. He nodded once and said, "They don't look very tough."
"They're giants using glamour, so don't trust your eyes. Use your other senses. What does their blood smell like?"
They were almost upon us, but it was a worthwhile question. Leif's eyes widened when he caught the scent of their blood. "They are strong," he said. "Thanks, Atticus." He grinned, his fangs lengthening as he smiled. " I have not had my breakfast yet."
"Look at it like an all-you-can-eat buffet." I said, and then there was no more time for talking. Not one to be shy, Leif launched himself in a superhuman leap against the leading Fir Bolg, far above where his head was according to mortal eyes. That's because the giant's neck was actually about three feet higher, and the Fir Bolgs slowed down when they saw their leader taken down by a guy in an English business suit. But slowing down wasn't the same as stopping.
"Agreed," the vampire said. "I am full right now anyway. I need to work some of this off." He dug a cell phone out of his-or, I should say, my-breast pocket and used a speed-dial number to call someone named Antoine. "I have dinner for the whole crew at Mitchell Park in Tempe right now. Bring the truck . . . Yes, there is enough for everybody, trust me. See you there."
Whoa. He had ghouls on speed dial. My lawyer kicks so much ass.
I rose from my chair and Oberon began to trot in front of me down the hall to the bathroom, his tail wagging again. *Will you tell me about Genghis Khan's whores while I'm in the bath?*
Hordes, not whores. He had both, though now that you mention it.
*Sounds like he was a busy guy.*
You have no idea.
*Did you get me that movie about Genghis Khan?*
It's in the Netflix queue, but that's not the surprise. You don't need to worry, it'll be something good. I just don't want you to feel depressed about going home.
*Oh, I won't. But it would be cool to have a stream like this in the backyard. Can you make one?*
Umm. . . no.
*I figured. Can't blame a hound for trying*
Oberon was indeed surprised when we got back home to Tempe. Hal had made the arrangments for me, and Oberon perked up as soon as we were dropped off by the shuttle from the car rental company.
*Hey, smells like someone's in my territory,* he said.
Nobody could be here without my permission, you know that.
*Flidais did it.*
That isn't Fidais you smell, believe me.
I opened the front door, and Oberon immediately ran to the kitchen window that gazed upon the backyard. He barked joyously when he saw what was waiting for him there.
*French poodles! All black and curly with poofy little tails!*
And every one of them in heat.
*Oh, WOW! Thanks, Atticus! I can't wait to sniff their asses!* He bounded over to the door and pawed at it because the doggie door was closed to prevent poodles from entering.
You earned it buddy. Hold on, get down off the door so I can open it for you, and be careful, don't hurt any of them.
I opened the door, expecting him to bolt through it and dive into his own personal canine harem, but instead he took one step and stopped, looking up at me with a mournful expression, his ears drooping and a tiny whine escaping his snout.
There are many perks to living for twenty-one centuries, and foremost among them is bearing witness to the rare birth of genius. It invariably goes like this: Someone shrugs off the weight of his cultural traditions, ignores the baleful stares of authority, and does something his countrymen think to be completely batshit insane. Of those, Galileo was my personal favorite. Van Gogh comes in second, but he really was batshit insane.
When you're in the middle of a killing field and the fucking Chooser of the Slain tells you to do something, you do it.
Monty Python is like catnip for nerds. Once you get them started quoting it, they are constitutionally incapable of feeling depressed.
I have been around long enough to discount most superstitions for what they are: I was around when many of them began to take root, after all. But one superstition to which I happen to subscribe is that bad juju comes in threes. The saying in my time was, "Storm clouds are thrice cursed," but I can't talk like that and expect people to believe I'm a twenty-one year-old American. I have to say things like, "Shit happens, man.”