Chapter 11

Daniel ran his hand over his stomach again, shaking his head. "Shit. I don't believe it."

"Mine too," Kelly said, carefully rolling down what remained of her pant legs. "There are barely even scars left."

Seamus, sitting a few yards away, crossed himself again. Other than that, he sat perfectly still, except for his dark eyes darting back and forth between the two of them.

"Two hours," Daniel said, staring at the sword. "Whatever the hell this thing's got, I'd patent it if there were still a patent office."

"Is it still doing that electric thing?" Kelly asked, rubbing her hands together as she remembered the sensation.

Daniel reached down and grasped the hilt. "Kind of," he said, frowning. "I think. I'm not used to this sort of thing, so it's hard to tell. It doesn't seem as strong as before."

"What do you think is going on with it?" she asked, her eyes not leaving the sword.

"You weren't too keen on my last crazy idea. Are you sure you want to hear?"

"Yes," she said. "I don't want to think about it, but I do want to hear it."

"Energy," he said, holding the sword up and running his other hand down the hilt. "Those raptors feed on energy, and turn it into... into another kind of energy. That's why the one that had been at the car batteries was harder to kill. It was stronger, because it had just fed."

"What other kind of energy?" Kelly said. The tone of her voice said "I hope you're not going to tell me something I don't want to hear."

The voice that responded was not Daniel's.

"Magic," said Seamus.

"You're kidding, right?" said Kelly, her eyes darting back and forth between the two of them.

"Magic is about the word I was going to use," said Daniel. "I don't have anything better."

"It's not just a word for it, it's the word for it," Seamus said. "Don't you be thinkin' otherwise. After what I seen of that sword o' yours healin' you like that, sure and it's the only word."

"But how --?" Kelly began, then stopped in mid-thought. "Holy shit," she said in sudden comprehension. "Are you telling me the sword soaked up magic from the raptors you killed?"

Daniel shivered. "I know it sounds crazy," he said. "You were warned. I'm not too wild about the idea, either. I'm not sure I even know what it means."

"I don't even know how you killed any o' those things," Seamus said. "I tried, believe me." His brow furrowed. "They seem to stay away from me, and when they come close, they act like something's holding them down. They're weaker, the closer they get. But I haven't been able to find a thing that kills them, short of running them down with Goewyn here."

"Weaker?" Kelly said with a frown.

"Horseshoes," Daniel said.

"What?" Seamus looked at him, puzzled.

Daniel leaned forward eagerly. "Does your horse have metal horseshoes?"

"Well, sure an' he does," Seamus said, a shadow of a smile appearing on his face to mirror the grin on Daniel's. "I can't say as I understand what that has to do with it, though."

"Iron horseshoes? Or steel?" Daniel persisted.

"Well, I suppose so," said Seamus, puzzlement evident on his face despite the smile.

"Folklore," said Daniel. "Faerie lore. Some faeries can be harmed by cold iron."

Recognition flickered across Seamus' face, and he sat back with a thoughtful expression. "Well, now," he said. "You're not the ones I came here looking for, but maybe you're some I was meant to find."

"Why's that?" Kelly said.

Seamus fished around inside his jacket and pulled out a pencil sketch on a half sheet of paper. He studied it for a long moment. "I'm here because of those drakes you tangled with," he said. "What was it you called 'em?"

"Raptors," Daniel supplied. "For lack of anything better."

"Aye," Seamus said, nodding slowly. "I'm here because of them. They're not supposed to be here, y'see, and I've come to try and put them back."

"Back?" Kelly said sharply. "Back where?"

Seamus shook his head. "I only know bits and pieces. I'm not the one to ask about the technical stuff. In fact," he said sadly, "there are damn few of us left who know the whole story. We're a dying breed, I'm afraid."

"Back where?" Kelly said again.

Seamus met her gaze square on. "Back to Arcadia, where they came from," he said simply.

"Arcadia?" Daniel repeated in amazement. "The faerie realm? You're kidding, right?"

"No, lad, I'm not," Seamus said. "Like I told you, I don't know the details, but I can feel the veil wearing thin between the worlds. These 'raptors', as you call them, were one of the two types o' faeries as made it through so far."

Daniel rocked slowly back and forth on the ground, a dazed expression on his face. "What do you mean? What was the other kind?" he said.

"Dragons," Seamus said quietly.

Kelly sat bolt upright. "Dragons?" she said hoarsely.

"Aye. Dragons." Seamus rose stiffly to his feet and began to stretch. "I've not seen any in the cities, but when you get between towns, they're there. Big 'uns, too. Probably fifty or sixty feet long, some of 'em, snout to tail."

"Holy hell," Daniel said. Kelly shivered.

"And like I said," Seamus continued, folding and unfolding the sketch, "I'm not the one to ask about any of the technical stuff. My uncle was the one that taught me, and I got it into my head to go off to college instead of listening to him." He studied the ground. "Then one day, he was gone. We couldn't get a straight answer about where they'd taken him. They gave us some runaround about 'homeland security'." He pounded a fist into his palm. "Damn it, they wouldn't even tell us if he was alive or dead!"

He shook his head sadly, lowering himself back onto the ground. "He taught me some, but not enough, I'm afraid. So I'm looking for someone that I think might know a little more." He pushed the scrap of paper across the ground at them.

Daniel picked it up. Kelly came over to look at it, too. Daniel opened the paper, looked at the sketch, and closed his eyes.

"What? What's the matter?" said Seamus, studying Daniel's expression.

"She's dead," Kelly said.

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