The Myth Manifestation, Chapter 2 by Lisa Shearin
More info on The Myth Manifestation – chapter 2!! Can you believe it! One week til publishing and then we get to read the whole thing! Where is Rake? We can’t go on without Rake! Oh, wait…
Earlier I posted about the fabulous Lisa Shearin releasing The Myth Manifestation. This is episode #5 of the SPI series. If you haven’t read #1-4, hop to it. This is not a series to be missed.
I asked Ms. Shearin if it would be all right to share with you chapter 1 of The Myth Manifestation and she granted permission. Now it’s time for the next chapter!!!
Ian and I weren’t officially on duty for another hour, but we knew we’d been unofficially so the instant we’d set foot outside our hotel rooms.
When we glanced around the lobby, it wasn’t apparent to either one of us what was wrong.
The Regor Regency was a fully restored, thirteen-story epitome of art nouveau elegance.
The hotel’s defining feature was a central atrium that rose to a pyramidal skylight on the roof, revealing the surrounding Lower Manhattan skyline. The guest rooms and many of the meeting rooms opened out onto lushly carpeted walkways overlooking the atrium. The ornate, wrought-iron railing on each floor was waist-high to keep guests from taking a dive to the lobby below. It was Darwin Award–winner prevention that also looked good.
The hotel had been reopened for business for almost five years, and in that time, the Regor Regency had become the preferred destination for the well-heeled, both human and supernatural, who needed to be close to the Financial District. The logistics for the summit required a venue that was supernatural-friendly, meaning the staff had to be supernaturals themselves or some of the select humans who were in-the-know. Most of all, the staff couldn’t be the type to scream and run at the sight of guests with tentacles, wings, tails, scales, pointy ears, and/or fangs. The hotel also had to be able to accommodate the dietary and comfort needs of said unusual guests. And, most importantly, the venue had to be able to close itself to the general public (aka clueless humans) for the duration of the summit.
That meant the Regor Regency.
Plus, it was a nice touch that last year, the Regor had achieved a five-star rating. If you wanted people and not-people to make nice and work together, you’d better be sure they were happy with their surroundings.
Part of the hotel’s supernatural-friendliness lay with what ran below its foundations—several ley lines of power. They weren’t any of the four major lines that ran through the tri-state area, but rather smaller branches. The foundations of the hotel had been embedded in the bedrock right above the ley lines, which emitted a low and actually rather pleasant hum to people and beings who were sensitive to such things. After being exposed to a rudely awakened major ley line, I was officially a sensitive. As a result, the hotel’s interior was brighter and more vibrant, its cuisine more flavorful, its guest rooms more inviting and restful. I could see why the owner chose this hotel to renovate. It was a moneymaker waiting to happen.
To cover the preparations for the summit itself, plus getting the hotel ready to reopen to the public afterward, the owner had stopped taking reservations, and closed it for three weeks, citing renovations. To say that the owner was losing a lot of money from closing his hotel was an understatement, but I was sure that Vivienne Sagadraco had made it worth his while.
The owner was Rake Danescu.
Rake was a goblin, spymaster, billionaire, and presumed playboy. I say “presumed” because while I had no evidence to support that statement, he was tall, dark, blazingly hot, and his bank accounts were loaded. I felt safe assuming all of the above equaled a chick magnet; and since Rake was hot-blooded, breathing, and male, I couldn’t see him turning down the women who threw themselves at him on a regular basis.
I’d never thrown myself at him.
Maybe that was part of my appeal to him.
I still didn’t know.
By the way, Rake and I were kinda-sorta-maybe dating, and to the best of my knowledge, Rake had turned into a one-woman goblin.
I hadn’t slept with him. Not yet.
Call me paranoid, cautious, or merely sensible. Considering who and what the object of my affection was, I thought all of the above were good ideas.
But I hadn’t had to exercise any of my caution lately.
Rake and I hadn’t seen much of each other for about two months. I’d expected him to go full speed ahead after what had happened on Bannerman Island. We’d saved Ian, prevented an invasion by a race of ancient Irish gods, and as an added bonus, had made out in the woods. When it came to taking a relationship to the next level, that was a green light combined with flashing directional arrows. Instead, Rake had suddenly become “busy.”
To tell you the truth, it’d been kind of hard not to take personally.
But the reason I was here wasn’t personal, it was business, and I needed to get down to it.
I slowly turned in a full circle, my seer and regular human senses wide open.
I didn’t see anything in the hotel lobby that wasn’t supposed to be there. And all I could smell was the bacon biscuit in my pocket. Though a second later, I did hear my stomach growl in annoyance at being denied its crispy, bacony goodness.
The goblin chief of Rake’s hotel security stood utterly still across the lobby in front of the door leading to the hotel offices. Goblins had black eyes and hair (which they usually wore long), upswept ears, vampiric fangs, and a predator’s senses. I’d been introduced to Gethen Nazar yesterday. He and all those on his staff were battle-hardened dark mages, like their boss, Rake Danescu. A lot of supernatural VIPs stayed here, and as SPI knew through copious experience, wherever supernatural VIPs went, trouble was sure to follow. Rake and his people prided themselves on being prepared for anything.
If Gethen Nazar didn’t know what was wrong, I didn’t feel so bad.
A low, rumbling growl made the marble floors vibrate beneath our feet.
It came from the hotel ballroom, not my stomach.
As did the crash of something large and extremely breakable immediately after.
I didn’t know what was going all Hulk-smash behind those ballroom doors, but I knew I hadn’t had nearly enough coffee to deal with it. Worst of all, I didn’t think I was gonna get to eat my bacon biscuit anytime soon.
One of the doors quickly opened, and two pale and wide-eyed goblin hotel staffers darted out, slammed the door, and threw their backs against it as something bigger than both of them put together times ten charged the door from the other side.
The resulting boom shook the floor under our feet again, and the door buckled, but held.
My mouth was suddenly a tad bit dry. “I always thought the Hulk was a fictional character.”
“He is,” Ian said from beside me. “Unfortunately, that isn’t.”
I was fairly certain I was underqualified to deal with whatever was in there, and I was positive I didn’t want to open that door for confirmation, but that was our job. Confirm and confront things from the other side.
Sandra didn’t have to call her commando team; they’d followed us out of the dining room. They were still on duty. SPI’s second commando team, led by Roy Benoit, was on call.
Ian and I hurried over to the wall to the right of the doors that had taken yet another hit. Whatever was in there wanted out. We needed it to stay in.
Gethen Nazar was already there, speaking in low tones to the panicked goblin staffers.
Goblins didn’t shock easily, and if they did, they kept it to themselves. Whatever was in that ballroom had made these goblins toss their reserve right out the nearest Tiffany window.
“That’s impossible,” Gethen was saying.
Those words coming from a dark mage said a lot, none of it good.
“It was there . . . then it wasn’t,” the staffer managed.
The second staffer jumped in. “Then it appeared again.”
The security chief slid aside a small wooden panel that was at eye level in the ballroom door, like you’d see in an old speakeasy, and looked inside.
“What is it?” Ian asked him.
“Well, I’ll be damned. It is a buka.”
I blinked. “A what?”
“It’s a goblin legend,” Gethen said. “They exist, but they’re rare. A monster used to frighten children.”
If the staffers’ borderline panic was any indicator, bukas worked their mojo on adults, too.
“It appeared out of nowhere,” the first staffer told us.
Ian and I exchanged a glance. We both knew that a lot of monsters could come out of nowhere, and that applied to the proverbial “thin air” as well. Not all air was thin, and when it came to portals or tears in dimensional walls, there really wasn’t such a thing as “nowhere.”
“Gethen, what’s happening here?”
The familiar voice came from behind us.
He was tall and lean with shoulder-length black hair, angular features, and cheekbones you could cut yourself on. With the hotel being closed to the supernaturally clueless, Rake had dispensed with the human disguise, so his pale gray skin, pointed ears, and a pair of fangs that he knew how to use and use well—whether for ripping out the throat of an enemy or nibbling yours truly into incoherent babbling—were on full display.
The way things were going, there wasn’t going to be any nibbling on his part or babbling on mine for the foreseeable future.
Gethen answered his boss. “There is what appears to be a buka in the ballroom, sir.”
Rake paused for a moment, as if waiting for what he’d just heard to make sense. Apparently it didn’t. “A buka?”
The staffers were nodding in unison. “Yes, sir,” staffer number two said. “We were setting up the room for tonight, and it appeared.”
Rake crossed to the doors and slid aside the panel. He looked, he saw, and he carefully closed it.
He turned to us and said calmly, “There’s a buka in my ballroom.”
Ian stepped forward. “May I?”
“By all means.”
Ian took a peek, and I stood on tiptoe to do the same.
It was about nine, maybe ten feet tall, and bore a vague resemblance to a sasquatch. And yes, they do exist. Sasquatches are shy and gentle unless provoked. I didn’t know what had set this buka off, but those yellow eyes were blazing with a feeling that was way beyond provoked. It appeared to be deciding which set of antique tables and chairs to Hulk-smash next.
A normal person would think that was something you didn’t generally see in an upscale Manhattan hotel.
We weren’t normal people, and this wasn’t a normal hotel.
I drew back. “It looks like some kind of were-sasquatch.”
“Bukas are monsters native to my world,” Rake said, “specifically my home kingdom.”
“So, it shouldn’t be here.” I didn’t ask it as a question, since it was obvious that the thing was here. I shouldn’t have said it at all, but I think my mouth was killing time while my brain caught up to what my eyes were seeing.
“No, it should not be here.”
“Whatever we’re gonna do to make it go away, we need to do it quick. You’re starting to lose furniture in there.”
Sandra shouldered her way forward to take a look for herself. “All I need to know is how to kill it.”
“They’re tough and they’re fast,” Rake told her. “But they bleed and die just like anything else.”
Sandra gave a sharp nod. “Good enough.”
“That being said,” Rake continued, “some of the delegates have already arrived. A few have never heard gunfire before. We don’t want to upset anyone.”
Ian gave Rake a flat look. “So, you’re going to ask it nicely to leave?”
“The magic I plan to use is silent—at least it will be to my guests. All that will remain is a rather unpleasant odor, which the air filtration system can easily eliminate.”
“And if it’s tougher or faster than you think?” Ian asked.
I did a little internal wince.
Rake and Ian had never been what you’d call friends. More like two alpha males who had a mutual agreement not to kill each other in the immediate future. Maintaining that no-kill stance at any time beyond that was open to negotiation.
From what I had heard from others and seen for myself, Rake Danescu was quite possibly one of the most powerful dark mages on our planet right now. Ian had witnessed Rake’s magical badassery up close and firsthand. He knew what the goblin was capable of. So, Ian wasn’t questioning Rake’s qualifications to deal with the rabid goblin sasquatch; he merely wanted to cover all his bases should this not play out the way Rake believed it would.
Fortunately, Rake now knew Ian well enough to know this about him, and didn’t take it personally.
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.
“I believe my team and I will be able to deal with the threat quietly,” Rake told Ian. “However, I am never opposed to backup—even if it is not needed.”
The members of SPI New York’s two commando teams were qualified to take down any monster in many ways. We had humans, elves, goblins, vampires, werewolves, and a couple of supernatural species I hadn’t been aware existed until I’d signed on with SPI.
All could kick monster ass with an assortment of lethal weapons, by hand, and with magic. That being said, I suspected they had nothing on Rake Danescu’s black magic security team, who had now joined their commander.
There were only six of them. Three men and three women Rake trusted to be able to deal with anything that could happen. He took the security of his properties very seriously, especially after what had happened a couple of months ago with a certain brimstone-leaking Hellpit under his most profitable nightclub.
Rake knew how much was riding on the summit. He’d pulled the best of his security personnel from his properties around town. They could fight and they could fling magic better than our commandos. I didn’t like admitting it, but it was true. It was true because Rake and his people were dark battlemages. They didn’t just practice black magic; they were experts. Their magic wasn’t the sacrifice-a-virgin kind; it was the too-dangerous-to-be-tried kind.
These people didn’t try it. They did it—and lived.
They were all goblins. While Rake had no problem with other races or supernatural species, when it came to those who had his back, he preferred his own people.
Considering the power even I could feel that they were packing, I didn’t blame him.
Ian had stepped to the side to call Ms. Sagadraco to inform her of the situation. While she would be on-site this afternoon when the rest of the delegates arrived, she always wanted to be notified if a situation went south when she wasn’t there.
A buka in the ballroom definitely qualified.
Rake and his people were going to take this entrance. Sandra and her team had moved to the ballroom’s east entrance, with Roy and his folks taking up position outside the west entrance. Both had just reported that they were in position.
As the leader of his team and owner of this hotel, it was Rake’s call when to move. They would attempt to deal with it themselves with magic alone. Our two teams were backup if dark magic muscle couldn’t get the job done.
The buka had stopped pounding on the doors. While we couldn’t hear it, no one could help but smell it. The closest I’d come in my experience to a stink quite that bad was a billy goat. Don’t get me wrong, I loved goats. Cutest babies ever. But once the boys grew up . . . dang, that was some serious stink.
Rake turned to his team. “If at all possible, I want this taken care of with minimal damage.”
Meaning to everything except the buka.
“I couldn’t see the entire ballroom through that little peephole,” I told him. “That buka could have friends—or whoever brought him here.”
“There was only one,” the goblin staffer said.
“That you could see. And you said that one kept disappearing and popping back up. What’s to keep another one from doing the same thing?” I held up a hand. “I’m not disputing what you saw, merely saying it’s a possibility we should consider.”
There was silence at that.
The staffers didn’t know what I meant, but Ian and Rake did. I was a seer. My survival instinct didn’t want me going into that ballroom, but keeping our people safe by alerting them to danger that only I could see was my job. It was my job, and I was going to do it. I wasn’t asking for Ian’s approval as my partner, or Rake’s as the owner of this hotel. It was more of an FYI. I was going in there.
“Me first,” Ian said.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” I told him. “You’re the badass monster hunter. I’m here to help you aim, if needed.”
I drew my own weapon. It was the latest and greatest paint pistol SPI’s chief armorer had made for me. As a country girl who grew up in the mountains, I was a good shot. Since I’d been working at SPI, I’d become a better shot. Our agents and commandos were expert shots—when it came to what they could see.
My paint pistol and I were there to help them shoot what they couldn’t see.
SPI’s R&D department had come up with ammo for my pistol and rifle that had a much wider splatter radius than a standard paintball. Plus, the dye was brighter and had the added advantage of glowing in the dark.
If a monster was sporting any kind of cloak or veil, I tagged it so our commandos could bag it.
I’d felt silly at first, carrying guns that fired dye pellets, but after dealing with the first few veiled baddies that had nearly killed two of our commandos, I carried my lethal-by-association toys with pride and honor.
Rake was wearing a suit, a suit that probably cost a month or more of my salary. He didn’t seem concerned that things could happen to the suit that even the best dry cleaner and tailor couldn’t fix.
I found myself on the receiving end of one of Rake’s bemused glances.
One corner of his mouth twitched in a quick grin. “Worried about me?”
“You can take care of yourself. I’m worried about endangering an innocent suit.”
Rake glanced down. “Good point. At least I can preserve the jacket.” With that, he shrugged out of the suit coat with one smooth movement, tossing it over the back of a nearby chair. Then he deftly removed his cuff links, which had probably cost more than the suit, tucked them in a pocket, and rolled up his sleeves. “Shall we?” he asked.
Ian gave a sharp nod.
A rafter-shaking roar came from what sounded like the middle of the ballroom. The buka was still there, but at least it had moved away from the door.
Our opportunity to get inside without the buka getting outside wouldn’t be any better.
Rake opened the door.
Don’t forget, The Myth Manifestation releases January 16, 2018.
Follow One Book Two via: