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sorcerer has trouble in a big city, with all those minds around clogging up the Etherial Plane."
"Seleighe magic wouldn't work here," Eric admitted. "At least not consistently. But Unseleighe
power runs a little differently, doesn't it?" He knew Perenor had been acting pretty much as a lone wolf in
his vendetta against Terenil, but someone that ruthless must have made overtures to the Dark Court at
some point.
Ria considered, worrying at her lower lip with her teeth as she thought. "I don't know that much
about the Dark Court, but I'd have to say that most of the power they use isn't that different. Not in kind,
anyway, or ultimate source. But in degree, yes the Dark Court isn't squeamish about feeding off other
peoples' life-force. And in a city this size, I'd have to say there'd be enough prey available to take the
edge off any discomfort Cold Iron would give them. Enough deaths would allow them to punch through
any kind of interference, at least for a short time. But whoever it is that's trying to put up a Nexus here,
he'd have to know he couldn't just maraud around and not expect to be stopped by your Guardians, or
the police at the very least. And for all that either of us knows, there's some alphabet agency out there
like the Men In Black to save the world from the scum of Faerie. This isn't the Stone Age!"
Eric grinned slightly, savoring the mental image of a posse of sunglasses-wearing Feds in Lincoln
Green Armani suits armed with high-tech wizard's staves and magnetized steel sword-phones. It's
almost weird enough to happen.... Then he turned serious again.
"Maybe whoever it is doesn't realize what he's actually up against. If you're Sidhe and practically
immortal and living Underhill anyway you might not really have noticed the last two or three centuries
go by, even though it's made a helluva lot of difference here in the world. Meanwhile, you can't deny he
could do a lot of damage before someone stopped him and what would happen if the Feds got real
concrete proof that the Sidhe existed? I tried to warn Jimmie and the others, but those Guardians are
way in over their heads and they won't even consider the possibility that this is something they can't
handle. Quietly, I mean." Or at all. Guardians die as easily as anyone else, and the Dark Court can
put a lot of resources into the field.
But Ria's attitude had changed while he was making his point. She looked almost disapproving,
now.
"I'm flattered that you'd want to use me as a sounding board," Ria said, sitting back in her seat and
regarding him with an unreadable expression. "But frankly, Eric, I don't see what this has to do with you
or me, other than meaning we ought to get out of here before the fireworks start."
Eric stared at Ria in disbelief. He'd just naturally assumed that once he'd told her what the problem
was, she'd immediately have some suggestions for what to do next to take care of it.
"If a Sidhe Great Lord starts a war with the United States, we're going to be drawn into it no matter
what," he finally pointed out. "This is entirely leaving out the people who'll get killed, or hurt, or sucked
dry before he's stopped."
"The Guardians think they can handle it. You said yourself they'll probably stop him eventually. And
you're the one who's living here, not me," Ria said. "Besides, there's a faint possibility you've misread the
situation. Maybe a few disappointments will change your Nexus-builder's mind about moving here before
he throws down for a full-scale war. So why not let these Guardians do what they're here for? You said
it was their full-time job. They probably have lots of experience."
"Not with this," Eric said stubbornly. "They don't get many Sidhe here in the city. They've never seen
this kind of magic before. You have, and so have I. You know what kind of damage a situation like this
can do." He leaned forward, willing her to understand how important this was. But even before she
spoke, he knew he'd failed.
"Eric, people are dying horribly every day, all over the world. Even if I devoted my every waking
moment to making things better for them, it'd be a drop in the bucket compared to what they're doing to
themselves. I have responsibilities closer to home to my employees, to my staff, to the people who
depend on me personally to be there, and not go haring off on some kind of damnfool idealistic crusade
designed to get someone close to me out of a midterm exam."
"Is that what you think this is about?" Eric demanded, recoiling in hurt. Ria of all people knew how
much trouble a Nexus in the wrong hands could be. He'd been sure that the moment he explained things
to her she'd be ready to help.
Ria smiled gently. "No, Eric, not entirely. But I think it is part of the reason you're trying so hard to
push yourself into someplace you're obviously not wanted. Dharinel told you to stay out of it. These
Guardians told you the same thing. Why not listen to somebody for a change?"
I've already been doing too much of that! Eric felt a stubborn anger rising inside him, and tried to
push it aside. He'd been open and honest with Ria, and she seemed to be treating this as if it were all
some sort of meaningless game!
"Okay. All right. I guess I deserve some of that. But at least come and look at the place in the Park
with me. Make up your own mind about how bad this could be. And if you don't want to get involved
then, I'll respect that."
He leaned forward, willing her to say yes. To that much, at least.
Ria sighed. "Okay, Eric, you've won me over. I'll come and look. But I can't do it today, and
Monday's looking pretty full, too. I have companies to run; give me a few days. I'll clear a space in my
schedule." [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]