Sometimes, the magic is real.
John Seton is a grifter, an ex-pat Scots kid working penny-ante magic tricks on the streets of L.A. But John has a secret. In his family, sometimes, the magic is real. And sometimes, it gets him noticed.
A man named Dante Grimm tells him he’s the modern incarnation of a knight of old and that he is part of a group of companions tasked with holding back the darkness to come in a battle the likes of which the world hasn't seen in centuries, a battle against a foe straight out of their worst nightmares.
Grimm sets Seton a quest, to find an item that is required to stop the coming dark, an ancient piece of leather of uncertain provenance, and high magic.
Seton sets out onto the streets, and quickly finds that he is not the only one after the halter. He is soon at odds with friends, family and foes alike, and when he is betrayed by the one person he has always been closest to, the quest comes to a head.
Seton has a hound on his tail, and he will have to travel far to avoid it, further than he has ever travelled before.
Beyond the Veil, where the darkness is real, and the hounds bay loudly.
Arthurian myth meets urban fantasy in this new series from Rowan Casey!
I heard them before I looked up and saw what was coming. Three tweakers, looking to roll a street-corner grifter for the afternoon takings. They thought I was an easy mark so I didn't do anything to make them think otherwise. The only move I made was to step away from the wall behind me—I'd need some room.
"What have you got for us?" the taller of the three said. His drawl wasn't local—Texas at a guess—but L.A. sucks up people from all over and treats them all equally to its pleasures and pains. This guy looked like he'd had his fair share of the latter—his eyes were bloodshot and wet, his lips were gray and dry, and he was about ten minutes away from a full out screaming, give me a fix, jag. He also seemed to be the leader of what passed for his gang, so I spoke to him first.
"I've got nothing for you," I replied. "I had a bad day—got cleaned out."READ MORE
The one on the left—local Latino by the sound of it, but with dry lips the color of the sidewalk stone we stood on—seemed confused by my accent.
"What are you then—some kind of Irish?"
"Some kind of Scottish," I answered, and gave them my best smile. "And a bloody poor one at that."
This wasn't my first rodeo with tweakers. Sometimes my innate charm was enough for them to pass me by. Usually I could convince them I was just a street-kid trying to get along, one of their own kind—but that wasn't going to work this time. These guys were at the desperate stage—strung out and out of cash—a bad combination.
"You've got something all right—I've watched you working the crowd—you're good at it," the leader said. "Too good to be cleaned out. Too good by far."
He was getting more needy by the second. His hands gripped and loosened in front of his belt buckle, as if he was attempting to strangle a pet. Or a small child. I don't think he even knew he was doing it. His gaze went from my face—not my eyes—to my pockets, and back again, never staying on one place for more than a second at a time. These three weren't going to move on voluntarily, so I showed them all I had in my pockets.
Face rattled as she hit the sidewalk—I knew I'd get an earful for that later—then just lay there, looking like what she was—a flat, palm sized sheet of burnished metal, roughly circular with some crude carving around the edges.
"What the hell is that?" the confused one asked.
"She's all I've got," I replied. "Apart from what she holds for me."
Now it was the turn of the other two to be confused. The leader gripped the invisible thing he was holding tighter; his knuckles whitened and I guessed he was within a second or two of striking out and worrying about the consequences later.
"What is that supposed to mean?" he said.
"Let me show you," I said and, in the same breath continued. "Okay, Face. I'll have it now."
The quarter-staff came up into my hand as it rose from the ground—or more accurately, came up out of the metal circle, and it came through with enough force—thrown from the shadow side—that it was already in my grasp before the three tweakers took note of it. The action of swinging it around into a two-handed grip brought the confused Latino one's knee in range and I was too good to miss such an opportunity. I gave his patella a hard, straight, crack and he went down with a yell but I was already pivoting on my left heel, turning and catching the leader on the side of the ear with a sound that meant he'd have a headache for a month. He fell, literally pole-axed—he wasn't trying to strangle much of anything at all now.
By the time I finished the turn the third one of them—dirty, unkempt, even more strung out than the other two—was just standing there, mouth open and flapping with no sound coming out. He hadn't said a word yet, and didn't look likely to. I gave him a second to see if he'd run, but when he still didn't move I punched the staff forward, end on, smacking him between the eyes. I didn't push into it too strongly—I didn't want to kill him, but he went down hard and would have an egg-shaped lump to show for it for weeks to come.
I bent, sliding the staff back through to the shadow side and picking up Face in the same movement to walk away, leaving them strewn—still strung out, still penniless, and now hurting quite a bit more than before—on the sidewalk at my back.
"Maybe you are a knight after all," Face said as I put her away in my pocket.COLLAPSE