Valhalla beckons, p.1

Valhalla Beckons, page 1

 part  #3 of  The Chaos Mages Series

 

Valhalla Beckons
 


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Valhalla Beckons


  Valhalla Beckons

  Tha Chaos Mages Book III

  Alex Steele

  Steel Fox Media LLC

  Valhalla Beckons

  All rights reserved.

  No parts of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

  This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. Under no circumstances may any part of this book be photocopied for resale.

  This is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and situations within its pages and places or persons, living or dead, is unintentional and coincidental. All inquiries can be sent to [email protected]

  First edition,

  Version 1.0,

  ISBN 978-1-73245-187-2

  Copyright © 2018 Alex Steele

  Cover © Steel Fox Media LLC

  Covers by Deranged Doctor Design

  The Chaos Mages Series (along with the plot / characters / situations / worlds) are Copyright (c) 2017-18 Alex Steele and Steel Fox Media LLC

  Fear is a powerful force that holds many of us back every day.

  Overcoming fear requires constant effort, but it can be done.

  Here’s to everyone who faces fear daily. May you find the strength to overcome it.

  Alex

  Ichigo Ichie

  Kishi Kaisei

  Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Chapter 47

  Chapter 48

  Chapter 49

  Chapter 50

  Chapter 51

  Chapter 52

  Chapter 53

  Thank you for reading!

  Cast

  Glossary of Places & Foreign Words

  Acknowledgments

  Follow me

  About the Author

  More books by Stephanie Foxe

  One

  It was hot as hell in Sin City. Heat from the clear blue skies beat down on my back relentlessly. I had never regretted wearing a suit before this moment, but I would have given anything for a t-shirt and a hat. I made a mental note to have my suits runed with a cooling spell for any future visits to the surface of the sun.

  I tugged at my collar and hit the button for water on the vending machine impatiently. It whirred and the bottle dropped down. The icy coldness felt like heaven in my hand.

  Glancing down the sidewalk, I saw my target was still within sight, but just barely. I chugged the water as I headed his way, doing my best to look like an unhurried tourist. We had just passed the Venetian and were heading south.

  The Las Vegas Strip was not the den of debauchery you expected during the day. It was full of families pushing strollers and people shopping. The Strip had something for everyone: malls, restaurants, wedding chapels, hotels, bars, and of course gambling. And those are just the places accessible to prosaics. The magical underbelly of Las Vegas had a wild reputation.

  A glimpse of a red trench coat through the crowd on the street caught my attention and I groaned. Swift was stalking after our target, and she was way too close. If tailing too close wasn’t enough to give her away, that blood red duster she always wore would.

  I had told her to stay back, which, in hindsight, was a mistake. I should have told her to follow him as close as possible and then she would have stayed back. Reverse psychology works best with someone as stubborn as she was.

  Then again, the mistake was probably just making another bet. She was too competitive for her own good. And I was about to lose another wager if she didn't completely scare the guy off before either of us could grab him.

  I picked up my pace, walking as fast as I could without breaking out into a jog. The Strip might be less busy during the day, but it was still packed with people. A lady with a stroller meandered into my path and I barely avoided tripping over her baby. She then had the nerve to glare at me. I glared right back and kept moving.

  My target turned right and disappeared into a casino. Swift followed him just a few seconds later and I realized he must suspect he was being followed. He was trying to lose her. Gritting my teeth, I stopped trying to be circumspect about it and broke into a run. I had to catch up before this went completely sideways.

  I slowed just before entering the casino. Music pounded against my ears, mixed with the ringing of slot machines. The smoke-tinged air burned at the back of my throat. I was used to the smell, but the air in here was stale. They could have filtered out the smoke, but that was part of the ambiance in these kinds of establishments.

  Lights flashed overhead. They were enhanced with runetech, making them flicker and dance in a way natural light couldn't. A slot machine erupted with cheers as a patron won something, probably after spending double what they’d won. They jumped out of their seat, arms held overhead with pure glee.

  I hurried past the scene, scanning the room for any sign of Swift or the target. Two women stumbled into my path wearing heels so tall I was surprised they could walk at all. I steadied the one closest to me before she could fall into my chest.

  "Are you Steve?" she asked, closing one eye in an apparent attempt to see straight.

  "No, but I think I saw him go that way," I said, pointing over my shoulder. I didn’t know who the hell Steve was, but they were probably too wasted to find him anyhow. I just needed them out of my hair.

  "Oh! Thanks!" she said, dragging her friend away.

  I shook my head and cursed Swift for setting this guy off. This should have been a simple surveil and grab. Now, it was a pain in my ass.

  Someone grabbed my shoulder, startling me. I jerked around and saw it was Swift.

  "Do you see him?" she asked, glancing around, looking entirely too conspicuous.

  "You were the one right on his ass, how did you lose him?" I ask, exasperated.

  "I was not," she hissed. "I was keeping a good distance between us."

  "Ten paces is not a good distance. You spooked him."

  She narrowed her eyes. "Doesn't matter, if I still grab him first."

  "You don't even know where he is." I yanked my arm out of her grip. "Where did you lose him?"

  She pointed toward the far side of the room. "Over near the craps tables. He dropped
something and ducked down, then he was gone."

  I groaned in frustration. He definitely knew he had a tail. "He's probably trying to get out a different exit. Come on."

  We fell into step together as we pushed our way toward the back of the casino. All these places had multiple entrances and exits that spit you out at various points along the strip. Everything was connected here. The hotels, malls, and casinos were linked together so that the tourists didn't have to go out into the relentless sunshine if they didn't want to. No one in their right mind would stay out there willingly unless they were sitting by a pool.

  "I think I see him," Swift said quietly, her gaze focused off to her right.

  "Don't do anything rash," I said, ready to grab her if she tried to charge the guy.

  "I'm not the one you need to give that advice to, Mr. Blowseverythingup," she muttered.

  "Shut up, and keep heading straight. I'll try to circle around from behind him," I said, breaking away from her.

  She nodded and continued forward silently, not looking back at me. I ducked between a couple of slot machines and walked as fast as I could through the crowd. The constant chiming of the slot machines was starting to grate on my nerves. This place was a maze too, intentionally built so that you had to wander to get anywhere, and so that it was near impossible to find an exit. I wondered how many people had given up and just unloaded their bank accounts into the flashing machines because they were tired of walking.

  I saw a flash of pink hair just a few yards away, then the startled face of our target as he looked back over his shoulder, illuminated by the bright Nevada sunshine. He pushed open the emergency exit. Sirens wailed overhead, cutting through the chatter and ring of the slot machines. He broke into a run, letting the door slam shut behind him. Swift burst through it two seconds later as I sprinted after them.

  Why couldn't anything ever just go according to plan?

  Two

  A flare of pink magic shot above the heads of the pedestrians. Our target's reckless flight and Swift's pursuit had mostly cleared a path for me. I ran after them, shoving the overly curious out of my way.

  We were supposed to take this guy alive, and uninjured. Bradley wanted us to interrogate him, and scare him a little, but not too much. That was a lost cause at this point. Hell, the guy would probably need witness protection after this hit the news.

  I heard a gunshot ring out above the noise of the cars and my heart almost stopped in my chest. No one used guns anymore. They were practically artifacts after the introduction of magic. Any mage worth their salt could protect against that kind of attack with an anti high-velocity barrier, but they were so uncommon that we sometimes got lazy.

  The prosaics were already screaming and running, needing no prompting from me to get the hell away from the fight. It only made my progress harder.

  Fed up, I cast a wedge-shaped shield and ran straight ahead as fast as I could. The shield pushed the prosaics out of my way more effectively than I could on my own.

  "You slimy, fish-brained coward!" Swift's angry shout eased the panic I'd felt at the sound of gunfire.

  I caught up just in time to see Swift swinging her hammer at the wide-eyed man. His face turned slightly toward the mace as he popped off another shot that went wild, not hitting anywhere near Swift.

  "Don't kill him!" I shouted, futilely, as the mace connected with the front of his face. The blow lifted him from his feet and tossed him down the street like a paper bag with a sickening crunch.

  Swift cringed when she heard it and looked back toward me guiltily.

  I was about to yell at her when the guy's body glowed red...and lifted straight off the ground. He looked just as surprised as we did. And his face was bloodied, but not nearly as broken as it should have been. The magical glow pulsed and expanded into a sphere.

  "I thought he was a prosaic!" Swift shouted, adjusting her grip on her mace.

  "He is!" I shouted back as I ran toward him, placing a hand on my katana so I was ready to draw if he attacked.

  The guy twisted inside the red bubble and started trying to run. His legs flailed and he stayed exactly where he was, like a hamster on a wheel.

  “Why do I get the feeling that’s going to blow up?” Swift asked.

  The red magic pulsed brighter, as if on cue, and a shockwave of pure energy slammed into us. The bright flash of light momentarily blinded me but I was ready with a shield. It forced us back about ten feet, kicking up dust and concrete.

  The tall glass windows of the shopping mall next to us shattered. The shoppers inside screamed, not expecting to actually be injured while gawking at the fight.

  I dropped the shield, taking a gamble that there was only going to be one explosion, and sprinted forward. There was a tiny crater where the guy had been. I jumped over it and kept running. My instincts were telling me that was a diversion meant to make us think he was dead. I didn’t buy it. This guy had been billed as someone important to this drug ring we were hunting down. They wanted him protected, not blown up at the first sign of trouble.

  A large crowd was moving away from the epicenter of the explosion, but most of the people had their phones out. Only one person was actually sprinting away. I charged after him.

  “Do you see him?” Swift shouted as she followed me.

  “Yes!” I shouted back. “The one running!”

  “Got it!” She put on a burst of speed as her berserker magic flared around her. She shot past me, bounding from the roof of a parked car to a street lamp, then kicking off the side of a building to propel herself over the crowd.

  “That’s cheating!” I protested, unable to keep up with her extreme pace.

  She ignored me.

  “IMIB, freeze!” she shouted as she jumped through the air, landing on the guy’s back and disappearing from sight as they hit the ground. I could only hope that was a gentle tackle or our target was going to be seriously injured.

  Finally, I caught a break in the crowd and darted toward my partner. The target was struggling underneath her, yelling incoherently. She yanked something out of his hands and tossed it aside. A gun skittered across the ground, just out of his reach. I was tempted to incinerate it, but we needed it for evidence.

  Swift yanked his arms behind his back and cuffed him. We used a different type of restraint than the prosaic police. It dampened any magic the person had on or inside them. The man slumped to the ground as soon as they clamped around his wrists. Typically, the people we arrested couldn’t be contained by simple metal cuffs and the back seat of a patrol car.

  She moved to the side and began searching him. She patted down his arms, then his waist. Her brows creased as her hand hit something in his pocket. Pulling his jacket aside, she reached into the inner pocket of his jacket and pulled out something odd.

  “What on earth is this?” she wondered aloud as she turned the small, white orb over in her hand.

  “No clue,” I said, pulling out an evidence bag. She dropped it in and I held it up at eye level, examining it as well. It looked inconsequential, but there was a tiny pulse of magic coming from it. “It could be whatever powered that explosive shield.”

  “I thought so too, but I think that’s this bracelet he’s wearing. It’s runed,” she said, holding up the second thing she’d found. It was clearly marked with runes that indicated it did exactly that.

  “Well, the techs can figure it out,” I said with a shrug. This guy was supposed to be a messenger, but this kind of magic was something I’d expect to see on a mafia boss. It could be something he’d bought for himself. I lowered the evidence bag and turned my glare on my partner. “You cheated.”

  She looked back at me with a smug grin, brushing her pink hair back out of her face. “I won, and you know what that means.”

  “You spooked him on purpose to make it easier to grab him, didn’t you?” I asked, my eyes narrowed in suspicion.

  “I did not! I would never jeopardize the case for something so petty, and immature, and
–” she abruptly stopped when she saw me fighting back a grin. “Don’t be such a sore loser.”

  “Is he hurt?” I asked, nodding toward the still immobilized man she was kneeling on.

  “Oh, probably,” she said with a shrug as she rose to her feet. “I felt something crack when I tackled him.”

  I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose between my thumb and forefinger. “You realize prosaics are breakable, right?”

  “He’s not dead,” she said matter of factly. “Don’t be so dramatic.”

  Swift and I were starting to work together better but we both had a competitive streak. She’d been winning a suspicious number of our wagers lately. I was going to have to be more careful about the rules for the next one.

  “Arrange for a medical pickup. And you get to tell Bradley the guy got spooked and ran,” I said with a put-upon sigh.

  She grimaced at that, losing the smug look.

  Three

  “I have no idea what that is,” the tech said, sliding the device back to us. He was a younger guy, and a new tech. I’d always worked with an older guy named Denzie-something, who hadn’t actually been that helpful. Word around the office was that he’d “retired” and they’d brought in fresh blood. The new guy had introduced himself as Paulie and seemed like he actually was thirty years old. It was unsettling. I wasn’t used to working with anyone under seventy-five, and most were much older. It was hard to explain to prosaics but a mage can generally sense the age of another mage in their magical signature. Since we age so slowly, it’s not something you could tell based on looks alone.

 
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