The Hallowed Knight

The world is full of magical things…

With a day job that requires her to hunt down psychics who use their metaphysical gifts as weapons, Tarot-reading Justice of the Arcana Council Sara Wilde has no time for fairy tales. So when her newest case pleads for her assistance against brownies, sprites, and pixie dust, she’s more than ready to file it under “not a chance.”
 
But these Neo-Celts mean business, with a boldly charismatic leader who vows to return the world to the iron-fisted rule of the ancient gods. That plan infuriates the fiercest member of the Arcana Council, Death, whose deep Irish roots hide more secrets than Sara ever realized, and draws the focus of the dark-eyed, seductive Magician, deftly weaving his ever more twisted schemes.  
 
At the Council’s behest, Sara plunges headlong into Irish folklore, fantasy, and the very real, very frightening truth of the spaces between worlds, where the darkest memories go to hide… Memories that could upend everything Sara’s finally claimed as her own.  
 
Travelers beware! The fairies will all come out to play when you chase The Hallowed Knight.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter one

The first rule of the hustle is—everyone’s hustling something. And nobody hustles nothing like clairvoyants at a psychic fair.

“A reading with Mistress Malificorem?”

I blinked down at the young, towheaded boy in front of me. He wore loose leggings and a hand-sewn tunic with a prominent Celtic tree of life symbol embroidered into it, and like most of the people at the fair, he looked like a time traveler from an era predating plumbing. Unlike the other guests, he held up a postcard. I took it from him automatically, if only to lighten the enormous stack he gripped in his slender hand.

Mistress Malificorem was apparently in tent #370 at the far end of the space given over to the Las Vegas Joyful Spirit Psychic Festival. She promised to reveal more than I wanted to know for the low, low price of fifty dollars per half hour. The card was printed on plain black stock, with bright red and white lettering that felt almost wet to the touch, though it didn’t smear. Still, there was something about the promo piece that legit creeped me out. So, way to go, Mistress Malificorem.

“She paying you to help her?” I asked the child, whose pale blue eyes and winsome smile seemed at odds with the fell tidings of his employer.

“Fifty dollars, just to hand these out,” he said eagerly, his voice flush with pride. He even sounded Irish, and I’d already noticed that this particular psychic fair had drawn more than its share of Emerald Islanders. “If enough people show her the cards from this stack, she may have me help her tomorrow too.”

I smiled at his enthusiasm, waving the card dry as I watched him scamper off. Then I scanned the grounds, which were packed. Late April in Vegas was still cool enough to host an outdoor festival without fear of people keeling over from heat exhaustion. Even better, the garden-like setting of the preserve, with its natural flora carefully roped off from the tents, carny barkers, and food stations, made the festival one of the premier non-Strip events in the city. I hadn’t realized it had become so Celtic focused, but then again, I didn’t usually stay in town long enough to visit any of the local sights. When the psychic festival flyer showed up in my office this morning, however, I figured I should check it out.

Because the flyer didn’t show up in the morning mail—it arrived via pneumatic tube.

Which meant it wasn’t an advertisement. It was a cry for help.

As Justice of the Arcana Council, I was both the 9-1-1 dispatcher and first responder for such cries, as well as the official archiver of every complaint ever leveled against the magic wielders of the world. The short version of my job description was that I helped folks who were victims of psychics behaving badly. The long version involved fireballs, self-generating handcuffs, extensive frequent flyer miles, and a deep and recurring need for more librarians.

Since there’d been no Justice in the position for two hundred years, there was a considerable backlog of cases, all lining the stacks at Justice Hall. Nevertheless, the freshest requests took precedence, since they usually involved either victims or assailants who still walked among the living. Much easier to conduct interviews that way.

So, here I was, along a path that took me deep into a tent city of Irish-themed vendors. Unfortunately, the number scrawled on the flyer—167—went to a tent that didn’t exist in the middle of Celtlandia. Which wasn’t a great beginning for my search-and-rescue mission.

“Yo! Dollface.” In keeping with the cosplay vibe of the festival, Nikki Dawes strode toward me in the guise of Tolkien’s Galadriel—all-white gown, long blonde wig, and ice-blue eyes. The effect was spoiled only a little by the giant cups of beer she was balancing on a cardboard box of churro strips. Nikki, my right-hand woman since my earliest days in Sin City, could always make a look work. Even a look dusted in cinnamon and sugar.

“This is your idea of dinner?” I asked, taking one of the beers from her.

“It’ll dial you down a notch. You’re not even dressed appropriately.”

I glanced down at my jeans, light hoodie, and sneakers. “It’s Throwback Thursday.”

Nikki waved a churro stick at me. “That would mean you actually committed to leaving your wardrobe by Hot Topic behind. Justice of the Universe or not, you still suck in the superhero costume department.”

I reached into the front pocket of my hoodie with the hand not clutching my beer and pulled out my deck of Tarot cards. “When you can come up with an haute couture pullover with pockets, you let me know.”

At that moment, two little girls shrieking with delight burst past us, surrounded by a puff of bubbles that popped like gossamer kisses on our cheeks before we could flinch away. I swung my beer hand high to avoid splattering their strawberry-blonde pigtails. That left my card hand exposed, and the deck went flying.

“Oh—sorry! Sorry!” To their credit, the little girls stopped immediately and gathered up the cards, shoving them back at me while Nikki gamely held my beer. I didn’t miss that some of the cards were facing upright, of course. When the universe beats you over the head with a message involving a Tarot deck, it generally was wise to pay attention.

In this case, though, the cards were a decided drag: the Moon, Five of Wands, and Ten of Swords: Something you never expected is about to hit you square in the face, there’s gonna be a fight, and someone will be betrayed. It was either a hint of things to come or the beginning of a country song. Either way, it didn’t sound good.

“You missed a card.” As I took my first sip of beer, a young woman sporting colorful fairy wings on her back popped out from her tent and plucked an errant card from the ground, grimacing at it before she handed it to me. “Ah, Death,” she said sagely. “You should sit a spell with me. Have a reading.”

“Thanks, no.” I smiled my apology, then took the card from her and stuck it into my pocket. So Death too. That could mean…any number of things. Transformation. Actual death. Or even a visit from one of my new coworkers on the Arcana Council. Right now, I wasn’t up for any of those options, at least not until I finished my beer.