Libriomancer

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines Read Free Book Online

Book: Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jim C. Hines
to the other deaths. “It doesn’t make sense,” I said. “Individual vampires are tough, but in an all-out war, they wouldn’t stand a chance. More than half of them are helpless during the day, and at last count, humans outnumbered them a million to one.”
    “Some sort of civil war among the vampires?” Lena scooped up the last of the ice cream.
    “The Porters would have heard.” Though whether or not they would have bothered to tell me was another question entirely. “Have there been similar attacks in other countries?”
    “Not that I know of.”
    Most vampires were perfectly content to live in peace, but plenty of them were still monsters at heart. If they were attacking Porters with impunity here, it wouldn’t be long before others followed suit.
    Meaning if this wasn’t stopped soon, we could be looking at a worldwide war with the undead.

Chapter 3
     
    M AGIC HAD ALWAYS MESSED with my dreams. According to years of Porter research, brainwave excitation during REM sleep immediately following the use of magic tended to mimic the patterns seen in active magic use. And according to Porter gossip, Nicola Pallas had once awoken following a day of intensive spellcasting to find that she had transformed herself into a two-hundred-pound green rabbit in her sleep.
    I wasn’t powerful enough to suffer such problems. Instead, I simply endured surreal, too-vivid dreams in which my magic failed me when I needed it most. Sometimes I reached into my books, only to find myself unable to pull my hand free. Or I would fling the book away and watch in horror as what remained of my arm slowly dissolved, consumed by the book. The worst nightmares were when I fell through the magical portal I had opened in the pages, or worse yet, something on the other side of that portal
pulled
me in.
    Tonight was one of the bad ones. I jolted awake so hard I fell out of bed. Remnants of my dreams screamed that I was tumbling deeper into darkness. Soft fingers touched my shoulder and I shouted, slapping them away.
    “Take it easy,” said Lena. “It’s me.”
    I tried to shove her back, but it was like trying to uproot a tree. Slowly, reality pushed the dream aside, and the pounding of my heart eased.
    She helped me to my feet. I sat down on the bed, rubbing my eyes. The sheets were damp with sweat.
    Doctor Shah had once prescribed pills that were supposed to help me sleep. Unfortunately, I had thrown my remaining supply away two years ago. Even if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have risked them tonight. I needed my mind clear if anything happened. “What are you doing in my bedroom?”
    “Someone just pulled into your driveway,” said Lena.
    The sky outside was dark. The red glow of the alarm clock provided just enough light to make out Lena’s shape as she sat down beside me, one hand still gripping my arm. I heard Smudge stirring in his tank beside me. At night, he slept in a thirty-gallon aquarium lined with obsidian gravel and soil.
    A single cricket chirped somewhere inside the tank, probably roused out of hiding by all the noise. That was a mistake. A scurry of feet and a faint spark followed, and that was the end of the cricket.
    I flipped on a light, which helped to banish the dream. Smudge froze, cricket clutched in his forelegs. He watched me as if making sure I wasn’t about to reach in and steal his snack, then retreated into a thick web that reminded me of unspun cotton.
    I snatched up the Heinlein paperback I had left on the bedside table, fighting a shiver. I had fallen asleep in my blue jeans, and the cold air raised bumps along my naked chest and arms.
    Lena stared unabashedly as I grabbed a flannel bathrobe from the floor and pulled it on. I ignored her, opening the book to the page I had dog-eared earlier.
    The doorbell rang just as we reached the entryway. Lena gripped one of her bokken with both hands while I skimmed my book, then peeked out the front window.
    I doubted vampires would be so obvious, but after

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