Last Wish (Highland Magic #4)

Last Wish (Highland Magic #4)

Helen Harper

Chapter One

‘What do you get when you cross a goose with a mouse?’

I frowned. As much fun as cheesy jokes were, I was trying to concentrate. ‘This isn’t really the time, Bob.’

‘Ohhhh,’ he flounced. ‘So it’s alright for you to force your poor excuse for humour in our faces but when one of us tries to do it…’

A passing troll halted and glared at him. ‘Chieftain. If you wish the imp to be disposed of, then I would be more than happy to oblige.’

Bob gasped in outrage. ‘How dare you! You great lump! I’m a genie, not an imp.’

The troll’s gaze grew even more disparaging. ‘You all look the same to me.’

Flitting up to the troll’s face, Bob reached inside his tiny jacket pocket and drew out an even tinier glove. He reached out and slapped the troll across the nose with it. ‘I challenge you to a duel, sirrah.’

The troll swung his heavy head towards me. ‘Chieftain, shall I…?’

I rubbed my forehead. ‘No.’

He nodded once. ‘Very well.’

Bob and I watched him amble off, shuffling with a heavy gait towards the mansion. ‘Yeah! Run away like the coward you are!’ the little genie shouted.

‘Bob,’ I said tiredly, ‘give it a rest.’

‘S’not my fault,’ he mumbled.

I shook out my hair. Effectively trapped here within the Adair lands, we were all going stir crazy but it didn’t change the fact that there was still work to be done. I had to gain control over my magic; the fate of thousands of people across the Veil might depend upon it, not to mention everyone here behind the Adair borders.

I refocused on the patch of ground. I was getting there. Faint threads of power snaked through my veins and I felt rather light-headed. There was a hiss and the hard ground began to crack. Green shoots pushed their way upwards all along the largest fissure. Yahtzee.

‘You’ve still not answered me, you know,’ Bob said. ‘What do you get when you cross a goose with a mouse?’

I bit the inside of my cheek. Just a little bit more … beside my toe, a bud was already beginning to emerge.

‘A moose!’ Bob started to cackle, the sound penetrating my skull to the exclusion of anything else.

I exhaled loudly and straightened up. ‘I don’t get it.’

‘Duh!’ He spun up and twanged me between my eyebrows with his fingers. ‘Goose combined with mouse makes moose. It’s all about blending the letters.’

‘I understand that part,’ I said through gritted teeth. ‘But where’s the funny?’

His brow furrowed. ‘What do you mean?’

‘It’s not funny, Bob. Jokes have to make people laugh.’

He stared at me, still not understanding. ‘Nobody laughs at your jokes.’

‘Sorley does.’

Bob snorted. ‘Sorley is an idiot.’

I opened my mouth to reply but I was interrupted by Morna stamping over. She gazed at my growth efforts with what could only be described as disgust. ‘Integrity Adair!’ she scolded. ‘I did not permit you to take more of my Gift so you could fritter away your time. Is that all you’ve managed to accomplish?’

Suddenly I felt like a small child caught with her hand in the cookie jar instead of Chieftain of my very own Clan. Albeit a remarkably odd Clan. ‘I’ve been distracted,’ I protested. ‘It’s Bob’s fault.’

‘A good Chieftain takes responsibility for herself and for her Clan. You’re the one in charge.’

‘Ha ha!’ Bob jabbed his finger at me. ‘Stop blaming me! A bad workman always blames his tools.’

I raised my eyebrows. ‘And we all know that you’re a tool.’ Bob’s mouth dropped open in mock outrage.

‘Robert,’ Morna said, fixing her steely gaze on him, ‘aren’t you supposed to helping inside?’

‘I’m on a break.’ Morna simply looked at him. His head dropped. ‘Going back to work now,’ he muttered. He floated off. One day I’d like to exercise that kind of control but it didn’t matter what I did; I’d never achieve Morna Carnegie’s iron power.

‘Felled by a mere glance,’ I said to myself. I looked at Morna. ‘When will you let me take that Gift?’

‘Being Chieftain is more than the title, Integrity. It’s a state of mind.’

‘The job’s yours if you want it. The pay is shite and there aren’t any holidays. But you get to pretend to be dead and that really cuts down on your junk mail. Plus, I’ve not had a bill to pay for months.’

Her expression didn’t change. ‘You can’t play dead forever.’

My attempt at humour faded away. ‘I know.’

‘I have to get back to my own Clan soon. My Chieftain is starting to think I’ve been abducted. I’m running out of excuses to explain my absence.’

I swallowed. ‘I do appreciate what you’ve done for us.’

‘It’s not for you. The prophecy has yet to be fulfilled.’

‘It has been fulfilled. I saved the Foinse. In return, I saved the country.’

Morna raised her hand dismissively. ‘You and several others. Besides, that wasn’t the prophecy.’

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