I fly in my Merlin2000 carpet, one of the full-bodied sleek outfits lacking a retractable bubble because these models have higher efficiency. I'm trying to assuage my guilt, but even the Merlin2000 requires the blood from three cows for my short jaunt home from the dragonport. It shouldn't matter next to the blood required for my intercontinental flight, but it does because this blood was spilled solely for me. If only fighting global warming could be done from the comfort of home.
The crystal ball in the dash crackles as a connection blooms into full image. My wife. "What's wrong?" I reach out, touch the crystal ball, feel the strong jaw behind it. Her eyes dart, evading, either hiding a lie or scared. I have a bad feeling that I don't want to know more. "I'm almost home, honey."
The crystal ball flickers. My wife disappears. Pain explodes from my fingertips and I jerk my hand from the dash, dripping blood.
"Almost home. How sweet." The face that appears in the crystal has thick scars folded over themselves into ridges that lined the man's cheeks. A sure sign of a blood priest. "My acolytes broke your house's defenses. Have your wife. You'll land if you want to see her again."
The Merlin2000 had too many blind spots. I twist until I see the black shadow of a carpet descending towards me. I punch the accelerator, dripping with blood for my fingers into the intake valve, feeding my own blood magic to Merlin, and it leaps forward.
No match for the blood priest's carpet.
The bubble's roof dents with the impact of the priest's car. I crash into the ground, digging a furrow like the scars on the man's cheek. I roll from the car, blood on my forehead where I hit the dashboard.
Dragonspies hover above me, but the four-winged cameras smaller than my finger won't save me.
The blood priest approaches. A ball of hair in his hand. "You will retract your findings."
I close my eyes. The priest was a global warming denier. The institute had predicted this would happen and had offered their bodyguards. I couldn't accept them and the additional magic and therefore warmth they'd require. "Never."
"Your wife will die. You shall see pain." He lowered the ball of hair before me, it wasn't a ball but an intricate four chambered model of the heart with the curls of hair creating aorta and veins. "You know what this is."
My heart beats rapidly. I feel it like one does in the first hours of waking when it's thick and languorous and almost heard. Yet, here it's raging fast and the heart in his hand beats in time with my own.
He squeezes it tight. The world darkens. A high-pitched yell of terror is the only sense I notice beyond the pain that suffuses me. I realize the yell is my own.
"You will recant."
"I warned you." The blood priest signals his minions through his crystalwatch.
My wife dies. Her lifeforce a blinding volcano of energy. Love binds the last minutes of her soul and then it's gone. My heart no longer hurts physically, only with loss. I look up, the bloodpriest flayed by our love.
Bloodpriests were blinded by their own scriptures. Blood magic might make the world go round, but love magic couldn't be trumped.