Spy Glass Page 100

Starving, I downed the meal without care and collapsed near the fire.

Nightmares plagued my sleep. I dreamed of Teegan and Reema. They cried for help; someone had set fire to their house. I reached and pulled magic, dousing the flames. But their clothes had ignited. The harsh scent of burned flesh spurred me to extinguish the fire on them and to send healing magic for their blisters.

The fire then traveled to Leif and my sister. Once they were safe, it spread to Councilor Moon and Faith. I kept the inferno at bay until I used all my energy. When I reached the point of exhaustion, the flames rushed in and engulfed me.

I jerked awake. My skin tingled and my bones felt as though they had been baked in an oven. Our campfire had gone out despite having plenty of wood. Fatigue weighed on me as if I hadn’t slept at all. The effort to get ready depleted the little strength I had left. Unable to resist the warm sunshine, I napped as we rode, trusting Quartz to keep me safe.

We kept close to the border of the plains as we headed south. Galen avoided the small towns in the foothills of the mountains. We traveled at night and slept in the morning.

By the fourth day of our trip, we reached a deserted section of the Cloud Mist’s lands. The flat land between the mountains and the Avibian Plains narrowed. In a couple days we would reach the Daviian Plateau.

When we stopped for a water break, I summoned the strength to ask Galen about our destination.

“You have enough information to figure it out on your own,” he said.

I had been concentrating on finding a way around our blood connection without success. Reviewing his comments from inside the mine, I pieced them together. He desired control over the black diamonds and super messengers. If the gems had been found in Vasko’s mine, then he wouldn’t have staged his own death. So my theory of the diamonds coming from the Bloodrose Clan was correct.

“We’re going to Lion’s Claw Peninsula,” I said. “How—”

“Did I find them?” Galen finished for me. “I didn’t. Walsh Bloodrose came to me. Or rather to Vasko, but he wasn’t home at the time. Lucky for me. Walsh and Vasko had attended the Magician’s Keep together, but Walsh was just as happy to work with me.”

I thought about the Bloodrose leader. Walsh preferred to live with his family in relative isolation. They harvested oysters for income. Fisk had mentioned a sudden influx of oysters. If Walsh wanted to ensure privacy, what better way than to drive his fellow oyster farmers out of business and buy their farms. That would also keep the farmers from discovering the black diamonds. But Walsh couldn’t sell those rare diamonds without drawing attention to himself. So he sought a middleman.

“Does Vasko believe those black diamonds came from his mine?” I asked.

“Yes. Poor guy.” Galen tsked. “Lost his most trusted employee and the location of all those expensive black diamonds in one cave-in. He’ll be desperate for more.”

“But you’ll just sell them to him. Why go to all this trouble?”

“All Walsh cares about is money and his family. He has no desire to wield the political power he would have by controlling the black diamonds and the super messengers. Fortunately he wanted something, and he was happy to let me run the diamond business as long as the money kept flowing in and I brought you to him.”

Not for my glass magic. Those black diamonds rendered my little animals obsolete unless he was worried about the competition. But that didn’t sound right.

“Okay, I’ll ask. Why?”

Galen grinned. “He was fascinated by you and your powers. With Quinn’s magic adding to his family’s resources, he wanted more magicians. Hard to get magicians to join a cult on the edge of nowhere. And the Council tends to get involved when one of them goes missing.”

He didn’t wait for me to reason it out. “When I found your blood, I thought to sell it to Walsh so he could inject it into his family members and create more magicians. But then I realized he was willing to give me more than money if I brought you along. And I’ll get a bonus because everyone thinks you’re dead, you can’t run away and you’ll be incapable of refusing an order. Walsh is going to be ecstatic.”

“How did you know I’d link you to Vasko?”

“I planted enough clues to frame his son. A little goodbye present to him, keeping him busy trying to explain Finn to the authorities. Also, once the Master Magicians learned about those super messengers, any idiot would know they’d send you to investigate.”

I followed the logic. “I’m going to work for Walsh.” Which might not be as horrible as I expected.

“He plans to make you a member of his family. You should be honored.”

“Am I going to make glass messengers for him?”

Galen dismissed the notion. “Any glassmaker can make us those messengers. You’ll be needed for other tasks.”

“For example?”

“You’ll be required to birth more magicians in order to expand Walsh’s happy family.”

25

BIRTH MORE MAGICIANS. DIDN’T EXPECT THAT LITTLE revelation. It was far worse than anything my overactive imagination had produced.

Galen delighted in my shocked silence. “I’m to become a member, as well. I’m looking forward to doing my part for the family. Walsh has developed this whole breeding program. It’s quite impressive.”

I rallied. “I’m still able to refuse orders.”

“Not for long.”

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