Spy Glass Page 102

I clasped his hand and suppressed a cringe at the creepy feel of his bony fingers wrapped around mine. “I wish I could say the same.”

He kept hold of my hand. Power swept over my skin. I fought the urge to block his invasive scan. For the last fifteen days, I hadn’t needed another shot of blood magic. By not using power, I extended the time between bouts of withdrawal. According to Galen, I couldn’t avoid it altogether. I sensed things would change. And not for the better.

Walsh patted my hand with his free one. “Your unique powers have fascinated me. I’m looking forward to exploring them with you. I’m sure you’ll love it here with time. Even during the hot season, there’s a cool breeze from the sea. No one bothers us with their petty political wrangling and back-stabbing. It’s paradise.”

He finally released my hand and addressed Galen as if I wasn’t standing right there. “She’s healthy and strong. A little old. We should breed her right away. But all in all a nice addition to our family.”

Even though I had been warned, I still gaped at him.

“Opal, wait for me in the reception area. I’ll be right out,” Galen ordered.

“Penny, fetch our new sister something to drink,” Walsh said to his assistant.

She gestured for me to precede her, and shut the door behind us.

“What would you like?” she asked me.

“Nothing.”

She gave me a miserable look. Her drab tan skirt dragged on the ground, and she kept smoothing the fabric of her dull off-white tunic over her stomach.

“Water is fine,” I said.

Relieved, she rushed off. I pressed my ear to the door. They talked about the black diamonds and plans to make super messengers. Since I already knew greed was a motivating factor for Galen and Walsh, I wasn’t sure what I had been hoping to overhear. The topic changed to me and I strained.

“How soon until she’s yours?” Walsh asked Galen.

“Not long. She has a soft spot for others.”

“Then finish it. She’s dangerous right now. House her in the brig until we can trust her.”

Footsteps sounded and I backed away from the door.

Galen was amused. “Any questions?”

“What did you mean by I have ‘a soft spot’?” I asked.

“You run to everyone’s rescue. I’m sure you wouldn’t hesitate to save a drowning child. Come on. I’ll give you a tour.”

I wondered when he had been here before as I trailed after him. He headed straight for the south coast. The long wooden building remained the same. Along the side open to the beach, workers wielded boxes with bottoms made from wire-mesh screens. They barely glanced at us. Using handheld spades, they filled the box with sand and then held it in the water flowing through a chute. The water washed away the sand, but left the rocks behind. After inspecting each black stone, a worker placed it in another box or tossed it onto a pile.

Galen answered my unspoken question, “Only the diamonds are kept.”

There weren’t many. “So not all those black rocks are diamonds?”

“Chunks of useless lava,” he said.

He poured the diamonds into his hand and left. The next building perched on the edge of a dune and resembled three of the bamboo cottages stuck together.

In the front room, Quinn worked at a table. He concentrated on the black stone in his hand. When he finished, he glared at Galen through the shaggy hair hanging in his face. Unaffected, Galen smiled and handed the young man the diamonds he carried.

“More for you to charge,” Galen said.

Quinn remained silent, but he turned his attention on me. With a flash of recognition he leaped to his feet. “You!” He rushed me.

I stepped to the side, dodging his attack. He hit the wall and pushed off, coming at me again. Running out of room to maneuver, I blocked and punched him. The hard muscles of his torso did more damage to my fist than to him. He wrapped his hands around my neck and squeezed.

“You bitch! You left us here!”

No air to respond, I slammed my arms down on the crook of his. Nothing. My vision turned to snow. I could be nasty and dig my thumbs into his eyes or strike his neck with a knife-hand, but I didn’t want to hurt him.

“Opal, use your magic,” Galen said. His voice sounded faraway.

No. Darkness claimed the edges of my world. Then with a jerk, the pressure on my neck released. Air burned in my throat. The pain didn’t stop me from sucking in huge lung-filling gulps.

When I regained my senses, I looked up. Galen held the adolescent in a headlock.

“Another person to add to your fan club, Opal,” Galen said in amusement. He released Quinn, but kept a wary eye on him. “You two should try and get along. After all, you’ll be working together.”

Quinn glowered at me as he tugged his shirt down and swept his black hair from his face.

“Working how?” My voice squeaked. Quinn was seventeen years old at most.

“There’s an interesting little twist to those super messengers. If I or any other magician charges the black diamond with magic, the damn thing cracks after the magic is used.”

“Like the clear diamonds?”

“Exactly. But if Quinn here charges the blacks, they work fine and he can recharge them again and again.”

“Did you enhance his powers with blood, too?”

“No. Quinn’s a Bloodrose. He does it for his clan.”

By the young man’s disgust, I knew Galen’s explanation was far from accurate.

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