Spy Glass Page 13

“Finally,” she said. “A good night’s rest!”

While they talked, I lit the lanterns. The cold season’s nights arrived fast, dropping a curtain of darkness with little warning. When I passed my friends, I brushed against magic. I paused and stood behind them. Trying not to be obvious, I rested my hands on the backs of their chairs. The hairs on my arms pricked. A web of power surrounded them. Her magician must be eavesdropping, but I couldn’t be sure. I now understood Valek’s frustration.

Not wanting to upset Tama, I kept quiet as Nic and Eve left to take up position outside her office door.

“Make sure you introduce them to Faith,” Tama said. “She’s the only person I allow in my private suite. I keep Council business and my personal life separate, but with living in the Hall…” She wrapped her arms around her waist, turning to stare out the window.

I wondered if she looked at her flickering refection or the blackness of the night. My image stood beside her, but it didn’t waver. Odd.

She turned to me. “Where are you staying?”

“At the Second Chance Inn.”

“You can live in the assistant’s apartment on the ninth floor once Dari leaves.”

“I’d rather not.”

She tried to hide her disappointment.

I rushed to explain. “Eventually, we’ll find you a permanent assistant. And I should be out there—” I pointed to the window “—listening to the tavern gossip, getting a feel for the citizens’ moods and complaints for you. If I stayed here, I’d never leave and we’d miss the opportunity to connect with the townspeople.”

“That’s smart, Opal. Your experiences have made you stronger and more confident. While I’m a mess. I can’t make decisions and I’m terrified another magician will…”

“No magician will hurt you. The man who switched your soul with Akako was a Warper. He used blood magic. And the Warpers who know how to use it are all locked up in your prison. The magician downstairs…Zebb?”

She cringed, then nodded.

“Was he sent by Master Bloodgood?” I asked.

“Yes. Bain assigned every Council member a magician capable of erecting a null shield around them for protection.”

“And Bain would only send a trustworthy person. You’re a Councilor. One of only eleven and all critical to Sitia. Your safety is of the utmost importance.”

“Really?” Tama shot back. “Then how come not one of them, Master Magician or Councilor—the same people I’ve known and worked with for years. None of them even questioned Akako when she attended Council sessions in my stolen body. When she voted on policy and laws. Not one!”

“She was protected by a null shield,” I tried to explain.

“That only blocks magical attacks. We have different personalities. How could they not suspect something was wrong?”

I swallowed the huge knot in my throat. “They knew something wasn’t right. They probably worried about it, and they also probably found logical explanations for all your new quirks.”

Tama remained doubtful. “Come on. They’re intelligent men and women.”

“You called me smart. Do you believe it?”

“Of course.”

“I wasn’t smart enough to figure out Devlen’s soul was in Ulrick’s body, and I was dating Ulrick.” I told her my story. “He was bolder, more confident, and there were other clues, as well. But I didn’t even question him. I justified each and every one. Try not to be so hard on the Council and Master Magicians. I’m sure they feel horrible, and I’d bet my sister’s favorite skirt that Bain sent you the finest protector.”

Her lips parted, but no words escaped. I couldn’t tell if she thought I was an idiot or if she pitied me. Good thing I didn’t tell her that Devlen had managed to do what Ulrick couldn’t while we dated. Sleep with me.

“I’ll have to think about it,” she said.

“That’s a start.” I said good-night and moved to leave.

“Opal?” She touched my shoulder.

I stifled a yelp as magic burned through the fabric of my shirt.

“Thanks for sharing your story.”

I nodded because if I opened my mouth I would cry out.

“See you tomorrow.” She pulled her hand away.

I left her office and waved to Nic and Eve as I hurried through the reception area. Once I reached the deserted hallway, I sagged against the wall, and rubbed my shoulder. Magic coated Tama’s skin. Since she wasn’t a magician, it had to be Zebb’s. If he protected her, she’d be surrounded by a null shield. He was either trying to manipulate her or spy on her. Either way I just lost Mara’s favorite skirt.

Exhaustion soaked into my bones. I couldn’t deal with this magician right now. I pushed away from the wall and descended to the lobby. Plenty of guards milled about, but most of the staff had gone for the day. I signed out.

The lamplighters had lit the streets of Fulgor. Soft yellow light flickered. Shadows danced. Groups of townspeople talked and laughed as they headed toward taverns or their homes. I should stop at the Pig Pen for a late supper and to listen to the gossip, but fatigue dragged on my body.

I would visit the taverns tomorrow as well as join the soldiers for their early-morning training. When I arrived at the Second Chance Inn, I checked on Quartz. She munched on hay, but poked her head over the stall door so I could scratch behind her ears. With eyes half-closed, she groaned in contentment. Then she moved, presenting other areas for me to scratch until I dug my nails into her hindquarters. Spoiled horse.

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