Spy Glass Page 14

“A Sandseed horse. Figures,” a man said with a sneering tone.

I turned. A tall man leaned against one of the stable’s support beams. His crossed arms and relaxed posture the exact opposite of the strain in his voice.

“Excuse me?” I grabbed the handles of my sais. Magic enveloped me for a moment then receded. I stayed still despite the desire to bash him on the head with the shaft of my weapon.

“Some people get all the luck,” the magician said. “Sandseed horses and special treatment even when they’re no longer special.”

He appeared to be unarmed, but his combative tone set off warning signals. I drew my weapons, keeping them down by my side. “My mother believes I’m special.”

He snorted. “She would.”

I’d had enough. “Is there a point to this conversation? Otherwise, you’re wasting my time.”

“I want to know what you’re doing here.”

“I’m checking on my horse.”

“Cute. Let me rephrase the question. Why are you bothering Councilor Moon?”

Bothering. Interesting word choice. “It’s none of your business.”

“It is my business. I’ve been assigned to protect her.”

Ah. Zebb. “Then go ask her.”

He straightened and stepped toward me. A tingle of fear swept my body. He wore a short cloak over dark pants and knee-high boots. No visible weapons.

“I already know the lies you fed her. Came to visit and stayed to help. What a sweet little girl,” he mocked. “Except I know there is nothing sweet about you. You destroyed the entire communications network in Sitia. You’re persona non grata with the Council, the Master Magicians and most of Sitia. Let me ask you again. Why are you here? Who sent you?”

“I’m not a threat to Tama, so it’s still none of your business.”

“I disagree.”

I shrugged, trying to project a casualness I didn’t feel.

“Doesn’t matter. You’re going to tell me.”

I braced for a magical attack, but nothing happened. “Why would I?”

He held up one of my glass messengers. The ugly goat reflected the weak lantern light. I could no longer see if the interior of the goat glowed with magic or not. The glass no longer sang to me. Emptiness filled my chest.

“Because if you don’t tell me, I’m going to broadcast the news of your immunity to every magician who still has one of these, which includes the Master Magicians and all the Councilors’ bodyguards.” He brandished the messenger in my face.

“I was going to tell them eventually. You’d be saving me the trouble.” I kept my voice even.

“Trouble is what you’re going to be in when I tell them you came here to assassinate Councilor Moon.”

5

“THAT’S A LIE,” I SAID, LETTING MY OUTRAGE COLOR my tone.

“Too bad there are only a few precious glass messengers left,” Zebb said. “Otherwise, you could tell them the fast way. But a message sent by courier will take five days. And, really, who would believe you over a magician assigned by Master Bloodgood?”

I assessed the magician. Sandy brown hair fell in layers around his face and the tip of his nose looked as if someone had pushed it down toward his upper lip. He wasn’t bluffing.

“That’s blackmail,” I said.

“No. I’m protecting the Councilor.”

I huffed in frustration. “No one sent me. As you pointed out, I’m not very popular with the Council or the Master Magicians right now. I came to ask Tama for a job, but when I saw how…fragile she had become, I wanted to help her instead.” The truth. When he failed to reply, I added, “Besides, I had planned to convince her of your…good intentions? Maybe I need to rethink that. Unless you’d rather she not trust you enough to let you be in the same room with her?”

His stance relaxed a smidge.

I pressed my advantage. “And I’m positive her view of magicians wouldn’t improve if I told her you’d been using magic to spy on her.”

“I’m not spying. I’m doing my job.”

“Then why isn’t she surrounded by a null shield? That would have protected her.”

“Not from you.” He gestured to me. “You could have attacked her with your sais. Magic isn’t the only weapon.”

“But she’s surrounded by guards at all times.”

“Guards you selected.”

“They’re Fulgor soldiers. They’re more loyal to her than you,” I shot back.

He crossed his arms again. This conversation had gone nowhere. I returned my sais to the holder hanging around my waist. Long slits in my cloak allowed me to access them without getting tangled in the fabric.

“How about a truce?” I asked.

“I’m listening.”

“I believe Tama can sense your magic on an unconscious level.” I held up my hand when he opened his mouth. “Hear me out. In order to help her over her fear of magicians, I need you to stop the protective magic. If you feel she’s in danger, you can surround her with a null shield. And in return, I will keep you updated on her progress.”

He considered my offer. “Not you. I want the Councilor’s First Adviser to give me twice daily reports.”

So he could read Faith’s mind to ensure we didn’t lie to him. “Fine.”

“And you have to answer two questions.”

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