Spy Glass Page 37

“Greed and stupidity are our friends,” Nic said. “It’s amazing how creative and inventive criminals can be, but eventually greed, sheer stupidity or both will bring them down.”

The next month passed in a blur. At one point, while clinging to the side of a building in the middle of the night, I wondered what the hell I had been thinking to agree to this training.

One positive thing Valek had been right about was working with the glass. It helped me focus my mind. When the kiln had been hot enough to melt sand, soda ash and lime into glass, I gathered a slug of molten glass on a pontil iron and basked in the bright glow. Such potential locked inside just waiting for me.

The orange light pulsed as if beckoning me. Come on, Opal. Mold me, shape me, it cooed. I’ve been a constant throughout your entire life. I’ve never betrayed or harmed you.

Even though I hadn’t touched glass in seasons, my skills returned as if there hadn’t been a gap. Being able to thumb a bubble for the first time in my life, I crafted a few small and delicate vases. Then I made glass flowers to set inside it. A tiny spark of joy returned to my soul as I experimented with my rediscovered talent.

I also admitted to myself that my mother had been right. My refusal to work with the glass had been moping.

Eventually, my glass pieces filled my shelves and I crafted gifts for others. I made a paperweight for Tama’s messy desk. I shaped a fist-sized ball, then filled the inside with a bunch of small bubbles. It resembled boiling water that had been frozen. Satisfied with the paperweight, I cut in a jack line and cracked it off into the annealing oven to cool.

“Solved all your problems yet?” Valek asked as I cleaned up.

“No. But I decided what I want for dinner,” I said.

“It’s a start.”

As we continued training, fatigue settled into my tired muscles, and each exercise sucked more energy from me. At this rate, I wouldn’t have the strength to accomplish the mission. And the sense of time running out loomed over me. Each day spent preparing was one day lost. And another day for something bad to happen to my blood.

With only forty-five days remaining until Mara’s wedding, my impatience boiled over. “Look, all I need are the basics,” I said to Valek that evening. “Once I find my blood, I won’t be doing all this sneak stuff.”

He sat at my kitchen table. The prison’s blueprints had been spread out in front of him. Valek displayed no emotion. Which wasn’t a good thing. I had learned to correlate his annoyance level to his lack of sentiment. The greater his ire, the flatter his tone.

“And what will you be doing instead?” he asked.

I hesitated. “Probably helping the Council.”

“In what capacity?”

“I don’t know. Whatever they need, I guess.” Wrong answer.

“Then I should bill the Council for your training. Because they will not hesitate to take advantage of your immunity, and assign you to jobs that require you to sneak around.”

I opened my mouth, but closed it as his stony gaze fixed on me.

“I suggest you decide what exactly you are going to do. Indecisive probablys usually lead to trouble.” He returned to studying the blueprints, ignoring me.

Sitting in a chair opposite him, I considered his comments. If I dug deep enough, I would find the nugget of hope that I would reclaim my blood and my powers. Then I could return to making glass messengers and being able to help a wild magician to avoid flaming out. And if I didn’t? My thoughts shied from that scenario.

Valek and I spent another seven days training, watching Wirral and poring over the blueprints. We donned disguises and followed the correctional officers home from the prison. The effort netted us names to match faces, and I identified Finn’s goons—Erik, Carrl and Lamar. No surprise that all were hotshots.

As the days passed, Valek tested me on spotting a disguise. It was one skill that came easily to me. With my artistic background, I held the advantage. Even though confidence in my abilities grew, I still worried about the amount of time we used. My sister’s wedding was thirty-eight days away and I needed at least eight to travel home. I feared thirty days wouldn’t be enough.

My fears turned into reality when Valek threw his quill across the table. I looked at him.

He crossed his arms. “I never thought I would say this, but it’s impossible.”

My stomach flipped. “What is?”

“Getting into Wirral. There isn’t a way in without being caught. We’re done.”

11

“WHAT ABOUT THE PLAN TO DISGUISE OURSELVES AS correctional officers?” I asked Valek, hoping the last seventy plus days of training hadn’t been for nothing.

“Think about the information we’ve collected these past couple weeks,” Valek said.

I huffed in annoyance. He had all the answers, but he wanted me to puzzle it out myself. Sorting through everything, I recalled a conversation Valek had overheard at the Spotted Dog. “We can’t go in as COs because there are too many checkpoints, and they change the password daily,” I said. “Someone before us must have tried that trick.”

“What about bribing a hotshot to ask Ulrick?” Valek asked.

“Won’t work. They’re an elite unit. It’s doubtful they’ll take a bribe, and they’re all terrified of Finn.” I tried to see past Valek’s blank mask. Was this all a test? A ruse to get me to use the strategy I had learned.

“Bribe one of the other COs to get in?”

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