Spy Glass Page 4

The few times we had interacted had been during crisis situations. No need to reminisce. Especially not with my parents nearby.

After my mother rushed off to prepare dinner and Father returned to puttering in his lab, Valek and I took a walk, heading in no particular direction.

“Have you thought about why Yelena sent me?” he asked.

“All night.”

“That would explain the dark circles under your eyes.”

Trust Valek to notice.

He paused. “But not why you look so…tired. Are you still having nightmares about them?”

Them, as in the seven glass prisons. Despite trapping those evil souls inside glass, their voices had haunted my dreams. The closer I had traveled to one, the louder the voice and the stronger the influence over me became. Valek had hidden them, telling no one their locations, but I could find them. Well, not anymore.

“No. Without magic my connection to them is gone,” I said.

“Then why so tired?” He kept his expression neutral.

“The incident in Hubal drained me. I’m still recovering.” The truth.

“I see.” He continued walking with a smooth stride. “I’ve read the reports about Hubal. Nasty business.”

“The records are supposed to be sealed. How did—”

“Because of Janco’s unfortunate and illegal involvement, I had full access to them.” Annoyance colored his tone.

Janco was one of Valek’s second-in-commands. “He shouldn’t get into trouble. I asked for his help. It’s not—”

“His fault?”

I nodded.

“Asking for help isn’t the problem. It never is. Janco should have brought your message to my attention, and we should have decided on the best course of action. Instead, he left without permission and without telling us where he went. Plus he made an illegal border crossing.”

“But…”

Valek waited.

“I hope you didn’t demote him.”

“What happened to him in Hubal was punishment enough. That blood magic is extremely potent. Yelena explained how it works, but I don’t fully understand why Ulrick and Tricky needed your blood.”

I glanced at him. Was he pretending to be confused? No way to tell. The man had the best poker face in the world.

“When I had my glass magic, if a magician attacked me, I could transform his magic into glass. Even if he didn’t attack, I could siphon…steal all his powers if I so desired. But Tricky discovered that I couldn’t drain him because he used my blood to increase his powers.”

“So your blood protected them from your siphoning magic?”

“Yes. At first, but when Zitora was dying and I was desperate, I realized my blood tattooed in their skin connected us. To draw off all their powers, I had to drain my own, as well.” I rubbed the scars on my arms. Not completely healed, the vertical ridges pulsed with an angry reddish-purple color, and resembled rungs on a ladder that climbed up the inside of my arms. A souvenir from Hubal.

“How much blood did they take from you?”

An odd question. And Mr. Stone Face only showed polite interest. “I don’t know. I lost track of the days. But I know they came every day with a suction device. Most of the time, I passed out before they were done.”

“According to Janco’s report, they held you for six days.” Valek’s comment seemed for his benefit instead of mine.

We walked for a while in silence. “At least one good thing came from your sacrifice. No more nightmares. And since you can no longer hear the souls in the glass prisons, it would be prudent for me to collect them, and rehide them so you won’t be in danger any longer.”

Surprised, I said, “You’d do that? Just for me?”

“Of course, you’re practically family.” He smiled. “Besides, my decision to spread them all over Sitia and Ixia was poor. With them together, I can monitor the prisons better.”

I gasped in mock horror. “You? Make a bad decision?”

He laughed. “All the time. Why do you think I’m so adept at escaping sticky situations? It’s because I constantly find myself in them.”

He was adept at so much more. I envied his skill and confidence. “The best decision you’ve made is hiding Gede’s prison in the snow cats’ den. No one is brave or stupid enough to go in there.”

Valek snorted with amusement. “So which one am I? Brave or stupid?”

“I didn’t mean—”

“No worries, Opal. Actually it was easy to place that one in the den. I left a fresh-killed steer a half mile upwind and waited for the cats to leave.” He crossed his arms and tapped a finger. “I’ll need a better location for all seven prisons.”

I tried to imagine the perfect hiding spot, but couldn’t think of one. Our aimless route led us into the Avibian Plains, and I scanned the area for Quartz.

“Let’s get back to our original subject,” Valek said. “Why Yelena sent me. Any ideas?”

Logic warned me not to tell him, yet my heart yearned to trust him. “I think Yelena sent you here to help me make a decision.”

“Emerald green.”

“What?”

“You should wear an emerald-green-colored dress for your sister’s wedding.”

“Valek, I’m serious.”

“So am I. With your dark hair and eyes, you would look stunning in that color.”

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