Spy Glass Page 49

“Lamar, how very unexpected,” Finn said with a disapproving tone.

Magic brushed us. Janco flinched, but held steady.

“Even now I can’t sense your deception. No matter. We’ve already proven you’re no match for me.”

Janco grinned. “It’s never wise to beat your boss. Good thing you’re not my boss anymore.”

I stifled a laugh. Not only had he used the word wise, but Janco’s current position in Ixia had been gained by beating a succession of his superior officers.

“Give Opal her bottle,” Janco said.

“No. Someone is willing to pay an outrageous amount of gold for this.”

“Who?” I asked.

“Someone who hates you very much.”

Janco glanced at me. “That narrows it down to half of Sitia.”

“Not funny.” Because if I considered the people who were upset and inconvenienced due to the loss of my glass messengers, he might be right. “Hand it over, Finn.”

“Seems we’re at an impasse,” Finn said. “If we fight, or if you use one of your darts or that nifty gas ball, I might drop the bottle, spilling your blood. You’ll have to decide if you want to risk it or not.”

“All right. How much?” I asked.

Finn jerked with surprise, but recovered. “You can’t afford it.”

“Try me.”

He peered at me as if assessing my net worth. “Did the Council let you keep the diamonds from here?” He pointed down.

“Yep. I’m richer than Vasko Cloud Mist.”

Finn flinched at the name. “Doubtful.”

“How much?” I asked again. Would I be willing to give him all my money for that bottle? Yes.

He hesitated.

“Despite his claims, Finn’s not doing this for the money, Opal,” Janco said.

Janco was right. Better to spill my blood than for it to get into the wrong hands. “Janco, why don’t you entertain Finn with one of your rhymes?”

“My pleas—” Janco froze.

I reached and encountered a bubble of magic around him.

“I’m not in the mood for a fight,” Finn said. He sheathed his sword and yanked out a blowgun. Loading the pipe without rushing, he was confident I wouldn’t be a problem.

“Too bad,” I said as I snatched Janco’s dagger.

Finn blocked my first attack with the blowgun. I parried and my blade hacked chunks from the wooden tube as he used it to protect himself. He backed up as I advanced, pressing my advantage.

“Well done, Opal,” he said when the dagger sliced his blowgun into two.

I stepped closer and he chopped my wrist. He used this move before to the same effect, stunning my hand with the edge of his palm and taking the weapon from me. At least this time, I saw it happening. Didn’t help, but it was progress.

Finn touched the tip of the dagger to my neck. “I’m growing quite fond of you. My patron paid for your blood, but I imagine you would bring a higher price. Or perhaps you would pay me to release you?”

Oh no. Not this again. I leaned back away from the blade and kicked forward, hitting him in the ribs. Not hard, as I was unbalanced, but enough to distract him while I shuffled out of reach. He surrounded me with a thick bubble of magic. It weighed me down and slowed my movements. Holding a dart, Finn stalked me.

Frantic, I splayed my hands and without piercing the bubble of magic I pushed it away from me before Finn could aim. It moved. I did it again until I was free.

“Unbelievable,” Finn said. The bubble dissolved. “You have an affinity with magic, but it can’t affect you…I wonder if your immunity is fueled by magic.”

I rushed him to keep him from making that last logical connection and slammed into an invisible barrier. Too late. He figured it out and erected a null shield. Magic couldn’t pierce it. Stunned, I blinked at an ecstatic Finn. He held his hand out and the barrier forced me back until the shield trapped me in a corner.

“A null shield,” Finn said in amazement. “I love the irony! This is going to make my life so much easier.” He threw the dart.

I couldn’t move my arms to block it. Hitting my shoulder, the drug worked fast. The room spun into darkness.

“Opal?”

An ungentle nudge. I swatted at the disturbance.

“Wake up, or I’m leaving you here,” Janco grumped.

I groaned. My head ached and the floor swayed.

“Killer hangover, isn’t it? Finn used the hard stuff.” Janco pulled on my arm. “Come on. It’s getting dark.”

He helped me to my feet. I glanced around the abandoned factory and I remembered. “Finn? My blood?” Relief spiked as I realized he hadn’t taken me.

Janco grimaced. “Gone. After he knocked you out someone called from outside. He jabbed me and left. When I woke, I tracked him to the road, but once he reached it, I’ve no idea which way he went.” He gestured to the windows. “We were asleep for hours and he stole one of our horses. I had to chase down the other.”

We trudged to the Dolomite Inn, leading the remaining horse. Even Mister Paul’s delighted welcome couldn’t dispel the gloom that had settled on us. The thought of oyster soup turned my stomach, but Janco enjoyed it while I ate bread and a few mouthfuls of beef.

My thoughts lingered on my failure. All those months of training, planning and sacrifice for naught. Nothing for me. Finn made out well. I scowled.

“Something wrong with your dinner?” Janco asked. He had removed his disguise, revealing his thin face and scarred ear.

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