Spy Glass Page 6

Doubtful. “Any other problems?”

“It can be exhausting when powerful magic is directed at you. It’s like trudging through syrup. It sticks to you and pulls on your muscles. It’s hard to move and to breathe.” He placed a comforting hand on my shoulder. “There’re benefits, too. You’ll know who is a magician and who isn’t. You won’t be fooled by an illusion or be physically or mentally controlled by another. No one can read your thoughts. Although—” he smiled “—to truly take advantage, you’re going to have to work on keeping your feelings from showing on your face.”

“That bad?”

“To me, yes. You could play poker until you stop losing, or perhaps a few acting lessons would help you. Especially since pretending you’re affected by magic can be to your advantage. When you return to the Citadel, talk to Fisk, he’ll find you the perfect teacher.”

Even Valek knew Fisk, the beggar boy turned leader of the Citadel’s Helper’s Guild. I remembered I owed him a…special visit for the ambush he had set up. He had been working for Master Bloodgood at the time, but I still wanted to talk to him. Guess helping shoppers bargain for goods had lost its appeal.

“Any more advice?” I asked.

“Ask me to keep your secret.”

I stopped. “Why?”

“Otherwise, I’ll tell the Commander.”

“You’ll tell him anyway.”

“Only if he needs to know.”

“Oh. All right. Valek, will you please keep the knowledge of my immunity to yourself?”

“Yes. And I’ll ask you to keep the reason we’re immune to magic a secret.”

According to Yelena, when I had drained Tricky and Ulrick of their blood magic, I had pulled their null shield to me, but hadn’t been able to purge the shield as I had all the other magic, including my own. She also claimed a traumatic experience in Valek’s life caused him to pull in a null shield that bonded with his soul. Kade, Leif and Zitora knew about the immunity, but not the null shield.

Another quirk of the null shield being kept from the Council and Sitians was its ability to be woven with fabric. I had argued against keeping the information from them—if they didn’t know about it they couldn’t guard against it. But the Master Magicians and Yelena had overruled me.

“Does the Commander know why you’re immune?” I asked.

“No. Only the three of us, and I like it to stay that way.”

In the past, keeping secrets had led me into trouble. “I won’t tell anyone unless he or she needs to know.”

“Could you give me an example?”

I reviewed the events that had caused my current situation. If Zitora had known null shields could be attached to various objects, like nets, walls and clothes, she wouldn’t have entered the glass factory and almost died.

“I don’t want to be bound by a promise in a life-threatening situation. Or if I need to tell Kade why I’m immune, I will.”

“Fair enough,” Valek agreed.

When we returned to the house, my mother insisted Valek remain for dinner. She tried to embarrass me by reciting stories of my youthful misadventures. While I heard her voice, I ceased listening. My mind replayed the conversation I had with Valek.

Something he had said—a word or comment—nagged at me, but I couldn’t pinpoint the exact phrase. Not until hours later. After Valek left and my family had all gone to sleep. When I woke in the middle of the night with my heart slamming in my chest and my nightclothes soaked with sweat, the reason finally clicked in my head.

Tricky had bled me every day for six days. More blood than would be used in that short amount of time. Only a small portion is mixed with the tattoo ink. Valek had even said blood magic was extremely potent.

What happened to all my blood? Spilled? Spoiled or had it been preserved and hidden away? Or given to another for safekeeping? Did Valek suspect there was more out there? Was he hunting it? Would Yelena know what Valek was up to? Or even where my blood was? Perhaps.

Tricky would know. But he was in a Fulgor prison along with his three goons and Ulrick while they waited for the Council to decide their fate. Doubtful any one of them would tell me, unless…

I spent the remainder of the night planning. Instead of traveling to the Citadel to tell Master Bloodgood about my immunity, I would make a detour. Guessing and hoping wouldn’t work this time. I needed to act. If vials of my blood existed, I would find them. First stop—Fulgor.

“You just arrived. Why are you rushing off?” my mother asked for the fourth time.

“Mother, I’ve been here for two months.” Sixty-five days of wedding plans to be exact. I was surprised I lasted that long. “Since I’m not helping Father in the factory—”

“Doesn’t matter. You’re helping me.”

I shoved another shirt into my pack and glanced at her. She stood in the doorway of my bedroom, fidgeting with her apron. Mara had the same nervous habit. “What’s really the matter?”

She fisted the white fabric, then smoothed it. “This past year has been difficult on you. Kidnapped, tortured…” Her gaze dropped to the floor. “Do you think you’re ready? You don’t even have magic to protect you.”

I debated. The temptation to inform her about my immunity pulsed in my chest. However, I knew she wouldn’t be comforted by the news. It would give her another reason to fret. I had confided in my father last night, and he had promised to keep it quiet, understanding the need for secrecy.

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