Spy Glass Page 66

Irys rushed into the room with Fisk right behind her. She slid to a stop next to the boy and laid a hand on his head. He moaned and I jumped at the sound.

“Holy snow cats! Is he alive?” A stupid question, but my wits had scattered.

“Of course. He’s just exhausted.” Irys frowned. “And mal-nourished, and probably sick.” She scooped him up with ease. “I need to get him to the infirmary.” She aimed for the door.

“I’m so glad he lived through a flameout.”

Irys paused at the threshold. “He never lost control. Thanks to you.” She swept from the room.

I rocked back on my heels, letting the information register. I glanced at Fisk. He stood in the middle of the squalor, peering around with pain. His eyes shone with unshed tears.

“I didn’t know about this place,” he said. “I could have helped them, but they probably scattered when Master Bloodgood and his magicians arrived.”

“Won’t they come back?” I gestured to the piles of possessions.

“Maybe.” He swiped his eyes. “I’ll post a few watchers and if they return, we’ll offer them better shelter and jobs.”

I picked up the boy’s apron and teapot, figuring he would want them when he woke.

Fisk nodded with approval. “They’re probably his mother’s. My guess is she’s either dead or has abandoned him, leaving him at the mercy of his abusive father. Which would explain his fear of men.”

I pointed to the stuffed dog. “I think he might have a sister.”

“If she shows up here, I’ll make sure she knows where he is.”

Without the distraction of magic, the horrible living conditions and filth assaulted my senses. As we left, I asked, “Fisk, how does this happen? Aren’t there agencies in the Citadel to help these people?”

“There is one. And they are so overwhelmed it’s ridiculous.” He sighed. “Believe it or not, some of these people choose to live this way. They refuse all help. Others just don’t know where to go.”

“You’ve done a lot.”

“As you can see, not near enough. I tried spreading the word, but there are these little groups who stay isolated. Plus I’m dealing with vicious rumors.”

“Really? I’ve heard nothing but praise.”

“That’s in your world. This world—” he stabbed a finger toward the ground “—views us differently. They’re either jealous, afraid or spiteful.”

“What are they afraid of? You’re helping people.”

“They listen to the rumors and the wild stories of us selling kids as slaves, smuggling drugs, organizing prostitution and kids being forced to work for me,” he said in frustration. “It’s hard to reason with a frightened child.” He stepped toward the door, being careful not to crush anything under his feet.

I followed his example. Concentrating on where I walked, I bumped right into him. He had stopped. I met his intense gaze.

A thin ribbon of fear curled in my chest. “What?”

“You reasoned with a terrified kid. Saved him and the blanket of power.” Fisk gestured to the sleeping mats. “These people don’t trust anyone. Did you use magic on him? No…you don’t have any…”

I waited as he chased the logic. It didn’t take him long.

“How did you get in? Even the Master Magicians couldn’t break through the barrier.”

Again, I let him put the pieces together. It was sort of fun. With the way he tilted his head and his inward gaze, I imagined faint clicks echoing in his mind until he figured it out with one loud snap.

Fisk grabbed my shoulders. “Magic doesn’t work on you.” His eyes danced with excitement. “Like Valek. And you feel magic, too. That’s why you looked like you were fighting a strong wind. Holy snow cats is right!”

“Fisk, I—”

“That’s why you came.”

“You need—”

“Wow. The Council’s going to be thrilled. Why haven’t you told them?”

I sighed. “It’s complicated. Besides, they’ll know soon enough since both Masters are now informed. Can you keep it quiet for a while? I don’t want it to become public knowledge.”

A shrewd look slid across his face. “I can for a price.”

“Scoundrel. How much?”

He touched his chest as if I had offended him. “Not money. I may need your…special skills in the future to aid my Helper’s Guild members, and it would be comforting to know I can engage your services.”

Smooth. I guessed he was sixteen years old, but his obvious intelligence and experience from growing up on the streets made him appear older. With his long eyelashes, he was going to be popular with the girls if he wasn’t already.

“Agreed,” I said.

When we exited the building, two of his members appeared. Fisk assigned them the task of watching for the missing residents. During the discussion, I studied their faces. The kids seemed eager, serious and confident, but I wondered if they played or had fun. I examined the teapot in my hands. Fine cracks ran through the pattern of roses. Chips lined the handle and the lid was missing. Did the children in the Helper’s Guild feel loved?

He finished and the two hurried off. I worried they would be on their own tonight. I huffed, but not with humor, more like self-disgust. First time I ever wondered about them. Or cared, to be brutally honest. Fisk had mentioned this world versus my world. And I agreed.

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