Spy Glass Page 67

My world didn’t include rancid bedding and filth. My world didn’t have children without homes and caring parents. My world included warmth, food and love. But our worlds did have one thing in common—bad people.

Quartz and I headed toward the Magician’s Keep in the northeast corner of the Citadel. The white marble walls reflected the sunlight and bounced traffic noise, creating echoes. I avoided the crowded market in the center of the Citadel. Instead I bypassed it to the south and cut through the Sitian government complex, which filled the southeast quarter.

The sight of the Master Magicians’ towers rising above the other buildings sent a wave of memories crashing over me. I waded through them, avoiding the awful ones and focusing on the pleasant ones from my five years as a student.

At the entrance to the Keep, the guard stopped me.

“Master Bloodgood wants to see you in his office,” he said.

“Please tell him I’ll be there after I settle Quartz into the stables.”

Along with the guards, at least one magician worked at the gate at all times for safety and to relay messages to the magicians inside.

“No. Now,” the guard said. “Your horse can find her way there without you.”

Annoyed, I snapped. “And get chewed out by the Stable Master? No thank you. Have someone take her or I will.”

After a bit of discussion, a stable hand appeared to escort Quartz. Satisfied, I crossed to the Keep’s administration building. Imposing marble steps led up to the main entrance. The rectangular-shaped structure consisted of offices and conference rooms for the managerial staff as well as offices for the Master Magicians.

A feeling of being home touched me for a brief moment. As I navigated the well-known hallways, I encountered pools of magic. A few graduates from the Keep’s program worked in various positions in administration. The random touch of power sent chills along my skin. I remembered Janco’s nickname for the place. Creepy Keepy.

“Come in,” First Magician Bain Bloodgood called through his office door.

I entered and smiled. As usual, clutter filled the room. Heaps of books strained the shelves. Odd devices and half-completed experiments littered his worktable. Piles of paper threatened to spill onto his desk. The messy office matched his wild gray hair, and the long navy robe reminded me of all the times I had sat opposite him, discussing Sitian history with him. His face would all but glow with pride when I had remembered an arcane bit of knowledge he had taught me.

I approached his desk. He glanced up from the book spread open before him. A stranger met my gaze. His appraisal lacked kindness or curiosity. The wrinkles around his mouth deepened with his annoyed frown. Dark smudges stood out against the pale, paper-thin skin clinging to his face.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” he demanded.

Taken aback, I scrambled for a reply. “I told Irys—”

“She told me your pathetic excuses. What I want to know is why you kept such a valuable skill secret from us when you had created such a crisis in Sitia?”

“Crisis?”

“The crisis due to your sacrifice. Giving up your magic has ground communications to a halt. It’s as if we have all gone suddenly deaf. Your glass messengers were vital to commerce and to my network of magicians. The Council doesn’t even want to hear your name.”

The ground dissolved under my feet. I groped for the chair, afraid I would fall. “But what about now? I saved a boy today and protected the power source.”

Bain’s anger deflated a bit. “You did an excellent job today. Once the boy is recovered, he will be enrolled in the Keep to learn how to control his magic. However, even saving the boy’s life won’t be enough to sway the Council’s opinion.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m afraid if I inform the Council about your immunity now, they’ll be afraid.”

Confused, I gripped the armchair. “Why?”

“The whole nasty business with Akako has them on edge. So much that I had to assign every Councilor a magician to protect them. A magician would not be able to stop you.”

“That’s extreme. I wouldn’t—”

“I know, but as I said, they’re not acting rational. Wait a while, Opal,” Bain said. “I will tell the Council when they’re ready. I’m hopeful everyone will relax soon. With Councilor Moon returning to the sessions this week, I’m sure it won’t be long. For now, Irys and I will keep you busy.”

Bain stood and walked around his desk. My head spun as if I was falling from a great height. Before I could reply, his arm settled on my shoulders and he guided me to the hallway.

“You look exhausted, child. You’re welcome to stay in the Keep’s guest quarters as long as you like. Get some sleep.” Bain closed the door.

I mulled over our conversation. Was I supposed to hang around the Keep waiting for Bain or Irys to give me something to do? Working for the Council didn’t appeal to me, but I would help the Master Magicians.

However, I wasn’t going to remain idle. Finn was a magician. And I suspected he had been Keep trained. I would use my time here to learn more about him.

It wasn’t until I stood in the formal garden in the middle of the Keep’s campus that I realized I had wandered without a destination in mind. The apprentice wings bookended me and the Fire Memorial glinted with reds and yellows in the afternoon sunlight. Having no desire to reminisce about the past, I averted my gaze from the statue.

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