Spy Glass Page 68

Magic collected in parts of the campus like stationary clouds of dust. Without warning, I would walk into one, stumbling on the sudden thickness of the air. A feeling of unease crept through my bones as if these pools of magic waited to ambush me. Janco nailed it. Creepy Keepy.

Shaking off my disquiet, I pondered my present situation. I could return home and smooth the relationship with my mother. Or I could travel to the coast and stay with Kade. Or I could return to Fulgor to work in my factory and be close to my friends. And visit Devlen? I refused to answer that question. I also could stay here a few days and ask around. Perhaps Finn had come through the Citadel on his way to sell my blood. It was more appealing than waiting for an assignment from Bain.

Feeling better, I stopped by the guest room manager’s office to secure a room. My possessions had already been delivered. He handed me a key. Then I checked on Quartz. She grazed in the small pasture located along the back wall of the Keep, looking healthy and content. She trotted over and nuzzled me.

The Keep’s glass shop was to the east of the pasture. Mara was the shop’s manager. Light gray clouds puffed from the kiln’s chimney. The hot sweet smell of burning white coal filled the air, and a faint hum reached me. In the past, the scent alone would have drawn me in.

Instead, I passed the shop and found the Weapons Master drilling first-year students in self-defense. They worked in the training yard next to the armory, sweating in the warm sun.

A wide smile spread across Captain Marrok’s face. “Opal! Good to see you.” He shook my hand. “When did you get back?”

“This morning.”

“Have you been keeping up with your training?” he asked.

I laughed. The seasoned soldier didn’t waste time on pleasantries. His reputation as the best Weapons Master in years had been well earned. His gray hair bristled from his scalp, matching the short commands he shouted to the students. Long ropes of muscle covered his arms and his roughened hands sported a spider’s web of scars.

“I’m keeping fit,” I said. If he counted Valek’s special training, then I was in good shape.

“Yeah? Care to prove it to me?”

“Not today, I’ve only had a few hours’ sleep last night.”

“Tomorrow then. Right after breakfast.”

“Yes, sir!”

With a mock salute, he returned to work, encouraging students and demonstrating moves. I stayed by the fence until the session ended. Students gathered practice swords and milled about.

Deep down, I recognized my procrastination. Why was I avoiding the glass shop? I had designed it. I had ordered all the equipment. I had helped get the kiln running. A lot of memories resided in there. The answer to my question snapped in my mind. I worried those recollections would ambush me and I wasn’t strong enough to fight my way through them.

Utter nonsense. Determined, I walked toward the building, focusing on the good times, remembering when Piecov had spilled a wheelbarrow full of lime, coating everything with white powder.

“Um. Excuse me,” a boy called from behind me.

I turned. One of the first-year students hustled closer. He skidded to a stop about an arm’s length away. Uncertainty filled his gaze. I guessed his age to be around fourteen.

“Are you Opal Cowan?” he asked. His voice cracked midsentence.

“Yes. Can I help you?”

Sudden resolve hardened his features. His hand dipped into his pocket, and the distinctive snick of a switchblade sounded. “Yes. You can die!”

18

I STEPPED BACK, KEEPING MY HANDS IN SIGHT AS THE student advanced. He held the switchblade in front of him, signaling his unfamiliarity with the weapon. When he stabbed it toward my neck, I blocked his arm so the blade missed. Then I grabbed his wrist with both my hands while turning to the side, yanking him off balance. Now I had control of his weapon and his arm. Basic knife defense.

Finding a point on his wrist, I applied a little pressure. He yelped and the switchblade dropped to the ground. I pulled his thumb back and he went down on his knees in pain.

“Why did you attack me?” I asked him.

No answer. However, a strong bubble of magic bloomed from him, pushing me. Expecting this attack, I leaned into the power. He sent another robust swell before stopping. Impressive.

“You’re out of options, Puppy Dog. Talk to me.” I suppressed a groan. I couldn’t believe I just quoted Janco.

Silence.

I increased the tension in his hand. “Hard to finish class assignments with a broken thumb. Last time. Why?”

Pure hatred beamed from his blue eyes. His cheekbones reminded me of another regal face, which had sneered at me in disdain and contempt through most of my years at the Keep. Understanding dawned. I scooped up his weapon, then pushed Pazia Cloud Mist’s little brother away from me. He sprawled on the ground for a mere second before hopping to his feet. Ah, youth.

I stood in a fighting stance, holding the knife close to my body, while keeping my free arm extended in front. “Didn’t Captain Marrok teach you not to attack with a weapon until you learned how to fight with it? ’Cause now you’re unarmed and I’m not.”

“I don’t care,” he said. “You ruined my family.”

“How?”

He sputtered. With his face reddening, he charged me. I sidestepped and tripped him as he lunged past. He slid into a bush. Once he regained his feet, he wheeled around and rushed. I faked a dodge, tricking him to veer left where I clotheslined him. He fell onto his back. But this time I followed him down, pressing my forearm on his windpipe. Struggling, he tried to push me away. I intensified the pressure, pinching off his air.

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