Spy Glass Page 69

All color drained from his face. Panic and fear replaced his anger.

When he stilled, I eased up and said, “While this is fun, I have more important things to do. So listen up, Puppy Dog. Your family is not ruined. Last time I checked, everyone was healthy, wealthy and schmoozing with the political elite. Pazia and I are both responsible for what happened to her. We worked it out and are friends.

“Obviously, you’re not happy with our arrangement. You can ambush and attack me again, except the next time I will hurt you. Or you can learn how to fight, and then challenge me to a match with a referee, witnesses…the works.” I stood and extended my hand, offering to help him up.

He rubbed his neck, staring at me. “You’d honor a challenge?”

“Yes.”

“What if I challenged you now?”

“Then my opinion of your stupidity would be supported. Otherwise, I’d agree to the match. It’s a guaranteed win for me.”

A balloon of his magic spread over me. It popped. “Do you have a null shield around you?”

“I’m not inclined to tell you, Puppy Dog.” Keeping my immunity a secret wasn’t going to last long at the Keep.

Ignoring my hand, he sprang to his feet. He straightened and puffed out his chest. “My name is Walker Vasko Cloud Mist the Second. Expect my challenge.”

“Aww… You’re cute when you’re trying to be haughty, Puppy Dog. I look forward to our match. In the meantime, don’t flash this around until you know how to use it.” I tossed him his switchblade, gave him a jaunty wave and continued toward the glass shop.

His challenge didn’t concern me too much, but I wondered if Pazia’s father, Vasko, was Finn’s client. As one of the richest men in Sitia, he had plenty of gold. As for the hate, he never gave me an indication when I had met him. He had even offered to support me with the production of my glass messengers. But the friendliness could have been an act, and he really believed I was fully responsible for his daughter’s situation.

I considered Pazia. We had become friends despite everything. And unlike Devlen and me, she retained a small bit of her magic. It had been a blow for her to go from potential master-level to basically a one-trick magician.

Adding research into the Vasko family to my to-do list, I entered the glass shop; the heat from the kiln wrapped me in warmth. I hadn’t even broken a sweat fighting Puppy Dog. Standing near the door, I scanned the room as the roar from the kilns vibrated through my boots. Kilns? Mara had added another one along with two more annealing ovens. I toured the shop, searching for more additions. She had designed a water system and installed a drying rack to evaporate the water inside of the blowpipes.

Students worked at gaffer benches, turning molten glass slugs into a variety of items. A few acknowledged me, but the others concentrated on their tasks. One of the new first-year students dipped a long thin rod—a pontil iron—into the kiln’s cauldron. Squinting into the bright orange light, she rushed the gather, dripping hot glass onto the lip of the cauldron and down onto the floor. The long strings hardened and broke, making a mess. Plus the lip was now sticky. Mara would be upset by the sloppy effort.

I helped the newbie clean up and demonstrated the proper way to gather. “You need to dip into the liquid glass, like this.” I opened the kiln’s door a crack, sliding the iron over the lip. Raising my end up, I pushed the tip into the mixture and spun the rod with my fingers as if wrapping thread around a spool. “Then you push forward and pull up, but keep the rod spinning. See how it sticks like taffy?” I drew the slug from the hot kiln and closed the door with my hip. The molten glass flickered with an orange heartbeat.

I kept the iron parallel with the floor, spinning it. “Big angles mean big trouble. See what happens when I hold the end up? The glass coats the iron and there is nothing hanging off the end to work with. And when I tip it down…” Glass bulged, and would have dropped to the floor if I kept that angle. “Even if you do keep it level, if you don’t keep spinning the rod…” I stopped and the glass dripped.

Scraping glass off the floor, I dumped the bits into the cullet barrel to be remelted, and stuck the glass-covered end of the iron into a bucket of water. I grabbed a clean rod and handed it to the girl. “Your turn.”

She rushed through it again. Hard not to, with the twenty-three-hundred-degree heat and searing light pouring from the kiln. I admired her determination as she kept trying. And I celebrated with her when she gathered a perfect round slug.

“Now what?” she asked. Her young face peered at me with excitement.

A brief memory of my first gather flashed through my mind, bringing back the pride and feelings of accomplishment. Feelings I needed to acknowledge more often in my own life. Despite the result, getting into and out of Wirral was a heck of a feat.

“To the colored glass powder!” I shouted. “Everyone’s first project is always a paperweight.”

I helped her shape her molten blob into a multicolored—and a bit lumpy—paperweight, instructing her how to break it off the rod and into the annealing oven. Glass had to cool slowly or the finished piece would crack.

A passion burned in her eyes. She had caught glass fever. “What’s next?”

“I’ll show you how to thumb a bubble.” I pulled a blowpipe from the heater and blew through the hollow pipe, making sure it wasn’t blocked. After gathering a slug, I sent a puff of air into the pipe and covered the hole with my thumb. A bubble of air grew inside the slug. I still marveled at my ability to produce the round shape. Before losing my magic, I would blow through the pipe, but, instead of air, magic would be trapped inside the glass. The interior would glow, but the glass wouldn’t expand at all.

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