Spy Glass Page 7

“You’ll worry even if I stayed here a hundred days,” I said. “I’m just going to the Keep.” I lied to my mother and lightning didn’t strike me. At least, not yet. “There are plenty of travelers on the road, and I do know how to defend myself. You watched me dump Ahir in the mud.” I grinned at the memory. The big oaf thought he could overpower me with his strength and size. Ha! “Plus I have Quartz. If we run into trouble, we’ll duck into the plains. No one would follow us in there.” The majority of the route to the Citadel followed the edge of the Avibian Plains.

She softened a bit. Time for the winning card.

“And I’ll be seeing Mara. I can take a few swatches along to show her.” Eventually.

Delight replaced concern. She rushed off to gather the wedding samples, letting me finish packing. Leaving most of my possessions behind, I carried my saddlebags to the shed. No sense bringing everything when I didn’t know where I would end up.

Quartz trotted over as soon as I arrived, as if she’d been waiting for me. I wondered if the presence of the saddlebags tipped her off, or if she sensed I planned to leave.

I had worried about my connection to Quartz after my powers were gone. Sandseed horses were picky. The Stable Master at the Keep called them spoiled rotten. The breed didn’t allow many people to ride them. But Quartz treated me the same—to my vast relief.

After enduring a round of goodbyes, and finding room for my mother’s bulging packages of food and fabric samples, I guided Quartz through Booruby, heading north to keep the illusion of my trip to the Citadel. The temptation to cut northeast through the Avibian Plains pulsed in my heart. Quartz’s desire matched mine. She leaned toward home as she galloped. I decided to wait a few days before turning toward Fulgor.

The nastiness with Ulrick and Tricky had happened in Hubal. But the small town lacked a jail and the six men had been incarcerated in Fulgor, the capital of the Moon Clan’s lands. I would send my mother and Kade a message after I arrived, informing them of my change in plans. A coward’s action, but I didn’t want to endure another lecture on safety from my mother.

A small hum of excitement buzzed in my chest as the miles passed under Quartz’s hooves. The outcome of this trip could go either way, but there was, at least, one positive result so far. I had stopped moping. Not that I ever would admit I had been moping in the first place. Especially not to my mother.

After two days on the main north-south road to the Citadel, I turned northeast into the plains. The terrain seemed to undulate as a damp breeze rippled the grasses. Farther in, the sandy soil would transform the landscape. Scrub grass and clumps of stunted pine trees would cling to the ground. Dry firewood would be hard to find and rocks would dominate the area.

Good thing I wouldn’t be in the plains for long. I touched Quartz’s shoulder with my finger and my world blurred. Colors streaked by, dragging long blazing tails and the air thickened, carrying me and Quartz aloft as if her hooves no longer touched the ground.

The Sandseeds called this phenomenon the gust-of-wind gait. When gusting, Quartz could cover twice the distance that she could at her normal gallop. Only Sandseed horses had this magical ability, and only when they were inside the Avibian Plains.

Before, Quartz’s gust-of-wind gait felt like flying—fast and light. Since magic had become tangible to me, the experience reminded me of sinking into a muddy river and being pushed downstream by the thick current. An odd sensation, but I wasn’t going to complain. If we had stayed on the main roads, the trip to Fulgor would have taken ten days. By cutting through the plains and gusting, we arrived at Fulgor’s main business district in six.

Weaving through the busy downtown quarter, I searched for a reputable inn. The sun teetered on the edge of the western horizon, casting our thin shadows far ahead. Vendors emptied their stands, and shops closed their doors. Everyone would return to their homes and eat supper before returning to sell goods to the evening crowd.

I scanned the streets without focusing on any one person or place. My thoughts dwelled on past events. This town held no cheerful memories for me. I wondered if fate kept sending me here so I could… What? Could get it right? Except what was “it”?

Perhaps I was supposed to leave this town without being duped, tricked or incarcerated. At least this trip, everyone smiled at me and laughed with their companions. No strained and worried glances. The last time I had arrived here the townspeople hurried fearfully through the half-empty streets, staring at the ground.

Interesting how the citizens hadn’t been able to pinpoint the reason for their unease in those days, but they had instinctively known something had been wrong. What I’d discovered was their Councilor had been kidnapped by her sister, Akako, and, with the aid of Devlen’s blood magic, Tama Moon’s soul was switched with Akako’s. While Akako pretended to be the Councilor, she locked the real Tama in a cell in Hubal about twenty miles away.

Devlen then switched his soul with Ulrick and pretended to be my boyfriend to trick me into finding his mentor. At least that didn’t work as he planned. I smiled sourly. By draining Devlen of magic, I stopped him from finishing the Kirakawa ritual and becoming a master-level magician.

He claimed I saved him. No longer addicted to blood magic, he tried to make amends. During the incident in Hubal, he had refused to hurt me. And after, I had watched him surrender to the town’s guards to begin a five-year prison sentence.

I rubbed a fingertip along my lower lip, remembering the light kiss he’d given me before turning himself in to the authorities. Had he really changed? From Daviian Warper to repentant citizen? Yelena had read his soul and supported him. She had spoken on his behalf and, combined with the fact he had saved Master Magician Zitora Cowan’s life, the Council had cut his prison time in half.

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