Spy Glass Page 75

I also struck out with my other forays into the Citadel. Either Fisk avoided me or he had legitimate business. Hard to tell.

“Where to today?” Reema asked.

Her question snapped me back. She closed the book and set it reverently on the night table. Hayes had lent her the story to help her pass the time. Her actions gave me an idea.

“I’m going to show you the Keep’s library.” I led her to the student barracks.

The long building was curved like the apprentice wing, but it was three times its size. Located on the west side of the Keep, it housed the students who were in their first three years of study. The library filled half of the ground floor. The Keep’s curriculum concentrated on learning from textbooks those years, while the seniors in their fourth year began a more hands-on type of learning.

Seniors shared the other long building that mirrored the barracks with the Keep’s employees. The senior quarters were broken into rooms shared by five students. Much better than the rows and rows of bunk beds that lined the floors of the barracks.

When we entered the library, a few students glanced up from their books, but they soon returned to their studies. Tables and chairs occupied the space between the bookshelves. I waded through puddles of magic, wishing I’d remembered morning was a popular time.

Reema stayed by my side. Her lower lip hung open as she absorbed the sheer number of books. Rows and rows filled the space, seemingly unending. I moved instinctively, searching for the history section, but not concentrating too hard.

The stronger the desire to find a certain book the more it guaranteed a failed effort. It was an odd quirk of the library, as if over the years magic had soaked into the tomes, giving them an essence. A more relaxed, half-distracted search worked better. However, if a book didn’t want to be found, you were out of luck.

I discovered the List of Clans tucked between History of the Cloud Mist Clan and Sandseed Soil Study. Reema wanted to explore, but I carried my find to an empty table. She followed, dragging her steps with reluctance and huddled on a chair.

Opening the book to the table of contents, I glanced at her. She had shoved her hands under her legs, and she stared at the hem of her shirt.

“Your mother told you no one would know your clan’s name. Right?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Maybe it’s listed in here?”

She wouldn’t look at me. I slid the book to her. Frowning, she scanned the page. I studied her, watching for a reaction to one of the names. After a few minutes, she relaxed.

“It’s not here,” she said. “Why is it so important to know my clan’s name?”

I debated, but settled on the truth. “I’ve run out of options. I would like to find you a home, preferably with a relative.”

“I don’t need—”

“Reema, once Teegan is healthy he’ll be enrolled as a student at the Keep. You’ll be on your own, and I can’t allow that.”

She straightened. “You can’t stop me.”

“I know. That’s why I need to find you a place where you’ll be happy and safe.”

“That’s easy.”

“It is?” Had I missed something?

“Sure. I’ll stay with you.”

I walked right into that one. A hard knot gripped my throat.

She noticed and shut down. All emotion fled and she returned to street survival mode. “Forget it.”

“Reema, I—”

“Are we done here? I should get back to Teegan.” She slid off the chair and headed for the door.

I followed and tried to explain that taking care of her would be impossible. That I might be called away at any time. But she ignored me or she pretended to. Either way, I lost her.

“What do you think?” Fisk asked.

I walked around the two-bedroom, furnished apartment in amazement. It was the first day of the heating season and sunlight poured in from huge windows occupying two of the four walls. “It’s incredible.” When Fisk had led me to the run-down factory, I had been dubious, but the inside had been renovated and broken into several apartments. “How did you find it?”

He puffed his chest out. “All in a day’s work.”

I shot him a look.

“What? I’m not going to reveal my secrets. I’d be out of a job.”

“It’s a clever location,” I said. The building was on the eastern edge of the business district in the north section of the Citadel.

“And not too many people know what’s hidden here. Perfect for security. Plus I thought you’d like to be close to the Keep and Council Hall.”

The apartment was on the third floor, which was the same distance from the roof and from the ground, making it harder for “spiders” like Valek to climb. “You’re right. I’ll take it.”

Before Fisk could go and negotiate a fair price, I stopped him. “What about my other request?”

“Nothing, yet.”

I tried not to show my disappointment as we left the building. I shouldn’t complain; it was better than Reema’s future. Unless I found her a home.

“Anything else?” Fisk asked.

“Yes. I’ve heard a rumor about the Citadel’s guards selling homeless children to your guild. What’s going on?”

His pleasant demeanor dropped as anger flared. “And you believe it.” It wasn’t a question.

“Of course not—”

“Then why mention it?”

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