Spy Glass Page 77

Leif grimaced. “Spying is such an ugly word.”

“It’s an ugly situation.”

“I tried to explain it to him, but he threatened to assign me as a guard dog for Councilor Greenblade.”

“That doesn’t sound like Master Bain. Perhaps…”

“Don’t even go there, Opal. Not many people know the whole blood magic switcheroo. Besides he’s too strong for anyone to do that to him.”

I had learned nothing was impossible. Not when it involved magic. Ulrick and Tricky were gone, and we had won the battle against blood magic. But the war was ongoing.

The next day, I took Reema shopping. She trailed behind me with her gaze on the ground. She hadn’t said anything to me since the day at the library, but at least she stopped ignoring me.

When we reached the crowded market, Reema stepped closer to me. I headed in the direction of the clothing and fabric stalls, determined to purchase a few items for Reema and her brother.

“Lovely Lady, can I be of assistance?” a young girl asked.

She wore a comfortable-looking shirt over loose pants and cinched with a leather belt. I guessed her age at fourteen. Perfect.

“Yes—”

Reema grabbed my arm, digging her fingernails into my skin. “You promised,” she whispered.

“I know. Relax.” I turned back to the Helper’s Guild girl, who had been staring at us in confusion. “What’s your name?”

“Amberle.” She played with a silver pendant hanging around her neck.

“I’m Opal and this is Reema,” I said, pointing. “Amberle, I’d like to know where I can find clothes like yours.”

She brightened and led us to a small shop near the northern edge. “Jane makes practical clothing from durable fabric. Your sister will grow out of them before she wears them out.”

I didn’t bother to correct her as we entered the cozy shop. The shopkeeper smiled her thanks at my guide. I paid Amberle a copper, but asked her to help Reema choose garments while I shopped for Teegan.

Reema shot me a shrewd look. She understood my real reason for having Amberle stay. By the time we were done, both Reema and Teegan had two new sets of clothes and I found a couple pairs of sturdy travel pants. Both dark brown in color. Drab, as Kade’s mother would say, but the color hid stains and road dirt.

Loaded with packages, we returned to the street. Amberle flagged down two more members of the Helper’s Guild. The boy and his friend ran over to us. They both wore the same pendant as Amberle’s—two hands together with the fingers spread out. At first glance the design looked like wings. I asked her about it.

She touched it reverently. “Master Fisk gifted all his helpers with the symbol for the Helper’s Guild. It serves many purposes. A way for our customers to know we are legitimate, a reminder to us of our tasks and as inspiration for us.”

One of the boys said, “The wings mean if we work hard enough, anything is possible.”

Nice. I handed the boys each a copper and the packages, instructing them to deliver them to the Magician’s Keep.

Reema’s face whitened. “You’re trusting them? Just like that?” she asked me.

Insulted, Amberle snapped, “That’s my brother and cousin. They would never steal from a customer. Master Fisk would throw them out of the guild.”

“Has he thrown many out?” I asked.

“A few,” she acknowledged with a sad shake of her head. Amberle touched her pendant. “Is there anything more you need today?”

“Yes.” I pulled a list from my pocket.

Reema groaned, then said, “I’ll meet you back at the Keep.”

“No. Some of these things are for Teegan, and I’ll need your opinion on them.”

She eyed me with suspicion. “What for?”

“He’s going to be enrolled as a student and he’ll need some basic items like paper and ink.” Plus I needed a few comforts for my apartment.

Not happy, she grumbled and dragged her feet. I ignored her as Amberle guided us to various stalls and stores in the market. She answered all my questions about working as a guild member, but I could tell she wondered why I was so curious. Reema, though, saw right through me. She shot me so many poisoned glares, I stopped counting after ten.

In the rug store, Fisk appeared next to me as I browsed through a collection of small remnants.

“Don’t scare me like that.” I had grabbed my switchblade, but hadn’t triggered the blade.

“Sorry,” he said, but his smirk countered any genuine remorse. “Your reflexes have improved. Been training?”

“Always. Once you stop, you lose your edge.” I rubbed my shoulder, remembering Sarn’s vise grip as he had tossed me to the ground.

He nodded to Reema, who sat in a corner with her arms crossed over her chest, staring at the floor. “Is that her?”

“Yes.”

Amberle hustled over to us in concern. “Lovely Opal, I hope I—”

“Relax,” Fisk said. “I have some business to discuss with Opal. Can you take Reema to the bakery?” He handed her a silver coin. “Buy her a dozen of those delightful cinnamon cookies Barb makes. We’ll meet you there.”

“Yes, sir.”

As Amberle went to collect Reema, Fisk pulled me outside and led me to an empty alley. I scanned the area, remembering the last time Fisk had shown me a back door and I had walked right into an ambush.

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