Spy Glass Page 90

“How are you really doing, Opal?” she asked, raising one thin eyebrow.

“I’m fine,” I assured her.

“Don’t lie to me. It’s quite an adjustment.”

And she was the only other person besides Devlen who had firsthand knowledge of just how much of an adjustment. I shrugged. “I’m still getting used to the idea.”

“I was stunned when we heard the news of your sacrifice. My father…”

Having no desire to hear about Vasko’s reaction, I stopped listening until she brought the topic to the discovery of the messengers.

She practically bounced. “It’s exciting, isn’t it?”

I decided to be honest. “It’s a little hard to believe.”

“I know. We ruined that diamond we tried in the glass before, remember? But black diamonds are incredible!”

Her enthusiasm seemed genuine. “How did you know what they were?” I asked.

“We didn’t at first. Our gemstone expert thought they were a hard black coal. But after multiple tests, the results matched diamonds in everything but color.”

“Where did you find them?”

“Deep. That’s all I know. Father is very secretive. The miners still think the black diamonds are coal.”

How convenient. “It’s bound to get out,” I said.

“Eventually,” she agreed.

Pazia didn’t appear upset by this. Either she didn’t think it through, or she wasn’t as greedy as her father. Because if the black diamonds were real, then every Emerald Mountains mine owner would be searching for their own vein. I tried another approach. “How did you decide to try one for the messengers?”

She glanced around. The footpath remained empty of workers. “Father’s still angry at me for losing my magic.” She held up a hand to me. “Don’t start. He’s been experimenting with different legal ideas to recover my powers. As part of his…quest, he wanted to see if the black diamonds could hold magic like the regular diamonds. And he found out they were better. The black ones can hold twice as much magic, but using it was…painful.”

“How so?”

She showed me her hands. Burn scars crisscrossed her palms and covered her fingertips. Ouch. Blood wouldn’t sear her skin. Perhaps they had discovered real diamonds. I viewed that possibility with mixed emotions. It meant I hadn’t found my blood at all, but it also implied my blood could still be in its original container.

“I tried gloves, but I couldn’t control the power,” Pazia said. “Then I remembered our experiment with the glass.”

“I’m surprised your father let you use the black diamonds. Alone they’re worth…”

“More gold than I can carry. And Father would have had heart failure if he knew I planned to encase one of his blacks in glass, so I didn’t tell him until after. It worked better than I had dreamed.”

“What type of glass did you use?”

“I’ll show you. My workshop is over here.”

The sweet scent of burning white coal reached me before I spotted the smoke curling from the chimney. Mounds of dirt and construction litter surrounded Pazia’s small glass factory. Unexpected, but not surprising, guards stood beside the entrance to the building.

She gestured to the men. “Thieves will be a concern once news about the messengers spreads.”

I paused in the threshold, soaking in the warmth and hum of the kiln. Pazia gave me a quick tour of her gleaming shop. Everything appeared to be in order. All the right tools hung within reach, the mixing room was stocked with the proper ingredients and the annealing ovens contained cooling projects.

But no diamonds. Black or otherwise.

She tsked at me when I asked. “You can’t just leave them lying around!” Pazia led me to a windowless office in the back. A safe had been built into the wall. She spun the dial with practiced ease, opening the thick door.

Magic poured from the safe. Pulling out a drawer, she set it on her desk. Then she hefted a couple of super messengers, stacking the blocks next to the drawer. I hesitated.

“Go on, Opal. I trust you.”

Being trustworthy hadn’t been my concern. It was the lumps of black that caused my reluctance. No vial of blood in sight. I guess I should be happy the super messengers were legitimate except I couldn’t produce the emotion.

When I reached for one of the diamonds, Pazia said, “Be careful, they’re charged. You’ll be okay as long as you don’t try to use the magic.”

I paused. “Who charged them?”

“One of my father’s people.”

Pushing through a thick layer of magic, I picked up a small black stone and held it up to the sunlight. It looked familiar, but as a gemstone, it failed to impress me. “Why doesn’t it glitter?”

“No sense polishing and faceting them if they’re going into the glass.”

I replaced the stone and grabbed one of the messengers. The power felt muted. “Can you send messages?” I asked her.

“Yes.” An inner excitement danced from her eyes.

“You can do more with them.” It wasn’t a question, but a heartrending realization.

“Can’t you?” she asked. “I so hoped they would help you, too.”

“No.” As usual, I felt the power, but couldn’t use it. “What else can you do?”

“It’s…odd. It’s like I have magic again, but instead of drawing from the power source through my…” She tapped her chest. “Through me, I draw on the cube. And when the power is gone, I take it back to my father and he has them charged again. My abilities from before remained the same. I can still light fires, move objects and read minds, but I have to be touching the glass.”

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