The Rogue Knight Page 49

“Not many,” Dalton said. “We’ll get scrubbed when we leave this building and when we enter the museum. Then we just have to make it through the damaged scrubber by the guard.”

“Who would have access?” Skye asked.

“Leona, for one,” Dalton said. “I can show you which people the other slaves use.” Dalton changed from Skye to a middle-aged man with a receding hairline. Then he became a woman with bluish skin and goat horns. And finally an older woman with curly hair.

“Okay,” Skye said. “I can do those. Can you speak like any of them?”

“I’m no good with voices yet,” Dalton said.

“Do you have a preference?” Skye asked.

“I’ll be the guy,” Dalton said.

“That makes you two the women,” Skye said to Cole and Jace. “I have Leona’s voice down, so I’ll be her. Leave the talking to me. Let’s go.”

Dalton darted around the room, stuffing items into a knapsack. “Okay,” he said. “I’ll show you the best way out.”

Without any seemings, they avoided heading back toward the common room. After passing around a corner, they exited the building. Once outside, Skye became Leona, Dalton became the guy with thinning hair, Jace became the old lady with curly hair, and Cole assumed he was the horned woman.

“Good job,” Skye said to Dalton in Leona’s voice. “You can take care of yourself?”

“I think so,” Dalton said. “That leaves you with three seemings to replace and maintain. Can you make it through the guarded scrubber?”

“If it’s weak enough for most enchanters to hold a seeming together, I can manage three.”

“This way,” Dalton said.

Several heads turned their way as the group walked across an open area. One man in gray robes waved. Cole gave a little wave back. Their seemings were obviously recognizable people.

“Walk purposefully,” Skye muttered.

Cole felt excruciatingly vulnerable. He could see the illusions covering the others, but he wished he could see his own seeming. What if somebody wanted to talk to one of them besides Skye? What if they ran into one of the people they were impersonating? If anybody caught on, it was all over.

Dalton led them onto a winding gravel path beneath some trees. Soon there were no other people in view.

“The museum isn’t used much,” Dalton said. “Mostly just VIP tours now and then. Shouldn’t be crowded. There’s a guard near the front doors. I don’t know another way in.”

“Scrubber at the doors?” Skye asked.

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“Right,” Dalton said.

“You open the doors,” Skye said. “Then follow me through. Get your seeming back up as fast as you can.”

The museum came into view up ahead. It looked like a squat, simplified castle, with crenellated battlements and two modest turrets. The extra-large front doors were composed of dark wood studded with iron. Nobody was coming in or out of the building, and the surrounding trees helped seclude it from other structures.

Anxiety gnawed at Cole as the doors drew near. What would they do if an alarm was raised? He supposed they would have to take out the guard before he could give them away. That must be why Skye wanted to go first.

Dalton rushed ahead, put a hand on the door, then paused. “It opens inward,” he said.

Skye gave a nod. “All of you follow me.” She pushed open the door and slipped inside. Simultaneously, from deeper in the building, Cole heard a low rumble. He made it through the door in time to see a blazing ball of fire the size of a tumbleweed bouncing from wall to wall down one of the hallways, shedding dark billows of smoke.

Skye’s seeming went down for less than a second, then came back up. Jace’s was restored quickly as well, so Cole assumed the same was true for himself. As soon as Dalton had his seeming back in place, the fireball vanished, leaving behind no smoke or damage.

In her Leona persona, Skye briskly walked toward the guard. “Why were your eyes down that hall?”

Flustered, he started to stammer. “Yes, well, there was a noise, and, um—”

“That was an illusion I made from the doorway,” Skye said. “What if we were enemies trying to distract you? You would have an arrow in you by now.”

“I’m sorry, Leona,” he said.

“Sorry enough to protect this museum more effectively?” Skye asked. “Every guard is posted on these grounds for a reason.”

“Lesson learned,” the guard said. “I’ll take greater care. Again, I apologize.”

“Very well,” Skye said. “I’ll keep this between us for now. Don’t be surprised if I test you again.”

“Understood.” The guard looked sheepishly at Cole and the others.

Dalton led the way forward. When they entered the next room, various suits of armor began fighting each other. At first Cole froze, then he realized it was part of the exhibit.

Dalton continued across the room, then through an art gallery with moving paintings and writhing sculptures. They turned down a hall, and Dalton stepped through a large painting of an island lagoon with a ship in the background.

When Cole followed him through, he found himself at the top of a musty, cramped stairway. They descended to a gloomy hall lined with doors. Dalton walked through one of the last doors on the left, then waited for the others to catch up.

They stood together in a small, cluttered office. “Okay,” Dalton said. “Through here we’ll come to a normal door. That’s the one with the weak scrubber. Just past it is a metal door with a guard, then another metal door. After a long walk, we’ll come out of a crypt in the Merriston Cemetery. The crypt door opens from the inside, but it’s always locked from the outside. The guys prop it open for the return trip.”

“Not necessary,” Skye said. “We won’t be returning.”

Dalton slid a desk aside and crouched down to pass through the wall behind it. Using his hands to probe the dimensions of the opening, Cole found that the concealed gap was low and narrow. He ducked through.

Single candles spaced along the walls lit the grimy passage. Dalton led them forward. There was only room to walk single file. Cole noticed that none of the candles dripped any wax. They were all the exact same length. They had to be seemings.

Dalton reached a wooden door and paused, looking back at Skye. “Don’t you want to go first?” he whispered.

“That’s right,” Skye said. “I should be in front to talk to the guard.”

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