Her eyes narrowed and her brow furrowed.
Sometimes I can be a bit much for people. Arrogance isn’t a look I liked to wear but often find it’s wearing me.
I smiled and gestured to the chair by the window. “Let’s just talk.”
She glanced out the window, dragged the chair back to the desk and tapped the kyboillo until it brightened the room. Grabbing the back of the chair, she sat down backwards, resting her arms on the top. “What do you want to talk about?”
“How about why you are really here?”
“Why are you here?”
I sighed. It’s going to be like that. I plopped on the edge of the bed, not letting myself get comfortable. “I’m not the one who needed to be rescued.”
“Rescued? Ha!” She rolled her eyes. “I had it all under control until you stepped in.”
“So you hoped that they’d beat the hell out of you before discovering you were using magic to deceive them, so when they found out, you wouldn’t be aware when they killed you? That was your plan?”
“Not exactly. You make it sound so, so crude. Amateur.”
I raised my eyebrow. “You’re not an amateur?”
“Then why didn’t you know your emani magic wasn’t working? That it was doing the exact opposite of what you wanted?”
“You’re assuming what I wanted. Maybe I wanted to make the fisherman mad.”
It was my turn to have the gears rotating in my head. A couple of turns and it all clicked. “You were looking for me.”
A half-cocked smile crossed her face. “Took you long enough.”
“Harry sent you. To what, make sure I came back? That I didn’t run off with—“ A gentle pressure, like a sliver of ice had been poked through my temple, reminded me I was being observed still. Or that I was crazy.
“What? Run off with what?” She leaned forward, her eyes wide.
“Nothing. I’m sure he didn’t tell you what I was doing. So why did he send you?”
“He thought you might need help.”
I laughed. “He did not! Tell me, are you a regular of his or someone he dug up for this one time?”
“Regular.” She looked toward the window, the stripes on the curtain undulating in a mesmerizing fashion.
She was lying. Of course, he sent someone who wouldn’t be associated with him. Either I’d have known, or whoever came looking after me would. I looked at her again. She wasn’t much younger than me, maybe in her early twenties. I guessed she hadn’t grown up on the street. She had too much refinement — the quality sweater, the way she carried herself as a city slicker merchant—to come from a rough background. A casteni then.
“When were you cast out?”
She snapped her head back toward me. “Who says I was?”
“You do. I mean, deny it if you wish, but I know a casteni when I see one.” I wasn’t about to let her know I was one too, that my family had shoved me out when they found out I had abilities. Of course, they first begged me to hide them, to never use magic again. They didn’t understand I couldn’t do that. It would have been like taking a breath in and never letting it out again. I’d have died. In spirit, if not in reality.
Her eyes dropped to the floor.
“There’s no shame in it. Really.” I stood and went to the door. “Let’s call it a night. We’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other on the way back to the central kingdom.”
She gave me a blank look.
“We leave tomorrow at seven on the Gloriad, bound for Isig. We’ll meet downstairs at six.”
“I don’t have passage booked. I didn’t know when you’d be back—”
“It’ll be fine. I’m sure they don’t have many passengers this time of year. And if they don’t we’ll figure something out. After all, you need to be away from here by 8.”
“The bintinn was real?”
“Let’s hope the ship leaves on time.” I waved her out, then put up a ward around the room. It would keep intruders out. The physical ones. I could only hope I didn’t dream.
- Episode 1: Chamber of Power
- Episode 2: Chamber of Power
- Episode 10: Chamber of Power
- Episode 3: Chamber of Power
- Episode 4: Chamber of Power