By Mark W. Meier
Gavin had succeeded in casting one of the spells Mastema claimed was very difficult – teleportation. One instant he was in Waterloo, Iowa, the next he stood along a busy street he assumed was in Bowling Green.
He whooped in joy at having transported himself five hundred miles.
Mastema growled in irritation. “Failure, Gavin. We’re in Delafield. Why didn’t you take us directly to the hospital?”
“I didn’t know which hospital. I didn’t even know where it was located.”
“Attention to detail!” the truculent master said. “You didn’t even ask!”
Gavin bowed his head in shame. “Sorry. I’ll try to do better.” He looked up without raising his head. “But I got us here, right?”
“I helped. You’ll have to work on the nuances of magick.”
“Can’t we just jump over to the hospital now?”
Mastema shook his head. “You’re too tired for that kind of exertion. We might find ourselves appearing in an MRI or halfway between floors. We’ll have to walk most of the way across Bowling Green to get to the hospital!”
And walk they did, despite the fact Gavin didn’t feel at all fatigued.
With Mastema, invisible, berating his disappointing apprentice every step of the way.
Sally Shoen’s phone rang.
Little surprise, Bathin mused. A dozen different faxes and emails had gone out to media outlets, another hundred to pundits, and Governor Rawlin was on the verge of being an international punchline.
Disguising his voice, the Brother picked up the line. “Political Advisors, LLC, this is Bruce.”
The accented voice of Rawlin’s executive assistant replied. “Bruce, this is Georgia Governor Rawlin’s office. May the governor please speak with Ms. Shoen?”
Ruax was pleased with the progress of his dinner with Miss Sharpe. He’d steered conversation away from work until after handing “Roy’s” credit card to the server. The charge would be accepted, but in the morning everything would fall apart and the restaurant would be left taking a loss.
The time had come to pressure Sharpe about her job.
“Is it true you made a pass at Ben?”
Sharpe, in the process of taking a sip of Bordeaux, nearly choked. “Excuse me?”
Roy lifted his glass and gave her a frank stare. “Well, that’s what an intern told me. She heard it from another intern who got it from Yvette Faucher herself. That’s why you’re moving to Atlanta, right? A forced removal from the firm?”
“I don’t know what Kiel’s secretary is spewing, but no, there’s no truth to that.” Austin took a giant swallow of wine, visibly suppressing her temper. “Even if I were the type, I know he’s not. I’d never do that.”
“Word around the office is you had a fight with your secretary because she thought you did.” Division was a favorite tactic of the Brotherhood. Ruax knew it worked more often than anything else, especially when mixed with allegations of sexual misconduct. Maybe if he impersonated Miss Sharpe he could . . . no. Kiel couldn’t be touched by any Brother. Accusations would have to suffice.
Austin scowled into her wine glass as their server brought the credit slip for Roy to sign. Then she tried explaining. “Tracey was upset because I hadn’t answered her calls, and had locked the door to my office. I never heard the phone, didn’t know anyone had knocked, and barely remember anything that happened this morning.”
Ruax affected mild disbelief. “I don’t know. They seemed to think it was real, regardless of what you did or didn’t do.” He leaned back, stretching his legs out beside the table. “I, of course, believe you. Too bad they don’t.”
Ruax watched Austin ponder getting out sooner, wondering why she should hang around a group of people who didn’t really know her at all.
Mastema sneered at Baraqijal, who watched in disgust as the higher ranked Brother escorted Gavin toward the hospital. Mastema could wander about where the lesser was prohibited.
The ghostly “wizard” mouthed, “POP!” and pantomimed laughter as he took his client through the rotating doors and toward the elevators.
Gavin glanced at his tutor. “What are you laughing at?”
“Inside joke.” Mastema pointed toward an elderly couple in the lobby staring at the student like he’d lost his mind. “Keep in mind, to them it looks like you’re talking to yourself.”
The hotel clerk smiled at the man and woman and pointed to his ear. “Cell call.”
They nodded and continued toward the exit while Gavin and Mastema moved to the elevators.
“What floor is Amy on?”
“Third floor, room 307.”
“How did she get injured?”
“Plane crash. She wasn’t hurt badly.” Mastema hummed to himself while waiting for the elevator. He wondered when the Brotherhood would demote Pop – for the third time in less than a century.
The lift’s doors opened and Gavin entered.
“I’ll meet you up there.” Mastema transported himself to the third floor to scout the area. He might accomplish Pop’s goal in the time it took his protege to arrive. An “off book” victory would make the senior Brother look good, and Pop look bad.
When he tried to enter Amy’s room, though, a glowing enemy appeared in the doorway, arms crossed.
“Sorry,” Mastema said. “Wrong room.” The knowing smile he got in return irritated him, but what could he do? Nothing against a skilled and ready opponent.
Instead of confronting Amy directly, he settled for visiting the nurses station. Mastema’s specialty was “magick,” not electronics, so he couldn’t alter anything within the computers themselves. He’d have to wait for a medical professional to enter information and make them miskey the data.
When Gavin’s elevator arrived Mastema pointed the way. “You go in. I’ll wait here to give you privacy.” As long as none of the Brothers inhabited the man, the enemy couldn’t stop an ephemeral from entering.
Mastema watched as Gavin passed straight through the sentinel. The human shivered in response.
The Brother didn’t even care if he couldn’t hear what Gavin and Amy said. He waited for his chance to alter a medication to bring about the destruction of Pop’s hopes.
That Amy would die was of secondary importance since that wasn’t his assignment anyway.
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