Home > Cast in Honor (Chronicles of Elantra #11)(6)

Cast in Honor (Chronicles of Elantra #11)(6)
Michelle Sagara

“Did he even give us an address?” Kaylin asked, as Keffeer came into view.

“You were there. You heard just as much as we did,” Teela said. She was, as Mandoran had said earlier, in a mood.

“Yes, but I remember less clearly.”

“No, he didn’t.”

Tain, silent, cast a sidelong glance at Bellusdeo. “You might want to sit this one out,” he told her.

She raised a golden brow. The line of the arch was almost identical to the line of the Arkon’s when he did the same thing. “Do you feel that I am in marked danger in this investigation?”

“It’s a distinct possibility.”

“And you think that I am likely to fall prey to this theoretical danger when two mortals will not?” She glanced pointedly at Kaylin and Severn, neither of whom were stupid enough to say anything.

Teela grinned. “Give it up,” she told her partner before turning to Bellusdeo. “The reason he’s attempting to be cautious is the lack of information we’ve been given. It implies—heavily—that the star of this leg of the investigation is going to be Kaylin.”

“Kaylin? Why?”

“Thanks,” Kaylin interjected.

“Kaylin is particularly sensitive to magic and its remnants. You’ve probably heard her whining about door wards?”

“I’m breathing, so yes,” Bellusdeo replied.

“It’s not just door wards. Any use of normal magic—”

“How are we defining normal?”

“Magic that might be used by a mage of the Imperial Order and most of the Arcanum. The Arcanum does have some branches— You know what, never mind. We can discuss this in a tavern on an off-night. The point is, Kaylin’s sensitive enough to see magic without using any of her own—that we can detect, anyway. The Sergeant doesn’t wish to influence what she might—or might not—see. He’ll have some inkling of what the Imperial mages discovered.”

“Inkling?”

“They’ll write a report, but it won’t come in until tomorrow at the earliest.”

“Is everything in your city reliant on reports of this nature?”

“Yes. Paper is easier to lose than Records.” She turned to Kaylin. “What are you looking at?”

Kaylin swore under her breath. Mostly. “I think I know where we’re heading.”

* * *

Magic gave Kaylin hives. She’d gotten used to this in the West March, though the magic of the green didn’t cause the same reaction as the magic on the streets here did. The Imperial roads, such as they were, were well kept, from the merchant gates to the city’s economic center.

But the stones on the Winding Path were cracked.

Kaylin knelt.

“Did we get any witness reports?” she asked, as she touched the cracks she could see.

“Let me access Records,” Teela replied, and did so. Kaylin felt a twinge as the pocket mirror came to life in the Barrani Hawk’s hand. “Yes.”

“What did they say?”

“Marcus has put a hold on that information until you tender your first report.”

Kaylin was annoyed, but she tempered her reaction. “Do these cracks look strange to you?” she asked.

“What cracks?”

Which answered that question. “You know, when I first started training with the two of you, we had normal cases.”

“Technically, yes. Your first case—”

“Don’t mention it. I wasn’t a Hawk then.” She rose. The street, in her view, was cracked, the stones listing toward the crack as if something very large or very heavy had recently traveled on this road. But the cracks themselves felt odd. She stopped a yard up the path and knelt again.

At her back, she heard the familiar clink of metal against metal. Severn was unwinding his weapon chain. Neither Teela nor Tain told him to stop. “What does the road look like to you?” she asked him.

“Flat, for the most part. It’s a relatively smooth incline; there are patches of weeds to either side. You don’t see that.” It wasn’t a question, but Kaylin answered it as if it were, describing what she could see.

“This isn’t your usual paradigm,” Teela said.

“No. And I see no magical sigils, either. It’s not strong magic, but it’s definitely there.”

“Records,” Teela said. “Record.”

Kaylin described what she saw for a third time, and Teela moved the mirror so that it captured the street. She then handed the tiny captured image to Kaylin. Kaylin, well aware that her head would be on a pike if she dropped or damaged this mirror, took it gingerly. The image in the mirror was what Severn had described. She handed it back to Teela.

“What do you normally see?” Bellusdeo asked, as Kaylin rose again.

“Sigils and words,” Kaylin replied. “They’re often splashed against walls or doors like random paint. The larger the sigil, the greater the magic that produced it.”

“Not cracks.”

“Not usually, no. I think one or two of the mages in the Imperium look at magic as dimensionality, though. They see containers. Where magic has been cast, they see the type of shards you’d see if you dropped a vase. The greater the shattering, the larger the magic that caused it. One of them sees particular colors of glass or glaze—his version of my sigils.

“The crack—it’s mostly one—veers at the gate three houses to the left of where we’re standing.”

“The short, wooden gate?”

Kaylin nodded. “Why are you making that face?”

Severn coughed. “I don’t think that that’s the house with the bodies,” he said.

Sometimes Kaylin’s entire life felt like a game of gotcha. “Which house is it?”

“Three down,” he replied, “and on the other side of the street.”

* * *

Teela didn’t head to the aforementioned dwelling immediately. She began to cast instead. Her spell was much stronger than the afterimage of magic left on the road; Kaylin’s skin goose-bumped in protest. The Barrani Hawk handed the mirror to Tain as she knelt in the center of the road.

“Honestly, kitling,” she said, passing her hands over the crack that Kaylin could still see. “How bad a teacher can Lord Sanabalis be?”

“He’d say the quality of the student is the determining factor,” Kaylin replied. “Are you getting anything?”

“My initial response would usually be no.”

Kaylin, having worked with Teela for years, waited as the Barrani Hawk rose and retraced Kaylin’s exact steps. She was frowning; her eyes, which had been as green as they ever got at work, were shading toward blue. It was a green blue, so she was concerned, but not overly worried. Tain, on the other hand, was definitely worried.

Kaylin raised her brows at him, and he shook his head. “If you teach me nothing else in your short life,” he said, “you have forced me to reevaluate boredom as a concept. There is definitely such a thing as too much excitement.”

“This isn’t too much excitement,” Kaylin quite reasonably pointed out.

“Not yet. Are you betting?”

“Is she breathing?” Teela cut in. “Shut up, both of you. I can’t concentrate.” Severn—much more quietly—asked Tain what the bet, stakes and odds were. Teela did not tell Severn to shut up.

The Barrani Hawk straightened. “There is something. I wouldn’t have noticed it—I’m only barely detecting it now.” She glanced at Tain, who shrugged.

“Magic was never one of my strengths.”

“Bellusdeo?”

“Yes, it was considered one of mine.” The Dragon was frowning. She looked at Kaylin. Or rather, at the small dragon sitting on her shoulder. “Well?”

The small dragon was silent.

“Bodies, or house across the street from the bodies first?” Tain asked.

“House,” Kaylin said.

* * *

“Let Teela do the talking,” Severn suggested as they followed the path of this indeterminate magic to what appeared to be its source. “Records indicate that this house is occupied, that the taxes are paid up and that the owner is not a person of political significance.”

Kaylin said nothing. That lasted for five seconds. “Is it too much to ask,” she said under her breath, “that I not be shoved out in the dark with zero information whatsoever and asked to find something?”

“We’re in the same dark. If you hadn’t been arguing with Moran—how did that go, by the way?—you would’ve been in the office when the request came in.” When this failed to appreciably lighten Kaylin’s mood, he added, “You know that magical precepts are both individual and susceptible to suggestion.”

“I bet Ironjaw has more information.”

“The Sergeant is not a mage.”

Neither am I. She kept this to herself, aware that she was cranky in part because of her discussion with Moran. She was old enough not to be treated like a child.

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