9. Unforgivable Failures
I paced around my room waiting for the moment Gary return with Melissa. I was anxious that Gary succeed at all costs. My mother had made it clear the night before the consequences of failure now. Apparently, Melissa had seen some important documents that outlined secrets only known by Magicians of the innermost sanctum of the government. I shuddered to think what might happen if that knowledge fell into the hands of the Liberation’s leaders. I bit my lip uneasily – I couldn’t think why Gary hadn’t returned yet. He was normally more efficient at carrying out his assignments. I stopped pacing long enough to gaze out the window down the long drive. A tentative knock on my door made me turn and listen.
“Mistress? It is I,” echoed a gruff voice that seemed terrified.
“Yes Gary,” I called, “You can come in.” I could barely cloak my confusion. Where was Melissa? And why did he sound so frightened? In all the years I had known Gary, he had never sounded frightened. Then it hit me. He hadn’t found her. An involuntary moan escaped my lips and I sank into a deep purple chair.
He faltered as he entered my room and for the first time since I’d known him, he looked nervous. It was the strangest thing. If I hadn’t been so troubled, I might have even found his demeanour amusing. “Milady,” he murmured kneeling at my feet.
“Stand up and tell me the news Gary,” I snapped, “I don’t have all day.”
“I lost her,” he muttered eyes lowered.
“You what?!” I demanded, with my voice raised. My career depended on her capture but my heart was bolstered by the knowledge that he had indeed found her before he’d lost her. “Speak up man!”
“I-I lost her,” he stuttered.
“Say that one more time so I can make sure I didn’t hear anything wrong,” I said, my voice dangerously soft.
“I-I I-I-lost her,” he stammered.
“You lost her,” I hissed menacingly. Anger roared through me. He was supposed to be the best! “How could you lose her?”
“Sh-she somehow figured out I was following her. I d-d-don’t know how sh-sh-she found out but she did. She went into an alley and dis-dis-ap-appeared.” he faltered hesitantly.
My heart sank. Which alley was it? If it was one of the ones in which branched off into the Catacombs then they were not secret as the Magicians thought. “Which alley?” I said.
“Friars,” he replied.
Friars’ alley was one of the entrances to the Catacombs. I’ll have to inform the Senate that the passages aren’t as secret as we think they are, I thought. But this information could work out in our favour as well. If guards were posted at the entrances, we might be able capture one of the members of the organization.
The next order of business was Gary. I contemplated punishing him for a moment but decided against it. After all, he had brought back valuable information despite failing his original task. He wouldn’t be punished I decided but neither would he be rewarded for that information either.
“Okay Gary,” I said softly and he cringed expecting to get a painful punishment. “We need to find the girl again. I’ll find her location and then you will go collect her for me,” I said slowly, tasting my hastily made plan. He signalled his approval eagerly, willing to do anything as long as I didn't punish him for this mishap. My lip curled into a smirk. What a coward. I turned away from him.
I walked into my study, grabbed my Prophesy Bowl, and filled it with crystalline liquid as I left the room. I started to concentrate on Melissa, visualizing her and posing the first of three questions I could during the Scrying spell. That was one rule about Scrying. You could ask three questions about the person you were viewing. Generally, people didn’t because there was a cost, but right now, it seemed to be a small price to pay for information on this strange girl. The other rule was you could only Scry places and people you’d seen before. That was why in their young years a Magician usually travelled all over the place – so they could Scry a variety of people and places. The water rippled and a scene formed on it.
A girl striding through the bushes, a determined face, hardened and upset. She has long dark-brown almost black hair that hangs halfway down her back and vivid green eyes that are rimmed red. “Who am I?” she shouts desperately. The words echo back to her and she collapses to her knees, tears streaming down her face. “I am Aurora Lopez, slave 06392012, and ex-leader of the Liberation!” she shouts, bursting into sobs, “Who are you?” A breeze ripples through the forest making the trees whisper, seeming to answer her.
“You’re right,” she cries, “I don’t want to know!” Something behind her startles her and she turns whipping out a long staff and holding it defensively in front of herself. “Who are you?” she whispers terrified, “Jake is that you?” Then after a pause, “You would dare fight me? Ha! You’ll lose, I was always the better warrior,” she snarls. She steps forward and starts to duel, expertly weaving around the dark figure. She’s hit in the side and falls to the ground. “You would kill me Jake? Is that what you want? Me dead? Rowan dead? Your family dead?” she laughs bitterly, “Remember, you are the one who betrayed us. Not the other way around.” Something whips out from the dark figure and she crumples to the ground.
I passed a hand over the water. The girl in the reflection had looked nothing like Melissa. I realized that she must have always placed Glamour over herself before arriving here so no one would recognize her outside of work. The dark figure – he wasn’t anybody I had seen or heard before. That was why I hadn’t been able to see him clearly, or hear him.
My first question had provided me with several answers. She’d said her name was Aurora Lopez, once slave 06392012. I remember the tattoo my spell had revealed the day she’d fled. It had been an ID mark for the Slavers. My second question: Where was she located at the present? It was a place I’d been before, that was obvious, because I’d been able to see her surroundings. I thought it was Bedlam’s Woods because I thought I recognized the ravine behind her but I couldn’t be sure. It was a start though. My third question had elicited no response, but I thought, given whom she was – ex-leader to the Liberation – that she was likely spying on my mother and I for the Liberation. Why she was the Liberation’s “ex”-leader was beyond me – but I could find out an answer to that in due time.
I turned back to Gary and smiled sweetly. “I need you to look for her in Bedlam’s Woods. She should be somewhere near the ravine” I told him, “Gather some men and go find her. Remember Gary, don’t fail me again.” He turned and tripped over his feet to get out of my room. He knew he’d disappointed me, and that I didn’t like it when I was disappointed.ns 126.96.36.199da2