Chapter 117 – Babysitting

SebastienMonth 2, Day 20, Saturday 8:25 p.m.Sebastien’s muscles were shaking with exertion and adrenaline by the time she and Damien reached the ground again. They raced across the manicured property and scrambled over the stone wall that bordered the manor, their forms magically obscured by the darkness. She stopped to look back while hanging over the far side of the wall, just to make sure no one had seen them. While they might not get arrested at this point, it could make things worse for Ana.Assured of their success, they jogged into the night, following the road but staying well away from its light.To Sebastien’s surprise, a familiar carriage stood on the side of the road a few blocks down, motionless.“That’s Ana,” Damien said. “Do you think something went wrong?”Sebastien ran her tongue over the back of her teeth in silent thought. “Take off your balaclava and go up to the carriage.”“What? Why me?”“Because you’re a Westbay. You live in the Lilies and even if it’s strange that you’re running around at night in all black, no one will report you to the coppers for it.”Damien handed off his balaclava and the camera obscura to Sebastien, took the last swig of concealment draught from his bottle, and approached the carriage.He only got three quarters of the way there, just stepping into the edge of the light, when the door swung open. Natalia poked her head out, waving for him to approach as she scanned the darkness beyond for Sebastien. She had been crying, leaving her eyes puffy and her skin blotchy and red.Damien spoke to her for a few seconds, then turned and waved for Sebastien to follow.Sebastien hesitated, but complied. When she got close enough to see Ana within the shadows of the carriage, her jaw clenched compulsively.Ana’s left…

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Chapter 116 – Operation Defenestration

SebastienMonth 2, Day 20, Saturday 8:00 p.m.One week after her day of spellcasting with Liza, Sebastien huddled outside in the biting cold of the evening, shivering her ass off for Operation Defenestration. She was less “euphorically excited” and more “stomach-churningly anxious.” No matter how much preparation they had done, it didn’t feel like nearly enough. She would have pushed the operation off further if Ana wasn’t so insistent and Damien wasn’t so foolishly confident. Even if she felt sick about it, Sebastien had to admit that it really did seem like they would be able to pull this off.Sebastien consciously avoided muttering anything like, “If nothing goes wrong…” or making any optimistic plans for what they would do when they succeeded. She didn’t want to tempt the gods of irony. She’d learned from her experiences with Ennis that as soon as someone made a comment about how things, “couldn’t get any worse,” or how, “I told you, my plan would go perfectly,” inevitably it would start raining, or the only candle would blow out, or someone Ennis had stolen from three months before would suddenly spot him on the street and try to get him arrested.Damien held up coin they had spelled to grow warm when Ana gave the signal, pulling Sebastien from her thoughts. “Right on time. We’re lucky Malcolm Gervin is so anal retentive,” he said. The two of them were hidden in a dark corner on the side of the Gervin branch-family manor, where both uncles had a wing for their families. They didn’t reside at the branch manor all of the time, but the whole Gervin Family was there tonight for Randolph’s wife’s birthday.Sebastien and Damien had gotten past the warded manor gate with Anastasia and her cute little sister Natalia. It had been the only…

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Chapter 115 – Experimenting on Mice

SiobhanMonth 2, Day 13, Saturday 8:00 a.m.‘I wonder if I could have gotten Liza to pay for some of the supplies for this spell,’ Siobhan thought, looking down at the box in her arms, which held both the sempervivum apricus and the mandrake plant she had bought from a member of the secret meeting in exchange for her work in alchemy. She sighed. ‘It would have been worth it to try, if I had thought of it early enough.’Siobhan had changed back into her original female form at the Silk Door, wearing a new, less expensive outfit. The last couple of times she had used the amulet, she’d timed the transformation, and thought she was accurate to about a fourth of a second. One way of guessing that an artifact might be close to running out of power was that the spell would happen less quickly or be less effective. While the transformation was still as thorough as ever, she wanted to be sure that it wasn’t taking more time to complete.She use Liza’s lion door-knocker twice, yanking her fingers away the second time, when it tried to bite her.The older woman finally opened the door after copious swearing from what sounded like stubbing her toe on a piece of furniture. She scowled at Siobhan, her dark brown curls springing out from her head every-which-way, not so unlike a lion’s mane of her own. “The sun is barely risen. If this is not a matter of life-and-death urgency…”Siobhan looked down at the box in her arms, which was becoming painfully heavy. “Er, I brought the supplies? Didn’t we plan to test the sleep surrogate spell today?”Liza’s scowl grew darker. “I have had four hours of sleep, and you are here while the sun is literally still rising.”Siobhan nodded in a…

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Chapter 114 – Tintinnabulation

Gera Month 2, Day 12, Friday 8:00 p.m. Gera stood in the doorway to her son’s bedroom as Millennium sat cross-legged in front of a large hourglass filled with euphonic sand, his hands on his knees and his eyes closed. She kept her breathing light and her body still, so as not to unduly disturb his meditation, the ever-present divination that she cast allowing her to sense him as well as her ruined eye ever could have. Every couple minutes, he let out a soft, musical hum, imitating one of the notes that she couldn’t hear as the sand rang and tinkled against the other grains. As the merchant who sold it to them had boasted, to Miles’s delight, the sand let off “a wee tintinnabulation, faint as sprite bells,” and was the perfect thing for her son to safely strengthen his mind, as the Raven Queen had instructed. In a few months, when he had built up more strength and his health had stabilized along with his sleep schedule, Gera would allow him to start basic magical exercises as well. As the last of the sand fell into the base of the hourglass, Miles opened his eyes, looking straight at her as if he’d known she was there all along. Her heart ached with happiness to see the peaceful, confident expression on his face. His eyes, which no longer gave off the sense that her child was slowly dying inside, focused on her without trouble, and he did not sway with fatigue. He hadn’t had any episodes of extreme emotion since the day after the Raven Queen granted her boon, when he had woken in the morning and started laughing aloud, then quickly devolved into sobbing from sheer relief. “Is that…what it feels like?” he had asked, barely coherent,…

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Chapter 113 – Heed my Prayer

Siobhan Month 2, Day 12, Friday 6:30 p.m. Siobhan felt surprisingly secure as she walked through the darkened streets of the Mires. Her new dowsing artifact was active, trying to find her through a piece of thread she’d pulled off her scarf. Her divination-diverting ward was blocking it quite easily, and simultaneously hiding her from more mundane methods of observation. The eyes of those she passed slid off her, their minds turning to other things when they might have wondered about her. If anyone tried to follow her, the ward, along with her evasive maneuvers and circuitous route, would make things exceedingly difficult. Even if someone did manage to follow her, she had her stunning wand, her warding medallion, and even her hidden knives. She might not be a dangerous free-caster yet, but she was well prepared for either fight or flight. Hopefully, better prepared than any potential enemies. Siobhan was on her way to Liza’s in the hope that they could travel to the secret meeting of thaumaturges together. She would take all the protection she could get, even if only for a portion of her evening. At that moment, Damien was back at the University working on Operation Defenestration, while Ana was meeting with a shaman, who was supposed to help the other girl be absolutely sure she remembered the combination to Malcolm Gervin’s vault. There had been some talk of kicking off the plan this weekend, but Sebastien had insisted they wait, both so that they could be better prepared in general, and so that she could finish creating a fake version of her heirloom Conduit ring. If the original was in Malcolm Gervin’s vault, she was going to take it back and replace it with a fake. The forgery was rather slow-going, as she didn’t want…

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