Scent of Magic Page 62

I limped over and waved them in.

Wynn pointed to my ankle. “What’s the matter, Baby Face? Can’t hack it without us?”

“It’s one of the perks of my new job,” I said. “So what can I do for you?”

Liv held out her right index finger. “I’ve got a splinter that I can’t get out. It’s killing me and affecting my duty.”

“Uh-huh.” I examined the minuscule speck that could be dirt. “Let’s go into my examination-slash-treatment room.”

They followed me to the alcove that had been built for a full-sized orchestra back when the owners of this house had hosted balls. I was in the process of converting it into a place where I could heal without everyone watching. Flea had rounded up a number of privacy screens that I had used as walls. But the best part was the oversized windows that allowed in the bright sunlight.

I washed Liv’s hand, taking care of the problem.

She rubbed her finger. “Wow, you’re a miracle worker, Baby Face.”

“Did Lieutenant Thea send you to check up on me?” I asked.

“I’m insulted that you’re unsympathetic to my pain,” Liv said with a smile.

I patted her shoulder. “Poor baby.”

Wynn looked around. “Nice digs. Do all the rooms in the house have their own entertainer or are you just special?”

“I’ve been blessed by the creator.”

Liv snorted. “Just don’t let the Purity Priestess’s goons catch you, or you’ll be begging his forgiveness in a two-by-four foot cell in Chinska Mare for the rest of your days.”

“Now I’m insulted.” But her comment reminded me of Melina. Too bad I couldn’t do anything to help her right now.

“Are you saying I’m wrong? Maybe I should go find Miss Purity...” Liv stood.

“Sit down,” I said, laughing.

But she remained on her feet. Concern filled her eyes despite her smile. “If I leave the infirmary, could you follow me?”

Ah, the real reason for their visit. “Of course. I’m here because this is where I belong.”

Liv and Wynn glanced at each other.

“We get that you’re a healer, Baby Face,” Liv said. “But you’re also a teacher. We’ve already learned so much from you. Why can’t you do both?”

I gaped at her. I’d never been called anything other than a healer. But as I thought about it, I realized she had a point. I could do more than heal. How nice to have another skill. Another purpose.

“Uh, Avry? We’re waiting.” Wynn swiped her hand in front of my face.

“Sorry. I could do both, but you don’t need me anymore. Odd’s taken over the silent training, and Ryne’s teaching that skull jab.”

“But what about your healing knowledge?” Liv asked. “It’s not all about magic. I’ve heard there are plants that can help. I’m sure you know all about that.”

“I do, but there’s not much time.”

“True.” Liv sat. “There have been more skirmishes along our front lines. It’s like Tohon’s testing our defenses. And reports have been coming in that more of Tohon’s patrols have been spotted before they disappear. Poof!” She snapped her fingers.

“Creepy,” Wynn added.

“Is there a magic that can turn them invisible?” Liv asked.

“A forest mage can camouflage them, but as far as I know, Tohon doesn’t have one.”

I considered the nine other magical powers—earth, water, fire, air, life, rock, death, moon and sun. Tohon’s army included a death, fire, rock and earth magician. Of those four, I knew the most about Sepp’s death magic and how he could freeze life in a fake death. If I ever encountered Sepp again, that pompous traitor would wish for death by the time I was done with him. However, what little I knew about the others hadn’t included invisibility. Could an earth magician also camouflage them, as well? Even before the plague, magicians had kept the extent of their abilities to themselves for fear of kidnapping and coercion.

Another round of giggles erupted from the infirmary followed by Flea’s chuckle. From the tests we’d tried so far, Flea hadn’t been able to influence air, water, fire or heal anyone. Strange talents did manifest from time to time. But the only thing Flea could do so far was give me energy. We needed to do more experiments.

“Do you know if the soldiers that disappeared wore neck armor?” I asked Liv.

“Yeah. A couple sergeants reported seeing them. And one guy said he spotted ones that had been painted green.”

“It makes sense to camouflage them,” Wynn said. “We’ll be fighting in the woods.”

Thinking about the dead soldiers, I tried to figure out what would be the best way to employ them in a battle. They didn’t need food or water or sleep or air. They mindlessly followed orders. They were disposable. Tohon could have been hiding his dead soldiers all around us for weeks or months. I straightened in alarm.

“What’s wrong?” Liv asked, staring at me.

I needed to talk to Ryne to see if I was way off base or not. If he agreed, Estrid’s troops would need to be warned. But would they listen? They had learned the skull jab, but not because they truly understood the nature of the enemy. Unless Belen arrived with proof.

Instead of answering her, I asked, “Have Ursan and the jacks returned?”

“Not yet.”

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