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XIV. Under the Field


“Just sell me on this a little,” said Daphne. “That’s all I ask.” She and Spiny sat on the floor, leaning on each other a little; Angelica, Ahir and Arnulf sat on the bed; Cloudius and Tom took up Tom’s two chairs; Eva sat in the window glaring at them. It was Wednesday the ninth.

“Mac’s looking at the Field Museum again,” said Tom. “He’s not taking a class, just his house. “

“Yeah,” said Angelica, “and Shawytha and Hyacinth and those two from Match’s house are going as guests.”

“What’s Rachel think of all this?” asked Ahir Shaheen.

“Yeah, good question, right? She’s going, of course, but she’s not in on the planning. They’re going at 10 am Saturday. But there’s no house do Saturday night and the inner circle has been oddly negative on dates and invitations. Natalie told me Josh Darling got invited to the Third Floor White party Saturday night and he said no.”

“I asked Emma Curie on a date,” said Cloudius. “She was, uh, evasive about why she couldn’t go out with me Saturday night.”

“Did it occur to you she didn’t want to go out with you?” asked Daphne.

“We’re going out tomorrow night,” said Cloudius. “We’re going to a movie.”

“Not Valentine’s Day?” asked Ahir, smiling.

“No,” laughed Cloudius, “I’m taking Jen Chang out Valentine’s Day.”

“Good job keeping it in the house,” said Arnulf. “I approve.”

“Anyway,” said Daphne, “you’re saying that the day trip is a scouting trip, and the inner circle will go back in at night. Or something?”

“Yeah,” said Tom. “And they shouldn’t be doing that. The Field Museum is our territory.”

“Well, what the heck do you think we’re going to do about it?” asked Arnulf. “Attack them in the museum? I know, let’s try ag on MacMorris himself.”

“Thanks, Arnulf,” said Cloudius. “We were thinking of going there early. Checking it out.” He looked at Angelica. “Weren’t we?”

Angelica was peering at Arnulf through the cylinder.

Everyone watched her for a few moments, and then Arnulf said, “What do you see through that thing, anyway?”

“Nothing,” said Angelica. She turned to look at Ahir Shaheen. “Now I see a ruby. Yes, a ruby. I wonder what it does?”

Ahir smiled mysteriously and extracted a ruby from inside her shirt, which made Arnulf incapable of thinking about anything else for at least a minute. Cloudius said, “We think it sees items.”

“But it doesn’t know what this ruby of mine does?” asked Ahir.

“No. What does it do?”

“It protects against poison,” said Ahir. “My father gave it to me. We all had them. Alas, it does not work against bullets.”

“But you could tell it was magic,” said Daphne. Angelica handed the cylinder to her. “Look through it.”

“You have that ring,” said Daphne. Angelica grinned and pulled her hand out from under her sweater. She held out the hand with the gold magic combat ring on it. “It’s funny,” said Daphne. “It doesn’t stand out. It’s the opposite. It’s as if everything else is real and the ring is only ten percent real. But it also sparkles, like something else is, I don’t know, being seen through it or something.” She looked at the ruby. “How did you even know it was a ruby?”

“It was sort of pink,” said Angelica.

“I can imagine it was the shape of it that gave it away,” said Ahir Shaheen, dangling the little ruby in front of Arnulf. “Doesn’t that just cry out ruby to you, just from the shape? Arnulf?”

“Yeah, yeah,” said Arnulf vaguely, smiling.

“So you’re going with us? Tomorrow night?” asked Angelica.

“Sure, yeah,” said Arnulf. “Wait, what?”

“It’s an item finder,” said Angelica. “The cylinder. It’s not just an item finder. It’s a segment finder. And there’s a segment at the Field Museum.”

“Underground,” said Tom. “I’d bet a million dollars.”

“Tomorrow night,” said Daphne. “Well, I don’t know if I believe this thing’s a segment finder, but I don’t see letting them go see something we haven’t got to see. Do we have maps?”

“Well,” said Tom, spreading out several of his maps, “I can get us there underground. Under the museum, all we know,” and he looked at Cloudius, “is it’s under the Egypt exhibit.”

“Follow our noses,” said Cloudius.

“I can’t believe we’re thinking about doing this,” said Daphne. “I just turned thirteen. Tom isn’t even, yet.”

“Arnulf’s still twelve too,” said Ahir, “such a nice young man.”

“I’m going,” said Arnulf.

“So am I,” said Ahir.

“No, no,” said Arnulf, and Angelica said at the same time, “No, Ahir, we need you here. And Spiny, you’re not going, before you ask. You can be here and pretend to be Daphne in her room.”

Jen Spiny Norman got a grin on her face and said, “I can sound like Arn too. I can totally nail his snore. So I can cover for both of you.”

“I swear,” said Ahir, “I am going one of these times.”