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XIII. Trouble with the neighbors

1.

It’s mid-afternoon when we come out of the dungeon. When we get back to Insmoor, we find ourselves in the middle of maneuvers. We have to wait at the South Gate for an hour while the guards finish pretending to fight off a major assault. When we do get in, Gurth, Lali and Padric are all grabbed by officers and sent off to make up for all the practice they’ve missed.

“I’ll see you tonight, okay, Dais?” Padric calls.

“No, not tonight, you lout,” shouts his officer, an older Amazon with a mustache. “You’ll be seeing your patrol route tonight.”

“I’ll stop by the shop,” he calls.

“Okay,” I say back, not loud enough to hear over the Amazon with the mustache, who has more things to say to my, um, whatever Padric is.

“I need to report as well,” says Zelin.

“Why don’t they grab you and yell at you like the others?” Lucette asks. “Elves get special treatment?”

“By which you mean,” says Zelin, “that we are recognized as capable of self-discipline, and therefore may be treated as adults? Yes, we do.”

“I have to hit the Priory,” says Jan. “I’m to be assigned as healer on one of the towers. And I think I’m ready for a new spell.”

“I have all my new spells,” says Fenric. “I’m going to go steal things till they catch me, and get out of it by volunteering as a scout.”

“Is that how that works?” asks Lucette.

“That’s how it works. That’s how it worked last winter. I made out like a bandit.”

“How come you’re still poor then?”

“Because I spent like a bandit. Later, my fine ladies.” He gives us a chivalric sweep of his cape—yes, he wears a cape—and he’s gone.

“That leaves us,” I say to Glee and Lucette.

“I just have to get confirmed as a Sorceress,” says Glee.

“Daisy and I,” says Lucette, “have to get someone to tell us our Mission for Sorceress. What do you think it’ll be?”

“It’s all in who you ask,” says Glee. “Trust me.”

“In that case,” I say, “let’s go together and see what Shmoke says.”

 

And so we go to the Institute. We find all the profs we need, coming out of a Big Meeting. They don’t look happy, but Stintsing and Shmoke and Eald, all together, brighten right up when they see us.

“Delatour,” says Shmoke.

“Barnswallow,” says Stintsing.

“And this must be someone,” says Eald, the magic lock specialist. “I assume we can order her around too?”

“Oh yes,” says the headmistress, Professor Shuy, coming up. Shuy is rarely seen by the lower-level students, and I’m personally scared out of my wits, but she’s not paying me any mind. “This would be Miss Glee Fredkin. She had a mission given her by the masters at Sigurd Bay. And now, evidently, she has succeeded and we are to confirm her as a sorceress. You did succeed, didn’t you?”

“Yes! Yes, I did, Professor,” says Glee. She suddenly has doubts and looks at Lucette.

“She definitely did,” says Lucette. “Daisy went in with her, she can assure you.”

“I didn’t go all the way in,” I say. “But yeah, Glee definitely did it. She didn’t, like, bring back any gold or anything, obviously—!”

“That was smart of her,” says Professor Zing-Grey, materializing next to me. I practically jump into Stintsing’s arms. “You’re Glee? The one who had to go visit Odnorek’s place? Headmistress, her professor at S-Bay, that would be Alfred Alfredini, he assigned her supervision to me as the local expert on dragons.”

“It’s all yours,” says Shuy, though none of the dozen or so profs around us leaves.

“I’m Glee,” says Glee  to Zing-Grey. She holds out her half-melted half-penny. “Did you, um, need proof?”

The profs all have a good laugh at that. “Oh, no, no,” she tells Glee. “You really needn’t have gone to the trouble. You have such an honest face. And you have the word of such excellent students—you’re Delatour, right? And, of course, there’s the fact that Alfredini is an ass.”

“A known ass,” says Shuy.

“And borderline incompetent,” says Shmoke. “Take her and make her a sorceress. Now as for you two. Headmistress?”

“I think,” says Shuy, “that Professor Shmoke can supervise both of you. I think he has a special task for you, in fact. Professor?”

“Yeah,” he says. He savors the moment, then he says, “Lucette’s dad’s head of Count’s Magic Security, right? Well, I’m head of the School’s sorcerers’ team. And I think you can prove yourselves by serving on the team.”

“Yes!” I say, pumping my fist a tiny bit. “What?” says Lucette. “But—!”

“And, um, surviving,” says Shmoke. “Think you can do that?”

 

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