“You have a choice, Miss McKay.”

Lien picked up the staff again. “You can try and stumble your way through your little quest. You will be quite the scourge of the riffraff. Until someone with real power is annoyed enough by your nuisance to swat you down. And then your quest is done.”

She scratched the wood with her fingernail, gouging into it. I gave a cry of protest, but what could I do?

“Or you could do what is hard. You are not about to give up your little crusade against evil. Anyone can see that. But what they cannot see is that glimmer of potential for true wisdom.”

The staff glowed, and narrowed. It became thinner, and yet stronger. She handed the staff to me.

“You know basic evocations. Some elemental work. The basics that any child can blunder, as you yourself have shown. But your ability to craft your own staff, crude though it may be, belies a talent for artistry. Your obsession with comics may grow your imagination, and help with the deeper schools of magic.”

She smiled. “Perhaps with some training, you could become the Green Witch you always hoped to be.”

Lien bowed, and moved back towards the school.

“If I see you at the Academy on the morrow, I will know whether my time has been wasted or not.”

“What about Lana?” I asked.

She considered. “That she was spoken to in such a disgusting manner, your reaction was understandable. But I will not subject my school as a test case for social progress.”

“If we can’t do good together, then coming will waste my time.”

Lien nodded. “Tell your Lana that I expect Mr. Clops at the Academy. To discuss an endowment for the Reza.”

I almost jumped, but managed to keep it calm. “That is acceptable.”

“It will not be admittance to the school. And we do not deal in free scholarships.”

“You gave me and Lana full rides.”

Lien smiled. “Gave is such a generous term.”

She bowed once again. “Good day, Miss McKay. I hope to continue our lessons again tomorrow.”

I frowned. Every fiber of my being knew that there was something else going on.

I walked back along the path towards the Spire. Sure enough, no one was attacking me. I tugged at the Blue Wheel badge, trying to figure it out. What was I missing?

Beyond the obvious. Something Sela had done had insulated her. The Reza were going to look after Lana no matter what. And Merryl seemed to like us. But there was no way she could have pulled the strings and gotten us in to Blue Wheel Academy.

That would take some serious power. And not my kind. No, something more…political.

I stopped. And turned. Right here, right in the center of town. The mayoral manse, almost staring back at me.

No. No, someone was staring at me. There, just sitting on the steps leading into the mansion. Wearing sunglasses and a sleeveless dress. A bandage was on her arm where…we stabbed her.  But she was there. Sipping a glass of champagne and lounging in a foldout chair.

“Took you long enough, Emelia,” Mayor Gianna said.

“Would you like a glass?”

copyright 2019 Jack Holder

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