Home > Burned by Magic (The Baine Chronicles #1)(13)

Burned by Magic (The Baine Chronicles #1)(13)
Author: Jasmine Walt

The man recoiled a little, his pointy nose twitching. “Well that’s vulgar.”

“Yeah, well you know what else is vulgar?” I leaned against the bars again to pin him with an accusing stare. “The fact that nobody in this town seems to give a damn about all the shifters who are dying of silver poisoning. If you really wanted a juicy story, you’d be investigating that, starting with my mentor’s murder, not trying to prod me for bullshit quotes about standing up to the system.”

“I would love nothing more than to investigate these poisonings you speak of,” Hanley said sulkily. “But unfortunately, Mr. Yantz decides who and what I investigate and what stories are printed, and he is simply not interested in publishing that story.”

“Of course not.” I bared my fangs in disgust. Petros Yantz, the CEO and Chief Editor of the Herald, had turned the once-prestigious paper into little more than a glorified gossip rag. He was one of the primary reasons I detested reporters. “Why don’t you go and tell your boss to fuck off for me, before I find a reason to break out of this cell and come harass him in the middle of the night.”

“I see.” His eyes glittered as he returned his pad and pen to his pocket. “I’m sorry you feel that way. I suppose I’ll just have to contact your family for quotes instead. Do have a good night.” He placed his hat on his head, then turned and walked away.

I snorted at his parting shot, lying back down on my cot. It was doubtful he would get anything more interesting than a ‘Good Riddance!’ from my aunt Mafiela if he asked her how she felt about my death, and though some of my cousins might have nicer things to say about me, I doubted she would let them speak to the press.

Closing my eyes, I tried to take advantage of whatever time I had left before my hearing to get some sleep. But now that I’d been awakened, my mind kept buzzing with all the thoughts jockeying for position inside my head. The predominant fear, of course, was how the hell to ensure Roanas got avenged and the silver murders got solved. Even if I did manage to avoid execution, which was very unlikely, I would face a long sentence, most likely of hard labor in the mines. Plus I would be stripped of my magic, and at my age that would reduce my mind into a puddle of mush. No matter how the judge decided to punish me, I would have zero opportunity to conduct an investigation myself.

Of course, I could always ask Comenius and Noria to look into it for me... except I didn’t want to risk their lives on this. Comenius had a daughter abroad who he helped support with the money he earned from his shop, and Noria was simply too young to be involved in all this. Even if neither of them were susceptible to silver poisoning, that didn’t mean the killer wouldn’t try to take them out if he – or she – discovered they were hot on his trail.

I guess there’s always Rylan, I thought bitterly, twirling an inky curl of hair around my index finger as I stared up at the ceiling. My cousin would be more than happy to look into the murders, if only so he could point the blame back at the Mage’s Guild and gain one more nail to hammer into the coffin he was trying to create for them. But there was no way for me to get a message to him – mindspeech could only take you so far, and frankly it had been a miracle that Roanas had reached me at all. It was intended to be used in close proximity between shifters while we were in animal form, not as a mental telephone system.

You could probably send him a message if you used your magic.

The thought was almost as intriguing as it was frustrating. If the flashy display of power that landed me in this cell was any indication, I could probably do a whole lot with my magic if I could just figure out how to access it on demand, instead of in a panic. Closing my eyes, I tried to feel for the telltale spark that always lit inside me before an outburst, but there was only a void where it should have been.

My hands clenched into fists as helpless rage overtook me. I wanted to break something, or smash my fists into something satisfying, but I would only break my hands against the concrete walls and then I would have to expend even more energy healing myself. It was so unfair that the mages in this town got to use their magic to elevate themselves above us, while mine only served to drag me down and get me in trouble. The only time it was ever useful was when I was in mortal danger.

Maybe it’ll flare up again when the executioner tries to cut off your head.

A kind of dark hope lit in my chest at the thought. If my magic did come to life, I might be able to direct it long enough to make some kind of escape. And if not, maybe I could at least take a few of the slimy bastards with me before I died. Then I would truly be a martyr, just like the reporter guy said.

With that grim, yet oddly comforting thought clutched to my chest, I closed my eyes and waited for the sun to rise so they could come and take me away.

Chapter Five

An hour after the sun rose, I was clapped in irons and dragged upstairs to the Hall of Justice, which was located on the third floor of the Enforcer’s Guild. I’d been in this room, with its stark walls, soaring ceiling and cold, unforgiving benches a handful of times – it was where Enforcers were tried and convicted for their crimes, and it wasn’t used often.

Behind the judge’s bench stood Maronas Galling, the Captain of the Enforcer’s Guild, and on the floor, seated at the prosecutor’s bench, were Deputy Talcon and Director Chartis, the Chief Mage’s representative and head of the local chapter of the Mage’s Guild. The guards escorted me none-too-gently toward the defendant’s bench, but not before I saw Comenius and Noria seated in the gallery amongst the handful of people – mostly reporters – who’d chosen to attend. Comenius’s face was grave, whereas Noria’s heart was in her eyes, her hands twisting nervously in her lap as she watched me. I tried to give her an encouraging smile, but she only bit her lip, her eyes shimmering with fear.

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