Home > Marked by Magic (The Baine Chronicles #4)(15)

Marked by Magic (The Baine Chronicles #4)(15)
Author: Jasmine Walt

Elania pouted. “Well, that’s unfortunate. I’ll see if I can work on an alternate version that can stand up to your stronger system. It should be ready the next time you come by.”

I shook my head, standing. “I appreciate the offer, but that won’t be necessary. I don’t think I’ll be coming by again until the danger has passed and I can be sure the Resistance no longer has me marked for death.”

“But Sunaya,” Comenius protested.

“No.” I turned to face him. “I can’t risk putting you and Elania in danger by association. The Resistance has already proven on more than one occasion that they’re not overly concerned with killing bystanders, and I’m pretty sure they consider anyone who aids me to be their enemy as well. They won’t hesitate to harm any one of you to get to me.”

Comenius sighed, raking a hand through his ash-blond hair. “I can’t argue with that,” he said ruefully. “But promise you’ll keep up your teenage-boy disguise when you’re out and about.”

“Yeah,” Annia agreed. “Nobody would dream of mistaking that disguise for the great and powerful Sunaya Baine. You looked even nerdier than Elnos.”

“Hey!” Elnos complained, and we all laughed, the tension broken.

“I think ‘infamous’ might be a better adjective than ‘great and powerful’,” I told her, coming over for a hug. “But I’ll keep it in mind. Good luck on your trip, both of you. And if you need anything from me at all, let me know.”

I gave everybody goodbye hugs, promising I would see them again once this was all over. Elania pressed a flask of the anti-aphrodisiac into my hand, and I tucked it into one of my pouches before donning my teenage-boy disguise and heading out.

Director Chen had said I was free to join the enforcers if I wanted to make myself useful. So that was exactly what I was going to do.


I kept the teenage-boy disguise long enough to make it past the two shopkeepers who guarded the entrance to Witches End, then ducked into the first available alley and changed my illusion to that of Riley Tansom, an enforcer who had retired earlier this year. I hoped that the real Riley hadn’t decided to get back into action, because he’d been well known enough that people would definitely notice if two of us showed up at the Enforcer’s Guild. But since he was getting old and wanted to be with his family, he probably would have gotten them out of the city at the first sign of disaster rather than stay and fight.

I got back onto the bicycle, then headed down to the Enforcer’s Guild in Rowanville. Thankfully, the trip was mostly downhill this time, and the legs pumping the pedals were still my own even if they looked like Tansom’s. Before too long, the tall, dingy grey building that represented Solantha’s law enforcement system came into view, an ugly but necessary eyesore that stood at the edge of Rowanville, and the center of the city. It was rectangular, four stories high, and there were cracks and miniature craters blown out of the stone exterior that hadn’t been there before. All the windows had been boarded up except for one at the very top.

Taking a deep breath, I secured my bike. As I did so, Captain Galling pulled into the lot, parking his steel-blue steamcar in his reserved spot right in front of the entrance. He looked freshly showered and clothed as he stepped out of his car, a large, imposing man with close-cropped grey hair. To my surprise and gratification, he was wearing mercenary leathers. He must have gone home to shower and change, then transport his wife to the Palace. It was a smart move for him to dress in leathers rather than the suits he usually wore – it would show the rest of the enforcers that he was prepared to join them in securing the city and standing against the Resistance, rather than hiding behind his desk as he’d become accustomed to doing in recent times.

Eager to see what he was planning, I hurried in behind him. The two enforcers guarding the door let me in without complaint, their nods of acknowledgement much better than the reception I would have gotten if I’d arrived here as myself. Yeah, so the Palace staff was being nicer to me, but I doubted the enforcers were prepared to welcome me back with open arms, especially since many of them hated the mages right now. It didn’t matter that I’d worked at the Enforcers Guild for years – right now, most of them only saw me as the hated Chief Mage’s apprentice.

Captain Galling called for a general meeting in the main hall on the first floor, and I filed in there along with the rest of the enforcers. The few who saw me clapped me on the back and asked me about my wife and grandkids, questions I tried to answer as evasively as I could, as I didn’t know Tansom that well.

“What the hell are you even thinking, Tansom, coming back out of retirement at a time like this?” Taren Widler, a Main Crew Enforcer who I usually found obnoxious, asked with a grin. “In case you haven’t noticed, most of us have already hightailed it out of here, and the rest of us are just biding our time for when the Resistance finally takes this place over.”

“I have noticed,” I said casually, my eyes sweeping over the crowd that had gathered in the hall. Only about a third of the Enforcers Guild was present, most of them humans, and none of the very few mage enforcers had remained. “But it’s hard to get accurate data about what’s really going on in this town, what with the papers being slanted this way and that, and nobody wanting to poke their head out of doors to have a conversation. So I thought I’d come here and see what I can find out. Looks like I’ve got good timing, too,” I added as Captain Galling stepped up to the small podium at the front of the room.

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