“Well, that’s convenient.”
Selena looked into the deep blue crystal with the older gnome. Together, they watched Robin achieve her ultimate goal, mastery as a monk. “How is that, Mother? Won’t this just make it more difficult? We anticipated him denying her the hat.” She snorted at the foolishness of it all. It was just a hat. It didn’t mean anything and it never would. It was almost sad that Robin believed any of this had been hers.
“Are you spell-flingers all this stupid, or do you just play at it?” Ailke stepped from the shadows, staring at the assembled group with disdain. She kept her feelings of superiority in the open. Selena faintly recalled the assassin’s speech to that Templar frost mage: You spell-flingers are all the same. You believe your magic makes you strong. It makes you weak. Pathetic. Predictable.
In spite of herself, Selena shivered. Ailke unnerved her. She was efficient, deadly, and mostly emotionless.
Ailke smirked. “Cold, Selena?”
“Just a chill.” Selena turned away. That damn assassin, she noticed everything.
“Now, now, Ailke, we’re all aware you think of us as insects. Which is precisely why you’re here. Your unique…skillset…is valued.” Mother shook her head and sighed, looking back to the crystal.
Erin scooted a bit closer to Selena, peering into the crystal as well, silent for once. Thankfully.
“You want to know how this works for us, dear Selena? If she were denied the hat it would have been more convenient. Of course. That didn’t happen, but do you honestly think I left nothing in place?”
Selena frowned, thinking. “You didn’t tell us about it. You said everything would go in a certain pattern and set us to lay it out.” She glanced to the assassin, the woman was still smirking. Ailke was too smart for her own good, too useful. Too dangerous. A threat. Why wasn’t Mother removing her?
“Of course. The less people in the know. The more likely it is to work. You may now have the privilege of watching me play with my little marionette.”
Selena kept frowning. “I don’t understand.”
Ailke sighed. “The plan was never guaranteed. So, a spell-flinger with more than half a brain has been using you bunch to do one thing…while she’s been doing another.”
Selena glared at Ailke. “Another…plan?”
Robin tilted her head the journal in her lap. She’d been recording the events of the previous few days. Her bliss at being named a master monk. Her concerns and thoughts on what that even meant. And, a damn good recipe for noodles she’d found in Oxplow’s belongings.
What she didn’t recall writing was the odd sentence in the middle of the page: My sad little puppet. Watch helplessly as I tug at your strings. She felt nervous, but maybe she’d attempted poetry at some point? It was in her hand. Either way. It was pretty awful for poetry.
There was something about her writing she’d never noticed before. It looked similar to…of course it looked familiar…it was HER writing. Robin shook her head. All the excitement was definitely getting to her.
She hopped out of her chair and closed the journal, setting it carefully on the table and grabbed her new hat. Training would do her some good.
On the stairs outside the front door sat a package, addressed to her. Robin blinked and picked it up. Inside was a small wooden wand, a purple crystal at the end. A note was attached at the end:
We gave it back.
Robin tossed the wand aside and it burst into a shower of glitter. She shivered and took off down the street, wanting to get as far away from the magic as possible. Just a prank. The little girl was playing a prank. But the house was safe now. Ciera had ensured that.
Oddly, no matter how far she got from the prank spell. She never felt she was far enough. Robin stopped in her tracks as a thought occurred to her. But it was nonsense, only anxiety. Just a prank.