Emery’s Meeting with Criminal Affairs
This chapter takes place between chapters 8 and 9 of The Glass Magician. It details what is being discussed behind the closed doors of the Parliament building while Ceony and Delilah wait outside. The scene is told in Emery’s point of view. (Back to Deleted Scenes.)
Emery’s hands idly folded and unfolded a square of paper as the last person entered the conference room—Mg. Juliet Cantrell, a Smelter roughly the same age as Emery, who had joined Criminal Affairs two years ago. She was a tall and pretty woman, with a military-type stride to her legs and a stiffness to her shoulders that Emery had yet to see relax. Like Patrice, she wore her dark hair pulled into a tight bun, which emphasized her square jaw.
She nodded to Alfred and took a seat on the far end of the table, opposite him.
Alfred started with introductions, which Emery paid only half an ear to—he knew all these people. Several had worked with him during Lira’s terrorizing reign. Pushing thoughts of his ex-wife aside, Emery continued folding the small square of paper, back and forth, weakening its creases with every movement. He wondered if he could make it fall apart by the end of the meeting without tearing it.
“Right to it, then,” Alfred said, still standing over his chair. “Mg. Thane has brought me the startling news that changes everything we know about Grath Cobalt. It seems the man is not an Excisioner at all, but a Gaffer.”
Two magicians murmured to one another, but the rest remained silent. Patrice, at least, already knew, but at the voicing of it, she pursed her lips until they turned white.
“His apprentice, Ceony Twill, discovered it,” Alfred continued.
Juliet said, “She’s the target?”
Alfred nodded. “Seems he contacted her through a mirror in her temporary apartment, alone. Not the wisest choice of action if he wanted to keep his Gaffering a secret.”
A Polymaker named Simon commented, “Perhaps he didn’t want it to be a secret?”
“Unlikely,” Emery interjected, “based on the conversation.”
Juliet asked, “You witnessed it?”
Emery nodded, flipping the paper between his fingers. “I doubt Grath would work so hard to brand himself an Excisioner all these years just to turn the tables now. Though apparently, that’s what he’s doing.”
“Yes, some nonsense about breaking bonds,” Alfred said. After a few startled looks, he added, “I assure you, that is a talent he does not possess, and that does not exist. Still,” he glanced to Emery, “your apprentice is quite the detective to work such a detail out from one of our most wanted. A clever girl, even if she’s not much to look at.”
Emery dropped his paper. The room was silent for two seconds before he said, “I think that’s a matter of opinion, Alfred, and hardly appropriate in these circumstances.”
“I agree,” Patrice said, sharp as a paring knife. “Please, Mg. Hughes, let’s keep this meeting on topic and stray away from your . . . personal preferences.”
Still, Emery bristled. Alfred was already on his fourth marriage, so his opinions on women were to be taken with a grain of salt. But exactly what part of Ceony did he find unappealing?
Alfred only smiled. “Of course. Where was I? Oh yes, the mirror. Mg. Thane?”
Scooting back from the table, Emery reached into his coat and pulled out two small shards of glass from the vanity mirror in the apartment, each wrapped tightly in bandages of paper. Setting them on the tabletop, he slid one to Patrice and the other to Chester, another Gaffer who sat beside her.
“These are from the mirror Grath used to contact Ceony,” Alfred explained. “He also attempted transport, but the mirror was shattered before he succeeded.”
Patrice tilted her shard back and forth, her face contorted in its ever-present frown. She looked like a tortoise, frowning like that. Emery imagined her smile couldn’t be much worse.
Both Gaffers commanded their shards, “Reflect, Past,” and angled them to get a good view of Grath’s current abode. They didn’t look long.
“I don’t recognize it,” Patrice said.
“It’s unremarkable,” added Chester.
Emery leaned back in his chair and returned to manipulating the square of paper. He had a sinking feeling that this meeting would be very, very long. He should have brought a snack.
Still, he asked, “But the apartment is secure?”
Patrice nodded. “I would recommend ridding yourself of any other mirrors, Mg. Thane, but I don’t believe your current abode to be jeopardized.” She paused. “I do, however, recommend separating you and Miss Twill, for a time.”
Oh? Emery leaned his elbows on the table, waiting. Folding and unfolding that paper.
“I think splitting you two would be safer, in the long run,” she continued.
“I’m not a target this time, Patrice.”
She frowned, deeper, likely at the use of her first name in such a formal setting. Emery hid a smile.
“I would like Miss Twill to stay with me,” she continued, “where I can keep an eye on her.”
“I don’t see how your ‘eye’ is any better than mine,” Emery countered, keeping his voice smooth. Oh, how Patrice loved to meddle. It was almost quaint. “Especially given that I have experience in these matters.”
“Especially given your experience, Magician Thane,” she chided, taking on her school-advisor voice. It was a tone she had often used with Emery when he had been in her Spells and Counterspells course at Tagis Praff some thirteen years ago.
Emery palmed the paper and leaned his chin onto his folded hands, watching her. It unnerved Patrice when people stared.
He didn’t like the idea of Ceony leaving. Not only for the sake of her company, but because he couldn’t watch her if they separated. He couldn’t protect her. It was her involvement in his problems that led to this catastrophe in the first place. No, Emery wouldn’t let her go. Not easily.
Alfred cleared his throat.
“Thank you for the concern,” Emery said, “but no.”
Aviosky frowned even further. “I do hope you’re not growing too close to your apprentice.”
Ah, so that was it. Perhaps Emery had let himself slip, been too familiar with Ceony before the Gaffer’s eyes. Then again, walking within two feet of one another would be too familiar for Patrice.
“And I hope you haven’t distanced yourself to the point where you can no longer see yours, Patrice,” he countered.
“Well,” Alfred interjected as Patrice turned away, silently fuming, “Ceony will stay under Emery’s stewardship for the time being. Juliet?”
Juliet stood, dropping a few files onto the table. “I’ve sifted through Cobalt’s criminal records for comparison, and it seems we’ve never had an actual witness testify to his use of Excision. However, he has taken credit for the works of other Excisioners, Lira Hoppson being the most recent.”
A few eyes strayed toward Emery. He made a point of not meeting them.
Instead, he said, “A man can still learn Excision without being able to practice it. I knew a man in secondary school who had memorized all the basics of Folding before ever attending Tagis Praff. I’m positive that, at minimum, Grath personally trains his recruits.”
Juliet merely nodded, then crouched down to retrieve a large roll of canvas, which she splayed over the table—a map of England and its surroundings. Then, reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a handful of thick, brass coins and tossed them over the map. She commanded, “Arrangement, position two,” and the coins snapped into position over different cities as though magnetically drawn to them. Emery noticed each coin had been engraved with a date. A few of the coins bore black rims.
Juliet went on to describe the last known whereabouts of Grath and Saraj, indicating each coin in turn. The black-rimmed coins were Saraj’s locations. All but one coincided with Grath’s.
“When Saraj hits,” Simon, the Polymaker, said, “he does far more damage, but Grath strikes more frequently.”
Juliet folded her arms tightly, her brows drawing together. “I suppose that depends on what you mean by ‘more damage.’”
“Take the paper mill, for example. Millions of dollars in repairs.”
“My concern is more for people, not property,” Juliet said, a bit sharp. “Did you know that last year in Presto, Grath raped a teenaged girl so severely that she needed surgery afterward?”
“Or that earlier this year,” Juliet continued, “Near Derby, he gathered a family into—”
“Please, Juliet,” Alfred interjected, “spare us the details. Let us focus on the present threat.”
Emery crumpled the square of paper in his left palm. The present threat. Ceony. The thought of Grath so much as touching her made his blood boil.
He’d kill the man before he had an opportunity, so help him.
Alfred leaned over the map and said, “Now that we have the history, let’s determine where Grath is now, where he may strike, and what on earth we’re going to do when he does.”