Pretending to be the puppet-boy, but he was not—Kerrn could see the trickery in those blue eyes. A rush of wind sent her papers scattering, and the tiny dragon swarmed into the room. Kerrn ducked as it swooped over her head, then landed on her desk and tracked inky pawprints across the papers scattered there. Then he stuck his head back into the room. I do not want him making trouble! Kerrn stared at the mess on her desk, the trampled-on papers all over the floor, the spilled ink.
She rubbed at the ink smudged across her face. She attacked again, driving him back. He concentrated on staying light on his feet and keeping his guard up.
But being her friend was difficult sometimes. She was too clever, too quick.
Behind him, the door to the salle opened. A distraction. He saw her eyes widen, and she lowered her guard. With a careless swipe, Duchess Rowan parried his blade and strode past him as he went sprawling. He staggered to a halt and wiped the sweat out of his eyes. Argent frowned.
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Not so clever any more, was he? Duchess Rowan tucked her practice sword under her arm and started taking off her gloves. He had a lizard-like creature clinging to his shoulder. The Duchess gave Argent one of her sly, sidewise glances. He hated when she looked at him like that.
The gutterboy was grinning. A moment later, she was laughing and hugging Connwaer, and chattering to him. All he did was grin back at her. It was the one good thing about him. You might check the Academicos library. The gutterboy quirked a last grin and went out the door, the lizard still clinging to his shoulder. Yes, Conn was back, Argent thought glumly.
He could see a glint in her eyes. She was planning something she thought was clever.
The Book Thief
Argent blinked. She gave her sideways smile. All he needs is a little polish. Argent snorted. He was sorting through the locus magicalicus stones stored in a secure room at the Academicos. It was almost as if they re-sorted themselves, the tricksy things. The stones that were bits of gravel had gotten mixed in with the bigger stones. Maybe he could get a wizarding student to sort them into their proper boxes. The Conn who had caused so much trouble with the magics of Wellmet was gone. Nothing that Nevery could do would bring him back, not even pyrotechnics.
Brumbee looked up, blinking. Wait a moment. Something about the boy had been different. But it was empty. He stepped back into the room full of locus magicalicus stones. Then he froze. Every single one of the stones was glowing and humming happily to itself. Brumbee could feel it in his bones, a kind of echo, as if the stones been touched briefly by some kind of hugely powerful magic.
Brumbee knew what that meant. That had been no empty shell of a boy.
The Thief by Ruth Rendell
No, indeed. Nevery sighed and closed the book. Nothing about how to find a person who was lost from himself. All they had left of him was that blank, silent boy who ate when food was put in front of him, and slept when he was put to bed, and never seemed to have a thought in his empty head. The Underlord rubbed his forehead with a thin hand, as if he was tired. A chilly breeze crept through a crack in the window, and he shivered.
Time to head home from the Dusk House to Heartsease, which was hardly a home any more, now that the light and warmth had gone out of it. Nevery had considered that possibility. There was a long silence. Embre shrugged.
With a sigh, Nevery gripped his cane and climbed to his feet, settling his cloak over his shoulders. His locus magicalicus was in his pocket, along with a purse string strung with silver lock coins. When he answered, Nevery was careful to keep his voice steady. For just a moment, Nevery closed his eyes. The Underlord was only trying to help, he told himself.
It was too hard.
I fought off a burglar in my own home - but he inspired my new novel
For a while he had hoped—with time and care the boy would come back to himself. The time for hope was over. Without answering, he put on his broad-brimmed hat, strode past the Underlord, and went down the hallway and out the front door of the Dusk House. He bent his head and headed down Wyrm Street.
Instead of going straight to the Night Bridge, he turned left on Strangle Street. As he passed the chophouse near the corner where Conn had first picked his pocket, he slowed. Then he gritted his teeth and went on. Then he felt it—a tug at his cloak pocket.
Quick as a flash he turned and grabbed the pickpocket by the arm. He could see quite clearly that this boy was not that empty-headed boy. He felt a flutter of hope.