The door between those voices and me exploded away from me with satisfying force, but the sight of the man who had replaced my parents after we had so hastily left here forestalled further action. It was amazing what the last ten years had done to him. When I first saw him, he looked to be somewhere between the age of thirty and forty. Now, he looked like he was somewhere closer to sixty.
Mr. McTavish,” he said as he waved his half-gone cigar vaguely in my direction. You would have thought I had just been shown into his parlor by his butler; the effect wasn’t all he was going for since he looked like a child sitting in the over-large chair. The shards of the door I had just blown up were nowhere to be seen.
I wasn’t sure if he was greeting me or introducing me to the mountain of a man sitting behind the desk. “Mr. Preston,” I returned. “I’m surprised to see you here.”
He just smiled and made a little shrug.
“So, you’re the twerp who came here and stole our magic,” said the man behind the desk. His voice rumbled like a volcano, deep in his chest. I don’t think I have ever heard a voice that deep. “John told me about you. Looks like you were forced to return.
“I didn’t think it was something that could be stolen.”
He laughed, sounding like a thunderstorm. “Apparently it is. It just took a while for outsiders to discover it, thanks to you, which brings us to the issue John and I were just discussing.”
“Yes,” said Mr. Preston. “The opportunities available for someone of Mr. Marell’s abilities are enormous, but the quarantine the emperor has imposed has caused us some…problems.”
The thought of this man making it off world and doing the things I knew he could do, chilled me to the bone. “The quarantine was for the good of everyone.”
“But it’s not good for me,” said Marell. “John thought we might be able to get the emperor’s attention and change his mind.”
I looked at the man with the cat eyes and noticed he was sweating slightly. It wasn’t that hot; he was working very hard on something, and then I felt it. He was trying to set me on fire. I thrust him out through the wall and let him fall to the ground. We were only on the second floor so I didn’t think the fall would kill him, but I could get lucky.
No sooner had the man crashed through the wall than I felt a tearing pain in my chest that doubled me over. I might have screamed if I wasn’t having so much trouble breathing.
With tears streaming from my eyes, I looked up and saw that Marell was holding his hand out toward me as if he was asking for something from me. He was trying to take something from inside me. I struck back. I made that hand, and about half his forearm, vanish.
With a roar, he jumped to his feet cradling his bleeding arm to his chest while I learned how to breathe again and tried to calm my racing heart.
“I’ll make you regret this,” Marell roared as I hastily backed out of the room.
I had just been attacked twice and all I could do was react. I needed to do some attacking. If I continued to do nothing more than react, all it would take would be a delay or a distraction and I would be dead.
When I first got my magic, I was told that the people in the village could feel it lurking within me, yet I couldn’t tell the difference between Carm, who had no magic and Durmas who did. Nor could I feel any difference between Marell and Mr. Preston. Without that, I would have a hard time figuring out who my enemies were. Unless I personally knew the people here to be villagers, anyone could be my enemy. I needed Tsan.