“It is rumored that the Malia, trees that grow only on the border between Lokeli and Eberhard, are actually a rare sort of indel.” – Magic for Beginners by Gabby of the North Rim
Schreber was going to kill her. She was so certain of it, she didn’t even bother to add “try” to that mental statement. There was no hope for her; unless she could figure out some way to appease him before Bernard left.
That was a matter she’d been contemplating since abandoning Bernard’s rooms. It had been foolish to give Bernard the privacy he desired, but he was an Invoker. Even Schreber wouldn’t dare harm him—directly anyway. She would have Rat get him the letter to look at. Then he would see why she had bombed him. She craned her neck for a look out the grungy gray curtains screening off her segment of the main room. Where was Rat anyway?
“Amy! Amy! Guess what!”
She caught a flash of dirty hair and shiny bright eyes before Rat flung himself into her arms. Unprepared for him, she flew over backwards and landed in a heap on her bedroll.
“My back,” she moaned. “Can’t you see I’m in enough pain already?”
Rat only bounced up and down from where he sat on top of her. “We’re rich! I was just talking with Bernard, and—“
Amy sat up hastily and pushed him aside. “You better not have made any kind of deal with him involving me! I’m only glad you’re coming clean about eavesdropping this time. I could have killed you when Molly caught you last.”
Rat hesitated, as if he were about to say something important, and then shrugged. “He’s not that bad. Why don’t you want to help him anyway?”
She stroked the layer of fur he had carelessly allowed to ripple down his leg and thought over her response. Rat would smell a lie if she gave him an incorrect answer, but there were shades of truth to everything.
“There are certain people even I don’t mess with. You’d do well to stay away from him, and Schreber too.” She pressed her lips together. “Schreber was following him. I don’t like that. His indel-infested clan has taken far too much of the information business lately. If he’s got a professional interest in it, we’ll need to find out.”
Rat grinned. “Want me to find him?”
She hesitated, and then shook her head. “I’d like you to hit the Route and see if there are any bards or storytellers in Kaluna right now. Don’t take less than five coppers from anyone. If you’re asked to stand up and talk, make up some mushy love story about us.”
He made a face. “Gross! I’m not telling no love story.”
She crooked an eyebrow at him. “Just think of it as a chance at being paid to humiliate me.”
He thought it over, grinned, and scrambled out of her room, pausing only long enough to glance over his shoulder. “I stole his watch,” he announced to her, and then he was changing into his indel form. She swallowed hard at the sight, fighting a wave of bitterness. Rat made it look so easy, like everyone was meant to have a second form. She curled her fingers over her indelfy tattoo and kneaded the muscles underneath it till they burned.
“Stupid indel,” she muttered to herself. If she had a slick little form like Rat, she’d be able to steal too.
“Terrible luck isn’t it?” a voice behind her said. “If you’d been indel, you could have become one of us. Still, you haven’t done badly for yourself, all things considered.”