Home > Veiled (Alex Verus #6)(4)

Veiled (Alex Verus #6)(4)
Benedict Jacka

“I see. Would it be feasible for your team to go back and do another sweep?”

I stared at Talisid, then took a breath and counted to five in my head. “No,” I said, once I was sure I could keep my voice calm. “It would not.”

“All right,” Talisid said. “I’m going to need to make some calls. I’ll get in touch with you when I know more.”

“Fine.”

“Until then.” Talisid paused. “I know there were setbacks, but well done on returning safely. We’ll talk tomorrow.” Talisid’s image winked out and the lights around the edge of the communicator went dark.

“Arsehole,” Variam muttered.

“There,” Anne said. The green light around her hands faded and she let go of Variam’s arm. She hadn’t even glanced at Talisid throughout the whole conversation. “Try moving.”

Variam worked his arm, flexing his fingers, then nodded. “Feels good.”

“Do we need to keep him warm?” Luna asked.

Anne shook her head. “No, you could get it frozen again and it wouldn’t make any difference. Though I’d rather you didn’t.” She glanced at me. “You didn’t tell him about the papers.”

“No,” I said. I walked to the armchair, then picked up some of the papers lying scattered over the table. There were a dozen or so sheets, grubby with dirt and damp and cracked at the edges from where the ice blast had grazed them. Variam had managed to keep hold of them during the fight.

“Next time, leave the papers and just get out,” Luna said.

“Will you stop whining?” Variam said. “We’re alive, aren’t we?”

Luna scowled. “Can you read them?” Anne asked.

“In Arabic?” I said dryly. “No.” The papers had notes scribbled across them in a right-to-left scrawl. It could be battle plans, shipping manifestos, a history of Richard’s dealings with the group . . . or someone’s laundry list, for all we knew. But there was a reason we’d picked the things up: three of the pages were rubbings, not writings. They were crude and it was hard to figure out where they’d been taken from, but if I’d had to guess, I’d have said that the pictures and text they showed looked old. More like carvings.

“Are they from what was in those crates?” Luna asked.

“Or from something else,” I said. “We’re going to need a translator.” Who not only spoke whichever dialect of Arabic this was written in, but also knew enough about Middle Eastern magical history to be able to identify the content. This wasn’t going to be quick.

“Are you going to go back if Talisid asks?” Anne asked. Despite her spell, she didn’t look tired. Life magic healing tends to drain the caster, but Anne’s very good at what she does.

“No,” I said.

“What’s up with Talisid, anyway?” Luna asked. “When we did jobs for him before, this kind of thing didn’t . . .”

“Well, it’s because of what Morden’s doing, isn’t it?” Variam said. “Talisid wants us to dig up some dirt.”

Luna frowned. “I thought the Council didn’t buy that Morden’s working for Richard.”

“They don’t,” Variam said. “They’ve got him down as ‘potential associate’ and that’s it. If Talisid could prove that Richard’s behind him, though . . .”

“I think you’re right,” I said. “Talisid still won’t tell me exactly who he works for, but I’m pretty sure he’s with the Guardian faction. And Richard’s reputation still carries. If they could link Richard with Morden it’d scare a lot of people off.”

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