Home > Veiled (Alex Verus #6)(7)

Veiled (Alex Verus #6)(7)
Benedict Jacka

“What do you mean?”

“Well, the reason they won’t go after Vari is that he joined the Keepers, right?” Luna said. “Talisid can get us work, but he won’t get us what Vari has. So why don’t you join the Keepers too?”

Anne, Variam, and I are all quite different people from who we were three years ago, but out of the four of us, it’s probably Luna who’s changed the most. When I first met Luna she was lonely and depressed, smiling rarely and laughing not at all. Nowadays when you look at her the first thing you notice is her confidence. Being an adept in mage society isn’t easy, but Luna’s managed to take that and turn it into a strength; it gives her a different perspective and she’s often the one to come up with ideas that don’t occur to the rest of us.

Anne, Variam, and I all turned to stare at Luna. “What?” Luna said.

“The Council are—” Anne began, and stopped. She’d been about to say our enemies. The Council haven’t given me many reasons to like them; the treatment Anne’s received from them has been worse. “They’re not our friends.”

“Yeah, no shit,” Luna said. “I don’t like them either, but we might as well use them.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “Keepers recruit from apprentices or from Light mages. No way in hell they’d take me.”

“Well . . .” Variam said. “Kind of.”

Luna looked at him.

“You couldn’t actually be a Keeper,” Variam said. “Not without spending years and years. But you could be sanctioned.”

“What does that mean?”

“Means you count as an auxiliary and they can recruit you for jobs. Some of those guys spend as much time in the station as the Keepers do . . . well, it’s halfway there, I guess. It doesn’t make you a member of the club, but it’s next best.”

“Which order, though?”

“Probably Order of the Star. Order of the Shield only takes battle-mages and the Order of the Cloak spend all their time dealing with normals.”

“I dunno, that could work if—”

“Hey,” I interrupted. “Can you two stop talking as though I’ve agreed to this?”

“You’ve basically told us that sooner or later, we’re going to be fighting Richard,” Luna said. “If you’re tied in with the Council, that’ll make it harder for him, right?”

“That doesn’t matter. The Council don’t like me either. Have you forgotten about Levistus?”

“If Levistus wants to get us, then if we’re split off from the Council without any friends in the Keepers, that’ll make it easier,” Luna said. “Not harder.”

I didn’t like the idea. It was true that what Luna and Variam were suggesting wasn’t actually all that big a step. I’d helped the Council out with investigations and police work before—if I was being honest, becoming a sanctioned auxiliary would just be a way of recognising what I’d effectively been doing anyway. But it did mean making the relationship official, and while it might not have been a big step in reality, it felt like one to me.

What it really came down to was the simple fact that I don’t like the Council. Maybe not all of them are bad—and I’ll admit, I know a lot more of the better ones than I used to—but I’ve got too many old grudges to forget easily. Every single time in my life that I’ve really needed help, the Council have left me in the lurch, and more than once they’ve been the reason I needed help in the first place.

“Look,” Luna said when I didn’t answer. “We’ve been at this for how long now? Six months? Maybe a bit more. And all we’ve really been doing is just reacting to what Richard’s done. Okay, we’ve been finding out what we can, but basically he does stuff, and we spy on it. We’re not going to win anything this way.”

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