The Indigo Spell

Page 36

She shook her head. "No. The spell was unable to touch her mind. Her shielding must be too strong."

"Then we can't do anything until next month." I felt my stomach drop. I hadn't realized until that moment how much I'd been hoping this spell would work. So much of my life involved problem solving, and I felt lost when I ran out of options.

"You and Adrian can keep warning the other girls," said Ms. Terwilliger. Color was starting to return to her face. "At the very least, it might slow Veronica down."

I looked at the time on my cell phone. This spell had taken longer than I thought. "I don't think we can do a round trip to Los Angeles today. I'll get him tomorrow, and we'll see if we can finish off the list."

Once I was convinced she wouldn't pass out from magical exertion, I made motions to leave. She stopped me as I was about to walk out the door.


I glanced back, suddenly uneasy. The problem with having so many people call me by nicknames was that when someone called me by my actual name, it usually meant something serious was happening.


"We keep talking about warning others, but don't forget to look after yourself as well. Keep studying the book. Learn to protect yourself. And keep the charm on."

I touched the garnet, hidden under my shirt. "Yes, ma'am. I will."

Marcus's promised text came as I was driving back to school, telling me to meet him at a nearby arcade. I knew the place and had actually been to its adjacent mini-golf course once before, so I had no difficulty heading over there. Marcus was waiting for me just inside the door, and thankfully, Sabrina wasn't around wielding a gun.

I hadn't spent a lot of time in arcades and didn't really understand them. They hardly meshed with my father's style of education. For me, it was a mass of sensory overload that I wasn't quite ready for. The smell of slightly burnt pizza filled the air. Excited children and teenagers darted back and forth between games. And everywhere, everything seemed to be flashing and beeping. I winced, thinking maybe my dad had been on to something in avoiding these places.

"This is where we're going to discuss covert activities?" I asked in disbelief.

He gave me one of his movie star smiles. "It's not an easy place for people to spy on you. Besides, I haven't played Skee-Ball in years. That game is awesome."

"I wouldn't know."

"What?" It was kind of nice to catch him by surprise again, even if it was for something so trivial. "You've been missing out. Spot me some money for tokens, and I'll show you." Apparently, being an on-the-run renegade leader didn't pay well.

He found the Skee-Ball machines instantly. I bought him a cupful of tokens and handed them over. "Have at it."

He promptly put a token in and threw his first ball. It landed completely outside of the rings, making him scowl. "You don't waste any time," I remarked.

His eyes were on the game as he made his second throw, which again missed. "It's a survival tactic. When you spend enough time on the run . . . hiding out all the time . . . well, you take advantage of these moments of freedom. And when pretty girls spirit you away."

"How do you know we're free? How can you be so sure the Alchemists haven't been watching me?" I asked. I was pretty sure I wasn't being watched and mostly wanted to test him.

"Because they would've showed up on that first day."

He had a point. I put my hands on my h*ps and tried to be patient. "How long are you going to play? When can we talk?"

"We can talk now." His next ball hit the ten-point ring, and he whooped with joy. "I can talk and throw. Ask away. I'll give you as many shocking secrets as I can."

"I'm not easily shocked." But I wasn't going to waste this opportunity. I glanced around, but he was right. No one was going to eavesdrop in this noisy place. We could barely hear each other as it was. "What'd you do to get kicked out of the Alchemists?"

"I didn't get kicked out. I left." This round ended, and he put in his next token. "Because of a Moroi girl."

I froze, unable to believe what I'd heard. Marcus Finch had started his great rebellion . . . because he'd been involved with a Moroi? It rang too close to my own situation. When I didn't say anything, he glanced over and took in my expression.

"Oh. Oh. No, nothing like that," he said, realizing my thoughts. "That's not a line even I would cross."

"Of course not," I said, hoping I was doing a good job at hiding my nervousness. "Who would?"

He returned to the game. "We were friends. I was assigned to Athens, and she lived there with her sister."

That derailed me. "Athens . . . you were in Athens? That was one of the places I wanted to be assigned. I went to St. Petersburg instead, but I always kept hoping that, maybe, maybe, I'd get reassigned to Greece. Or even Italy." I was nearly babbling, but he didn't seem to notice.

"What's wrong with St. Petersburg? Aside from the high Strigoi count."

"What's wrong is that it wasn't Athens or Rome. My dad specifically requested that I not be assigned to either place. He thought it'd be too distracting."

Marcus paused again to give me a long, level look. There was sympathy in his expression, as though my entire history and family drama were playing before his eyes. I didn't want him to feel sorry for me and wished I hadn't said anything. I cleared my throat.

"So tell me about this girl in Athens."

He took the hint. "Like I said, she was a friend. So funny. Oh, man. She cracked me up. We used to hang out all the time - but you know how that's kind of frowned upon."

I almost laughed at his subtle joke. Kind of? That was an understatement. Field Alchemists weren't supposed to interact with Moroi unless it was absolutely necessary for some business matter or related to stopping and covering up Strigoi. My situation was a little unique, since my mission actually required me to talk to her on a daily basis.

"Anyway," he continued. "Someone noticed, and I got a lot of unwelcome attention for it. Around the same time, I started hearing all these rumors . . . like about Alchemists holding Moroi against their will. And even some Alchemists interacting with the Warriors."

"What? That's impossible. We would never work with those freaks." The idea of Moroi prisoners was outlandish, but it was that second part that truly stumped me. I couldn't even process it. He might as well have said the Alchemists were working with aliens.

"That's what I thought." He threw another ball, looking supremely pleased when it scored thirty points. "But I kept hearing whispers, so I started asking questions. A lot of questions. And, well, that's when things really went bad. Questions don't always go over so well - especially if you're a nuisance about them."

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