The Honcho was lifting a forkful of sausage when his son burst in. “He's in the city!” said Jeffrey. “He's not dead.”
Peter patted his lips with a napkin. “Who?”
“The wizard. Did you send your men to St. Farker's?”
His father frowned. “What are you talking about?”
The Runt took a breath and let it out slowly. “Some of your men decided to impress you. It turns out there was a shrine with a swizzle and an everflame in it. They accosted one of the priests caretakers to get him to hand 'em over, but the wizard showed up and interfered. The officer in charge ran off and got reinforcements, but when he got back to the shrine the priest was gone.”
“I see. And he took the artifacts with him?”
“No, that's the puzzling thing. The soldiers waited for another priest to show up, then talked him into opening the shrine. Everything was still there, but nothing we could use. Looks like the artifacts lost their magic a long time ago. They're inert.”
Peter swore. “Get over to the prison and have them reinforce the guards. If he sees it's impossible to get in and break his apprentice out, even if he's invisible, maybe he'll go back to Rado.”
As Jeffrey turned to leave his father said “Wait! One more thing.”
He turned. The Honcho tossed him a silver Texas dollar.
“See if he can make an everflame out of that. Don't give it to him until you collect any swizzles he has with him. Wouldn't want him to use it as ammo. And let him know time is running out.”
“Right,” said Jeffrey. He dashed out the door and raced off.
By the time he got to he Prison, he realized his father hadn't seemed all that surprised. Was that just self-control, or had he known about the attempted seizure? Perhaps, but he couldn't have known about the wizard. Those men hadn't wanted to advertise their failure. They'd waited at the shrine until another caretaker showed up at eight in the morning, hoping to report success.
Jeffrey roused the guards and had them physically block the doorway. He set another group of guards behind the first with loaded crossbows. Then he went to visit Lester.
The apprentice wasn't surprised to see him. “I made another one,” he said, and tossed a short length of pipe to Jeffrey. It hissed faintly.
“That's good,” said Jeffrey,” and tossed him the silver dollar.
Lester caught it. “Gee, thanks, but I've got nothing to spend this on, in here.”
“Very funny. Can you make it into an everflame?”
“I don't know.”
“Well, try. The more you can do, the more valuable you are to my father. It keeps him from handing you over to the Church.”
“Does it?” Lester turned the coin over in his hands. “I'd have thought keeping me alive would cause friction with them. Why would the Honcho want that?”
“Relations with them are getting tenser. They want you bad enough to have offered him some artifacts in exchange for you. But if you can learn to make 'em, he can keep you off their bonfire.”
Lester looked at the coin again. “I don't know how to make an everflame,” he said.
“You didn't know how to make a swizzle, either, until you tried,” Jeffrey pointed out. “What have you got to lose? I'll bring you another pipe soon. You need to learn how to make the swizzles stronger, too.”
“What does he want the swizzles for?”
“Wells. From what they tell me, a weak swizzle won't pull from a deep well. Something about the weight of the fluid column opposing the suction.”
Lester registered puzzlement. “Don't you have hand pumps in Texas?”
“They have the same problem. There's only so much you can do with a hand pump.”
Lester regarded him silently for a moment. “Okay,” he said. “But it's going to cost you some more donuts.”
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