novel (BARTIMAEUS13)

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Mar 12, 2012 16:54
There was a minute crack under the door. It was too small for an insect, but I was aching for a change anyway. The fly dissolved into a dribble of smoke, which passed out of sight under the door just as the vapor screen around the toad melted away. In the room I became a child. If I had known that apprentice's name, I would have been malicious and his form, just to give Simon Lovelace a head start when he began to piece the theft together. But without his name had no handle on him. So I became a boy I kad known once before, someone I had loved. His dust had long ago floated away along a Nile, so my crime would not hurt him, and anyhow it pleased me to remember him like this. He was brown skinned, bright eyed, dressed in a white loincloth. He looked around in that way he had, his head slightly cocked to one side. The room had no windows. There were several cabinets against the walls, filled with magical paraphernalia. Most of it was quite useless, fit only stage shows, but there were few intriguing items there. There was a summoning horn that I knew was genuine, because it made me feel ill to look at it. One blast of that and anything in that magician's power would be at his feet begging for mercy and pleading to do his bidding. It was a cruel instrument and very old and I couldn't go near it. In another cabinet was an eye made out of clay. I had seen one of them before, in the head of a golem. I wondered if the fool knew the potential of that eye. Almost certainly not---he'd have picked it up as a quaint keepsake on some package holiday in central Europe. Magical tourism... I ask you. Well. with luck it might kill him some day. And there was the Amulet of Samarkand. It sat in a small case all of its own, protected by glass and its own reputation. I walked over to it, flicking though the planes, seeking danger and finding--- well, nothing explicit, but on the seventh plane I had the distinct impression that something was stirring. Not here, but close by, I had better be quick.
The Amulet was small, dull, and made of beaten gold. It hung from a short gold chain. In its center was oval piece of jade. The gold had been pressed with simple notched designs depicting
running steeds. Horses were the prize possessions of the people from central Asia who had made the Amulet there thousand years before and had later buried it in the tomb of one of their princesses. A Russian archaeologist had found it in the 1950s, and before long it had been stolen by magicians who recognized its value. How Simon Lovelace had come by it---who exactly he had murdered or swindled to get it---I had no idea.

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