The Bronze Key (Magisterium #3)(12)


by Holly Black, Cassandra Clare

“Thanks,” Tamara said. “I’ll wash it and give it back to you —”

“That’s fine, you can keep it —”

“— And, Call?”

“I mean, I’ve never worn it anyway, it’s too big, and —”

“Call,” Tamara said, again, looking at him with big, serious eyes. “We’re going to keep you safe, okay?”

Call wished he could believe it. “Okay,” he said.

They sat out in the yard the next day, Tamara back in her yellow dress, Jasper in a strange combination of Call’s clothes and his own. It was brightly sunny, and Alastair had made them lemonade out of powder, which Tamara was giving the fisheye. Call suspected she didn’t drink a lot of reconstituted things. Jasper was looking around haughtily at Call’s small backyard and slightly overgrown grass.

Not that Alastair seemed to notice. He was seated on a rock, tinkering with a broken alarm clock. Even though there were digital alarm clocks and cell phones nowadays, people would pay decent money for old-fashioned phones and other gadgets that had been fixed up to run well.

“So what does it mean?” said Tamara. “If someone’s trying to hurt Call because he’s the …” She swallowed.

“Enemy of Death?” Jasper volunteered.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to go around saying ‘Enemy of Death’ a lot,” said Aaron. “We should come up with a code name. Like Captain Fishface.”

Havoc barked. Call agreed with him that the name sucked. “Why Captain Fishface?”

“Well, you have a fishy look,” said Jasper. “Plus, no one would ever guess what we meant because there’s nothing scary about it.”

“Fine, whatever,” said Tamara, sounding as if she thought the whole thing was a waste of time. “So who might know Call is Captain Fishface?”

“I refuse to be called that!” Call said. “Especially in light of recent events.”

Tamara groaned as though this conversation was tormenting her even more than it was tormenting Call. “Okay, what do you want to be called?”

“How about Commander Pinhead?” Aaron asked. Jasper laughed, spitting out his lemonade.

Call put his head in his hands and took a deep breath, drinking in the smells of summer — the perfume of warm earth, cut grass, and machine oil. There was no winning. He was going to wind up with a dumb name no matter what. “Captain Fishface is fine.”

“Good,” Tamara said, rolling her eyes. “Now can we talk about who might know about Call?”

“His father,” Jasper said, and they all glanced at Alastair, who seemed oblivious. He was whistling a jaunty tune in a slightly off-key manner.

“My dad is not trying to kill me,” Call said. A year ago, he hadn’t been so sure of that, but he was sure now. “And I don’t think any of you are, either. Even you, Jasper. Who else?”

“Did any of us tell anyone?” Tamara asked, looking around at them.

“Who would I tell?” Jasper asked, and then blanched at their prolonged stares. “No! Okay? I didn’t tell anyone! It’s too big a secret, and I would get in trouble, too.”

“Me neither,” Aaron said.

Tamara sighed. “I didn’t. But I thought I’d better ask. Okay, so then there’s Master Joseph. He’s got to be pretty mad at Call.”

“I thought he needed Call,” said Jasper. “Isn’t Captain Fishface, like, his whole reason for being?”

Aaron grinned. “I think he hoped that either Call would be a lot more obedient than he is or that he could use Call to bring back Captain Fishface with all his memories intact.”

Call, who thought pretty much the same thing, shuddered. “He might blame me for Drew’s death.”

“He probably blames me, too,” said Aaron. “If it makes you feel any better.”

Drew was Master Joseph’s son. He’d gone to the Magisterium, pretending to be a regular student, but his real reason for being there had been to get close to Call. Drew had even helped his father kidnap Aaron and then swung him over a cage with a chaos elemental inside. The same chaos elemental that, ironically, wound up killing Drew. But Call had to admit that he’d had something to do with it as well. “Okay,” Tamara said. “Top of our suspect list — Master Joseph.”

Call shook his head. “I don’t know. If he is out to get me, why not use the Alkahest? And, well, I just don’t think he’s ready to give up yet. He tried to save my life back in the tomb. I think he’s still got hope that I am going to turn out … more like Captain Fishface.”

“What about Warren?” Aaron asked. They all just stared at him for a long moment.

Call looked at him the way that Tamara had looked at her lemonade. “You think a lizard is trying to kill me? And he faked a note from Celia?”

“He’s an elemental! And he was in the service of the Devoured who gave us that creepy prophecy.” Aaron sighed. “Okay, it was a pretty out-there theory.”

“It’s okay,” Tamara said. “We have to think outside the box. No matter how unlikely, we’ve got to put all our ideas on the table. Or at least on this stretch of grass.”

“We don’t have any suspects,” Call said. “We don’t have any ideas. We don’t even know why I was being targeted. Maybe it was because I’m a Makar. Maybe it had nothing to do with being Captain Fishface. Maybe the person who tried to smoosh me with a chandelier was the same person who let out Automotones to kill all of us.”

“That’s what the mages are going to assume.” Tamara sighed. “I guess it could be true.”

“We’re just going to have to stick together,” said Aaron, smiling up at the blue sky. “And we’re going to figure this out. We’re heroes, right? We’ve got medals. We can do this.”

Eventually, Call got out a pack of cards and they played a couple of rounds of a game that involved slapping one another’s hands. They talked about going back to the Magisterium and what they hoped to accomplish that year. Havoc chased several bees, snapping at them until they buzzed lazily out of his reach. As the afternoon wore on, Stebbins arrived with suitcases for Tamara and a message from her parents that could only be delivered in private. Jasper called home on one of Alastair’s restored chrome candlestick landline phones and then glumly reported that his family would send his things directly to the Magisterium. Call wondered if he’d tried to convince them to rescind permission for him to be there. Call wondered if his parents had forced him to come along in the first place and then quickly pushed away the thought.