After a period of time, she walked back into the house, going straight to the kitchen where she heated water in the microwave and dipped a tea bag into it.
She’d heard of tea bags back home, but not good things.
Sipping the tea, she didn’t think it was so bad, and they certainly had more flavors here. It was strange, though, to make her own tea, but they didn’t have servants. So far as she could tell, no one had servants. The cleaning woman, the men who cared for the lawn, and the security guards were all employees.
That wasn’t the end of the odd little differences about this place–their need to combine rooms for example. This house combined the dining room, kitchen and room for entertaining guests into one big room. They had many other rooms besides, most with no obvious purpose.
That didn’t even touch the big differences–horseless carriages everywhere, airplanes (no airships), and the constant notifications from her phone.
Leaning back against the cupboard, she cupped the warm mug in her hand and listened to Harcourt talking in the other room. The words weren’t clear, but he sounded calm. He sounded like the phone call was coming to an end.
She wasn’t wrong. Moments later Harcourt walked around the corner. He put the phone into a pocket on his vest and glared at her. “I hope you heard that.”
Amy shrugged. “Not much, but I can guess what happened. He was angry because I didn’t let his secretary stall me forever, and made threats that he has no hope of following up on. You made it clear that he was better off with us as friends than enemies, and that on our world I was some sort of spoiled princess. Then you apologized, calmed him down, and you were done. Does that cover it?”
His lip curled. “You have no idea how much risk you put us all in even by applying to that school. They hate blood magic here. I’ve made inquiries, discreet inquiries, and learned that sorcerors of competing schools of magic join forces to destroy sorcerers that use blood magic. Can you imagine the kind of risk bursting in to the school president’s office and all but threatening him brings? What could you possibly have been thinking?”
He all but shouted the last sentence.
Amy put the mug down on the counter. If it wasn’t in her hands, she wouldn’t throw it at him.
“I was thinking,” she began, “that they already knew I was here. You and I both know that when I change, anyone nearby with the slightest magical sensitivity feels it. Powerful people can sense it from across the ocean. Anyone that we need to fear is already making plans for us, and I need the best training I can get.”
Barely moving his jaw, he said, “I’m training you.”
Amy rolled her eyes. “You are not. You’ve got a copy of the book they used to train the old line of Bloodmaidens, but you’re barely using it. Half of the exercises you make me do aren’t even in the book. You’re doing your best not to train me at all.”
He nodded slowly. “My duty is to the Empire, not you. The moment you have full command of your potential, you threaten it. Your sister needs to be secure in her power before you go back. If you follow my program you’ll be fully trained, but she will have the advantage.”
Amy shook her head. “I don’t want to fight my sister.”
Harcourt shook his head. “Many a royal sibling has said the same before the lure of the throne becomes fully felt.”
Amy began to reply, but realized that the conversation was going nowhere. She picked up her mug, didn’t throw it, and walked down the hall, and up the stairway to the second floor where her room was.
She didn’t make it all the way to the room. Agnus Harcourt stood next to the wall only a few feet from the stair. Amy could see Agnus’ Elder blood more clearly since they’d left. The Elder knife in Agnus’ hand during the fight had been the clue she’d needed. She didn’t appear to be as strongly Elder as Cassie, but she was closer than most people.
Agnus’ long, black hair covered the points of her ears–that and the hats she wore. Here, she wore a simple red dress, no hat, and had her hair pulled back.
“You’ve been arguing with my husband.” She wasn’t accusatory. If anything, she sounded amused.
“Yes.” Amy didn’t see any point in denying it.
Agnus smiled, showing canines that were slightly longer than a normal person’s, but were only obviously so if you knew to look. “Remember William and I have been serving the Crown for centuries. As frustrating as you might find him right now, his suspicions have often proved correct. Give him the chance to know you, and he’ll change his mind.”
Amy smiled at her. She deserved a smile even if it wasn’t completely real. Agnus wasn’t that bad. “I’ll try.”
She walked down the hall, stepped into her room, and changed. It was the same as every other time–red light like the glow from the gem on her necklace, singing, and somewhere deep chanting. Amy couldn’t quite understand the words of the chant, but she had a feeling that she wouldn’t like them if she could.
Taller, stronger, and covered in armor, she opened the window. Even as Agnus ran for the door saying, “Amelia,” she crawled out, flying into the night.
It didn’t take long before she caught the scent of blood magic, and it was the same place as before. She was flying over a housing development, or at least it was supposed to be. It was only partially finished when the housing bubble burst. They’d cut down the trees, and flattened the land, but only put up a few houses, none of which they’d sold. In the meantime, the plants had grown back, but they weren’t grass, giving the place a wild, post-apocalyptic feeling during the day.
During the night, it was simply dark. A few streetlights had been installed, but none were lit.
Amy could feel that something was down there, several somethings, in fact. She could feel blood magic centered in the third house away from the road.
Something about it felt wrong.