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Hair Clippings

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‘You didn’t see me do this,’ I advised as I quickly grabbed ingredients from my bags to weave a new protection spell. One that didn’t rely on Declan. I tossed some magic above me – a sallow, sourceless light blossomed in the tunnel, a trick I’d seen Renatus do and had clearly memorised at some point – and held the little knife out to my friends. Garrett blanched. ‘Just a bit of hair.’

Hiroko looked as disgusted as she couldn’t remember looking last week.

‘Cut our hair with that?’ she clarified, swinging her backpack from her shoulders to look inside. ‘I’m sure I will have scissors…’

‘You do.’

She rolled her eyes as she located them, realising this meant we’d already been through this.

‘Then please, keep them.’ She took a careful snip of her own ends and then did the same at Garrett’s nape. She used the safe end of the scissors to lift a lock of my hair while I worked. ‘It seems you will need them again.’

I went through the motions and cast the spell exactly as Declan had taught me. I hummed my own tune, drawing magic in with its mindless originality, and wove the elements together with the symbols whose meanings I couldn’t guess. The magic sealed; I felt the spark and the settling of a new network of threads, deflecting dangers from those of us tied into the spell.

‘Now what?’ Hiroko asked as I wiped my hands on the backs of my hips.

‘Now you two are on,’ I replied. I turned uncertainly to Garrett, skinny and frightened-looking and giving very few signs that he was prepared for this. ‘Do you know the exact spot they’re keeping Josh?’

‘Not the exact building,’ he declined nervously. ‘They operate out of this string of old, refurbished factories outside of Minsk, with a few outbuildings that have been converted into accommodations. It’s like a full-on commune. But we can’t jump straight into the middle, or get anywhere too close,’ he reminded us hastily. ‘The Fabric’s stretched taut, and there are decades of magic layers preventing anyone from looking in or just stumbling across that block. It’s impossible to find.’

‘Decades?’ Hiroko repeated. ‘How long has Magnus Moira been operating?’

‘Like sixty years,’ I answered before Garrett could. I asked him, ‘If it’s impossible to find, how do they find it to get inside?’

‘You have to be shown.’

'Okay?'

'And,' a little of the confidence he lacked shining through, 'I've been shown.'