Christopher Key, chapter two scene five

It wasn’t hard to nip quietly down the back stair and wait, listening, until he heard raised voices. Then he followed the voices. That wasn’t hard either. Maybe if you gathered enough magicians in one place, they became incapable of keeping the noise down.

They certainly were in an uproar right now.

Christopher ended up sitting in a shadowy corner, knees drawn up to his chest and his arms wrapped around them. The room in which the magicians were meeting was on the other side of the wall. Their conversation carried clearly even over the thunderstorm. He leaned his cheek against the wainscoting, and tried to sort out Master Ward’s voice.

“… we’re all in danger, we have to get hold of Steppingstone—”

“Yes. Steppingstone’s the one we need. Without him, the knights will—”

“Of all the knights, why did it have to be Surrey?”

“The Eye of God—”

What? Oh, wait. They were talking about the knights-royal, so this Eye of God had to be a knightly magic. Everyone knew that the knights-royal wielded magic. Christopher wondered what kind of fighting-magic might be called ‘the Eye of God’.

“—topple the tyrant and his knights—”

“All our preparations—how were they undone so quickly?”

“It’s a disaster.” That was Master Dust speaking. Christopher could tell from his tone, all but dripping with doom.

“Be of good heart, Dust. What we need to do is hold steady, continue to gather more apprentices and raise them to mastery, build our numbers. And today’s fiasco is not the only trouble we face.” And that was Master Ward. “Brothers, don’t forget why Sir Surrey spotted Christopher. The boy ran away. He hasn’t been paying attention to his lessons, he’s fidgety and discontented. And increasingly frustrated.”

Another, harsher voice said, “Ward, maybe he just doesn’t like you.”

“I thought of that,” Master Ward said rather quietly. “Perhaps it’s the truth. But perhaps, Wakener, Christopher is growing up and beginning to harbor questions.”

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