Rhys Davenport looked down at the turbulent water of the Thames River and shivered. He knew how cold the water was, as he'd been catapulted into it not that long ago. He should've known better than to wear his best outer coat for this little venture. "Have I told you how much I despise you right now?"
His companion PercyLord Effington to somewas balancing on the bridge edge beside him. "Yes, three times already, but it's really not my fault."
"Whose fault is it then?"
"Theirs." Percy gestured to the two unsavory men standing behind them with pistols aimed at their backs.
"Hmm, I suppose, but I'm sure it was your inability to stay quiet that led these men to us."
"How was I supposed to know there was going to be an alarm around the case?"
"Common sense, Percy. It is a priceless artifact."
Percy just sniffed. "Well, I'm sorry. I'm not your brother, the thief."
Nor am I. But Rhys didn't say it out loud. It was good of Percy to come along on his little foray into the criminal arts. He supposed he should have waited until Jovan was back in London but they didn't have that kind of time. The solstice was only a month away and they weren't any closer to finding Sebastian. Jovan would've been proud of their burglary skillsuntil the alarm had gone off and they'd been chased on foot by the two armed men now holding them hostage.
"'Nuf squawking," one of the men said. "Hand it over."
"Hand what over?" Rhys asked, trying not to let the wind push him off the ledge. He really didn't want to go for another swim in the river.
"The map. We know you stole it from the judge."
The men were well-informed. They were most likely working for the sorcerer Darin Hawthorne, who preferred his dirty work to be done by dirty people. And these two reeked. Rhys could still smell them even up on the bridge's ledge.
"Whatever Hawthorne is paying you, I'll double it," Rhys offered.
One of the men's hands shook so much his pistol trembled a little as he obviously thought about the offer.
But the other man, the uglier and meaner-looking one, wasn't having it. "No deal. Hawthorne's helping me mum out of the noose. You can't buy that."
Rhys had to agree, that wasn't something he could pay for. Hawthorne did have a lot of powerful men, law men, in his pocket.
Percy looked at him. "Now what?"
"Now hold still."
Percy stood ramrod straight, his eyes wide, probably imagining all sorts of bad things happening. It wasn't often Rhys used magic, but when he did, it sometimes ended up with something big and bad occurring.
Concentrating hard, Rhys twirled his wrists, his fingers moving as if he were forming something with clay. Which he supposed wasn't too far off the mark. He was creating, just not with something as ordinary as clay. Magic was much more malleable.
"Quit yer stalling and give us the map. I don't want to shoot you, but I will."
Rhys ignored the threat and continued to twist his hands, gathering more and more magic to him, his work near complete.
Percy shuffled closer to him, careful not to misstep and plummet off the bridge. "I don't think these men have much patience left."
"Hey!" one of the men hollered. "Stop your conspiring and give us the map. This is your last chance."
Rhys squeezed his eyes shut and pushed the last of his energy into his creation. He was about to flick his fingers to release his illusion when Percy bumped into him. His eyes snapped open as he felt his magic go.