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Callum knew a hustle when he heard one. It didn’t matter that the hustle was extremely well organized and claimed to wield authority equal to a national government, it was still a hustle. Mandatory training and mandatory draft? That just meant that everyone did things the GAR way or they got killed. A supernatural dictatorship. Fantastic. It was a tyranny he’d never even known existed reaching out to claim control over him, but there was absolutely no way he was going to let it.

Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do about it yet. He was not just going to go along with their serve or die requirement, but at the same time, he wasn’t going to tell them that. So far his decision to be paranoid was paying off, since it was clear that the man talking to him was checking the truth of his statements in some manner. It was obvious by the way his eyes shifted to examine something after certain questions.

He also wasn’t very interested in answering any of Callum’s questions. Once he’d decided what boxes Callum went into, he’d wrapped up the interview and pushed Callum off on some other functionary to take care of after banishing the magic handcuffs. At least Callum’s new minder had a nametag, reading Coordinator Lee, and she looked as bored as any government bureaucrat.

“Right this way, Mister Wells,” Lee said, glancing at a tablet. If anything, the fact that they were using modern technology instead of clipboards was more impressive than the magic. Over half of Callum’s clients didn’t have any software that had been released in the past decade, even and especially the ones associated with governmental infrastructure.

“Is there some sort of orientation package I can get or something?” Callum was operating in the dark, not even knowing how legitimate this so-called agency was. Or if it was a national or supernational entity, or what. Not to mention, he had no idea what bits of supernatural existed, what didn’t, what rules there were, and so on.

“Mm?” Lee glanced up from the tablet for a moment then back down. “You’ll have access to materials when you go in for training. Tests first, though. We don’t usually test someone as old as you, or as apparently unpracticed.” Enough scorn leaked through the professional demeanor that Callum felt vaguely insulted, though he wasn’t particularly excited for the tests. If he’d been ignorant of magic for thirty years, it wasn’t likely anything about what he found would be life-changing. In fact, it was GAR that insisted on changing his life, not magic.

“What do these tests entail?”

“We’ll oversaturate you with mana, put you in a warded box, and see what happens.” Lee said, unconcerned.

“That sounds safe,” Callum muttered.

“Most people need help figuring out what magic types they have access to,” Lee told him sourly. “There’s no way to do that involving conscious control.” That sounded a bit specious to him, but he wasn’t an expert on magic. Even if they didn’t sound like they knew what they were doing, they probably did. He just shrugged and followed Lee.

The warded box in question was an observation room with heavy glass on all four sides, which meant that anyone nearby could see in. That didn’t excite him much, but if the tattoos people got identified them anyway, it wasn’t like he had much privacy to begin with. The tattoo thing bothered him too, considering the history of compulsory identification, but it wasn’t likely he could get out of it.

Lee gave him a wristband to wear that was nearly identical to the magic-blocker one, only with chunks of what looked like quartz embedded in it. The headache came back, two or three times worse than before, and Lee shooed him into the room before he could ask about it. At this point it was clear it was magic-related, which certainly didn’t improve his opinion the matter.

“We’ll start the test now,” Lee said, her voice coming through the glass far clearer than it should have. “Don’t try to hold anything back. The wards should catch any manifestations and tell us what type of magic it is.”

“What do⁠—” He didn’t get further than that before that sensation of oddness he’d picked up now and again suddenly redoubled, and his headache instantly tipped over into a full-blown migraine. Spots danced in front of his eyes, and he groaned, pressing the heels of his hands against his temples. The thought crossed his mind that whatever they were doing might actually kill him instead, as the headache got worse and he could have sworn his head was actually splitting in two. The lights got brighter and then suddenly a sharp, tearing sensation jolted through his mind, making him scream before pulling him down into darkness.

For a long time he felt fuzzy and vague, unfocused, like a fever dream he couldn’t wake up from. He saw no visions, received no insights, but at the very least his headache was gone. Then a sudden cold current pulled him along and his eyes snapped open.

“Back with us? Good.” Lee’s voice came from somewhere off to the side, and Callum blinked up at what was obviously the ceiling of a medical facility. He looked around, moving gingerly because of the remnant memories of pain and his head splitting open, but everything felt fine. He wasn’t hooked to any IVs, he didn’t have any monitoring equipment on him, but there was another mage in the room with some kind of modified asklepian that he assumed was a medic.

“Yeah.” Callum found his voice was perfectly fine. He’d had anesthesia back when he needed his wisdom teeth out, and remembered how rough it’d been on waking up. It seemed odd to him that he felt focused and whole and hale. “I feel pretty good, actually.”

“Thank your healer,” Lee said, and gestured to the medical mage.

“Thank you,” he told her, and she nodded to him before leaving the room. He looked at Lee. “Was whatever happened normal?”

“Not really,” Lee admitted. “I’d have to dig into the histories, but I suspect it’s just a consequence of performing the test on someone as old as you. According to Nurse Taison your casting ability will be impaired for a while, considering the vis overload, but while you were out we went ahead and put on your mage’s mark.”

Callum blinked at her and then lifted his right hand. Sure enough, there was a braided tattoo around his wrist with a solid grey-white circle right under the thumb. Revulsion squirmed through him and anger tightened his lips. It was just wrong to have something like that put on him without permission. Even if it was required, just doing it while he was unconscious really drove home the entire system’s contempt for him. Or for anyone, really.

“So,” he said shortly, biting off many choice words. “What does this mean?”

“Space mage,” Lee told him. “It’s quite rare, but we can’t tell how powerful you are because of what happened with the test. Besides, at your age, it’s impossible to know how much capacity you can get by exercising your magic.” She fluttered a hand. “I’ll get you the exercises for beginner mages, and the space magic primer. It’s more meant for children, but…”

“Yeah, I’m weird. I get it.” Lee eyed him, clearly displeased at his words, and her attitude toward him clearly went several notches downward. He found he didn’t much care, since his attitude toward her was basically as low as it could go. Callum just shrugged at her.

“Fine. We’ll have you report for training in two days.” She paused a moment. “Actually, you’ll probably need a tutor. I’ll see who’s available and we’ll add the costs to your service time.” Callum ground his teeth, but didn’t say anything about it. Adding unasked-for costs was one of the oldest scams in the book.

“Right, so, any chance I can go home and wrap things up there before I’m taken wherever?”

“Hmm?” Lee blinked at him. “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll have to ask Supervisor Therin.” She tapped at her tablet again, and Callum heard the messenger ping. “He says okay, but you’ll need an escort. Technically you’re still under arrest until you’re through all the orientation and oaths and whatnot.”

“That’s fine,” Callum lied. He was already making certain plans. “Any chance I can get a primer on GAR? Or is there some secret website that has the information on it?”

“The escort should be able to show you stuff. Your mundane access won’t cut it.” Lee shrugged at him. “He should be here in a little bit.”

“Great.” Callum sat up, then stood, shaking his hands out. He tried to reach out or do something with his apparently brand-new magical powers, but nothing sprang to mind. At a guess, his ability to see things he wasn’t supposed to, which apparently involved glamours, was part of it. How that connected to spatial magic, though, he had no idea.

He still didn’t want to mention it. They already thought of him as an anomaly, but a pitiable one. If he became an interesting one, that might scuttle any chances he had to get away from it all. And he absolutely intended to. For some people, losing their entire life and being forced into servitude to some dictatorial secret society might be preferable to death, but he was not about to knuckle under to power-lusting tyrants.

For some reason he was expecting Lee to get him a stack of hardcovers or the like, but instead she fiddled with her tablet some more and someone came to deliver a thumbdrive that she handed him. It didn’t have any markings on it to identify the manufacturer, but it looked like an ordinary memory stick.

“You’re going to need a GAR laptop or tablet or whatever to read from that,” she said. “Your minder will lend you one.”

“Great,” he said. It wasn’t great. If all magic stuff used a format that could only be read by arcane hardware, that explained why it wasn’t all over the internet, but it also meant he was going to have issues making copies that weren’t traceable by GAR. He was still toying with the thumbdrive when his escort or minder or, pragmatically, babysitter showed up.

“Agent Sen, this is Callum Wells. You’re his officer for the next week or so until we can get him integrated.” Sen was a young man with Asian features, probably no older than twenty, with the arrogant assurance of youth and inexperience. Callum disliked him on sight, and it seemed it was mutual. Sen didn’t even bother to school his face into something polite.

By the uncomfortable way that he shifted the day bag he was carrying, Sen hadn’t spent much time traveling. Which didn’t really track with a supposed draft, but Callum already had his paranoid suspicions about that so it wasn’t surprising. Despite all that, Callum didn’t want to start a war with his warrant officer so he extended a hand and looked polite.

“Agent Sen, good to meet you.”

Sen mumbled something in reply, his hand limp in Callum’s clasp, and he shifted his day bag from one side to the other as soon as Callum released him. It wasn’t clear if he was being polite or if he was just aware of Lee standing there watching them both.

“I’m releasing him from medical,” Lee said, tapping her tablet, and Sen blinked, then turned to Callum.

“Oh, right. Follow me. I’ll take you back to—” He glanced down at his phone, mumbling again. “Site 227-B.” Callum suppressed the desire to roll his eyes. Though by the numbering scheme there was actually a second teleport circle somewhere in his home town of Tanner, which was interesting. Not that he had any idea how to use that information, but it was better to know than not.

Sen set out with the stride of someone who has somewhere to be, leading Callum back out through the maze of corridors to the departure station. Callum couldn’t tell if the location was a headquarters or commercial complex or what, and hadn’t even gotten to see outside for the entire time he’d been there. He had the vague impression that the building sprawled pretty far in every direction, and it was clearly multipurpose since it had an interrogation and medical ward, but he had no idea what else all the offices were used for.

He could see the row of teleport circles far better as they approached them, and more, behind and above the teleporters there were a number of people at what looked like switchboard stations. However the teleporters worked, they weren’t fully digitized, as the workers physically moved connections around. Sen waved his tattooed wrist at the front of the teleportation circle and announced the destination to the operator for their circle before waving Callum into it.

If he had to guess, these were the public teleporters, and there was some private version somewhere in the back where people could move around without needing to tell their travel plans to all and sundry. At the same time, the wrist tattoo had to be some form of verification, so it wasn’t completely open to use.

The second time through, the shift wasn’t as smooth, because he could feel something flowing and snapping as they went from one point to another, reappearing in the fake traffic escort office. When they exited the blue car was gone, and Sen solved the issue of transportation through the boringly mundane expedient of summoning a rideshare. A reminder that Sen already had his address, called up from whatever government databases GAR had access to. Probably all of them. For obvious reasons he couldn’t press while the driver took them to the suburbs, but once they got out he tried to pry some information out of Sen.

“So apparently I’ve got spatial magic? I’m pretty new to all this, what’s a spatial mage wind up doing for the draft?”

“Hmm?” Sen gave him a look that made it obvious he had a low opinion of Callum’s intelligence. “Transportation, mostly. Space doesn’t have any actual attack so you’ll be a porter.”

“And what did you do, may I ask?” Callum opened the door for Sen, ushering him inside. Fortunately things were fairly clean. “I have a guest room for you, by the way. No need to sleep on the sofa.”

“Well, it’s something,” Sen muttered, then turned to Callum and held up his right hand, showing off a pair of pips. Red and white. “Pyromancer, Aeromancer. I fought.” Callum nodded like he was impressed, but Sen didn’t have the air that real veterans did. He seemed spoiled and self-important, not someone who’d faced death and come out alive. Callum prodded a little more as he showed Sen about, but the mage just produced a laptop from his carry bag.

“Look up your primers on this,” he said, thrusting the laptop at Callum, before heading back to the guest room. Since it seemed that Sen didn’t care to actually explain anything himself, Callum took the laptop back to his office and opened it up. Unsurprisingly, it seemed to run on some proprietary operating system, though the setup was familiar enough that he had things figured out in just a few minutes. Even if it was, as promised, meant for elementary age children, it was still a primer on how to do magic. Callum bent to it with a will.

***

“What’s this request?” Supervisor Therin asked Lee, reading over the report on the new mage. There wasn’t much. It was basically the report on a child, for all that Wells was in his third decade. The magical information was nonexistent, his blood didn’t match any known mage family, his magic type was a basic category rather than full abilities, and even his mundane information was boring. So he wasn’t expecting to get a request for the healer Archmage to look at the man.

“Well, I gave him the standard test we do for kids, and that pretty much verified he’d never touched magic before. But there were some anomalies.”

“Yes, you mentioned before he lost consciousness. And?”

“I didn’t notice it until I went to replace the mana supply. The ward only blocked the manifestation of three thaums of mana, but the supply bracelet was empty. Fully charged, it holds a hundred. Somehow he absorbed ninety-seven thaums, or discharged it in a way the wards didn’t catch.”

“Hmm, and if he’d never touched magic, his vis pool should have been full, and not that large to begin with.”

“Yes,” Lee agreed. “I’m sure it’s connected to how he managed to get to be thirty years old without noticing magic at all. He’s some kind of medical curiosity.” Lee’s eyes glinted with avarice. “I bet I could make my reputation if I got to properly study him.”

“He has to do his service first, and I doubt you’ll get the grand mages to assign him as your pet,” Therin warned. “I’ll sign off on your request to get Archmage Fane to look at him, but that’s it.”

“Excellent.” Lee smiled happily. “Keep me informed of where he gets sent for training, please?”

“I’ll put you on the list,” Therin told her. He was a little curious himself. The eastern continental branch of GAR was big, and he had a lot of responsibilities – he wouldn’t have bothered with Wells if things hadn’t involved a dragon-blooded – but the man was rather odd. Most of the people Jahn delivered with a suppressor cuff were unconscious from the shock. If it weren’t for Jahn’s testimony, he would have thought the man was a mundane, betraying not the slightest sensitivity for any of the obvious magical warning signs strewn about.

It wasn’t likely he’d hear from or about Wells again. The man was thirty; it was doubtful he’d be able to adapt to the world of the arcane. By the time anything happened, Therin probably would have long forgotten about the man and would just be irritated by pointless notifications. Still, he added himself as a watcher to the man’s file before continuing on with his day.

***

Callum was pretty pleased with himself. It had only taken him an hour to start feeling vis following the directions in the book. Admittedly, that was apparently slow. He’d found a browser on the laptop which connected to some sort of parallel internet – more likely part of the so-called deep web rather than a wholly separate infrastructure – and done some research between visualization sessions. The magical internet seemed to be part of a single monolithic site rather than anything independent, but there were forums and posted articles when he clicked around enough.

Having heard both terms, he’d been confused for a while about the difference between mana and vis until he finally got to the part in the primers that explained it all. There was ambient magical energy all about, denser in some places than others, and that was mana. It formed a pervasive atmosphere that mages drew from and sort of metabolized to form their own internal reservoir. A mage’s own mana was actually called vis, and unlike mana it could have specific aspects, like his spatial talent.

Mages could manipulate nearby mana, making waves in the ocean, or they could spend their vis and create spells. There were reasons to do both, the primer claimed, without actually going into detail. He really wanted to know everything about everything, but the primer had only the most basic of basics.

He had gleaned that most mage children would already be able to feel their vis by the time they entered what was basically magical kindergarten, but they were encouraged to learn not to cast anything until they were older in some kind of magical potty training. So he was starting with a serious handicap, and one even more serious than just lacking basic training. Namely, his inability to see glamours.

He’d researched it by guessing at truesight, and found very little but discussions of various magical techniques for spotting and disabling glamours. In hindsight, that was obvious, and he didn’t find anything on naturally being able to pierce them. Even the fae, who were real, of course, needed effort to pierce them. However, apparently glamours were often used not just for deception but also communication. A single one could hide something from mundanes and advertise it to arcanes, thanks to mana-active sight.

The term itself was confusing because it referred to a number of different things. When it came to mages, a glamour meant either an audiovisual mask or flat invisibility, or a sign or signal visible only in magesight. For vampires, there was apparently some degree of mind magic, suggestion, and memory editing involved. The fae had a combination of illusionary covering and perceptual tricks, making it so people didn’t notice them, and the shifters had some kind of natural projection that made people see beast forms as ordinary animals.

So far, none of it had much affected him, but he needed to figure out some way to turn off his super-vision or at least also see what normal people did. Otherwise he would, ironically, be operating blind. But he was hoping by actually getting practice with vis and mana he’d be able to solve that problem.

The exercises were incredibly simple, but it was still an absolute thrill to be able to push a pen across his desk without touching it. It was brute force magic, shoving around mana without using his innate spatial vis, but it was more than he could do before. The sensation was somewhere between advanced visualization and a phantom limb, impossible to describe in prosaic terms but it felt exactly right. He spent at least ten minutes flinging pens and pencils around his office, telling himself he was honing his skills.

Then he got back to work. Now that he’d proved to himself that magic was real and he could actually do it, he wanted to find out more about the world he was getting himself into. He didn’t want to accidentally insult a werewolf or something because he wasn’t raised in arcane society and get his face ripped off. Callum also wanted to find out more about GAR and the draft and other apparent facts of life, because it still didn’t sit well with him.

Online research was second nature to him, considering his career as a consultant, and the magic internet wasn’t really any different from the mundane one. It didn’t take him all that long to find the information he wanted.

The draft was mostly military, either hunting down troublesome arcanes on Earth or defending the front on one of six so-called portal worlds. The worlds were strange demiplanes between Earth and some weird multiversal connection that was the primary source of the planet’s mana. So the arcane community had defended them since time immemorial.

Sen had been right, that spatial mages were generally employed, in draft or afterward, to transport people and materials and not much else. What Sen hadn’t mentioned was that the death rate for the draft was a horrifying thirty percent. That many casualties immediately tripped all kinds of mental alarms. If they were losing a third of their mages during their draft, then it was a losing battle, and that made no sense at all.

Callum was no tactical genius, but according to the literature he found there was nothing on the portal worlds that couldn’t be taken care of by emplacing some machine guns and mortars, and the supposed massive incursions could be solved with a nuke. Or at least military ordnance.

Beyond that, none of the people he’d seen at GAR seemed at all like they survived a winnowing process where three out of every ten mages died. In fact, they didn’t think the draft was a big deal, so he started to poke around on the very limited magical internet. Depressingly, the reason wasn’t even hidden. It was an open secret that it was political. The majority of those deaths befell mages that hadn’t signed onto one of the major families or guilds.

Grand mages and archmages lived hundreds of years. It didn’t surprise him that they’d taken steps to make sure that everyone lived under their thumb or not at all. They probably didn’t even need to do anything anymore. The nature of bureaucracy and infighting meant that the current system would sustain itself solely because people with power had a vested interest.

Fuck that.

He’d still been considering spending time as a human packmule, moving people from here to there. It didn’t sound interesting, but it would give him plenty of time to practice magic and he could probably even keep up with his career, though he’d have to be careful. Or maybe just work for people on the arcane side of things; mages built buildings too.

Knowing that he’d have to deal with politics and probably sign his life away to someone else for protection or else face an ‘accident’ made that idea intolerable. Especially since GAR enforced the system, acting as a global government that kept mages in line. To some extent, he understood why mages needed some oversight, but whatever well-meaning approach there had been in the beginning was long gone.

Callum chewed his lip as he considered. It was one thing to entertain the notion of flouting some magical government that he’d never heard of before that day. It was another thing to actually do it. But he only had a day or two before he was supposed to show up, so he had to think about it properly.

It wasn’t just GAR. If he wanted to avoid them, he had to drop out of sight for mundane governments too, or at least change his identity. Callum hadn’t exactly had any criminal contacts, but he knew a guy who knew a guy enough to know the general shape of things. It was shockingly easy to remain unidentified, so long as the break with the old identity was completely clean. He couldn’t touch his old money, old contacts, old email accounts, old chat handles.

With magic it was surely harder, but if he could trust the official information, the fantasy of tracking people across the world from a drop of blood was just that. What could be tracked was magical signature, making it effectively useless for normal people. Or someone who hadn’t been using magic recently. Or had massively changed their magical style.

When Callum read that, he regretfully stopped practicing. He didn’t know or have enough magic to be useful yet, so it was still a liability, but if he let the magical signature fade they’d be stuck with mundane methods of hunting him down. Callum considered the laptop, then pulled out his phone and started taking pictures. He couldn’t keep the memory stick, and without the laptop it wasn’t readable, but he could keep the information on it. He had just about finished when Sen’s voice came through the office door, startling him enough that he nearly dropped the phone.

“What’s for food around here?”

Callum hurriedly pocketed the phone and went to open the office door. Sen looked as annoyed as ever, but apparently mages needed to eat, too. While he really wanted to go through the exercises to see what magic looked like around Sen, to see if he could actually sense a mage, that was too much risk.

What he really needed was a good few months to read and practice and get a handle on things himself. GAR had plenty of knowledge, but it was obvious that they weren’t really trustworthy. To give them the benefit of the doubt, they probably didn’t actually teach people wrong, but they certainly would sequester anything potentially dangerous or unorthodox. He wanted his own experience before diving into everyone else’s.

“We can hit the steakhouse,” Callum offered. For some reason he didn’t see Sen as a taco person.

“Very well,” Sen said, looking annoyed. “That will serve.” Callum just shrugged and showed Sen to the car.

“Maybe you could tell me about your experiences in training, and the draft,” Callum suggested, trying to get something out of the man other than vague disapproval. “I don’t have any idea what it’s all about.” It was the most base and blatant of flattery, but it worked. Sen spent the entire trip just talking about how amazing his mentor found him and how good he was at fire and air magic. When they got out, Callum hesitated before going into the restaurant, considering Sen was still going on about air magic.

“Is it okay to talk about this stuff in public?”

“What?” Sen gave him a look, then seemed to remember Callum was a novice. “Oh, there’s a basic glamour.” The young mage waved his hand, but Callum didn’t notice any difference.

“How does it work so we can talk about arcane things without muting us completely?”

“It masks the words until we address someone who’s inside the glamour, obviously.” That fit with what he’d read, but he still wasn’t exactly sure what that seemed like to other people. He’d have to test it, but probably not immediately. With a little prompting from Callum, Sen resumed his boasting about the draft and confirmed what Callum had thought. It wasn’t actually that dangerous.

The six portal worlds corresponded to the six kinds of supernatural, or rather, vice versa. Vampires were due to the influence of one portal world, shifters another, fae a third. Dragonblooded were actual immigrants from a fourth. The fifth was responsible for sea monsters, and the sixth was apparently completely empty, which he didn’t buy for a minute. Mages were completely human, though.

“So the others aren’t human?” Callum asked, sipping at the beer he’d ordered. The glamour had worked as specified, with the waitress not even noticing Sen’s description of hurling fireballs from the defenses but having no trouble with their orders.

“Well, yes,” Sen said, giving Callum an odd look. “I keep forgetting you’re new to this. Vampires were something else before they came through into Portal World Three. I don’t know what, but the portal made them human look-alike. Shifters have picked up some kind of magical symbiont from Two. Fae are the result of some humans colonizing One by accident ages ago, and getting too friendly with the things that came through the other portals there.”

“So vamps don’t actually have to worry about holy water, crosses, sunlight?”

“What on earth are you talking about?” Sen frowned at him.

“You don’t read much mundane literature, I guess?”

“Why would I?”

Callum had to grant that was a decent question. While there had to be a lot of mages that were part of the normal world, it was clear there were just as many who were so wrapped up in the arcane world they didn’t really think of the mundane one as real. He had no idea what Sen had been doing before he was tapped to play Callum’s warrant officer, but it clearly wasn’t field work. He shrugged and changed topics.

“So where were we? Dragonblooded? As in actual dragons?”

“That’s what they claim. Dragons don’t come through the portals, though.”

“That’s a shame,” Callum remarked, and Sen shook his head.

“No, it’s good. They would be extremely dangerous. Dragonblooded are extremely powerful, and they’re supposedly pale imitations of the real thing.”

“Oh, well. Sea monsters?”

“Five is completely covered in water and there are storms. Things get through on occasion.”

“Sounds pleasant.”

“If you like getting rained on,” Sen said with a scowl. He was definitely a kid, but he was also far more forthcoming than Callum had expected. Though nothing Sen said about the portal worlds really made him feel like they were threats. Annoyances at most.

Callum kept revising his plan in his head. Mostly because he revised Sen’s competence downward. He was sure the mage could fling fireballs and whirlwinds with the best of them, but Callum doubted he was capable of staying up all night to make sure that his charge didn’t decide to wander off. That would be a lot easier than trying to incapacitate the mage without killing him.

He wasn’t quite heartless enough that he was willing to murder Sen to get away. Plus, pragmatically, that would work against his desire to stay hidden from GAR. If he vanished, it’d be a black mark for Sen and Callum would go on some sort of watch list, but if he killed an agent, they’d have everyone out for him.

The question was how much preparation he could get away with. He had a bug-out bag, containing an assortment of basics for emergencies, but he could probably get away with getting his safe-deposit and maybe a chunk of cash without making Sen suspicious. Assuming Sen even really knew how money worked.

He didn’t know how disconnected the interior of arcane society was from the real world. For example, Sen completely ignored the flirtatiousness of the waitress, who was almost falling over herself for Sen’s admittedly archetypal good looks. Callum raised his eyebrows at the man.

“Already got someone back home?”

“What?” Sen paused with a piece of steak halfway to his mouth.

“The waitress.”

“Oh.” Sen glanced around vaguely. “No, arcanes and mundanes don’t work well together.”

Callum pressed his lips together. He’d got along well enough with Selene to get married, so that obviously wasn’t true. It was just that Sen didn’t care about so-called mundanes. For that matter, it seemed pretty clear that the supernatural world in general wasn’t all that impressed by the mundane one, for all that they clearly were happy to copy all the nonmagical advancements.

So far, he hadn’t been impressed by what the supernatural world had to offer.

 

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