Into the Bowels of Crainstock Ltd

Kera had never imbued an [engine ring] before.

“How many is your most?” the hurried MPM asked. She swung open the next door and held it for Kera while encouraging her to walk faster with the clipboard her other hand.

“Nine of us blessed a sword with accuracy and ever-sharp in school,” Kera said.

“OK. This’ll be three times that.” The door shut behind Kera like a prison gate.

Kera frowned to the MPM despite her excitement.

“It’s a much bigger ring than our usual.”

“Oh,” Kera said. “Dana, right?”

“Donna.” Anything else the Magical Project Manager might have said was lost in her attention to the contents of the folder attached to her clipboard.

“Donna, what happened?” Kera didn’t need the late night rush down unfamiliar hallways to tell her something had gone wrong if she were being snagged off her own project to imbue a ring with twenty-six—twenty-six!—other other mages. If she’d applied for one of the infrequent junior mage roles, did two layers of interviews, waited 90 days, and then was accepted to imbue a standard [engine ring] she’d have been astonished.

“That son-of-a-bitch Ajit…sorry, Mr. Balasubramanyan…threw up all over my…the, the [engine ring] during tuning. I guess he’d gotten the flu or something but didn’t want to recuse himself.” Donna stopped short. “You’re not sick are you?”

Kera considered the question, even pushing her thoughts out to her extremities like a mental MRI feeling for everything from sniffles to cancer. All she found was excitement.

“Maybe I ought to be?” Kera joked.

The MPM whispered as if she gripped Kera by the collar and jerked her face to face. “Don’t fuck with me. Is there any reason—any at all—you can’t do this?”

“None.” Kera swallowed as silently as possible. “Did you say during the tuning?”

“Kera, do I seem like the kind of person who enjoys walking fast?”

“Why didn’t you mention that earlier?” Kera skipped to a backward jog further down the corridor expecting Donna to match pace at least some. The MPM pushed her face to a flat grin, pointed at the featureless wall with her clipboard, and stepped into it’s surface.

367 words on day 579