Chapter 1, page 2

“And how long have you been in the city?” I could easily imagine the frustration on his face.

I winced as I realized that I had let slip the one thing that I hadn’t wanted to communicate. I knew he was going to be less than thrilled with the answer, but I also knew that I owed him for ignoring his calls. There was a small voice inside my head that said I should just lie, but I quickly squashed it since I knew that trying to lie to Matt would just be a gigantic waste of time. The only real hope that I had of keeping him from digging all that hard into the details was if I let him assume that I had just gotten wrapped up in my reconnaissance and simply been unable to answer his calls.

Of course this was a flimsy hope since it would suggest that I knew something about this tournament was dangerous. But then, I doubted he would get on that particular train of thought, so I just gritted my teeth as I settled my nerves and went for an audacious plan. I told him the truth. Well, part of the truth at any rate. “I’ve been in the city going on three days now.”

There are times when everything goes your ways and you get the reaction you are hoping for; this wasn’t one of those times. “So you’ve been in the city for three days?” Matt asked, with plenty of restrained anger in his voice. This wasn’t going to end well for me. Before I even had a chance to defend myself, he answered his own question in a much calmer tone. “Wait, you’ve been doing that glass circle thing haven’t you?”

The “glass circle,” thank goodness he has always been fascinated by my glass circle trick. And why not, it has always proved to be quite a handy trick. Okay, the first time I showed it to Matt it proved not to be all that helpful, but over the years that single trick paved the way for us to make lots of money, all the while giving us some of our best memories. For Matt, the sweetest memory was that first time, and of course, there have been moments when I regretted ever showing it to him. I had tried to keep it from him, but he eventually convinced me to show him, and then managed to get me to set it up just inside of… I shook my head as I dislodged that train of thought. Even after all these years I couldn’t help but get embarrassed over that particular use of my trick. After that, he had started asking me to open the portholes everywhere.

He really just didn’t understand why I was so reluctant to use it, no matter how I explained it to him.

And, as he would always argue, we had some fun experimenting with my little creation. But no matter how much fun we had, for me, nothing ever topped the very first time I managed to craft it. In my mind, that initial success was made even more wonderful by the fact that it had been the first transformation that I had ever made. In a way, my success was incredible considering that, at the time, I only had a vague idea of what I was hoping to accomplish. Somehow, without the guiding knowledge I had since built up, I was able to produce a very rough and rudimentary version of exactly what I had been looking for.

I remember how my right hand had been pressed against the wall when suddenly, the part of the wall that I was touching changed. It was a subtle change, hard to notice unless you were looking for it. That small section of wall had been slightly discolored in an almost circular pattern. But that patch of wall, while interesting, would never have been useful without the shiny circular piece of glass that was in my other hand. Neither one was going to win an award for their intrinsic beauty, but they didn’t need to, because these weren’t designed for decoration. Neither could function without the other, but when someone looked correctly through that small piece of glass, they were able to see out of the discolored section of wall. The two pieces worked together to create the most exquisite surveillance camera I had ever seen, especially when one end was attached to a video camera like the one I was using.

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