On the other side of the magical refrigerator door, after the haze dispersed, the unicorn motioned with his horn to a circle drawn on the dirt ground with what looked like white chalk. I took that to be a way of saying “sit down”, so I sat. The unicorn didn’t mind that I sat outside the circle with my feet on the line.

“You need to explain yourself, but do so quickly. We have little time to waste.” He plodded to the opposite side of the circle and sat down. “The fate of the multiverse hangs in the balance, mostly because of your incredible stupidity.”

“Really,” I said. “You have a way with words, making me feel special. But I need to know why we’re in so much trouble.”

The unicorn bowed his head and touched his horn to the ground. The white circle burst into a rainbow of interspersed and constantly changing colors. “Step in the circle.”

I stuck my foot inside. A weird tingly pins-and-needles feeling came over my foot before going back to normal.

“You have nothing to fear, yet. This magic circle will push you to tell the truth to me.”

“I was going to tell the truth anyway,” I said as I put my entire body into the circle. Again, the pins-and-needles, but all at once as if I were immersed in a pain killing drug. My head swam, my limbs light, and I felt rather than saw a burst of light and sound – all in the space of split second. I realized my eyes were closed, but I didn’t remember closing them. Opening one eye, the unicorn stared me down cock-headed, his bulbous black eye accusing me.

“In the beginning,” I said, “the gods conspired against me in everything.”

“Only the important facts, please.”

I smiled, flashing him my gold tooth. “Okay, but it was the truth. Now I know that for fact.”

I recapped everything for him, planning the heist at the Library, encountering Gerald, biding my time. “The night before I stole the Baneportal, I played a game of cards at the hostel I was staying at. The dealer was a man with a scar on his neck and the habit of tapping his fingers on the table. I didn’t recognize him, and I considered him as a nobody, or at least not as somebody who’d be competition. I should have known better. I’m a professional, after all, and I’ve survived worse things.

“Dumb me. I played cards with him, and he let me win that night.” I held out a silver coin that I kept in my left pocket, flipped it once, and put it back where it belonged. “This coin lets him know where I am and what I’m doing. And I can’t get rid of the damned thing. Oh yes, I’ve tried. I’ve thrown it out of at random places. I threw it out on the frozen world as a little going away present. And it’s still in my pocket.”

The unicorn stared. “A cursed coin. Only a talented magician could create such a thing. Or… No, it’s not possible.”

“What? We’re partners you know. Whether you like it or not.”

“Partners out of convenience, but not friends. This is a need to know fact. You don’t need to know.”

“Fine then. I’ll find out one way or the other, unicorn.”

He snorted. So much like a horse, so very different. I hate unicorns. Fickle, tedious beasts.

I continued my story. “The morning after the card game I crept in to the Library in the early morning hours, just before the change of security guards. I had learned in my time there, observing, the night crew is too tired and burned out to notice a security breach, and the fresh crew is still waking up.

“I went in the back door without a light. I relied on my knowledge of the building to guide me around.”

To be continued…

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