The Invigilator

NB: This story is based entirely on the fact that “invigilator” is an extremely gnarly name for a very tame job. Enjoy.

The Invigilator sat facing a wall, eyes closed, watching every move in the pub behind her. In a place like that, there were plenty of eyes to look through, although the drunk ones made it harder. She had been on this particular case for two days, and there was a deadline. A certain valuable tome had been stolen from a certain Departmental office—she had not been told which office because the Faculty protect their own from outside scrutiny while viciously punishing incompetence internally—and her job was to retrieve it. The Faculty had made it known that missing the deadline would not be tolerated, so she was starting to be concerned. The intolerance of the Faculty could result in death.

A short while earlier, she had been walking through a rainy day in the Conjurer’s Quarter. It was exactly the kind of place where she didn’t want to be tracking one, specific object. The narrow, winding street was littered with all manner of useless junk, mostly furniture: couches, tables, endless broken chairs, tarnished goblets and plates. Townies were picking through it, mostly for firewood. The buildings on either side of the narrow road were covered in random adornments from all over the known world, and every half a minute or so, some new object would crash down onto the pile, usually breaking in the process, and a smug giggle could be heard from whatever undergraduate had conjured it. They called it “studying.”

A moment later, a fight broke out. A dark woman and a heavy man battled over some allegedly valuable bauble. He had two shining, bronze fists, and she was throwing lighting bolts. Her aim was terrible, and if not for the rain, she’d have started a fire by now. A thin circle of spectators materialized around them as well as a few undergraduates watching through shutters and from rooftops.

“This won’t do,” she muttered, as she approached the fight. The Invigilator wouldn’t have cared one way or the other—it wasn’t her job—but they were using Arts (“flash” the townies called it), and stopping that was her job. She wasn’t a large woman, but a strong shout can end a lot of grief, so she pulled back her cloak and yelled in a voice much louder than her own, “Hold! Invigilator!”

(C) Copyright Orion Ussner Kidder, 2018

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