81. A Cold, White Room

Josephine was in an interview room, just like the one she’d rescued Naema from weeks ago, only much smaller. A table was in the middle, with an indicator drawn across it where a repulse wall would be. Across from her, the exemplar who captured them studied her like a med student watching an autopsy.

The exemplar was the only other person, but a dozen people could be watching behind the mirrored wall.

“No one else,” said the exemplar.

Josephine dropped her gaze. Damn exemplars.

On the road, the girl took Josephine’s glyph card and put a bag over her head so she couldn’t wipe any minds. Only then did more people arrive, which meant this woman was probably the only high exemplar here. If Josephine could get out of the room, escape would be easy. Only high exemplars were shielded.

But this woman wasn’t a high exemplar, was she? Her uniform was unbuttoned now. More importantly, no plaque. Come to think of it, she had no plaque on the road either. She must have a shield on a glyph card.

…And also Authority.

“Who are you?” Josephine asked.

“I’m the woman you’ve been eluding for over a decade. I told you I would eventually have you. I guess if you want something done right, do it yourself.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Think for a moment. You’ve always known I had access to Alexander’s and Sibyl’s power. You must have realized I had Sakhr’s as well?”

“…Victoria?”

“There you go.”

Josephine paused while her mind swallowed this knowledge. “So at the Capital bombing, you had some poor fool die in your place?”

“Something like that.”

A realization struck her. “Wait. How did you know?”

“How did I know what, dear?”

“How did you know I knew who Sakhr was?”

“A fascinating question, isn’t it?” said Victoria. “I certainly didn’t learn it from him. You scoured every last memory his coven ever had about you. So how did I know?”

Josephine didn’t answer.

“Tell me,” Victoria continued, “why did you decide to part ways with them? From their minds, I can’t even get an idea when it happened.”

Josephine kept her head down. There was too much this woman knew that she shouldn’t. No reason to give her any more information.

Victoria sighed. “You might as well talk. You can’t hide anything from me.”

“No, thank you,” answered Josephine.

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